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Portal Update Hints At New Game 156

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-cake-talk dept.
An anonymous reader writes "It appears Valve has begun another ARG (Alternate Reality Game) similar to the one that led up to the release of the original Portal game. A recent Portal update unlocked a new achievement which has uncovered various hidden images and sounds containing references to the Portal and Half-Life universe. Many believe this to be part of the run-up to the announcement of Portal 2 and/or the next installment of the Half-Life series. A thread on the Steam forums has already reached over 1 million views as people piece together the information. Another thread summarizes the information found so far. Based on clues from the ARG, some are speculating an announcement at the 2010 Game Developers Conference where Valve's co-founder Gabe Newell is to receive this year's Pioneer Award."
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Portal Update Hints At New Game

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  • EP 3 W00T W00T! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @12:48PM (#31347122) Homepage

    Considering it's been what...6 years since Half Life 2, and 2+ years since episode 2, I'd say it's about freakin' time for 3 to get released. Hurry it up, Valve!

    • by RCGodward (1235102) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @12:54PM (#31347208)
      The hint is a lie!
    • Re:EP 3 W00T W00T! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @01:09PM (#31347454) Journal

      While Half Life's are awesome games, I would actually rather see Portal 2. It's something completely different from other games and the story is damn interesting and even funny. Half Life imo has too much shooting in it (yeah it's an action game, but still). With Portal I get an awesome and interesting storyline and mostly just need to think about the puzzles.

      And multiplayer Portal please!

      • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @01:32PM (#31347722)

        Half Life imo has too much shooting in it

        I know! I -hate- it when FPS have a lot of shooting. The first person perspective also gets to me when there's too much of it. Same complaint with pornos really, they all seem to have way too much sex in them, imho.

        Ugh. This cup of coffee has way too much coffee in it. Not enough lobster bisque if you ask me. It's like, yeah, it's a cup of coffee and not a cup of lobster bisque, but still. :-P

        • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

          by sopssa (1498795) *

          I'm just saying I like the story and puzzle parts more than constant shooting. I like to build up some tension and have some sneaking too. That's why I like games like Thief, Hitman and other similar. The shooting/fighting is there, but it's not the main purpose. With Portal its the puzzles and interesting story. That's why I said I'd rather like it to be Portal 2.

        • by Abstrackt (609015) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @02:03PM (#31348108)

          Ugh. This cup of coffee has way too much coffee in it. Not enough lobster bisque if you ask me. It's like, yeah, it's a cup of coffee and not a cup of lobster bisque, but still. :-P

          You inspired me to make a coffee bisque. After I made a pot of coffee I ground the grinds and used the resulting slurry to thicken my coffee.

          Until I can get a caffeine high from lobster this will have to do.

          • If you are willing to go that far for your coffee bisque (which admittedly had some marketing potential), you could potentially grind up some caffeine pills, dissolve them or emulsify them in butter, and then inject them into the lobster, or put it in the sauce on top.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by vlm (69642)

          I know! I -hate- it when FPS have a lot of shooting.

          I'm guessing yet another fan of grenades, landmines, rockets, chainsaws, and crowbars.

          I enjoyed an early 2000s alternate WWI FPS called "Ironstorm" that was mostly played by me using different TYPES of grenades.. poison, shock, fragment, sleep, etc. That was certainly different.

        • Your post is funny, but I think it's a fair complaint even if you don't agree. The fact that it's a FPS doesn't really mean that it has to be a mindless shoot-em-up.

          There are some really great games which have taken the basic technical setup of a FPS and gone a different direction, with terrific results. Portal is one, but a real pioneer in that sort of thing was "Thief: The Dark Project". Awesome game. I don't quite remember if there was any time in the game which you had to engage in combat, but cert

          • by Narishma (822073)

            Half-Life is not a shoot-em-up, it's an FPS. Shmups [wikipedia.org] are a totally different genre. Just like fighting games and beat'em ups are totally different yet for some reason a lot of people can't use the correct terms...

            • Well first, I believe "shoot'em up" has been a term since before there were video games. Second, it has been used to describe any kind of "shooter" game where you run around and shoot things semi-mindlessly. Even your link describes it as a sub-genre of the genre "shooter". FPS = "First Person Shooter".

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by Narishma (822073)

                FPS is also a sub-genre of "shooter", just like shmup. So you can't use "shmup" to refer to an FPS as they are different. That's like calling an "apple" an "orange" because they are both a sub-genre of "fruit".

