Giant Bomb Mailbag: Numbers Station Edition

Posted by Ryan (1263 posts) -

A nondescript manilla envelope showed up at the Giant Bomb offices this morning, and since its recipient wasn't here to open it, I took it upon myself (sorry Brad!) to rip into it, only to discover a mystery within! A mystery that neither Vinny or I were able to make any immediate sense of, which is why we now bring it to you, the infinitely smarter Giant Bomb audience.

Inside the envelope, which featured no return address, was an unmarked 1GB USB drive, which itself contained just two files: a 4KB README.txt file, along with a 1.5MB station.mp3 file. I've quoted the contents of the README file below, and you can listen to the MP3--which seems pretty clearly patterned after numbers stations--here.

Cryptography


Isotope


Philanthropy


Hydrogen


Ember


Rebirth      

Additionally, we found the following text code embedded in the MP3 file.

00000000 00000210 00000825 000000000037474B 00000000 0016FDA0 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000    

Through a little audio editing snoopery, Vinny figured out that the backwards voice near the end of the MP3 file is saying "Don't believe everything you see." Aside from this clue, and the fact that the words in the README file make the obvious acronym CIPHER, I can't make much sense of this. It seems pretty clear to me that this is the first step in some kind of game-promoting ARG, but the question remains, what game could it be for? The fact that the voice reads the letters "NOD" might suggest some sort of Command & Conquer connection, though with C&C4 already out, it seems like an unlikely candidate. The only other game that jumps out at me as a possible connection is Fallout: New Vegas, mostly because of the nature of the vocabulary featured in the README file.
 
I imagine this same package is showing up at other game publications today as well, so let's see if we can't be the first ones to crack it wide open! Get to it in the comments below! 
 
UPDATE: It would seem that with some simple character shifting, folks were able to figure out that the letters and numbers being read decoded into a website address, www.gknova6.com. This is just the second step in the puzzle, though, as there's more numbers station fun to be had there. Keep it going, folks! 
 
UPDATE #2: The goodly folks at Joystiq have taken this the rest of the way, and though there's still no official confirmation, the signs seem to point very directly towards Fallout: New Vegas. Thanks for playing!
Staff
#1 Posted by Ryan (1263 posts) -

A nondescript manilla envelope showed up at the Giant Bomb offices this morning, and since its recipient wasn't here to open it, I took it upon myself (sorry Brad!) to rip into it, only to discover a mystery within! A mystery that neither Vinny or I were able to make any immediate sense of, which is why we now bring it to you, the infinitely smarter Giant Bomb audience.

Inside the envelope, which featured no return address, was an unmarked 1GB USB drive, which itself contained just two files: a 4KB README.txt file, along with a 1.5MB station.mp3 file. I've quoted the contents of the README file below, and you can listen to the MP3--which seems pretty clearly patterned after numbers stations--here.

Cryptography


Isotope


Philanthropy


Hydrogen


Ember


Rebirth      

Additionally, we found the following text code embedded in the MP3 file.

00000000 00000210 00000825 000000000037474B 00000000 0016FDA0 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000    

Through a little audio editing snoopery, Vinny figured out that the backwards voice near the end of the MP3 file is saying "Don't believe everything you see." Aside from this clue, and the fact that the words in the README file make the obvious acronym CIPHER, I can't make much sense of this. It seems pretty clear to me that this is the first step in some kind of game-promoting ARG, but the question remains, what game could it be for? The fact that the voice reads the letters "NOD" might suggest some sort of Command & Conquer connection, though with C&C4 already out, it seems like an unlikely candidate. The only other game that jumps out at me as a possible connection is Fallout: New Vegas, mostly because of the nature of the vocabulary featured in the README file.
 
I imagine this same package is showing up at other game publications today as well, so let's see if we can't be the first ones to crack it wide open! Get to it in the comments below! 
 
UPDATE: It would seem that with some simple character shifting, folks were able to figure out that the letters and numbers being read decoded into a website address, www.gknova6.com. This is just the second step in the puzzle, though, as there's more numbers station fun to be had there. Keep it going, folks! 
 
UPDATE #2: The goodly folks at Joystiq have taken this the rest of the way, and though there's still no official confirmation, the signs seem to point very directly towards Fallout: New Vegas. Thanks for playing!
Staff
#2 Posted by Skytylz (4031 posts) -

Investigation team go!

#3 Posted by Tirrandir (217 posts) -

I'm no help, but I do have to say that that's really effin' creepy. Do not approve of strange audio files on mysterious and shady pen drives.
 
Adachi's comin' to get you, bitches!

#4 Posted by DanielJW (4915 posts) -

Hydrogen is an element! I've made my contribution.

#5 Edited by Metal_Mills (2980 posts) -

 This can only be one thing...Valve!

