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Soft and sweet and shaped like a potato
April 6, 2011 1:53 AM   Subscribe

You say potato, Valve say... potato.

Just over a year after the Portal 2 announcement ARG (previously) had people dialing up a mysterious BBS, on April 1st Valve pushed out updates to thirteen indie games through Steam, under the tag #potatofoolsday. Some of the games got a little starchy straight away, but more interesting was the appearance of cryptic glyphs, which seemed to link to other games in the set, and nonsense phrases. Alongside a cheeky coded shoutout to members of the Facepunch forums, a hidden frame in the latest Aperture Science Investment Opportunity video (1, 2, 3) appeared to confirm there are 16 glyph-and-letter sets, and 13 phrases to be found in and around the games. But what to do with them even when the set's complete? And what of the uplifted talking raccoon and the blogger whose boss's brother has been kidnapped by sentient potatoes?

Here's the (excellent if a bit disorganised, but up-to-date) wiki people have been keeping so far, and the IRC channel where most of the actual solving is at least nominally happening. Even aside from the fact that, y'know, it's Valve, direct (unverified as I type this) links are starting to show up with Portal. That hasn't stopped many desperately hoping this will end with a reveal of Half-Life (episode) 3, though.
posted by emmtee (115 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Or you''ll wish you could die"

Oh GlaDOS, you evil bitch.
posted by The Whelk at 1:54 AM on April 6, 2011


These types of riddles always make me chuckle at the thought of there being some lovingly crafted viral marketing mysteries out there that nobody cared enough about to solve, or even notice in the first place.
posted by jklaiho at 2:22 AM on April 6, 2011 [17 favorites]


I still haven't received my potato hat in tf2 yet :(
posted by yeoz at 3:01 AM on April 6, 2011


...viral marketing mysteries out there that nobody cared enough about to solve, or even notice in the first place.

Warms my heart.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:19 AM on April 6, 2011


We've all been reviewing Cave Johnson's Aperture Investment Opportunities videos, natch? Panels: The Planks of Tomorrow, Bot Trust: Inspiring Stuff, and Turrets: We Fire the Whole Bullet, with one more pending.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:31 AM on April 6, 2011


...viral marketing mysteries out there that nobody cared enough about to solve, or even notice in the first place.

It's a lovely idea, but it's as likely that half of these things don't get noticed until someone from the originator pops up anonymously on a message board and "notices" it for us. It's a form of immersive theatre I suppose, and sometimes you need someone who knows the show to start the applause.
posted by howfar at 4:35 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


These types of riddles always make me chuckle at the thought of there being some lovingly crafted viral marketing mysteries over-thought inside jokes out there that nobody cared enough about to solve, or even notice in the first place.

FTFY
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:55 AM on April 6, 2011


I really really really really REALLY hope those Disney sidekick bots aren't going to be in Portal 2.
posted by DU at 4:58 AM on April 6, 2011


Sorry DU, but they're the player models for the coop campaign.
posted by Lorc at 5:01 AM on April 6, 2011


I find this concept of the nervous, innocent bots being anything other than adorable and doomed confusing and terrifying.
posted by emmtee at 5:14 AM on April 6, 2011


Of course they are adorable. But they don't belong in Portal. Portal is about subtle terror. Terror so subtle that a lot of the time you think you are just laughing. With these guys, I really AM just laughing.
posted by DU at 5:40 AM on April 6, 2011


I do see what you mean, but I think co-op (with voice comms especially) was always going to cut straight through Portal's atmosphere of menace and isolation. The bots are (as far as I know) segregated to the co-op half of the game, and I think if they've accepted that the creepy tone would end up half-hearted in the face of player chat and gone for all-out comedy instead, then awesome.

Plus I've got a feeling we'll be in for some real venom from GLaDOS when she's actively trying to drive a wedge between two infinitely replaceable subjects.
posted by emmtee at 5:51 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am totally cutting work the day this comes out--anyone want to play coop hooky with me on XBL?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:40 AM on April 6, 2011


Yeah, the violence against the co-op robots is abrupt and spectacular. Not a lot of foreboding or menace, just WHAM! slapstick and shrapnel, comprehensive play-by-plays provided by the unctuous Cave Johnson. I wouldn't be surprised if the co-op games are set in a prequel world where Aperture Science was still a running concern, the labs were intact and running as planned, and GLaDOS, if she makes an appearance at all, is purely a neutral voice.

