Monday, 18 April 2011

AAAARRRGG at the Portal 2 ARG

I’m usually the first one to excitedly jump up in the air, giggling like a school girl who’s been drinking liquid helium when it comes to saying how much I love Valve. With the release of Portal 2 frustratingly still a few hours away, I can’t help but feel that the (apparent) final part of their ARG has been one massive cock tease and a bit of a dick move.

For those not in the know, the ARG (or alternate reality game for those not in the know) has been some sort of crazy metafiction revolving around Portal 2 and potatoes. People have been collecting potatoes from hidden Aperture Science login screens from a collection of thirteen games while trying to piece together exactly what the hell has been going on.

Then a mysterious countdown screen was discovered. There was loads of flimsy and some slightly stronger theories that when the countdown expired, Portal 2 would get an early release, and all of that mad potato hunting would have been worth it. Instead what we got was simply another countdown. But all hope was not lost! Apparently if we played the same indie games for long enough then our gracious Aperture Science overlords would be able to awaken GLaDOS early for a slice of early Portal 2.

About 76 hours later and we still haven’t unlocked Portal 2. I think at the very most we’ve made it release four or five hours early. Four or five hours despite the collective wealth of Steam’s awesome user base putting hours and hours into hunting for potatoes with a passion that borders on deranged.

I don’t mean to sound like a really ungrateful sod, but promising that working hard will get Portal 2 released early, and then not really delivering on it in any real way is just mean. A lot of us will have a fair day of work before we can play, so get no benefit of an early release by a few hours at all.

It would have been better to have delivered a new awesome trailer or something at the end of the initial countdown, not buckets and buckets of false hope peppered with the glittering ashes of fresh optimism. Valve isn’t new to this kind of fan service, so you’d have thought they would have been able to work it so we had a weekend release or something (if they were serious about giving it to us early).

Still, it could be worse. Those who want to feel the hardened skin of a boxed copy (as opposed to merely sniffing data packets as they download over a wireless network) will have to wait until Thursday. I honestly think I would have exploded by then.

I really doubt the game will be unlocked tonight, and if it does I will happily chew on my own fingers that have typed these words, but I really think it would have been a lot better to have not hinted at an early release at all. There was even a clue in the ARG that literally translated to 4/19/11 at 7am (Portal 2’s official time of release) = 4/15/11 at 9am. How else can that be interpreted?

The other thing that really bothers me about this whole thing is that the pirates already have the game and have spoiled the ending for hundreds of devoted Portal 2 fans hunting for clues on forums. It’s such a shame that those trying to help the ARG effort have had a twist straightened out for them. I’ve been on a complete forum black out for fear of spoilers since last Friday.

Ah well, hopefully in 24 hours this’ll all be over and Portal 2 will happily be humming away in my hard drive. Of course knowing what Steam is like on a big release day, it’s quite possible that their cloud servers will start raining hot shards of angry shrapnel.

No comments: