Valve VGA Vid Appears To Offer HL3 Clues

Or they just add random shit and wait to see how people interpret it.

Who fancies a mystery? Valve prepared what must have been an incredibly expensive video for the VGAs’ best character category, starring Wheatley, complete with Stephen Merchant’s voice, floating in space and begging for help getting home. So, that’s nice and fun, if lacking in the big laughs. (He didn’t win.) But of course Valve being Valve, they’ve filled it with more details. Not many, but there’s Russian text, star constellations in the background and weird numbers, which of course means those with a mind for such things are tearing it to pieces. Of course, it might have just been filler to make the image more interesting. But Valve MUST know by now that anything they add is going to be analysed to pieces, and they’re clearly the sorts to troll their community in every imaginable way. What do you make of it?

Portal 2 did win for Best PC Game, Best DLC, Best Multiplayer (huh?), Best Performance By A Human Male and Best Performance By A Human Female, but lost out in four other categories, including Character Of The Year. Which is the category that brought us this:

And here, should you wish, is it slowed down to half-speed:

So you’ve got the text reading ‘OBSERVATION SATELLITE “LANTHANUM”‘, the latter word meaning, “to lie hidden”, which in Greek reads:


You may recognise that first symbol from somewhere. Others are also arguing that the stars in the background form lambdas. I’m not too convinced on that one. And of course Wheatley finishes by saying “One, one, one”, which simplistically adds up to 3 (in case you couldn’t do that). But again, that’s perhaps reaching. I’ve yet to see anyone trying to interpret what appears to be a barcode at the bottom though. So, go on you lot, solve it.

In other news, Valve are probably making Half-Life 3.


  1. HisMastersVoice says:

    Valve is the most obnoxious troll in the gaming industry.

    We wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • Dominic White says:

      No, they’d be trolls if they were lying, or doing stuff specifically to screw with their community for no gain other than laughs.

      So far, everything Valve has done has been shockingly well planned, and it always has a point. Remember that the company hired an ARG orchestrator/puzzlemaster to oversee such things.

    • Unaco says:

      Really? Trolling? This is described as Trolling these days? That word has certainly changed from what I’ve always thought it meant.

    • General Frags says:

      That ARG mastermind is also a game developer who developed the great mod Minerva: Metastasis. So most likely he’s working on other projects at Valve.

    • Dominic White says:

      Just remember that Valve are the company that hid teaser images for Portal 2 inside *sound files* played by hidden radios in a secretive Portal 1 update. That is why we should never, ever underestimate them.


      Trolling apparently means ‘doing and/or saying anything I may not like’ now, apparently. At least that’s all I can figure out from it’s common internet usage now.

    • HisMastersVoice says:

      Oh for God’s sake, people, take it easier. Your pedantry regarding the proper use of the term “troll” has been noted.

    • Froibo says:

      You mean like this?

      link to

    • BrendanJB says:

      It’s not pedantry at all. ‘Troll’ is a word used to define somebody endorsing beliefs/opinions they do not agree with to elicit an emotional response from others. That is what the word means.

    • Froibo says:

      “…media attention in recent years has made such labels subjective, with trolling describing intentionally provocative actions”

    • theleif says:

      Hey! Stop trolling, guys!

    • Sassenach says:

      ‘Trolling’ is soon to supercede ‘irony’ in the category of words used on the internet that are most frequently corrected when misused.

    • smartalco says:

      @General Frags

      Really? Cool. I liked Minerva, glad that guy got a job at Valve.

    • Nogo says:

      Well, these days you’re a hacker if your friend forgets to log out of facebook, so it’s best to just let these things go.

    • Renk says:

      @General Frags

      Exactly. As soon as he was hired at Valve they quickly took advantage of his abilities in this kind of advertising. That said, I know he was hired for working on Episode 3(as he said on his blog), but Portal 2 was kind of a surprise… now if only he could do a bit more work on Minerva :(

    • Lemming says:

      HisMastersVoice was making a joke appearing to make an accusation and turning it into a compliment. My being ultimate pedants you betray an ultimate sense of humour failure. Well done, I guess?

  2. The Velvet Ant says:

    I think the Black Eyed Peas said it best: “Valve, don’t funk with my heart”.

  3. Teddy Leach says:

    Here we go again.