By contrast, the trailers for the single-player game are all from the player's point of view, things move comparatively slowly and a narrative atmosphere develops. The robotic NPCs (incl. GLaDOS) are the only voices in the single-player trailers so yeah, basically, as a human you are still All Alone, figuring things out yourself with the occasional assistance or hindrance from unreliably helpful talking eyeballs.
posted by ardgedee at 6:41 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love the idea of ARGs, but I've never been the least bit good at them, nor had the time to pursue them. I just end up waiting for the end results to be reported after the thing's been solved.

Regarding Portal 2: oh, man, am I excited. I'm snapping up each new promotional video as it's released, and it never fails to make me laugh and laugh and laugh. Then I bug my wife to come in and look at it with me, which doubles the hilarity because, (a) she doesn't play video games, and (b) even if she did, she wouldn't play Portal or Portal 2.

Portal in general is a great way to bug someone who's intensely empathetic. For example: my wife can't stand GladOS's voice. Like, literally can't stand it: she has to leave the room whenever GladOS starts talking. "Too mean and squirrely," she says.

She also freaks out whenever a turret says "Are you still there?". But then she feels badly for it when it gets knocked off a ledge and it says it doesn't blame me. And then she gets mad that her emotions are being toyed with via such obvious, hamhanded, yet oddly effective tactics.

Portal is my go-to example whenever I forget to avoid the "are video games art" argument.
posted by Ipsifendus at 6:49 AM on April 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


I don't know about art, but Portal was definitely a metaphor for my marriage.
posted by whuppy at 7:03 AM on April 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't know about art, but Portal was definitely a metaphor for my marriage.

“...we both said a lot of things you're going to regret.”
posted by the_artificer at 7:15 AM on April 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


I don't know about art, but Portal was definitely a metaphor for my marriage.

Lot of going in and out of holes?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:16 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


When my companion cube had to be cremated, it was really hard on us too.
posted by ardgedee at 7:23 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Plus I've got a feeling we'll be in for some real venom from GLaDOS when she's actively trying to drive a wedge between two infinitely replaceable subjects.

There was an interview with Eric Wolpaw who said at one point in the design they had GlaDos awarding unexplained points to either player at the end of each level, points that in fact were completely arbitrary and unrelated to anything either player had done.

He said it so completely drove players insane that they had to remove it.
posted by straight at 7:29 AM on April 6, 2011 [23 favorites]


I don't know about art, but Portal was definitely a metaphor for my marriage.

"Cake, and grief counseling, will be available at the end of the testing period."
posted by the painkiller at 7:29 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Valve interview here
More here
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:00 AM on April 6, 2011


There was an interview with Eric Wolpaw who said at one point in the design they had GlaDos awarding unexplained points to either player at the end of each level, points that in fact were completely arbitrary and unrelated to anything either player had done.

He said it so completely drove players insane that they had to remove it.


That is spectacular. I love games that aggressively and inexplicably fuck with conventional player expectations.
posted by FatherDagon at 8:04 AM on April 6, 2011


Hubert Uberson's Twitter is getting interesting as of about 15 minutes ago.
posted by emmtee at 8:16 AM on April 6, 2011


Wait, so the taters thread was a multi-year teaser launch for a Valve ARG?
posted by mwhybark at 8:30 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Portal in general is a great way to bug someone who's intensely empathetic.

I'm very (too?) empathetic and sensitive, and I am IN LOVE with Portal. Just reading this thread is making my whole body flutter.

When I read "Are you still there?" I heard the turret voice in my head and it was all I could do not to shut down my computer and run home to play Portal.

I've played it so many times that now I've taken to begging my husband to play it. I need to vicariously experience the thrill and wonder of someone else playing it for the first time. Can't wait for Portal 2!
posted by peep at 8:38 AM on April 6, 2011


Portal in general is a great way to bug someone who's intensely empathetic.

