Potatwo? The Valve ARG Ain’t Over

By Alec Meer on April 17th, 2011 at 3:42 pm.

When I close my eyes, I see cubes. And potatoes.

While the GLaDOS@Home distributed potato-collecting event is still ongoing, hints are emerging that there may be even more to come following its conclusion. Portal 2 being released early is the apparent plan, but could there be something more?

The latest Steamcast (an unofficial fan radio show) apparently aired with a brief Morse Code signal playing over the chatter, which the hosts claim to have been unaware of. You can hear it for yourself below and ponder upon its authenticity, but if it’s real this is what it says:” it’s not over the others have been compromised.”

Ah.

Others? As in dear GLaDOS will show up in other indie games still? Or is there some link to other Valve games? Or other… others? Don’t trust anyone, basically. Here’s how it originally sounded:

Meanwhile, the GLaDOS rebooting project has not yet resulted in an earlier launch of the game, but the indie games required to make this happen are changing in priority all the time. RUSH, A Reckless Disregard For Gravity, 1…2…3… Kick It and The Wonderful End of the World have already done all they’re going to, so the current focus is on arguably harder games, such as Cogs, Toki Tori and Audiosurf.

Meanwhile, the ValveARG site was sent an encrypted file, apparently from Valve. When accessed, it had this to say:

—LOG FROM [ REDACTED ], BY J.H. TO C.J.—

1. We designed the entire thing to be very, very durable. It was easy to get the materials since everyone’s been thinking
it’s a simple icebreaker ship. Ha.

2. We have made sure to strip it of anything not necessary, so that we have plenty of space for it. It doesn’t have any
backup supplies in the event the crew runs out of food, though. And there isn’t much food onboard in the first place.

3. In the event you need to send it off all of a sudden, use the OR box with code ‘hb1′.

That’s all, C.J. Not much else I can tell you other than this won’t leave a blight on our record. Mesa is going to be sore
when they see what we’ve done.

Eep! C.J. is presumably Aperture’s Cave Johnson. The ‘hb1′ thing sounds like it could go somewhere too. But everyone’s obviously muttering about the apparent nod to the Borealis, the icebreaker ship referenced in Half-Life 2: Episode 2. We’re being openly toyed with, I’m sure- but to what end? With Portal 2′s release (if an earlier one isn’t obtained) just two days off, we can’t be far from answers now…

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228 Comments »

  1. Pantsman says:

    It’s gotta be HL-related. Gotta be. They’re going to start talking about it as soon as Portal 2 hits, or maybe just before or after.

    Fingers crossed.

    • Dana says:

      Yeah, its an obvious reference to “Borealis”, the Aperture Science ship, seen in Episode Two.

    • lefishy says:

      SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER of the achievements has a picture of an anchor and talks about “[finding] the missing experiment” I can’t see this pointing to anything other than the big ole Borealis.SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER You were warned.

    • Premium User Badge

      TheApologist says:

      Yeah, I doubt they would drop this level of a nod to hl3 and it be meaningless. Whether it’s an announcement or not, who knows, but surely it means its closer.

    • Ricc says:

      The timing seems weird, though. Either Episode 3 and Portal 2 are much closer related than was previously known, or they are sowing the seeds for an E3 reveal or something…

    • Whenn says:

      SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER It’s most likely NOT related to episode 3, as the achievement in portal 2 for the borealis is just an easter egg – a secret hall used for the borealis experiment that you can find – holds no other meaning (for now at least) SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

    • Rich says:

      It better bloody be an Ep3 thing!

    • slight says:

      Imagine a company dropping an eagerly awaited game that they’d refused to ever say anything about or show any pre-release footage. There would be an absolute feeding frenzy. I seriously doubt they’d do it, expecially not right next to another release, but if anyone would try such a thing it’d be Valve.

      Just for the record, they won’t, but just imagine. :p

    • Unaco says:

      It doesn’t have to be right on top of the Portal 2 release… There is still the Active Test Subjects = Zero thing on the GLaDoS@HOME page. So, they’re going to be counting and displaying active Portal 2 players when it is released. I could see them releasing another spurt of ARG when that hits a certain number.

    • Arbodnangle Scrulp says:

      HL3 and Portal 3 will be the same game.

  2. Daryl says:

    Yeah as soon as I read the word icebreaker, that immediately made me think of the end of HL2 EP2. Maybe there will be an announcement forthcoming as soon as Glados is reactivated.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      My suspicion is that Portal 2 will contain more then a couple nods toward Ep3, and we’re being set up for them rather then have the community suddenly explode with the news on release day.

  3. Icarus says:

    GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAABEEEE

  4. WASD says:

    “…hints are emerging that there may be even more to come following its conclusion.”

    Yeah, more of this http://store.steampowered.com/news/5308/

    I’m hoping that someone posts a video of a potato delivery to Valve HQ by the end of the day: http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1842444

    • DeathHamsterDude says:

      I would really really like if a lot of people ended up sending potatoes to Valve. Like a tonne or two of potatoes. I wonder what manic idea Valve would come up with for them. Or maybe Gabester would just eat them all raw before anyone else could get to them.

  5. Xocrates says:

    If this ARG somehow keeps going after Portal 2 is released and leads to the reveal of Episode 3, my mind will be blown.

    However I very much doubt that my mind will end up being blown.

    • woodsey says:

      Well, I sincerely hope your mind is blown.

    • Sarlix says:

      I think we all do.

    • stele says:

      Yes, after everyone finishes Portal 2 the big announcement will be that HL3 is in development, with a countdown clock to Nov 11, 2014.

