Potano: GLaDOS Is Stealing Our Spuds

By Alec Meer on April 18th, 2011 at 7:16 pm.

Okay, what. All this diligent, web-wide meta-potato-harvesting to apparently get Portal 2 unlocked early, and now something’s gone all weird, just when the end was in sight. The GLaDOS@home site is showing the work so far seeming being undone at a rate of knots. We don’t know why, we don’t know the result. But we damned well hope people haven’t spent money on a collection of indie games purely because they thought it would win them early access to Portal 2 that they now may not get.

On the other hand 1) the site now lists ‘9 test subjects’ as having been found and 2) the chaps on the ValveARG site are claiming the G-Man can be seen in the background… No. C’mon. We’re being gamed, right? That one’s been removed already, which I take to mean it was trolling by someone. Unsurprising, given its lack of subtlety. Additional: the ‘9’ appears to be the ARG’s most successful players being taken to Valve to play the game.

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438 Comments »

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  1. bruceracey says:

    They’re gonna throw us all for a loop and release a Valve-made Duke Nukem Forever, while Gearbox reveals that its been working on HL2:EP3 all this time.

  2. Akura says:

    No, not our potatoes! Anything but that!

    • tyrsius says:

      People have said that the “Engaging starch based power cells” line probably refers to potatoes, but nobody has made the second connection: Glados isn’t stealing the potatoes, she is USING them.

    • mattjb says:

      These spuds are duds. :(

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Actually, it seems the potatoes are disappearing because “overclocking” is currently enabled, according to the wiki. I don’t know if it’s double the rate or what, but the bars are filling up FAST now, and will quickly overtake the potatoes before they all disappear.

      In short, the potatoes disappearing is a good thing, a sign that the release is imminent.

  3. Ba5 says:

    The number of potatoes is going to become negative, delaying Portal 2 until next Sunday.

    • Mad Hamish says:

      Does that mean we’ll have to export potatoes to Valve? As an Irish person I can tell you it will not end well.

  4. bit_crusherrr says:

    http://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/gsxi4/i_believe_ive_found_out_what_the_nonhat_based/

    Allegedly people with golden potatoes get the valve complete pack.

    • Kdansky says:

      I believe I speak for many, many people: That would give me about two games at the most, both of which I do not want, or else I would have bought them already. It’s not like Valve has a very long catalogue.

      But getting invited to play Portal 2 at their HQ? Hot Damn. Can I spend my time there chatting with the devs instead? I can play Portal 2 next week by myself.

  5. TrouserDemon says:

    It is currently believed that the potatoes being consumed are powering the boost in the computation speed. The amount we collected means we have around 12.5 hours of speed boost.

  6. UberMonkey says:

    http://cpucount.zapto.org/

    If you look at the graph there you can see the effect of the potatoes on the completion speed. It’s even more obvious if you click on one of the “focus” games (The Ball & Audiosurf).

  7. SuperNashwanPower says:

    Hang on. You can make a battery out of a potato, right?

    I reckon there are going to be pota-bots in Portal 2. Aww that would be cool.

    • droid says:

      Yes, though technically it’s a battery of power cells.

      10:50 - Engaging starch-based power cells

      Almost certainly this is the case, since potatoes have lots of starch.

    • gwathdring says:

      It’s not exactly accurate to say you can make a battery out of a potato. Or a lemon. Or an onion. Individual cells in these objects, while living, to create a potential by pumping ions to both sides of the membrane. But you’d need a living organism and a damn tiny set of wires to make use of the potential. The primary function of the fruit/veggies in lighting a bulb is to serve as an ion containing solution for the electrodes (Zinc/Copper systems are pretty common) that make up the redox-reaction that technically constitutes most of the battery. The potato serves as the porous membrane and external casing for the battery. You still need to bring in your own metal electrodes to front the energy bill.

    • CommissarXiii says:

      Are the vines on the glados@home page (and in Portal 2) potato vines?
      http://www.wildacresfarms.com/images/database/potatoe_vine.jpg

  8. Premium User Badge

    VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    Pareidolia’s a wonderful thing, isn’t it?

  9. vodkarn says:

    I timed the rate at which it’s decending, and it will end at almost exactly Midnight PST (my math isn’t great, but that was what I found.)

    So.. I would say we’re getting the game a few hours early, heh (about 2, actually.)

    • Premium User Badge

      Malcolm says:

      So the nine “chosen ones” got invited to Valve HQ to play portal 2 early? That’s quite cool!

    • Premium User Badge

      SpakAttack says:

      These guys deserve it – brilliant!

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      Malcolm says:

      …and at Valve HQ – nice!

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      bglamb says:

      Well fl*ff me. That’s amazing.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      Wow. Valve have pulled off a Charlie and the Chocolate factory type thing. The Golden Ticket is won by being awesome at the ARG. Then you get to go and meet Charlie (Gabe) and be fed everlasting gobstoppers (Portal 2).

      Nice touch :) Alost makes me wish I had actually been clever enough to do some deciphering.

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      VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      That’s awesome. Congrats to the nine lucky (and hard-working) ones!

    • Wulf says:

      I can do that, too! In fact, I did it not so long ago to mess with someone as a playful revenge.

      Basically, create a shortcut in Steam, then rename it to whatever you like. Rename it to Portal 2, for example, then hop into game.

      Now you too are playing Portal 2!

      (I realise these people actually are, but I point this out for the amusement value. It’s fun!)

    • Wulf says:

      Hard working is right! I tried to get some of those potatoes and some of the challenges were bloody hard, so I just gave up at claiming them all and just went back to playing Defence Grid.

    • Mr_Day says:

      Except it says “in non Steam game” if you try that.

      Though I realise you were being funny.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Sorry for being a snob, but Gabe would be Willy Wonka, not Charlie.

    • Auspex says:

      Unless it was a visit after the film ends when Charlie runs the factory. (You’re allowed to spoil when a film is 40 years old)

    • qrter says:

      Oh, Valve.. lovely Valve. That’s a really sweet gesture.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Indeed, touché!

  10. Brother None says:

    But we damned well hope people haven’t spent money on a collection of indie games purely because they thought it would win them early access to Portal 2 that they now may not get.

    Why do you hope that? Wasn’t that the whole purpose of this sales stunt?

  11. Premium User Badge

    TheApologist says:

    It seems like Portal 2’s unlocked for a few (9) test subjects and the remaining bars are overclocking progression by double according to the ARG wiki.
    Exciting!
    Unlocked for everybody in about 7 or 8 hours? Maybe that’s not how it works, but damn, that’s late in the UK.
    As for HL3 link – odd time for RPS to post it. This was ‘seen’ a while ago. In on the act?

  12. McDan says:

    Aha! I said the potatoes would be used as batteries!

  13. ArthurBarnhouse says:

    I can tell you right now, I had better not been playing killing floor all weekend for no goddamn reason. I had fun games I could have been playing.

    • JFS says:

      Theeeennn…. why exaaactly did you have to… ? Or is this irony?