                • FPS is also a sub-genre of "shooter", just like shmup. So you can't use "shmup" to refer to an FPS as they are different.

                  Sorry, I don't mean to be rude, but that's pedantic and retarded. First, I didn't even say "shmup". I wouldn't really ever use the term "shmup" since I'm not 12 years old anymore. Second, two sub-genres of the same genre can, in fact, overlap. Genres often aren't mutually exclusive-- a horror film might also be science fiction, a slasher film, and a mystery all at the same time. If a "shoot'em up" game can be played from a first-person perspective, then it's also a FPS.

                  And *regardless*, I was using th

        • by sopssa (1498795) *

          Same complaint with pornos really, they all seem to have way too much sex in them, imho.

          Gotta add another point here. While I like porn, I also don't like it to extremes. Soft porn, where they don't show that much, can be really great too. It teases you. Games could use more of that kind of thing, instead of putting you shooting everyone all the time.

        • by rve (4436)

          No one, and that includes YOU, wanted to invest in my bass fishing game, based on the Unreal engine

    • by drsquare (530038)

      I'd be more interested in a patch so that Portal actually runs without crashing on start-up, so I can play the game I paid for.

  • really neat (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sir_Lewk (967686) <sirlewkNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @12:56PM (#31347232)

    I thought this was going to be another boring videogame article until I actually read it:

    -Portal gets surprise update March 1st
    -People see new mystery achievement
    -People play and see the radio in the beginning room now has a green light
    -Carry it around and notice it makes strange broadcast interference noises in certain places
    -Locate and place all 26 of these mystery radios for achievement
    -Smart people yank .wav files out of game content folders and run them through SSTV programs [http://i49.tinypic.com/s4b7zn.jpg] [Edit: link should work now. Yes, it's darker than the original.]
    -Produces 22 cryptic image files in a numbered sequence, 4 morse code
    -Somebody runs the number string through an md5 hash translator and gets a landline number
    -Internet traces it to Kirkland, WA (near Valve HQ)
    -People find out its not a phone/fax line but a data line hosting a BBS and telnet it
    -Use a clue from one of the files to figure out the BBS user/password login info [backup/backup]
    -End up with a bunch of weird ASCII artwork:
    http://www.imagebanana.com/img/sdl9h...P3ARGcolor.gif [imagebanana.com] http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2801/...b95fd393_o.jpg [flickr.com]

    THAT is neat!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What does telnet have to do with a dialup BBS?

      • Re:really neat (Score:5, Informative)

        by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @01:01PM (#31347322) Journal

        What does telnet have to do with a dialup BBS?

        Now a days you connect to BBS's with telnet mostly. It gives the same feel and look, but you don't need to have a modem and the owner doesn't need to have several phonelines that are constantly on.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I was not aware that telephones were IP addressable. Thanks, slashdot!

          • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

            Nor are you apparently aware of exactly what telnet is, or how BBS's work.

            • Dear Fuckface (Score:3, Insightful)

              by gumpish (682245)

              Your OP indicates that the people doing the sleuthing uncovered a PHONE NUMBER for a BBS. Not an IP address + port number.

              • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

                I interpreted this as they either established a connection with the BBS with a modem and then used telnet for whatever the reason, _or_ the BBS was accessible both through the phone number they uncovered, and over the internet. Seems perfectly plausible to me.

                • What really happened was some guys who connected to the BBS set up a service accessible with telnet which contained the logs of their access to the BBS.
      • by kenp2002 (545495)

        To get data to and from from the COM port that the modem is assigned to?

      • by Khyber (864651)

        "What does telnet have to do with a dialup BBS?"

        Holy shit you're on the wrong site if you don't know that one.

    • by sopssa (1498795) *

      It's what Valve does, it was the same thing with original Portal and HL2 games. TF2 also has its personal feeling to update announcements.

      But I'm impressed at what those people have been able to find out. .wav files to SSTV programs, finding out landline number from the image files and that its hosting BBS and so on. Quite impressive stuff.