    • McDan says:

      I wouldn’t normally wish this on another person, but by gum I wish your mind explodes. They’re pretty certain to be announcing something HL related. Hope be damned, it HAS to be.

      Although it’s Valve. So, y’know.

    • Wulf says:

      You’re doubting the cleverness of Adam Foster? That is so unwise.

  6. Joseph-Sulphur says:

    It must be a half life thing.

  7. Capt Fatbeard says:

    I really want this to be half life episode 3. But it won’t be…. maybe it will….. not it won’t be….. or it could be. I liked the good old days when games were announced properly none of this will it/won’t it hullabaloo. But I like valve so I’ll allow it.

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    HermitUK says:

    ‘hb1′ reminds me of hyperborea – a word that’s cropped up in the ARG before, and was the original name of the Borealis. Incidentally, the GLaDOS@home page lists “active test subjects: ZERO” at the top of the page. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see some Portal 2 related stats/progression getting tracked to unlock another section of this ARG.

    With Portal 2 coming out, the only other thing we know is that Valve is planning one more L4D2 update (to bring in the rest of the L4D1 content), and DOTA2. ARG related or not, surely it can’t be too long before they’ll be making some sort of announcement about what’s next?

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    Terics says:

    It’d be funny if at the end the surprise was DOTA 2.

  10. frenz0rz says:

    In all honesty (and feel free to eat me alive here, RPS readers)…

    … I couldnt care less about Portal 2. Really, i’m sure it’ll be fun and all, and i’ll likely give the coop a go at some point, but like many other people all I want from Valve is Episode 3 and/or Half Life 3. Just anything! Anything at all! The slightest tiniest bit of news to wet my whistle and let me know, finally that there is new Half Life game around the corner.

    Dont get me wrong, this ARG stuff is great and all, but I wish Valve for all their awesomeness would just stop bullshitting us around and let us know if we’re getting a new Half Life any time within the next decade or not. There has been nothing, not even the slightest fart of news, for about FOUR YEARS. For God’s sake, I was fourteen when Half Life 2 game out, and now I’m twenty one! The fact that so many of us are still desperate for even the slightest hint of Episode 3 news is a testament to Valve’s brilliance as a videogame developer, but even so, that anticipation can only last so long before people get sick and tired of having their hopes for a sequel continuously raised, only to have them once again crushed.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      rofl, I am in the same age group haha, didn’t realise it had been quite that long since it had been released until you put it the way you did.
      aww now I feel old :<

    • applecup says:

      I was 13 when the original Half-life came out. I am now 25. I would like Episode 3 too, but I am also used to the idea that quality takes time.

      Sit down, shut up, and stop whining. Valve will release Ep3 when they are good and ready. Not before. And for that, I am grateful.

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      Stijn says:

      I just wish Valve would be the one to tell us it would be released when ready. They haven’t released a single bit of info since the release of Episode Two. It might as well be cancelled entirely (probably not, but it’s not like there’s more actual evidence pointing at a release).

    • applecup says:

      That’s not true, actually. There was a news release… admitedly a few years ago now, where Valve were talking about incorporating ASL into Episode 3.

      http://www.joystiq.com/2009/08/07/valve-researching-sign-language-for-use-in-half-life-2-episode/

    • Web Cole says:

      I know everyone does it these days, but it should still be noted that Valve don’t owe you anything. It’s easy to give in to Internet Entitlement Syndrome but, well, “Goerge RR Martin is not your bitch.”

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      Stijn says:

      That wasn’t really a Valve press release or anything though, I always took it as a more-or-less leaked video.

      I mean, you’re obviously right, there’s been a few bits here and there, but it’s been ages since Valve has even officially acknowledged Episode Three (apart from the “we can’t say anything about that” in interviews). All this keeping us in the dark is what ticks me off.

    • Xercies says:

      In fact I’m the opposite, really looking forward to Portal 2 and couldn’t give a rats arse about Episode 3, I didn’t like HL2 that much and the only Valve game coming out of the last decade that I really loved was Portal so yeah…

    • rivalin says:

      I’m inclined to agree with Frenzorz to be honest. Regardless of how tiring that “x doesn’t owe you anything you have entitlement issues” crap is getting when everyone with a superiority complex spouts it, this is different.

      I can respect Valve staying silent on Half-Life 3, that’s their right, but when they start actively f**king with people, talking about Icebreakers, hyperborea etc, stuff that is directly related to Hal-Life, then at that point people have a right to complain about Valve jerking them around.

      However I have enough faith in them to believe that they wouldn’t jerk people around like that, which is why I’m fairly sure that the references that they have made will in fact be Half-Life related,

      Which is awesome

    • Tazer says:

      I was 16 when the first Half Life came out and now I’m 59! Why would they let me die without a conclusion? Derp!

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      stahlwerk says:

      I was dead for 54 years when Half-Life 1 came out, but by the power of alternating current I could play it from beyond the grave! Now I’m still dead, but I learned how to harness lightning to post comments on the internet!

      Edit: Dammit Tesla, get out of my account, you’re crampin’ my style.

    • gwathdring says:

      I feel bad for valve for the state of Half Life 2: Episode 3. They were going to try a new business model that really didn’t fit the way they make games so it got ditched. And then they came up with all of these other game concepts that were more interesting and worthwhile in at least the short term and took precedence over the Half-Life series. Suppose for a moment that you were writing a series and suddenly realized that you couldn’t keep it up. Either you thought you could do better and the series wasn’t giving you room to grow and improve, or you felt too drained and tired of the material to crank out another novel–good or bad. With games more so than novels, you’re not just dumping in time either. You’re also dumping in tons and tons of money. I have hunch that the people at Valve likely want some sort of closure on the Half Life front. But even so it is still distinctly possible that for one or more of the reasons above, Half Life 2: Episode 3 just doesn’t fit their creative direction or their business model.