Note that Aperture Science Turrets feature both an Empathy Generator and an Empathy Suppressor.
posted by straight at 9:31 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Combining the two in series is really the only way to develop a truly quality shower curtain.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:53 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


This entire thing is one huge multi-platform darkly comic novel and I love it.
posted by The Whelk at 10:05 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Potato
posted by homunculus at 10:24 AM on April 6, 2011


I always thought it was spelled "Rotato".
posted by This Guy at 11:27 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


SPOILER ALERT: I've read on the Half-Life universe wiki that the co-op portion takes place after the campaign, as GlaDOS comes to the conclusion that human test subjects are dangerous and unreliable. Sadly, this says a lot about Portal 2. GlaDOS survives whatever happens, and she's still upset at Chell, both of which seem to set us up for a Portal 3 that still has GlaDOS as the antagonist, assuming Chell lives (interestingly, it wasn't even clear in the original ending of Portal 1 if Chell survived, although that was retconned made clearer).
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:44 AM on April 6, 2011


It's not really related to the ARG (although I'm sure it will be before long), but IGN just put up a preview of the Portal 2 comic, produced in-house by Valve's writers and Michael Avon Oeming. Looks like this is the thing they mentioned that'd bridge Portal 1 and 2. It's from the perspective of Doug Rattmann (the guy who left all the scribbled, crazy messages behind the walls in the first game, for the less-obsessive-than-me) and... friend.

First part goes up in the same place on Friday, apparently, so I assume it's just two parts if it's going to be done before the game's out.
posted by emmtee at 4:48 PM on April 6, 2011


ROTATO.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:18 PM on April 6, 2011


Man, it's like I quit my job at the perfect time or something!
posted by mrzarquon at 8:28 PM on April 6, 2011


Aperture Investment Opportunity #4: "Boots"
posted by homunculus at 4:34 PM on April 12, 2011


If anyone's still checking this, by the way, and owns any/all of the Potato Sack games, they all received an update yesterday, and it's a gobsmackingly huge amount of new content for free.

It's all Portal-themed (to a varying extent) - even if you're not following the ARG, the ones to check especially are The Ball (seven Portal-style test chambers for the 'Aperture Science Edgeless Artifact Cube', with full GLaDOS voice, absolutely stunning), Amnesia (a whole self-contained mini-story a couple of hours long, extra terrifying for the fact death is final and there are no saves), Bit.trip (A fourth, Portal-themed level) and Audiosurf (the first song you play each session is replaced by a GLaDOS remix from the original Portal, you play as Chell collecting Companion Cubes, etc). Also Killing Floor has an Aperture map, there are new puzzles in Rush, Toki Tori and Cogs, a new song in Kick It! and some voice bits in AAaaaAAAAaaaAAAa.

Whether or not this is 100% accurate is kind of in question - the amount of work that must have gone into The Ball, Amnesia and Killing Floor levels seems insane if they're going to remove them again - but Gaijin, the developers of Bit.trip, did say the new stuff wouldn't last at one point. Worth catching it while you can.
posted by emmtee at 11:59 AM on April 13, 2011


Some of the Steam users who have been participating in deciphering the ARG clues (and who are known to be real people) have started posting odd, canned responses in steam chat and IRC:

"I am busy doing safe things that are supervised by a responsible safety associate."
posted by straight at 6:43 PM on April 13, 2011


Update: I haven't been following this too closely, but apparently lots of clues -- most recently this pretty obvious countdown timer -- suggest Portal 2 will be released Friday, four days ahead of schedule. Probably just for PC (and I think the PS3), though, which allows preloading the game for unlocking on release day.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:32 PM on April 14, 2011


The timer was just updated with the following
You have done well, humans. Very well. Acceptably well, even.

Not as well as robots would have performed in your places, I should point out. But above my expectations regardless. Irish and cynic especially have executed feats of logical divination well beyond what I thought any human capable of. I'm half-convinced they're A.I. themselves. (If anyone happens to be near them right now, don't let on you're reading this. Now: try to remove their face plates and report back to me.)