  4. CaspianRoach says:

    I say farfetched.

    • Milky1985 says:

      It may be , but if there is even a small Chansey of it being true its worth a shot

    • jimmm25 says:

      I’m probably not very good at solving things like this, but I’ll take a Marowak at it anyway.

    • Premium User Badge

      ChaosSmurf says:

      Valve pokemon sequel confirmed?

    • X_Bacon says:

      I’d make a pun too but I’m too Drowzee to think of one.

    • kael13 says:

      Well you know Valve. It’s all silence til Abra Kadabra and Alakazam! – you have a new announcement.

    • Triangulon says:

      I don’t know how people find the time to weedle out all these clues.

    • DanPryce says:

      Gabe – if you don’t announce HL3 soon I’m gonna Raichu a very stern letter.

    • Burning Man says:

      jigglypuff jigglypuuff Jigglypuff Jiigglypuuff…. *snore*


    • youthful cynic says:

      Guys, I Fearow some of these puns are Ghastly

    • Koozer says:

      Right mr. video, let me take a Pikachu. Is that constellation Tauros?


    • Keymonk says:


      I have a lot of time. I have no idea how they do it -with- this much time.

  5. Itantor says:

    “You may recognise that first symbol from somewhere.” Yes, it’s the Greek letter lambda and would appear in any word containing the letter ‘l’ were you to write it using characters from the greek alphabet? What?

    Incidentally “Lanthanum” is also an element, an isotope of which has a half-life of 60,000 years. You heard it here first, HL3 in 62,011!

    • PoulWrist says:

      /thread :D

    • lijenstina says:

      In 65 636 years is 16 bit years. Sounds better.

    • dsch says:

      That’s only lanthanum 137 though. What if they meant La-138, which has a half life of 1.05E11 years, or La-139, which has a half life of never?

    • BlastHardCheese says:

      On Wiki it say in the first line for Lanthanum that it is the first of the group 3 elements

  6. ZIGS says:

    To me, the sudden cut when he says the 3rd “one” is the most telling sign. And OF COURSE Valve is working on Half-Life 3 or so other kind of Half-Life game. That’s not even open for debate. Sure, we may only see it in 27 years but it’s there… waiting

  7. Suits says:

    111 is the amount of months until its ready

  8. Tuco says:

    I’m following this thing on Valve’s forums and so far it really looks like someone is delusional and he’s trying way too hard.

  9. General Frags says:

    Valve admitted that the Half Life 3 rumors in the last week were false just before the VGA’s and that it was the work of internet trolls. Personally it’s going to be earliest 2014/2014 before we hear of that franchise again, but I fear that the gaming public’s long patience with Valve and Half Life is about thinning out now. Besides we are also still waiting out on Black Mesa which has been in development far longer.

  10. HermitUK says:

    I think announcing a new Half Life through the medium of Portal would be a bit of a misfire. Portal 2 made it pretty clear they want to keep the two as separate as possible, beyond the odd continuity nod.

    Also, let’s face it, Valve know fans are looking for ARGs in everything they do now. So starting a new ARG is last thing they’ll ever do (next to releasing HL3, naturally).

    • General Frags says:

      I believe that the ARG’s are best to serve with the Portal Universe as it fits there, same as the comics with Left 4 Dead and TF2. Merging either of these with Half Life wouldn’t work as we are just used to random announcements for that franchise, plus it would feel out of place.

  11. Avenger says:

    God, this is getting insane.

    By this point, episode 3 could almost belong in the “vaporware” category and people still go nuts whenever Valve releases something, anything, (whether it be a TV commercial for an unrelated game or a captured video of Gabe Newell’s belly wobble movement at a conference or whatever), that may, or may not include clues to what may not probably be related to half-life or episode 3 at all…

    This is crazy.
    Congrats Valve.

    • thegooseking says:

      The question is: is HL3 the new DNF now that DNF is no longer the game about which we’re wondering if it’ll ever be released*? And is that really a parallel Valve would be happy with people drawing?

      (*I would say Elite IV is the new DNF, but I can see HL3 adopting that mantle in popular consciousness being more likely.)

