So, how does an Ingress operation to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War happen?
You just need one agent to start the ball rolling. A little push. Add another agent who has a track record of creating beautiful field art. Kick around some concepts, and come up with the idea of drawing a Tommy, symbol of the regular soldier. It’s a tough draw. Parts of the top of the UK are very portal sparse and it’s really hard to create something this intricate. We need more portals or the draw shrinks.
While looking for inspiration, the team had come across “There, but not there”, and the ephemeral nature of field art seemed to resonate with the sentiment behind the charity. The operation now has a name.
The idea was then shared with a few more agents, including some from the opposite faction. People are cautiously interested, but maybe a little nervous as the last UK cross faction operation was tough going.
Things drift for a while.
The field planner meets one of the agents from the other faction at an anomaly, and the ball starts rolling again.
The draw shrinks, and the first few agents are pulled into an organising team.
It’s only a few months to go, and the operation needs to begin recruiting in earnest. Posts go out from both Enlightened UK and the Home Guard – Resistance UK. Chats are spun up for each sector – the blue helmet, green head, blue upper body, teal body, blue/green/blue gun barrel/back/gun stock, blue waist, green legs and blue feet, People start piling in and agents from both factions are identified to lead each sector. Keys start being farmed and moved.
The plan doesn’t reach up to Scotland, so separate discussions begin to identify what the Scottish teams can do. After a few draws and much debate, the teams land on a series of starbursts.
That’s a thing right? How about a pin? Everyone loves those, and people would be proud to sport one from this operation. A designer who helped with the Southampton Mission Day swag steps in to help. The team comes up with a design, but decide it would be wise to talk to the charity to be sure they are happy with the design. Emails are sent explaining what Ingress is and what we are doing to commemorate their centenary, and chased, and then chased again. After tracking down the artist for the charity and having been contacted by one of the charity’s Directors, agreement is received to the pin, and the media director provides some images for the team to use. All monies gained from swag will be donated to the There, But Not there charity.
Now at the sharp, pointy end of things, the organising team start pushing on farming and moving the final keys. Some negotiations about the portals and paths takes place and there are little tweaks to the plan. Up in the north, the team has to manage around some tricky low signal portals. Down in the trouser area, there is a move to a portal called Bangham, and then a late move away from that, necessitating a Resistance agent travelling over 250 miles delivering keys.
Intel op/dispatch support is identified from around the world and added into the mx.
Prime also made its long expected, but surprisingly early, appearance in the run up, leaving agents struggling with working out how to navigate key/capsule management and its slightly unreliable linking meaning fielders being advised to use Ingress <Redacted> if available.
Target time for fields to go up was 10am, to allow for the inevitable delays and also so that agents have time to reflect and pay their respects at 11am. While some areas were finished well in advance, others didn’t quite go to plan, although agents still observed the 11am silence.
Scotland starts off the event with starbursts in the sky above the head of the Tommy.
The teams in the north of England making the blue helmet and the green head make steady progress, taking advantage of the relatively low turnover to start clearing and putting in links and fields in the days during the run up. Agents ventured down roads less travelled. All the fields are put up, barring the ones over the main towns which are left to the end to ensure that agents underneath can still play.
The upper body gets off to a slow start. Many miles are cycled in the rain to make key swaps as keys take the Ingress route round the country. Potals are decayed in many places and some fabulous work is done laying guide links parallel to the paths. New agents get random pings from strangers and graciously allow their fields to die. With a minimal amount of fuss, the field paths are cleared. One of the toughest tasks was locating agents to throw the fields, but in the end the fields quietly fell into place.
The large teal fields in the centre of the draw leveraged the clearing from the surrounding sectors. After the field art was completed, agents at the anchors rotated throws with spare keys to give all the agents involved the opportunity to close a large field.