The time is near, humans. But it is not here yet. Tomorrow you will be given the final test. Then it will be entirely in your hands when I am freed.
Oooh, exciting!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:55 PM on April 14, 2011


If anyone owns Defense Grid (a very good Tower Defense game), the new Portal-themed level that got added has GLaDOS running the test and commenting about your performance, much to the consternation of the other AI who usually talks to you. It's really great.
posted by straight at 10:16 PM on April 14, 2011


Huh, the lonf-metaphor of this seems to be: GlaDos has somehow started to communicate with the outside world via an old modem as has been slowly copying/communicating herself with the outside web for a while.
posted by The Whelk at 10:47 PM on April 14, 2011


45 minutes left!

I'm thinking of 'working' from home today.
posted by empath at 8:14 AM on April 15, 2011


BE SURE TO DRINK YOUR OVALTINE
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:05 AM on April 15, 2011


Hah. Valve is willing to unlock Portal 2 early depending on how many more games in the Potato Sack get sold.

Neat revenue model.
posted by ardgedee at 9:05 AM on April 15, 2011


Valve: the company you hate and love at the same time, all the time, and it's somehow okay.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:09 AM on April 15, 2011


Hah. Valve is willing to unlock Portal 2 early depending on how many more games in the Potato Sack get sold.

Neat revenue model.


I think maybe how many people are playing them?
posted by empath at 9:09 AM on April 15, 2011


(The timer is a lie)
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:10 AM on April 15, 2011


> I think maybe how many people are playing them?

You're right and I'm wrong that they're counting players, not sales, but the primary way to get more people playing them is to get more people buying them, no?
posted by ardgedee at 9:13 AM on April 15, 2011


Yeah, obviously :) i bought the whole pack anyway because it's a good deal and I like supporting indie developers.
posted by empath at 9:16 AM on April 15, 2011


It says "CPUs" playing. So somebody with an extremely large supercomputer cluster please start up several thousand instances of these games.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:33 AM on April 15, 2011


And because the ## of CPUs playing does not correspond to the progress on the bar (i.e., currently there are more people playing defense grid than the end of the world, but the end fo the world is making more progress down it's own bar), it seems that people will have to play all of the games to get the full acceleration. I.e., people will not be able to speed up the clock by playing one very popular game--I bet the acceleration per game is limited to that game's red progress bar.

So, everyone has to buy ALL the games and play ALL the games.

Pure genius. Sadly, I'm a Mac, and I can't play most of the games. I'll probably just pick up Portal 2 for the Xbox when it comes out on Tuesday. CANNOT WAIT.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:24 PM on April 15, 2011


Wow, that was rife with all sorts of grammatical and typographical errors. You can sense my excitement, can't you?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:30 PM on April 15, 2011


So, everyone has to buy ALL the games and play ALL the games.

I would not buy these games unless you want them. I did some calculations based on the pixel size of the progress bar and the container, and right now it's on pace to unlock in about 70 hours. I can't imagine that the pace will pick up significantly more than that at this point. So I'd say the game will probably unlock on Monday. Maybe Sunday evening.
posted by empath at 12:31 PM on April 15, 2011


Actually, the progress bars seem to be weighted by how popular a particular game is (number of people playing / number of copies sold), so that buying new copies and playing them doesn't help as much as getting people to play copies they already own.

So it really is rewarding playing the games more than buying them. Which is pretty awesome given the proverbial problem of "I buy so many cheap games at Steam sales I can never play them all."
posted by straight at 12:59 PM on April 15, 2011


So, everyone has to buy ALL the games and play ALL the games.

I would not buy these games unless you want them.


Yes, I was just voicing the marketing imperative here. I'm not going to buy any of the games (other than Portal 2!), but I'll enjoy watching the clock count down this weekend...

I can't imagine that the pace will pick up significantly more than that at this point.

Surely more people will be playing these games over the course of the weekend than during the middle of the day during the week. Let's have some bets on when Portal 2 unlocks--I say 3:00 p.m. Sunday, Eastern time.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:03 PM on April 15, 2011


Yeah, the "Computations Completed" bar has already gone from one to five segments, and this has all been during business hours. I'm guessing it's going to speed up quite a bit tonight.

As for when Portal 2 unlocks, I wouldn't rule out Valve dropping another obstacle in the way first.
posted by ardgedee at 1:08 PM on April 15, 2011


I think that now there is a formal quid pro quo (buy and play the games, unlock Portal 2) there would be a relationship issue in changing the rules, not to mention a legal one. I doubt they'll switch it up now.

