/ POKEMON, NIANTIC

The Definitive Guide on how to submit the Perfect Pokestop/Portal - Part 3

Part 1, Part 2

Update 25/05/20: I heavily modified the Plugins section, some people were having trouble installing them and I found out about a new single plugin that does everything the others did :)

Now that you’ve learned the basic on how to submit the perfect Wayspot and you’re now a professional on submitting photo spheres to Google Street View it’s time for the advanced level: S2 Cells.

S2 Cells: What are they and what they are for

In semi-layman’s terms “S2 Cells” are a way to infinitely subdivide a sphere in order to index information in an efficient way by using Hilbert’s curves. Ok, you still don’t get it?

Imagine that you have Earth, right? (Yes, Earth is Sphere-like, not a Plane as some like to think!)

Now you need an efficient way to subdivide this sphere, how’d you do that?

Well, see that blue cube around earth? We’ll just project it onto it’s surface!

This image representes a Hilbert's curve projected on Earth. This is not an S2 Cell per se like we'll see below.

Nice! This is is the basis for what forms an S2 Cell!

From there we can get that cube we projected on Earth and each face we’ll call a Cell!

This is the representation of S2 Cells Level 1 on Earth.

Now that the Earth has 6 faces projected onto it, we can perfectly subdivide it by dividing each face into 4 smaller Cells. So now we have S2 Cells Level 1 (Level 0 being only the original 6 faces). If we subdivide that again we get S2 Cells Level 2 and so forth and so on for infinity!

Remember, every time you go up an S2 Cell Level you're basically dividing every cell in 4 smaller cells.

And we can do that INFINITELY because S2 Cells behave like fractals, so they are infinitely subdividable.

Google found out that by creating those S2 Cells they could represent minuscules geographical units using single digits, making it perfect for computers to store and index as data. This way you can store traffic data, addresses or even points of interest around the world. Niantic then decided to use this tech as basis for controlling almost everything that happens in their games, such as:

  • Determining Weather around you on Pokemon Go (S2 Cells Level 10)
  • Determining where that Hatched Pokemon came from (S2 Cells Level 10)
  • Determining the creation of new Pokestops (S2 Cells Level 17)
  • Determining which Pokestops can become a Gym (S2 Cells Level 14)
  • Determining which Gym will send out Raid EX passes (S2 Cells Level 13)

and even more stuff…

To understand more about S2 Cell usage on apps like Google Maps, please read this awesome post by Sven Kreiss from Sidewalk Labs.

S2 Cells: How Niantic uses it

Now that we understand what S2 Cells are and their different levels, we’re going to see how Niantic uses it in its games, focusing on Pokemon Go because it has the most restrictions about Wayspots.

From this point on I’m going to refer to S2 Cells in a different way. I’m going to call an S2 Cell Level 10 as S10 Cell or an S2 Cell Level 17 as an S17. But the correct way to refer to an S2 Cell is writing “ S2 Cell Level 17” or “L17 Cell”. I don’t want to write that all the time, and you’ll probably understand what I’m saying when I refer to it as S17.

When you submit a new Wayspot what you’re basically doing is telling Niantic that a specific coordinate (a point on earth) has something special about it, but there are rules that dictate if that point can become a Wayspot or not.

It’s of EXTREME IMPORTANCE that you understand the points below so you can submit the perfect Pokestop!

  • No Wayspot can be created in an area of less than 20 meters from another Wayspot.
  • Only 1 Wayspot on every S17 Cell can become a Pokestop or a Gym.
    • This rule only applies for Pokemon Go
  • On Ingress (and HPWU) Portals/Inns are can be created in any free S19 Cells and respecting the 20m distance of each other.
  • It’s not possible for a Wayspot to occupy 2 or more S2 Cells by being on top of dividing lines.
    • A Wayspot will always be on only ONE Cell at a time.

Now back to Part 2 of this Guide, you remember when I went to the park to submit a new Wayspot and I mentioned that the cell was empty?

Ok, so I wanted to submit a new Wayspot on a park that I found an empty cell on and I realized that bridges on trails and in parks are now eligible Wayspots! Knowing a bridge in that exact spot, I decided to go out and enjoy the beautiful day.

I was actually referring to a specific S17 cell on that park that didn’t have any Wayspot inside! If a new Wayspot appeared inside it would create a new Pokestop on Pokémon Go!

Those green dots are existing Wayspots, being either Pokestops or Portals. The S2 Cell that I chose, however, was completely empty.

Please note the red circle around my submission. That circle represents the 20m radius around my Point of Interest. If this red area touches an existing Wayspot, your submission won’t appear in ANY of Niantic’s games! Even if it is accepted by the community!