#6 Posted by dhuff (120 posts) -

Maybe it's just the 2010 Census. I think the voice sounds a bit Ed Begley Jr-ish.

#7 Posted by Zalanth (15 posts) -

Well this is kinda cool. I'm stumped yet interested.
#8 Posted by Joeyoe31 (820 posts) -

GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAABE !

#9 Posted by Gamonman (7 posts) -

This is either a clever new way of adveritising games, or 4chan.

#10 Posted by Animasta (14651 posts) -

I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't some portal 2 thing.

#11 Posted by readymix (175 posts) -

the way the stamp is stylized made me think of GTA4. 

#12 Posted by BarrenMind (48 posts) -

Metal Gear something something

#13 Posted by dhuff (120 posts) -

The fist bit of voice is a quote from Julius Caesar. Not sure what that means...

#14 Posted by sakarot (22 posts) -

Creepy and kinda awesome.

#15 Edited by Skrattybones (66 posts) -

I'm just gonna dump everything I come up with here, too. Then you all can see how crazy I am. Yaaaay!
 
 
-- 
 
I'm pretty sure the letters are "M.O.D" not "N.O.D" 
 
It reads like this: 
 
M O D / Z Z Z /  J M Q R Y D 3 /F R P 
 
There's an effect between each set of characters. 
 
-- 
 
That hex code turns into: 
 
Decimal: 62 
Binary: 00111110     
 
The binary turns into "> ", which is HTML code which is the HTML code for "greater than". What's neat is that the decimal code for Greater Than is ">". 
 
So.. does "greater than" mean anything?     

#16 Edited by Dtat (1623 posts) -

Hmmm...a mystery for sure! I would say it might have to do with Fallout: New Vegas, but I agree with Metal_Mills that this reeks of Valve craziness! Maybe a new Half Life? 
 
Edit: I'm pretty sure they're saying M.O.D. not N.O.D.
#17 Edited by Matthew (1911 posts) -

Dude . . . no idea . . . MOD*dingdingding*ZZZJNQRYD3FRE

#18 Posted by MeatSim (10781 posts) -

Mystery and intrigue!

#19 Posted by WilliamHenry (1201 posts) -

Obviously its announcing the long awaited release date for Duke Nukem Forever.

#20 Posted by hd24 (4 posts) -

Hydrogen isotope?!?
What game has Hydrogen bombs?

#21 Edited by fireb0x (24 posts) -

The audio file puts these letters out: 
 
M (or N) - O - D - Z - Z - Z - J - M (or N) - Q - R - Y - D (or B) - 3 - F - R - P (or E) 
 
I tried matching up those letters with the numbers you gave that were embedded in the mp3: 
 
 00000000 00000210 00000825 000000000037474B 00000000 0016FDA0 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000  
 
If you count "0", and skip the letters that appear in both the embedded text and the audio, you get a matching number of letters and numbers (9). 
 
I tried matching them up in order of appearance and then putting them in numerical order, but got nothing. I also tried just putting letters into the numbers based on when the letters came out. For instance "o" would go in place of anywhere the number 2 came up because it was the second letter to be said.
 
Maybe this will tip something else off though...

#22 Posted by Crimsai (5 posts) -

Yeah, I thought it was M.O.D (Ministry of Defence?) too. I thought Portal 2 too but I'm not sure why.

#23 Posted by Godlyawesomeguy (6389 posts) -

That is a little creepy...but awesome in a strange way.

#24 Posted by Osiris (498 posts) -

  Interesting, i'm sure there will be some people speculating interesting stuff soon enough :P     

#25 Posted by MisterD (61 posts) -

Those numbers are hexadecimal, no?  No idea what they mean.
 

 00000000 00000210 00000825 000000000037474B 00000000 0016FDA0 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000        

#26 Posted by LeadNinja (308 posts) -
@hd24 said:
" Hydrogen isotope?!? What game has Hydrogen bombs? "
Fallout also has burning embers and then rebirth when survivors start to rebuild the world.
#27 Posted by iToastage_FM (21 posts) -

Richard Wright, the dude on the stamp, is a 20th century author, tackling issues of race in the USA. 
 
If anybody knows anything more on him, pray tell,  but if i had to guess its most likely to do with fallout:new vegas 

#28 Edited by pbhawks45 (736 posts) -

This is a stretch here, but the stamp on that envelope is of Richard Wright, a famous author who lived in Chicago. I Am Alive is supposed to take place in Chicago, yes?

#29 Posted by FLStyle (4599 posts) -

It has to be something close to Brad's heart? What has he played for GB? Banjo and Kazooie? No idea.

#30 Posted by Skrattybones (66 posts) -

I listened to the .mp3 backwards. Nothing illuminating. Trying to glean anything else from it. Morse code or something.
#31 Posted by Keegs (106 posts) -

Isn't that Funcom MMO The Secret World coming out sorta soonish? This sounds like conspiracy stuff to me and that game is supposed to be all about that.  
 
