Ingress “frakking” – Good or bad?

What is frakking and will it change the face of Ingress? Will our scanners overflow with gear? Let’s find out!

frakker_official By now you’ve likely heard rumours of this new “frakker” thing!  If not, check out our latest teardown, and an official Ingress post on the topic!But what is it exactly? Here’s what we believe so far: it’s a short term portal hack output doubler.  It will last for either 10 minutes or 150 hacks, and is applied to the portal and applies to all players. It will cost 2400 CMU (in-game currency) which equates to $1.20 to $1.91 USD depending on the block size that you purchase.  It’s rolling out today, and will be available soon in the brand new shiny store.Will this ruin our beloved game? Will our recently expanded coffers (thanks to key lockers) be overflowing with abundant gear?  Let’s find out.

Traditional hacking output

Let’s start by looking at the most impacted use case – hacking a P8 portal.  Right now regular P8 hack averages ~3.1 items, and a perfect glyph adds ~9.4 items to that for a total of 12.5 items (~4x the output).  Where am I getting these numbers?  I’ve been collecting data, and I’ll have another post later this week which will explain in detail where these numbers came from. glyph hack p8

Assuming that you’re spot-on with your hacking cycle, from hitting hack right as the timer elapses, to displaying the glyph, to entering the glyph, dismissing the results, and back to the main scanner screen takes roughly 25 seconds on average for a P8 glyph. Assuming that you have a VRHS in play, that needs to be added to the 90 second cooldown timer, so a single glyph hack cycle takes 115 seconds. To make the numbers easy, and assuming that you’re not always going to be exactly perfectly timed, let’s say two minutes per cycle.

But that’s two minutes for 4x the output, vs a non-glyph hack at 1.5 minutes for regular output. Over the same time period you’re getting triple the output by glyph hacking already. If you’re serious about getting inventory, you’re probably good at glyphing anyway.  If you’re not very good at it, take a look here for some tips!

Glyph hack killed the social Ingress star

social farming irony Remember back when going for drinks with your Ingress friends actually meant spending time with them?  Pepperidge farm remembers.

Glyph hacking has drastically changed the social aspect of farming.  Before that, although you were still looking at your scanner, all you had to do was tap the “hack” button so you could actually socialize and talk with each other.

Although glyph hacking is fantastic for providing gear, it provided a fatal triple blow to social farming – not only do you need to farm less often and in smaller areas, but people also focus on their devices for glyphing the entire time.

For example: in the vast majority of locations, excluding perhaps the very rural ones, you will have at least one place where you have four portals where each one is within a ~30 second walking range. Assuming that you can glyph and walk at the same time, that gives a two minute walking cycle for all four VRHS’d portals which is perfectly timed to be constantly glyphing.  Add a VRMH on each portal (or two RMH, after all you usually don’t care how long the portals last for) and this gives you 16 hacks total.  Since there’s no waiting period after the last hack, you can burn out all four portals in 30 minutes.

Sixteen hacks each, with four portals is 64 hacks total.  Multiply that by 12.5 items each and that’s 800 items. With that you’re looking at roughly 300 R8 290 X8 60 R7 55 PC8 50 X7 20 CS 13 US8 5 RS 2 VRS and 10 other items (again, see my article later this week for how I came by that). Assuming you recycle the resonators, that’s net 440 useful items (or ~55% of the gross output). For most people, that’s about as much as you can handle before being at cap anyway. This will probably change with key lockers though, but then again we’re assuming you ONLY have four portals. Most places you will have a lot more than that to work with.

How do frakkers fit into this equation?

Since frakkers burn out after either 10 minutes, or 150 hacks, let’s assume that we want to use them in the case outlined above.  In 10 minutes we can get roughly 5 glyph hacks per person, so we’d need 30 people to get the most out of it.  That’s a lot of people.

For the moment, let’s assume that we don’t glyph hack, and can pop on an extra VRHS to bring our cycle time down to 59 seconds.  That means that we can get 10 hacks in 10 minutes, and we only need 15 people to get the maximum benefit.  With four frakkers on four portals (assuming we can walk-cycle them within 60 seconds total), 10 non-glyph hacks each will net us 4 * 2 * 10 * 3.1 = 248 items, or 136 useful items in 10 minutes.  Not too shabby!

