The developers of games included in the Potato Sack, the bundle of indie games that users were required to play as part of the Portal 2 ARG in order to bring forward the game’s release date, were deeply involved in the project's design and implementation from its inception last December.
The ARG culminated in a request for players to run a selection of 13 games for hours in order to help GLaDOS “force a faster boot sequence”, which eventually saw the game released worldwide on Steam hours ahead of its US release.
Before that, however, the games in the bundle had been filled with potatoes and Portal 2 references, with some of the developers involved telling us that they were involved in the ARG’s design right from the outset.
“Valve invited a bunch of us indie developers to come out last December for a ‘Cross Game Design Event’,” explains Audiosurf creator Dylan Fitterer. “It was a bit mysterious, but definitely sounded like fun.
“Jeep [Barnett, Portal 2 programmer] coordinated with us most closely, but Gabe kicked it all off. He asked us to work with them in creating an event that put launching Portal 2 into the community’s hands. We were given free rein to design it and were also given access to any IP we wanted.”
Ichiro Lambe, president of AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! and 1…2…3…Kick It! developer Dejobaan, said: “It felt very natural. Valve gave us a framework and said: ‘You know all about GLaDOS. Now, she wants us to break out into the world. Go make it happen.’”
For independent developers of ageing games, the effect of dramatically increased player interest was significant. “It’s definitely been an excellent bump for Audiosurf,” Fitterer explains. “Actually, it was more like a mountain than a bump.
“At one point there were over 6,000 people simultaneously playing Audiosurf. Lately, over three years after launch, Audiosurf usually has [had] around 300 simultaneous players.”
Our feature, looking at the ARG from start to finish with developers detailing the additional content they added to their games – some of which was never found by the thousands who played the ARG – will be published tomorrow. You can read our review of Portal 2 here.