Passcodes are merely a alpha numeric (letters and numbers) string of characters that you enter into the Ingress Scanner or the Intel Map to receive in game Mission Items such as Resonators or Xmp Bursters.
Passcodes started out as being unlimited use, but sometime in late November they were changed to be limited use. We believe that the passcodes become invalid after X number of players redeem them or after X number of minutes after the first player redeems it. As it stands, it seems that the majority of players never get a chance to redeem a passcode as it returns INVALID by the time they enter it.
Passcode discovery can be really simple or extremely difficult. The primary source of passcode clues is the Investigation Board. Each day at varying times (generally early afternoon), the NianticLabs team releases new media (Currently, there is a core group of players that coordinate to solve the puzzles). The best way to learn how to discover new passcodes, is to review previously discovered passcodes in our passcode database as we now record how they were discovered if we can. Here are some tips and tricks to get you started.
Passcodes generally follow two patterns (# = a number, x = a letter, keyword = an important word from the media):
- Normal pattern: #xx#keywordx#x#x
- Short pattern: keyword##x
View the source code of the pages that contain the media. This can be done in most browsers by pulling up the context menu (right click your mouse) on the page and choosing "View Source". Look for strange strings of characters.
Brush up on cryptography and encoding methods like base64. This is a top secret operation by the NIA and they will embed secret encrypted messages to protect them. Brushing up on this stuff will help you better identify a clue.
Check the exif data of any images included in the media. This can be done by uploading the image or entering a url to an image into a tool like Jeffrey's Exif Data Reader
Open any images so you can zoom all the way into the document. Sometimes clues are hidden right before your eyes, they are just to difficult to see zoomed out.
Sometimes Niantic Labs will release a second version of the documents later in the day, so it is important to pay attention to detail as the differences between the earlier file and the new one will get you closer to discovering a passcode.