    • ArthurBarnhouse says:

      IIIIIIIIIIII diiiiiidn’t haaaaaaaave tooooooooooooooo… Buuuuuuuuuut IIIIIIIIII waaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnntttted tooooooooooooooo plaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay Poooooooooooooooooooooooortaaaaaaaaaaaaal Twoooooooooooooooo Earrrrrrrrrrrllllllllllly. Beeeeeeeeeecaaaaaaause thaaaaaats whaaaaaaaaaat theeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey saaaaaaaaid theeeeeeeeeeeey’d dooooooooooooo.

    • Urthman says:

      If you spent the weekend playing a game you weren’t actually enjoying, just for the possibility of shaving a tiny amount of time (seconds? a whole minute saved due to your efforts?) off the Portal 2 release date–and at the behest of an insane, murderous AI no less–you have no one to blame but yourself.

      Next you’re going to ask us to pity you because you spent the previous weekend playing games you didn’t enjoy just to earn “achievements”.

    • djbriandamage says:

      Ah, but The Potato Sack has been on the Steam top sellers list all weekend, due in no small part I’m sure to the implications quasi-stated regarding this ARG. Selling red herrings isn’t going to do wonders for your credibility.

    • ArthurBarnhouse says:

      I am, in many ways, a team player kind of guy. When I saw there was a way to get an early release of Portal I did what I thought I could. I played 20 hours on those potato sack games, always the ones I thought I could do some good in. I spent hours on that stupid aperture level on killing floor cutting through the door so that people could get that potato. I ran through survival mode on the ball, which is the least interesting part of that game. I played grinder challenges on defense grid, which is intensely boring. I did that, not just because I said to myself, “ohh, I’ll play it early,” but because I hoped that my efforts, combined with the whole, would get it early for everyone. That idea was fun. That in some small way I helped everyone out, and by that same token everyone had helped me out. Instead we get a clock that is clearly just counting down the midnight release. I’m glad that the major players on the ARG got something out of it, god bless them, but this turned something fun into something that devalued my time. That’s irritating. Nit end if the world irritating. But irritating.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      There should be a law against slagging off Killing Floor on a British gaming website.

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      bglamb says:

      “There should be a law against slagging off Killing Floor on a British gaming website.”

      Said in a thread full of Valve hate?

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Valve has never made a game with gunplay anywhere close to as good as Killing Floor, plus they don’t use the word “dosh” in their scripts so no, we won’t be defending them today.

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      Portrolled.

  14. SuperUnheardOf says:


    10:50 - Engaging starch-based power cells
    11:00 - Reboot safety test protocol initiated...
    11:00 - Relaxation chamber locks released...
    11:00 - Involuntary hazard mitigation associates have assumed testing positions...
    11:00 - Pre-release lethality assessment initiated...

    I’d guess that the nine test subjects now have access to the game.

  15. Tei says:

    *DANCES*

  16. Bhazor says:

    So an ARG reveals a count down that becomes an ARG countdown that becomes a countdown?
    INCEPTION

  17. NateN says:

    POrTAl TwO. Or, POTATO is Portal Two, minus an RLW.
    RLW seems to stand for many things out there on the web, but Radioactive Liquid Waste did kind of jump out at me:
    http://www.acronymfinder.com/Radioactive-Liquid-Waste-%28RLW%29.html

    (I’m grasping at straws on this one really…)

  18. Argus says:

    Ah so those dedicated few are getting in early.
    That explains “11:00 – Pre-release lethality assessment initiated…”

    In the mean time I can’t help but note that the game is looking like it will unlock at almost exactly the time I leave for work tomorrow morning.
    Well played GLaDOS… Well played indeed.

  19. Premium User Badge

    Shakermaker says:

    The ARG was basically an elaborate countdown to the US midnight release. Consider yourself trolled.

    • Premium User Badge

      shoptroll says:

      I wouldn’t be terribly surprised. People were speculating earlier on whether or not they could break street date without garnering the ire of the retail channels. Who knows.

      A little bummed that it wasn’t released over the weekend since we have a state holiday today, but this has been an entertaining lead up to release so I don’t mind if we’re still getting it Tuesday.

    • DrGonzo says:

      In the UK, the Steam release date is before the retail one, we get it on the 19th but the shops get it on the 21st. So I doubt it’s about that.

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      Faldrath says:

      Friend of mine who works at Gamestop in the US said basically that, yeah.

    • qrter says:

      That’s the retail releasedate for the whole of Europe, isn’t it? Not just for the UK, I mean. So yeah, the 19th would be earlier than European retail anyway.

    • notjasonlee says:

      i knew it! I KNEW IT! PIE HITLER.

    • futage says:

      It’s not Hitler, it’s Chairman Mao. And it’s not a pie, it’s a crab. It’s clearly a reference to Ep. 3. Or Populous 5.

  20. Premium User Badge

    Vandelay says:

    The wiki is saying that the speed has doubled and mentions that the focus should now be on the harder games (Killing Floor being the slowest bar to move, yet with by far the highest number of players consistently through this process, is probably the best one to focus on.) This just seems like the overclock previously mentioned, which should make things a little speedier.

    More interestingly is the test subjects. I thought it could be referring to the missing ARG players, but there are twelve of those. Curious.

    I’m not so certain about the G-Man thing. It looks plausible with the image overlayed like that, but I couldn’t see it myself without it. Sounds like just seeing faces in random patterns to me.

  21. Unaco says:

    Seems they got the 9’infected’/’winners’ of the ARG to Valve HQ to let them be the first to play.
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150228527438689&set=a.10150228527433689.346684.93235358688

    Edit: And gave them muffins and pastries.

    • Argus says:

      Ok now that is a pretty good prize for all the work they put in.
      I mean who doesn’t love muffins right?

    • Serenegoose says:

      Their cakes were not lies. /obligatory

  22. Vinraith says:

    But we damned well hope people haven’t spent money on a collection of indie games purely because they thought it would win them early access to Portal 2

    Full stop.

    • futage says:

      It is going to get released early. fun was had by all (people who felt obliged to play killing floor notwithstanding :D). Indies sold (presumably) many additional copies of games (and it should be noted that Valve could easily have made all the games you need to play their own stuff, but they didn’t. They understand).

      I really see no room for cynicism in this. I’m a marxist and even I fucking love Valve for this.

    • Serenegoose says:

      Vinraith is of course in possession of the requisite appendages required to internet speak for his/herself, but I think the thrust of the message was more that people should be buying these indie games to play some excellent indie games, not to get another title released early.

    • Vinraith says:

      I don’t see how your statement has any bearing on mine. You’re talking about people who are having fun playing the indie games, I’m not.

      Edit: Serengoose has the essential right of it. I’d go even less far and say that I’d sincerely hope no one (or at least very few people) have such poor self-regard as to sit around frantically playing games they don’t enjoy to get a game they might enjoy a tiny fraction earlier.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Vinraith’s right. There’s tons of bitching on the forums about it.

    • futage says:

      Yes, for the people who have been in cryosleep since 1945 and have not yet experienced advertising as it exists in the postmodern world your point is well taken. We should also warn them off buying Lynx.

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      bglamb says:

      Yeah but….nobody would actually be stupid enough to do that, would they?

      I mean…..spending £50 on something you didn’t want in order to release a game about a second early?

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      Shakermaker says:

      @Serenegoose
      The Potato Sack is being advertised as doing just that:
      http://imgur.com/RfaIW

    • Wulf says:

      @futage

      I completely concur.

