Bathysphere Emails from Gabe Newell - Portal 2

On and around the evening of April 7th, several gaming websites including Joystiq and MacRumors reported receiving a strange image sent by Gabe Newell (president of Valve Software). Each image received was different but clearly showed an inverted photo of an object (later determined to be a bathysphere, which happens to have similar appearances to the personality cores of GLaDOS in Portal) and a series of 3 digit numbers. Though some journalists published the files with altered names, the intact names ("berets or scoop", "bee torso crops", "sorbet coopers", "sort eco probes") all were anagrams of each other and the phrase "REBOOT PROCESS". As with the first ARG, this message suggested that GLaDOS was being rebooted.

The pictures clearly formed a 3x3 tiled composite image even when the last piece had not been found. As hinted by the inverted picture, the numbers are translated to a message by inverting them also (bitwise inversion by subtracting from 255) to obtain an ASCII message. The message, even with the missing piece, seemed to be from someone inside Aperture Science. It talked about the early release of Kick It, and thirteen offsite test chambers (likely referring to all the Potato Sack games).

An final ninth piece was discovered from one of the puzzles through a URL shortener, but discovered to be false as the numbers did not decode the same way. The true 9th piece was revealed by a verified [ Kotaku] editor and the full message was completed. While the meaning was not changed extra letters in the message spelled out 4/19/2011_7AM=4/15/2011_9AM, which has yet to be given any meaning. However, in light of the decoded message, "emancipating something early" (amongst synonyms for the word "Emancipate" are "set free" and "release"), as well as a recent message from the Dejobaan incident stating, "You may as well sit back and enjoy it when it happens," it is likely to be hinting at an early release for Portal 2.

The actual location of the bathysphere was discovered (a marine supply store in Seattle) but while the bathysphere is present, there were no clues to any other part of the ARG there.

This puzzle has yet to be connected to any other part of the ARG, and was not provided through any of the Potato Sack. As the decoded message states, Gabe is trying to drum up interest in the ARG by getting the attention of several tech and gaming sites with a relatively simple puzzle.

* This is just a guess about 4/19/2011_7AM=4/15/2011_9AM. 4/19/2011 at 7am is the release date for Portal 2 on Steam, so maybe 4/15/2011 at 9am is going to be an early release for people participating in the ARG. (might have to have all 13 potatoes, might not)



  1. Justsayin' said...:

    Cool blog, love the writing. Supporting :)

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