      Valve as a company certainly puts a lot of love into each of their games. They have so much fun with the material before and after release, and are quite dedicated to bettering their products. I wouldn’t ask them to stifle that by giving me closure on Episode 3 when they could instead be putting out new, original, fun, well-loved games that excite both the company and the fans. I would like to know what happens next, but it’s more of a passing curiosity. I don’t need more of a linear first-person shooter that everyone has been stealing from (both the good and bad sorts of stealing) for a over a decade and that doesn’t necessarily have anywhere new to go gameplay-wise while still necessarily seeming like an extension of the previous games. There’s enough tradition in Half-Life that making episode 3 could be a fairly restrictive task. Your main character isn’t overly invested in their own story, a certain number of side-characters pretty much have to make an appearance, and there are certain questions that need to be answered satisfactorily unless the series is to continue towards Half-Life 3 (at which point it would make more sense to revolutionize gameplay and do something really cool with the IP).

      I can understand avoiding, postponing, or flat out abandoning that sort of a project. Especially as a company that values innovation.

    • 7rigger says:

      @Tazer

      I was 16 when HL1 came out and now I’m 29!

      You obviously age in Valve time

    • Torgen says:

      How could anything they release now live up to the expectations that have built up over the years? HL3 may be a disaster for Valve now, no matter how good it is.

    • Xocrates says:

      Starcraft 2 had absurd expectations and took longer to show up than any Half Life entry.

      It still did absurdly well.

    • Whenn says:

      SC2 really is an unfair comparison since SC1 was so old and never had a follow up… It’s much more like the transition from HL1 to HL2, not Episode 2 to HL3.

      I can see Valve fearing to end HL3/ep3 on the wrong note – the end of the saga is what everyone is expecting – just look at how people were mad at the ending of LOST, while loving the hell out of the series itself up to the end (although it honestly pissed me off as well)

      Also Valve is getting so much better at making games. I can promise you Portal 2 is amazing like nothing you’ve ever seen Valve do. I wasn’t even waiting for it that much, I really wanted Ep3 or HL3. But now after I’ve finished Portal 2 I honestly don’t care about HL3. I want to know more about Portal. (and I didn’t really like Portal 1 that much)

      If that’s how I feel I have no doubt Valve themselves are afraid of making HL3 just another mediocre episode with an ending to the saga. They obviously noticed how much better they improve each game. I bet HL3 will eventually be something amazing.

    • gwathdring says:

      Hmm. I’d argue that looking at Valve’s evolution up to this point, it would be very difficult to make Episode 3 without stepping backwards or rendering the game beyond the scope of the Half-Life series. I can see fantastic games in the franchise, but episode 2, while and extremely solid game, felt limited by much more than it’s length. Portal is sitting ostensibly in the same world as Half Life, but it shows a lot of evolution in design, gameplay and writing. I guess they could make a game not really much resembling HL2, maintaining only the key tropes (gravity gun, familiar characters, silent protagonist, crowbar) while tying up the plot. This would allow them to rake in the cash fans promise, add to the already rather remarkable goodwill they generate among customers, and let the tired series die a death deserved by a game that did so much to help the company take off with the added bonus of not needing to be redundant. Though I enjoyed episodes 1 and 2, and there were some gorgeous set pieces and interesting gameplay ideas (Alex and Kleiner were suitably awesome) the game felt like it was getting a bit tired of itself. It flowed nicely, played damn well, and sat on my shelf without really feeling necessary the way Portal and Team Fortress 2 and Half Life 2 do to me. They aren’t necessarily my favorite games (well … Portal is up there) but they feel like a key part of my development as a gamer and my perspective on the development of the industry in a direction I want to see it continue moving.

      I’m sure there are members of the staff itching for closure as much as the fans are, but to me it just looks like a bad deal for the developers at this point unless they really leave behind a lot of the game play we’ve come to associate with Half Life.

      I really don’t see Half Life producing “something amazing” without some rather remarkable deviations from past games.

    • Deano2099 says:

      While I’m not normally a fan of ‘entitlement culture’ when it comes to Ep3 people have a point. The whole episodes concept was sold to us as a three episode series, that together made one game. It was marketed and advertised in this way. People bought the first two episodes in the belief that the ending would be forthcoming. And it hasn’t been.

      Personally, I don’t give a crap about Ep3, I’ve not even played the first two episodes yet. So this isn’t a case of sour grapes.

      Consumers have no right to expect creators to make what they want. But if a creator announces that he’s making something, then uses that announcement to sell you two other products off the back of it, then doesn’t deliver, you’d be annoyed. If nothing else, we don’t have the end of the story.

      Peter Jackson is now finally making The Hobbit. Some people expected him too, some people are pissed off it’s taken this long. They’re in the wrong to be annoyed with him. No-one promised them that. But if Jackson had made the first two LotR films in successive years, and said “and the next one will be out next year” but then gone quiet and sat on it for five years, people would rightly be pissed off.

    • Defenestrated says:

      count me among the weirdos that is completely hyped for all Portal products, and doesn’t really care much about the half-life side of it, aside from any crossover cleverness. Half Life the second never really grabbed me, and I haven’t even touched the episodes even though they’ve sat on my harddrive for years.

      I think the FREE MAN just creeps me out, though.