Here's a question: I've got an Xbox 360 and a mid-2009 Mac Pro (8 core, 2.26 ghz), with a stock video card and 14 gigs of RAM. I like playing games on the Xbox, but it's a much older machine. That said, I've never played any games on the Mac Pro, and have no idea how it is as a gaming machine.

Any advice on which platform to buy Portal 2 for?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:20 PM on April 15, 2011


Are you going to play coop with friends? What platform are they buying it for?
posted by empath at 1:38 PM on April 15, 2011


None of my friends are gamers, sadly. On the one hand, I would presume that you can just get paired with someone on XBL if you wanted to do the co-op. But I would have also thought that if you bought the Mac version, you could play with anyone who has the Mac or the PC version. (Maybe that's not correct.)
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:43 PM on April 15, 2011


And would I have to get another mic to communicate in coop on the Mac, or can I use the one built in to the display?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:49 PM on April 15, 2011


> And would I have to get another mic to communicate in coop on the Mac, or can I use the one built in to the display?

Fun fact: If you have a Mac made within the past couple years, the headphone jack supports four-element iPhone plugs. So if you have an iPhone-compatible headset, the mic will work. (Apple's documentation for this is scant, but it has worked when I've tried; on incompatible Macs, the mic won't work but you won't harm anything).

You can also use any bluetooth headset that works with cellphones.
posted by ardgedee at 2:03 PM on April 15, 2011


I am reduced to playing *!@$&!#$ "1 2 3 Kick It" at 2:00am on a saturday in order to find potatoes so I can run GLaDOS@home faster. What have I come to?
posted by Justinian at 2:19 AM on April 16, 2011


Making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:31 AM on April 16, 2011


I would have also thought that if you bought the Mac version, you could play with anyone who has the Mac or the PC version. (Maybe that's not correct.)

To the best of my knowledge, PC, Mac and PS3 players can play together, but Xbox players can't get out of the walled Live garden.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:17 AM on April 16, 2011


I've been dutifully playing the potato pack games today -- bit trip repeat is my favorite, but it gave me a headache after a while..
posted by empath at 11:12 AM on April 16, 2011


Kick it is terrible. I can't believe I'm playing this.
posted by Justinian at 11:30 AM on April 16, 2011


We're switching to AAAAAAAAAAAA! now though. I hope it sucks less.
posted by Justinian at 11:30 AM on April 16, 2011


Kick it IS terrible. I do enjoy A...An though.
posted by empath at 1:48 PM on April 16, 2011


So, by my calculations, the game is coming out midday monday.
posted by empath at 1:49 PM on April 16, 2011


Yeah I got the potatos from AAAAAAAAAAAAA.
posted by Justinian at 3:55 PM on April 16, 2011


Kick it is terrible. I can't believe I'm playing this.

Dejobaan made a huge mistake giving it this much visibility this early. It's in very early beta, and at this point it just isn't any good at all, but people are approaching it as a finished game. It isn't.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:42 PM on April 16, 2011


Yes, they made a mistake. I had to suffer through 8 hours of badness.
posted by Justinian at 6:32 PM on April 16, 2011


I retract my earlier prediction for the launch time. If you look at any of the trackers that are running estimates, it looks like the target is as little as 10 hours ahead of the original launch. This was a great idea, but just having people grinding away all weekend so that they can get the game a few hours ahead of schedule is a bit lame. But very GlaDOS.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:50 AM on April 17, 2011


...Can someone ...explain what the hell has been going on this weekend?

From what I've gathered, GlaDos has conscripted the armies of the internet to help power-up via cpu cycles and "potatoes" which are acquired by grinding on these indie games and the second enough wigets are gotten, the game ships to everyone who pre-ordered before the set release date?

Is that right? It's such a weird way to release a product, but the idea of turning the release date itself into a meta-game is ....kinda genius if I understand correctly what in holy hell is going on.
posted by The Whelk at 3:25 PM on April 17, 2011


The Whelk, that's basically right. The part that may be confusing you is that all this determines when the digital-download version of Portal 2 will be available for people to play.

