Portal Update: This rabbit hole goes very deep.

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Portal Update: This rabbit hole goes very deep.

Post by Kenny on Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:24 am




March 1st 2010, a date which many of you will not be aware of as having an important and significant impact to you, useless your business is in the telecommunication business. It was anniversary day of when TVs in the US had to switch over to digital transmission, abandoning that 700 MHZ band altogether. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) forced microphones operating at the 700 MHZ frequency to be discontinued in both use and sales. Anything broadcasting in the range of 698 MHZ and 806 MHZ after March 1st would now be illegal to use without an FCC given license.

Within the mandate from the FCC came a little explanation about the need to change. The 700 MHZ band is now used for emergency equipment (dispatch radios, transmitters, etc.) and for commercial wireless service providers (like Verizon). All small entities are not allowed to use the frequency.

Quoted from the FCC: "Similar devices to wireless microphones are also known as equipment for "low power auxiliary stations". Typically these devices can transmit over distances of 100 meters. Examples of similar devices include wireless intercoms, wireless in-ear monitors ("IEM"), wireless audio instrument links, and wireless cueing equipment. (aka "IFB")."

Also on the same day, Portal arrived with an uprising update, the first update sine June 2009, with a short statement: "Changed radio transmission frequency to comply with federal and state spectrum management regulations." Which was odd, given the age of the game?

Also odd that this update would coincide with the FCC's mandate forcing the change in wireless devices? As Portal isn’t the “real world”, does Aperture Science, (it being a small entity), not allow to use this frequency anymore? Thus the need to change over all the broadcasting equipment in the Aperture Science Centre.

Also contained with this ‘update’ was a new achievement called "Transmission Received”, and the game being stocked with hidden radios broadcasting secret transmissions?

People who loaded the game up again found that the radio in the starting chamber now had a green light. If players stood in certain areas of the Aperture Science test chamber while carrying the radio, it would start to emit strange static interference. There are 26 new radios to find that contains around 17 minutes of Morse code.

Translated so far:

Message 1:
interior transmission active
external data line active
message digest active


Message 2:
System data dump active
User back up active
Password back up active


Message 5:
9e107d9d372bb6826bd81d3542a419d6
(MD5 for: "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog", which is a way to check data for computer keyboards)

Message 17:
BEEP BEEEP BEEP BEEP
BEEEP BEEEP BEEEP
BEEP BEEEP BEEP BEEP
and so on……
(Translate that as if it's Morse code, and you get: LOL. Classy, Valve.)

While they could have done things the hard way, it was much easier to just rip the 26 .wav files from the game itself. The static turned out to be a code, which were SSTV transmissions. SSTV is just an audible way to transmit an image. Essentially what is required is to play the audio back and pipe it to SSTV software which reads the data from the audio stream and in turn displays the actual image which is contained in the data.

It sounds very much like listening to the audio noise generated when you listen in on a dial up modem. The resulting images were analyzed and noticed that certain characters where circled. The circled characters where collected and ended up making a 32 character string which turned out to be an MD5 hash.





The MD5 hash ended up being a hash for the phone number for the bulletin board system for a phone number from Kirkland, Washington--the city where Valve was founded. BBS is a pre-Internet dial-up system used for everything from chat to games, which was masquerading as a GLaDOS system. The BBS itself was not encrypted.

It was just necessary to use the correct terminal settings to display the content properly. Once the content displayed correctly, a username and password was required. The username and password was provided trough the transposed Morse code that was extracted from the .wav files.

The BBS also turned up several Aperture Science documents including memos 'from' company founder Cave Johnson as well as more to ponder over. Highlights include:

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 Drifing Heart Syndrome, which several transients contracted during testing.)

b. Child Orphans and Foundlings
Deep-rooted abandonment issues leave most orphans highly susceptible to shame-based psychology (for a complete list of opportune moments to obliterate the esteem of test subjects, please consulting Training Video #89-D, "You'd Perform This Test Better if You Had Parents"). Recent advances in the use of scorn, flattery used in an ironic context and naked contempt of motivational tools have yielded similarly profitable results.

c. Psychiatric Patients
Past experiences shows these fellows are simply not shy at all about carrying on, disrupting tests and defecating just about anywhere that pleases them. Frankly, it's off-putting and small wonder why Aperture-brand mental institutions are being phased out in favor of more orphanages.

d. Seniors
Frail, brittle hands make holding science devices difficult. Most were born before the advent of science, and can become confused and disoriented when asked to participate in relatively simple tests (teleportation, invisibility, adjusting esteem levels of orphan children).

