“Strange Beasts” — Dark Side Of The Augmented World

Strange Beast Augmented World

Augmented reality is getting closer and might soon break into our lives. But it is a very powerful tool and can cause severe addiction together with attempts to flee the reality.

A short movie called “Strange Beasts” starts as startup pitch but it gets darker. You have probably heard of the Black Mirror series, haven’t you? “Strange Beasts” fits its concept perfectly. How far can we go in creating artificial world around us and will we be able to stop?

Enough spoilers, just enjoy this 5 minute movie. Just do not get too depressed — everything depends on ourselves. Technology is like a knife — it can be a valuable tool and it can be a weapon. only man decides.

Father.IO – New Augmented Reality Game

When the first popular augmented game – Ingress – was launched, I wondered how much time needed for rival games to appear. And surprisingly, I have not seen anything close enough to match. Probably, one of the reasons was support from Google that Ingress got right from the start. Sure, it is hard to compete with such operational, financial and reputational support.

Team behind another augmented reality startup – Father.IO – decided to go a different way and get funding via public platform Indiegogo. Campaign still continues, but it has already surpassed the goal and hype is big.

So, what is it? Game combines Ingress with multiplayer action shooter. Story is pretty simple here: two factions – the human race and cybernetic life form (The Evolved), controlled by the virus, called Father.IO (read “machines and Skynet”). Now, battle for Humanity starts (yes, poor humanity, again).

Father.IO Augmented Buildings

You are able capture territories in the augmented reality, harvest for Energy and Cryptocoins (XM in Ingress) – as you will need it to play, but there are also shooting battles where you can have fun, similar to laser game. This is achieved by a special piece of hardware, easily attached to your smartphone and called Inceptor, allowing you to shoot with a laser beam up to 50 meters. It also has 6 highly sensitive, infrared receiving sensors, which can capture your enemy’s beam and switch you off the game :). Boom and go home. Or not.

What I like here is a lot of things are customizable. There are different roles, which you can have: Assault, Engineer, Hacker etc. Even Commander overlooking the battlefield (remember, Intel map). Basic roles will be available from the start, but you’ll need to gain experience to get others. Also, different weapons will spice up the game, each one with own characteristics, like damage, range, firerate, reload time etc. Add there EMPs, grenades and other stuff on top. Looks pretty cool for me from this point of view!

Father.IO Assault

Augmented world is based on maps from your phone, though game developers promise few interesting “interactions”: you will be able to build virtual structures (not sure, how) and also utilize existing structures depending on their real purpose. Say, you capture a hospital, which will somehow improve your “health level”. And bank gives you game money (this is definitely augmented world as no bank just gives you money :).

Gameplay consists of harvesting, capturing and battles. Apart from accidental duels, some weekly battles are planned as well as a big global gathering each 3-months.

Overall, project is very promising. Design is outstanding and I like the concept as there is a wide area for enhancements and possible improvements. For example, one of the funding stretch goals is to create a virtual drones, which will do some basic tasks for you like harvesting the Energy, deposit and spend resources.

Early 2014 marketing video shows how the gameplay might look like.

Though let me also rise few concerns from my Ingress experience:

  1. To enjoy shooting mode you have to buy a physical device, which might turn out some players. And developers should have a stable manufacturing process to fulfil the possible demand and avoid delays in shipping the Inceptors.
  2. Ingress made it clear – two sides are not enough for a complex game. At least three, four factions should be present, each with some unique strengths and weaknesses. Remember Command & Conquer Generals? Something similar might work.
  3. There should be some clear goals in the game, apart from capturing and recapturing. I admit, this is extremely difficult to implement in one game – balance, so that other team can win next time and some intermediate valuable results, so that there is point in playing time over time.

Excited? At the moment, Super Early Bird (1 Inceptor) “perk” for a true bargain price of $18 is sold out. Next one is 30$ (Inceptor + Artwork) for $30. It is promised that first batch of Inceptors will be ready for shipment in June. Currently, you can already download early beta of the app for both iOS and Android devices and have a look.

Father.IO Indiegogo campaign 

Ingress Missions Available

Ingress Missions

Ingress Missions

It has been a month already, since Ingress game got Missions. This has been asked for ages and finally we have something to play with.

Basically, Missions allow you to explore the location by following the route and performing Hacks, Captures, throw Links, install Mods along way. Sometimes you just want to add some sense to the game and while there is no any global event, like Helios, you can still perform some actions and not just capture / recapture. Also, this is very useful for new Agents as Missions principles are based on the official good old Tutorial and can train newbies to be more effective.

The wonderful thing is that Missions can be created and submitted by Ingress players themselves. Eventually, new game feature is encouraging not only for new Agents but for old experienced ones as well.

Now, grab your Android or iPhone smartphone (or tablet) and go for a fresh air breathe! Combine a bit of a physical activity with the assistance to your team.

Ingress Teases Agents With New Levels

Ingress New LevelsMost likely we will see new levels in the Ingress game soon. As you know, currently there are 8 levels only and it is not so hard for a dedicated player to achieve L8. Also there are badges to get.

Now, new Scanner update has been dissected by enthusiasts and the following info revealed. Here you go: Ingress 9-16 levels for the mightiest Agents!

As you can see, not only AP needed to get a new “star”, but also badges should be earned. So, good luck on the war field! Small extra evidence — Agent Avatar now has small black sections on the inner circle (similar to those on the outer, which indicate player’s Level). Seems they will be filled in, if user achieves L9-L16.

I bet, Niantic has put clues into APK by purpose, knowing how players are well trained by all these Passcodes puzzles. And I wonder, how many L16 there are theoretically at the moment? If any, of course 🙂

Ingress Glyph Game Trains Your Memory

Ingress GlyphThe most exciting Ingress feature introduced recently is the Glyph game. I am sure, most of you have already tried playing it. For those, who just joined Ingress Enlightened or Resistance forces, here is a short explanation.

If you press and hold “HACK” button, then special screen pops up with dots. Then Glyphs start to flash and you have a limited time to repeat all these figures afterwards. The more Glyphs you do, the more extra items you get by hacking. Also, there is a special bonus if you are really fast.

Number of Glyphs depends on the level of the portal and I also noticed that complexity has a correlation with the portal ownership – your faction portals tend to have easier figures to guess.

After playing a while you gain experience and many Glyphs become familiar (moreover, they have different Ingress related meaning). So, in other words, you get your brain fit and memory trained. Nice idea, Niantic!


Ingress Regional Score Widget

Ingress Regional Score Widget
Following the recent news about Ingress Regional Score, Niantic issued an app update with the first ever widget. Awesome!

Currently it is quite limited and not very appealing from the design point of view, but it does its work ok — shows current MU score for your region, plus time till next update.

It is 2×4 blocks large and space is used ineffectively. I would use 1×4 block or even 1×2 to save screen space, but there are no other sizes available. Simply resizing it eliminates stats from the view. Also, it will be good to see % for each faction as it better shows dominance. Even in-app Intel tab lacks % ratio now.

Clicking on it opens Ingress (though not Intel tab). Hopefully, it does not eat too much battery 🙂

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