The Key and the Eye: Hidden Meanings in the Faction Symbols

[This is a slightly off-topic post on Ingress game design and lore, rather than Ingress gear.]

The more I research Ingress, the more impressed I’ve become about the research and thought that has gone into the game design. Many of the nuances of the game are completely missed by the vast majority of players, but are brilliantly and creatively conceived by the game’s developers, Niantic Labs at Google.

An example of this is the faction symbols. In Ingress “lore”, the Resistance are fighting for humanity against the “ingression” of the aliens known as “Shapers”, whose technology is able to control or influence human minds. The Resistance are represented by the colour blue, and the symbol of a key. The other faction, the Enlightened, support the Shapers, apparently under the belief that their influence will advance mankind. They are represented by an eye symbol, and the colour green.

Artworks by Scott Manley

Most players don’t pay a moment’s notice to all of the symbolism going on here. The Enlightened “eye” is a stylised version of the Eye of Horus, a recurring symbol since ancient Egypt.  In Egyptian mythology, the god Osiris was murdered and his body torn to pieces.  Horus retrieved the pieces of Osiris to heal and restore Osiris, and thus the Eye of Horus has been associated with healing, restoration, and protection for thousands of years.

This storyline is reflected almost perfectly in the recent “#13Magnus” event in Ingress.  In this so-called “anomaly” in the game, Roland Jarvis, leader of the Enlightened faction, was exposed to high levels of XM radiation, and subsequently killed by NIA operatives.  However, he survived as an XM entity visible in the portal at Cupid’s Span, and the shards of his being, or “Jarvis Shards” were later reassembled from all over the world, bringing him back to life on “Reckoning Day,” the 14th of December, 2014.

The Eye of Horus was also known in ancient times as “Wadjet”. According to Wikipedia:

The name Wadjet is derived from “wadj” meaning “green”, hence “the green one”, and was known to the Greeks and Romans as “uraeus” from the Egyptian “iaret” meaning “risen one”

The green colour representing the Enlightened is thus reflected in the ancient etymology of the name of their symbol, and is also, coincidentally, perhaps the most appropriate colour for representing the “aliens,” who are sometimes referred to as “little green men” in more contemporary culture.

The Eye of Horus is sometimes also referred to as the “Eye of Providence” or the “All-Seeing Eye”, and contemporary conspiracy theorists link this symbol with organisations such as a New World Order and the Freemasons, and the founders of the United States of America (the All-Seeing Eye appears, otherwise rather inexplicably, on the US $1 bill).  Given that the Enlightened represent the rise of a new alien power, the symbolic connection here is rather strong.

What about the Resistance, represented by a blue key?  Amongst the concepts symbolised by the key is a metaphor for “Man’s Greatness”.  However, the matching ancient symbolism for the key is the Egyptian Ankh, representing “Eternal Life” – which is reflected in the Christian symbolism of St Peter’s keys representing the “keys to eternal life”.

Will we see this connection with the symbolism of the Resistance emblem emerging more strongly in the future?  Does ADA, the Turing-test-capable artificial intelligence, represent an immortal being, allied with the Resistance?

The lore of the game is still unfolding, and perhaps some of these connections with the ancient symbolism of both factions will continue to also unravel…

The TechSling: a holster for your scanner

Just checking out the TechSling – a holster-like harness that holds all your technology close at hand, with room for a 7″ or 10″ tablet, a phone, and a zip-up compartment that might be useful for battery packs and cables.

Image

It looks like a useful way to carry gear, concealed under a jacket or coat for covert Ingressing; but because devices have to be pulled out to use, and the holsters will tend to move around a lot if you are actively running or cycling between portals, this isn’t something I’ll be ordering myself.  If anyone else tries one of these out for Ingress, though, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the “Comments” section below.

Clothing designed for all your gear

As you become a more addicted experienced agent, and start carrying extra batteries, battery packs, spare cables, a torch for night operations, water for long operations, and perhaps even multiple devices in case one fails… carrying all this gear starts to become a bit of an issue, especially if you are Ingressing on foot, or carpooling as a group.

I’ve tried using backpacks and various other bags for Ingress, but all bags tend to have downsides.  Backpacks have to be taken off and put back on getting in and out of cars; and shoulder bags flop around and get in the way when running between portals.