      @Serenegoose

      You’re looking at this lopsidedly and through a pair of Bizarro World goggles.

      The first thing to consider is that this was a bundle of indie games for a reasonable price. I tend to leap on those anyway since it can introduce me to undiscovered wonders, and I will be forever grateful to Valve for this one introducing me to The Ball and Defence Grid, two games I’ve come to have a great deal of love for.

      I’ve also learned that Jim Ward is an amazing voice actor whom more people should hire.

      The second thing to consider is that there are many BLOPites (that was fun) out there who only buy mainstream games and wouldn’t consider an indie title ever, thinking of them as either cheapo games, games for women/kids, or whatever else, which is terrible because in their arrogance they’re totally missing out. And I’ve met people like this, I know they exist. To do something related to Portal 2, they will have had to have been exposed to indie titles to do so.

      Now, this is important because they might actually find that their conceptions of indie titles are wrong. Since they’re starting X or Y game up anyway, they might decide to give it a play, and in doing so they might then find that the game is actually really bloody good. This opens the eyes of the people in question to indies as a market, this was a thing of enlightenment for some people and of this I’m certain. If even a hundred people had their eyes opened to the indie market by this, then it was an absolute success.

      And generally this is just good exposure for the indie developers in general, as I’ll be looking out for anything new from the people who’ve made games that I’ve since become smitten with. This puts Hidden Path Entertainment and Toetl Studios on my list of studios to watch.

      You need to think of it solely as a good deal on a bunch of great indie titles with a bunch of exposure tied into it. If you take Portal 2 out of the equation, it suddenly starts to make sense.

      (I guess what I’m getting at is that, yes, the Portal 2 aspect was just typical marketing. But if you look at solely the marketing, you miss any good that happened as a by-product of that marketing. Good that was, indeed, quite intentional.)

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      blind_boy_grunt says:

      my problem with all of this is this: It’s a badly designed game. Anything you do is meaningless because you can’t win. Or the game let’s you only win as much as it needs you to. It’s like one of those jrpgs where you fight against a boss, you finally bring him down and than comes a cutscene where he stands up and runs away. You could say the journey’s the reward and blablabla… But right now i just feel so used. Imagine how i’d feel if i actually was(were?) interested in when portal2 releases ;).

    • Wulf says:

      Oh! Plus a bunch of free DLC for games I like, related to a game I like. I’d actually feel kind of evil if I were to complain about this. Seriously. Hm… I bought a pack of indie games for a fair price, most of them I enjoy, all of them have extra, free content now that’s become available to everyone regardless of whether they bought the pack or not. Hmmm… I don’t know, I just see that as nice.

      (And just this once, sod editing, I’m not losing all of the formatting of my prior post just to add that.)

    • Vinraith says:

      Why does anyone think I’m criticizing Valve, the ARG, or the indie games here? “I hope no one has such a messed up sense of priorities as to be playing games they don’t enjoy.” That’s literally all I’m saying, I’d hope it’d be something we could all agree on. And for the record, that’s all Serengoose is saying too, as best I can tell.

      The internet is remarkable sometimes.

    • futage says:

      And what I am saying is that if anyone is really playing games they don’t enjoy playing believing that their efforts are going to make a jot of difference in getting Portal 2 released early then they should probably come back out of the fucking wardrobe and leave Narnia forever.

    • Vinraith says:

      @futage

      Then as best I can tell we have no disagreement, except that you seem to think such people don’t exist and I can only envy you your lack of exposure to the Steam forums. :)

    • futage says:

      Yes, we actually seem to agree but I as all hyped up for an internet argument and I like saying funny things about Narnia.

      It’s more that, while they do indeed exist, they should not in any way be catered to/for.

      You, however, deserve a lovely cup of ceylon.

    • Wulf says:

      Honest question, though: Did anyone here (not at the Steam forums) buy the potato sack for any other reason other than it being a collection of potential delights that one might really enjoy?

      That’s the basis for all I’ve said, really. I bought. I was delighted. I got free stuff out of it. Score!

      So yes, okay then, no disagreements. Though anyone who bought this and couldn’t bring themselves to realise that there are good games present in the bundle are… exceedingly silly goose. To use the Penny Arcade vernacular.

    • Vinraith says:

      Honest question, though: Did anyone here (not at the Steam forums) buy the potato sack for any other reason other than it being a collection of potential delights that one might really enjoy?

      My original statement was “I hope not” and I’m sticking with that.

      That’s the basis for all I’ve said, really. I bought. I was delighted. I got free stuff out of it. Score!

      I didn’t buy it (already owned most of it, didn’t want the rest tied to Steam) but got some fun free DLC out of it anyway (yay for new Defense Grid levels, especially with GLADOS in them) so you certainly don’t hear me complaining.

      So yes, okay then, no disagreements. Though anyone who bought this and couldn’t bring themselves to realise that there are good games present in the bundle are… exceedingly silly goose. To use the Penny Arcade vernacular.

      Completely agreed.

    • Serenegoose says:

      I didn’t buy the potato sack because I’d just pre-ordered portal 2 and didn’t have another £27 handy. I did buy defense grid because it seemed like an interesting game, and it is indeed rather fun, and did have another £3 handy. Fantastic price for the game really.

    • thegooseking says:

      Did anyone here (not at the Steam forums) buy the potato sack for any other reason other than it being a collection of potential delights that one might really enjoy?

      I bought it because 7 of the 9 games I didn’t already own were games that I had always meant to check out as soon as a suitable sale came along. Marketing stunt or no, this was precisely such a suitable sale. I never wanted Defense Grid but have been pleasantly surprised at how good it is. Killing Floor is way more atmospheric than I expected, but a little too hardcore for my tastes. The other seven were pretty much what I hoped they would be.

      Also, somehow I managed to buy it for £24, not £27. I see the price has gone up to £27 now. What happened there?

      anyone who bought this and couldn’t bring themselves to realise that there are good games present in the bundle are… exceedingly silly goose

      Apparently Serenegoose and myself are not silly, but exceedingly goose.

    • Soon says:

      I think some people would have bought it for even less. And bought it simply to be part of the potato crowd.

  23. Bilbo says:

    On the other hand, the pirating assholes have the game already. Remembering that sort of put a damper on all the excitement for me, and being the spirit of goodwill that I am I figured I’d share the love.

    • futage says:

      Why? You’re free to pirate it too if you like. What a ridiculous position.

    • Bilbo says:

      “What a ridiculous position.”

      I’m free to break the law. Wonderful. By that logic, I shouldn’t ever complain about pretty much anything, because i’m free to use force or whatever and do whatever I please.

      What a fucking stupid thing to say.

    • futage says:

      Their experience is not in any way impinging upon your experience. Their way of doing things is open to you if you want to pursue it. What the hell is to moan about?

      And what does legality have to do with anything?