MEMORANDUMS: Filed under CJohnson: 188454-G
88^5211762 json remind you that Apeture Science is built on three pillars. Pillar one: Science without results is just witchcraft. Pillar two: Get results or you're fired. Pillar three: if you suspect a coworker of bein' a witch, report them immediately. I cannot stress that enough. Witchcraft will not be tolerated.

MEMORANDUMS: Filed under CJohnson: 7655-293-G
A lot of you have been raising concerns about the so-called "dangers" of what we're all doing here. The beancounters told me to tell you that as of today, testing will no longer be as mandatory or as dangerous. That's not gonna happen, and here's the reason:
Science isn't about why, it's about why not. You ask: Why is so much of our science dangerous? I say: Why not marry safe science if you love it so much. In fact, why not invent a special safety door that won't hit you in the butt on the way out, because you are fired.
Plus, in the event of your death, I personally guarantee that, thanks to the form you were required to sign this morning, your family will not suffer the indignities of a prolonged and costly legal battle against Aperture Science. Trust me, I am rich, and it is a burden I do not wish on anyone.

To summarize: 6218376213 wjqehjk -213888^%@5*(*@)@)#*a@ +---+++


Some of the pictures are unmistakable: Vortigaunts, an Aperture Science door, the defence turrets (might have to turn your head on some of them), and of course nefarious AI, GLaDOS herself.




Two days later and not all the puzzle has been solved yet, but we have a lot of very interesting new information – frustratingly as there's very little that's concrete proof about anything; everything that the intrepid puzzle-solvers have uncovered seems to be just designed to tantalize and tease.

Most of the new stuff seems to have come from the ASCII images - a cleaned-up version and a colorized version are below. There are plenty of fan theories bouncing around the forums: For instance, some fans are speculating that what I called "Vortigaunts holding hands" are possibly Combine super-soldiers as seen in the Half-Life 2 games.





Finally, this creepy bit of gameplay from Portal features one of the radios disintegrating through the "emancipation fields" you find at elevators. As the radio is being zapped from existence, a voice saying something along the lines of "Get me out of here!" can be heard (you also might want to turn down your volume a tad)



One interesting little titbit of information: The ASCII information identifies the crazy AI antagonist as GLaDOS v3.11 - and as it happens, 3/11 (that is, March 11th) is the day on which Valve head honcho Gabe Newell will be receiving the Game Developers Choice Pioneer Award at GDC. Could the man be planning on making some sort of surprise announcement or reveal?

It's clear that much of this is white noise, designed to mislead as much as it is to inform - but how much of it is made up of red herrings, and what does it all mean?

The immediately obvious answer is that this would all seem to be pointing towards a reveal for Portal 2, but the presence of main-series Half-Life imagery leads some to believe that there could be an Episode 3 unveiling in the works as well. Perhaps Portal 2 will bridge the two series together, leading to an epic conclusion?

We'll probably find out on March 11th.

Curiously between this, the ApocalyPS3, and the Infinity Ward lockdown, on Monday it was a really weird day for gaming.


Last edited by Kenny on Fri Jun 18, 2010 7:14 pm; edited 5 times in total

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Re: Portal Update: This rabbit hole goes very deep.

Post by Kenny on Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:42 am

If you want to find the radios, then follow the guide and watch the video below.

Room 0 - Take the radio from the room you awake in and move onto the red button.

Room 1 - Just before you jump down, look to your right and grab the radio that's on top of the camera. There's a corner where it'll go green.

Room 2 - After you gained the portal gun, look up until you see the radio. Create a portal back to the orange one, then create a blue portal above the radio and go back to grab it. Move the radio to where the portal gun was.

Room 3 - The radio is on the camera at the end. Remove the camera and grab it, then move back to the first pit. There'll be a lot of static on the right side. Create a portal at the ceiling and then hold the radio out of it.

Room 4 - This time, the radio spawns with the cube. Grab it and bring it back to the elevator.

Room 5 - Open the door using both cubes. You'll notice a radio beyond the door. Create a portal underneath it, without grabbing it. Now jump back into the pit where one of the cubes was.

Room 6 - On top of the platform shooting the energy balls is where the radio is this time. First clear the puzzle, then shoot a portal diagonal near the radio. If you look into the orange portal and crouch, you can grab it. Take it to the end of the level.

Room 7 - Crawl underneath the staircase and grab the radio. Now bring it to the corner in the northeast (assuming north is where you looked once you left the elevator).

Room 8 - On the laser-beam machine, you'll see the radio. You can reach it by using a blue portal and grab it from the orange one. Take it back to the beginning to finish this part.

