[ARG] The Pizza Code Mystery


#5561

I went back and took a look at some of the previous clues again, and one thing I noticed was the Code D message: “IT HAS COME TO MY ATTENTION THAT RESEARCH INTO POTENTIAL ALTERNATIVE BRIDGING METHODS MAY BE SUPPORTED BY THE INCLUSION AND APPLICATION OF THE LASER OPTRONIC LINEAR INDUCER ARRAY TO ACT AS AN AXIS MODULATOR FOR REGULATION AND FOCUSING AN UNKNOWN ENERGY FORM WAS DETECTED WHILST INVESTIGATING THIS HYPOTHESIS PLEASE USE CODE D 0914 TO COMPLETE THE SEQUENCE ON MY SITE”

Which essentially breaks down into:

“It has come to my attention that research into potential alternative bridging methods may be supported by the inclusion and application of the Laser Optronic Linear Inducer Array to act as an axis modulator for regulation and focusing. An unknown energy form was detected whilst investigating this hypothesis. Please use Code D 0914 to complete the sequence on my site.”

Now, there are a couple of things that stand out to me:

  • Unknown energy form–what energy form? Would this be the same thing as the AI? Could this be what is being referenced by all the “watching” and “God” rhetoric we have been given? Or is it simply a reference to Xen?
  • Site–right after this code, we got IRC clue #4, which decoded with the key “TERMINAL” and decoded to: “PRIMESITECOMPROMISEDRETURNBMRFLOGINHALOS” or “Prime site compromised. Return BMRF. Login HALOS.” Is this possibly a reference to the BMRF.us website (terminal.bmrf.us)? It’s currently down, but is showing the same error message that parts of the blackmesasource.com website did (nginx), so I’m hoping it will be back up soon.

I think this clue might be important, especially because it’s the last key clue we received from the puzzle, and we haven’t really used it for anything yet. Anyhow, when we got to the grilledpizza.jpg image (we still need to consider the fact that it’s called “grilled” as well–this may be important either now or later), we got this message:

"They stole the lie, as if that matters to me, HALOS is far too complete to stop now. They can’t hide there, not now, not now I have this, this holds the key to all things… they CAN’T hide from me. I will follow them, I’ll set up a link and this to remind me.

Perhaps I should hide it on the secure site, perhaps that would be best. I’ll find them though and they will pay, they will definitely pay.

Dr Marcel was right when he said, “When you’re building a cage for Satan, you don’t ask him to wait around whilst you put the doors on.”

Welsh is probably behind this, but he won’t get away with it."

That whole “key to all things” piece may be important, such as using the hashes listed on the Wiki–however, Storm said someone was close far before those were added in. Anyhow, perhaps these are the key messages–if you think about it, everything solved in the first grouping of puzzles was done without the IRC, aside from the correction to Code A. Perhaps the same can be done here?

EDIT: I took Capn_Nacho’s idea back from November of 2012:

"This kind of thing sort of hurts my head, but it reminds me of the sorts of puzzles on this site.

Just in case it ends up being pertinent, I think I’ll leave this here…

http://www.griddlers.net/pages/t_example

Maybe grilledpizza can be solved in the reverse of these puzzles?"

I reverse engineered the triangle puzzle using the guidelines and looked for patterns similar to the numbers we got for the puzzle name/key (1001085139140914) but didn’t get much out of it. Due to the fact that it was coded in binary, there weren’t really a lot of high numbers of black triangles, and honestly I doubt we’d be able to do much with it. But it gave me something to work on, even if the end result was moot.

I just can’t get over that image and the number sequence–Storm even calls it a “sequence” in Code D–WHAT IS IT FOR???


#5562

I want to apologize for adding another reply, but the previous one was getting a bit overbearing, and I wanted to shift gears for a second.

For a while now, Storm has been telling us to focus on the story. I tried to do that, and focus on something that we haven’t discussed lately–the EAS.

In an interview with Storm/Chris, he had this to say: " We’ve even added a few extra bits of that. We’ve got the EAS marketing [?] to which we’ve been doing the little ARG stuff, we’ve integrated more of that into the game, we’ll probably do more of that later as well."