    • gwathdring says:

      @Deano

      I’m not convinced. I’d be disappointed in the Lord of the Rings case, but I wouldn’t be upset at the director in such a general context. There are plenty of unforeseeable occurrences that can kill a game or a movie that have nothing to do with the director slacking off or otherwise behaving unprofessionally. And while there are plenty of stories I’ve had cut short much to my dismay, I’ve never felt I was owed the rest. I understand that some promises, especially creative promises, are extremely difficult to keep. The less legally binding the promise and the less personally addressed to me, the less I’m going to hold someone accountable for it. Valve didn’t pull through on the plan to make a handful of episodes with short development cycles, so I figured they’d screwed up and didn’t expect them to hold up any other part of the promise given that they couldn’t hold up the first part.

      I understand the frustration, but I don’t personally share it. Marketing is a toxic, complicated mess. You have to time announcements right and sometimes that timing doesn’t match up with when decisions should be made at a company. This isn’t a good thing, but it’s a reality of the marketing system we have in place for games. The big conference announcement and requisite hype machine is a huge part of video game marketing and it’s easy to see those events coming around when ideas are still flying back and forth. This doesn’t excuse false advertising, but it is one of many reasons we have to expect some genuine errors and missteps in marketing campaigns. As long as the company either delivers something different but compensatory or apologizes for getting fan hopes high and then abandoning a project, I don’t feel it’s fair to expect more.

      I’d be enormously frustrated if I was expected to produce something I just didn’t have the energy for or thought would drag down a lot of the creative momentum I’d built up in newer projects by forcing me to step back a few years in at least some aspects of creation. And I’m sure that happens all the time without being wholly avoidable, especially for individuals on a larger team that as a whole wants to work on a project that just isn’t as snappy and clever and interesting as the last one. But it’s always more complicated than “They said they would make it, so where is it?” Be disappointed. Voice your disappointment. But it’s important to keep in mind that being upset at the outcome is often far more reasonable than being angry or upset at the people on the other side of the product. They might be just as frustrated about the situation as you are, but be tied down creatively, financially (not the case here), or for other reasons not visible to the consumers.

    • Deano2099 says:

      Well yes, there have been hundreds of stories in TV shows that were cancelled early, that I never got an ending for. I wasn’t annoyed with the creator as that’s how TV works and if the ratings aren’t high enough, stuff gets cancelled.

      I’d be fine with “making Episode 3 just isn’t economically viable for us at the moment” or even “frankly, we’ve yet to find a design for Episode 3 that we’re happy with”. The problem is saying nothing, and just ignoring the whole thing.

      Again, this isn’t sour grapes, I haven’t even played Ep1 and Ep2 yet, and I didn’t even like Half Life 2 much to be honest. I’m far more excited about Portal 2. But I think the people that are upset have a case.

  11. applecup says:

    Wasn’t there speculation at one point that GLaDOS, or a backup thereof, was located on the Borealis?

    • Soon says:

      The game is located there, presumably. That’s why it’s overgrown and such.
      Unless I’ve missed something. Which is very possible, since I’m not following very closely.

    • Xocrates says:

      Yes, you missed something, namely the ending of Portal 1 that shows the outside of the facility. Specifically, a forest, a parking lot, and an entrance gate.

      So unless Aperture built the Borealis inland and made it absurdly huge (granted, it’s a possibility) I would hazard that the game does not take place on the ship.

    • Soon says:

      Yeah, but that’s Portal 1, isn’t it.
      Now you could have been taken to a different place.

      Edit: Or did they specifically say you’re back in the same facility?

    • Xocrates says:

      Pretty sure they did.

      By the way, the reason it’s overgrown is not because it’s a different place, but because about 100 years have passed (chell was in cryo suspension at the end of the comic)

    • Azradesh says:

      Sigh. You’ll see. You really have missed an awful lot.

    • Soon says:

      Ahhh, fair enough. I didn’t even read the comics.

  12. Noc says:

    o.o

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    bglamb says:

    “OR box” is the Orange Box presumably?

    • y3k-bug says:

      Nice guess, never thought of that.

      Would be cool if it was the case.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      We must go and play all the orange box games now

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      TheApologist says:

      Wasn’t there an update to a bunch of source games when the timer was going that people said was just a source engine update…?

      Was this in fact an Orange Box update?

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      Vandelay says:

      My immediate thought too. So, we must play all the games in the Orange Box and type “hb1″ at random intervals. Get to it people!

    • McDan says:

      “3. In the event you need to send it off all of a sudden, use the OR box with code ‘hb1″
      Could it be referring to the end of ep. 2 when you send off the rocket? Could there be some place to type in “hb1″ there maybe?

    • Unaco says:

      hb1 = Home Base 1? It could just be some sort of AutoPilot back to Home Base type thing, used in an emergency.

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      mrwonko says:

      Orange Box… makes sense. Well, I thought about bitwise OR with “hb1″ to decode something.

  14. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    Oh god make it stop please! while not exactly ‘over the moon’ about the HL universe, and quite ‘gotten over waiting for ep 3′
    Just make it stop, release the secrets which you hide valve!

  15. Zoombini says:

    Just a correction: there IS going to be an earlier launch of Portal 2 – by completing 4 games they’ve knocked the release timer down by 3 hours 15 mintues (you can compare the main timer on GLaDOS@Home with the “default boot” timer)

  16. Sobric says:

    It’s Half Life 2 Episode 3/Half Life 3/Team Fortress 3/Counter Strike 2/Fantasy Dizzy World: Source!!

  17. yhalothar says:

    I’m now sick of Portal 2 before it came out. And I loved the first one.

    • Barnaby says:

      Completely agree. Don’t understand why everyone is enjoying this marketing so much.

      Then again the way people treat Valve’s games suggests there’s a sense of depth to the stories that I have never felt and I think that’s part of my lack of interest.

  18. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    Also It is saying that you cannot earn any more potatoes today, have to wait until tomorrow. Someone H4X0R’ed Glados and got all teh ‘taters.
    lol

    A Lot of potatoes were also removed, due to ill gotten ones, read that legit potatoes taken down will be back up tomorrow.

    • Tazer says:

      Isn’t it a bit ironic that the whole idea is a rogue AI hacking all the games to harvest the resources and when someone in meatspace hacks their system (so to speak), they say “That’s not fair”.

  19. Christian O. says:

    There was a glitch and I don’t think my golden potato in Killing Floor was counted; I didn’t get an achievement. This makes me :(.

  20. Premium User Badge

    bglamb says:

    What will be interesting to see is if Steam can actually release the game when the timer stops.

    Every other release I have counted down to on Steam was delayed by several hours, whilst everyone went mental on the forums.

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      Lol, true… should be interesting.

    • Icarus says:

      If Valve Time kicks in after all this, I think the entire internet will just explode, and I don’t mean metaphorically, from the sheer amount of rage channeled into it’s tubes.

  21. dragonhunter21 says:

    “In the event you need to send it off all of a sudden, use the OR box with code ‘hb1′.”

    I distinctly remember Kleiner saying that the Borealis disappeared from dry-dock suddenly and abruptly. Sounds like something a crazy, dying Cave Johnson might do.

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    Rinox says:

    This is quite clearly referring to H-L…the only thing I’m torn about is whether this actually foreshades H-L news or whether itis part of Valve’s continued effort to link Portal and H-L together in the same universe.

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    stahlwerk says:

    Ouch, just realized that Potato may probably have been a slurred/fast/portmanteau valve-inside name for “portal two”.

    Need to wear my captain obvious hat more often.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      I hadn’t noticed that either. Good to know I’m not alone! :)

  24. Ba5 says:

    Just release Episode 3 news now Valve, if DOTA2 gets announced at the end of this ARG I will be a sad panda.

  25. thegooseking says:

    This whole ARG business, and particularly the people who are whining and complaining about it, reminds me of something.

    I’d photoshop it to make it more relevant, but I’m too busy having fun.

  26. Navagon says:

    Clearly Gabe is trolling the people who still think that Episode 3 hasn’t been canned. Come on, people! It doesn’t take 4 years to produce four hours of gameplay. Given that they’ve got the engine and the resources from the previous games I could probably have managed it by myself in that time and I’ve got no experience.

    • Serenegoose says:

      The odds that episode 3 is actually going to be ‘episodic’ seems pretty slim to me. I’d anticipate that at some point episode 3 and HL3 just got merged into one project.

    • Navagon says:

      It’s hard to tell what Valve intend to do with the series. Clearly they don’t particularly want to continue it though. So whatever they finally get around to releasing (if anything at all) will most likely be the last. I wouldn’t expect it to be the best edition to the series either.

      I welcome Valve proving me wrong. But I’m not optimistic.

    • DeathHamsterDude says:

      You could also say that the reason it’s been so long coming is that Valve knew they had a lot to live up to so they’ve been trying to make it as perfect as possible.

      Also, I do remember them saying HL3 might not necessarily be the end of Gordon Freeman.

      My little guess is that they’ve been working on Source Mk.2, and HL3 will be the first game on the new engine. Followed by CS3. But I might be dead wrong.

  27. DrugCrazed says:

    I refuse to believe this is Ep3, so that if it is I can be surprised.

    • Qjuad says:

      Ha, I won’t believe it until it sits on my hard drive and I’m playing it.

    • Clean3d says:

      Qjuad: Actually, all the pieces of HL3 were hidden inside the potato bundle. You have it now.

  28. malkav11 says:

    Episode 3 will turn out to be stealth bundled with Portal 2. But you’ll have to do some sort of ridiculous in-game feat to gain access to it.

    • harmen says:

      That would explain the price of the thing.

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      Game priced at standard price of games shocker.

    • Serenegoose says:

      An increasingly regular amount of triple A games release at £40. Portal 2 is releasing at £26:99.

      Of course, this isn’t factoring in deals/discounts/whatever, just going off actual price.

    • Premium User Badge

      Rinox says:

      Daniel wins.

      @ Serenegoose

      In mainland Europe we’re still getting to pay the full price though, making the game 30% more expensive than in the UK or US. But yeah, even then it’s a normal new game price.

    • harmen says:

      Steam likes to ask 49.99 euro for games, and does not make an exception for Portal 2. I don’t care, I won’t buy them for that price, problem solved.

    • beloid says:

      they actually ask 37,99 euro for Portal 2 without the preorder discount

    • harmen says:

      beloid: my steam says 49.99 normal with 10% pre-order discount makes 44.99.

    • Premium User Badge

      bglamb says:

      All you Europeans need to find an Englishman to gift the games to you. I did this for my German friends and saved loads of money, since I could then get an extra 10% off by buying the 2-pack.

    • Xocrates says:

      There appears to be two EU regions for some reason. I can confirm that over here it’s priced 37.99€ before discount, as was also the case with L4D2.

      This does not seem to be the case for all EU.

    • Droniac says:

      There are two regions in Europe according to Steam.

      Region 1 consists primarily of the wealthier countries in Europe. That includes: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland.

      Region 2 consists primarily of the damn-near-broke countries in Europe. The only notable exception being Norway, I don’t really know what they’re doing in this region. Region 2 consists of: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Vatican City.

