Steam Winter 2015:Timeline
December 22nd, 2015 - The Sale Begins
- On the first day of the sale, the cover and first page of the comic book were revealed.
- The bar code on the cover was found to match the bar code tattooed onto the back of the Hitman series' Agent 47.
- People also found that the word 'nesse' was written in faded text at the bottom of the first page.
- On December 25th, Valve removed the bar code from the cover of the comic book, making it appear to have been torn off.
December 30th, 2015 - Audio Recordings
- People found that entering the number from the comic's bar code as the password on Hitman: Codename 47's store page would return the text "ic/4f21ca7"
- People then found that appending this text to the winter comic's URL brings you to an [Steam Winter 2015:Clues#wavfile1 audio file], containing a man saying the words, "I was on the right track. I could feel it. Tomorrow, I was going to search again."
- People found that the "Blitzen Incident" was mentioned several times in the comic.
- Searching for "Blitzen" in the Steam store's search bar would bring up the game Grim Fandango Remastered.
- Entering "Hot toddies and maseratis" (a phrase used in the comic) into the password pop-up box discovered earlier redirects the user to Undertale's store page.
December 31st, 2015 - Red Herring
- Entering "Bullet hell" into the password box on Undertale's page leads to Ikaruga's store page.
- It was then discovered that by adjusting the brightness levels of the second trading card's artwork revealed some hidden symbols.
- These symbols were found to be Dungeon Master spell symbols, and spell out "Lo Ya Gor Ku."
- Appending this phrase to the winter comic's URL brings you to another audio file, this time containing a man speaking in Japanese. His words can be translated to "The forgotten road leads to (both) obstacles and reward."
- A spectrogram of the audio file revealed the code "1v7531."
- Entering this code into the password pop-up box on Ikaruga's store page gives you the Red Herring Badge.
January 1st, 2016 - Lambda
- A lambda and crowbar was found on the Santa Baby background when adjusting the levels and brightness/contrast.
- The lambda is a symbol known to have connotations to the Half Life logo, and the crowbar is a weapon used by Gordon Freeman, the main character of the game series.
- It was discovered that numbers of the previously found code "1v7531" can be arranged on a number keypad to resemble a lambda.
January 2nd, 2016 - Third WAV File
- Using the 44-bit hexadecimal clue ('794e2cea991') found barely visible within "Sending a Message", the 6th of 11 Steam Trading Cards from the Steam Winter Sale 2015, offsetting it by an additional 4 set-bits ('794e2cea991' + 'f' = '794e2cea991f'), and appending the resulting hexadecimal string to the URL http://store.steampowered.com/wintercomic/, yields a .wav sound file.
- The voice in this file states, "I've been to Lima four times. Stayed at all the best hotels. I used to go to dancehalls and tango with Mary Carmen until the sun came up. The bravos and accolades would echo and echo until the boys in uniform shut us down."
- It was quickly determined that many of the words spoken in the file were part of the NATO phonetic alphabet.
- Assembling the first letter of these words created an anagram, which when unscrambled became the previously found clue, "bullet hell."
- Credit goes to /u/helloworld111 for the solution and discovery of this file.
- Appending 'f' to the original hexadecimal clue was a lucky guess, or brute force attempt, by community members. In hindsight, it's thought that, since 'f' is the 6th letter in the alphabet, and the hexadecimal clue was found within the 6th trading card, that that's what Valve intended us to figure out intuitively.
January 4th, 2016 - End of Sale
- The Steam Winter Sale 2015 ended on this date, with the comic, search prompt and `nothingtoseehere.js` also removed.
- Later on in the day, the comic was made available again, presumably for archiving purposes.
- Any .wav sound file that was hosted under the `/wintercomic/` directory is no longer accessible and redirects to the comic.
- Searching for previous clues in the Steam store, such as "Blitzen" or "Blitzen Incident", no longer yields any results.
- The Red Herring Badge became unobtainable.
As far as we're aware, it's likely the small ARG was just indeed a "red herring" and serves no actual purpose rather than to run alongside the Winter Sale, further confirmed by the fact that all of the ARG pages were removed on the same date as the sale ending.
- Summary of the Winter Sale Augmented Reality Game (/u/theesado).
- Visual chronology of the Red Herring Badge unlock (/u/thealphamike).
- Visual chronology of how the Red Herring Badge was found (/u/moxian).
- "What we have so far 2" write-up (/u/Digit4lhero).
- WAV files location in Valve's CDN -> http://cdn.akamai.steamstatic.com/store/winter2015/[filename].wav