Glyph hacking (sometimes called glyphing or glacking) is a memorization minigame that you can choose to play when hacking a portal. To perform a glyph hack, long press the “Hack” button on the portal info card.
There are five phases to glyph hacking:
- Command input
- Glyph display
- Glyph input
Check out the video below for an overview, then read below for full details of each phase. (Note that at the time the video was created, the command input phase had not been added to the scanner yet.) Note that once you’ve given the command to perform a glyph hack, you can leave the portal’s range without the hack failing.
Before the glyph hack begins, you’ll see the words “Command channel open…” on the screen. At this time you will have a couple of seconds to input a glyph to alter the glyph hack. After completing a command glyph, you’ll be given a couple more seconds to enter another if you want. Note that you can only use one glyph from each command group; entering another glyph from the same group will cancel the previous one. A “Bypass” button also appears on the screen during this time. Tapping it cancels the glyph hack and performs a regular hack instead, and any command glyphs you may have entered will be ignored.
Below is a list of the known command groups and the effect of each glyph:
Portal Key Request: LESS and MORE
LESS prevents the portal from yielding a key. This may be handy if you have no use for a key to the portal you’re hacking.
MORE requests a key from this portal, even if you already hold one for it. This won’t always be successful; it is believed that the success rate is the same as for a regular hack on a portal for which you don’t currently hold a key (about 75%).
Glyph Display Speed: SIMPLE and COMPLEX
SIMPLE causes glyphs to be displayed for a longer time. This may be useful if you find glyph hacking too difficult and want more time to memorize them. Note that you do not get any more time to draw the glyph.
COMPLEX causes glyphs to display very quickly. The screen will also only flash once instead of three times during the “Get ready…” prompt. The time given to draw the glyph remains unchanged. This command is useful for experts who want to glyph hack multiple portals faster.
The scanner will now display between one to five glyphs, one at a time. The higher the portal’s level, the more glyphs are shown (see the table below). Each glyph is normally shown for approximately one second; this time is increased if you entered SIMPLE during the command input phase, and reduced if you entered COMPLEX. Once all the glyphs have been shown, a “Get ready…” prompt will appear and the screen will flash three times, brighter each time (or just once if you entered the COMPLEX command glyph). After the flashing, the glyph input phase begins.
In this phase, you must draw the glyphs you saw during the glyph display phase in the same order. A countdown timer will be displayed, and the higher the portal’s level, the less time you will have. When drawing the glyphs, make sure to touch each node; skimming past one will cause the glyph to be malformed and you won’t get credit for it, even if the resulting glyph looks the same. “Backtracking” to get a missed node is permitted, though, as long as the resulting glyph is well-formed.
After the first glyph is drawn, a “Redo” button appears (although it probably would have been clearer to label it “Undo”). Tapping it will undo your last draw operation, allowing you to retry a botched glyph. You can tap it multiple times, undoing all drawn glyphs if you wish. Only the last attempt at any one glyph is counted for scoring. The timer is unaffected, so redoing glyphs comes at the cost of losing additional time. If you need to undo the last glyph, you must press the button quickly, as you only have a moment before the glyph sequence is submitted to the server, at which point you cannot change it.
The IMPERFECT Glyph
The glyph for IMPERFECT has a trick to it. The bottom-left and top-right nodes in the glyph are connected twice, once with the center node between and once without. The diagram shown here demonstrates one way to correctly draw the IMPERFECT glyph:
When you’ve drawn all the glyphs or the timer runs out, your performance is then evaluated. The glyphs are displayed one at at time: if you drew it correctly, it will be cyan and have a particle burst effect behind it; otherwise, it will be red and have no burst effect. Tap the “Done” button if you wish to skip the scoring phase.
The hacking bonus starts at 0% and increases for each glyph you drew correctly. Each correct glyph is worth a +10% hacking bonus. If you get all the glyphs in the sequence correct, it further increases your hacking bonus (see the table below). Incorrect glyphs neither increase nor decrease your hacking bonus. Even if you get them all wrong, you’ll still get the items you would have gotten from a regular hack. Higher hacking bonuses improve the average hack yield, though individual yields can vary significantly.