      Region 1 is the most expensive region in the world in terms of Steam pricing. The default new game price is 49,99 EUR, which converts to about 44% more than the default price in USA and UK. That’s higher than local store prices, which generally come in at 44,95 (in The Netherlands). Importing the same game from the UK results in a price of about 30 euro.

      The reason for the Steam distinction is supposedly to have a reasonable distribution of prices according to local wages. In other words: they want to squeeze more money from people who can theoretically afford it.

      This has nothing to do with taxes, quality control, or localization. Most region 1 countries do not require any localization and many region 2 countries do. The quality of games is absolutely identical. And the taxes levied on game sales in both regions are generally quite similar.

    • harmen says:

      @Droniac: thanks! That explains why the ‘big’ steam games feel so expensive nowadays! I’ll just keep buying the Magickas in this world, more fun anyway.

    • Premium User Badge

      Rinox says:

      Makes you wonder how many people actually use steam in Vatican City.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Steam likes to charge the wealthier European countries more because hey, fuck you. Why should we get similar prices to the US or UK? It looks like eastern Europe, Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal get the sane Euro prices.

    • Xocrates says:

      Except that 49.99€ is still the default price for a game in region 2 and Valve games are the only exception I can think of.

      I very much doubt that a distribution of “fair” pricing is the reason for these regions.

      EDIT: For referencing: http://www.steamprices.com/

      EDIT 2: My personal theory is that the “rich” countries are the ones where Valve wasn’t allowed to do price matching with the rest of the world.

    • Premium User Badge

      stahlwerk says:

      Norway?

      WHAT?

    • skurmedel says:

      Yeah, that is strange. Norway isn’t exactly poor.

      Not a member of EU either, so perhaps due to (or lack of) some consumer law or something.

    • Coins says:

      Well, however nice they can be, Valve are still a company, and want to make money, no? This sounds like an easy way to do it.

    • Xocrates says:

      @Coins: Charging less than usual in a few countries is a way of making more money?

    • Droniac says:

      @Xocrates
      In comparison to the US and UK versions they’re still charging more for Portal 2 in EU region 2. Although that might just be the tax difference.

      Anyway, there are also non-Valve games with different prices in region 2. There don’t seem to be too many of them, but a few notable ones include many Take 2 games (GTA series), some Ubisoft games, a few indie games, and Divinity 2 (60% less expensive).

      The reason I assume that it’s due to wage, rather than price matching shenanigans is simple: region 1 coincides pretty much completely with the top ranking European nations (according to IMF, CIA, and World Bank lists) in terms of GDP per capita, with the sole exclusion of Norway.

      I’d also expect that a no-price-matching ruling would be EU wide. But region 1 contains several non-EU members (Liechtenstein, Switzerland) and region 2 contains a boatload of EU members. I also wouldn’t expect Norway or Czech Republic to be listed alongside supposed “bad consumer rights” countries when nearly-three-strikes France is not.

      And if the division is due to some obscure consumer law, then it’s rather strange that only a relatively small portion of the Steam catalog is actually affected by it. It’s mostly just Valve, Take 2 and Ubisoft games that see different pricing in these regions, which does seem to point to some form of publisher-centric pricing scheme.

    • SLeigher says:

      Portal 2 is incredibly cheap compared to most new PC games here in Australia (about 50% off actually)

  29. Xercies says:

    Or it could be you know that the end of Portal 2 kinf of hints at Half Life ep3/3 in some way…

    • Burglar says:

      My thoughts exactly. I’m thinking that Portal 2 might end where HL3 starts, and leave us with some tantalizing new info to speculate on. Not in an overt kinda way, but just within the same universe, if you’re paying attention way.

  30. Vinraith says:

    No Valve, not again. You can tell me when Episode 3 has actually been released, and at that point I’ll start caring. Until then, jerk around some other sucker, I’m long since done.

    • Kadayi says:

      I’m with you on this. With the ARG having turned out to be a bit of a damp squib I’d rather them just be upfront with things.

  31. makute says:

    I reinstalled Portal, just in case, you know…

  32. omicron1 says:

    Portal 2 will turn out to be a mixed-narrative game similar to Halo 2 – half the time you’re playing as Chell, trying to get yourself out of Dodge; the other half you’re Gordon Freeman, trying to reach the Borealis and get into Dodge. It will culminate in a scene where Gordon jumps from something high to land on the Borealis, and the phrase “To Be Continued.”

    • Soon says:

      Due to an unfortunate incident with synchronised portal traversing, you become Chell Gordon, and are, indeed, the saviour of the Universe.

    • stele says:

      If I were Gordon Freeman and portaled into Chell’s body I’d probably get the world destroyed while I wasted time playing with my new boobies.

    • Soon says:

      It’s always the quiet ones.

    • Oneironaut says:

      It could be like a video game version of Orlando.

    • thegooseking says:

      @omicron1

      No, you don’t play as Gordon Freeman in Portal 2.

      You play as John Freeman who is Gordon Freeman’s brother.

      You were almost right about the ending, though. It actually ends with “To be continued..?”

  33. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    Also, how is the preload 12GB? That’s over 10x the original Portal’s file size.

    • Nomaki says:

      Hopefully that equates to Portal 2 being 10x longer.
      Bearing in mind the co-op and single player are two entirely separate story lines with separate levels and such..

    • Tei says:

      I am going to bet that weight more because have more textures, some are high resolution, and there are a lot more voices.
      Supposedly Portal 2 is a full game, and not a 5 hours episode.. I think.

    • Premium User Badge

      Joshua says:

      It is also running on the latest source engine, which is downloaded with it. If you remove all your 2007 source games and then install portal, portal suddenly becomes much bigger.

