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The Valve Thread


Moz
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It's where you get trolled by Valve/Bungie for a week or so.

An alternate reality game (ARG) is an interactive narrative that uses the real world as a platform, often involving multiple media and game elements, to tell a story that may be affected by participants' ideas or actions.

The form is defined by intense player involvement with a story that takes place in real-time and evolves according to participants' responses, and characters that are actively controlled by the game's designers, as opposed to being controlled by artificial intelligence as in a computer or console video game. Players interact directly with characters in the game, solve plot-based challenges and puzzles, and often work together with a community to analyze the story and coordinate real-life and online activities. ARGs generally use multimedia, such as telephones, email and mail but rely on the Internet as the central binding medium.

Time to go to bed. Stupid real life getting in the way of obscure internet treasurehunts.

The hat glows different colours (which correspond to the player team and also to the two types of Portal) at certain exact points on the map:

bot.jpg

What does it all mean?

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it means that valve have far too large an advertising budget.

No. Surely ARG'ing requires much less of a financial outlay than advertising through traditional means. Word of mouth and all that. Plus, I think it is fun. Even though I'm not doing any of the work, I feel far more involved and much less of a whore than if I was taken on board by something wanked out by an advertising agency (since Valve have taken all promo stuff in-house AFAIK).

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Are ARG's really that succesful, though? It wouldn't surprise me if there are people who just hang around waiting for a good online ARG who aren't the slightest bit bothered about the end product, and they only really seem to involve a very small group of hardcore fans, and not that many casual fans or whatever will ever even hear about them. Maybe it's their way of 'giving something back' or whatever. I mean yes it's kind of cool, but I think the whole thing basically just passes me by a bit, I'll probably just give it a week or two and then look at the end product, which will presumably be some grainy images or something, or a date of an official press release, for a game that we already know is going to come out anyway.

Now cryptic crosswords, there's something I can agree with. Valve should release an absolute motherfucker of a cryptic crossword.

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I don't like the way these things are made so niche and hard to access. I like games and go on the internet everyday but I haven't the faintest idea what is going on and have access to none of these games being potatoed.

Why don't developers like Valve use sites and applications that are available to everyone. Or just do more traditional treasure hunting stuff but on an international scale requiring online co-operation. Like the Golden Hare but on the internet.

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yes, it's like unless you're some kind of autistic savant who knows instinctively to run every soundfile backwards through a fast fourier transform, and can decompile code to find clues hidden in the comments field and is a master cryptographer, then you're reduced to sitting on the sidelines like some kind of obese walrus who claps every time someone throws him a fish (nugget of information on half life 3).

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Well, that's the fun of it for me. This one hasn't been very tough so far, you just have to wander through the various potato pack games until you find the glyphs/potatoes etc, and the hidden frame in the Portal 2 ad contains numbers which you just feed into a text converter to get the answer. It seems to have stalled at the moment. Also the hat light colour thing was fake, I think.

I'm sure it'll get mental before it ends though - the last Valve ARG had you dialling into a BBS.

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Yeah, exactly. It's just fun to watch it all unfold. You don't need to be the guy who finds the sack of potatoes hidden up a pole to think it's fun. It's amusing watching the real diehards go nuts over it, and seeing how they tackle the problem and try to tease new information out.

I'll keep you all updated with any interesting new info.

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I don't like the way these things are made so niche and hard to access. I like games and go on the internet everyday but I haven't the faintest idea what is going on and have access to none of these games being potatoed.

Why don't developers like Valve use sites and applications that are available to everyone. Or just do more traditional treasure hunting stuff but on an international scale requiring online co-operation. Like the Golden Hare but on the internet.

Hard to access? The games are right there, on Steam. Nothing more is required other than intrigue and persistence. I don't think any of the clues which have been solved so far have been as obtuse as the SSTV sound files in the Portal 2 ARG. I'm convinced Valve fed the community hints regarding that particular hurdle; it's not unlikely they're making "helpful suggestions" on the forums, wiki, and IRC channels this time around either.

