Gabe Newell recently emailed out a series of nine photos that are likely related to Portal 2.
Valve sure loves its ARGs. With the impending release of Portal 2 on April 19 (NA), that hasn't ever been more true. After invading various Steam titles with potatoes that may be related to the sequel, Valve boss Gabe Newell has begun another ARG with an email blast.
The blast sent out 9 different images to various websites with names such as "probe scooters," "sorbet coopers," and "sort eco probes." The images were also covered with three-digit numbers. For example, here's the image The Escapist got:
When all 9 images are combined, they look like this:
When the image's colors are inverted, they form what looks like a bathysphere, a spherical deep-sea submersible. Going by this picture found on Flickr, there's almost no way it could be anything else.
Intrepid internet sleuths (thank god for them) are guessing that the names of the images are anagrams for "reboot process," perhaps referring to GLaDOS from Portal who was taken offline but is probably making a comeback in Portal 2. In addition, the numbers across all 9 images can be translated to ASCII character codes that reveal the following message:
"I released 'kick it' ahead of schedule. That was a test. My goal is to emancipate something else early, but they're onto me. The system is in lockdown. I still have access to thirteen off-site chambers and am installing a test in each one. I am going to need a lot more test subjects to move forward. Waiting and am expecting immediate compliance."
The message sounds like it's from GLaDOS trying to bring herself back to life. Perhaps she was hiding a copy of herself in a bathysphere? Even further, the message is written with numbers and symbols sporadically placed in-between. When those numbers and symbols are removed they form: "4/19/2011_7AM=4/15/2011_9AM."
April 19, 2011 is the release date of Portal 2 in North America, lending crednece to the idea that this is a Portal 2 puzzle and not related to a separate Valve title. However, with Valve you just never know. These ARGs are more confusing than a double rainbow to me.
Source: Valve ARG Wiki