      • Re:really neat (Score:5, Informative)

        by AndrewNeo (979708) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @01:23PM (#31347612) Homepage

        I've been following it and helping here and there throughout the whole thing. Really the whole interesting bit is how they're using old technology to get around this, in the Aperture Science fashion. The radios ingame are CW and SSTV signals, one of the morse code messages was an MD5 hash of "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog", telling us to look for a hash later on. Decoding the SSTV images gave us a bunch of pictures when put in the right sequence gave another MD5 hash, this time with some clues of the format "(###) ###-####" we got a phone number to the BBS. The username and password were hidden inside another morse code message earlier on, giving us the ASCII images through the landline BBS connection.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cthulu_mt (1124113)
        That's pretty standard stuff for the MIT Mystery Hunt [wikipedia.org].
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by The MAZZTer (911996)

      Addendum: ASCII artwork appears to be shots of glados and an apparently ruined Aperture Lab (after Portal 1?). Also some shots that resemble the art style of the Portal trailer. A couple images have been 100% matched up.

      Another shot is of a turret seen in Portal, another seems to be of two "millitary androids" as mentioned in Portal holding hands, one clearly has a portal gun. The figures being androids is less certain than the previous observations though, but they are definitely not human.

      There are als

      • by TJamieson (218336)

        Regarding the two droids holding hands, the impression I've gotten so far is that it relates to (1) the Glados personality overall (2) emotions and their presence in robots and (3) the mentions repeatedly by the Aperture Science CEO in decoded messages saying basically "no witchcraft!".

        I think the computers (Glados) as well as androids (if that's what they are) have some rudimentary emotions established through "witchcraft". What we don't know is what "witchcraft" literally means in this context.

    • If you enjoy their method for disclosing information, you should check out The Secret World. Its a MMO that will be released in coming years, and they drop hints through cryptic messages/videos on their website. It is up to the community to decipher them, and there have been rewards for the first people to solve the mysteries. Some people spend dozens of hours unwinding the messages, which require web searches on mythology, cults, and conspiracy theories. Its great fun to watch and participate.

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      Is this the first time you've been exposed to an alternate reality game? The last time it was fresh (IMO) was the Halo 2 "I Love Bees" thing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Love_Bees [wikipedia.org]

      I find it refreshing you can be so excited about something so... musty.

  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @12:58PM (#31347272)

    The sequel is a lie.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have to give Valve a lot of credit for this one. They have gone to a lot of work putting this whole thing together. They even put up a dial-up bulletin board system to host the ASCII images that everyone is speculating about. In fact, just getting to the BBS required a lot of work on behalf of geek gamers. Say what you want to say about Valve, but they deserve major credit here. I enjoy the Half-Life universe, and am hoping and crossing my fingers for an announcement this month.

  • fun speculation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by antimatt (782015) <xdivide0.gmail@ORG.NET.EDU.com> on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @01:03PM (#31347348) Homepage

    the most interesting theory i've heard regarding this is that you'll have a portal gun in episode 3.

    the possibilities, they would be endless.

    • the most interesting theory i've heard regarding this is that you'll have a portal gun in episode 3.

      What's far more interesting to me than the idea of playing half life with a portal gun though is how exactly those two universes would meet in terms of plot.

      ***Spoilers***

      The borealis disappearing in an apparent accident could turn out to be Glados's doing. Is glados going to team up with the combine in some way? If it weren't Valve, I'd be terrified of that possibility. If both franchises were owned by, say, activision, I'm certain they'd artlessly stitch both together to try to make some type of superp

    • Re:fun speculation (Score:4, Informative)

      by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @02:31PM (#31348466) Journal

      They've shown in the games that Portal and Half-life are in the same universe.

      Players have modded the original Half Life 2 to allow you to use the Portal gun in the game. It works very much like you'd expect - so your possibilities ARE endless.

      The only issues are that current Half Life 2 AI don't fall through portals (dang!) - don't see through portals - and on occaison you can bug out the engine or fall through the map if you place your portals in weird places.

      So - given that the community managed to pull that off (withouth Portal Source code, I might add, this was maybe a month after Orange Box was released). I don't doubt that Valve -COULD- easily pull it off. The question merely remains on whether they will or not.

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      Episode 3 is going to be co-op, with Gordon and Chell working together and using their magic guns.

      Portal > Throw dumpster through Portal > hits Combine in back of head

      That's my guess, anyway.

  • Upto 16 players please. Able to use each others portals.

    The levels won't be balanced for it, but the fun you could all have with a few cubes...

    • Re:Portal 2 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by AP31R0N (723649) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @02:14PM (#31348228)

      i would LOVE a multiplayer Portal thing. No weapons, just portals, turrets, cubes and pools of acid. The goal is to make an enemy fall into a fire, or drop cubes on each other's heads. It would be difficult to design, but awesome if it worked.

      Multiplayer puzzles might be nice.

