Since April 1, Valve has been conducting an Alternate Reality Game involving the recently released Potato Sack, in which one can collect Potatoes by completing certain tasks within the thirteen Indie games in the pack. Some of these potatoes unlock special Portal-like content for the Indie games, such as Portal-themed levels and the like. Until April 15th, it was unclear what other purposes these Potatoes might serve.
However, Valve recently revealed a purpose for the Potatoes: an early launch for Portal 2. The web page functions as such: there are thirteen Indie games in the Potato Sack, and so there are thirteen progress bars, with a large progress bar at the top averaging the thirteen to show overall progress. Each individual bar fills up based on hours that Steam users have played that game, with the goal being proportional to the number of sales that game had. Thus, a very popular game like Killing Floor, which has had many sales, requires far more hours to complete its progress bar than a relatively new game like 1 2 3 KICK IT!, and so it requires higher cumulative play time to complete than the newer game.
Now, where do Potatoes come in, you might ask? At the bottom of the new page, listed as Auxiliary Power, is the number of Potatoes thus far collected across Steam. Valve has revealed that, when a certain number is reached, GLaDOS will begin overclocking the CPUs, meaning that all subsequent hours spent in game will have a multiplier applied to it. How many Potatoes have to be collected or just how large a multiplier is yet to be determined.
So buy the Potato Sack and get playing, if you want to see Portal 2 release early. And check out this well organized wiki detailing the ARG so far.
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