A speed bonus will be awarded if you draw all the glyphs correctly. It is based on the amount of time left on the clock: the faster you draw the glyphs, the greater your speed bonus will be. The speed bonus further increases your hack yield. If you get even one glyph wrong, you will receive no speed bonus.
Once your glyph hack has been scored, you will be granted your rewards. The standard hack animation is displayed, then you will be shown two overlays. The first one will show the normal hack gear: this is what you would have received regardless of your glyph hacking results. Next is the bonus gear: this is your reward for glyph hacking. The higher your hacking and speed bonuses, the greater the average bonus yield.
If you got all the glyphs correct in the sequence, you will also receive glyph hack points. The number of points you receive depends on the portal’s level; higher-level portals award more points (see the table below). As long as you get all the glyphs right, you’ll get the same number of points regardless of how long you took. The scanner won’t display how many points you received in the rewards display, but you can see your glyph hack points total increase on your agent profile. Glyph hack points have no effect on your hack yield, but help you earn the Translator medal.
Finally, you earn AP from glyph hacking. You increase the AP you receive by getting more glyphs correct and drawing them faster. If you glyph hack an enemy portal, you’ll get the 100 AP from that in addition to whatever AP you earn from glyph hacking.
For details about the exact numbers behind these rewards, see the chart and formulas at the bottom of this article.
Glyph hacking can be intimidating when you first start doing it, especially for high-level portals. You may want to use the SIMPLE command at first to slow down the glyph display and give yourself more time to memorize each glyph. Note that this doesn’t give you any more time to draw it, however.
Of course, the best rewards come from hacking level 8 portals perfectly and quickly, but many people find this to be a tall order. Your performance at glyph hacking will improve if you have the glyphs memorized. There’s a handy online glyph dictionary at glyphtionary.com. If you find the prospect of memorizing all those glyphs daunting, focus on the following list of the most commonly encountered glyphs:
There are various ways in which glyphs are related to one another. Learning these can help you memorize them.
Antonyms and other related glyphs tend to be mirror images or rotations of each other:
- ADVANCE and RETREAT
- BARRIER and PATH
- CONTRACT/REDUCE and GROW
- CREATE and DESTROY
- FAILURE and EVOLUTION/SUCCESS/PROGRESS
- FORGET and IGNORE
- GAIN and LOSE
- MIND and SOUL
- NOURISH and REPAIR
- PURSUE and WANT
- DATA and MESSAGE
- PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE
Rotated 180° (which may also count as reflections, depending on the shape):
- ATTACK and DEFEND
- BEFORE and AFTER
- BREATHE/LIVE and DIE
- CALL and RESPONSE
- CAPTURE and LIBERATE
- CIVILIZATION and NATURE
- COURAGE and FEAR
- DESTINATION and DISTANCE (opposites in the sense of “near” and “far”)
- DETERIORATE and IMPROVE
- I/ME/SELF and OTHER/YOU
- IMPURE and PURE
- INTERRUPT and SUSTAIN
- LESS and MORE
- NEW and OLD
- THEM and US
Sometimes a related glyph is created by making small modifications to an existing glyph:
- ABSENT and PRESENT
- CONFLICT and COURAGE (and, via rotation, FEAR)
- CONTEMPLATE and ENLIGHTENED
- FOLLOW and LEAD
- I/ME/SELF and US
- HELP and TOGETHER
- LIE and TRUTH
- OTHER/YOU and THEM
- STRONG and WEAK
Some glyphs are related in other ways:
- The shape of the HUMAN glyph is a combination of the shapes of the BODY, MIND, and SOUL glyphs.
- There are several compound glyphs, created by combining two glyphs into one: CLEAR ALL, OPEN ALL, and SUSTAIN ALL.
- PRESENCE includes the glyph for PRESENT (as well as ACCEPT and XM, though the relationship to these glyphs is less clear).
Some concepts have more than one glyph associated with them:
- There are three glyphs associated with the concepts of CREATIVITY, IDEA, MIND, and THOUGHT. One appears to embody all four terms, another represents just CREATIVITY, and a third represents IDEA/MIND/THOUGHT.
- SELF: It appears that one is more closely related to the first-person pronoun I/ME, while the other is more related to the concept of an INDIVIDUAL.