But it’s important to state that the areas themselves can touch each other, what can’t happen is another Wayspot actually being inside another’s area!

As you can see it's not a problem having areas touching each other, just be careful of not placing a Wayspot inside another one's area. It can get a bit tricky.

But no one’s perfect and my first submissions were not…. ideal. Below is one my firsts, unfortunately I accidentally put it inside another’s area, making it invalid, even if it was accepted and it’s S17 Cell was empty.

But I managed to correct this error before I “upgraded” my submission; by going back there and re-submitting my proposal:

It's important to add that the new location is still located near the real Point of Interest.

Below I’ll show you a step-by-step on how I resubmitted this Wayspot so you can learn how to do it proper :)

Using S2 Cells in your submissions

Installing IITC

Now that you know what S2 Cells are and how Niantic uses it in its games, it’s time to get your phone and head outside!

You’ll need:

  • An Ingress account! (Google Play or App Store)
    • Create your account and choose the green team
      • I’m kidding :P choose which one you prefer! IITC works for both factions ;)
    • Skip the Tutorial if you’re not feeling it
  • Download the IITC-CE Mobile (Google Play ou App Store)
  • Open the IITC-CE App once just to have everything ready

Instaling Pogo Tools

First let’s install the Plugin that will help you submit the perfect Wayspots:

Pogo Tools by AlfonsoML

  • Click the link above, if it asks which app you want to open the file with, point it to IITC-CE and be happy, skip to the next section, just don’t forget to make sure the Plugin is activated. (If your mobile doesn’t do this, keep reading below)

Advanced Install:

  • If your mobile doesn’t ask in which app you wish to run the file, click and hold the link and select “Download Link”.

Now open the IITC app, click on the top right menu, select Plugins then click again on the top right menu and select “Add external plugins”.

The next screen may change in your device since each device has a different UI, just try to find more or less the same options as I (or try searching for s2check.txt if your device lets you)

Open the menu on the top left, search for the Downloads folder, then find the file called s2check.txt, select it and, on IITC, press Yes when prompted.

Now go back to IITC, click on the top right menu, select Plugins and go to Layer, then make sure Pogo Tools box is checked (if it isn’t already).

I use some different plugins to see S2 Cells, feel free to install other IITC plugins that you like!

(Thanks to AlfonsoML for reaching out on Reddit and showing me his cool Plugin! It’s really cool, you can follow updates on his Twitter.)

Setting up IITC Mobile app

IITC is a community-made app that let’s you see every existing Wayspot around the world, be it Portals, Pokestops, Inns… It uses Ingress’s Intel as base and because of that it needs that game’s account for you to be able to log in.

When you first open IITC you’ll probably see something scary like this:

Hey! How about you give Ingress a try while you're at it? It's a fun game and very different from PoGo :)

Don’t worry, we’re going to clean this mess so you can actually understand what you’re looking at. First click on the Top-Right button and click on Layer Chooser:

Now you’re going to change the Base Layer from Google Default Ingress Map to Google Roads.

Now let’s turn on your location on the map. Go to the menu on the right, open the Settings menu the click “Displayer user location on map” and check the 3rd option.

Pokemon Go Players: We’re almost there! Now open the top left menu, click on Info and go to PoGo Settings and check the “This is PoGo!” box (This will hide everything that is not pogo-related from your IITC App! Don’t do this if you play ingress as well)

All right, you’re now 100% set up! Now you can go and use S2 Cells in your submissions!

But wait, here’s a quick crash-course on Pogo Tools :)

Pogo Tools Crash Course

1 - Display S2 Cells

On the main screen you’ll see that there are a bunch of colored quads, each one of this is a different S2 Cell. The small ones represent Level 17 Cells (S17) and the big ones represent Lvl 14 Cells (S14). I highlighted them in red so you can see what I’m talking about. You can turn on and off the cells by checking the S2 Grid options in the Layer Chooser menu.

Ingress and Harry Potter players: In the Info menu, by going to PoGo Settings you can turn off the S14 cells and change the S17 to S19 (the relevant cells to your games).

Only do this if you're an Ingress/Harry Potter player!

2 - Display the 20m radius

By using Pogo Tools you can see the 20m radius around each Wayspot. Those are the grey circles shown below and they are essential in guiding you to place valid Wayspots. Remember that if you submit something that’s inside this radius it won’t be accepted!

3 - Mark cells in which a Pokestop already exists!

Ok, let’s say you found a nice place to put a new Wayspot in, but there’s already one there that you can’t quite say which S2 Cell it occupies; that dang Wayspot is right on top of a S2 Cell divider line! Fret not because Pogo Tools can help you.