      Or imagine one player is Gordon and the other is Chell with their respective equipment. i open a portal for you behind the guards and you spray them with red hot rebar. You could have team death match or CtF the same way. Each team gets one portal gunner and a the rest are goons.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I worked on a Mod that allowed Multiplayer Portals - and I had ideas for much of what you described. Player A gets a fully functional gun and B gets the weapons, or Player A does blue portals, Player B does Orange. Or they both have fully functional portal guns.

        Certain things crash the engine, like using the grav gun to hold an object near a portal. But thats pretty easy to restrict.

        It really fell apart on level design - something I had Ideas for but never the time to get around to building. Plus I wasn't v

      • by Samah (729132)

        As much as I'd love to see this, I can see it completely killing both the client for rendering multiple sets of portals, and the server for the crazy physics involved. If you play Portal with director's commentary enabled, they explain how the physics is done between portals. Essentially they sandbox off a clone of all the objects and parameters, do the physics in regular space there, then feed the information back into the real objects (if I understand their description correctly).

        Also I think the game m

      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        Back in the HL1/TFC days, escape maps were popular. Although you'd have guns and whatnot, they were more about solving puzzles than actually shooting and killing things. They often required cooperation, i.e. this guy crouches to bring another guy up, or two guys hit buttons on opposite ends of a room.

  • by Nadaka (224565) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @01:05PM (#31347388)

    That was not wise. They should have waited a month.

  • Gah, I went through the first 20 pages of the thread compulsively. I can only imagine how much productivity I'd lose if my Xbox hadn't been stolen last year and I could still play the game.

    But here's what one poster came up with, from hacked sound files:

    #1 - Dinosaur 1 (morse code)
    =
    Interior transmission active
    External data line active
    Message digest active

    #2 - Dinosaur 5 (md5 hash)
    =
    9e107d9d372bb6826bd81d3542a419d6
    "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog"

    #3 - Dinosaur 12 (morse code)
    =
    System data dump act

    • by Ailure (853833)

      Stolen X-box or not, this Portal update is PC only.

      • I kinda suspected as much, given the difficult nature of hacking anything in the Xbox network. Since I've already decided not to get another Xbox anyway (for several geekish reasons, such as the modchip massacre of 2009), maybe I should get myself a computer from this decade so I can run Portal.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by flosofl (626809)

      User back up active
      Password back up active

      Actually, there is no space between "back" and "up". Additionally, the clue is meant to be taken literally.

      The username for the BBS is backup and the password is backup. There was much forehead smacking late Monday night after that was figured out.

  • About time, I have been thinking about HL2 and the next episode! But as you have always said Valve, when it's done!

      Gimmie, Gimmie Nooooooow!

  • they will be adding the portal gun to TF2(3)

  • STOP! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kenp2002 (545495) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @01:27PM (#31347672) Homepage Journal

    Hello this is Eugene Walter, VP of Research and Development at Apeture Food Group Inc.

    Some people are implying that the now dissolved Apeture Science Group's (which I was the former CIO of) computer systems has some How recoverEd from the horribLe chemical explosion at the former ASG Production facility. This rumor is a LIE. An out right lie by jaded Black Mesa Research employees who's Grant money aLso collapsed Around the time of the Apeture Science Group's inDustrial accident at the San PedrO facility for AeroSpace DeveLopment. SInce the ASG's dissolVment thosE at the parent company ASG Inc. have Spent years fighting baseless rumors of "Exotic Experiments" and under-the-table military experiments. These claims are outright lies. No portion of the GLADOS survived the explosion as the federal investigation that followed clearly substantiates.

    In closing please remember that the ASG no longer exists and there it no cause for further speculation. I would also like to remind you that the Apeture Food Group has a wonderful bake sale going on at the Leanaa facility to raise money for the Hope Charity group. Please stop buy and try the cake.

  • ARG (Score:3, Insightful)

    by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @01:44PM (#31347856)

    Alternate Reality Game?

    Isn't that all games. In reality I have a job and killing scads of people makes you a bad person and usually lands you in jail. In games, neither of these are the case.

    So how is "alternate reality" a qualifier that separates one kind of game from another?

    • Re:ARG (Score:4, Informative)

      by tecnico.hitos (1490201) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @02:15PM (#31348258)

      The difference between an ARG and another game is that you have to take actions in the real world to advance in the fictional plot.