      Those goddamn people who sing happy birthday without paying royalties are totally ruining my experience of childrens’ birthday parties D:

    • Bilbo says:

      Well in this case it literally is, because I’ve had the ending spoiled for me by some basement-dwelling shit on 4chan. Opting to obey the law is a basic responsibility of citizenship, particularly in the case of laws that the individual consciously agrees with, which I do. The legality is important because purchasing the game governs the right to play the game(hint – pirates do not have that right), so it grates that they’re free to enjoy it before paying customers. You can stoically refuse to see the logic there all you like – pirates and their chums always do – I’m not that interested in talking to a smirking inconsiderate and irresponsible wall. Grow up and pay for your frigging dinner

    • DrGonzo says:

      The Pc version hasn’t been cracked yet. And reading spoilers is your fault for reading silly non-RPS sites :P

      And I uhh, regularly disobey the law, as I’m sure you do if you’re honest. Plus Valve’s stance always seems to be, you’re free to pirate the game and play it, but you miss out on some lovely free extras and having the convenience of Steam. Gabe has even said, if you are getting a better deal by pirating then you should do. As a consumer you should find the best deal for you, as a business you should make sure you provide the best deal.

    • futage says:

      Well, you read 4chan.

      Pirates have no legal right to play the game, of course. That is a ridiculous tautology (because those who sell it get to say who has that right).

      However, looking beyond the (hint: quite often wrong) law for a second: I really don’t give a fuck. I paid for Portal 2 because, in this instance, I wanted to. If other people either couldn’t afford to or for whatever reason didn’t want to then great, they get to enjoy this lovely thing too. Let’s all enjoy these lovely things in whatever manner we prefer so long as our doing so is not detrimental to anyone else.

      And stop reading 4chan.

    • BunnyMaz says:

      Surely the lesson there is not to go on 4chan? I haven’t wanted to be spoiled, so I just haven’t gone to any websites or followed any links to things that might spoil it for me.

      As everyone is saying, the fact that a few pirates are getting it early doesn’t need to have any impact on your enjoyment of the game or of the ARG. What could valve do when it was leaked, cancel the entire ARG?

    • Delusibeta says:

      AFAIK it’s only the console versions that are affected. Indeed, it’s seems to be largely only console games they get leaked, with a few high-profile exceptions. For example, I watched a stream for a bunch of people playing the new Mortal Kombat game last night, despite a) it’s not out yet and b) it’s only available for the consoles.

    • Wulf says:

      I think the lesson is more don’t go to /b/ or /v/. The interesting thing for me is that one of my favourite new communities is MLP (Equestria Daily/Ponychan), because there are some incredibly, amazingly nice people there who like doing things for other people, and just being awesome. Plus it’s fun to see people trying to live up to the ideals of the show. Why is this relevant? (I love doing that.) It’s relevant because I’ve heard that a lot of the Equestria Daily/Ponychan community originated from /co/, a board on 4chan.

      I’ve lately been learning that the Internet isn’t quite the hate-filled place I’d allowed myself to become convinced it is. Another fun revelation was seeing ED die, and on remembering ED, I wondered if Uncyclopedia was still around, and what that site was doing. So I decided to check it out, since I expected it to be something of an ED clone. Turns out it’s actually really funny and makes well-meant, friendly jabs at everyone without being hateful. I especially loved the page on furries, that was great stuff. It surprised me.

      So yeah, I might have, at one point, been easily convinced that 4chan was a horrid place, but… not so much any more. Not all of it, anyway. I still hear bad things about /b/ and /v/ on a regular basis, but /co/ was apparently awesome. I still haven’t nosed there myself, but I’m kind of tempted to. Still, to get Portal 2 spoiled you were probably hanging around /v/, right?

      But anyway… yeah. I got a bunch of awesome games for a decent price with extra free content to keep me occupied until Portal 2 comes along. I can bring myself to be upset and irritable about some things (such as the depressing state of RPGs, which I can be all Marvin about, I admit), but this isn’t one of them. I honestly can’t feel anything other than joy over this.

    • Wulf says:

      Also? Pirated on consoles, first? What nonsense! Every console owner will tell you that us PC owners are just a bunch of no-life neckbearded hackers and that their holy console toys are impregnable fortresses where piracy doesn’t exist. Large publishers would tell you the same thing, too. It’s completely true, that, don’t ever doubt it. :P

      Score 1 for Valve. See, Ubisoft?

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      Everyone, let’s have an argument over whether piracy is stealing or not. I’m sure it’ll be really interesting and we’ll all change our established opinions on the subject.

    • Ryz says:

      The spoilers aren’t just on 4chan, for the record.

      The Steam forums, major gaming sites, and even the ARG’s IRC/Steam Community Groups have all been targeted and bombarded at some point over the weekend. I sure as hell don’t go to 4chan and I’ve already had it spoiled, too.

      Hell, there’s a few spoiler posts that haven’t been deleted in the comments of this article right now.

    • Rii says:

      @futage: we reach

    • Bilbo says:

      So hang on, a tautology is stupid because it’s true? I am confuse.
      And while I refuse to let one bad experience tarnish my overall opinion of a site I’d concede that it’s definitely a mark against /v/.

      Not getting pulled into the stupid piracy arguments – they’ve been done better elsewhere, it’s entirely pointless, and I’m not changing my mind based on one grinning degenerate – but I would say that console piracy – just as damaging to my enjoyment of the game as PC piracy. The experience is being had by people who haven’t paid for the right, posting plot details online, and undermining the studio’s efforts. Whether they’re doing it on their sillybox or their PC is pretty immaterial. The reason I brought the point up in the first place was simply because jumping through hoops for the privilege of playing the game mere hours earlier than originally stated is a little sour when, if I was a base cur with no morals, I could have stolen and completed the game already. I’m annoyed with the state of affairs, more than anything.

      *EDIT* Becoming very clear that nobody understands why the fact that pirates are playing the game a) illegitimately and b) first affects my enjoyment of the game, to which I’ll just say that context is everything to me and if you can understand the idea that it annoys me that I pay for something that someone else does not, you can understand that playing a game with said annoyance involuntarily at the back of my mind will tarnish my enjoyment of said game.

      There we are, think that’s pretty clear. I fully expect something about how being annoyed by the pirates is my fault, etc, so come at me bro

    • Rii says:

      It’s unfortunate that you were spoiled and understandable that you would be annoyed by it, but the rest of it is on you, yes. I hope you can get past it and enjoy the game.

    • futage says:

      No, it’s stupid because it’s redundant. And stupid.

      Of course pirates have no legal right to play the games. It’s like saying bank robbers have no legal right to withdraw money in that manner.

      The far more interesting question is whether there are any moral, ethical, economic or cultural problem with them doing so. In the case of bankrobbers it’s quite easy to make a case that there are. With piracy it’s more complex. And no, none of us want to get into that.

      You’re pissed off that people spoilered the game at you. Which is nothing to do with piracy it’s just about people being assholes.

      You also seem pissed off because you paid money to play a thing and people who did not pay money are playing it before you. Which, honestly, I find utterly juvenile.

      Of course I understand there’s value in being part of a cultural event. In playing a game and feeling like you are the first person to ever see this thing (aside from the scores of devs and playtesters and reviewers of course), and sharing that experience with others. I do see the value in that. But if a few pirates playing this game before you really spoils that for you (and all the playtesters and reviewers etc. don’t) then I think you’re putting too much emphasis on something somewhere.

      Kinda seems like you’re choosing to be angry when it’d make far more sense to choose to be excited instead (so yes, entirely your own fault ^____^ )

    • futage says:

      Also I should perhaps say that I have nothing against 4chan. In fact, they are an interesting ‘political’ and cultural entity and seem to generate the vast majority of what filters down to the rest of us and constitutes internet culture.

