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Gabe Newell Is Messing With Us

Ooh, it's like Lost. But hopefully without the religious guff

Something’s going on in Valveland. Well, something’s always going on in Valveland: these are clever, playful people. However, this time we (and other sites) appear to be a part of it. We’ve been sent the below two, super-cryptic images from one Mr G. Newell himself. What do they mean? They’re presumably related to the ongoing potato-related ARG, so hopefully by sharing them here we can help the smart cookies who are busy deciphering that along.

Take a look, see what you think. Even the filenames are dripping with bewildering and sinister mystery.

Update: aha! We appear to have one of the final pieces of an existing puzzle… Stick with this story, it’s going to be evolving throughout the day.

So this one is ‘sort eco probes.jpg’:

And here’s ‘booster corpse.jpg.’ Ew. I don’t want to boost any corpses, thank you.

I don’t have the foggiest what these mean. It seems maths related. I don’t do maths: it’s frightening. Why couldn’t they have sent a music quiz instead?

The two images don’t seem to align with each other, although there are some matched numbers in both that might yield an overlap. Here they are rotated and side by side. Any clues?

And here’s that inverted, which makes the numbers a little clearer and also has my weak eyes thinking the swirl in the middle looks a whole lot less random:

I’m guessing other sites have received similar emails, with images we’ll all need to piece together in order to find an answer. Reminds me of the giddy stunt they pulled with Steam for OSX the other year. Internet, assemble!

Update: so we’ve got one the last two parts of a mystery being deciphered here – as suspected, other sites had had other mails. One of our images had already been found, but we’ve added the penultimate part of the puzzle. I was correct to invert, it appears, and it means the near-final image is this:

The numbers themselves must also be inverted, which leads to ascii code for words. The message so far is here, and I notice the Valve ARG wiki guys have already spotted our image so expect a translation of that any minute now.

Update the second: In addition, all the filenames sent to all the sites are anagrams of each other. Running one of them through an anagram-maker (as suggested by RPS chum Dan Pearson) results in one key ommission: ‘reboot process.’ GlaDOS? Is that you?

Update the third: here’s the translation of the message so far, although we’re still lacking the final image and a few of the numbers have been obscured:

Update the fourth: the guys on Facepunch speculate that the image is that of a diving bell:

Ooh, it’s all very exciting. But if, as the references to test subjects implies, this all ends up leading to just another advert for Portal 2, I’m going to write a grumpy letter to my MP. Hopefully it’s a sign of something even bigger. A diving bell, eh? That’ll make people think it’s a Borealis reference. Hmm. I don’t know. We’ve got our HL2 ep3/HL3 hopes up far too many times, and been shot down again and again.

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Alec Meer


Ancient co-founder of RPS. Long gone. Now mostly writes for rather than about videogames.

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