Something going on -- Valve, Portal, Half-life related

I don’t see a thread yet so I thought I’d bring it up here. Yesterday, a new “Transmission Received” achievement was added to Portal, and a patch with the release note saying “Changed radio transmission frequency to comply with federal and state spectrum management regulations.”

What this actually did was place new radios in most (all?) of the Portal maps. When they’re picked up and moved to certain locations in the map, a light changes color and the radio sound changes from the usual song to either Morse Code or a modem-y type sound. Much of this has already been decoded in a most fascination manner – the modem-y sounds turned out to be SSTV-type signals, sounds with images embedded in them. The images represented numbers or characters, which turned out to be a 32-digit string, which ended up being an MD5 hash for a phone number. The phone number is a BBS with some very cool ASCII images (believed to be “screenshots” for a new version of Portal and/or HL3). The BBS also appears to be set up as some kind of GladOS backup routine, i.e. it is GladOS re-booting and/or restoring herself from backups.

Very interesting stuff, sort of reminiscent of that distributed puzzle game that happened on the SDMB a while back (but much more complicated).

More info:

I’m browsing the Steam message boards as we speak, reading what other people have gleaned. Weird sh*t, man. Dare we hope that this is a prelude to Portal 2 and/or Episode 3?

If it isn’t Episode 3, then what could it be?

Possibly just Portal 2. It has been claimed, albeit from a somewhat dubious source, that there will be no Half-Life games released this year.

I think the exact quote I remember seeing was (despite your link’s “no half-life”) essentially “no episode 3 this year.” In typically cryptic fashion, that could simply mean nothing called “episode three” is coming out, and instead they are going ahead and releasing a full “Half-Life 3” instead of a third episode of HL2.

It’s probably a Portal sequel, since they did put the puzzle into Portal, and not Half-Life. However the end of Ep2 seems to

imply convergence in the storylines

(tagged in case someone working through the story hasn’t gotten there yet). So who knows. Unless someone discovers something else, though, the “GladOS 3.11” from the BBS and the 3/11 Gabe Newell award thing at the Game Developer Conference seems to be a cause for hope, at least, that we’ll have an actual announcement before too long.

There still seems to be a lot of signal processing talk going on about the audio files, but I’m not convinced that’ll come to much more than it has already.

Have they renamed “Episode 3” to “Gordon Freeman Forever” yet?

Another point in favor of “3.11” being significant (maybe someone mentioned it somewhere, but I just found it while poking around):

The previous Portal alternate reality thing at gives GLaDOS version 1.09 when you log in. Changing it to 3.11 must indicate something, if not a date, at least an indication that the re-booted GLaDOS is significantly upgraded.

And in the “probably seeing things that aren’t there department,” I decided to look around to see if possibly the previous version number would correspond to anything (dates, particularly). The original release date of Portal was 10/9 (2007). So of course, I realize the fallacy inherent in looking for something to fit (and that 1.09 doesn’t exactly equal 10.9), but it still seems highly coincidental.

And with Valve controlling the Steam distribution platform, it’s somewhat more likely that they could have such a product ready for distribution without news leaking (I believe a lot of product leaks come from the vast numbers of people involved in the retail distribution chain). With such an eagerly anticipated title, can you imagine the impact a “SURPRISE, HERE IT IS!” announcement would have on sales? Has anyone ever tried such a thing, or was it even possible before the massive popularity and adoption of digital distribution?

At least it gives us a good baseline from which to calibrate Valve Time.

Update #2.

Deploying surprise in five, four, three…

Here’s a good summary of the events since the 1st.

Apparently Gabe Newell is supposed to receive an award at the Game Developer Choice Awards, which is on 3-11. The rumor is that he’ll be announcing… whatever it is then. Probably Portal 2.

I love it when developers do this kind of stuff. Kudos to the gang at Valve for doing this.

