Monday, January 6, 2014

Ingress Dropps the Ban Hammer

At the end of October NIA Ops posted to Google+
Attention Agents: 

As a reminder, the use of unofficial Ingress software or add-ons which interact with the Ingress game server or client may violate the Ingress Terms of Service. This includes but is not limited to mobile clients, desktop clients and plug-ins. In an effort to protect the quality of service and integrity of the game for all our agents, the use of unofficial Ingress software or add-ons may result in your account being banned, reset, or permanently deleted.  

Transmission Complete

This wasn't necessarily new, there was nothing new there had been some other reminders like this. What was different though is that numbers of players were reporting that they were banned.

Reportedly the emails banned players received much later read:

We have reviewed your account and it remains permanently terminated for violations of the Ingress Terms of Service, including Section 2. Use of the Products - Permissions and Restrictions. This includes, but is not limited to, falsifying your location and/or accessing Ingress clients or backends in an unauthorized manner including through the use of third party software.

Please check out our FAQ on this topic for more info
This player said that they used IITC.

Apparently this "reminder" had some bite behind it and was directed to players who used IITC or Ingress "Broot" mod.

Posts on G+ and other places started appearing with players stating they had been banned. Many admitted using IITC, Broot Mod or some other 3rd party product which was in violation, others firmly denied it.

I will admit I used the Broot Mod on my phone briefly, but had removed it well before these actions by Google. I also used IITC desktop to a much greater extent. Once I saw the reality I ditched IITC too.

Are using those things a violation of the TOS, absolutely. Were they cheating, meh.

What were the advantages of Broot Mod? In my opinion very few hardly constituted cheating IMO.

    Broot Mod Item View
  • What I liked best was the chart of your inventory. I could see all my Items in one fell swoop. Quick and easy.
  • Another feature I liked is that you were able to disable animations like rotating items.
  • Another cool feature was the start up was much quicker. Fortunately a later version of the official version added that. 
  • Placing your resonators correctly was also easier with this unapproved version as it told you how far away you were from the portal.
  • The portal view also allowed you to see how old the portal was. 
All of these advantages were what I would consider convenience and aesthetic. Nothing dramatically altering the game experience in your favor. 

As for IITC, I only used (past tense) the desktop version and I really liked it. It offered the interaction I wish Ingress would have offered. It made working with the game much easier. Some of the features of IITC:
  • First and foremost it was much more user friendly.
  • Downloadable plugins to further enhance your use.
  • Much easier to plan fields
  • Player tracker Plug in, you could see where players were recently.
  • Sortable list of portals (one of my favorite things would be to track which portals in the area were how old and plan to attacks on the enemy's portals before they earned Guardian Medals)
  • You could get the street address for portals often (Great for using navigation to get to unfamiliar portals)
  • Counts of portals in a specific area. Good to measure you performance against your opponent.

Once again useful information, but not what I'd consider cheating.

I actually think the Google/ Niantic team should be looking at these things and make changes based on what these products are offering. We've seen that they did shorten the start up animation, and offered a total count of items based on feedback. Hopefully this is just a start.


  1. "Player tracker Plug in, you could see where players were recently" <-- Do you mean you don't think this gives you an unfair advantage (aka cheating) versus those players who don't use or are not aware of IITC? If you don't, then tell me WHEN the use of these tools becomes cheating and when it is not.

    1. Tracking is based on activity, like capturing and attacking and thus is very limited. This information comes from the COMM logs. So no, it's not cheating, it just saves you the hassle of going through the logs.

  2. I can see banning the use of IITC based just on the tracking capabilities honestly. We have one scary player in my area who has made physical threats, as well as stalkerish statements. "I may have taken pictures of you". The very last thing that I want him to be able to do is track me.

    1. Just report him... to the police. This is illegal behaviour.

    2. He is able to track you. Even without iitc -- all he has to do is watch the comm logs for your activity!

  3. People need to read. It does not track anything. It reads out the COMMS in a different interface. That's it.

  4. IITC is just the normal ingress intel rendered in a more user friendly way. If you get banned its because you have used it in a way that pings the servers to often and use more resources than is allocated each player. The limit is unknown so use it at your own risk. If you are afraid of other players or revealing your location data to third parties, Ingress is not a game for you.

  5. Well - a lot of player who started recently and even do not know what IITC or "3rd party tools" mean were banned or warned, too. I stopped using the iitc when it was officially banned. Since I got my "last" warning by niantic, I do not even use the official map, I just use keys to inform myself about regions of interest. Sad but true, I think the fun is vanishing with every ban wave.

  6. I wish they'd ban me... I use IITC and it's awesome. If you've ever looked at the data sent to the Ingress intel map, you can see they send a LOT of information that they don't show. Always have. The Ingress map is also coded pretty poorly. Isn't very performant and could use a lot more tools. The people that make IITC use the same data Google already sends to the intel map and displays it. They also coded it so that it's damn quick. Use local caching and even created a plugin architecture so that people can create tools on what they did.

    If Google wanted to stop most of it, they could simply not send that data. They could also hire the people from IITC and make the intel map amazing.

    Hrm... Upgrade our tools or ban anyone using better tools?

  7. I actually started spoofing for a while just to get my inventory up (I live in a rural area) I didn't attack portals, I just is that cheating? I do not progress the team other than myself and I can't afford to drive 30 miles to the nearest portals......oh yeah, Im banned......keep it up Niantic....this game will die out