- STRUGGLE: Both AVOID and RESIST/RESISTANCE can also mean STRUGGLE.
There are some glyphs which, despite having related meanings, do not appear visually related:
- BALANCE/PERFECTION and IMPERFECT
- BEGIN and END
- COMPLEX and SIMPLE
- CONFLICT and HARMONY
- DANGER, SAFETY and SAVE
- DIFFICULT and EASY
- HARM and REPAIR
- HAVE and WANT
- QUESTION and ANSWER
There are some glyphs that appear visually related but do not have obvious related meanings beyond speculation. Without further insight into Shaper culture and the etymology of glyphs, we can’t know whether these glyphs are truly related or their similar appearance is coincidental:
- ABANDON and RESTRAINT are reflections of each other.
- ABSENT, INSIDE, and NO/NOT all share the same glyph.
- ADAPT and SAVE are reflections of each other, and both look like incomplete versions of WORTH.
- EQUAL and PRESENT/NOW are reflections of one another.
- IMPERFECT looks like an incomplete version of LIE (which is itself an incomplete version of TRUTH).
Glyph sequences are not random: they form meaningful “sentences,” such as “LIBERATE PORTAL[s to] LIBERATE [the] HUMAN MIND.” Some of the sequences seem to have a pro-Shaper message, others are anti-Shaper, and still others seem to be neutral or ambiguous. Once you have learned the Shaper language enough to read the actual meaning of the sequences, you will find that glyph hacking becomes easier. After all, it’s easier to remember a short sentence then a jumble of seemingly unrelated symbols.
While glyph hacking will increase the average yield of your hacks, it is more time-consuming, which can reduce your hack rate. If you are running a circuit of portals with little time in between hacks, you may want to do regular hacks instead of glyph hacks. If you’re a glyph hacking pro, you can partly compensate for this by using the COMPLEX command.
If you care more about glyph hack points than gear and AP (because you’re working towards the Translator medal), remember that you get the same number of points regardless of the amount of time left on the clock. Don’t worry so much about speed and just focus on getting them all correct. Use the “Redo” button if needed.
|1||1||+28%||20 sec||20 sec||1||1|
|2||2||+40%||20 sec||10 sec||1||½|
|3||3||+55%||20 sec||6⅔ sec||2||⅔|
|4||3||+55%||19 sec||6⅓ sec||4||1⅓|
|5||3||+55%||18 sec||6 sec||4||1⅓|
|6||4||+80%||17 sec||4¼ sec||8||2|
|7||4||+80%||16 sec||4 sec||8||2|
|8||5||+112%||15 sec||3 sec||15||3|
Formulas For Math Geeks
- P is 1 if all glyphs were drawn correctly and 0 otherwise (P = ⌊Gcorrect ÷ Gtotal⌋),
- Bhack is the hacking bonus,
- Gcorrect is the number of glyphs you got correct,
- Gtotal is the total number of glyphs in the sequence,
- Bperfect is the perfect hack bonus corresponding to the number of glyphs in the sequence, as shown in the table above,
- Bspeed is the speed bonus,
- Tleft is the time remaining on the clock,
- Tlimit is the total time you were given to draw the sequence, as shown in the table above,
- APbase is the amount of AP earned for correctly-drawn glyphs,
- APbonus is bonus AP earned for drawing all glyphs correctly,
- AP is the total amount of AP earned from the glyph hack. (Note: Does not include AP from hacking enemy portals.)
Example: Suppose you perform a perfect glyph hack on a L7 portal with 5 seconds left. Your hacking bonus would be 10% × 4 + 1 × 80% = 120% (4 correct glyphs and perfect hack bonus). Your speed bonus would be 1 × ⌊100 × 5 ÷ 16⌋ = 31% (5 out of 16 seconds left). Finally, you would earn 8 glyph hacking points and 50 × 4 + 20 × 1 × 20.5×4 + 31 = 231 AP.
- Glyph hacking was released on 18 February 2014.
- On 4 March 2015, bonus AP began to be awarded for perfect glyph hacks.
- The command channel, supporting only the MORE and LESS commands, was released on 22 December 2015.
- On 24 March 2016, the SIMPLE and COMPLEX commands were added to the command channel.