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Valve ARG

Distraction or something more?

| Categories: Featured Posts, SideArc, Video Games | 1 Comment »

First off, Merry (late) Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!

After the festivities, what’s better than sitting down and having a good gaming session, or watching some TV? Well, an ARG by Valve of course! The sleuths of the Internet have once more stumbled on something very interesting involving Steam. Of course, when Valve is involved, everything immediately turns to the attention of a possible announcement of Half-Life 3. The long awaited third game of the series has been constantly searched for by fans for years, and the total collected information on the subject is quite vast. Suffice to say, the information found so far seems to indicate that, indeed, Half-Life 3 is being made.

So, what is the ARG? Well, first, you’ll have to know what an ARG is. Essentially, ARG stands for alternate reality game; this is an interactive networked narrative that uses media to deliver a story that may be altered by players’ ideas or actions. Valve is quite famous for using ARGs, the most famous of which is called “The Potato Sack”, which was used for the release of Portal 2. ARG’s require detective work, dedicated and often skills with the computer to progress. This can be as simple as finding a hidden link to click on a certain page, to opening files with hexeditors and translating binary.

So, what is this ARG you’re talking about, you ask? Well I will explain; if you follow these instructions yourself, you will gain a unique Steam badge, so if you’re into collecting such things, give it a go.

  1. Go to Steam Store Page in your browser, not in the application itself, and log in
  2. Go to the page of the game Ikaruga
  3. While on this page, type into the search bar (top right under your wishlist/account name) and type “SEARCH” (without quotation marks)
  4. A box will pop up, into this type “1v7531” (again, without quotation marks) and hit enter
  5. If all has worked, you’ll be sent to a page where you’ll be awarded the badge

If this doesn’t work, try again, or try another browser, I had difficulty with Firefox, but it worked straight away on Chrome. It does seem to be temperamental. Of course, the badge is sneakily named “Red Herring”, with the text of “ARG?” near it. You could think this was just a fun thing to do, and it is fun, you get a badge and it’s a Red Herring. As many will know, a Red Herring is used to distract people from something. Never fear! Cybersleuths  don’t give up, you give them an inch and they’ll take that mile from you. So it appeared to be, when more interesting things were found, but, alas, no sign of a badge for doing it. If you’re interested in finding this strange information yourself, follow these steps.

  1. Go to Steam Store Page in your browser, not in the application itself, and log in (just like before)
  2. Go to the page of the game Hitman: Codename 47 (You must enter an 18+ age to get to the page itself, you cannot get it when it asks for your age)
  3. While on this page, type into the search bar (top right under your wishlist/account name) and type “SEARCH” (without quotation marks)
  4. The box will pop up, into this type “94050999014715” (without quotation marks)
  5. This will pop up a box with “ic/4f21ca7” (without quotation marks)
  6. Add that to the end of
  7. This leaves you with
  8. Click this link (I’ve done it for you above, but you can double check if you want using these steps) and you get a sound file.
  9. Play it and wonder what it means exactly.

However. That is not all. There are more.

  1. Go to Steam Store Page in your browser, not in the application itself, and log in (just like before)
  2. Go to the page of Grim Fandango
  3. While on this page, type into the search bar (top right under your wishlist/account name) and type “SEARCH” (without quotation marks)
  4. Box pop up, type “Hot toddies and maseratis”
  5. This will send you to Undertale
  6. Do step 3 again
  7. Box will pop up, type “bullet hell”
  8. Get sent to Ikaruga’s store page

This was obviously the first step, I did not put it first as it’s a lot of effort and your time is precious and the badge is something worth getting, just to say “I was there”.

Now some of these passwords have come from Valve’s comics which have, obviously, been released recently. For example, to get into Twinkles club. the password is “Hot toddies and maseratis”.


What does it mean? Well, it could be linked to a previous project that Valve was producing, under the project name “Stars of Blood”. What was Stars of Blood, you ask? Well, according to Gabe Newell, it was a space buccaneering game, where, I assume, you took command of a pirate ship and blundered ships and sailed the stars. This information was revealed when visitors of the Video Game Board, /v/, of 4chan got together to go see Gabe Newell on his Birthday. They asked him lots of questions, rumours and stuff on Source 2 (which was later released) and one of the things he mentioned was Stars of Blood. If you’re interested in seeing ‘members’ of /v/ asking Gabe Newell questions, this video is the thing to watch:

If, however, you’re more interested in hearing him mention this game, then go to 47:45 in the video. The idea that it is Stars of Blood has seemed to be reinforced by a strange Steam members talking about space and so on. Many have asked if they’re involved with the ARG, which they reply they are not. Some believe they are lying. Some believe they’re doing it purposely to distract others. Some  believe they’re the Red Herring the badge warned about. The answer is, we just don’t know.


However, the sound file I mentioned above was interesting, as it specifically said “We were on the right track, but tomorrow we’ll search again.”

So, perhaps we’ll find more information tomorrow? The new comic page will be released and will be scoured for any possible passwords to try in the search box in the Steam Store. Whether that is 2nd of January 2016 or 1st, I do not know, thanks to time-zones and when the file was first discovered. So, this is something, whether it’s over or not, we do not know. Though, the more cynical of the internet citizens (or Netizen if you prefer the portmanteau) are saying that this event is a way of distracting Steam users from the embarrassing “cache error” during Christmas which exposed many peoples personal information to random users. While no important information was viewable (such as Credit Card details), and there was no way to buy games, add money to wallet or edit information, it was possible to see peoples names, addresses, phone numbers and email. In itself, not really enough for fraudsters to use to gain access to important stuff like bank accounts, however it could be used to phish more important information which could lead to identity theft/fraud. I personally would not recommend putting in real information in your account. There is no real need. Especially not your Phone Number and Address. But that’s just me.

The final interesting reveal from this comes from the following picture (found here )

steam picture


If they then fill in the black with white (photoshop or paint should do) you’ll left with this picture:

paint it white

Not much to look at right? I mean, there is nothing to see! However, if you zoom in to the top right corner, above the pianists head, some of the area left black after filling it in, looks like this :

HL3 Logo?

hl3 logo edit

To me, that does look similar, however it could simply be grasping at straws by the community. However, as lots of information has been collected over the years about Half-Life 3, it could be relevant.But what’s that next to the bit that looks like the HL2 logo? It looks familiar….

hl crowbar

The image on the right I flipped to get a better perspective, and the picture on the left does look like a crowbar when you compare. The fact it’s right next to a bit which looks like the HL2 logo is rather odd. Coincidence? Well, we’ll have to see. Suffice to say, it’s causing a bit of a stir in internet communities (such as Reddit and 4chan) and many are eagerly awaiting the next comic update to go searching for more clues.

Whether this is a distraction from that event (hence the Red Herring badge) or it is indeed an ARG linked to a new game, time will tell. Maybe it will lead to the hint that something major will be announced at this years E3. I mean, it’s not likely, just like it’s completely unthinkable that E3 will announce not only The Last Guardian (again) but also a Final Fantasy 7 remake! Hah! When pigs fly, eh?