The back and gun stretch up and down a good portion of the east coast, with some of the largest number of links. In the north at the barrel of the gun, and in the south at the butt, agents are a little thin on the ground, and a lot of concerted cleaning has to take place around Newark. In the centre, the paths skirt close to portal-dense York and are repeatedly frustrated by wayward links. Yet still, the fields go up.
The waist paths run east/west across the country around Stoke-On-Trent and right through Nottingham. The field planner fails to notice they’ve put the path right through their own farm and will end up fielded by the opposing faction. Agents complete most of the clearing on the Saturday, although during one bout of clearing, the path remains open for only a couple of minutes before being closed by an agent happily linking away. The paths do get cleared, although some last minute visits to some gardens are required on the Sunday morning.
The boots – after much debate over which might be the left or right boot, the teams land on describing them as west and east. On the east boot, keys were farmed and swapped at the Southampton Mission Day. For the west boot, one agent does a marathon nine hour day of travelling and farming to get all the keys required. Clearance goes smoothly, although a link goes in to Longstock Water Gardens which is closed. The owner is happy to provide access, but in the end it isn’t required. There is a bit of a panic over some linking from Yeovil, but both boots emerge.
The legs provide some of the trickiest paths to clear, traversing busy areas near Birmingham, the Shropshire hills, the glorious Brecon Beacons, and crossing the River Severn. Some areas clear with limited fuss as agents allow pita portals to decay and fields to drop. However, the team is challenged with some linked portals in the Brecon Beacons – all hills or low/no signal portals. An agent from each faction takes to the hills – one tackles three hills, including Sugar Loaf in the pouring rain, and another loses their way to the trig point on Waun Fach, giving monitoring team members a few more grey hairs than planned, They aren’t even the last hills the team will tackle that weekend.
On the morning of the operation, the legs team rise early to deal with some wayward links that had been thrown overnight. Having dealt with those, some more had to be cleared to across the Shropshire hills. One of our earlier hill climbers ventured up the Wrekin and another tackled Earls Hill in (ever so slightly, unsuitable) cowboy boots. Everyone goes the extra mile.
Clearance completes and a field goes in, but after 11am. The team would have liked to close a further field on the inner thigh, but end up leaving the guide link to provide the hint of a shadow instead. Thanks are due to the agent at the central anchor of the legs who gave the team as much time as they could before, with their understanding, taking it out.
A few statistics – our Tommy was about 480km tall, with a waist about 140km wide, inside leg of 125km, size 75km feet, and a gun that was 300km long.
And so, we were complete. More beautiful than we imagined. The sum of thousands of hours of effort from hundreds of agents, both Enlightened and Resistance. Our small efforts to pay respect to the fallen.
The Oscar bit
While a few hundred people were in the op chats, the agents involved went far beyond those numbers. So many people helped make this operation happen – catherding, planning, providing intel/dispatch support, swag design, farming keys, muling keys, clearing, letting portals decay, not playing in normal areas to keep paths clear, shelving time sensitive field plans, throwing millimetre perfect guide links, sharing kit, providing transport, giving local information, and moral support.
Agents left faction at the door and the world turned upside in the most wonderful way with agents cheering when portals turned into the colour of the opposite faction. Agents flipped farms rather than smashing them, and even (maybe accidentally) upgraded opposition farms in the process.
People worked together and had fun, put names to in-game-names, and gained a new earned respect for their fellow agents.
Why we did it
Four years on from Lest We Forget, we wanted to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.
The remembered, returned.
In remembrance of those who were there, we support those who remain via https://ingresswith.us/support with all profits and donations to the There But Not There charity.
#ThereButNotThere #Remembered #MoreThanAGame
List of participating agents: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1vTj69CD_uj7SjHInZy5Bi30PUosGRcd-aRiWcqcHt5U/edit?usp=sharing
Images of Remembrance: https://photos.app.goo.gl/5q1quMqHAwGCUnvb9
Other photos from the teams: https://photos.app.goo.gl/RzDt6KExzQRapR9E6