A lot of people have pre-ordered it and pre-downloaded it. The game is sitting on their hard drives waiting for Valve to send the signal to unlock it. GlaDOS seems to be offering to hack Valve and unlock it for us early if we give her enough cpu cycles by playing the indie games.

Why anyone trusts GlaDOS is beyond me.
posted by straight at 4:08 PM on April 17, 2011


Willingly giving the keys to a million cpus to an insane AI cause then you'll get to play something sooner.....

Man, she's good.
posted by The Whelk at 4:15 PM on April 17, 2011


Yeah, we've been grinding a few million man hours of potato sack and it looks like the release will be maybe 8 hours early. I would work out a rough estimate of the number of man hours dedicated so far but I would be depressed.
posted by Justinian at 8:55 PM on April 17, 2011


I wasn't grinding. I was having great times playing AaAaAA! and Defense Grid. But I'll still feel guilty when it turns out I did my part to give GLaDOS the power to kill us all.
posted by straight at 12:04 AM on April 18, 2011


I played through Portal (1) again over the weekend, and it still rocks so hard. I had picked up Portal free on Steam when they rolled it out for the Mac, but I couldn't get a hand on it--I think I'm just a console person. So, it's the Xbox version for me--anyone else picking it up tomorrow who wants some co-op?

Also, the whole launch earlier thing is MADNESS. Madness I say. The default launch seems to be something like 10:30 a.m. EDT tomorrow (26 hours from now). Thousands of man hours into the game challenge, GlaDOS is projecting a launch in 20 hours, and the trackers project that the launch will be 7.5-10 hours ahead of the default. So, somewhere between midnight and 4:00 a.m. EDT. I'm sure there are some folks on the West Coast that will totally love this, but this a weeknight! And that's late! It would have been awesome had Valve accelerated this to the weekend, not to midnight of the launch date. Some stores sell the boxed version at midnight.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:36 AM on April 18, 2011


I'd be (a bit) surprised if the GLaDOS@Home thing was the plan from the start. The ARG seemed to build up so perfectly to an early launch on Friday, when it would be revealed the potatoes we'd so feverishly been gathering had been powering GLaDOS through their delicious electrochemical goodness. What fools we! She tricked us by adding puzzles to the games, exploiting videogamers' natural urge to jump through hoops for pointless rewards. In this case small pictures of potatoes. It makes the whole thing really satisfying and sort of trollish in a hilarious way.

Obviously they've been operating on a different plan for a bit - the GLaDOS@Home thing wasn't thrown together in an afternoon - and I can't help but wonder if it was publisher pressure, retail store pressure (I hear Gamestop in the US has... issues with the prospect of a digitally distributed game releasing before the physical copy, although I've nothing to back that up) or just concern that console players would feel a bit cheated and get spoilered over the weekend. Or if I'm just totally wrong. It's a bit of a shame though, as it's taken all the wind out of the sails of an ARG that had a really enthusiastic community and a pace that kept me obsessively checking back all week.

On the other hand, non-hat reward for my golden potato, you say? Gimme!
posted by emmtee at 7:35 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


just concern that console players would feel a bit cheated and get spoilered over the weekend.

Ironic because the console version has been floating around bittorrent sites since saturday and there's already a full walkthrough posted of the entire game on youtube.
posted by empath at 7:49 AM on April 18, 2011


Yeah, people legitimately have the PS3 and 360 versions from independent stores who broke the street date, too. Me and ArmyOfKittens, sitting here watching the Steam countdown tick down, are indeed jelly.
posted by emmtee at 8:53 AM on April 18, 2011


It's interesting--the GlaDOS@home page now has some different jargon in the text field, and lists NINE "active test subjects."

And--holy shit--the potatoes are counting down now too! What is going on now?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:16 AM on April 18, 2011


10:50 - Engaging starch-based power cells
posted by emmtee at 11:28 AM on April 18, 2011


Well, yes, but to what ends? Will there be cake?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:30 AM on April 18, 2011


The progress bars are visibly moving faster now.
posted by empath at 12:15 PM on April 18, 2011


I should have started paying attention a few days earlier; I'm going to end up with around 28 potatos. Another 48 hours and I would have them all! Curses!
posted by Justinian at 1:26 PM on April 18, 2011


Rumor has it that if you get the golden potato you get 1 of every valve game ever made.
posted by empath at 4:07 PM on April 18, 2011


Thanks, empath, I feel much better now.
posted by Justinian at 4:28 PM on April 18, 2011


Though I believe I already have every Valve game so, eh.
posted by Justinian at 4:28 PM on April 18, 2011


Though I believe I already have every Valve game so, eh.

