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Emails from Gabe Newell

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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.


Contents

Full puzzle

Image

Connection.png

Inverted image

Spherec.png

Text

 +--------------------+-----------------+---------------------+
 |150 223 141 154 147 | 154 203 140 154 | 155 208 223 216 148 |
 |150 156 148 223 206 | 139 216 223 158 | 151 154 158 155 223 |
 |144 153 223 140 156 | 151 154 155 138 | 147 154 209 223 139 |
 |151 158 139 223 136 | 158 140 223 158 | 223 139 154 140 139 |
 |209 223 146 134 223 | 198 144 158 147 | 208 223 150 140 223 |
 |205 223 154 146 158 | 145 156 150 143 | 158 139 154 223 140 |
 |207 146 154 139 151 | 206 145 152 223 | 154 147 140 154 223 |
 |154 158 141 147 134 | 209 223 157 138 | 139 223 139 151 154 |
 |134 216 141 154 223 | 144 145 223 139 | 144 223 148 154 223 |
 +--------------------+-----------------+---------------------+
 |223 139 151 154 223 | 140 134 140 139 | 154 146 223 206 140 |
 |160 223 150 145 223 | 147 144 156 148 | 155 144 136 145 209 |
 |223 150 223 140 200 | 150 147 147 223 | 151 138 137 154 223 |
 |158 156 156 154 140 | 140 223 139 144 | 223 139 151 150 141 |
 |139 154 154 145 223 | 144 153 153 210 | 140 150 139 154 223 |
 |156 151 158 146 157 | 154 141 140 223 | 158 145 155 223 190 |
 |178 194 223 150 145 | 140 139 203 147 | 147 150 145 152 208 |
 |223 159 223 139 154 | 140 139 223 206 | 145 223 154 158 156 |
 |151 223 144 145 154 | 209 223 150 223 | 158 146 223 152 144 |
 +--------------------+-----------------+---------------------+
 |150 145 152 223 139 | 144 223 145 154 | 154 155 223 158 223 |
 |147 144 139 223 146 | 144 141 154 223 | 139 154 140 139 223 |
 |202 138 157 149 154 | 156 139 140 208 | 223 205 223 146 207 |
 |137 154 223 153 144 | 141 136 158 141 | 155 209 223 136 158 |
 |206 139 206 160 145 | 198 223 158 145 | 155 223 190 178 223 |
 |154 135 143 154 156 | 139 150 145 152 | 223 150 146 146 154 |
 |155 150 158 139 154 | 223 156 144 146 | 143 147 150 158 145 |
 |156 154 209         |                 |                     |
 +--------------------+-----------------+---------------------+

Translation

XORing each number with 0xFF (or, equivalently, subtracting the number from 255) gives us ASCII character codes which seem to spell out a message:

+-------+------+-------+
| i rel | e4se | d/ 'k | // i released 'kick
| ick 1 | t' a | head  | // it' ahead
| of sc | hedu | le. t | // of schedule. 
| hat w | as a |  test | // that was a test.
| . my  | 9oal | / is  | // my goal is
| 2 ema | ncip | ate s | // to emancipate
| 0meth | 1ng  | else  | // something else
| early | . bu | t the | // early. but
| y're  | on t | o me. | // they're on to me.
+-------+------+-------+
|  the  | syst | am 1s | // the system is
| _ in  | lock | down. | // in lockdown.
|  i s7 | ill  | have  | // i still have
| acces | s to |  thir | // access to thirteen
| teen  | off- | site  | // off-site
| chamb | ers  | and A | // chambers and
| M= in | st4l | llin/ | // am installing
|  a te | st 1 | n eac | // a test in each
| h one | . i  | am go | // one. I am
+-------+------+-------+
| ing t | o ne | ed a  | // going to need a
| lot m | ore  | test  | // lot more test
| 5ubje | cts/ |  2 m0 | // subjects to move
| ve fo | rwar | d. wa | // forward.  Waiting
| 1t1_n | 9 an | d AM  | // and am
| expec | ting | imme  | // expecting
| diate |  com | plian | // immediate compliance.
| ce.   |      |       | 
|       |      |       | // hidden message is "4/19/2011_7AM=4/15/2011_9AM"
+-------+------+-------+

To halflife2.net, pcgamer.com (berets or scoop)

Source, Source

Original image

The image sent to halflife2.net

The original image was named "Berets or scoop"

Now.... ENHANCE!

Enhanced to show clearer numbers and rotated 90 degrees to the right (credit)

Enhanced and rotated 90deg to the right

One with the middle numbers visible.

Corrected.png

Numbers

150 223 141 154 147
150 156 148 223 206
144 153 223 140 156
151 158 139 223 136
209 223 146 134 223
205 223 154 146 158
207 146 154 139 151
154 158 141 147 134
134 216 141 154 223

To Joystiq.com, attackofthefanboy.com, wired.com (sort eco probes)

Source, Source, Source

Original image

The image sent to joystiq.com

Numbers

151 223 144 143 154
150 145 152 223 139
147 144 139 223 146
202 138 157 149 154
137 154 223 153 144
206 136 206 160 145
154 136 143 254 156
155 150 158 139 154
156 154 20        

To macrumours.com (sorbet coopers)

Original image

The image sent to mac rumours

Numbers

?58 146 223 152 144
?54 155 203 158 223
??9 154 140 139 223
??3 205 2?3 146 207
?46 209 223 136 158
??5 223 190 178 223
??3 150 146 146 154
??3 147 150 158 149

To Macworld.com, beefjack.com, totalvideogames.com (bee torso crops)

Source, Source

Original image

The image sent to macworld

Numbers

??4 209 223 150 223 15?
??9 144 232 145 154 15?
??5 144 141 154 223 13?
??4 156 139 140 208 22?
??4 141 1?6 158 141 1??
??5 198 22? 158 145 ???
??5 139 150 145 152 22?
??4 223 156 144 146 14?

To electronista.com (troops be cores)

Source

Original

Portal2-macnnteaserlg.jpg

Numbers

140 134 140 139
147 144 156 148
150 147 147 223
140 223 139 144
144 153 153 210
154 141 140 223
140 139 203 147
140 139 223 206

To macheist.com (probe scooters)

Source

Original image

Large image.jpg

Numbers

223 139 152 154 293
160 223 150 145 223
223 150 223 140 209
158 156 156 154 140
139 154 154 145 223
156 151 158 146 157
178 194 223 150 245
223 159 223 139 254
151 223 144 145 154 

To ve3d.ign.com (peers root cobs)

Source

Original Image

Peers root cobs.jpg

Numbers

154 203 140 154
139 216 223 158
151 154 155 138
158 140 223 158
198 144 158 147
145 156 150 143
206 145 152 223
209 223 157 138
144 145 223 139

Last column?

15* : a-b-c-d-e-f-h-i
15* : a-b-c-d-e-f-h-i
14* : j-k-l-m-n-o-p-q-r-s
223 : 
20* : 0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7 or . or /
1** : ?
15* : a-b-c-d-e-f-h-i
13* : t-u-v-w-x-y-z
144 : o

To rockpapershotgun.com (booster corpse)

Source

Original Image

Booster corpse.jpg

Numbers

154 146 223 206 140
155 144 136 145 209
151 138 137 154 223
223 139 151 150 141
140 150 139 154 223
158 145 155 223 190
147 150 145 152 208
145 223 154 158 156
158 146 223 152 144


To kotaku.com (october spores)

Source

Original Image

October spores.jpg

Numbers

155 208 223 216 148
151 154 158 155 223
147 154 209 223 139
223 139 154 140 139
208 223 150 140 223
158 139 154 223 140
154 147 140 154 223
139 223 139 151 154
144 223 148 154 223

Fake Piece

The Defense Grid Flower Puzzle supposedly gives this as a reward: tinyurl.com/jsharman.

  • If you'd take the time to look under Defense Grid you'd notice an image posted of the contents. And you could always go look for yourself. --Catorsomething 20:05, 8 April 2011 (CDT)



Original Image

Valvearg bathysphere.jpg

Numbers

138 142 138 206 140
154 197 152 241 144
145 144 145 144 206
223 146 145 154 223
206 140 223 148 146
132 142 158 154 260
154 123 112 134 206
132 142 206 223 240
142 223 186 134 254
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