New TF2 ARG Reveals Gray Mann, Introduces Mann vs. Machine
TF2 community cracks the ARG in 12 hours, and a new game has been revealed.
This past weekend, Valve devs released a TF2 augmented reality game that they would have never expected the game community to solve in 12 hours.
The super-sleuths began their journey when Valve updated the TF2 homepage by adding two small splashes of blood to the logo. One led to a letter that provided a little bit of additional information regarding the game’s lore. While TF2’s traditional conceit involves the two colour-war style factions fighting on behalf of Redmond Mann and Blutarch Mann, the letter reveals a third brother going by the name of Gray Mann who was, the story goes, stolen by an eagle at birth. The other bit of splatter led to an updated will of family patriarch Zephaniah Mann, which shows that Gray is not only alive but now blackmailing his father for control of his special gravel.
Now, when the update affected the site, it also affected the game: the High-Five taunt was updated as well as The Capacitor, an item added for the Pyromania update, which was made equippable. Intrepid players discovered that equipping the Capacitor while performing the High-Five brought up a joke which listed in-game items, reading,
“Did you hear the story from 1306 where Enormous Haunted Eyeball, Dr. Whoa, Familiar Fez, Dispenser, Private Eye, Direct Hit, Googly Gazer, Kukri, and the Administrator walked into a bar?”
Players then began to organize the different years and items the joke revealed, and soon a theory was put forward that suggested that the jokes actually signified a file (the details of which are described in a Google Doc.) Basically, the community discovered that by attaching an “alphanumeric index value to each item (item aaa – 1, item aab – 2, etc.)” and then plugging the values into separate columns representing each class in TF2, the values began to form things like C++ code, PNG files and links.
Soon, this list was discovered:
Scout – “Adult”
Soldier – “Councilman”
Pyro – “Baboon”
Demo – “Apollo”
Heavy – “Goldfish”
Engi – “Resistor”
Medic – “Goggles”
Sniper – “Unicorn”
Meanwhile, The Spy didn’t get a word, but a zip file. Someone then realized that the words derived from the Pretty Good Privacy word list, and produced a hexadecimal code (053B140A6EC56DEC). This unlocked The Spy’s file, which opened up a crafting recipe; crafting that recipe generated a link to the game’s site, which revealed the comic introducing us formally to Gray Mann.
So what does this give us? Well, according to the trailer above, it gives us Mann vs. Machine, a new TF2 co-op game which has the Reds and Blues working together against the robotic forces of Gray Mann. The game tasks you and five friends with stopping the evil bots from deploying a bomb in one of Mann Co.’s strongholds, allowing you to earn all kinds of loot.