It certainly seems as if our fine little community can’t get enough of ARG’s! When Valve’s not doing one, we come up with our own, fanmade ARG’s, like the Black Mesa Research Facility ARG. So far, though, these ARG’s haven’t broken out into the mainstream gaming community much. Until now.
On the 19th of July, two videos were posted on YouTube: “Clip94.mp4” and “Clip95.mp4”, by the YouTube channel “foundonthetape”. Inside “Clip95” is a Hex string that led players to a MegaUpload link containing a map named “foundonthetape_1.bsp”. The description said simply “ep2”. The map is a fixed camera view of a dark, moody, room, with a Shepard tone soundtrack.
Disabling the fixed view allows the player to navigate the room freely, though there is virtually nothing of importance inside the room. The only way out seems to be a wooden door. Opening it will result in one of the most terrifying screamers you’ve ever seen, with a picture of the same disembodied head from “Clip94”. Here is a video capture of the map itself, untouched. You can find other uploads of the modified map, including the screamer in question, in the related videos.
Next up, the channel owner made an out-of-game YouTube bulletin stating that any source outside of or not referenced by the official FOTT YouTube channel is not part of the game, only to then be interrupted by a hex string that led players to the e-mail account “foundonthetape [ AT ] gmail [ DOT ] com”. Sending any e-mail to this address will always result in an auto-response saying “uck im stuck im stuck im stuck im stuck” and featuring this MegaUpload link, containing a map named “foundonthetape_2.bsp”. This map is a bit more interesting. It’s a playable, puzzle-like map, where you navigate a labyrinth of narrow ventilation shafts, pursued by some sort of monster that will crash your game the moment it at last catches up to you.
Navigating these vents leads you to a shaft leading you into a loooong chasm. Jumping down teleports you into a white room outside the labyrinth, with some atmospheric soundtrack in the background, after which the game is automatically disconnected. Here is a video capture of the death ending. You can find other showcases, and uploads of the escape ending in the related videos. There’s lots of em, so if we linked all of them, we’d be here all day.
What is this all leading up to? No idea, but it doesn’t seem Valve-related. Still, our interest has been piqued, and we will be keeping an eye on this. There’s a number of places where you can keep informed: the Found on the Tape Steam group, the Found on the Tape Wiki, and there’s also an IRC channel: “irc.gamesurge.net: 6667”; “#foundonthetape”. This is where most of the info has been centralized, though things are a bit spread out at the moment.