      In this case, they didn't get the meaning of the messages by an automatic test of a virtual "intelligence" atribute or a dice roll, or by folowing a set of rules given by the game. These people actually had to figure out what the secret messages meant using the skills they have in real life.

    • *sigh*
      You're taking it too literally. Or perhaps not literally enough, depending on your point of view. I suppose, if not for the drug connotations, they'd have more accurately called it "Altered Reality Game." It's a blending of the real world and the game world. Things like seeing a URL in a movie, going there on your real-world browser, and finding a working website that treats the movie as real would be part of it. That's the "alternate reality" part. The "game" comes in when there's clues buried in tha

    • If you take the literal words of it - yes - All video games are Alternate reality games. However, thats not really its meaning. Kind of like "Falling in love" doesn't really mean you accelerate downwards. Alternate Reality Games are "Games" or "Puzzles" to solve based on clues or mysteries presented in a variety of manners.

      It has become quite popular, they had one for a season premiere of lost (Not to mention JJ Ambrams and Newell are good friends) - The first Portal Game, they had one for Cloverfield. Ther

    • Don't feel bad, I had the same thought. Learn something everyday, even on slashdot!
    • by Coren22 (1625475)

      ARG was in reference that it is alternate reality of Half-Life, not your reality.

  • This is just awesome and funny [steampowered.com].
  • Nerdgasm (Score:5, Informative)

    by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3@justconnected . n et> on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @03:02PM (#31348842)

    I was helping to decode all of this on Monday. And it was really cool.

    Popping open the updated .gcf (game archive) revealed 9 new files - the "dinosaur" wav files. The first few are clearly in Morse code. Translating the Morse revealed some rather cryptic messages that sounded like a GlaDOS bootup sequence. One Morse message encoded the word "BEEP" or "BEEEP" - translating *those* from Morse revealed "LOL". Another Morse message was clearly an MD5 sum - reversing that revealed the phrase "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog", which sounded like another test.

    Then the sounds got more confusing - they were much noisier. Someone in the forums, presumably a ham, ran those sounds through a SSTV decoder and came up with some clear, deliberate images. The images were full of random stuff, but one image had what looked like an amber terminal with the pattern (###) (###)-(####) - a phone number

    Each image had 4 hexadecimal digits circled. Taking them in order from the pictures revealed another md5 hash. Somebody wrote a little python script - assuming that the area code would be near Seattle (Valve headquarters), they brute-forced the md5 and came up with a phone number.

    Dialing the phone number played a dialtone. While most of the people on the forum couldn't wrap their head around connecting to a computer without the internet, some folks fired up HyperTerminal and connected, getting a login screen. After looking around again, they found a hint in one of the pictures to try backup/backup. Each time this password was used, a "record dump" (mostly ASCII art) was sent.

    I wouldn't believe it if I wasn't part of it. Reversing an MD5 hash, come on. But it's true - you can run the script yourself.

  • I've been trying to get into that bbs all yesterday..... I finally dug up my 2400bps modem, a wyse terminal, and almost all the cabling I needed (I seem to have misplaced my null modem!)... The DUN in my cell phone does not like that server, and I can't find any of my usb-> serial adapters, and all my appropriate gear is buried!

  • screenshot or it didn't happen
  • by bigbigbison (104532) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @05:28PM (#31350672) Homepage
    http://www.shacknews.com/onearticle.x/62617 [shacknews.com] Valve has released a series of images in the style of well known Apple ads including a TF2 Heavy in an Ipod-like image, a TF2 sentry gun with the words "I'm a PC" next to a Portal sentry gun, a "Think Different" style ad featuring L4D's Francis with the text "I hate different" and an old Macintosh ad with text about bringing a gaming download system to another operating system.
  • Recursive morsecode? SSTV images? BBS numbers? Obscure hints all over?

    WOW.

    I just hope they spare some time to work on an actual game with all this going on!

  • Damnit, why didn't the summary come with a SPOILER warning? After reading the Steam update I really really wish I'd had the chance to figure out what it means on my own. The Steam update note is such a brilliantly crafted two-liner that at first glance it looks like a regular bugfix note... until you digest it for a second and realise that it doesn't make any sense in that respect, and then it just begs you to start playing the game again to find out what's actually changed.

    But of course like most Slashdo

  • New Ending (Score:4, Informative)

    by Gamma747 (1438537) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @08:30PM (#31352798)
    A new update, which came out today, changed the ending. Now, after GLaDOS explodes, you get dragged away by a robot of some kind. Video. [youtube.com]

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