On June 19, 2012 TF2 was updated with no patch notes. This led to the start of an Alternate Reality Game (ARG).
In the June 19, 2012 Patch the following craft items were added to the drop system: Goldfish, Pocket Lint, Cheese Wheel, Banana Peel, Barn Door Plank, Secret Diary, and Damaged Capacitor. They dropped alongside every item drop except for crates.
The following day, the June 20, 2012 Patch was released. With this update, any player who equipped the Eliminating The Impossible set would now see new descriptions for the previously added items. The new descriptions would have several random characters replaced by periods, resulting in slightly different strings for each player.
|'Think of the'|
|'may go on... the hidden wickedness...'|
|'...may go on...'|
Barn Door Plank
|'...year in, year out...'|
|'the deeds of hellish cruelty and none the wiser'|
|' in such places, and ...'|
Stitching these phrases together produces the following quote:
The June 21, 2012 Patch added the ability to craft two or more Banana Peels together. This resulted in an error message; its header detailing a "Banana Error # (1-8)". The body of the message is in Spanish followed by Finnish roughly translated as "Banana Overflow Error; Detailed Report:". A numbered code follows comprised of a string of hexadecimal sequences. The sequences vary from player to player even among messages with the same Banana Error number. The dismiss button is replaced with its equivalent in Welsh. Crafting the items does not result in the loss of them, and any further attempts to craft them will result in the same error message.
Several communities, such as this one, began collecting the unique error codes and sites and piecing the data together. It was discovered that the 8 error codes correspond to 8 different PNG images, with the hexadecimal codes corresponding to data chunks of the resulting image. The MD5 hash strings served to act as checksums for verifying the images are assembled correctly. The resulting images produce QR codes that linked to images on the TF2 Official Website; there are only seven such images as the codes produced by PNG images 7 and 8 are the same and link to the same page. The images contain sections of a transcript, divided vertically. When they are all combined, the transcript is apparently an excerpt of a U.S. Senate hearing featuring Saxton Hale over the death of Poopy Joe and Saxton Hale's involvement with it as well as the disappearance of the entire United States supply of Australium.
|Error code||QR code image||Output|
On 22 June 2012, 15:00 PDT, a mysterious blog post was written by the Pyro. This corresponds to the text on the Damaged Capacitor which reads '6.22V1500', giving a time and date of 6/22/12 15:00 PDT (the time zone in which Valve reside). The post reads:
"Mmmmph mmmmph, mmmmm mmmmmp mmmmmph. Mmmmmph mpm! Mmmmmph mph mm! Hm mmmmmph, hmmmmph mm mmmmmph mmmmmph!"
Replacing the long words with dashes and the short words with dots results in the Morse code –– ––– –• –•• •– –•––, which translates to 'Monday'.
An extended version of the Saxton Hale Hearing Transcript, including new illustrations and an interview with The Administrator was found by clicking on a banana peel at the bottom of the page . On the Special Delivery game mode page, clicking on the monkey reveals the Poopy Joe Wallpaper  and clicking on the logo of MANN CO Monkeynautics reveals another one .
Hidden text "DO<...> Until you watch <...>" appeared on the background image of the Pyromania update page, but was later removed . This was later revealed to be part of a tag seen attached to the final day of Pyromania (the completed tag reads, "DO NOT CLICK until you watch the movie.").
Illustrations of "Soldier Needs a Home" can be found by clicking on the can at the bottom of the page .
Day 2 of The Pyromania Update saw the addition of new class sets for the Scout, the Sniper, and the Soldier, as well as the Scorch Shot for the Pyro. It is to note that the Scorch Shot was the featured weapon in the blog post, "How a Gun Gets Made"; this was one day prior to the mysterious blog post written by the Pyro on 22 June, 2012. The Scorch Shot appeared in Meet the Pyro.
Meet the Pyro video was released on the official Team Fortress YouTube channel. Adult Swim also announced that a user would get a Robot Chicken Hat for TF2 if they were to sign up to their newsletter by 7/4/12. Players who signed up before midnight on 6/27/12 would receive their hat code the next day. However, if they were to sign up afterward, they would still get their code on July 5, the deadline.
All but two of the Mysterious treasures found in the previous week were burned to assorted ashes following the Pyromania Update's release, the Secret Diary and the Damaged Capacitor. Crafting any four ashes together produced a Pile of Ash that was used to reveal a Scorched Crate or one of the weapons or cosmetic items from the update. The ashes continued to drop randomly until July 11, after which all ashes, Piles of Ash, and Scorched Crates disappeared.
On August 10, 2012, a bloodstain appeared on the site logo on the TF2 blog, which led to a hidden page containing the birth certificate of the previously unknown third Mann brother, Gray Mann. It is stated that he absconded with the unknown entity 'EAGLE'.
A second bloodstain appeared on the site logo, this time leading to a hidden page containing the now fully revealed last will of Zepheniah Mann. It is revealed he was being blackmailed by his son Gray and, in response, Zepheniah left Elizabeth his hidden cache of 'miracle' gravel.
When high-fiving a player who has equipped the Barely-Melted Capacitor, text will be printed to the chat box. Each player can see three unique messages, depending on the class of the other person. The text takes the form of this sample output:
Medic says: Did you hear the story from 1252 where Destruction PDA, Buzz Killer, Something Special for Someone Special, Ubersaw, Cowardly Mound, Crate, Buzz Killer, Frying Pan, and the Administrator walked into a bar?
The class listed in the text represents a sequence of data that corresponds with one of the MD5 checksums, and the items and characters listed in the text represent a subsequence of that sequence. The number corresponds to the position of the subsequence.
After several communities collected the outputs from high-fiving with a capacitor, the item names were mapped to hex codes. It was found that each class's outputs formed various file formats; The Scout, Pyro, Heavy, and Medic corresponded to a png file, the Soldier to a bmp file, the Demoman to a zip file, the Engineer to a text file containing C++ code, the Sniper to a MIDI file, and the Spy to a link that led to a zip file containing a KeePass key file. The image files were QR codes, the zip file contained ASCII art, the MIDI contained morse code, and the C++ code outputted text. It was found that these words corresponded to hex using the PGP word list.
PGP word list mapping
The password to the Spy's keypass database was the previous class's numeric byte values strung together in order, 053B140A6EC56DEC. The file contained an image of a QR code, which when XOR-ed with the other QR code images led to this link. This link contained an image describing a recipe of 8 items, which when crafted together caused a system-wide alert in-game, notifying players that a new comic, Blood Brothers, was available. Also, in aforementioned image of recipe list, there are five letters stained by blood: T, O, B, O and R, which formed the word "TOBOR".
The recipe from ARG 2 Day 2. The letters covered by blood spell 'TOBOR", "ROBOT" spelled backwards.
- June 22, 2012 - Mmm Mmmph!
- June 25, 2012 - Pyromania Update announcement
- June 25, 2012 - Poopy Joe Files
- June 25, 2012 - Poopy Joe wallpaper
- June 25, 2012 - MANN CO Monkeynautics wallpaper
- June 25, 2012 - Hidden text
- June 26, 2012 - Soldier Needs a Home
- June 21, 2012 - How a Gun Gets Made