The Portal 2 Potato Sack
Okay, before I get into this I want to say that if anybody is wondering why I stopped doing that podcast stuff, well, I haven’t. I stopped recording episodes for my own personal show, but that’s because my friends and I are making a group podcast now.
We’ve already recorded one episode, though I don’t know when it’ll be ready to be uploaded. We’re basically going to be discussing various topics about games and whatnot, so if you’re interested in hearing about games and the gaming thereof, I’ll let you know when it actually gets uploaded.
Okay, now onto the potato business.
For those of you who don’t use Steam, there has been a pack of 13 indie games on sale for awhile now called “The Potato Sack.” At first nobody really knew why it was called this, but somewhere down the road people started to notice secret updates going on in these games, some of which involved actual content relating to Portal 2. The Ball got an update that gave you access to a whole area of the Aperture Science laboratory where you fought turret drones and everything. BIT.TRIP BEAT got a Portal 2-themed level. Killing Floor got an Aperture map where you buy your items from GLaDOS instead of that one woman.
And whenever you completed one of these, you got sent to a webpage on the Aperture website that had some sort of cryptic audio file, and if you happened to check your Steam profile afterward, you would see a potato appear on it.
Nobody was sure what these potatoes did, but many collected them all anyway.
This wasn’t the only mysterious cryptic ad campaign Valve had been running for Portal 2. I don’t know many details, but apparently Gabe Newell sent e-mails with very cryptic messages to various websites, and when people decrypted the messages and put them all together, it formed a message that seemed to imply that Portal 2 would be released yesterday (4/15) instead of its official release date (4/19) on Steam.
So we all held our breath and waited excitedly for Portal 2 to come out yesterday, but it didn’t. Which is unfortunate, because I was really hoping today’s post would be “Portal 2: First Impressions.” What happened instead was that a link got posted on the Steam front page which leads to a page on the Aperture website, which states that if we play the 13 games in the Potato Sack, we can get Portal 2 to release early on Steam. If you don’t feel like clicking the link, it also has a countdown to the release of Portal 2, and that countdown seems to decrease whenever one of the bars for the games is filled up.
Some people think it simply means people have to play the 13 games a lot, but a lot of us (myself included) assume by “play the games” they mean “collect the potatoes.” I’ve heard there are a total of 36 potatoes throughout all the games, and so far I’ve collected five of them. I probably would have bought the full potato sack, were it not for the fact that I already own over half of the games in it (what can I say, I’m a hipster).
I must say, this is a very clever ad campaign on the part of Valve and all the indie developers they got to play along in this. Not only is it probably getting a lot of people more interested and excited about the release of Portal 2, but it’s a great way to get people to buy all these indie games as well. To somebody who hasn’t bought any of them yet, it’s $38.65 for 13 games, some of which have received awards for being awesome (Super Meat Boy, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, etc.), and some of these games have Portal 2 themed levels, and it gives you a chance to help Portal 2 be released early for everyone that uses Steam.
Hats off to you, Valve. Please don’t ever stop being so creative.
UPDATE: Turns out there’s a whole wiki devoted to this stuff. Derp.
Well I just read about how the whole early release thing works (the page explaining it is here), but the gist of it is this. Each of the game bars fill as more collective time is spent from people playing them on Steam. Also, the rate at which each bar fills is directly proportional to the total number of potatoes collected by everyone.
So if you want to help Portal 2 come out early on Steam, then play any of the games that haven’t already been finished on the launch site. Hurry! Go!