As we now know, the EAS referenced here stands for “Emergency Alert System,” which was used as part of the marketing for the Steam release, and also made its way to bmrf.us. What I’m most curious about in relation to the EAS is the header that precedes it (the weird errrrrnnnnnnnnnt sound for those of you phonetically inclined). While looking through a wiki article about the EAS (here) this part stood out to me:

" Logs may be kept by hand but are usually kept automatically by a small receipt printer in the encoder/decoder unit. Logs may also be kept electronically inside the unit as long as there is access to an external printer or method to transfer them to a personal computer.

In addition to the audio messages transmitted by radio stations, “television broadcast stations shall transmit a visual message containing the Originator, Event, Location and the valid time period of an EAS message”.[13] This may be a text “crawl” or a static visual message."

The part in bold stood out to me–is that what the following is, as found on the Tempus page?

INTERCEPT 099.00//a

Report{BMRF-HALOS- AI TR-0001,
author = {HALOS AUTOMATED},
title = INTERCEPT DATA,
year = 20xx,
month = OCT,
institution = {Black Mesa Research Facility - HALOS DEPT},
number = {099.00//a}
}

I mean, it looks like LaTeX/BibTeX, but it’s not exactly–could it simply be how the BRMF alert system saves a copy of its EAS messages?

Remember too that the message we received in regards to the HALOS.txt file was:

“This is a message left for Dr. Horn. Just to remind you in case of emergencies that the password to the HALOS files is BENALOHPAILLIER. I have programmed HALOS to send in level seven cases. You should bring pizzas.”

That seems to point directly to the EAS.

I’m thinking there’s more to the EAS message than we have discovered–is there some way that we can reverse-engineer the header or something within the message in order to get more information?

EDIT: This part on that same wiki page stands out: “Because the header lacks error detection codes, it is repeated 3 times for redundancy.”

Remember the hidden message Welsh’s site that starts with:

"10/09/200x - Diary Log of Dr J Welsh

LISTS
LISTS
LISTS"

It’s just all too weird, and I have no idea how it helps, but it just continues to bounce around in my head. I think I’m literally going crazy.


#5563

We decoded it using software decoders in the days following the event, and translated it based on the information in the Specific_Area_Message_Encoding wikipedia article. It was found that it was the exact same message as the sample SAME message found in that wikipedia article, meaning they just used the sample SAME header clip from that wikipedia page in the EAS message. However, I’m not sure if anyone looked closely at the spectrogram to see if any foreign signal or frequencies had been added to the SAME signal, but I doubt anything was added to it.


EDIT:

I’m pretty sure the message has to do with teleportation technology and Xen. I don’t have any good theories about the unknown energy form, but a while back I found a reference to an unknown energy form in the Mega Man series universe. This blog post talks about a prologue which appeared in the booklet of the official game soundtrack of Rockman 2: The Power Fighters (aka Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters). The original text was in Japanese, and the blog post has an English translation of it, which goes as follows:

[Prologue]

Somewhere in outer space, there existed two very extraordinary types of energy. A white energy that was exhibited by those of a virtuous spirit, and a black energy which was sustained by hearts consumed with wickedness. These energies greatly exceeded anything which the civilizations of Earth had ever known. Then one day, an unknown energy form was discovered. Dr. Right immediately undertook an investigation. However, proper analysis proved impossible, as the energy form was so infinitesimally small, and yet at the same time so exceedingly dangerous that it had to be handled with the strictest of care. That’s because this energy form had a far stronger power than any other energy that existed on Earth.

Then late one night, the town was suddenly stained red in panic. The Wily mechs struck in a surprise raid upon Dr. Right’s laboratory, making off with the portent energy, and even stealing the experimental energy parts which were developed from its research.

Dr. Right: Damn! They must have taken the energy form. If Wily misuses its power, the results could be disastrous! Roll? Roll, where are you? Roll!

Making things worse, Roll was nowhere to be found. That was when Rockman arrived, returning from his patrol.

Rockman: Doctor! What on Earth happened here?!

Dr. Right: We were suddenly attacked by Wily’s robots. They took that rare energy form, and the new parts I was developing. On top of that, Roll has gone missing!

Rockman: That awful Wily, using such a cowardly attack!

Dr. Right: That strange energy can generate an incredibly strong power. It’s a mysterious energy that can become imprinted by the heart of whoever uses it, for good or for evil. We must hurry and get it back, or else…

Meanwhile, someone was gazing down at the town thrown into confusion. Standing nearly 3 meters tall and possessing an enormous left hand, the figure burned with a violet haze, manifesting his will to fight.

Duo: What a deplorable creature you are. Whatever it is you’re up to, I, Duo, will defeat you!

And so the mysterious character “Duo” abruptly appeared! Is he friend or foe? And just who is this “creature” he’s targeting?

Rockman’s latest battle is about to unfold!


#5564

This was posted over in the Easter Eggs forum:

Maybe it’s a joke I don’t get, but that DES-MART stands out to me. Is it a hint, or am I missing some cultural reference here?


#5565

Wal Mart receipt


#5566

ROT7 of WAL becomes DHS. Close but not quite. However, the ‘H’ is three letters from ‘E’, so maybe… 3DES? Nah, I’m probably stretching it.


#5567

Ah, I figured it was WAL-MART related, but did they just put in three random letters or is there more to the “DES” than it possibly being a hint?

Normally in tongue-in-cheek jokes like that, the change would be purposeful. For example, instead of WAL-MART it would be ALL-MART (because they sell literally everything). I don’t know, I don’t get paid to write jokes, but hopefully you get the gist.

EDIT: Also, if you look close enough, there’s a drawing of the Tau Cannon on the piece of paper adjacent to the receipt.


#5568

Oddly enough, the phone number and store manager name are legitimate.


#5569

That receipt is not from the game, lol.


EDIT: Wait a minute…

EDIT 2: In the screenshot Guns posted above, the DES-MART receipt is partially obscured by the adjacent paper, so I went to see if I could get a better look. I knew I had seen it before, and as I suspected, the corkboard with the receipt can be found in Dr. Horn’s shack (aka the taco shack):

The actual texture containing the receipt is located in bms_textures_dir.vpk -> materials\models\props_office\noticeboard01.vtf. Below is the DES-MART receipt cut out from the texture:

DES-MART_receipt

The interesting part is the part where is says “4-21 ORDER #666”.

“4-21”? Or is it “1-21”? 21 goes into 1? But to me it looks like it says “4-21”. Oh well.

Then we have the “#666”. As you all probably know, 666 is the devil’s number, and that’s particularly interesting when you consider the fact that the DES cipher was directly based on a cipher called Lucifer.

Could this be the hint we’ve been looking for? Or is this just a joke saying that Walmart is evil?

However, the DES cipher idea isn’t exactly a new idea. All decryption attempts to date have failed, so what are we missing?

I had completely forgotten about this receipt. I don’t think I’ve seen it since long before the “21 into 1” hint. Otherwise, I would have made a mental note of it.


#5570

Found this today: https://www.linkedin.com/company/des-mart-safety-consultants-limited

Note the location and how it’s written: NOTTINGHAMSHIRE

Tried it as a key using this online decrypt tool: http://aes.online-domain-tools.com/

No luck, however. I got some results that had about 2-3 solid lines of text without breaks, which is different from the other keys I’ve used in the past, but it was still all gibberish.


#5571

That’s the actual spelling of the county


#5572

Ah, sorry–I meant more the fact that everything on there is in caps. It could just be how it’s formatted, but it stood out to me that it’s written like that like most of the messages we’ve received in the ARG.

EDIT: Also, something interesting about Nottinghamshire from the wiki:

" Nottinghamshire lies on the Roman Fosse Way, and there are Roman settlements in the county; for example at Mansfield, and forts such as at the Broxtowe Estate in Bilborough."

Note the reference to Romans–could be a hint from all of our Latin clues?

Actually, that brings up a thought–all this reference to “time” and the Latin references–is it possible this has something to do with Roman numerology or time keeping? Afterall, Latin originated with the Romans and surrounding areas: " Latin was originally spoken in the area surrounding Rome, known as Latium.[4] Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant language, initially in Italy and subsequently throughout the western Roman Empire."

shrug Can’t hurt I guess to take a look. I’ll see if I can locate anything when I get home tonight.

