Portal Puzzle Overview
From Portal Puzzle Wiki
The Portal Puzzle
See also Radio Frequencies
On Monday, March 1, 2010, Valve released an update for portal. The only note in the update was, "Changed radio transmission frequency to comply with federal and state spectrum management regulations." Bizarre, right? Well, ends up it added a few tiny things and one achievement. If you pick up and carry a radio to certain (26 specific) locations, you will pick up a transmission (they added a radio into each area for you to carry). Get all 26, get the achievement. Neato, right?
Ah, but there is more. The new sound files are called dinosaurXX.wav where XX is a number 01-26. Odd name but nothing else odd about the files, right? Wrong. The audio files can be converted into image files. A couple don't, but their audio tracks transfer into more usable Morse code. So the pictures have codes on them, that when put together generate a MD5 hash (a computer code) that can be converted into a phone number...
So calling this number results in a computer modem answering. No voice and it doesn't seem to be a fax system... it is a BBS (Bulletin Board System , without getting detailed, let's just say an antiquated precursor to the internet where computer could contact each other to share text and data). When you connect to the BBS, the system identifies itself as "APERTURE LABORATORIES GLaDOS 3.11" and asks for a username and password. Hmmmm. Remember that Morse code? Well, the username and password "backup" will get you in (at the time, the only known valid credentials). What does the BBS contain? ASCII art and a few short memos from Cave Johnson himself! More information can be found here on this wiki.
On March 3rd, Valve updated Portal again. The note in this update was simply: "Added valuable asset retrieval." Now, if you beat the game, a slightly different ending sequence occurs involving a robotic voice saying "Thank you for assuming the party submission position" and dragging the character away (presumably back to the Aperture Labs). Also, the BBS server logins now come with a progress bar counting down to approximately 10:00 AM PST on March 5th, though showing often humorous but seemingly random ETA's such as "Late Eocene" and "Thursdays except on weekends." So far, this addition to the game hasn't resulted in any more solid clues, however a number of new ASCII images have been found and are posted on this wiki.
The Countdown and Announcement of Portal 2
The progress bar indeed expired at 10:00 AM PST, at which point Valve issued the official announcement of Portal 2. In this release, however, a number of letters and numbers were underlined and, when read in order, spelled out "drattmann h0nee" (separation provided by separation of paragraphs.) These two turned out to be a new username and password (respectively) for the BBS server. Upon login with these new credentials, some new ASCII art along with seemingly random code was transmitted. These random codes were prefaced with "Aperture Image Format." In addition, after expiration of the progress bar, logging with the original backup/backup credentials resulted in the transmission of a Q-basic program to decode the new "images." Two images resulted: one with the Aperture Science Logo with the following text: "Thank you for participating in the trial phase of the Aperture Science Cooperative Testing Initiative. Because of your success we are moving forward with this project. You will be contacted when the live fire phase of the Cooperative Testing Initiative is ready to accept applicants." The other had an image of two Portal tutorial stickmen with the text "Cooperative Trial Completed". As of this writing (2:30 PM CST, March 5) no new images have appeared since.
Game Developers Conference
See also: Acceptance Speech
On the 11th of March, 2010, Gabe gave an Acceptance Speech explaining what has been done on the Portal ARG, from Morse code to ASCII. As he was about to continue, a Blue screen of death appeared, stopping him from mentioning what the next puzzle could be. The BSOD contains the message (in EBCDIC) "SUSPEND UNTIL EEE". Corresponding to this message, at the E3 convention, months later, Portal 2 was revealed to be released for the Playstation 3.
It would appear that this phase of the ARG is complete, though it is uncertain. The two newest images seem to suggest either more information in the future or simply that a beta/release for Portal 2 may be coming soon.
Interesting Current Leads
The naming Dinosaur has also lead to speculation. Being such an odd file name, its raises the question of what it is in reference to. One idea is that it refers to the fact that the technology that must be used is "dinosauric" in that it is very old by today's standards (Prehistoric) - (BBSes were being used way back in the 1970s, and morse code was one of the first ways to communicate via wire).
People have also claimed that the file names refers to the fact that Aperture Science could have used their portal technology to traverse between time periods(As a "portal" is defined as something that can separate space and time.) Which references a quote by Dr. Kleiner where he emphasizes the importance of finding "The Borealis", because, as some speculate, the usage of time travel could be employed to stop the combine from ever coming to earth in the first place.
Still others have speculated to it being a reference to a "Dinosaur Alphabet", a book written by the voice actor of Doctor Kleiner in Half-Life 2, or related to a dinosaur comic released on the same day that has its own encoded message to be figured out. The comic can be found at Qwantz.com. The author, Ryan North, joked on Twitter about his comic being related to Valve, but stated that it is not.
Also of note is that there are 26 audio files, the same number as there are letters in the alphabet. Second, one of the Morse code messages is, "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog," a common phrase used to test computer and typewriter keyboards/fonts.
- "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" is notable for using all the 26 letters of the alphabet, and that's why it has been used to test teletypes. ...Teletypes? Has anyone tried if teletype transmission formats are involved in our files?!