      I just think that people of certain mentalities probably shouldn’t read certain boards.

    • Bilbo says:

      Bear in mind I said it “put a damper” on the excitement, not that it somehow nullified it entirely. You’re putting a lot of very unkind words in my mouth, just because you like piracy and I don’t. Which is deflecting, really. It’s good that you accept the legal basis for my argument though – many times this has not been the case, so I always feel it’s worth restating – the chief moral point for me is in undermining the efforts of creative industry by demonetizing their efforts, I guess. We can be stupid and say that in an ideal society we wouldn’t need to monetize creative industry, but we don’t live in that society, etc, etc, so in the meantime people ought to pay up. By buying a game, I’m effectively subsidising those who choose not to pay, which seems wrong. Also bear in mind I restate *choose* not to pay – a tortured moral argument about those who are too poor to afford games (which I struggle to believe can be the majority of pirates’ defense) isn’t something I want to get into, and naturally I find it a lot easier to sympathise with those who *can’t* pay than with those who *choose not to* pay – hence I make the distinction.
      Rest assured the game’s plot being spoiled by a pirate and the fact of wilful piracy by those who can afford to pay hasn’t ruined my enjoyment of the game, much as the fact of the meat industry doesn’t stop me enjoying a good burger now and then, but I still reserve the right to be rankled, to post a fairly innocent comment attesting to said ranklement, and then defend *to the death* my right to state said rankledness when it’s attacked by guys like you for being “ridiculous”.

    • futage says:

      I tend to work from the position that (so long as authors can afford a roof and food) culture does better when it’s shared freely than when it’s not. No, we don’t live in that ideal society but I believe the prevalence of piracy is going more to get us there (along with the activities of companies like valve, who seem to understand how things work with the internet here) than things like restrictive DRM and, more generally, any activity which seeks to return us to a pre-internet model of cultural exchange.

      Anyway, I’m sure we’vew both had this discussion a bajillion times and we’re not going to agree so yes, best to leave that there.

      I apologise for causing you any offence and making you feel you were under attack. That wasn’t my intention.

      Let us be friends and pirate a lovely cup of tea together.

    • Bilbo says:

      With the ideas on the table rather than just ridiculing one another, it’s a lot easier to be friends, isn’t it? Maybe that can tie into your idea of post-internet cultural exchange. I’m skeptical of your idea but you’ve given me something to think about, so cheers.

    • futage says:

      I do tend to overstate :)

    • Wulf says:

      I’m really pleased about the way this turned out.

      Can we have you two show up whenever the next debate about piracy happens? No sarcasm meant there, but the two of you aired ideological differences, shared thoughts, and potentially gave each other things to think about, thus showing the differences between people without demeaning one or another for those differences. Bloody good show.

  24. boar_amour says:

    I really can’t wait for this dumb shit to be over.

    Not so I can play the game ever-so-slightly early, but so I don’t have to continue reading Marketing Hype masquerading as news. Until the next time somebody pulls a shitty viral stunt, which is probably next month at the rate this stuff has been happening lately.

    • Bilbo says:

      I’ve thought this one to be one of the more interesting shitty viral campaigns, myself. It’s generated some buzz for some indie games and yielded a ton of free content – sort of harder to be cynical about

    • thegooseking says:

      Are you in RPS’ Ludovico chair, or something? In what way do you “have” to read this? For that matter, in what way do you “have” to comment and spread negativity to people who are actually having fun?

    • funtard says:

      Nobody is forcing you to read anything. Grow up kid.

    • Christian O. says:

      But… most game news is marketing hype?

    • Zogtee says:

      The challenges were a tad too hard for me, but I absolutely appreciate and respect the depth of this ARG and the massive work that has gone into it. Also, Steam has pointed a big fucking spotlight on indie games here, and I love them for that.

    • MuscleHorse says:

      It’s been a of fun – maybe we didn’t get Portal 2 for the weekend but seeing Glados appear in a number of unusual places and adding extra challenges to older games was certainly worth it. No one is forcing you to play/take part in these free extras.

    • qrter says:

      I think it’s been a lot of fun. The last part even made me start playing Amnesia, a game I bought ages ago, just never got round to playing it. So when this thing popped up, I thought “why not play it now?”

      Just try and follow the steps people have had to make to figure out the actual ARG – it’s nigh incomprehensible to me. I mean to say it’s been a complicated, intricate operation, not just a quick little marketing campaign. Lots of creativity poured into it. How people figured out any of it is a mystery to me, good for them.

    • Wulf says:

      I’ll concur with what people have said. I’ve talked about The Ball before and how delighted I was to see how clever the vignette was, so it was a mash-up between a The Ball level, and a Portal level, all sort of somehow crammed into one gestalt, combining the two in an entirely believable and clever way. And then there’s Defence Grid. The C.H.A.S. map has been one of my more memorable gaming experiences, it’s as hard as nails but thanks to Starky I’m getting damned close to getting a silver on it. I must get a silver on it, at least!!! (Again, thanks Starky! I owe you.)

      (I never realised how amusingly overpowered cannons were, but then I’d only just started playing with cannons before I tried C.H.A.S., so I have that to say in my gridless defence.)

      Plus, C.H.A.S. had some truly great GLaDOS lines.

      “You may wish to note the number of power cores left, it is a very low number, you should draw an arrow pointing to the number of power cores left, and place an exclamation mark by that arrow. Or even better, three exclamation marks.”

      “If this exercise were real, the power core that was just stolen would have been the one providing heat to the local orphanage.”

      I was also fond of the interplay between the Entity AI (whom I’m now terribly fond of) and GLaDOS. It was pretty funny that at first he was very friendly with GLaDOS, treating her as a training simulation, and then later getting a little aerated at her attempts at psychological warfare. Fun stuff. Really, C.H.A.S. has some of the best GLaDOS dialogue I’ve heard. Worth checking out.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      Wait a second, you’re saying press releases from words of some PR guy from Bethesda talking about Skyrim is somehow less of a “marketing hype” than a cross-game ARG?

      I hate to burst your bubble, but 99% of “game news” is exactly “marketing hype” as you call it. And you decide to pick on Valve because their “marketing hype” in particular didn’t involve generic PR statements from the studio’s head honcho like everyone else does, but rather a far more involved alternate reality game that gets the community involved? That’s really absurd and not at all fair to Valve.

      Basically what you’re saying is, you don’t like THIS “marketing hype” because it’s attention grabbing and original, and would much rather have this OTHER “marketing hype” because it’s generic and it’s more “news worthy” somehow. I’ll echo everyone’s sentiments here and say you can kindly GTFO if this kind of thing offends you so. By your logic I can just as well go to any post of any game that doesn’t interest me and say “lulz stupid marketing hype post sum real newz!!!”

  25. SuperNashwanPower says:

    For some reason, everyone is leaving the comment “potato” on the nelipot steam group page.

    • thegooseking says:

      I think there was a rumour that that would get you another potato. I fell for it.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      It got me a potato, if it didn’t I really don’t know where I got it from!