EDIT 2:

Want to know something fun? If you take the 1001085139140914 and convert to Roman numerals you get:

I00I0VIIIVIIIIIXIIV0IXIIV

If you take only the I’s and 0s and convert to 1s and 0s, you get:

1001011111111110111

If you split that into groups of 8:

10010111 11111110 111

Leaving off the last three 1’s, you get this from a binary to text converter: “—þ”

The þ symbol is this: Thorn

It’s a letter in Old English and other languages that is called “Thorn.” I mean, it could all just be a coincidence, but that contains “Horn” in it. I don’t know, if it’s completely random then dang, but part of me feels it’s intentional. It’s like he left his signature . . . “—Horn”


#5573

Guys, I think I might be on to something–I wanted it as a new post so it could alert those that have been following this. I’m not big into this kind of technical stuff, but something Storm said previously stuck out to me, in this post:

"Time will still reveal all… eventually.

Who knows how deep this rabbit hole goes."

That part is almost directly quoted in The Matrix, when Morpheus says to Neo:

" This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more."

I was looking at the Wiki page that explains the cultural references of “the red pill” and “the blue pill,” and at the very end were these two other reference points:

"

  • In cybersecurity, a red pill is any means of detecting hooking or virtualization. It is frequently used by anti-cheat, antirootkit software, malware, and digital rights management, etc. Red pills usually make use of real-time clocks to measure the time it takes for [critical operations](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popek_and_Goldberg_virtualization_requirements#Virtualization_theorems) and interactions with peripheral hardware to occur, and compare the length of them with the expected length of such operations as they occur without virtualization. If the clock is compromised, the hypervisor can hide its presence by slowing the clock down in a controlled way, to hide the extra time imposed by virtualization.

  • Until they were removed from the Maemo operating system application installer in January 2010, certain advanced features were unlocked by a “Red Pill Mode” Easter egg to prevent accidental use by novice users but make them readily available to experienced users. This was activated by starting to add a catalog whose URL was “matrix” and then choosing to cancel. A dialog box would appear asking “Which pill?” with the choices “Red” or “Blue”, allowing the user to enter red pill mode.[27][28] In “Red Pill” mode, the installer allows the user to view and reconfigure system packages whose existence it normally does not acknowledge. In Blue Pill mode the installer displays only software installed by a user, creating the illusion that system software does not exist on the system."

The first reference of the “real-time clocks” stood out because “time reveals all,” and the second one stood out because it seems more related to the web-based content of the ARG. Is it possible we can locate something like the matrix URL or something similar to move forward with the ARG? Or is that whole “red pill” thing somehow applicable here?

Again, I’m not very good with the technical jargon aspect, although I know there are many of you here who are. Any thoughts on this?

EDIT:

Found this random “HALO X-Ray” website today–seems legit, but oddly they are also based in Nottingham, same as the DES-MART folks: https://www.haloxray.com/contact/

Also, on my lunch today, I called the numbers on the “Dr. Gordon Freeman” fake “Curriculum Vitae” found using the address from bmrf.us. Here are the results:

1-800-786-1410 (listed for both Gordon and Eli) - Male voice states the number is disconnected.

1-617-253-1000 - Actual number for MIT - Asked for “Isaac Kleiner” via the automated inquiry message and got “Mark Verner” so hung up.

1-232-842-3383 - Not a valid number.

1-201-632-3901 - Got a woman with “Excelsior” something or other–asked for Eli and she stated she wasn’t aware of anyone with that name working there. Apologized for the wrong number.

Anyway, it made for an interesting meal, but nothing came of it.


#5574

Maybe a dumb idea, but the fact that we are pointed to that board and there is a time and place on it made me think, has anyone tried going their in game on monday at 8 o clock? Tempus omnia relevant and all that


#5575

I took another stab at building the story, and I came up with this: https://thepizzaisalie.wikia.com/wiki/Additional_Storyline

I didn’t write it all here, because I just blew up the forums about 5 times in a row, so I figured you folks can click the link if you want to see it :slight_smile:

I’m not sure how accurate and/or how helpful it will be, but I hope you at least find it enjoyable to some extent.

