March 3rd, 2010


I <3 teh internets.

There are times when I really love the internet.

Take for example, the update Valve have just released for their classic game Portal. The patch notes for the update simply, but enigmatically, read: "Changed radio transmission frequency to comply with federal and state spectrum management regulations." What it didn't mention was a new Steam achievement for the game called Transmission Received. Completing the achievement involves carrying a radio around the game and receiving broadcast interference noises in certain places.

Analysing these sound files, Portal fans have begun unravelling a thread of puzzles and challenges apparently set for them by the developer. As Steam user relaxeder summarised in the lengthy forum thread:

"Smart people yank .wav files out of game content folders and run them through steganography programs. Produces 26 weird cryptic image files in a numbered sequence.

"Some dude runs the number string through an md5 hash translator and gets a landline number. Internet traces it to Kirkland, WA (near Valve HQ).

"People find out it's not a phone/fax line but a data line hosting a BBS and telnet it. Use a clue from one of the files to figure out the BBS user/password login info. End up with a bunch of weird ASCII artwork.

"We're trying to figure out WTF it means."

And that's why I <3 teh internets.