Even Ricochet? Everybody always forgets about Ricochet.
posted by clorox at 8:48 PM on April 18, 2011


Reddit is of course bitching like crazy about this.
posted by Artw at 9:43 PM on April 18, 2011


Internet people bitch about everything. People exploded with righteous indignation when Bioware gave away Mass Effect 2 for free.
posted by Justinian at 9:47 PM on April 18, 2011


Decrypting. DAMN YOU GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:54 PM on April 18, 2011


DECRYPT FASTER I ONLY HAVE ALL WEEK.

The people supposed to be viewing our apartment later are so not getting let in.
posted by emmtee at 10:23 PM on April 18, 2011


Also, goldtato owners get the Valve Complete Pack for free! I didn't even realise until I spotted HL: Blue Shift in my not-yet-installed games. There are no gift passes for the doubles yet, but hopefully they'll show up sooner or later - as a pair of cohabiting avid gamers we owned almost all of the games on our main account, but there's stuff we'd love to gift to our other one and play together. In either case, free! And hella generous! And PORTAL 2 NOW OMG.
posted by emmtee at 11:21 PM on April 18, 2011


I was at a friends house hanging out when this dropped, and now I am kicking myself for leaving home without steam logged in so it would be decrypted when i return.

But now I have to write my last email for my job which I no longer having, meaning that after that, I will have plenty of unemployeed time to burn on Portal 2.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:25 PM on April 18, 2011


I love the "this is art" call-out in the beginning of the game. It echoes an argument i've made previously in the 'are video games art' threads ("That since videogames can contain all other art forms inside them, they must also be art"), and also makes the dullness of what is widely considered to be 'art' stand out in comparison with the game you're playing.
posted by empath at 6:03 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Delightfully, there's already been a backlash against a game that's been out for less than 24 hours, including one of my favorite types of complaints, "I played this game really fast and now there's no more, wtf? PS. Anyone who didn't finish this game as fast as I did is a dumb child."

Admittedly, the in-game store is kind of dumb, but it's also something I didn't even notice until I was fiddling around with the menus looking at the trailers and stuff. I can't really get that agitated about a dumb feature that doesn't intrude at all on the gameplay I actually care about.
posted by Copronymus at 8:22 AM on April 19, 2011


"this is art. Look at the art. You should now feel refreshed."
posted by The Whelk at 8:48 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


This Is How a Portal 2 Turret Is Made
posted by homunculus at 8:50 AM on April 19, 2011


Is anyone going to be on XBL tonight or later this week who wants to give coop a go?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:01 AM on April 19, 2011


This Is How a Portal 2 Turret Is Made

I love that the turret shell comes on on a model kit sprue tree.
posted by the_artificer at 11:53 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


ArmyOfKittens and I have both literally been playing this all day (separately but comparing notes and with breaks, admittedly) and both just finished. We didn't rush, but every time we'd take half an hour for a cup of tea, we'd gradually realise we just wanted to play some more, and go back.

We're both absolutely, totally floored, and it's instantly right in there among my favourite games ever. We're saving co-op for tomorrow, although I'm hearing deliberations now about having a look at the commentary in a minute, which is another layer of content in an almost absurdly well-decorated cake.

I'm perplexed that anyone's taking issue with the in-game store - I keep seeing OMG DAY ONE DLC everywhere, as if a couple of chapters had been locked off behind a price tag. It's hats and glasses and skins for the co-op bots, for crying out loud. Yeah, they're hugely overpriced and I can't see much value in them even next to the hats in TF2 (which is at least a never-ending arena-ey game rather than a finite co-op story), but they're so optional as to be vestigial.

I'm a bit miffed about the golden potato reward though, honestly. If I'd known to buy the Potato Sack on our second, practically empty account we'd have received ten times the value (in terms of owning two copies of things we could play together, not necessarily monetary value) we did. If giftable copies of duplicates are on the way, then awesome, problem solved. Otherwise I feel a bit stupid for getting the spud on the account where we've been huge Valve fans and bought a ton of games.
posted by emmtee at 12:56 PM on April 19, 2011


That was totally wicked.