Also, could be something for Deus Ex 3?  
 
No idea!
#32 Posted by louiedog (2335 posts) -

I hope it decodes into what ends up being the cumulative times for both endurance runs. Spooky.

#33 Posted by taemun (19 posts) -

Any chance of a full dump of the 1GB usb stick (zip/7z/rar it - its probably mostly 0's so the output should be tiny). Unless you guys have already been through it looking for stuff. 
 
Also were there unprintable characters in the 4KB text file? A full dump of that is required.

#34 Posted by EasyPeasey (159 posts) -

yeah the full contents of the stick would be nice.

#35 Posted by the_dudefather (35 posts) -

Thought the letters might have been a substitution cipher, but the 3 z's wouldn't make have sense (unless it was a anocrym, or it could simply mean 'sleep' :) ), other than that, the 3 stands out, one thought is that it could be the title of a game, with 3 at the end, possible candidates for this could be Half life 2: episode 3, DeusEx3 (which has the right number of letters, but doesn't fit with a substitution cipher). Bet it's something a bit more complicated though
 
I'm betting on something to do with Deus Ex 3 or Portal/Half life

#36 Posted by buzz_killington (3532 posts) -

What if Zach's is just fucking with you guys?
#37 Posted by Keegs (106 posts) -

They are watching us. Right now.

#38 Posted by Zoidoid (9 posts) -

4KB seems way too large for just those words. Can you post the txt file itself?

#39 Posted by TimesHero (670 posts) -
http://home2.paulschou.net/tools/xlate/  
 
Tried translating the hidden code here.  Not sure if I did it right.  Thought it might be hexadecimal.  Didn't come up with something understandable. 
#40 Posted by pbhawks45 (736 posts) -

Someone who has an account approved over there post this on NeoGAF. Those fuckers can help.

#41 Posted by Skrattybones (66 posts) -

That hex code turns into: 
 
Decimal: 62 
Binary: 00111110     
 
The binary turns into "> ", which is HTML code which is the HTML code for "greater than". What's neat is that the decimal code for Greater Than is ">". 
 
So.. does "greater than" mean anything?
#42 Posted by iToastage_FM (21 posts) -

ok, put hex into hex decoder: 
 in order of how they appear in the test: 
DECIMAL: 0, 528, 2085, 3622731, 0, 1506720, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0. 
BINARY: 0000, 001000010000, 100000100101, 11101001011, 000, 00101101111110110100000, 0000, 0000, 0000, 0000, 0000, 0000 
 
there you go, internet

#43 Posted by EasyPeasey (159 posts) -

That quote is form caeser! someone try a caesarian shift cipher

#44 Posted by Vinny (1602 posts) -
@fireb0x said:
" The audio file puts these letters out:  M (or N) - O - D - Z - Z - Z - J - M (or N) - Q - R - Y - D (or B) - 3 - F - R - P (or E)  I tried matching up those letters with the numbers you gave that were embedded in the mp3:   00000000 00000210 00000825 000000000037474B 00000000 0016FDA0 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000   If you count "0", and skip the letters that appear in both the embedded text and the audio, you get a matching number of letters and numbers (9).  I tried matching them up in order of appearance and then putting them in numerical order, but got nothing. I also tried just putting letters into the numbers based on when the letters came out. For instance "o" would go in place of anywhere the number 2 came up because it was the second letter to be said. Maybe this will tip something else off though... "
My guess is the ZZZ is actually www? and the "3" is "." followed by "FRP" which is maybe "com"? so maybe a website buried in there. ZZZ can't be anything else, can it?
Staff
#45 Posted by pbhawks45 (736 posts) -
@Vinny: It could be that ZZ Top game I've been maki...
 
I mean, what?
#46 Edited by the_dudefather (35 posts) -

good spot Vinny, so we get  WWW.***O**3.COM from that using substitution

http://www.simonsingh.net/The_Black_Chamber/frequencypuzzle.htm
 
(assuming the last 3 letter are com, could be org, or something else)

#47 Posted by Vinny (1602 posts) -

obviously: 
http://www.gknova.com/

Staff
#48 Posted by Skrattybones (66 posts) -

I dunno if I used that caesarian shift right, but is we're going with "zzz" being "www" and it turning into a URL,  J L A  W W W   G J N O V A 3 C O M is what I got. Hell if I know, but there is a www and a 'com' in there.
#49 Posted by alternate (2688 posts) -

The race is on as other people seem to have got the promo mailing.
 
 http://www.gamezone.com/news/04_05_10_01_59PM.htm

Online
#50 Posted by Ladnar (198 posts) -

Splinter Cell Conviction just a guess, my brain hurts

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