Valve understands the internet, quietly launches biggest alternate reality game since "I Love Bees"

Yesterday, a minor update was pushed out to Portal, which read: “Changed radio transmission frequency to comply with federal and state spectrum management regulations.” It was noticed shortly after that a new achievement had been added: “Transmission received.” Upon opening the game, people found that there were radios scattered about the game, with red LEDs that would turn green when you brought them to the right place, and played a creepy noise (LOUD). Successfully playing all these noises through what I understand to be a variant of a spectrum analyzer (SSTV) results in a series of images clearly related to Portal and the game world:

Further analysis of these pictures revealed a BBS number that had been scratched out, but also a sort of code, including Morse and simple substitution encryption, which yielded a Kirkland area code (Valve is based in Kirkland). This turns out to be a BBS chock full of ASCII images of various things:

A larger, colorized version is here.

That’s about the extent of the investigation right now. Some savvy commenters have noted that on GlaDOS from Portal is version 3.11, and on 3/11 Valve’s Gabe Newell is scheduled to receive an award at GDC. That would be a nice time to show off a new game.

Portal 2? Episode 3?
I’m getting goosebumps.

Really now, the amount of savvy being shown by Valve and the community on this thing is surprising even to yours truly, jaded tech blogger. I can’t wait to see how this turns out.

Update: OMG, there’s more

[discussion at Reddit, on Steam forums]