Also loving this viral alternate reality campaign from Valve. Doesn’t reveal too much and at the same time lets us know they haven’t forgotten. They’ve probably actually been very hard at work all this time with whatever they’re cooking up. Such a great teaser for the big fans, so much better than just a trailer video, and I am amazed and thankful at the speed the fan community has deciphered everything so quickly; I never would’ve figured out how to extract the information from the sound files and figure out there was a modem line embedded in there. The fact that Valve has a bona fide old school dialup BBS running as part of the campaign, rather than just a Flash website designed to look like one (e.g. is positively epic.

It’s also pretty much a given at this point that Valve is prepping a Mac version of Steam, which will include ports of HL2, L4D, and TF2 at a minimum, and possibly Portal. Some viral images mocked up by Valve have been making the rounds in the last day or two since the Portal updates as well …

Portal 2 release date has been confirmed for this holiday season.

The underlined letters are a new login/password to the BBS, which apparently lead to a few files in BASIC, which when ran, basically said “Congratulations!”

It looks like the ASCII pictures were screenshots and concept art for the game.

Well, a lot went down today :slight_smile:

The progress bar on the BBS reached its maximum, and almost simultaneously came an official announcement of Portal 2.

The official announcement contained a handful of underlined letters, which spelled out a new username and password for the BBS. It’s all outlined here, with the new images.


EDIT: Argh, that’s what I get for not refreshing the page before submitting! :slight_smile:

My first post-ninja’ing!

I’m assuming the “trial phase” was the alternate-reality game, and the “live fire phase” is referring to Portal 2 itself.

Meant to come on here earlier to follow up, but the board didn’t seem to be taking logins for some reason. Saw this announcement the minute it came through on my Steam system tray feed and thought my eyes was playing tricks on me! Did not expect an announcement so soon. Valve was hinting at the numbers 3.11 in the viral materials, and it’s confirmed they are going to be at GDC next week from March 9th to the 13th, so there’s likely going to be some kind of coverage there. Whether or not it ends up being a sort of extended rollout of the Portal 2 announcement is anybody’s guess. There were reports a few weeks back that Valve announced it had no plans to release any Half Life products in 2010, but the optimist in me is still hoping that we’ll get something at GDC in addition to Portal 2 coverage. Maybe a tiny little hint of a suggestion of a teaser for Episode Three? Pleaaaaaaase Valve? :frowning:

The GameInformer special indicates that the scope of the game will be larger and some are speculating it may be a standalone game, rather than part of a new Orange Box-type package. I personally think that’s not a bad idea … if they released Episode Three and Portal 2 simultaneously I wouldn’t know what to play first. I’d have to load them up on two separate computers and play them simultaneously, hehe. The article states that co-op play will also be integrated into a separate multiplayer campaign within Portal 2, with “different characters” besides just Chell.

I love the simple narrative that these two initial images present; a portal from the outside looking in to a new test chamber, and a portal from the inside of a test chamber looking out to what is obviously another copy of GladOS in a very different environment overrun by foliage and perhaps some kind of mechanical or structural wreckage. The inside of the Borealis, perhaps? Then again, it could just be another area inside Aperture Labs. Hmmm …

Yeah, I dunno…I hope the GI cover images imply that we’ll get to go outside the test facility (at least in one of the modes). I would love to use that Portal gun in a somewhat less “controlled” environment :slight_smile:

A totally speculative idea I posted in a thread to the Steam forums would be that we could go outside (or be given missions by GLaDOS, Johnson, whoever) and the game could work as a stealth/sneaker first person puzzle game. Essentially, you might have to infiltrate a facility or something, using the portals and other techniques to both bypass obstacles (like in the test chambers) as well as sneak by and remain unseen to bypass or quietly “neutralize”/trap guards, sentries, etc (like you can do with the turrets in the test chambers). I don’t know how much longer the game can continue to thrive in the test chamber environment, especially since we’ve already broken out of it once, and with the expected convergence with the Half-Life story.

So the sequel’s due out next holiday season… that means it’ll actually come out in, what, April of 2011? :wink:

Eh, I’m still hoping that the ambiguity of “upcoming holiday season” is intentional, and that they mean “Easter holiday season.” :wink: Maybe St. Patrick’s Day.