Tonite there was a game update, multihack is no longer possible.
Multihack was a method in which you went to the portal screen, hit the "Hack" button, pressed ok, waited for the portal screen to reappear, hit "Hack", pressed ok, and so on.
The game was lagging a lot, so you could run 3 to 10 hack attempts in parallel, all of which would eventually yield items at the same time. It was not unusual for a single cooldown period to yield a dozens of items when the game lag was high.
Tonite things changed:
1. Multi hack will cancel all previously active hack attempts. It will also immediately trigger cooldown. The yield is now 0 and you are in 300s cooldown.
2. The lag is gone.
3. Portal keys are not given or are rare. This is intentional and not a bug
4. Shields now work as advertised.
5. XMP strangeness is gone. To hit a resonator, position yourself directly on top of the resonator.
6. Items you had dropped on the map have been purged and are now gone.
7. The item drop duplication bug is gone.
In general, this swings some of the game mechanics in favor of casual players, which is good for Google and for the game. Existing inventory will eventually be spent and things will level our again. Leveling will be a lot slower, items are scarcer than before.
The one thing that stands out is "3 - portal keys are now rare". The casual gamers I asked about this think it sucks and adds a lot of hard grind to the game.
Quotes from casuals that feel like casualties because of this change: "Think what will happen if you drive out to a remote portal and hack it 4 times in 15 minutes before the long cooldown becomes active, and it yields no key at all", "I was playing a large portal fields yesterday night, because I finally had a babysitter, and the update hit right in my session. Suddenly no keys any more and all I could do was taking down blue portals, green them and then no longer link them. This is boring.", "This is boring, only destruction, no building. I will no longer play until this is changed back.", "Just leveled. I think I will retire until it makes sense to play again".
Inventory due to multihacking is still a problem, and is being addressed by Super Ops, cf http://www.nianticproject.com/?id=sc119b
"It seems players have been accumulating too many XM constructs.
The density of XM objects is perturbing the basic functions of the scanner."
It also appears that methods are being discussed to rebalance the game. Possible methods:
A. Bring down item counts forcibly, purge inventory.
"I could alter scanner behavior or purge excess inventories of XM objects"
B. Limit carry capacity, purge excess inventory.
"Alternatively we could limit the the number of XM objects that can be accumulated, to avoid the formation of localized anomalies."
C. Ask people to voluntarily distribute or otherwise limit their inventory.
"We could tell agents to voluntarily purge their inventories."
Also confirmation for the bad key change not being a bug:
D. The portal key thing is not a bug
"The portal key objects have become more difficult to synthesize.
they are appearing less frequently."
The document also speaks about changes in XM distribution and further changes that are afoot. Read it yourself and guess.
This affects game mechanics a lot. In the future, cooperation is becoming much more important. Single players will hardly be able to sustain themselves after Level 5.
As multihack is over, farming becomes much more important. To farm you need a garden, a group of portals of the appropriate level to sustain you. High level portals need XM to recharge, probably a lot more XM than a single person can bring in without investing a large amount of time.
Again, the key change breaks structures here: In order to recharge remotely, you need a key. Keys are now rare. Also, recharging remotely, pouring XM into a garden, does not give you AP, hence 'watering' a garden is not an attractive operation in the game. I expect further changes to the game mechanics here.
Other roles besides watering
the garden with XM are harvesting items ( farming
) from it and distributing it among the group, protecting ( guarding
or general defense play ) the garden by pouring XM into it under attack (there is insufficient warning against attacks at the moment to be able to play this properly, we need items that can warm against the presence of enemy players close by, and we need items that notify a group of players protecting a garden reliably and quickly in case of an attack), and building
structures such as fields. Also, attack
play, attacking enemy gardens, fields, links and portals.
All in all, in order to be long term attractive and still be able to fascinate casual gamers, further changes are necessary and the portal key change needs to be reverted fast, or otherwise be mitigated. Yet still, the changes of tonight are a good thing and a great step forward, but one - the portal key change.