Rather than carry a cumbersome bag, I have instead turned to Scottevest‘s range of clothing, which allow you to store all of your bits and pieces in the clothing itself.  There are a huge range of options for both men and women, ranging from simple t-shirts and polo shirts, with three of four hidden pockets in the seams, through to the $440 Limited Edition ALT-10M leather jacket with 22 pockets, or the Brad Thor Alpha Jacket (currently sold out, but more coming soon) with a crazy 36 pockets of all kinds distributed all over the jacket.  There are also various pants on offer (the cargo pants or zip-off travel pants may be particularly appealing to Ingress agents), and even hats with hidden pockets.

pocket-map-alt10m_xray
Pockets and features in the ALT-10M jacket – there’s even a place to put a drink bottle and a full-sized iPad!

Most of the Scottevest clothing range features an internal wiring system that allows you to wire cables through the clothing invisibly and internally.  I’ve found that this is especially suited to Ingress for wiring power cables through the jacket to an external scanner, while keeping the battery pack to which they are attached safely zipped in an inside pocket.

My favourite Scottevest garment for Ingress is my Tropiformer Jacket.  This jacket has sleeves that can be removed from and added back to the vest part, using magnetic clasps that allow the sleeves to be added and removed without removing the whole jacket.

p3_wt_tropiformer-15

It is fully waterproof, so is awesome for keeping all your gadgets dry in all kinds of weather; and even has a special transparent pocket which allows you to use your scanner without even taking it out of your pocket:

normal

The Tropiformer Jacket is made of tropical-weight fabric, which makes it versatile and suitable for warm days (in vest mode) through to cooler spring or autumn days (with the sleeves attached).  The roughly equivalent style for women, with detachable sleeves, is the Kelly Jacket.

p2_kelly_jacket-03

I will add, however, that it might take a bit of getting used to thse transforming jackets: the first day I wore my Tropiformer out, I tried to hold it by the sleeves to place it over the back of my chair in an upmarket restaurant with my wife.  The vest was loaded with tech gear, keys, and wallet, and the combined weight  pulled the vest part away to fall with a loud thud on the floor; leaving me holding just a couple of sleeves in the air and feeling very sheepish indeed!

A Watch for Ingress: Pebble + NATO Band + Compass

Watches.  They’re sooo last century – am I right?

Actually, I’ve been using my Pebble as a rather trusty companion for Ingress, and it’s a pretty awesome add-on for a few reasons:

  • It allows me to receive notifications of portal attacks by buzzing as soon as I receive a notification email from Niantic
  • It allows me to screen emails before needing to whip out my scanner if I am not actively in the field, or if I am driving – as well as screening G+ threads or other social media for relevance
  • There are a few cool faction-themed watch faces circulating now (STOP: Resistance Time!)
  • I can check my scanner’s battery status on my wrist using the Glance app for Pebble

Image

NATO Strap

It’s certainly helpful that the Pebble is water-resistant for field operations in all climatic conditions; and by changing the standard rubber watch strap that came with the Pebble to a NATO military strap, it is better secured to my wrist (the way a NATO strap is attached means that if one of the pins securing it to the watch breaks, the watch will stay attached to one’s wrist).  If other agents would like to attach a custom strap to their Pebble, the appropriate strap size is 22mm.  There are numerous NATO straps in various shades of Resistance blue or Enlightened green for those who would like to show their team colours. I got mine on eBay for about $9, and I preferred a subtle all-black band rather than sporting an overtly military or brightly coloured watch band: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/200877477841?var=500137539672&ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649.

The one I have is cheaper than some of the others on eBay, but isn’t very long, sized for wearing on the wrist.  “Real” NATO straps are longer, allowing them to be put on over clothing (e.g. fatigues, wetsuits).  The extra length is tucked back through the extra loops on the outside of the strap when worn on the wrist – just something to be aware of.

Bearing Compass

I’ve also been trying out a wrist-mounted bearing compass for navigating to new portals while driving – previously, a compass was also useful for resonator deploys, to quickly determine the direction of the most defensible resonator position when the deploy screen only had cardinal positions rather than a map overlay.

Those days are long gone, but now, in “Navigate to Portal” mode, ADA calls out the direction and distance to the portal targeted, and I can drive in that direction without needing to look at my scanner – just keeping an eye on my compass from time to time.  For navigation on foot, I can even set a bearing on the compass (this one has degrees marked on a rotating bezel, and a bearing arrow on the base) and put away my scanner to save battery or improve my stealth in the presence of other agents.