  26. funtard says:

    It’s not the G-man in the background… it’s somebody else…

    http://i.imgur.com/Vr2tQ.jpg

    • ALJA says:

      looks like the medic form tf2

    • notjasonlee says:

      he appears to be made of clay. if we find this clay man we may be able to get the game several minutes earlier. i’ll start raising the seed money so we can get this expedition started!

    • qrter says:

      Stephen Colbert!

    • Gotem says:

      Actually I think I seen Duke Nukem there

  27. Teddy Leach says:

    At this rate, it’s being released 6 hours early. Slow clap, anyone?

    • Bilbo says:

      Where’d you get that figure? It was already five hours early before the potato-powered-speed-up-whadjamahoosit began.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      From looking at the page. Bearing in mind that I’m looking at the approximate difference between the projected and default launch.

    • Premium User Badge

      Hidden_7 says:

      It may not seem like much, but for me it’s the difference between it releasing a couple hours after I’ve gone to bed, meaning I’m playing it Tuesday night after work, and it releasing Monday night with enough time for me to get a few hours in.

      That being said, I get that for lots of people it’s a meaningless difference, but it happened to work out for me, so I’m happy.

  28. fluffy says:

    So the game is released at midnight 00.01 at April 19. How unexpected! All because people idled in games and not because that was the release date all along.

  29. bascule42 says:

    /jumps through the window “Arrrrghhhhhhhh…………..!”

  30. TimA says:

    Edit: What I posted is a scam, apparently. Don’t bother with what I just removed…

  31. rino900 says:

    (I think someone already pointed this out, but anyway)
    I think this means we did it! Because we collected so much potatoes, we don’t have to complete the other games. as proof look at what the site says:
    11:00 – Reboot safety test protocol initiated…
    11:00 – Relaxation chamber locks released…<—IMPORTANT
    11:00 – Involuntary hazard mitigation associates have assumed testing positions…
    11:00 – Pre-release lethality assessment initiated…

    as far as i can remember, the chamber where the portal girl was locked in was called the relaxation chamber. This would mean that because the doors are unlocked, she can go out. That's exactly where portal 2 is supposed to start right?
    (I apologise for my bad grammar, english isn't my native language.)

  32. Premium User Badge

    bglamb says:

    I saw an advert for Portal 2. It was brightly coloured and moving and my brain interpreted these things as being a possible threat and thus drew my attention towards it. Imagine my disappointment when it turned out to just want to make me interested in their game, instead of actively enriching my life in any way. I wasted whole seconds looking at it.

    I know that companies use these tricks all the time to get me interested in their things, but I fell for it this time, and that makes me angry.

    Valve are therefore massive wankers.

  33. Amun says:

    I just love how the promise of this whole thing was Portal 2 released early. The countdown says 12 hours, so (if it’s correct) it will release on the 19th anyway.

    http://i.imgur.com/IV9R8.jpg

    • Teddy Leach says:

      Spam that once more and I’ll pimp slap you through the internet.

      EDIT: Not you, sir! That’s twice today that the Hive has deleted something I replied to.

  34. mollemannen says:

    I wonder how many people died trying to sit trough this whole ordeal.

    • McDan says:

      I know I will from stress and excitement if this goes on any longer.

    • Wulf says:

      Audiosurf just finished calculations! The timer is now at 11 hours!!

      <_< >_>

  35. apricotsoup says:

    My steam account is listed as getting a complimentary “Defense Accessed Content”.

    Anyone know what this is and if it’s related?
    Had 5 potatos btw :E

  36. dakotarush7 says:

    the potato is a lie.

  37. dadioflex says:

    So… anyone else just waiting until it’s on sale?

    • gwathdring says:

      Yes. More because I’ve got a full back-catalog than because of anything else. I find it hard to justify paying full price for a digitally distributed game when I’ve got multiple AAA titles I haven’t finished yet, and a fair number of indie games that are continually on my hard-drive to boot. And there’s always Civ III/IV. I find this whole advertising thing quite fascinating the watch though. Valve put a lot of effort in. It seems like fun.

    • thegooseking says:

      Installing GTA IV so I can see what it’s like on PC (previously only had it on Xbox 360, but figured the Steam sale was too good to miss). But at the download rate I’m getting, it looks like I won’t get it terribly long before Portal 2 unlocks anyway.

  38. pixelpark says:

    Haha! This is the magic of Valve time – an early launch transformed into a delay! ;D

  39. d00d3n says:

    If a promotion offers a product as “cheaper” that could mean everything from a significant to a marginal price reduction. That being said, as a consumer it is reasonable to assume that the price reduction in such a promotion is not completely insignificant. If a salesman catches your attention with an offer of a cheaper product and it turns out that the price reduction offered is completely insignificant, most people would refuse to buy the product and would lose faith in the salesman. If a company systematically used this promotional strategy both sales and credibility would be affected negatively.

    If a promotion offers a product to be delivered “earlier” than expected …

    I can’t stand the ridiculous excuses Valve fanboys have been throwing at every criticism of this promotion. This is a clear example of shady business practice, bordering on fraud. The goodwill loss should be enormous! As a big time spender on steam (including most of the Valve catalog) I am rightfully outraged that my precious time has been wasted on entertaining this useless promotion.

    • thegooseking says:

      “Oh my God! A game developer is causing people to have fun! I must sue immediately!”

      That’s you. That’s how dumb you sound.

    • Premium User Badge

      bglamb says:

      It’s looking like 12 hours earlier to me.

      Considering most fanboys would give a kidney to play it even 1 hours early, I don’t think that’s insignificant.

    • d00d3n says:

      Ahhh, the classic “people are having fun” defence to shady business practice. I guess you win.

    • thegooseking says:

      Since “the classic x defence” is a classic defence in itself, thereby nullifying your own argument, yes, I do win.

    • Premium User Badge

      Sunjumper says:

      Following your flaweless logic d00d3n the only rational way to react to Valve’s evil coporate ways is to decline to play the game earlier.

    • gwathdring says:

      …. Typically, you can advertise a product as cheaper even if it’s only by a few cents. People do this all the time and it’s legal. It’s not false advertising to say “We’re having a sale! Don’t miss our exciting price cuts! 5% off all items” simply because that’s a tiny fraction of the actual cost. It can certainly be disingenuous to make it abundantly and specifically clear that all items are on discount only to redact that statement at the check-out counter or after the bill is signed. This is probably a significant part of why most coupons have an abundance of fine print–so they can use big, hyperbolic statements. I guess it comes down to this fundamental ethical question: is exaggeration the same as lying and does it make a difference if others can reasonably be expected to know you are exaggerating?

      Ethics aside, hyperbole is not illegal. Now that doesn’t mean that intentionally misleading large numbers of people is ok purely on the grounds that it isn’t illegal (hence “ethics aside”). But I’m pretty sure nothing illegal just happened. Furthermore, this goes two ways. Simply because you and even a large number of people interpret “earlier” as at least a certain amount of time doesn’t mean that Valve wronged you because their version is different. Likewise, simply because it was clearly an advertising gimmick doesn’t absolve Valve of potentially misleading people who expected something bigger and more concrete.

