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Valve had a busy weekend, handing out tidbits and breadcrumbs of the company's latest Alternate Reality Game, which seems to point towards a new faction making an appearance in Team Fortress 2. Joining RED and BLU, fans suggest, will be GRAY - a team comprised entirely of robots.
The new game, described as the "most fiendishly difficult ARG yet", includes approximately 5,000 individual pieces of data which had to be collected, decoded, and acted upon inside Team Fortress 2. Things all started when one gamer equipped an item which was "not supposed to be equippable". Then, after high-fiving someone, a secret message - a joke - was revealed. In turn, the joke revealed a hidden hex code, and further down the rabbit hole we fall.
Despite Valve's efforts to make the game "diabolically, even needlessly complex", gamers figured out the puzzle within just 12 hours.
The Team Fortress 2 website (TeamFortress.com) now contains three pages which weren't there before. There's a mysterious birth certificate, showing Redmond and Blutarch (owners of RED and BLU respectively) were not twins but triplets, joined by the mysterious Gray.
There is also the Last will and testament of Zephemiah Mann, Redmond, Blutarch and Gray's father. The document describes a "miracle" gravel cache, left to Zephemiah's "most trusted" maidservant Elizabeth.
...and finally, the third key piece to the puzzle: Blood Brothers, a new comic, chronicling the return of Gray.
Of course, this is just a skimming overview. The hard work has been done by people with too much time on their hands. All of the information gathered before August 11th has been compiled in this handy video (which, I must say, spooked me to no end).
The question now begs: Just what is "Man vs. Machine"? Is it a third faction? Is it a new gameplay mode? Will we see both RED and BLU teaming up against the new menace?
Redmond, Blutarch and Gray celebrate their birthdays on September 2nd. We're told this year there's a hell of a party in store.
(Also: Don't think it hasn't been noticed that Gray's name is, of course, "G-Man". Make of that what you will.)
I like video games and music and cups of tea and noodles and beagles and colour-cycling LEDs.
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Jimmy the Geek