Room 9 - The radio is in a window on top of the force field. Get on the platform with the orange portal and from there make a new portal on your side of the force field. Now either grab the radio (then bring it to the other side like you'd do with the cube) or push it to the other side. The location is at the end of the level.

Room 10 - Once you got to the part where you need to do some "advanced" momentum jumps, the radio will be on the left side of the level. Create a portal on the left side of the platform behind you, and jump down the orange portal. Grab the radio and bring it to where the orange portal is.

Room 11 - Same idea as the first time you got the portal gun. Once you got it (this is regular gameplay, I don't need to tell you how I hope), you'll notice a way to escape once you pressed the button. However, there's a radio there too. Create a blue portal to the left of it, and leave the orange portal where it is (it should be at the other end of the moving platform). Now go back towards the orange portal and carefully step into it so you are in between both portals, which will cause you to not fall down. Grab the radio and wait for the moving platform to return. The location of the radio is where the portal gun was.

Room 12 - Do the level as intended. Once you get to the final jump (a platform will move 45 degrees upward), create a blue portal on it, and a orange portal all the way down to the lowest floor. Don't jump in, but drop one floor (with two dots), and then jump in. You'll end up in an area with the radio, on the opposite site of the floor you just jumped down from (with the two dots). Take the radio back to the floor with three dots.

Room 13 - The radio is in the next room. It's very easy to just create two portals to grab it. Bring it back to the beginning of the level.

Room 14 - Once you enter this room, look up and you'll see and extended wall. Create a portal above it, and then another portal on the wall so you can land yourself on the pipe. You'll find the radio here. All you need to do is bring it back to the elevator.

Room 15 - You'll find the radio to the right once you enter the arena. Get the cube and put it near the sign with an 'X' on it. Now jump on the cube, then on the sign and then jump towards the radio and grab it (this may take a few tries). Now bring the radio towards the toxic pool and leave it in the middle.

Alternate solution: Create a portal beneath the area with the radio and another one so you can jump down into it, and grab the radio once you fly up.

Room 15 - Play the level as intended, until you get to the final area before the elevator where you have to open both doors to let an energy ball go through. Create a portal in both rooms with the buttons so you can quickly press both buttons. Do this, and then create one portal beneath the double doors, and one on the ground. Jump in, so you'll launch yourself into the little room, grab the radio and quickly jump out before the doors shut close. Bring the radio up to the end.

Room 16 - This is the first area where you'll be able to go "behind the scene" and the first level with the turrets. Find the radio (it was there before the update and you'll find it if you just play through the level) and bring it behind the scenes.

Room 17 - The famous "companion cube" level. Play this game as normal. Once you got the third platform to go up, you'll find the radio underneath it. Take it to the area where you'll depart from your best friend in the game.

Room 18 - Pretty early you can go left to find a "behind the scene" area, with a radio. Take it up, and from there create portals on the ceiling onwards until you found the spot.

Room 18 - Once hit a button and found a room with a lot of turrets, this is your next target. Get rid of all the turrets. From where you entered, look left and place a portal near the closed door. To the right is a pit, create another portal in here. Jump down and use the momentum to launch yourself on top of the closed room. Activate the lift and bring the radio to the room on the lower floor.

Room 18 - At the final part of the level, you'll have a "jump" puzzle, where you first need to gain speed using a large pit. In this large pit, you'll find the radio. Leave it there, and go to the exit of the level (don't enter it). Create a portal here and jump all the way down (you won't take damage). Now create a new portal in the pit, take the radio and leave.

The last 4 are on the last part of the game, here’s a YouTube on how to find and where to place all of them.


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Re: Portal Update: This rabbit hole goes very deep.

Post by Jakko on Fri Mar 05, 2010 8:45 pm

Im so gonna use that song in my vid Smile nice one chris
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Re: Portal Update: This rabbit hole goes very deep.

Post by Kenny on Mon Mar 08, 2010 1:48 am

Many of you realise that the second Portal update, (Valuable Asset Retrieval), which came out this week, slightly changed the ending of the game.



There has now been a wiki created just for Portal update, which goes into more detail about this update and explains it better than I could ever do. The people behind the wiki have spent a lot of time and effort in decoding this stuff, so have good read through.There are also keeping people to up to date on any new info about Portal 2.



Also check out gameinformer as there what seems to be the first magazine article on the game. Thank you to Bibi who sent me the below images of the article, there’s some interesting stuff in the pages and a lot of the hidden images found in the BSS now makes sense, as the article contain a lot of concept art work. Also check out their Portal hub page for new info which will be release every couple of day for the rest of March.

I can also confirm that Portal 2 will not only have single player mode but also co-op mode as well.












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Re: Portal Update: This rabbit hole goes very deep.

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