      But while I recognize that side of things, the promise was veiled in secret codes, and hidden messages, and a complicated meta game that finally opened up into an entirely optional further but more explicit meta game which promised nothing more than a vague countdown and a “Help Release Portal Earlie by Playing These Games” message, which is also exceedingly vague. I’m not invested enough to say flat out that people who are angry at not getting more for their money are out of line, but my intuition is that they were deluded at least as much by themselves as by valve. And I think the question of whether or not this particular instance is ok has to speak to a much broader issue in advertising ethics, rather than something unusually or unprecedentedly pernicious and misleading in this case. This is not unprecedented.

      Finally, I feel that whether or not something “wrong” occurred (and I’m inclined to say it didn’t), at the very least, it’s important to be a little more savy about advertising and the internet and not pay nearly $50 simply to get a game released a little earlier, maybe. My impression was that if enough people didn’t play the games and collect the potatoes, it wouldn’t have worked at all and thus you were basically gambling that you wouldn’t be the only person to throw down cash … I just don’t understand why anyone would spend that much money for even the concrete shot at so little, let alone that kind of a gamble. What if it had been a week early? You spend almost hundred dollars for your game instead of fifty and you get it a week early. That seems incredibly foolish to me, unless you really want the games in the potato sack.

    • Noc says:

      Ah, the classic “Classic Defense is a Classic Defense” defense! And followed-up with a ferocious deployment of the “fallacy fallacy,” no less.

      …but oh, yes. Providing a bunch of free content in a number of other games, and mentioning a few days before the scheduled release that playing them may get the game released marginally earlier, only to disappointing people with a release that is marginally more marginal? CLEARLY a shady business practice, bordering on fraud.

      It’s also perhaps worth noting that the early release was stated to be dependent upon people playing the Potato Sack games en-masse, and five out of thirteen games remain uncompleted. It seems probable to me that Valve is indeed playing this honestly, but overestimated the interest the ARG would draw and set the bar a little to high — that with a larger number of players, the release could have been achieved significantly earlier.

      If you say “Hey, we’ll do a thing if enough people show up!” and . . . not enough people show up, sticking to your word will inevitably leave everyone who did show being disappointed. That’s not “shady business practice” or “fraud,” it’s an honest miscalculation.

    • Premium User Badge

      bglamb says:

      I think it’s important to note that the completion bar on the webby isn’t the same as the release timer.

      The release timer goes down by somewhat less than an hour for each game completed, so that at 100% complete, the timer will have dropped by around 12 hours.

      This seems to be a hard limit inherent in the system. They never promised to release it as soon as it hits 100%, and it’s clear that’s not going to happen. It looks like it’ll hit 100% at about the time the last hour comes off anyway, so they probably timed it right.

      The could use the potato timer at the bottom to fine tune anyway, which is presumably what they have done.

      At the end of the day, frustrating though it is not to have had it 3 days ago, I think the ARG more than makes up for it.

    • rexxar454 says:

      shut the fuck up and be glad that portal 2 is being released any earlier than it was already

    • Leelad says:

      What exactly are you complaining about? Valve discounting things? the Potato Sack? You seem to be creating an argument out of nothing.

      No one has lost out here. No one has tricked anyone.

      Valve got some hype for their game. a load of indie devs got a shit load of hype and i’d guess despite the discounts a massive money shot in the arm from this.

      Everyone is a winner…apart from you who got ripped off somehow.

    • Noc says:

      What he’s complaining about is Valve saying “Guys! We’ll release Portal 2 early if you buy the Potato Sack games!” and then failing to release it early as promised — or rather, releasing it trivially early in a way that is technically what they promised to do but obviously not what the purchasers of the Potato Sack were expecting.

      Which would be a totally reasonable complaint, if that were what was happening? Especially if your source of information was *this article,* which says, “The GLaDOS@home site is showing the work so far seeming being undone at a rate of knots. We don’t know why, we don’t know the result. But we damned well hope people haven’t spent money on a collection of indie games purely because they thought it would win them early access to Portal 2 that they now may not get.”

      …only, that’s not actually what’s happening? Alec seems to have mistaken the rapidly disappearing potato-count for some last-minute “fuck you!” from GLaDOS, as opposed to the potatoes being used for their intended purpose. After reading the article, accusing Valve of FISHY BUSINESS is a fairly reasonable thing to do…it just becomes significantly less reasonable once you poke around a bit more and discover that Mr. Meer’s worried “wtf?!” was kind of jumping the gun.

    • Steven Hutton says:

      @gwathdring I find your ideas interesting and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

    • thegooseking says:

      Ah, the classic “Classic Defense is a Classic Defense” defense! And followed-up with a ferocious deployment of the “fallacy fallacy,” no less.

      You appear to be under the mistaken impression that my tongue lay flat in my mouth as I typed that, as opposed to its actual location of being lodged firmly in my cheek. But that’s ok.

      I’d like to point out that the instructions for early release were to play those games, not to buy them. That included people who already owned the games, but they facilitated a way of getting those games easily for those who didn’t, in the form of a huge discount. Anyone who bought the games just so Portal 2 would be released earlier is stupid, and I refuse to believe that thousands fall into that category. I’d suspect that many more were, like me, considering buying them, but needed the right incentive. I’d call 75% off “the right incentive”. And honestly, even taking into account everything I’ve bought at hefty discounts in summer and Christmas sales on Steam, I’d say it’s the best value-for-money I’ve ever got from gaming even disregarding its relationship to Portal 2 (and also taking into account that I already owned four of the games).

      It is not a store’s responsibility to prevent you buying stuff you don’t actually want, though. If you’re stupid enough to do that, it’s on you.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      Your “complaint” there is entirely vacuous. It seems you expected the game to be released days early, but Valve made no such claim. They, in fact, didn’t give absolutely any indication or implication as to how early they could’ve released it. It’s obvious you expected it to be released days in advance, saw that it was not the case, and instead of realizing that you expected something that was never promised you called Valve’s practices fraudulent and anyone who agrees with them a fanboy.

      Your line of thinking, simply put, is entirely illogical. Using your own analogy, it’s as if a store announces that “THERE WILL BE A SALE SOON”, you get excited and expect 75% off on all items in a store, then call them dirty liars and deceptive when you realize the sale was 10% off on select items. Your expectation of when the game MIGHT’VE released is not Valve’s problem and is entirely your own.

    • edit says:

      I totally understand that sort of deflated feeling some people have had after the initial excitement of this potato business wore off and it simply became a waiting game again. Calling this marketing approach “illegal” though is an utter joke. It’s not even misleading. I don’t see a single discrepancy between what Valve have offered and what we’re getting. Anyone getting upset about this has simply pwn’d themselves with their own assumptions and expectations.

      But then, I’m emotional too. I’m f-ing EXCITED that we’ll get to gorge ourselves in a new Valve game in a matter of hours!

  40. WASD says:

    “But we damned well hope people haven’t spent money on a collection of indie games purely because they thought it would win them early access to Portal 2 that they now may not get.”

    “Win” isn’t the correct word imo.
    From the announcement that Valve put out on Friday:

    “Help release Portal 2 early: From now until release, play any or all of games in The Potato Sack to expedite the launch of Portal 2.” http://store.steampowered.com/news/5308/

    How can buying that pack of games help to expedite the release of Portal 2, when the countdowns have all been scripted?

    • DeathHamsterDude says:

      How have they been scripted?

    • WASD says:

      If Portal 2 gets released on the hour (not sure what hour?) I guess we’ll know for sure.