First find that Wayspot on the map, then press on it to select it, look at the bottom of the app, there should be a grey bar with the name of the wayspot and 3 little buttons, click the Pokeball button!

There you go! Now you not only marked that Wayspot as a being Pokestop, but the app also paints the Cell which contains that Wayspot in grey! (Remember, Wayspots can exist and not be a Pokestop in PoGo)

Obs: You can click that button again to remove the grey cell if you so desire. You can also just go to Layer Chooser and disable Pokestops to hide its visibility.

How to use IITC and S2 Cells to Submit Wayspots

Part 1 - Planning

The first step is for you to walk around your neighborhood or around the place you’re thinking to placing your submission, go with a critical eye and visualize your options on your way. I, for instance, used to walk all the time on a street behind mine’s while playing PoGo but I never realized that I could actually put 3 Pokestops there! Only once I went with purpose, looking for possible Wayspots, I realized that street’s potential!

Another thing to do is look at IITC before leaving home. Open the app and look at the places where you know there are possible candidates and also look at places where it’s full of Wayspots, you’ll save a ton of walking time just by opening the app and scanning your possibilities before leaving home!

ALWAYS CHECK IITC BEFORE SUBMITTING ANYTHING!!

Ok so while walking I found a Shared Biking Stating that wasn’t a Wayspot yet, let’s try to submit it together, like it’s our first test:) There are a bunch of Wayspots featuring those here in my area so the possibility of adding this one is a bit high.

Look at IITC I realized something, its location was a bit crowded with 2 other Wayspots near it, each occupying a different S17, but there was an empty cell that I could definitely use!

The good thing about this particular Wayspot is that it’s very long, it occupies a big area, so I had more options while choosing where to place its Pin.

We’ll submit it on this S17, but we have to do it properly because we don’t have much space to work with.

Part 2 - Eyeballing it

Because neither Ingress nor Pokemon Go show S2 Cells during the submission process, we’ll have to eyeball everything. But don’t worry because it’s actually VERY easy.

First thing we’re going to do is make both maps (Game and IITC) talk to each other, in the Set Portal Location (Pokestop) screen click the Map button.

Now that both the IITC and the Game’s Map are using the same layout it’s WAY more easy to visualize what you’re doing! So, go back to IITC and give it a big zoom so you can better see where to actually put the Location Pin of your Point of Interest.

Ok, now the important part here its for you to choose a reference point that you can visualize perfectly on both apps (Game and IITC). In my case I chose this slightly orange building and I’ll base everything on its shape and the shape of the other buildings around it to choose the perfect spot.

The red square is my reference point, I’m going to look at this on both IITC and Ingress/Pokemong Go to place my Pin in the right spot.

The green ellipsis is the ideal area to place my Wayspot.

The purple line is my “danger threshold”, because we’re eyeballing it we need to set a limit where a slight misplacement could go wrong and you can waste a submission. Remember to put everything to the right of this line, just so you’re sure you won’t go wrong.

Use the other buildings or other topography marks to trace your reference points. The purple line I drew is based on an invisible line that comes from the building below my reference:

Also pay close attention to the S17 Cell division! If you place your pin on the wrong cell you may end up creating a Wayspot that won’t become a Pokestop (only an Ingress Portal or a Harry Potter Inn).

Going back to the submission process… Now that you’re setting the Location Pin, choose the best zoom that you’re confortable with. (Try to maintain the same level of zoom on IITC and the Game).

Now we will move the Pin, but always going back and looking at IITC to make sure we’re putting the Pin in the best place possible, using your references like I said above.

Now you just need to confirm it and keep on writing the perfect Wayspot submission, like we talked about on Part 1 of the guide!

I also did a video showing the process and how fast it is to do.

With a little bit of practice you’ll be placing Wayspots where you want and no one will be able to stop you!

Placing Wayspots like a boss!

There you go! Now you know how to make the Perfect Wayspot, the accompanying Photo Sphere and now you know how to use S2 Cells in your favor when submitting new Wayspots!

You must be asking if after all this is there more to learn… The answer is yes :P Here are some:

  • How to create and choose a specific Pokestop to become a Gym
  • How to review Wayspot submissions

But this goes a bit over the scope of this project, which was to teach you about Wayspots and the best way to submit them so you can improve gameplay for you and your community :)

I’ll end here for now, without plans of continuing. But if you have a lot of interest hit me up on Twitter, give me some feedback and maybe I’ll continuing writing stuff!

Thank you all!

@elamhut