    • Milky1985 says:

      HL3 could very well end up beign the new DNF for more than one reason, if they ever do release it, no doubt they will either:

      A: Complete change how it works and plays , making the main fans angry that its changed too much


      B: Keep it the same, main fans happy but gaming media hit it over hte head for being samey and not worth the wait

      They have to be very careful.

    • matnym says:

      Half-Life 2 took 5 years though and Episode 2 was released in 2007. Also, DNF was pretty half-arsed. And Valve doesn’t do half-arsed :P

    • LintMan says:

      It’s unfair to say HL3 is the new DNF, simply because Valve has never (AFAIK) announced the development of HL3 and certainly hasn’t hyped it at all.

    • zeroskill says:

      “And Valve doesn’t do half-arsed”

      This. And there is much more to your comment then a lot people realize at first glance. Half-life 1 and 2 are games that raised the bar in many ways. I remember the year Half-life 2 was released. That year certain media was saying, Doom 3 was the pinnacle of first person shooters. Only a few months later, Half-life 2 ultra-killed it out of the orbit. The main problem I see that we know so little about Half-life 3 is that the expectations are extremely high. It has to top even Half-life 2, and this is hard, probably unachievable.
      If Valve was EA or Activision, they would just release a half-arsed sequel and be done with it. But as you say Valve doesn’t do half-arsed.

    • Aemony says:

      Seeing how Valve’s Cabal design progress work, another DNF is extremely unlikely. Playtesting is everything in Valve’s world, and if they can’t get a design to play as fun they won’t do it (see initial Portal 2 designs). This way, HL2:E3 will at least be fun for the players.

      As for living up to the hype… Do any game really live up to the hype nowadays? DA2 didn’t, DNF didn’t, Crysis 2 didn’t,, RAGE didn’t, hell, even Skyrim failed.

  12. applecup says:

    Well, I seem to recall they’ve already confirmed somewhere there’ll be more Portal 2 dlc, so my money is on something relating to that. And it involving Wheatley, somehow.

  13. Nova says:

    I thought it was no secret that they worked on Half-Life 3. Didn’t they say at some point that there’s a very small team working on it?

    • Merus says:

      Valve has little teams working on all sorts of things, but a project’s only really on once people start jumping on the project. Valve don’t assign people to projects; they use internal interest as a gauge for what the company should pursue next.

      I suspect that the reason Half-Life 3 is ‘taking so long’ is because there’s basically nothing new they can do with it. It’s treading old ground.

    • sneetch says:

      Have they checked up on that team recently? I have a mental image of the two skeletons trapped under a filing cabinet deep in the bowels of Valve.

    • soldant says:

      HL3 makes a lot more sense than Ep3. There’s actually a lot of digging going on from other communities, including references to a potential Episode 4 that another studio were working on (Combine Overwiki has info on it) as a tie-in. The way I see it, the gap has been so long between Ep2 and a potential Ep3 that they’re probably working on HL3 with a new engine. Also if I recall, I think someone from Valve said that they were moving away from episodic content and towards content updates for games given the success of TF2 and Portal 2’s similar models.

    • Xerian says:

      That someone was Gabe himself ;p
      And now, if we think about the fact that HL2 took 5 years to make, and they want to make this game even better; And probably with a vastly upgraded version of source, it’ll most likely take 1-3 more years before they’re done. I myself hope its sooner rather than later, but one can only hope.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      I’m pretty bored with playing Half-Life by now – seriously, after 2, ep1 and ep2 you people still want more? – so I can only imagine how tired the folks at Valve must be of making it. With their loosey-goosey “let’s see what we feel like working on today” laissez-faire-supreme management paradigm, too, there’s probably next to no pressure to get anything done on that until they damn well feel like it.

      I’m hoping it’s actually going to be the Three Musketeers game PC Gamer suggested. I love the idea of Valve bending their patiently iterative gameplay design to the problem of one-on-one melee combat.

    • LintMan says:

      @MikoSquiz: Hell yes. It’s been almost 5 years now, so I wouldn’t say we’ve been recently deluged with Half-Life stuff (or smart FPS’s in general).

  14. Quizboy says:

    I just feel bad for Wheatley now. Poor little guy. Lost in space. What did he ever do to anyone?

  15. PJ says:

    Oh dear god.

  16. sneetch says:

    Wait what? 1 and 1 and 1 is 3? Bloody hell! We’re not all maths geniuses! Let’s go over that again, slowly this time.

