Thursday, March 4, 2010

Gaming Soon 2: Eclectic Boogaloo

Valve have been busy.

In addition to the new Left 4 Dead 2 content coming this month, the Left 4 Dead content due out next month and a recent post to the Team Fortress 2 blog about the (final) forthcoming class update for the engineer, it looks like there've been some rumblings on the Portal 2 front as well.

On Monday, Valve released a somewhat cryptic update for Portal about having changed transmission frequencies. Since that update dropped, Portal is now sporting a new achievement that can be unlocked using radios that are now present throughout the game.

It gets weirder.

Each of the radios gives you some kind of audible signal when you move them to the right place in the level--four of them are Morse code that give the impression that GLaDOS is rebooting. The other 22 can be run through an SSTV program to generate numbered image files, all bearing the Aperture Science logo.

No, wait, it gets weirder.

The alphanumeric designations on the images, when run together into a single String, is an md5 hash for a phone number to a BBS dataline in Kirkland, Washington. The username and password for the BBS can be found in the Morse code messages, and from it you can retrieve (via telnet) some ASCII data streams that appear to be images of test chambers and memos from Cave Johnson, the fictional founder of Aperture Laboratories.

All of this brings me to my second point: the people at Valve are fucking insane.

Not nearly as insane, it seems, as the fans who've spent the last 48 hours decoding all of this and sharing their findings. Valve's managing director Gabe Newell is going to receive an award on the 11th of this month, and there's some speculation (reinforced by the fact that GLaDOS is in version 3.11) that he will use this opportunity to announce... something... be it Portal 2, Half-Life 2: Episode 3, The Orange Box 2, or something else in that vein.

And it seems to still be happening: yesterday another mysterious update dropped, this one labeled "Added valuable asset retrieval", and with it came a slightly changed ending to the game (don't worry, the song is intact). [SPOILER] Originally after defeating GLaDOS, you black out in the parking lot, but it's assumed that Chell escaped. Now, instead, a male robotic voice thanks you for assuming the party escort submission position and you are dragged backwards a short distance before the scene fades out.

So one thing's for sure, we've got a full-fledged alternate-reality-game going on here. This should be an interesting month. Between announcements, releases, and notes-and-ASCII-streams-generated-by-telnetting-into-a-BBS-(seriously-who-uses-that-anymore?)-whose-number-was-md5-encoded-in-image-files-which-were-encoded-as-audio-files-that-can-be-heard-so-as-to-unlock-a-brand-new-achievement-mysteriously-uploaded-on-Monday... we've got... well... um...

What was I saying?


1 comment:

The0 said...