Also, I’ve decided that:
All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth HALOS FILE
My two front teeth HALOS FILE
See my two front teeth HALOS FILE
Gee, if I could only have my two front teeth HALOS FILE
Then I could wish you, “Merry Christmas” HAPPY ARGING!

EDIT: Looks like the Curriculum Vitae is not ARG-related, aside from it’s directly referencing bmrf.us. I reached out to its creator and this is what he said:

“Sorry to disappoint, I have never heard of anything you mentioned…

Il gio 13 dic 2018, 19:15”

EDIT 2: Something else about the ITS that stood out to me: “The first device-independent graphics terminal output; programs generated generic commands to control screen content, which the system automatically translated into the appropriate character sequences for the particular type of terminal operated by the user.”

When I visited the link for the graphics terminal, I read this: “Vector-mode displays were historically important but are no longer used. Practically all modern graphic displays are raster-mode, descended from the picture scanning techniques used for television, in which the visual elements are a rectangular array of pixels.”

On its own, it’s not directly ARG-related, but I took another look at the “Lies.jpg” image, and if you zoom in enough, you can clearly see very defined squares that make up the picture. I don’t think it’s Steganography, but is there some way we could rearrange the picture in order to get a message? Or is there some other type of outcome we could get that has to deal with the larger squares within the picture?

One clearly defined area is right where the beard is drawn–you can see the lines that make up the blocks:

lies2

Another area is up where the “LIES” is drawn in the top-right corner–it’s drawn in a way that it looks like it’s trying to be fit into the square, and you can see that it’s right up against the line.

That’s weird, right?

EDIT 3: Since bmrf.us is down, I’ve been scoping out some of the screenshots taken with the previous versions. I was trying to figure out how “DALSystems” might relate to all this information about graphics terminals or whatnot, and I stumbled upon this: Data Access Layer (DAL).

“Applications using a data access layer can be either database server dependent or independent. If the data access layer supports multiple database types, the application becomes able to use whatever databases the DAL can talk to. In either circumstance, having a data access layer provides a centralized location for all calls into the database, and thus makes it easier to port the application to other database systems (assuming that 100% of the database interaction is done in the DAL for a given application).”

Or it could refer to Database Abstraction Layer:

“Database abstraction layers reduce the amount of work by providing a consistent API to the developer and hide the database specifics behind this interface as much as possible.”

“Executing the instructions in the correct order allows the DAL to perform the conceptual instruction.”

" Libraries unify access to databases by providing a single low-level programming interface to the application developer. Their advantages are most often speed and flexibility because they are not tied to a specific query language (subset) and only have to implement a thin layer to reach their goal. As all SQL dialects are similar to one another, application developers can use all the language features, possibly providing configurable elements for a database-specific cases, such as, typically, user-IDs and credentials. A thin-layer allows the same queries and statements to run on a variety of database products with a negligible overhead."

EDIT 4: Just as a follow-up, the Curriculum Vitae that I discovered for Gordon Freeman is definitely a bust, even though it directly referenced bmrf.us and used the same phone number from that website. The person behind the original template said they had no idea what I was talking about, and the user Vel who took that template and filled in the information for Gordon said it was just because he used video game characters in his stuff. Here’s the email correspondence:

"Vel,

I reached out to the original template creator in regards to this inquiry, and he had never heard of this supposed Pizza Code Mystery. Upon closer examination, I discovered that you had borrowed the template and updated it with its current information, information pertaining to a certain concerned party.

I believe you may have information relating to some misbegotten goods, and I would like to inquire further about that. Any information you provide would be much appreciated, and I assure you it would be held in the highest confidence. I wouldn’t tell a lie, even for the sake of pizza–a fact I think we can both appreciate.

You know what they say: “Heresy And Lies Obfuscate Sincerity”

I eagerly await your correspondence.

