The History of Ingress [Part 1]

Welcome to a multi part series documenting the entire history of Ingress.  The game and community has come a long way since November 2012 and we hope to cover all the exciting changes that have happened since then. This is a culmination of personal experiences paired with knowledge from the entire team at Fev Games.

What is the Niantic Project?

This phrase appeared in this Niantic Project uploaded video on November 6, 2012.

This was the start of a 3 video media campaign to spark hype around the Niantic Project and thus similarly, Ingress. This was also during the rise and boom of Google+, which quickly became the home for learning more about the game and to obtain an invite.

For those unaware, Ingress used to be invite only and early adopters obtained invites by following the Team at Niantic on Google+ and making cool posts, usually with the #ingressinvite hashtag. Others signed up on the official website in hopes to obtain an Activation Email.


The above image is the invite email most were waiting on. This activation code was needed to “activate” your account after downloading Ingress. With that you could jump into the rabbit hole that was Ingress.

At this point in time, Ingress was Android only and labeled version 1.0.0. Those lucky enough joined a world where documentation and instructions were slim and features were plentiful. New agents had to discover portals, resonators, xmps, linking, fielding and more on their own.

For some this was amazing. Arguably the first game of its kind paired with real life immersion, combined with a flourishing community around the game. High quality vectors, discussions and sadly talk of spoofing began as early as November 2012.


So what was in Ingress 1.0.0 in terms of functionality?

  1. Level 1-8 XMP Bursters
  2. Level 1-8 Resonators
  3. Portal Shields (mod)
  4. Portal Keys
  5. Media

Portals were sparse and I mean very sparse. My hometown had 3 portals: one park and two memorials in the entire town. That same area today has upwards of 200 portals. Most portals were initially generated via the Historical Marker Database and Post Offices.

In game actions reacted a bit differently in version 1.0.0. For one, we had no power cubes. I remember driving in circles around my town trying to pick up enough XM so I could go attack a Level 4 portal more. At this point in the game though, I believe only attacks from enemy portals drained XM. Using items did not drain XM so holding onto XM wasn’t too hard unless you frequently attacked portals.

What made Ingress special, at least for me, was the community outside of the game. During my first 48 hours of playing the game someone pulled up next to me and asked me if I was playing. I had met my first teammate. He was a higher level than me and packed with information to aid my confused brain. For every question I had, he had answers. I was hooked.

At this point, I had to immerse myself in the game as well as the communities outside of it. Google Groups was the hub for lots of information early on as well as Blogs, Reddit and a Field Guide popping up.


The Scanner


Early on, everyone was still learning how the game worked as well as how teamwork among factions would develop. This led to what today would be called horrible deployment, spam links and more. It however was fun and addicting.


Interfaces looked quite different than what you might be used to today. The carousel allowed agents to manage resonators and mods on the portal from one view.


Community and Updates

Around the end of November, the first update for Ingress came. Version 1.04.0 was released into the wild. Brandon Badger, one of the developers of the application, let us know on Google+ that the new version had been released. This forced me to use Google+ more than I was initially willing to. Back then, I was a freshman in college where Facebook was the social hub of the web.

Google+ was different though. Comments on posts, like Brandon’s release notes, had topics of conversation brewing. It almost was like a forum, but with my public name and account. I had been taught early on in life to keep my full name off the Internet. With the rise of Facebook and other social networking sites, this was not going to happen. I liked having content on the web associated with my name. Ingress brought me into Google+ and kept me there.

Wikis, blogs and Reddit converged on the application and began ripping it apart like hyenas over a dead animal. Every single possible change was being discovered and identified. This update also unfortunately broke support for devices that previously could play Ingress. One of these devices was the Samsung Galaxy Mini, which looking back at was quite amazing it even ran such a graphic intense game. This phone was Android 2.2 with 384MB of RAM. Phones these days usually have between 2-4GB of RAM and infinitely better specs all around.


Scanner Updates

We then hit a week or two of frequent releases. We saw the drop of 1.06.0, 1.08.0 and 1.08.1. These code changes were quick and often. Fixes ranged from crash fixes to reinstating support for other devices.

December rolled through and development slowed as expected. Developers have holidays and family too.

Version 1.12.5 was a big step up from the previous. This version added small layouts to allow tiny phone screens to use the application without button/layout overlap and limited inventory to 2,000 items. Prior to this update some players had way over 2,000 items. Niantic decided not to purge the extra items but to prevent additional hacks of gear until the item count was below 2,000.

Then version 1.18.1 dropped. This version had another big change in terms of what changed.

  1. A stealth patch against spoofing was added. Spoofing back then was easy as mocking location in Android settings. This update prevented such a method from being used.
  2. UI tweaks and changes everywhere, including animations.
  3. XMP Range was changed for every level. The table below shows OLD vs NEW range. (Courtesy of adricm)
Level Old New
1 50m 42m
2 75m 48m
3 100m 58m
4 125m 72m
5 150m 90m
6 200m 112m
7 300m 138m
8 400m 168m

For those who got to experiment with 400 meter range L8 XMP. They were known as weapons of city destruction. L8 XMP are now only 168 meters in range, a startling 58% nerf from the previous value. Any old timers to the world of Ingress can let you know how old school L8 bursters worked.

I’ll end Part 1 here, and we will pick up with version 1.20.0 and the changes it brought in Part 2 of the History of Ingress.