Wolfram|Alpha: Systematic knowledge, immediately computable.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Spies Like Us.

I'll be participating in another Bash webcast tomorrow. The subject is the increasingly cryptic goings on at GKNOVA6, the viral marketing website that appears to be related to the upcoming release of Treyarch's Call of Duty series, Black Ops. You can see the progress evolve by taking a look at GKNOVA6 at the Call of Duty Wiki.

Clever sleuthing by interested gamers around the world has led to the analysis and decipherment of a host of messages, including some craftily hidden steganographic text (see my blog entry Steganography, GKNOVA6 Style for the first example and details on how this can be done).

I've been invited to participate with Jock the host and his guests Josh Peckler from planetcallofduty.com and Carbonfibah, one of the seven recipients of the mystery packages with the USB keys that started the whole ball rolling and a major contributor to the code breaking efforts. Having a background in cryptography and secure systems, I hope to add some value talking about the various methods seen as this has unfolded, and the techniques applied to extract the results. We'll also be discussing the evidence pointing to this being a campaign from the minds of Treyarch.

This is the second recent instance of some very clever marketing by game developers: a few months ago, the popular game Portal from Valve Software had an update. The only material change seemed to be more of the cute portable radios were to be found throughout the game. What soon unfolded, however, is that each new radio had some kind of message. Some were normal sounding transmissions, a few were Morse code, some sounded peculiar, almost like an old FAX machine (turned out to be Slow Scan TV signals, a technique used by HAM radio operators), yet other radios only gave up their secrets when brought to just the right place in the game.

Careful ratiocination by followers of the game led to the decipherment of the various messages, which led them to a web site, done in an old-school bulletin board style, that when logged into led the user to Aperture Science Laboratories. Portal 2, anyone?

Stay tuned for updates on the webcast, I'll update this entry when it goes live! I can't tell you anything more about the details at this time.

"We could tell you, but then we'd have to kill you." - Dr. No

Update 05/09/2010: Had a blast, again, with Jockyitch and his cohorts on the BASH cast. Learned much from Josh and Carbonfibah about the evolution of the messages from GKNOVA6, and how the swarms of gamers worldwide went about deciphering them. Look for the cast at BashandSlash soon!

Update 05/10/2010: Webcast / Podcast is live, here!

1 comment:

  1. I look forward to this - like I said in a comment on your article about PC games getting more like consoles, I like your technical descriptions. I've learned alot - I hope bash does some more tech podcasts with you.