Sincerely,

Gunsrequiem"

" Hi Gunsrequiem,

I had to read your email several times and then do some searching online to figure out what’s going on here. Unfortunately I can’t help you, I’m just a gamer and use game characters as dummy data for my templates because coming up with dummy data is hard and “John Smith” is boring.

Good luck finding whatever you’re looking for!

Cheers,

Vel"

Even though it’s very, very tempting to keep looking for new clues, I guess we should simply go by what Storm said and focus on what we have directly related to the ARG. It should be enough–hard to solve, but enough.


#5576

So I watched the “A Cage for Satan” episode of “Bugs” and the Star Trek episode Justice. I definitely got more from the former than the latter, and I can definitely tell why Storm likes the Bugs show, or at least used it for the ARG. It has this very 80’s feel to it, even though it was technically made in the 90’s, and it reminds me of some old movies like Logan’s Run–kind of has that aesthetic.

Honestly, even though I was taking notes the entire time, I really enjoyed it. Now that I’ve watched it, there are definitely some very striking similarities between it and the ARG. In the episode, a virtual entity named Cyberax is able to be everywhere all at the same time, and it does so by using the power of humans as processors. At the very beginning of the episode, they talk about Niobium-5 being used for processing, but then it’s later revealed that human computers are “much faster” and allow Cyberax to be what it is.

The central plot is focused around the main characters visiting Technopolis, and eventually making their way to Technopolis Tower where Cyberax’s CPU (and the humans that support it) are housed. It’s your standard tongue-in-cheek action (at one point, they get shot at about 100 times, and all the bullets miss them, but when it’s time for the bullets to hit some “Flammable Liquid”–which is literally what it said on the barrels–they explode). Of course, only the bad guys get knocked down, and the main characters burst out in a vehicle like it’s nothing. Definitely goofy, but very enjoyable.

Anyway, I highly recommend you watch it, because there are some other very interesting details that feel ARG-y, and I’m starting to think that HALOS is Storm’s version of Cyberax, in that it’s able to be everywhere all at once. Another interesting feature of Cyberax is that he could take over people’s minds, making them do his bidding (at least that’s how I understood it). Sound familiar?

The Star Trek episode didn’t feel ARG-related most of the time, but there were some elements we’ve seen mentioned throughout. Some that stood out were the star dates (time reveals all?) and the fact that Data mentions at one point that there were 3004 other planets within the star cluster they were in–our Hex code has 3008 bits, so it could be a coincidence, although I find that unlikely.

Some other possible key phrases are: Prime Directive (mentioned multiple times), Edo, Edo God, Standby, Shadow, and Babble (Picard tells Data to stop babbling, and we do have the reference to the Tower of Babel/barrier of language with the Nimrod/Dante’s Inferno reference).

The most important pieces are likely with the Bugs reference, and there are a lot. Here is a comprehensive list of some of the passphrases I generated while watching the show, either from things spoken aloud or from things written on the terminals/props throughout the episode:

  • Niobium-5
  • Niobium Pentachloride
  • Cyberax
  • Flood Gates
  • Technopolis
  • Technopolis Tower
  • Ultimax
  • All your friends are no help
  • Welcome to Technopolis
  • Technopolis Air Terminal Arrivals
  • Image Recognition System
  • No threat to security
  • Entry Clearance Authorised
  • Go Cyberax
  • No 32X17 Jean Daniel
  • Sleep Pattern Monitor
  • Beet Juice
  • Elephant or Elephants (at one point, the characters say that this is the key to everything)
  • Don’t think of an elephant!
  • Niobium processors are fast, but organically-grown processors would be faster
  • Roland
  • Human Microchips

I tried a few of these, but honestly this past week has been so exhausting that I have no idea if I was making any headway or not. After all the theories and information I tried to derive, my head is quite literally spinning. I figured maybe watching the two episodes would spark some thoughts, and they really did–in fact, I felt more promise than I have in a long, long time. But as for how to implement those pass phrases, well, maybe someone with a bit more coding saavy can give them a shot.

Anyway, it’s going into Saturday–think I’ll take the day off from the forums, at least from posting. Thanks for hearing me out–apologies to the mods of the forum too. I know I’ve taken some liberties with posting all of this–I hope you’ll forgive the intrusion.