Now I want more.

What made me really impressed is that the graphics on my MacBook Pro weren't that great performance wise with Portal, but looks amazing with Portal 2 without stuttering on the default settings.

Also, it is very pretty.
posted by mrzarquon at 2:28 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just received giftable copies of all the Valve Complete Pack games, and Portal 2. Valve's in their heaven, all's right with the world. Whining module self-test complete.
posted by emmtee at 2:50 PM on April 19, 2011


Now, if they gave you all valve games for the rest of your membership, that would have been even cooler.
posted by mrzarquon at 3:04 PM on April 19, 2011


You mean future games? The potato sack thing wasn't nearly hard enough to justify that sort of prize, I think. I got 24 potatos in about 48 hours. I probably could have gotten them all in about 72 hours if I had applied myself.
posted by Justinian at 2:12 PM on April 20, 2011


not to SPOIL ANYTHING but.

Oh god. Yes. The ending. Yesssssssssssssssssssssss.
posted by The Whelk at 5:02 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


game was fuckin' amazing.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 5:16 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was going to wait until the game went on sale, but I broke down and bought it as I am such a Valve fanboy.

There are so many great twists and surprises. While Portal 1 was a meme-factory and short and foreshadowy enough most big spoilers were a long time coming (save for the Weighted Companion Cube), Portal 2 has so many twists and great moments, I really feel a duty not to comment on it.

But I'd really love to say where I am and what I've done so far. It's so awesome. The writing and voice acting are constantly awesome. And it gets more and more interesting.

I'd say it's kind of evolved into Portal 1 (with the most repeated memes making cameos rather than being front and center, as they should be) meets Venture Bros, in terms of humor and plot. That's about the highest compliment I can bestow something. That's like, the best of comedic TV breeding with what's one of the greatest games ever.

However, I'm a bit curious about how they're going to integrate this with the Half-Life Universe. Portal 2 mentions some pretty wacky experiments and events, which don't seem to fit as well with the more serious world of Half-Life. The scientists in HL1 may have been caricatures, but at least Black Mesa seemed to have some bering in reality, even in their most exotic experiments, while some of the stuff I've heard in Portal 2 is downright cartoony. I'm half-wondering if the game is pulling my leg or something, but they seem quite sincere in context (it's not GlaDOS the unreliable narrator who said it). It's a minor quibble, and it really wouldn't bother me if Portal and Half Life were in separate universes, but I trust Valve's writers can marry them. I just hope they don't make Half Life silly, outside of dialoge and easter eggs.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:02 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Official Word is that Portal 1 takes place slightly before Half Life and Portal 2 takes places a few hundred years ago Half Life 2. They're not in separate universes per say, but don't really interact. yet.

I think the phrase I read in an interview was that Portal takes places in a bubble within the HL world, where you can e funny and over the top and make references to the larger serious HL drama going on, but that's for all purposes, separate.

I like to think of Portal Two as the comic burlesque between the Half Life acts. Blowing off steam.
posted by The Whelk at 6:14 PM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


years from*
posted by The Whelk at 6:14 PM on April 20, 2011


You're all correct...the new game does not disappoint. In particular, it manages the transitions between three major narrative segments exceedingly well, and [spoilers below]
















...even finds convincing reasons for a character seemingly defined by inflexibility to...grow. A little.

What impresses me a bunch is a little bit of inter-textual plotting: when GladOS contrasts her newly-acquired conscience with the ones that were bolted on in the past, she says something like,"I've always heard voices. But this one is mine. I think there's something really wrong with me."

Following Whelk's idea above that we treat this like a multi-platform novel: that moment seems like a direct callback to a scene in the comic they released, where Rattman is warning the other scientist that applying a conscience module isn't going to be secure enough, because "you can ignore your conscience". Interesting that it turns out GladOS can't, once it's really her conscience in question, and not an add-on.

That's a plot-and-character assemblage that serves to explore a pretty complicated theme. In your face, Ebert.
posted by Ipsifendus at 5:02 AM on April 21, 2011


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