  41. JohnnyMaverik says:

    The potatoes are being harvested and overclocking the rate of progress, overall progress has been pretty much doubled.

  42. Teddy Leach says:

    Whoah boy, look at the spud counter!

  43. noclip says:

    So basically Valve has invented a way to print money, with the only minor side effect being that half the Steam user base now hates indie developers for “stealing their money”. Nobody looks good in this.

    • Wulf says:

      I’m sorry. I really am. I’m trying to have some degree of faith in humanity, so I cannot accept that half of the Steam user base has accused indies of stealing their money, because that would be the most openly unironically foolish thing they could say. I suspect that some are just trolling and a few really are… not… thinking about this very much. But I think it’s a vocal minority. A very loud, very minor minority. Sound and fury signifying nothing but certainly getting a lot of people to look their way and all that, yeah?

      But… half the Steam user base? Millions of people? Nnnno. Just no. I’m calling shenanigans and massive, ridiculous, facetious over-exaggerations. Everest out of an ant hill and all that. I suspect that the people trolling/yellling on the Steam forums likely don’t even number more than 100. I could believe that 100 people hadn’t put any thought into what they were saying, but I think that the vast majority probably tried playing the games and realised the value of indie.

      Let’s not paint a tiny minority as the vast majority.

    • Premium User Badge

      skalpadda says:

      Now now Wulf, clearly putting together a great indie bundle at a great price with some added fun content and also discounting each one individually so that people can cherry pick what they want and making a game out of playing those games to release their greatly anticipated new title a bit early is a complete ripoff

      Valve’s evil marketing hypnotism must have misfired on me, since I didn’t buy the whole bundle, but I was still affected by this atrocious crime since I caved in an bought Defense Grid and you know what, I’ve played through all of it over the weekend and I had a lot of fun.

      Why Valve? Why did you make me have fun a whole weekend for 4,49€? How can I ever forgive you?

      I feel robbed. And dirty.

  44. SuperUnheardOf says:

    I feel ashamed that this marketing wheeze is working on me.

  45. Sassenach says:

    Was an early release ever implicit from Valve’s own material? I heard about it from RPS, so I have only ever seen the idea of an early release as being inferred.

    • futage says:

      I think you mean explicit? It was certainly implicit, yes. And it looks like (assuming the big timer is what we all seem to think it is) it is going to be released early. So hoorays all round.

    • Premium User Badge

      bglamb says:

      The banner on Steam says “Help release Portal 2 earlier!”

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      It’s already releasing 7 hours early and that number will increase. I’d guesstimate 10 hours early, but it’s hard to say exactly seeing as there no way of knowing how much time the remaining games will knock off and which games we’ll manage to 100%.

    • Sassenach says:

      Oh, no. I did mean implicit. I didn’t notice the banner. I thought perhaps people had just seen the clock and made a connection based on what they were expecting rather then what was actually implied (people do rather get carried away after all). Indeed it is not only implicit but explicit. My apologies for not doing the research.

  46. Vinraith says:

    I wonder if this potato-draining-to-speed-things-up was an intended thing, or if they added it to speed things up since the user base wasn’t finishing their goals quickly enough. I wonder how many people they expected to participate, for that matter. In general, the people actually playing the potato sack games seem to be about 1% of steam users online at any given time, which actually surprised me a bit.

    I’m curious. Certainly if they hadn’t done something the task wouldn’t have been completed significantly early, which would have looked kind of bad. I’d guess it’s hard to predict just what level of reaction you’re going to get to something like this, I wonder how much improving is going on?

    • Veracity says:

      I’m not sure it’s unreasonable to assume they’re just releasing it when they intended to, anyway, with a lot of obfuscated countdowns for hype purposes. Whether the endgame of the promotion was supposed to have more impact if enough people cared is a separate question even if so, I suppose. Take-up did seem a bit unspectacular.

      I know I don’t want Portal 2. If nothing else, I just bought thirteen games, not to mention Nimbus and Chains. And Max Payne, for some reason. But they were at a decent price, I wanted most of them, and most have had extra content of some sort bolted on. That seems like a win for me, and I assume Valve and the sack’s various developers are reasonably pleased to have my cash, if not as much of it as had I got around to buying any of this stuff at full price.

      I don’t like Valve games and Steam’s a crappy application I tolerate for want of substantially less crappy alternatives, but I can’t find the evil here. Portal 2 was obviously going to have a promotion budget. This seems like a pretty constructive way to have spent it compared to billboards and TV ads. Anyone who honestly bought potato games they didn’t want is too hopeless a sillyhead to worry about.

    • gwathdring says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the overestimated participation. It’s a fair bit of cash, even if it’s an amazing deal. But I would expect them to have a contingency plan if they made this complicated a meta game as part of the promotion, so I think it’s reasonable to suggest that the potato support was a planned auxiliary to give the community some extra help if things didn’t go as swimmingly as expected.

  47. camdenbuzard says:

    So lets see: portal 2 was slated to be released on the 19th. A Tuesday, normal US release day, etc. Over the weekend, there was a huge marketing to-do, involving purchasing and playing a sack of games, in order to release Portal 2 ‘early’. Now, some people claim that it will be released ‘early’ either by counting potatoes? By my math the potatoes will be exhausted at the same time as the timer. The timer will count down to zero at midnight, April 19th Pacific Time.

    Sooooo…. buy our shit, then buy our shit again at the appointed time. If I was one of the doubtless thousands that purchased the potato sack to help get portal 2 our early I would be very pissed off.

    I also wondered how they would get away with breaking street date with this marketing gimmick, and clearly, they wouldn’t dare. They never had any intention of releasing the game early.

    • Premium User Badge

      jsbenjamin says:

      I cannot claim to have been following this at all carefully. But this analysis seems about right to me – given that the game is coming out when it was scheduled to come out (on a normal Tuesday-release schedule, at that).

      Why Tuesdays anyway? Just as there are no oceans on the internet, so too there are no shelves to stock….

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      It’s already releasing 7 hours early and that number will increase.

    • Joof says:

      The timer counts down to Midnight pacific now, after 8/13 games are complete. It used to point to 7AM, and as the last 5 are completed, will count down to an earlier number.

    • viverravid says:

      It’s already releasing 7 hours early and that number will increase.

      It’s releasing 7 hours earlier than the original Steam unlock.

      It’s releasing at the _same time_ as the always planned midnight console release (in Valve’s timezone).

      Pretty clear from the way the timers worked that 9PM PST (10 hours early) was about the best that could be achieved. Which is midnight US east coast if I have my math right – i.e exactly the same as what is probably the earliest possible console release.

      So plenty of people feel ripped off. I’m happy I discovered some games I otherwise would have ignored, but I understand the forum rage… the implication of the bathysphere puzzle was pretty clear.

    • Joof says:

      Ohh, right, the East Coast is a thing. What a quaint place.

    • zimbabwe says:

      I totally get the rage at having bought a pack of dirt-cheap, half-excellent games that I wouldn’t have otherwise seen (I’d call it at 50% excellent the rest junk). Being essentially strong-armed into some game experiences that I now love and wouldn’t have seen is (honestly) bad to me on principle, but by god I’ll get through it. This is actually a little tough to say but I wish them all the money in the world for their crazy and manipulative “share the fun” plan.