  34. adventerous3 says:

    Any possibility of J.H. being related to this gentleman?

    http://half-life.wikia.com/wiki/Johanson

  35. Dagda says:

    Supposedly G-man is visible on the glados@home page.
    The first picture is the location of him and the second is the filtered photoshop magic
    http://img202.imageshack.us/img202/5771/gmados.png
    http://i52.tinypic.com/rjmosm.png

  36. Gary W says:

    I have no idea what any of these things — “ARGs” “potatoes” “Gabes” “hats” — really are. And I don’t care. In fact, I’m going to straight to bed with a nice cup of Horlicks.

    /slams door

    • DeathHamsterDude says:

      EXTRA EXTRA – Man on internet gets annoyed because something on internet doesn’t interest him.

  37. Froibo says:

    According to the official site “There’s also still time to collect all 36 potatoes. Anyone accomplishing this feat by the time Portal 2 launches will receive a very special, non-hat-based reward.” This was mentioned on Friday.

    • Tazer says:

      Everyone is speculating that its going to be a multiplayer skin. A “potato skin” if you will.Indeed.

    • Froibo says:

      That’s what I was figuring. I would be rather pissed if I didn’t have a sense of humor but it would be awesome if it had to do with another ongoing part in the ARG.

    • Konork says:

      @Froibo: People are already getting a special skin for owning the Potato Sack, which presumably would be potato related.

      And on another note, someone on the TF2 forums had the utterly brilliant idea that the non-hat reward, and just so you know he even quoted the exact line, was… a hat.

  38. Rii says:

    Podcast #32433: Still no way to change username.

  39. Wulf says:

    This seems to imply that Portal 2 will likely tie in with Half-Life 3(?), so we’ll likely get hints at the plot by playing Portal 2. But… really, I’m just excited about the release of Portal 2. I keep hoping that Valve will soono do a new IP and just forget about Half-Life for a bit, and I’m not talking about DOTA 2, I mean a completely new IP, something fresh and interesting. The Half-Life ship has sailed for me and I’m not sure whether I can bring myself to be all that fascinated by the story any more.

    Of course, I’m likely alone in feeling this way, but… really, I felt that it was getting a bit tired at the start of Ep2. The same old physics puzzles, not a lot had changed (the best bits being the driving sections and the semi-RTS thing), and the only thing keeping it going was the story. I can’t help but think that Half-Life 3 may even be better off as an animated film (blasphemy, I know).

    Valve have so many creative people there… I’d just love to see them come out with a new IP. Especially if that new IP is incredibly off the wall and as experimental as Portal originally was.

    • Wulf says:

      Yeah, but folks said that was old concept art from an abandoned IP.

      Though I’d love to see Valve work on something new and strange.

    • Kaira- says:

      I don’t quite share your feelings about Valve, Wulf. They have smart marketing people, who can sniff a good game idea. But what Valve themselves have made has been quite, eh, mediocre, I’d say. They’ve bought some indie studios that made nice games (Portal, L4D), but HL2 was never (to me, at least) anything else than a mediocre corridor-manshooty. But hey, maybe they’ll surprise me in the future.

    • Wulf says:

      Well, Portal was really clever and interesting, even in comparison with Narbacular Drop. So they do have the potential of being weird and wonderful there. It just appears that they’re afraid to try, which is terribly disappointing to me because I think that if they tried this more often, they’d succeed.

  40. Tei says:

    What if Valve do a “It was all a dream”. or a “All people is dead, and this is how the limbo looks like”?

  41. Chunga says:

    Viral marketing 1-2-3, potatoes are all we can see…

  42. Argus says:

    Is it just me or are we going to be lucky to see much of an early release on Portal 2?
    Perhaps I am just being pessimistic but it seems that at the current rate of things we will be lucky to see the game even a full day early.

  43. Solar says:

    The Borealis was present in the apeture science complex in the flash version map pack (http://portalmaps.wecreatestuff.com/). There was some valve news at the time it was made advertising that pack but I’ve done a quick search and cant find the news article. Anyway pretty sure it was endorsed by valve.

    Tried loading up all the games in the orange box with launch options -hb1. Did nothing that I could see, also finished all the games (HL, HLE1, HLE2, Portal) again after using that code. There may be more to find and the internets are distracted with rebooting GLaDOS.

  44. Blade421 says:

    One of the acheivments in Portal 2 is “Ship Overboard” and shows an ancor as its icon, the Boriealis is my best bet on what that would be.

  45. d00d3n says:

    Did portal 1 download an update for anyone else (like five minutes ago)?

    • d00d3n says:

      Portal 1 has some weird growling sound during the ending sequence. Was that there before?

    • makute says:

      Yep. I restarted Steam a while ago and it downloaded an update for Portal.

      My bet is that when all the computeing power are gathered, GLaDOS will need Active Test Subjects, and that those subjects will be playing Portal again.

  46. calavera says:

    I’m not one to say I told you so. However… I told you so.

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/04/15/valve-arg-will-climax-in-seven-hours/#comment-667623

  47. Hematite says:

    Well, the only outcome I can think of that wouldn’t be a huge disappointment is if Portal2 is ep3. It would take a whole lotta balls for a company to do that, but if anyone would it would be Valve.

    It would neatly tie up the mystery of where the F episode 3 is, how the Portal and HL sections of the universe will inevitably connect, and also how Valve could turn a short but polished puzzle+character riff into a full AAA title for the sequel.

    Balls though. Massive, massive balls.

    • Buttless Boy says:

      WTF, you broke my fanboy gland.