But how does this compare to glyphing?

Four portals glyph hacked for 10 minutes (five glyphs each) will yield roughly 4 * 5 * 12.5 or 250 items, or 137 useful items.  Pretty much the same as not glyphing and using a frakker, plus we saved a VRHS. However we were able to talk to each other by frakking, so there is a bonus there.



That’s great, but what if we combined the two? Let’s frack and glyph.

Well we can calculate that pretty easily by just doubling the result – in 10 minutes we’ll get 274 useful items!

However if we’re gonna glyph, we might as well go for the full 30 minutes to make the most use out of our mods.

If we’re willing to use 3x the number of frakkers, we can get fully double the output, but we’ll likely have run out of inventory room long before this.

So let’s say that, for direct comparison, we use the same number of frakkers (four) and continue normal glyph hacking after they have worn off.

That means for 10 minutes (out of the 30) you get double output, or basically you get 40 minutes worth of hacking in 30 minutes. That’s a 1/3rd increase. Alternately if you only want the 440 useful items, you can stop after 20 minutes (but really, you’ve got the mods and portals, might as well stay the extra 10 minutes!) So you get an extra 145 useful items, assuming that you have cap space for it. But again, that’s assuming there were only four portals. If you added a fifth to the mix, you’ve just neutralized the usefulness of the frakkers for the cost of an extra VRHS and VRMH. However let’s still assume that isn’t the case.

What does this actually mean overall for the Ingress ecosystem?

Well we’ve already shown that if you’re only sticking around for 10 minutes, there’s no difference for 15 people regular hacking four portals using a total of 8*VRHS, 4*FRAK, and 4*CMH, vs glyph hacking using only 4*VRHS and 4*CMH.

If you frak ‘n glyph hack, you’ll get double the output, which basically means that you’ll save 10 minutes.  But let’s try to look at overall impact, and assume that we glyph hack and frack for a half an hour, and that all 15 people in our event have enough inventory space to hold 822 useful items.  The frakkers provided 411 of those, so that’s an ecosystem increase of 15 * 411 = 6,165 items vs doing the same without frakkers.  Let’s also say that your team is crazy dedicated, and you do this once a week, for an increase of 6,165 items per week.

But how many items are being hacked in your city on any given week?  Obviously no numbers like that are available, but we can probably take some ballpark guesstimates to get a feel for the impact.

If you have 15 people who are willing to do this once a week, that probably puts your community around about 500 active people.  Let’s also guess that the average number of useful items hacked per day per person is about 50, or 350 per week.  That means your community produces 175,000 useful items per week!

An increase of 6,165 items is a 3.5% increase.

That’s a pretty small impact for the worst case scenario that I’ve outlined, and it’s provided a decent revenue stream for Niantic.

We’ve made some pretty liberal guesses here, and assumed that your community is large, and super active in order to try to find a worse case scenario.  Most aren’t that active, and really if you had eight portals instead of four and spent 60 instead of 30 minutes, you’d get the same result. So really all we’ve done is save 15 people 30 minutes of hacking a week, at a cost of 12*FRAK but saved 4*VRHS and 8*RMH.

Will frakkers be useful at all?

Absolutely!  Although the worst case scenarios won’t really impact the game play that much, there are places where they will be helpful.

First off in severely rural areas where the portal density (and player density) isn’t available.  Having only a couple P8 portals around and being able to double your output in whatever time you’re able to spend will be locally very beneficial.

Another great benefit: let’s hope that this will actually bring back social farming.

What I’d like to see, is a return to the social filled pre-glyph days of farming events. Since we rarely actually need that many items, I suspect that at ~$1.50 each we won’t even think twice about frakking for the entire burnout cycle when doing a group event, and that means that you can get the same output by non-glyph hacking and talk to your friends at the same time.  All it’ll cost is a few more VRHS and a few dollars worth of frakkers spread out amongst all your attendees. Besides, what’s a few frakking dollars between friends?

Overall I think they will help the game, let us be more social again, and provide a nice non-intrusive revenue stream for Niantic, while not really being all that disruptive.

social ingress 3

Image courtesy of @Xadacka