The techniques used in this ARG are slightly more obvious. We've had Braille and QR-codes, which most people should be able to recognise. Most of the numeric stuff is just ASCII, which any computer scientist should be able to spot and is hardly Enigma-level encryption. It's all being solved by idiots working together, not illuminated psychic megabrains.

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This "ARG" will have absolutely nothing to do with Half-life...

It's purely to drum up interest and get a few hits on video-game news sites, it's advertising for Portal 2...the game they're current trying really hard to promote. It would be some what counter to that goal to announce a new Half Life game on the eve of the release of Portal 2.

E3 for Valve will be all about Portal 2. have people forgotten that most developers/publishers use E3 as free promotion for their recently released games? It's not always used as an upcoming preview with huge announcements.

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This "ARG" will have absolutely nothing to do with Half-life...

It's purely to drum up interest and get a few hits on video-game news sites, it's advertising for Portal 2...the game they're current trying really hard to promote. It would be some what counter to that goal to announce a new Half Life game on the eve of the release of Portal 2.

E3 for Valve will be all about Portal 2. have people forgotten that most developers/publishers use E3 as free promotion for their recently released games? It's not always used as an upcoming preview with huge announcements.

:rolleyes:

It's obviously leading to something, though. Parts of the ARG are embedded in preexisting promotional material for Portal 2. It wouldn't make any sense if the end result was merely 'wahey, buy portal 2 guyz!'

I'm not implying it's Half Life related, but ARGs always revolve around a secret revealing itself through collaborative effort.

Also, this has involved a lot of work to set up. Though it's a cheap method of advertising, they're pitching it clearly at some of their most diehard fans by directly referencing users on the facepunch forums etc. It doesn't make sense to put that much effort into preaching to the converted just to market something, when you've already achieved that with the material you hid the ARG elements inside in the first place! There's something else here, presumably more Portal 2 backstory, but that in itself could be HL related.

Right now Gabe is wearing the biggest trollface of all time, strutting around Valve HQ with Half Life 3 on a USB stick in his pocket, just for kicks.

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This "ARG" will have absolutely nothing to do with Half-life...

It's purely to drum up interest and get a few hits on video-game news sites, it's advertising for Portal 2...the game they're current trying really hard to promote. It would be some what counter to that goal to announce a new Half Life game on the eve of the release of Portal 2.

E3 for Valve will be all about Portal 2. have people forgotten that most developers/publishers use E3 as free promotion for their recently released games? It's not always used as an upcoming preview with huge announcements.

Oh man you're one of those kind of gamers.

*backs away slowly*

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:hmm:

...oh......sorry I meant Beli3ve

It's so easy to be cynical though, but look at how Valve have engaged their community, on their terms. Sure you can whine about not being able to crack the code, but when you have a pool of people as large as they do, with the kind of resource and tools they have, it is understandable that not everyone will be able to crack the code on their own.

Whether this is about Half-life 3 or not, it is still a fun and awesome way to engage the die hard community on a cerebral level and I really think that should be commended.

Come on, tell me it doesn't get you the least bit excited?

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This is from the first ARG:

CONFIDENTIAL

October 17th, 1976

Re: Human Enrichment & Testing Initiative, Resource Acquisitions

1. "Low Risk" Human Resource Acquisitions

a. Hoboes and Tramps

Lives spent wandering aimlessly, cowering before authority, and drinking concussive amounts of home-distilled potato alcohol make hoboes the perfect Human Enrichment test subjects. The hobo questions nothing, will follow orders if fed, and, like all hoboes, has a restless, wandering heart. (Note: The wandering heart of the hobo should not be confused with Drifting Heart Syndrome, which several transients contracted during testing.)

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Super Meat Boy already became Super Potato Boy, it's part of the ARG :)

Some other stuff is going on now. There are two twitter feeds and a blog (also connecting to imageshack and youtube accounts) spouting vaguely potato related nonsense. One of the twitter accounts has started spitting out strings of numbers and letters.

Removing the numbers gives this...

enviranomaisetvaativatettaolisisaanuthyvaataipahaasuperlati

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