  17. Deathcrow says:

    Stuff like this reminds me of the bible code or other bullshit numerology.

    Gripping at straws guys!

    1 1 1 could also mean 1x1x1 or (much more reasonable since wheatly is a robot and speaks in binary) 7… or hey, it could also be 11/1: Half-Life 3 will obvioulsy be released on 2012/11/1 … and wooow, there is an L somewhere in there which can be represented by the lambda character in greek. How amazing. Nothing else to go on, right? :D

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      It could also be “won won won”, being as this is a nominations video

    • iniudan says:

      I think it more the 3 in decimal and/or 7 in binary. The thing is that Half-Life 3 or episode 3 would be the 7th Half-Life game anyway. =p

      1. Half-Life
      2. Opposing Force
      3. Blue Shift
      4. Half-Life 2
      5. Episode 1
      6. Episode 2
      7. Magic number 3 =p

  18. asshibbitty says:

    The walrus was Gabe.

  19. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    In other news, I saw a cloud today that totally looked like Zooey Deschanel.

  20. CaffeinePwrdAl says:

    Wheatly drifts off into space, and eventually over time attracts random space detritus and gradually evolves into an evil alien overlord/super power, then goes back in time to destroy all sentient beings in the universe!

    Bit like the voyager probe in ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’

  21. Dana says:

    Overanalizing the obvious.

    Letters and numbers are Sputniks satellite hud which acts as a camera for Whitley.

    • sneetch says:

      Yeah, surely everyone knows what Sputniks HUD looks like? Talk about obvious!

    • Dana says:

      Well now you know.

    • orranis says:

      Sputnik (in Cyrillic it appears similar to CNYTHNK [ the letters at the top of the HUD]).

      From: link to

    • lijenstina says:

      Most likely It’s made using a reference of the numerous videos of Soyuz capsules docking on the ISS.
      Sputnik is also means satellite in Russian.

    • diamondmx says:

      Hey, at least they provided us with the information and a theory with doubts.
      If this were Kotaku, it would be “Valve confirms HL3, early 2012, features portal gun. FACT!”

  22. Godsmith says:

    So really, the only clues are that

    1) one of the (hundreds?) of words in the video that starts with L and
    2) Wheatley saying “one” three times? Seriously? He doesn’t even say three?

    For God’s sake, even the most absurd of these theories often have a hint of sense in them, but this one doesn’t contain so much as a trace.

    • Milky1985 says:

      I think peopel are linking stuff since Valve employees have been seen wearing HL3 shirts, now you don’t do that as a company unless you are trying to make buzz.

      Or you attempting the biggest xmas trolling incident ever.

      (HL3 trailer on Xmas day? :P)

  23. Kollega says:

    I really don’t like all the teasing that Valve employs. I honestly don’t. And not just because i’m stranded in space. I bet if, say, Call of Duty prefaced the release of each map pack with a week of relentless teasing like Valve does with the TF2 updates, people would be calling bullshit left, right, and center.

    • skinlo says:

      I do.

      The difference is Valve makes good innovative games, unlike anything CoD.

    • LTK says:

      You are absolutely right, Kollega. The only difference is that Valve has such a fantastic reputation that we’re willing to forgive them just about anything.

    • TheTourist314 says:

      CoD players prolly wouldn’t get it though. They’re too thick.

  24. gimperial says:

    That’s pretty farfetched. If anything, it hints at Portal 3 though.

  25. Froibo says:


  26. Flint says:

    At this point I’d love for Valve to do what Radiohead did with their latest album announcement and simply announce at some point out of the blue that HL3 is ready and it’s out in a week.

    • Lars says:

      This, sir.

    • ghazz says:

      But… this is what they usually do?
      Of course, there are hints in unrelated videos, if the title is big enough, but i can’t remember a single release from valve that has been publicly announced more than a couple weeks in advance…

      Or maybe I’ve been playing too much TF2….

  27. Hisui says:

    ARG players should funnel their mental disposition for doing crazily elaborate, detailed investigative work into debunking conspiracy theories or something, rather than wasting such ability by overanalyzing advertisement for a game that’s going to be out at some point either way, regardless of whether the ARG is solved.

    • applecup says:

      You’re right, of course. How dare people spend their spare time doing things they enjoy.

    • Llewyn says:

      Doesn’t that go for any pastime at all? Or are you saying that you personally have no aptitude for anything worthwhile, therefore it’s fine for you to waste time having fun and telling other people how to live their lives, but it’s not fine for anyone capable of better?

    • Hisui says:

      @applecup Oh joy, a sarcasm-dripping attempt to play righteous defender of the white knight order for an entity that isn’t under attack. Thank you for re-igniting my headache.

      @Llewyn Other pastimes don’t usually imply talent that could be used for the Greater Good! Anyone can play videogames, not anyone can do detective work to pull ridiculous amounts of data out of cryptic ARG material.

      Then again, nothing implies that those people aren’t already using those skills.

  28. Carr0t says:

    Best Multiplayer = co-op. I had more fun with Portal 2’s full featured and plot filled co-op campaign than I did with any multiplayer run-n-gun like BF3 or any of the CoDs this year (I admit i’ve only actually bought and tried BF3, after hating MW2 but loving MW1).

  29. wssw4000 says:

    I have stopped caring about their shenanigans, and Half Life for that matter, long ago.

  30. General Frags says:

    You know that it could be an announcement for Portal 3, Left 4 Dead 3, DOTA 3 or any other game other than Half Life.

  31. NeuralNet says:

    I’m going to come out and say it: Valve are in limbo, and here’s why:

    Every game they have done since HL2 has had little in the way of new gameplay. Each title has either been a sequel or an improvement to an existing title (Portal doesn’t count because Valve bought the developers). Yes HL2 was a “sequel” in name, but not in gameplay as it innovated in many areas, the most obvious being the integration of a physics engine that was integral to the gameplay itself.

    My impression is that they are waiting for the hardware to play catch up so they can move things on like HL2 did; It set the bar, but it is now outdated. Most of us have probably seen the presentation that was leaked some years ago stating what benefits dual core CPUs could bring for games, and would love to see what Valve could achieve with more horsepower.

    I just don’t think they could achieve their vision for the game on current consoles and average spec PCs, that’s just my 2 pennies, please don’t burn me in a pit of fire.

    • zeroskill says:

      I agree with you about Half-life completely. I remember the first tech demo of Half-life 2 I ever seen, and back then, I just thought: I will never have a PC strong enough to run this crazy shit!. People seem to forget (or simply not knowing) that the Source Engine use to be cutting edge tech.
      However I disagree with you saying that Valve hasn’t done amazing work after that when it comes to game design. If you ask around some game developers they will tell you that the AI director is ground braking stuff, just to mention one example. They have learned about multiplayer a great deal in the last few years, which will translate into new games in the future. Portal and Portal 2 are greatly designed games overall, not only from a games mechanics view, but specially in game design. People seem to forget that Portal wasn’t just made by the former Narbacular Drop developers, but everyone at Valve has had input in that game.

  32. theleif says:

    Other than portal wining the best multiplayer award (not that it isn’t great, but co-op play is something distinctly different than multiplayer), Battlefield 3 was not even nominated for best graphics.
    Also, the fact that Dark Souls wasn’t even nominated is strange.
    But then again, Deus Ex:HR is apparently an RPG, so…

  33. jezcentral says:

    All their games are waiting for a third iteration. And we know they are working on them all; it’s just a question of how far down the road these games will be released.

  34. Doomy says:

    Don’t know if it’s important but funny fact, when you type Satellite+LANTHANUM in wikipedia you get there:

    link to

    A chinese mission about observing the moon (the name of the mission is the chinese for moon goddess). And the satellite was orbiting the moon, where Wheathley is supposed to be. This satellite was launch the 2007-10-24, same month of Half Life 2: ep 2 release (2007-10-10).

    Then again with this kind of thinking you can find any relation between anything in any Valve trailer. God I’m thinking too much again, Valve, Why are you doing this to us…

    Chang’e 2 the mission after Chang’e 1 was launched on 1-10-10 (1, 1, 1…) to plan a moon landing for Chang’e 3 in 2013.

  35. Eddy9000 says:

    On a seperate note, adding a function to allow people to delete their posts would prevent messages like this!

  36. TheTourist314 says:

    Two things:

    1) When slowed down 50%, Stephen Merchant sounds like a slow American.

    2) Lanthanum is the 57th element on the periodic table. Its most stable isotope has NO Half-Life.

    Sigh. That’s prolly part of the troll.

  37. edit says:

    They barely even need to market HL3 to get an enormous number of people frothing over it. Rightly so. *froths*. Part of me hopes they wrap up the series with it, or at least conclude some story threads. There are only so many 4+ year long cliffhangers I can take.

  38. Network Crayon says:

    Maybe if Valve spent as much brain power and time actually making their games rather than crypitic videos we’d have their game by now.
    Just sayin’

    (Plus i know they most probably do spend plenty of time on developement, it’s just something i think everytime something like this appears, mostly because their cryptic marketing is just so damn good.)

    • edit says:

      I’m sure the ratio of HL dev time to marketing-planning-time is something like 99999 to 1. I’m sure they are far from short-staffed enough to have to sacrifice any development time for it regardless. Seems to me that the Portal 2 ARG sacrificed 0% quality of the game itself.

      Might hold true for something like Homefront, though… (no idea really as I didn’t play it)

  39. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    References to an observation satellite? It’s clearly a teaser for another episode of Minerva.

    (especially as if this really is the start of another Valve ARG, it’s almost certainly Cargo Cult/Foster behind it)

  40. armlesscorps1987 says:

    Think i’ve cracked it guys. λανθανω displayed alphanumerically is 11 1 2 8 1 2 27.
    , the lambda = half life. The 1 and the 2 add up to make 3 (half life 3 ) then we have three numbers 8 and 12 and 27. The 27 can only act as a day of the month, the 12 is next year and the 8 is august. Pretty excited tbh

    • MrMistofales says:

      I know you’re joking, but the possibility of HL3 being released on my birthday is just… So enticing… I want to believe!

    • MessyPenguin says:

      Thats my Birthday!!!

  41. gothaggis says:

    this Valve owned twitter account started tweeting yesterday too with coordinates:

    link to

    • Armante says:

      If they’re using a twitter account like this, there may be something actually going on. But what it is, only time will tell. I have to say – HL3 at Christmas would be one hell of a present :)

  42. Vinraith says:

    This would have been profoundly exciting a couple of years ago. At this point, I’m honestly not sure I care anymore. Don’t get me wrong, if it’s actually HL3 I’m sure I’ll pick it up eventually (Xmas sale 2012? 2013? whenever it’s $10 or so).

  43. MFToast says:

    Considering that Valve has already mentioned tying to the two games together, and kind of already did in Ep2, we may be upon a new ARG for Ep3.

  44. InsidiousBoot says:

    Valve counted to three!! Well.. Wheatley did..

  45. says:

    HL3 will release right after Black Mesa Source, obviously.

    • Armante says:

      So I’m thinking Black Mesa may have been snaffled up by Valve and will be released for free with HL3..

  46. zontax says:

    I think this one isn’t hard enough to be a proper valve ARG.
    the hints are too obvious, the portal ARG began with the following:

    Here’s Da Beens, Dougtato:
    You found many.
    Find the rest.
    MiKaXsUs FTW

    That’s a little more complex than the 1+1+1=3.

  47. Doomsayer says:

    Most of you just aren’t cynical enough. It’s way more likely to be Portal 3 than anything else.

    • Urthman says:

      Not possible unless Valve secretly hired another DigiPen team without anyone noticing. Are the Nitronic Rush guys accounted for? Portal 3: Stunt Vehicles?

  48. Ronlaen says:

    I’m still convinced they are planning to release something like a Blue Box this year with Dota 2, CS GO, and Half Life 3 all packaged together. Would be awesome if they released without any advance notice about Half Life 3 but I imagine that’s asking for too much.

  49. Jorum says:

    Well based on that twitter feed definately something going on.
    Can’t believe they’d do all that randomly just for kicks. They’re too savvy about their audience.
    Whether it’s HL3 or something Portal related however….

    Personally in their place I’d be tempted to just very quietly put HL3 up on steam one day and then sit back and wait for internet to explode.

  50. bear912 says:

    I have doubts about this. I wish the ARGer’s luck, though, and goodness knows, my heart of hearts yearns for this to be true.