    • grechzoo says:

      haha

      sorry, dont mean to be rude. but not even valve could get away with hyping PORTAL 2 for more than a year and have it be a totally different game on release.

      No game company can, nor will ever get away with something like that. i think you are mistaking “massive balls” with absolute blind stupidity.

      and half life is great, but for lots of people portal 1 WAS a AAA game. you dont need a 20 hour campaign and 8 different types of guns to be AAA you know, AAA is subjective, a great experience, and in 2007 portal was MANY peoples game of the year.

      in fact i am confident portal 2 will be my favorite game of this generation.

      dont get me wrong though Ep3 would be great news too. :)

    • calavera says:

      Portal was not only AAA, but more like quadruple-A. I barely remember a thing from the HL2 games, but I still laugh out loud and get warm fuzzies when thinking about the first time I played Portal.

    • Premium User Badge

      stahlwerk says:

      but not even valve could get away with hyping PORTAL 2 for more than a year and have it be a totally different game on release.

      No game company can, nor will ever get away with something like that.

      Ubisoft did successfully keep the whole animus setting for AssCreed under wraps during all the prerelease hype. I imagine Valve is a lot tighter-lipped, as a result the HL2 source code leak aftermath.

    • grechzoo says:

      yeah but the game was still the same game from the videos, the story was just different.

      im simply saying that the suggestion that valve could be releasing a 100% different game than was hypes (for over a year) is absurd.

      the fact is portal has as dedicated a following as half life now anyway. maybe not as big in numbers, but portal for many people represented a game that challenged expectations and pushed the boundaries of a normal first person game.

      id take portal 2 over HL ep 3 any day of any year.

    • Bilbo says:

      You don’t think a few people who’d preordered Portal 2 would be annoyed when Half-Life 2 Episode 3 showed up instead?

      And everything else that’s wrong with what you’re saying?

  48. Wulf says:

    Breaking News!

    The wiki has been officially informed that any and all information that comes from outside the Glados@Home site is faux, false, and generally a fallacious fabrication perpetrated by scurrilous and dastardly braggarts who’ll rue the day they ever toyed with us! Etc etc etc.

    That includes this, unfortunately.

    • MasterBoo says:

      Yet it seems GLaDOS took over the Valve employee who sent the mail originally:
      http://img859.imageshack.us/f/jeepreply.png/

    • Xocrates says:

      Honestly, that may be trolls trying to discredit the earlier info.

      Let’s not get our hopes up until there is some certainty about all this.

    • calavera says:

      Maybe, but there’s this: http://goo.gl/gyNMP

    • Xocrates says:

      … which would be trivially easy to fake.

      By the way, the news entry related to the guy being taken over has disappeared, so it was likely fake.

      EDIT: And is back again. Seems like some edit wars is taking place.

    • calavera says:

      Looks like it’s still there to me… and I don’t see it being removed at any point in the wiki history either. The last edit was almost a half hour ago.

    • Premium User Badge

      TheApologist says:

      It definitely disappeared for a few minutes, and then reappeared.

      Hmmm…and why is this RPS email not in the news as far as I can see. Best wait on this one before getting to exci…OH MY GOD TOO LATE EPISODE 3 AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH

    • Wulf says:

      I’m sorry, guys, but it’s obviously fake and people toying with us.

      The reason I say this is because there is a subset of the ARG who’ve decided to start trolling the rest of it for reasons unknown. They left IRC in a bunch, together, quoting “There’s a hole in the sky… through which I can fly.” and lead the wiki people on a merry chase talking to -testsubject[number] types through Steam who pretended to be shell consoles. I thought that was fishy at the time and said as much, since it seems an unprofessional way to do things. It turns out that after ‘unlocking three packets’ of useless information, the Watcher/Echo of Hidden Path fame had to leave a rather annoyed message on the wiki to get people back on track.

      It was that message left by Echo that actually lead to them figuring out how to access Glados@Home. And he referred to all people named ‘test subjects’ as fakes and trolls. They lead the ARG guys on a merry chase though, and one that looked more and more ridiculous as time went on. But here’s the kicker, here’s where the trolling all ties together – the test subjects used the borealis and hyperborea as elements of their trolling. They did this until right up until they were found out.

      Then, surprise surprise, the whole Borealis thing turns up again from an untrustworthy source, causing someone to–once again–have to contact the wiki to assure them that the only official information coming out of the ARG at the moment is from Glados@Home. All the trolling attempts thus far have been linked by ‘Borealis.’ Therefore, anything mentioned about Borealis is fake.

      (And keep in mind that Echo already told us that all ‘infected people’ are just ‘hairy bridge monsters,’ to put it in his own words. :p)

    • calavera says:

      How do we know you’re not fake?

    • Wulf says:

      I respond to that with these cryptic glyphs: 9_9 :P

  49. schizopol says:

    HEY theres a KILLING FLOOR map titled KF-ICEBREAKER. I’m YELLING THIS at you guys hoping someone with more UT BASED SDK EXPERIENCE might INVESTIGATE THAT MA

  50. Fwiffo says:

    Everyone’s lost the plot it seems. I don’t think there’s any more ARG going on, just a lot of hysteria and paranoia. The Steam forum has descended into a morass of allcaps rage threads and begging for Potato Sack games and the previously cool and calm wiki has eruped into an edit war based on flimsy evidence.

    The gaming community has gone back to its old ways again after the initial show of solidarity, sigh.

    • Wulf says:

      It didn’t help that there are a bunch of trolls (as confirmed by Hidden Path) that purposefully perpetrated a lot of the paranoia and sidetracking that started this whole mess off.