Image

Still – I’m not sure how terribly useful it is to have a compass on my watchband, to tell you the truth: it hasn’t vastly improved my game as it did with the old cardinal point deployment system.  The only reason it is still on now is because I don’t even notice it on the band, so I haven’t been too fussed about taking it off.  Anyway, if you want one to try for yourself, you can get it on eBay, here: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/COMPASS-Watch-Band-Clip-on-Navigation-Wrist-Compass-New-Precision-LiquidFill-/360463504817?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item53ed4c95b1&_uhb=1

ZeroLemon 10A Battery for Samsung Galaxy Note 3

ZeroLemon 10A Extended Battery for Samsung Galaxy Note 3
ZeroLemon 10A Extended Battery for Samsung Galaxy Note 3

The need for power…

One of the most important tactical considerations when playing Ingress is keeping your mobile device (aka “scanner”) powered.  Most mobile phones have enough battery capacity for a couple of hours of continuous play at the most.  But at the end of the day, after your phone has been in your pocket for several hours, your battery may not be capable of letting you play – especially if it is an older battery with reduced capacity.

There are three ways to prolong your power in the field:

  1. Use an external power source such as an external battery or car-based charger to externally power your scanner
  2. Use replacement batteries that can be swapped in as each battery is depleted
  3. Use an extended battery with a much larger capacity than standard batteries.

Each of these options has its own advantages and disadvantages.  External power allows for non-stop play without having to restart your scanner at some critical moment; but they mean using bulky battery packs and clumsy cables.  Replacement batteries allow your scanner to remain slim and light at all times, but require you to completely shut down your scanner to put in a new battery, which often occurs at a most inopportune moment.  Extended batteries can enable extended, heavy use; but mean carrying a bulkier device.

The best extended batteries available

If you decide that the extended battery option is for you, then you should check outZeroLemon’s batteries for various Android mobile phones.  They claim to have the longest-running, highest capacity batteries available, as well as assuring the quality of their products with a 180-day warranty.  Having heard some very positive reviews of ZeroLemon’s products, I purchased one of their extended battery kits for my Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

My Snapshot7

The kit comes with the largest capacity mobile phone battery in the world, with a whopping 10,000mA of power (10A).  This translates to around three times the life of a standard Note 3 battery, and means some serious stamina in the field.  This afternoon, I played for around three hours after using the phone intermittently during work.  Even after all this activity, my battery capacity had fallen by less than 20%.

Not just a battery…

The ZeroLemon batteries do not fit into the standard battery cavity in the Note 3.  Rather, they stick out behind and to all sides of the orginal battery dimensions, making the standard rear case cover unsuitable for use.  For this reason, ZeroLemon batteries come with a shock and water-resistant hard case with a built-in screen protector, as well as a wrap-around soft bumper case.  The Note 3 battery also comes with a snap-in holder for the whole shebang, with a belt clip in the back that doubles as a kickstand.  It’s all very well put together; once assembled, the phone feels hefty but rock solid.

Conclusions

So far, this product is performing very well indeed.  I’m pretty happy to add my endorsement to the many that are already out there for the ZeroLemon extended battery kits!  Check out this video by another ZeroLemon customer if you want to know more. 🙂

A Case (and Bag) for Playing Ingress on Tablets

Playing Ingress with large tablets can be a troublesome business. Because they don’t fit in the hand, they are prone to being dropped while an agent is active in the field; they are too large to be attached by a lanyard; a protective case makes a large tablet even larger and more bulky; and it is inconvenient to constantly pull a tablet out of a bag and put it away again.

The somewhat verbosely-named iBackFlip TabKeeper 360 is a tablet bag with features that overcomes all of these issues, making it an ideal addition for Ingress agents using tablets. Like other tablet cases, it provides padding and protection; but it is also designed to fit most tablets, varying in size from 7″-10.1″ in such a way as to make them accessible simply by flipping down the front of the case.

The tablet as well as interior contents can be accessed "on the go" by flipping down the front of the case. Internal straps can be adjusted to position the tablet at the ideal angle.
The tablet as well as interior contents can be accessed “on the go” by flipping down the front of the case. Internal straps can be adjusted to position the tablet at the ideal angle.

The strap can also be configured so that the case looks like a messenger bag or a briefcase; but for Ingress agents, its “sling” configuration will be most useful for pulling the bag to the front and flipping out the tablet for use; then closing it up and slipping the bag to the back for maneuvering while the tablet stays secure and safely packed.

CJT-B-IBF-TK360_4

The large back pocket looks large enough for carrying a spare battery or other accessories; and the flat pockets could be used to store, organise, or tidy cables so that the tablet can run off a battery pack within the case.

I’ve ordered one of these and I’ll do a full review when it arrives!  But if you can’t wait for the review and want your own, you can grab one from iBackFlip, who offer international shipping as well as payment via Credit Card or PayPal: http://ibackflip.com/shop/ibackflip-tabkeeper-360/.  You might also like to check out this promo video from iBackflip: