Join 3,519 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The following thread is in *massive* spoiler quotes
April 21, 2011 2:31 PM   Subscribe

Portal 2 has finally hit the streets, and despite a somewhat rocky start with their controversial promotional ARG (previously), it looks to be a huge success. Interestingly for such a critically-acclaimed blockbuster, the title's core ideas steam from a pair of concept projects from student design school DigiPen: the original portal system from Narbacular Drop (video - download - previously) and the sequel's physics-altering gels from Tag: The Power of Paint (video - download - previously - previouslier). Combine these innovative ideas with some Lost-meets-Life After People level design, excellent voice acting, and top-notch writing, and it's easy to see why so many people called in sick this past week. But playing the game is just the beginning -- look inside for a collection of easter eggs, story theories, videos, and other goodies from the post-mortem.

[Note: Link titles will be kept as non-spoilery as possible for the benefit of RSS readers, but be aware most point to spoiler content!]

Portal 2: Lab Rat (part two) - a prequel comic revealing the story of the mysterious "Rat Man" that left graffiti messages all over the first game. Author interview with IGN.

Investment Opportunities: Panels - Bot Trust - Turrets - Boots

Cutscenes, Dialogue, and Walkthroughs

Intro - Taunting - The Stalemate Resolution - Slow Clap - Cave's Talk - Ending sequence (including the final battle, the ending cutscenes, and musical accompaniment)

Core dialogue: Fact - Space - Adventure - Defective Turret - "Different" Turret

Announcer (with some puzzle spoilers): Clip one - two - three - four - five - six

Complete Walkthrough

Easter Eggs and theories

"Exile Vilify" hidden song from The National - Strange graffiti - A Capella - Science Project - About that voice... - Chell's identity - "Que Lastima" translation

GameFilter group (for MeFi gamers) - Portal subreddit - TVTropes page

Extras
Portal: The Flash Game - Real Life Portal Gun - Portal in Minecraft
posted by Rhaomi (425 comments total) 133 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm not much of a gamer, didn't play Portal 1, but pretty intrigued by this. What are the pros/cons of XBox 360 vs PC versions? I have access to both...
posted by Perplexity at 2:33 PM on April 21, 2011


This game was a triumph. Science makes me happy.
posted by doteatop at 2:33 PM on April 21, 2011 [8 favorites]


I heard that there was one point in the game— maybe a room or portion of a room— where the space is non-euclidean. Does anybody have any ideas? I don't see it listed in the easter eggs but it was in one of the commentaries, according to a friend.
posted by yaymukund at 2:35 PM on April 21, 2011


Not reading any of the things to avoid spoilers, but, I did meet with some Portal 2 devs like the day they shipped.

Protip: if you're meeting with a Valvie and he's 10 minutes late after shipping a game they've worked for 2 years on, DONT MAKE A "VALVE TIME" JOKE
posted by hellojed at 2:37 PM on April 21, 2011 [16 favorites]


What are the pros/cons of XBox 360 vs PC versions?

The 360 is apparently the less satisfactory of the two console versions, with numerous graphical compromises -- half-resolution portal views and the like -- that don't affect the PS3 and PC versions. You can play the PC version on a pad if you like -- I did, and it felt great -- and it's cheaper, too!
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:38 PM on April 21, 2011


This is one of the few times I'll ever write a comment without reading the post or the other comments.

After I finish the game, then I'll look.
posted by ardgedee at 2:39 PM on April 21, 2011


As it turns out, the professor canceling class thing isn't true.
posted by hippybear at 2:41 PM on April 21, 2011


I'm playing the 360 version, and I think it's fine. If you're used to the higher res from a new game on a good PC gaming rig, you might notice a difference, but it looks and plays like all other well-produced Xbox games.

I've been playing console games all my life, and I find it really hard to play on the PC...
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:42 PM on April 21, 2011


"We weren't even testing for that!"
posted by boo_radley at 2:43 PM on April 21, 2011 [16 favorites]


Those two robots remind me of Mike and Sulley from Monsters Inc. I wonder if that was intentional.
posted by cazoo at 2:43 PM on April 21, 2011


Still playing but I swear in one of the early levels one of the wall panels moved and a head popped out and looked around. Not the normal moving wall panels. Anyone else see this?
posted by Ad hominem at 2:45 PM on April 21, 2011


Play the PC version.

This game is fantastic.

As a watcher and semi-participant in the ARG, it's amazing how quickly fans will turn on a company. Although, really, a lot of that was Valve's fault in how everything worked. The final weekend "Help release Portal 2 early!" was basically on a rigged timer. The 'golden potato' reward was great (copies of the full collection of every Valve game) but at first screwed Valve fans who already owned the games. Or at least was released so sporadically that it frustrated a lot of people.

I think they probably learned a lot from it and a post mortem would be absolutely fascinating.
posted by graventy at 2:46 PM on April 21, 2011


There's a screenshot comparison of the 360 and PS3 versions here (minor spoilers for first 10 minutes of play). Regardless of the differences, the 360 version still looks great.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:47 PM on April 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, gonna favorite this post without reading it. Nothing about this game should be spoiled!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:47 PM on April 21, 2011


Also you missed the moby dick.
posted by boo_radley at 2:48 PM on April 21, 2011


What are the pros/cons of XBox 360 vs PC versions?

If you plan on playing co-op, it's about which platform your friends are playing on.

Otherwise it's basically the same, graphics are obviously better on PC but thats true for _any_ game released these days, since the 360 and PS3 are both years behind the state-of-the-art in computer graphics.
posted by wildcrdj at 2:48 PM on April 21, 2011


"We weren't even testing for that!"

I'm trying to avoid reading anything in the thread, but I had to come in here to mention that bit of dialog. So damn hilarious. Possibly the funniest line ever in a video game, though there may be some bits of Psychonauts I'm forgetting.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:49 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


PC version for one major reason: mods and other user created content will be available for PC but not for console.

Ad hominem No. Of course not. You're hallucinating. There are no heads hidden in the walls.
posted by sotonohito at 2:50 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I bought the PS3 version, then used the code inside the game cover to get a free copy for my Mac via Steam. Great deal if you ask me. I had a $15 coupon from best buy, plus I'll get a $10 gift card for pre-ordering it.

I'm in chapter 7 after two nights of play, but I wont say anything more to avoid spoiling the thread. Hopefully I'll finish this weekend and find some friends to co-op with.

I'd love to see DLC levels every few months. They've got a great foundation in P2, they could get a lot of miles out of it.
posted by SirOmega at 2:50 PM on April 21, 2011


YES! I've been looking for a round-up post like this for days.

As a voyeuristic non-gamer, I've been particularly invested in Caliform's Let's Play of Portal 2 (thirty minute videos at 1080p and decent commentary? yes please!), and as soon as I've finished watching his playthrough I'll be mainlining this thread like no one's business.
posted by iguessgabby at 2:52 PM on April 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


PC version for one major reason: mods and other user created content will be available for PC but not for console

Agreed, even though I always buy the 360 version so I don't have to sit at a desk to play video games I always wish I could use mods.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:53 PM on April 21, 2011


This game was good. It was great, even. I loved it. I can only recommend it to anyone who likes good games and solving puzzles, and comedy.

There's too much wonder in the game to try to recap here but I will say this: I found "Goodbye, sir" to be a genuinely touching moment, and that's saying something given how much hilarious absurdity it happens among.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 2:53 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd love to see DLC levels every few months.

Hell yes. I've played through the single player twice and the co-op once and loved every minute of it, but I'd still come back for more, harder puzzles. A regular best-of from the crop of user levels after the SDK's released would be perfect.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:53 PM on April 21, 2011


I'd recommend the PC version, largely because while Portal is hardly a traditional FPS, you still are using FPS controls to shoot portals. It's easier to aim with a mouse than a control pad. Also, if you have a recent PC, it'll look nicer. It scales well, though, so older/cheaper hardware can probably run it, so long as you have a video card that isn't terrible (mostly, not made by Intel). And if you really want to use a controller, it'll work. The Xbox 360 pad has drivers for the PC (either buy a wireless adapter, or get the wired controller), and is well liked. Also, user created content like mods are near non-existent off PCs.

However, I think the console versions have split-screen co-op if you'd rather play next to the person you're playing with for the co-op levels, instead of online. Also, if all your friends are on the 360, that's a good reason to get that version. I think I read PS3/Mac/PC can play together, but not the 360 because of Xbox Live stuff.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:54 PM on April 21, 2011


Portal 2 totally blew my socks clean off. I came into it with incredibly high expectations (Portal 1 set the bar so high I only really have similar expectations of the next Half-Life, Dark Souls and The Last Guardian), and had them met or exceeded. I only wish there was more new content now I've been through singleplayer twice, and co-op once. Here's hoping Valve pull out some DLC sooner or later - I'd love them to return to the dropped idea of other personality cores ruling their own little crazy bits of the facility, and GLaDOS sending Atlas and P-body to go and usurp them and reconnect her would work great for little episodes.

Very slightly let down by the relative sparseness of the commentary though, I have to admit. I think it's that I'd love to sit there and hear the story and setting writers just talk about the decisions they made, the flow of the story, why they dropped some stuff that was included in the first ARG while keeping other lines verbatim, the bits of writing they planned and the ones that emerged as recording went on, and so on. Literally just more nodes and more talking would have been awesome.

For what it's worth, I played on the PC but used a controller - accuracy is all well and good for your competitive arena manshoots, but for me, the analogue movement is an enormous gain over clumsy digital WSAD, and there's something more direct and immersive about a gamepad. But that's the great thing about playing stuff on the PC - you have the choice.
posted by emmtee at 2:58 PM on April 21, 2011


Based on the commentaries, I think valve is sitting on a bunch of puzzles that were too hard for the testers and didn't make the cut. I expect them to be released as DLC.
posted by empath at 2:59 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did you sad people already finish the game? Would you chug a bottle of fine brandy?
posted by indubitable at 3:02 PM on April 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hell yes i would.
posted by empath at 3:03 PM on April 21, 2011 [10 favorites]


So, like, what? You have some brandy?
posted by boo_radley at 3:04 PM on April 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


I would chug a bottle of not-so-fine brandy. In fact, I haven't even finished the game yet, and I'm reaching for the cheap brandy.

Wait, what was the question again?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:04 PM on April 21, 2011


I'm not saying I would or I wouldn't mind you. I just wanna know.
posted by boo_radley at 3:05 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Give me an hour.
posted by indubitable at 3:07 PM on April 21, 2011


I got the game late last night and played for about an hour, loving every minute of it. I'm watching the clock right now. Can't wait to get home.

"We weren't even testing for that!" was great, although I think the funniest moment so far was the "jumping tutorial" in the opening scene.
posted by brundlefly at 3:07 PM on April 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


You people are insane and don't know what you're talking about. I know more about Portal 2 than any of you could possibly imagine. After all, I have a medical degree.

In fashion.

From France.
posted by PapaLobo at 3:07 PM on April 21, 2011 [27 favorites]


PapaLobo is also a certified genius, and that's hard to hide!
posted by hippybear at 3:08 PM on April 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Still playing but I swear in one of the early levels one of the wall panels moved and a head popped out and looked around. Not the normal moving wall panels. Anyone else see this?

Nope, but I did see something far later in the game, idk, halfway through chapter 8, as you enter a test chamber, really quickly before anything started, I saw what looked like one of the co-op robots opening a hole in a wall and escaping out the far end of the chamber. It was pretty late though, and I can't really be sure I saw it.
posted by inedible at 3:08 PM on April 21, 2011


I'll wait for you to waddle through the material liberation field.
posted by indubitable at 3:08 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


"It's here, everyone, it's here! The alpha and omega has arrived."

"The new phone book's here!"


I too am excited to play. Between The Pale King and life, though, it's gonna be a week or two ...
posted by mrgrimm at 3:09 PM on April 21, 2011


Oh, oh no. I did that thing. Crap. Gotta leave the thread now.
posted by boo_radley at 3:11 PM on April 21, 2011


Ad hominem: "Still playing but I swear in one of the early levels one of the wall panels moved and a head popped out and looked around. Not the normal moving wall panels. Anyone else see this"

If you're talking about some sort of robot head, then yeah. I've seen it happen at least twice. They seem to be timed to peek out while you're looking away and hide again the moment you look in their direction.
posted by brundlefly at 3:13 PM on April 21, 2011


I'm most of the way through, so it's not for my benefit--but maybe in this case, our sensitivity to spoilers should cover some of the fantastic dialogue. There are a lot of good one liners in it, and sensitive viewers may want to hear them directly from Glados and Wheatley, not the likes of us...
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:13 PM on April 21, 2011


I finished the single-player version and went online to read commentary and found out there was some backlash.

Which, given a moment's thought about fandoms and the nature of people, should not have surprised me, but ... yeah, it totally did.


(I played the 360 version and am pretty delighted with the companion cube avatar award that unlocks, but I might have to check out the PC version and the mod community if only to talk someone into making a version wherein Cave Johnson converses with Jimmy James from NewsRadio about the fine points of running an enterprise while I play.)
posted by rewil at 3:15 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've played a fair amount, and, as a UK gamer, I still can't quite bring myself to believe that it's not just Stephen "Barclay's" Merchant in a recording booth somewhere.
posted by hnnrs at 3:16 PM on April 21, 2011


Portal 2 just shows Valve's expertise at blending narrative with gameplay. They tell an interesting, constantly funny and compelling story without taking you out of the action except for very rare circumstances, with voice actors and animation that are pretty much perfect. All while maintaining great gameplay that, honestly, would be fun even without the story.

I think the only real flaw (I define "flaw" as something that detracts from the experience, not an annoying thing on the side like the Bot Store) is the big and frequent loading screens. Which aren't so bad, as they change with the plot. Portal 1's were more immersive, but I feel like Portal 2's contribute to the flavor of the environment. The loading itself isn't too bad, and I hear it's near non-existent on an SSD.

Sometimes it gets hard, but I feel like that's almost more a feature than a bug. Usually, it's the game encouraging you to learn a new trick, or remember one you may have forgotten. And it's extremely satisfying when you remember/learn. Such is the nature of puzzle games. I have yet to feel really cheated or completely stuck on a puzzle. I haven't needed a guide, and I really hope I don't use one. I didn't need one on Portal 1, save for the one with the rockets and the cube in the glass tube.

I'm currently on Chapter 9. I have no idea how many chapters there are, and kind of don't want to know. I like not being sure how close the ending is, although after that I also have co-op to do.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:17 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of my favorite bits of non-spoiler dialogue: "I'm afraid you're about to become the immediate past president of the Being Alive Club."

emmtee, you reminded me of an interesting link I forgot to include in the post: apparently that leaked Portal 2 script sample from a few years back was right on the money. It gives some insight into the writing process -- without giving too much plot detail away, it looks like Cave Johnson was supposed to play the role Wheatley does.

(And as for spoilers, I tried my best to keep them out of the text of the post, but I think it would be best to assume that the comments are a spoiler zone. I'd avoid reading until you've finished the game.)
posted by Rhaomi at 3:20 PM on April 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you're talking about some sort of robot head, then yeah. I've seen it happen at least twice. They seem to be timed to peek out while you're looking away and hide again the moment you look in their direction.

If this was in the first third of the game, that's usually wheatly trying to catch up with you again.
posted by empath at 3:20 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you're talking about some sort of robot head, then yeah. I've seen it happen at least twice. They seem to be timed to peek out while you're looking away and hide again the moment you look in their direction.

Yeah It was driving me crazy so I read through one of the reddit spoiler threads. I think Inedible is correct too.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:22 PM on April 21, 2011


Got the 360 version and put in a couple hours with it last night. What great fun!! I can't wait to get a buddy over for some co-op joy. We really need more developers like Valve.
posted by calamari kid at 3:23 PM on April 21, 2011


I keep looking around for Karl Pilkington.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:24 PM on April 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


Funnily enough, on the Cave thing, I was just reading a summary of an article in the form of a paid iPad app (and iPad only, grr!) that mentions the casting leak as coming from a much earlier version of the game, set in the 50s, not featuring portals at all, and involving Cave's transcription and total descent into computerised madness.

The other thing is the Cave memos from the first Portal 2 ARG (the one involving the Aperture BBS), which obviously featured lots of stuff from a much more recognisable Portal 2, including this memo talking about Cave's successful resurrection in a computer. Probably this was the version with multiple cores each ruling their own bits of the Enrichment Centre, too.

I think you're right about Cave's original role - I bet you would've found and woken him on your way back up - and I'd love to know what made them decide not to go with that. I think the game's probably stronger for the fact they didn't - it gave them time to really get the most comedy out of the existing characters and Cave's apparent death before brain-mapping was working (or, if those memos actually are going to be included later, maybe the deterioration and failure of his experimental AI self) is surprisingly sad considering we're talking about a guy who would happily pay a hobo $60 to scoop out their innards and replace them with 'science stuff'.
posted by emmtee at 3:32 PM on April 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm nearly finished with the game (PS3, seems to be a minority but whatever). I'll also come back and read this thread after I finish. So far it is excellent, just excellent. Some of the huge stages later in the game make my head spin. The first Portal was great and this one blows it away. I haven't even tried co-op mode yet.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 3:39 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm just letting iguessgabby know that "voyeuristic non-gamer" is a phrase I'm now incorporating into my life. Thanks!
posted by hippybear at 3:43 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, this is it. I have a bunch of things to do this weekend and here I am logging on to Steam to buy Portal 2. Thank you very much Metafilter, this is all your fault. I hope you're happy.
posted by falameufilho at 3:43 PM on April 21, 2011


mccarty.tim > The loading itself isn't too bad, and I hear it's near non-existent on an SSD.

I played Portal all the way through on my Macbook Air. The loading times were... I dunno, maybe about 30 seconds per level? I didn't time 'em. Long enough for me to do that thing you do when it's 4:20. I watched my room-mates play it some on their Windows boxes the next day, which I'm pretty sure have rotating media, and it took about the same time to load.
posted by egypturnash at 3:44 PM on April 21, 2011


If you have the PC version, check out the big subtitles file or the sounds. The yellow core (you know who I mean if you've finished it) has SO MANY LINES. Some of them adorably sad!
posted by emmtee at 3:45 PM on April 21, 2011


One of the more annoying things about playing the game is that right afterwards, when I went for a drive, I saw a patch of pure white paint on a wall where some graffiti had been painted over and immediately thought to myself "whew, ok, I can use that...now where's another one."
posted by felix at 3:45 PM on April 21, 2011 [11 favorites]


Just thought I'd echo that this is a truly outstanding game, best in a long while. It's an FPS, but there's almost no 'twitch response' -- it's a slow-paced puzzle game with lots of thinking and TONS of atmosphere and exposition. It'll likely work okay on thumbsticks, but I think most folks would prefer keyboard/mouse. If your PC is at all recent, you'll probably prefer the game there.

There are fairly frequent loading screens, but I can confirm that on an SSD, they're not bad at all. They're generally just long enough to take a breath and reset the brain for the next puzzle. No idea what they're like on a hard drive.

Portal 2 completely warrants its Metacritic rating of 95.
posted by Malor at 3:54 PM on April 21, 2011


I HAD IT LAST NIGHT AND NOW I CAN'T FIND IT WHAT A CRUEL JOKE
posted by ejfox at 3:57 PM on April 21, 2011


Damn you MetaFilter. I try to avoid purchasing games when they first come out, but you're making it difficult here.

I'll try to make up for this by finally playing HL2 on the copy of The Orange Box I just picked up. See, I'm playing a new (for me) Valve game too!
posted by formless at 3:58 PM on April 21, 2011


Long enough for me to do that thing you do when it's 4:20.

You do that thing between levels on P2? My hat is off to you man. There is no WAY I could play P2 and do that thing at the same time. First of all, I'd be laughing too hard to aim the portal gun. Or breathe. Or, you know, do that thing.
posted by The Bellman at 4:01 PM on April 21, 2011


The loading screens were fine for leaning over and reloading the flag queue.
posted by cortex at 4:02 PM on April 21, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'm not reading any comments or links until I finish the game. I was hoping someone would make a Portal 2 post, but now I realize I didn't want one yet!

Look at me, still talking when there's science to do.
posted by King Bee at 4:02 PM on April 21, 2011


GLaDOS: So... this cat loves lasagna so much that he eats all of the lasagna in his house. Okay, apparently it's not the cat's house or his lasagna. Oh good! The man who owns the lasagna is furious!

GLaDOS: As you can see, in my version the man points out to the cat that the house is equipped with deadly neurotoxin dispensers.
GLaDOS: At which point the cat reflects on the time he ate all of the man's lasagna and feels remorse.
GLaDOS: Briefly.

Unused GLaDOS lines in the files <3
posted by emmtee at 4:06 PM on April 21, 2011 [17 favorites]


the title's core ideas steam from a pair of concept projects

lol freudian slip
posted by Rhaomi at 4:18 PM on April 21, 2011


MetaFilter: We've both said things you're going to regret.
posted by The Bellman at 4:19 PM on April 21, 2011


Bah, a stupid bug prevents me from finishing the single player campaign until Valve fixes it.
posted by Justinian at 4:23 PM on April 21, 2011


?
posted by empath at 4:24 PM on April 21, 2011


Bah, a stupid bug prevents me from finishing the single player campaign until Valve fixes it.

Others seem to have finished the game. Are there such things as bugs which only manifest on specific user systems? How much of an outlier would that system have to be for that to happen?
posted by hippybear at 4:27 PM on April 21, 2011


Top N Portal 2 Memes That You Will Be Sick of Real Soon Now:


1: "We weren't even testing for that."

2: "Lemons"

3: "We've both said something things you're going to regret."

4: "Potatoes"

5: "A minor case of serious brain damage."

6: "Space"

7:
posted by empath at 4:28 PM on April 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


7. "Waddle over to the x and we'll continue y."
posted by emmtee at 4:30 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've played a fair amount, and, as a UK gamer, I still can't quite bring myself to believe that it's not just Stephen "Barclay's" Merchant in a recording booth somewhere.

I'm not sure what you mean. Stephen Merchant IS the voice actor for that character.
posted by Tikirific at 4:31 PM on April 21, 2011


Man I can't believe I haven't played Portal or Portal 2. It's freaking me out. Forgot to get the first one and I blew all my gaming budget so I can't get the second one now.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:31 PM on April 21, 2011


Those two robots remind me of Mike and Sulley from Monsters Inc. I wonder if that was intentional.

Sure. The juxtaposition between two characters personalities is increased with antagonistic physical characteristics. It's kind of a thing:

ATLAS and P-body
Mike and Sulley
C3P0 and R2D2
Tahei and Matashichi
Laurel and Hardy
Ed Lover and Dr Dre
Siskel and Ebert
posted by P.o.B. at 4:34 PM on April 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


8. Anything and everything said in the voice of defective turrets.
"So... we're all supposed to be blind, then, right? It's not just me? Alright, fantastic."
posted by emmtee at 4:34 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Torvill and Dean
Shields and Yarnell
Jack and Coke

Wait... what were we talking about?
posted by hippybear at 4:40 PM on April 21, 2011


Others seem to have finished the game. Are there such things as bugs which only manifest on specific user systems? How much of an outlier would that system have to be for that to happen?

Yeah, plenty of bugs occur only specific combinations of hardware or software. It's what makes QA for computer games so happy fun time and why less insane adventurous people often prefer consoles. This particular bug is uncommon but not totally rare.

But as it turns out restoring the game back 5 minutes fixes it so, hey, good enough.
posted by Justinian at 4:46 PM on April 21, 2011


I'm at work until 9 tonight, and I can think about is going home and finishing this damn game. It's easily the best game I've played since, well, the first one.

The "jumping" tutorial in the beginning made me laugh out loud.
posted by 40 Watt at 4:54 PM on April 21, 2011


Portal 2 is the first game I've ever played that I wanted to replay immediately after finishing it for the first time.
posted by flatluigi at 4:56 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had a couple of bugs in the third act one one machine. It wasn't so bad. The game autosaves frequently enough I didn't lose much progress, and once you know a solution it's pretty easy to reapply it. People seem to agree that this game is harder, but I think the first game's puzzles had more twitch. I remember an elaborate jumping puzzle where you had to lay portals as you flew through the air. It got a bit confusing, having to remember which portal was under you, and so on. If you messed up, you'd lose momentum or die and have to start over.
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:58 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


My favorite semi-hidden section so far: at the beginning of chapter 9, a character is telling you to "come back!" even though it's obvious that you're supposed to continue onward to progress the plot. Turn around and go back anyway. It's worth it. [spoilers, naturally]
posted by teraflop at 4:58 PM on April 21, 2011 [14 favorites]


8. Agh! A bird! Kill it! It's evil!
posted by longdaysjourney at 4:59 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


That should be a 9, a 9!
posted by longdaysjourney at 5:00 PM on April 21, 2011


Also, the way the ambient music develops as you make your way through each puzzle is really wonderful.
posted by teraflop at 5:00 PM on April 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


I've finished the single-player game, and am playing through again to hear the developer commentary (of which, yeah, moar plz). The pacing is perfect and the puzzles are just the right mix of head-scratchingly difficult and pleasingly solveable.

But the way the story unfolds through your passage through the facility is genius. Many games try to embed narrative within the playspace, usually through placing documents in the player's path or staging scripted events involving NPCs that happen to be standing in just the right spot and talking about just the right thing at just the right time. But this, this is different: the narrative is the game is the narrative. It all works together. As you move through time and space the story unfurls around you -- you hear it, see it, manipulate it, run from it, pursue it. But it isn't just dollops of "this is what happened" dribbled out to you -- you absorb it. No one says "then Cave Johnson did THIS", you surmise it from the change in his voice and in your surroundings. You come away from the game with a sense of an impossible space, but not just a space -- you sense how Aperture Science changed over time. How it was one thing, became another, and in the end, became something else very different from what its creator envisioned.

The game is funny and moving and rich and complex. (And creepy -- Wheatley's abominable constructs, though purely mechanical, were one of the most quietly horrifying things I've ever encountered in a game. I hated having to pick one up and gaze into those dull red eyes. And the way it'd drag itself along, a maimed, sick thing.... *shudder* )

Portal 2 is a phenomenal accomplishment.

And I've yet to play through the co-op!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:03 PM on April 21, 2011 [13 favorites]


teraflop: "Also, the way the ambient music develops as you make your way through each puzzle is really wonderful"

Yeah, it really is. I'm surprised more reviews haven't commented on the music.
posted by brundlefly at 5:03 PM on April 21, 2011


Does it require a beefy GPU to run? I have a Radeon HD5450.
posted by ofthestrait at 5:04 PM on April 21, 2011


> The yellow core (you know who I mean if you've finished it) has SO MANY LINES. Some of them adorably sad!

Core 1: Dad! I'm in space! [low-pitched 'space' voice] I'm proud of you, son. [normal voice] Dad, are you space? [low-pitched 'space' voice] Yes. Now we are a family again."
posted by mrzarquon at 5:10 PM on April 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaccee
posted by The Devil Tesla at 5:11 PM on April 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


I finished P2 last night... and it was wonderful.

Except that, in a few places, instead of the Portal 1 portals-as-movement mechanic... I felt like I was playing an old-school adventure game. Pixel-hunting for portal-conductive surfaces in the far distance.
posted by Netzapper at 5:14 PM on April 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


"It's too big. Too big. Wanna go home. Wanna go to earth."

:'(
I am now having to reassure myself that a second later he's back to being utterly mindblowingly thrilled to be in space.
And worrying a little.
posted by emmtee at 5:15 PM on April 21, 2011


I have to say, the Portal genre is second only to Wall-E in it's ability to make people emotional over robots.
posted by mrzarquon at 5:18 PM on April 21, 2011


>Does it require a beefy GPU to run? I have a Radeon HD5450.

Not really. It scales itself back really well if you don't have the greatest system. I'm able to play at maximum everything, high details, 32x antialiasing or something ridiculous, at 1680x1050, using a three year old Geforce 8800GT.
posted by inedible at 5:18 PM on April 21, 2011


My wife and I will be finishing up the co-op game tonight. I am thoroughly impressed with how this game uses and exploits the capabilities of cooperative play. We finished a level last night that had been troubling us for an hour and we cheered about it.

The co-op game seems a little short. I hope that there's going to be more available in the future.
posted by Revvy at 5:19 PM on April 21, 2011


I also really like the way the narrative rewards exploration but does not require it.

Some folks interpreted the events of Portal to mean that Chell had been brought to Aperture on Take Your Daughter to Work Day, and had been there ever since. I didn't think much of it while playing Portal 2.

Then I got to the science fair.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 5:21 PM on April 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


It ran quite well on my Nvidia 8600GT Mobile video card with 128 MB of RAM, which is from 2007.

One of the benefits of basing a game on an engine from 2003 and optimizing it to run on consoles that were released in 2005/2006. Not to say it doesn't take advantage of a modern gaming machine. It scales extremely well, from passable and playable graphics on my laptop, to stunning ones on my gaming PC.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:23 PM on April 21, 2011


but there's almost no 'twitch response'

Unfortunately. Not that it should be majority-twitch by any means but the original Portal certainly made good use of the occasional twitch puzzle. They seemed to tone it down in this one, probably because it's impossible to aim as quickly and accurately with a console controller than with a keyboard and mouse.
posted by Justinian at 5:26 PM on April 21, 2011


Haha, there's a nice bilingual bonus in the scene where Wheatley accesses a database:
Check this out, I'm a bloody genius now! "Estas usando este software de traduccion de forma incorrecta. Por favor consulte el manual." I don't even know what I just said, but I can find out!
Translation: "You are using this translation software incorrectly. Please consult the manual."
posted by Rhaomi at 5:27 PM on April 21, 2011 [31 favorites]


Haha! That's fantastic, I remember thinking every time I saw that part that I needed to track down someone who understood what he just said.
posted by emmtee at 5:28 PM on April 21, 2011


People seem to agree that this game is harder, but I think the first game's puzzles had more twitch. I remember an elaborate jumping puzzle where you had to lay portals as you flew through the air. It got a bit confusing, having to remember which portal was under you, and so on. If you messed up, you'd lose momentum or die and have to start over.

Yeah, I agree that it feels like they managed to untwitch the sequel a bit, which I appreciate because the twitch is never the part of the puzzle that makes me feel good. There were a couple of puzzles in the original where I was frustrated that I had to do some sort of fiddly aim-in-mid-air thing where orienting myself on the way out was necessary to pull it off, whereas in this one I never really ran into that. If you aimed in your mind ahead of time, the job was done more or less.

On the other hand, the larger number of mechanics for this one, between the gels and the prisms, meant the puzzles sometimes felt less concrete to me; more potential for false starts (and, with splashing the white gel around, a couple of times where I felt like I was going to paint the whole goddam level in frustration before I figured out which few square feet actually needed it) meant the finally clicking of a puzzle was occasionally more of a For Fuck's Sake sensation than a Oh, I Get It thing.

They traded some twitch for some search, essentially. Neither approach is foolproof and both were overwhelmingly successful, so I'm happy as far as that goes.

Many games try to embed narrative within the playspace, usually through placing documents in the player's path or staging scripted events involving NPCs that happen to be standing in just the right spot and talking about just the right thing at just the right time. But this, this is different: the narrative is the game is the narrative. It all works together.

Well, and it's interesting. I want to say part of it is that there's no busywork gameplay; unlike a shooter where the story is what happens between the killing of waves of enemies, Portal is story and atmosphere punctuated by standing around and thinking and short bits of shooting portals and grabbing things and jumping.

But part of it is just that Valve created dense story and atmosphere, and created it really well, and didn't dilute it with an extra dozen hours of gameplay just for a longer game. There's this complicated sense that a game has to be yea long to be worth $50, and on the one hand I get the budget sense there but on the other hand I can't think of a lot of games I've played that took more than 30 hours that I really was getting primo enjoyment out of by the end, even the games I love. At this point I want a game to be fantastic more than I want it to last a while.
posted by cortex at 5:29 PM on April 21, 2011 [11 favorites]


I agree with you in principle, cortex. Better a fantastic 10 hour game than a mediocre 30 hour game. But, to me, even better than that is a fantastic 30 hour game. Best of all is a fantastic 100 hour game. But I'm afraid the trend towards shorter games won't mean we get a lot of fantastic 10 hour games, it'll mean we get a lot of mediocre 10 hour games.

Sure, Valve can make a fantastic 10 hour game. I suspect Valve could make a fantastic game of any length they chose. So I'm not sure it's an either/or kind of situation. Ultima VII took... hell, I don't even remember how long it took... but I loved every minute of it.
posted by Justinian at 5:36 PM on April 21, 2011


I do think it's great to have a mixture of fantastic shorter games and fantastic longer games. You don't always want the same kind of game. But, as I said, I don't think Portal meant we're seeing a wave of fantastic shorter games, I think it meant we're seeing a wave of mediocre shorter games.
posted by Justinian at 5:41 PM on April 21, 2011


Best of all is a fantastic 100 hour game.

Skyrim. November. Can't wait.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:42 PM on April 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also (ROT-13 spoiler alert; here's a decoder):

Jnf nalbar ryfr ernyyl perrcrq bhg jura Jurngyrl qbhoyr-pebffrf lbh? Gurl cerprqr gur orgenlny jvgu fb znal tenghvgbhf fprarf bs uvz orvat boyvtvat naq xvaq -- "Bbu, jngpu bhg sbe gung whzc!" "Urer, yrg zr yvtug gur jnl sbe lbh." Jura ur gheaf ntnvafg lbh, vg'f yvxr jngpuvat n ubeebe zbivr jurer gur punenpgre'f orfg sevraq punatrf vagb n mbzovr be n jrerjbys evtug va sebag bs gurz -- rfcrpvnyyl fvapr vg'f vzcyvrq gung gur cbjre-znqarff vf na varivgnoyr erfhyg bs orvat nggnpurq gb gur TYnQBF znvasenzr ("gur vgpu," rgp.) naq abg fbzrguvat vaurerag gb uvf punenpgre. Vg uvg n ybg bs gur abgrf Unyb 3 snvyrq gb jura vg fhttrfgrq Pbegnan jnf orpbzvat pbeehcgrq ol enzcnapl naq/be gur Tenirzvaq -- nf n fgbelgryyvat gnpgvp vg'f obgu pbzcryyvat naq qvfgheovat.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:54 PM on April 21, 2011 [12 favorites]


For me, I don't even know what a fantastic padding-free 30-hour game would look like. I mean, obviously I can imagine, but I don't have a real-world example of something I'd call really, truly Portal 2-level fantastic all the way through, that's 30 hours long. I'd love there to be one - the thought of being where I am now, having loved 8-10 hours of a game, but having twice that left? Yes please. But I look at my favourite games - to pick a couple, Shadow of the Colossus, Silent Hill 2, No More Heroes - and they're all 10-ish hours or shorter.

Also, that GLaDOS stuff about Garfield I posted before (from an earlier iteration of co-op)? It's all voiced, in the main portal 2 .vpk (GCFScape) /root/vo/glados. As is loads more unused stuff.
posted by emmtee at 5:54 PM on April 21, 2011


Also, I believe I was promised $120?
posted by lundman at 5:56 PM on April 21, 2011 [13 favorites]


I was told there would be cake.
posted by empath at 6:01 PM on April 21, 2011


I'll try to make up for this by finally playing HL2 on the copy of The Orange Box I just picked up. See, I'm playing a new (for me) Valve game too!

Oh, to be a HL2 virgin again!

See you in a few months. When you're all finished and you realize there are no more HL2 installments to play, please feel free to cry on my shoulder. I've been there -- it's quite a blow.

The Portal games will definitely help scratch that HL2 itch, though -- and create new itches all their own.
posted by treepour at 6:06 PM on April 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have been playing these walkthroughs for non gamer people and they're just floored by the writing and delivery

"Oh god, I want to strangle her RIGHT NOW" and so on.
posted by The Whelk at 6:09 PM on April 21, 2011


For me, I don't even know what a fantastic padding-free 30-hour game would look like.

And part of the tricky thing here is that padding is in the eye of the beholder to some extent. I liked Oblivion, and put a lot of hours into it, but it's a game the combat for which I find basically utterly uncompelling, and there's an awful lot of stabbing and/or blasting in the game in between conversations or bits or lore or interesting interactions or plot advancement.

Would I have enjoyed spending 15 hours with just the non-combat bits of Oblivion more than 50 hours with the shrugworthy combat in there, though? I don't know. The combat has the effect of giving me more reason to crawl dungeons for loot, to skill up my abilities; it breaks up the reading, paces out the Epic Plot Development. So I understand why it's there mechanically.

On the other hand, I found the combat in Dragon Age more involving; I actively enjoy those fights, so it doesn't feel like padding to me, it's a big part of why I'm playing. But even that's not something I necessarily want to do 20 hours of, or at least not something that I'm going to enjoy hour 20 of nearly as much as hour 1 most of the time.

The Portal games are short enough that I don't get tired of the basic meat-and-potatoes Thing You Do When You're Between Things That Happen gameplay. Maybe a 30 hour Portal game would keep the shine on, or maybe 30 hours is just a lot of hours to do anything repetitive in service of a story. I don't know.
posted by cortex at 6:13 PM on April 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Cute game.

I think they did a really great job avoiding the bad parts of sequel bloat. I'm a little too cynical for the squee response that I think they were going for sometimes (like the orb going "space!" is trying too hard, but then I find Invader Zim tiresome and obnoxious so I guess I'm just a grump) .... but the game made me smile a lot.

Once again though, in the fucking boss fight they made it hard to find the orb.
posted by fleacircus at 6:16 PM on April 21, 2011


To me a game like this is long enough when it thoroughly explores all the possibilities of the central game mechanics. Having more puzzles wouldn't have made it better, it just would have made it longer, and probably boring.
posted by empath at 6:19 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Great post, by the way, Rhaomi. I'd go so far as to say it's a triumph. sorry
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:22 PM on April 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think they did a really great job avoiding the bad parts of sequel bloat.

I thought the ending was a brilliant subversion of the whole idea of a boss battle.
posted by The Whelk at 6:28 PM on April 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have to agree that Portal 2 is just absolutely great. I loved the single player from start to finish, and haven't touched the multi-player ... yet.

The one complaint I have, though, was that it felt a bit more on rails than Portal. There were a number of portions where ... it's hard to fully describe. I know that, in Portal, you were railroaded through the game to some degree. Still, I felt like there was more possibility to experiment, and to find different (albeit often equivalent) solutions. In Portal 2, there were a bunch of times I felt frustrated because the game had been reduced to "stare around until you find the one portal-capable surface you've missed, then use it".

Don't get me wrong, the game was hugely fun, and in terms of storyline and pacing probably superior to the original. But, I hope maybe some DLC adds puzzles with a little more possibility for finding alternate solutions, and the ability to play with the medium a bit more.
posted by tocts at 6:34 PM on April 21, 2011 [9 favorites]


Alsi it's been interesting seeing rhe reactions of people who don't play a lot of games to the parts I showed them, they all think it's a cinematic and not the "real game" until I explain it, and they all thought Wheatley's voice was the main characters' voice. More then one was surprised when I said "Uh no the main character doesn't talk, and is a girl."


Granted these are people who haven't played a game since Doom, but I kinda wanted to see how they'd react.

And everyone agrees GLaDos is brilliant.
posted by The Whelk at 6:35 PM on April 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


And I don't know about the masses by MY meme is gonna be

"Under the circumstances,
I've been shockingly nice."
posted by The Whelk at 6:42 PM on April 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also! has the mystery of the Turrets been found? Apparently there is some OTHER story going on with the turrets which is unrelated to the Chell-Glados-Wheatley story but apparently you bump into it and it explains things. Possibly?
posted by The Whelk at 6:50 PM on April 21, 2011


Well, there was some developer commentary on turrets:

(rot13ed for your spoiler-avoiding pleasure)

Gur pbzzragnel fnlf gung gurl fubj zbfg bs gur yvsrplpyr bs n gheerg va-tnzr -- gurer'f n fcbg jurer lbh npghnyyl frr gurz orvat ohvyg, naq bs pbhefr gur ovt nern jurer lbh fperj hc gur grfgvat cebprff, naq gur erplpyr nern. Gurl zragvba gung gur bevtvany cyna jnf gb unir n gheerg QVF-nffrzoyl nern nf jryy, vzzrqvngryl haqre gur ohvyq snpvyvgl, jvgu gur vagrag bs fubjvat gung Ncregher Fpvrapr jnf hggreyl jnfgvat nyy guvf rssbeg, gnxvat ncneg gur gheergf orsber npghnyyl fuvccvat gurz gb nalbar.

Naq vs lbh teno n obyyvkrq-hc juvgr gheerg bss bar bs gur nffrzoyl yvarf, vg unf n ybg bs yvarf vg pna fnl juvyr lbh'er pneelvat vg nebhaq, vapyhqvat n uvag gung vg xabjf fbzrguvat nobhg gur Pnebyvar fhocybg.

Ohg gung'f nyy V'ir urneq nobhg be frra.
posted by Malor at 6:55 PM on April 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


V guvax gur Gheergf unir npuvrirq n yriry bs fragvrapr naq pbzzhavgl naq n jubyr Gheerg-cybg vf tbvat ba nebhaq lbh naq lbh qba'g abgvpr hagvy gur raq.

Puryy vf gur cebgntbavfg. Tynqbf/Jurngyrl gur nagntbavfg. Gur Gheergf ner gur Nhqvrapr.
posted by The Whelk at 6:58 PM on April 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


empath: "Top N Portal 2 Memes That You Will Be Sick of Real Soon Now:
1: "We weren't even testing for that."
"


My fifteen minutes start now!
posted by boo_radley at 6:59 PM on April 21, 2011


I'm reluctant to say too much more, but the number of hints they dropped that there's going to be a Portal 3 was pretty surprising.
posted by mhoye at 7:01 PM on April 21, 2011


Zl snibevgr penpxcbg gurbel? Pnebyvar vf Puryy'f zbgure naq fur rkvfgf nf n Tubfg Va Gur Znpuvar guebhtu gur Gheergf naq npgvat nf TYnQBF' "pbafpvrapr"
posted by The Whelk at 7:02 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


hints? I liked the ending cause it does, uh shut a door on a sequel if they don't want to.
posted by The Whelk at 7:02 PM on April 21, 2011


The Portal games are short enough that I don't get tired of the basic meat-and-potatoes Thing You Do When You're Between Things That Happen gameplay. Maybe a 30 hour Portal game would keep the shine on, or maybe 30 hours is just a lot of hours to do anything repetitive in service of a story. I don't know.

When I finished Portal 2, I was exhilarated but I also felt like I really wanted another couple hours at least, and I think that is exactly the point at which a game should end. I didn't want more plot but I did want more gameplay. Given how many games nowadays seem to play out as an extended trailer for their own sequel, I think that's an accomplishment in and of itself.

It's easy enough to always leave them wanting more. It's much harder to know exactly what to leave them wanting more of, and to satisfy everything else.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:08 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


hints? I liked the ending cause it does, uh shut a door on a sequel if they don't want to.

Vg'f ernfbanoyl pyrne sebz gur tnzr gung Puryy vf Pnebyvar naq Pnir'f qnhtugre, naq vg'f znqr pyrne va gur svany fbat gung TynQBF unf znqr n onpxhc pbcl bs ure.
posted by mhoye at 7:16 PM on April 21, 2011


Vg'f ernfbanoyl pyrne sebz gur tnzr gung Puryy vf Pnebyvar naq Pnir'f qnhtugre, naq vg'f znqr pyrne va gur svany fbat gung TynQBF unf znqr n onpxhc pbcl bs ure.

I really don't know where people are getting this from because there's nothing in the game that actually suggests it.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:51 PM on April 21, 2011


I really don't know where people are getting this from because there's nothing in the game that actually suggests it.

Yeah, I didn't catch that either. And I'd like to get details like that straight. You know. Just to know. For... science. Not for the fanfic I'd like to write. That would be... really, really nerdy. Whew. Is it hot in here?
posted by pts at 7:55 PM on April 21, 2011


Fb, gheergf : Cbegny :: ibegvtnagf : Unys-Yvsr
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:57 PM on April 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really don't know where people are getting this from because there's nothing in the game that actually suggests it.

There really, really is. Start by looking a little more closely at the science fair.
posted by mhoye at 7:58 PM on April 21, 2011


I'd like to thank those of you who are ROT13'ing your spoilers. I haven't finished the game yet, so I really don't want to read something that spoils the ending, but on the other hand, I can't stop reading this thread.
posted by inedible at 7:58 PM on April 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


As long as I don't listen to what I'm saying, I should be OK.

Probably.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:59 PM on April 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am currently playing Game Dev Story and what I can say is: good for the developers of Portal for getting a sequel right.

Is all.
posted by omegar at 8:00 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


GladOS: Well, this is the part where he kills us
Wheatley: Hello! This is the part where I kill you
CHAPTER 9 - THE PART WHERE HE KILLS YOU
ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: The Part Where He Kills You
posted by rmannion at 8:00 PM on April 21, 2011 [37 favorites]


FAMOUS MONSTER: "I really don't know where people are getting this from because there's nothing in the game that actually suggests it."

(note: links point to spoilers)

There's plenty to my eyes, FAMOUS MONSTER. For starters, read through this post and discussion, then this image and (as mhoye said) the science project. It's not ironclad, but definitely arguable. The biggest stumbling block is the timelines and ages of those involved don't quite mesh, but I can see it working if you factor in the effects of hibernation.

On preview: that was funny, rmannion, but a big spoiler!
posted by Rhaomi at 8:02 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


There really, really is. Start by looking a little more closely at the science fair.

Lrnu, V fnj gung (naq tbq, gur ubeebe, gung fur'f orra n cevfbare sbe gung ybat), ohg qb jr xabj sbe fher gung ure cneragf ner Pnir naq Pnebyvar? V zrna sbe bar guvat Puryy vf fbeg bs nzovthbhfyl zhygvenpvny.

rmannion: GOOD GOD MAN ROT13!
posted by pts at 8:02 PM on April 21, 2011


Rhaomi: I take it back, that's all very convincing. And poignant as hell, it must be said.
posted by pts at 8:05 PM on April 21, 2011


I get the feeling it could become fanon, and then become canon. Such is the way of this sort of thing.

They did it to Derpy Hooves, and now they're doing it to Cave and Caroline.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:06 PM on April 21, 2011


Of course, to make it work, there will be retcons. And/or time travel and explanations on how Chell can not age from a really long sleep, but can age from a relatively short sleep.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:07 PM on April 21, 2011


pts,

vs abguvat ryfr jr xabj Pnebyvar vf n cneg bs gur TYnQBF crefbanyvgl naq jr xabj Puryy jnf va gur ynof ng fbzr cbvag nf n puvyq, vg'f abg n ovt yrnc gb tb sebz gung gb ure fheanzr orvat pbaprnyrq gb gur raqvat fbat, va gur grkg jura fur fnlf

"Znlor jura V qryrgr lbh V'yy fgbc srryvat fb onq."

va gur grkg va gur ivqrb "V'yy fgbc srryvat fb onq" vf ERQNPGRQ, gb guvaxvat gung Puryy vf Pnebyvar'f xvq.
posted by The Whelk at 8:11 PM on April 21, 2011


OH NEVER MIND THEN
posted by The Whelk at 8:11 PM on April 21, 2011


I don't know, I'm not really seeing it. It seems to require a lot of leaps and drawing of connections which one would only see if they wanted them to exist in the first place.

That said, since none of this actually happened it's not like there's a definitive answer one way or the other. So if you want them to be related, they are, and if you don't, they're not.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:13 PM on April 21, 2011


Gur ntr qvssrerapr pna or rkcynvarq vs Puryy jnf nqbcgrq ol na Ncregher rzcyblrr sbe fbzr ernfba naq fb jnf gurer sbe gur fpvrapr snve ohg gura fvtarq hc gb or n grfg fhowrpg yngre, sbe jungrire ernfba. "Tbbq crbcyr qba'g raq hc urer."

Cyhf nyy gur fghss nobhg pbcvrf naq oenva fpnaf znxr zr guvax, hu, gur onggyr orgjrra Puryy naq ure Zbgure unf orra tbvat ba sbe n ybat, ybat gvzr. Yvxr va n V Unir Ab Zbhgu Ohg Zhfg Fpernz xvaq bs jnl.

Orsber V fnvq TYnQBF jnf gur Hygvzngr Zbgure Sebz Uryy, ohg vs lbh nqq Pnebyvar gb gung, vg orpbzrf n tbbq gjva cvrpr. Gur Tbbq Zbgure naq Gur Onq Zbgure.
posted by The Whelk at 8:15 PM on April 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, nerd leap:

"Caroline"

Dollhouse.

Anyone?
posted by The Whelk at 8:16 PM on April 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Qvq nalbar ryfr tb q'njjj jura TynQBF fgbbq hc sbe Puryy jura Jurngyl pnyyrq ure sng naq na becuna? Lrf, vg jnf cebonoyl zbfgyl gur qbeznag Pnebyvar cnegf bs TynQBF gnyxvat, ohg V, nffhzvat TynQBF naq Pnebyvar'f cbfgzbeghz zvaq jrer gur fnzr ng gur gvzr, gubhtug fur unq ertnvarq ure uhznavgl naq n qrterr bs gehr zbenyvgl.

Gura TynQBF yngre fnvq "Nyy gurfr fpvragvfgf gevrq gb vafgnyy zbenyvgl pberf, ohg gurl arire gbbx. Abj V'z orvat gbyq gb or zbeny ol zl bja ibvpr. Fbzrguvat zhfg or jebat jvgu zr!"

Naq nsgre gung, fur npgrq yvxr Pnebyvar jnf qvfpergr sebz ure, naq pbhyq or qryrgrq. Fbzr sna gurbevrf fnl TynQBF znl unir bayl cergraqrq gb qryrgr Pnebyvar, gb pbaivapr Puryy gurer jnf abguvat yrsg sbe ure va Ncregher Fpvrapr, fb fur jbhyq yrnir. Ohg gura gur gheergf fvat gb Puryy, pnyyvat ure "zl puvyq," juvpu vzcyvrf Pnebyvar vf fbzrubj fcrnxvat gb Puryy ivn gur gheergf, TynQBF vf pbagebyyvat gur gheergf naq jnagrq gb erirny fur abj fbeg bs qbrf pner sbe Puryy, be gung gur gheergf, bs gurve bja nppbeq, jnagrq gb jvfu Puryy jryy va Pnebyvar'f ibvpr.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:17 PM on April 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Gur Cbegny Frevrf orvat n ovt zbgure-qnhtugre cflpub-eryngvbafuvc rcvp jvgu rkgen ebobgf naq pybarf naq arhebgbkvaf whfg Znxrf. Vg. Orggre.
posted by The Whelk at 8:20 PM on April 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Hear the turret
posted by The Whelk at 8:24 PM on April 21, 2011


Jnvg.

Enggzna vf gur zvaq bs gur Gheergf.
posted by The Whelk at 8:26 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reddit had a link to a name-meanings website. Apparently, Caroline means "Free Man."

Oh, Valve...
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:28 PM on April 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


V guvax qbvat n pybarq frdhry, hayrff jr unir n yngr ergpba yvxr gur qenttvat va, jbhyqa'g jbex.

Puryy jba. Fur rira tbg gur Pbzcnavba Phor onpx. Fur jba fb zhpu fur tbg rwrpgrq n srj uhaqerq lrnef cnfg gur Pbzovar Bpphcngvba. Lrf, vg jvyy or fgenatr sbe ure, orvat nf fur fcrag gur ynetr cneg bs ure yvsr haqretebhaq orvat gbezragrq ol tubfg NV irefvbaf bs ure cneragf, ohg url. Pbhyq or jbefr.

Fubeg bs gur gubhfnaqf bs sebmra grfg fhowrpgf eribygvat, V qba'g frr n jnl sbe Cbegny gb pbagvahr va vgf pheerag sbez.

GUNG ORVAT FNVQ: V qba'g chg vg cnfg gurz.
posted by The Whelk at 8:38 PM on April 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Gur qrsrpgvir gheerg fbhaqf n ybg yvxr Pnir Wbuafba. Evtug qbja gb gur znaarevfzf.

Pnir gnyxrq n ybg nobhg oenva znccvat naq orvat hcybnqrq vagb gur pbzchgre onfrf. Fb V ubyq gb zl svefg gurbel gung Pnir, Pnebyvar naq znlor Enggzna naq bguref jurer cneg bs gur crefbanygl pberf naq vainqrq gur bgure cebtenzf va gur srj uhaqerq lrnef.
posted by The Whelk at 8:41 PM on April 21, 2011


Also:

Space.
posted by The Whelk at 8:44 PM on April 21, 2011


This is not a spoiler.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:48 PM on April 21, 2011


The defective turret uses no less then three Cave Johnsonisms right up to "Your Funeral!"

This ...means something.
posted by The Whelk at 8:50 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Whelk: That theory actually makes a lot of sense.

Although... V qba'g guvax gurer'f nal pbaarpgvba orgjrra Pnir Wbuafba naq gur ohfgrq gheergf. Nppbeqvat gb gur perqvgf, gurl jrer ibvprq ol Abyna Abegu, abg W. X. Fvzzbaf. Nyfb, jul jbhyq Enggzna or fubbgvat ng Puryy?
posted by teraflop at 8:50 PM on April 21, 2011


Being unemployed at the moment , this $45 dollar cake is not a lie but raher cruel joke :(

Fortunately there are other means me hearties.... other means out there indeed :)
posted by Poet_Lariat at 8:52 PM on April 21, 2011


Reddit had a link to a name-meanings website. Apparently, Caroline means "Free Man."

Weeeellll... kinda. Charles means "free man".
posted by Justinian at 8:57 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of the commentary nodes mentions that they constantly changed around the world to try new configurations, including some physically impossible ones. They say that they removed most of them when the game got ironed out, and that there was "only one impossible space left in the game." Does anybody know where that is?
posted by Rinku at 9:04 PM on April 21, 2011


V jnf guvaxvat zber gur Gheergf unir qrirybcrq n jubyr bgure fbpvrgl va gur ynfg uhaqerq lrnef be fb onfrq ba oenva fpnaf bs rirelbar va gur snpvyvgl. Nppbeqvat gb fbhepr, gurer vf n jubyr frcnengr fgbel tbvat ba jvgu gur Gheergf, naq V'z whfg tenfcvat ng fgenjf.
posted by The Whelk at 9:06 PM on April 21, 2011


I don't know about your turret theory, The Whelk, but it gave me the perfect excuse to listen to the Defective Turret dialogue track all over again. I don't think I've heard a character voice that inherently amusing since Worms.

YOU CAN'T FIRE ME I QUIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT
posted by Rhaomi at 9:08 PM on April 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


Well if I WAS WRITING IT I'd totally have the turrets be an emergent intelligence living in the ecological niche of the Testing Facility.

Hampuh.
posted by The Whelk at 9:10 PM on April 21, 2011


HI GUYS.

I haven't played yet because of my current job situation. Ergo I have not read most of this thread.

Also, I need cake in the house before playing for after playing. Cake is a requirement.
posted by Weighted Companion Cube at 9:11 PM on April 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


HE'S BACK
posted by The Whelk at 9:11 PM on April 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Haven't played either, as I am poor, but I am watching the forelinked videos. All I can say is Valve gets it. No other way to say it.
posted by Samizdata at 9:13 PM on April 21, 2011


Yes, Valve is one of the last major game developers I have loads of respect for. I consider them the best developer out there rivaled only by Blizzard, but Valve is original and ambitious while Blizzard refines a fairly safe formula to perfection. Bioware used to be on the list but while I still have a blast with their games I think they've pretty clearly lost a step compared to Valve and Blizzard.
posted by Justinian at 9:22 PM on April 21, 2011


Am I the only one who doesn't really care for the writing? It's repetitive and ponderous as hell! GlaDOS always starts off her insults passive aggressively, then drops a blunt punchline. Cave chipperly and bluntly points out various dangers that surround you. I was begging for a one liner or snappy yo momma joke to break it up.
posted by blargerz at 9:23 PM on April 21, 2011


Oh great can I read your pitch for a funny horror puzzle game?
posted by The Whelk at 9:28 PM on April 21, 2011


Oh great can I read your pitch for a funny horror puzzle game?

Absolutely.

And by absolutely, I mean never.

Did I mention you are fat?

Oh I didn't? I'm sorry.

You are fat.



Thanks everybody, I'm here every Thursday, try the veal.
posted by blargerz at 9:36 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't play video games but I had a brief obsession with watching videos from the first portal on YouTube. Is there a new Jonathan Coulton song in this one?
posted by sevenyearlurk at 9:44 PM on April 21, 2011


YESSSSSSSSSSS
posted by The Whelk at 9:45 PM on April 21, 2011


Yep, here it is. And it's not even that full of spoilers, although I still wouldn't recommend watching it if you plan on playing the game.
posted by teraflop at 9:52 PM on April 21, 2011


> Cave chipperly and bluntly points out various dangers that surround you.

Are you kidding? His entire dialogue maps the transition of Aperture Science from it's heday to it's downfall and eventual abandonment.

He starts with astronauts, and the transition to Hobos, then staff, is great, especially if you look at all the detail they put out for you to absorb if you wished to.

Compare that to quicktime events for plot exposition that every other game uses, and it's refreshing. You found it trite, but could just blow through it. I lingered around and explored each level because it added nuance. Really a very creative way of doing things.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:16 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


blargerz: "Absolutely.

And by absolutely, I mean never.

Did I mention you are fat?

Oh I didn't? I'm sorry.

You are fat.

Thanks everybody, I'm here every Thursday, try the veal.
"

Do you know what else you should try? Being funny. But, based on past performance, we don't expect you to try very hard.
posted by boo_radley at 10:25 PM on April 21, 2011 [12 favorites]


Justinian said:
Yes, Valve is one of the last major game developers I have loads of respect for. I consider them the best developer out there rivaled only by Blizzard, but Valve is original and ambitious while Blizzard refines a fairly safe formula to perfection. Bioware used to be on the list but while I still have a blast with their games I think they've pretty clearly lost a step compared to Valve and Blizzard.

SC2 and Cataclysm have *shattered* my faith in Blizzard. If Valve or Bioware produce an MMO in a genre i enjoy, i'll be done with Blizzard for good, I suspect. So sick of Blizzard's frat-boy attitude about games and their customers.

In re: Turrets

The Turrets are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. I want to see their game now.
posted by Fuka at 12:22 AM on April 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


What is shatter-worthy about SC2? I'll admit I only played it for a month or so.
posted by Justinian at 12:58 AM on April 22, 2011


The lack of LAN capability, the way they police online harassment (having learned nothing from Battle.net), a plethora of minor issues with gameplay.
posted by Fuka at 1:05 AM on April 22, 2011


Ah. I understand the arguments about LAN capability and I see the point but it never bothered me personally because the odds of me ever playing a LAN game are nil.
posted by Justinian at 1:33 AM on April 22, 2011


SC2 and Cataclysm have *shattered* my faith in Blizzard.

I didn't have much faith in them before, but yeah. SC2 was a mishmash of stereotypes (geeky science guy! with zits! black voodoo guy! with betrayal! two women! with tits!), tedious single-player level design, and cinematics ripped from the designers' favourite movies, and Cataclysm was account-cancellingly bad. (PvE Feral, for context. Yeah.)

Yick. Enough of Blizzard. Time to finish my commentary play-through.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:29 AM on April 22, 2011


This game is a masterpiece. No other word for it.
posted by EmGeeJay at 3:01 AM on April 22, 2011


Finished P2 last night.

It was wonderful. Just wonderful. I did it in 12 hours, not the aforementioned 6. For one thing, the environs are these endless stretches of eye candy, particularly jura lbh'er eryvivat gur uvfgbel bs Ncregher (V jnag n g-fuveg jvgu gur '70f ren ybtb) ol ehaavat guebhtu Pnir Wbuafba'f rkcrevzragf. For another, some of the puzzles require, well, thought and consideration.

So no, it isn't too short. It shouldn't have been simply DLC for Portal. It is more than an expanded tech demo. And it sure as hell wasn't a waste of Valve's resources that would've been better spent on HL2:3.

HL2:3 (or HL3) will come. And it will be amazing. In the meantime, I'm going to go back and re-play Portal.
posted by grabbingsand at 5:37 AM on April 22, 2011


I've only played about 45 minutes so far (and won't have another chance until Sunday or Monday, unless I blow off some work I wanted to finish ... which I might), so I really appreciate this thread.

I think I'm most impressed by the humor in Portal 2, so far. Video games can be funny, but almost never do they leave me literally lawling on my couch (okay, maybe Psychonauts).

I'm really looking forward to split-screen co-op. Maybe with a bowl or two.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:44 AM on April 22, 2011


Also, I want a leopard print Turret. For my desk. That is all.
posted by grabbingsand at 5:51 AM on April 22, 2011


Honestly, I kind of think that Portal 2 is a good example of gameplay suffering to support a narrative.

The problem with games where narrative is the point of the game, rather than the game play is that true difficulty becomes a problem, because your customers are interested in finishing the story rather than playing the game. At the same time, the principle joy of a puzzle game is overcoming difficult challenges. In the commentary, they talk about how they playtested and playtested until all of their playtesters could solve all of the puzzles without too much frustration. The first portal didn't hand-hold as much, I don't think, and games like Braid or World of Goo -- which are more pure puzzle games -- don't hand hold at all.

So instead of creating levels which have the ability to stump people, you create levels which have the appearance of being difficult and requiring intelligence, but which can all be solved by simple process of elimination. You find all the portal-able surfaces, you find all the objects, and you use every object with every surface, and you have your answer eventually. It doesn't really require any intelligence at all to solve most of the puzzles in the game. At least for the single player.

The co-op seemed to be much less constrained by narrative and some of the puzzles seemed a lot more genuinely difficult to me, especially the last section.

So yeah, the writing and acting and level design were amazing from beginning to end, but it's kind of disappointing that they felt they had to make the levels unchallenging to appeal to a mass audience.

I don't think its as good a game as the first one. It doesn't have the novelty, and it didn't have the challenge of the first game, just judged as a game alone. The story could have been cut and pasted into almost any other genre of game and would have been just as good.
posted by empath at 6:47 AM on April 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


(btw, when i say 'not as good', i mean it's a 9.5 and the first game was a 9.8)
posted by empath at 6:49 AM on April 22, 2011


When people are complaining about length, btw, what they're really saying is that the game is too easy. I blew past most of the puzzles without thinking about them too much, to the point where I couldn't even tell you how I solved most of them if you asked, whereas the first game, despite having many fewer puzzles, took longer per puzzle to solve.
posted by empath at 6:54 AM on April 22, 2011


We get it, empath ... you are a super genius with an intellect beyond mortal comprehension.

That said, I went back to finish Dragon Age II after completing Portal 2, and realized that DA2 is the very definition of narrative overwhelming gameplay. As much as I enjoy Bioware's storytelling, toward the end of DA2, progress is a matter of stringing together interesting plot-points with variations on a theme of one-button combat.
posted by grabbingsand at 7:04 AM on April 22, 2011


Finished P2 last night.

It was wonderful. Just wonderful. I did it in 12 hours, not the aforementioned 6.


The way I play through Valve games in general (and I definitely did this with the first Portal) is that I play it once at a speed that is comfortable to me -- because I feel comfortable going quickly, this means that I miss a lot of the hidden easter eggs and details. For Portal 2 this took about 6 hours for me. But then I turn on the developer commentary and play through again at a ludicrously slow pace, trying to pick up on every little detail. It's a method that works pretty well for me, and means that I end up spending a fairly long time playing the game.

The commentary is seriously the best thing about the original Portal, and probably about Portal 2 though I haven't started my second play through yet. It gives you fantastic insight into how Valve crafts their games, and if other game developers aren't playing it with the dev commentary on they really should. It's free advice from one of the best teams in the business, and it's implemented extremely well.

So yeah, the writing and acting and level design were amazing from beginning to end, but it's kind of disappointing that they felt they had to make the levels unchallenging to appeal to a mass audience.

I think the puzzles were still challenging; your point about them being solvable by process of elimination is definitely true of the first Portal as well. I think the difference is that Portal 2 is more deliberate and less twitchy (which I really appreciate since I have horrible reaction times). I think this is a trend that Valve has been following with all of their games -- I think that the Half Life 2 expansions have gotten progressively less twitchy as well.

Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing probably depends a lot on what each individual person is expecting to get out of the game. I think that Portal 2 was better than Portal. I found the puzzles just as if not more challenging, I really appreciated the narrative arc and the voice acting, and I just plain felt like it was more fun to play. I thought the length was perfect, too -- as someone mentioned upthread, it explores the extent of the gameplay mechanics without getting boring or repetitive. But I can definitely see how you could just as easily feel that Portal was better than Portal 2 for basically the same reasons.
posted by malthas at 7:07 AM on April 22, 2011


The first portal didn't hand-hold as much, I don't think, and games like Braid or World of Goo -- which are more pure puzzle games -- don't hand hold at all.

I don't remember having trouble with Portal, to be honest, but I will admit that I never finished Braid because it was just too damn hard.

If Portal 2 is less twitchy, though, I will appreciate that. The shoot-a-tiny-space-while-falling mechanic was kind of annoying.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:11 AM on April 22, 2011


I went back to finish Dragon Age II after completing Portal 2, and realized that DA2 is the very definition of narrative overwhelming gameplay.

That seems to be a thing with Bioware games. I kind of felt the same way about Mass Effect 2 -- that the gameplay was interrupting my important dialogue, especially since to progress further in the dialogue trees you have to complete missions. And the gameplay is really kind of meh compared to ME1. There are fewer abilities and they're less interesting, and some of the gameplay mechanics they adopted were just annoying. I haven't even finished ME2 because of it, despite the fact that I really, really like the story and voice acting. Ah well, I'll finish it some day.

posted by malthas at 7:16 AM on April 22, 2011


Honestly, I kind of think that Portal 2 is a good example of gameplay suffering to support a narrative.

Even if that were true, a Portal 2 with gameplay unfettered due to a minimal or absent narrative would be a fraction the quality of the overall videogame (not 'game', but 'videogame', which incorporates 'game' as a subset) experience that Portal 2 as released represents. The story would lose all its pace and immediacy in favour of some slightly more challenging brainteasers. Woo, puzzles. Game elements are an important component, but far from the only important one. They can and should be overridden where it makes for a more memorable videogame experience. Nobody will remember Rush or Cogs the way they'll remember Portal 2, despite them being much more challenging and exploiting their mechanics much more fully.

Co-op was inferior to single-player (though still pretty great) because it was more of a game. It made us congratulate ourselves on our smartness for a minute after we solved a tricky puzzle, but I don't want or need a videogame to make me feel good about myself. It didn't have as much experience to take away.
posted by emmtee at 7:46 AM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even if that were true, a Portal 2 with gameplay unfettered due to a minimal or absent narrative would be a fraction the quality of the overall videogame (not 'game', but 'videogame', which incorporates 'game' as a subset) experience that Portal 2 as released represents.

Portal 1 had a minimal and backgrounded narrative that really only started driving the game in the final third. For 2/3rds of the game, almost your only motivation for playing is a puzzle and an exit. I loved the game before I got to the story, and to me, the whole final third was just icing on the cake of an already spectacular game. It took the game from a 9.0 to a 9.8, but the game still would have been amazing without it.

Co-op was inferior to single-player (though still pretty great) because it was more of a game.

Yeah, I definitely had the opposite take on co-op. I loved the last set of levels in coop. Genuinely difficult and required a lot of lateral thinking. It was especially interesting trying to solve it with a stranger. I don't think there's a moment in the single game that's better than the puzzle where you solve it by pbyyvqvat va zvq nve.

I think they were able to do challenging puzzles in coop but not in single player just because it's back to the core of the original game -- test chambers and glados, with no story line to unlock. It has to succeed or fail on the quality of the game alone.

Again, I'm not saying that the single player game is bad. It's fantastic. It's just, imo, more of a generic blockbuster videogame experience in the mode of Call of Duty, albeit one that's spectacularly well executed.
posted by empath at 7:59 AM on April 22, 2011


Portal 1 had a minimal and backgrounded narrative that really only started driving the game in the final third. For 2/3rds of the game, almost your only motivation for playing is a puzzle and an exit.

It also had the advantage of a hot-shit brand new mechanic with a lot of shine on. I think they paced the narrative and reveal of Portal 1 very well in light of that, but doing the same thing with Portal 2 would have felt like they were not familiar with their own previous game; the expectations at game start set by (a) familiarity with the core mechanic and (b) familiarity with the dark comedy premises of the series means that slow-rolling a tutorial and reveal would have been awfully conspicuous.

As much as anything I felt like the Portal 2 unrolled a liiiiittle bit slowly as is, but I understand there are going to be people coming to it without having played the original and pacing things accordingly to meet a compromise point between the franchise newbie and the Portal vet is understandable.

As far as Give Me Hard Puzzles, I have hope that Valve will deliver precisely that with DLC, and I'd imagine the modders will be hot to do so in any case.
posted by cortex at 8:18 AM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


As much as anything I felt like the Portal 2 unrolled a liiiiittle bit slowly as is, but I understand there are going to be people coming to it without having played the original and pacing things accordingly to meet a compromise point between the franchise newbie and the Portal vet is understandable.

Yeah I guess what I was kind of hoping for was a game that took it for granted that you got the core mechanics and really took it to the next level. I also suspect that there will be some DLC that provides that.
posted by empath at 8:24 AM on April 22, 2011


I do totally agree with you, the puzzles in co-op were really satisfying and loads of fun. For me, I guess the joy of solving even the best ones was less than the joy of an unexpected plot twist, new place to visit or hilarious bit of writing, so I'm all for fewer of the former in service of more of the latter.

I keep saying (to everyone I talk to about Portal 2, at length, til they bite me) though, what I'd adore would be a hard mode option for the single-player, available from the start. Same story, same progression (maybe with a few alternate lines thrown in for the sake of replay value) but replacing all the chambers with similarly-themed, much harder ones and no concession to teaching new players. Just put it behind an 'I've played Portal and the challenge maps, I want difficult puzzles!' option on the main menu, and the normal mode behind 'I've never played Portal, or want to experience the story with no roadblocks!'. They seem to have left so many chambers and puzzles on the cutting room floor I can't see it being an impossible ask.

Anyway, I've been re-teaching myself a bit of Source modding this afternoon in anticipation of the SDK - I'm full of ideas for neurotic cores and the challenges they'll set poor Atlas and P-body.
posted by emmtee at 8:25 AM on April 22, 2011


I wonder if they'll do a game with Ratman in the future. I mean, he seems to have used portal guns in his past (hence his graffiti inside test chambers, which are impossible to get through without a portal gun, plus advice on what to do with the portal gun). And the comic establishes that he doesn't die at the end of the comic, he just goes to sleep in a relaxation vault. It doesn't resemble the cryo-room, so maybe he wakes up sooner. Or, if he did die in the bed or the game is to be set post-Portal 2, GlaDOS remarks early in the game that if she's ever done testing, she'd like to take up a hobby like re-animating the dead.

He didn't play as big a role in Portal 2 as 1, but he showed up in the comics and even presented two easter-egg songs. Clearly, Valve hasn't forgotten the character, unlike Barney.

Also, if tastefully handled, his schizophrenia and flashbacks could make the game more interesting. Aside from breaks with reality in the game, hearing things, etc, GlaDOS could start actively messing with his head, causing the player to question what's real, what's a delusion, and what's GlaDOS' cruel tricks. And flashbacks, in moderation, could help unravel some of the mysteries of Portal while creating new ones.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:29 AM on April 22, 2011


So, since people are complaining that the gameplay suffered, that means I have a chance to be able to play this game, right?

Awesome. Except for the fact I have no time right now.

Ok, so if I played the first Portal on 360, is there any benefit to getting P2 on 360 also or should I get the PS3 version for the better graphics? (I would get the PC version, but I don't have a gaming PC anymore and I'm sure my laptop wouldn't run it.)
posted by threeturtles at 8:37 AM on April 22, 2011


No one cancelled class for this... but I almost did.

I finally got the game installed about 10. Figured I'd play through for an hour then go to bed.

And then it was 2am.

Woke up at 6 and was teetering the whole day. I did consider cancelling the 5pm class I'm teaching since the long sessions meant I could shift most of the lecture into the next class with little loss.

Eventually decided that canceling a class because I was too exhausted from playing Portal 2 was stupid and would get me mentioned in a Portal 2 MeFi thread (as well as a bunch of blowhard news commentators' shows), so pulled myself together and did my lecture.

And then came down with a cold the next day. So the teetering may have been the virus, not the lack of sleep.

And you know what? I'd stay up until 2am again. It was worth it.
posted by dw at 8:37 AM on April 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


I was having a conversation about exactly that earlier - Rattmann as protagonist in a Portal 3 could be amazing. GLaDOS doesn't have the same relationship with him as she does with Chell - he's among her creators for one thing, and he eluded and frustrated her for years - and his hallucinatory, talking companion cube would make for a fantastic guide/exposition-bot/foil like early-game Wheatley. And as you say, it'd be amazing to see the Enrichment Centre and GLaDOS herself through the filter of Rattmann's shaky grip on reality.

In fact, yrg'f unir gur gheergf svk hc uvf yrt naq jnxr uvz va beqre gb uryc bhg gurve frperg yvggyr fbpvrgl uvqqra va Ncregher'f jnyyf. TYnQBF qbrf gryy gur obgf yngre ba va pb-bc gung gur 'ynfg aba-grfgvat uhznaf' uvq gur inhyg naq vgf vaunovgnagf sebz ure - Enggznaa jnf yvgrenyyl gur ynfg aba-grfgvat uhzna, fb ner TYnQBF' arj grfg fhowrpgf gur pb-jbexref naq sevraqf uvf pbyyrnthrf qvrq gb fnir naq xrrc frperg?
posted by emmtee at 8:37 AM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are some pretty funny ironic "achievements" in the game. I ran across a light bridge GlaDOS opened up to escape to the outdoors when she told me to, just to see what would happen. Bad things happened. I got a "Good Listener" achievement.
posted by killdevil at 8:40 AM on April 22, 2011


Honestly? I don't think Portal 2 was designed for anyone who hadn't played the original. The hand-holding was less even, in my opinion. Every added move in the original got a full level of explanation if not more.

Granted, a lot of the later huge open levels were streamlined so that there were only a few portal-able surfaces, but I guarantee that if you played them again with everything covered in white goo it would be an exercise in complete frustration.
posted by graventy at 8:40 AM on April 22, 2011


I think the big difference between puzzle styles in Portal and Portal 2 is that the latter is largely a subversion of the original. The first game felt so fresh because you're discovering how to "think with portals" for the very first time, intuiting stuff like rearranging portals in mid-fall to redirect your momentum using subtle clues from GLaDOS and the environment.

Coming in to the sequel, you already know the basic problem solving tools, so you need some added challenge. The physics gels and additional puzzle objects helped in this regard, but a running theme I noticed was of the game presenting you with a puzzle that seemed to have an obvious solution in light of the original game that is, on investigation, obstructed in in one or more ways. So a lot of the puzzles are spent identifying what's stopping you from implementing your standard Portal 1 solution and working backwards to figure out how to neutralize the obstacle while still enabling the solution itself. This made puzzles feel less twitchy and more involved, but I can see how it also contributes to a feeling of brute-forcing it through simple trial and error with every available object and surface.

As for harder puzzles, DLC will probably be the answer. It's what they did for the first game -- an expansion pack (Still Alive) debuted with harder community-designed maps and no story. It was tough enough that I still haven't solved some of the rooms.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:44 AM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Things I didn't like:
-- I wish they'd used the National song for the closing credits and not the new Jonathan Coulton song. "Still Alive" worked because it fit with the game. "Want You Gone" didn't as much, given the dark and emotive sense of the game.

-- I wanted to get a little closer up with the turrets when lbh uvg gurz jvgu cebchyfvba try, rfcrpvnyyl va gur ovt ebbz jurer lbh'er fcrjvat tbb nyy bire gurz.

-- It did in spots feel like it was on rails. But until the turret level of Portal 1, that game's on rails, too.

-- There are a few spots where you have to do the same thing 4 or 5 times to solve the puzzle. It gets to be annoying after a while.

Things I did like:
-- Everything else
posted by dw at 8:47 AM on April 22, 2011


I'd just like to say that when you all start rot13ing in the middle of a sentence zl oenva vf vagrecergvat vg nf lbh fhqqrayl fyvccvat vagb n tvoorevat vafnavgl. Juvpu vf cerggl ncebcbf.

Carry on.
posted by mrgoat at 9:01 AM on April 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


I have to say, the Portal genre is second only to Wall-E in it's ability to make people emotional over robots.

"Fiery the angels fell; deep thunder rolled around their shores; burning with the fires of Orc."

posted by mrgrimm at 9:14 AM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Get the "Conservation of Mass" achievement, it's worth the extra dialog.
posted by strange chain at 9:32 AM on April 22, 2011


Drrr, "it's worth it for the extra dialog". Too much portal, too little sleep.
posted by strange chain at 9:36 AM on April 22, 2011


So we walk into a bar last night and they have these big white panels hanging from the ceiling at various locations and angles. I immediately start scanning for other panels and trying to figure out how I'm supposed to use them to move about the space, then I remember that my portal gun is at home in my Xbox. Dammit!
posted by calamari kid at 9:45 AM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Don't have it yet. But to celebrate, my take on a Portal bento.
posted by cyndigo at 11:12 AM on April 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Shot through some of the co-op again tonight while we ate our Easter eggs. I'm still really impressed by how well everything syncs up: we both had our speakers on and music and speech sounded fantastic, and even the little picture-in-picture you can bring up with your parner's first person view is only a couple of frames off being real-time. Amazing.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:26 PM on April 22, 2011


All Cave Johnson quotes! Albeit out of order. (via)
posted by Rhaomi at 12:51 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


On the same note, I couldn't resist stitching together the unused GLaDOS monologue about Garfield.
posted by emmtee at 3:25 PM on April 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


I saw a building with a slanted white roof while I was driving. Obviously meant for flinging at an angle. But where to jump from? Then I saw a municipal airport (for small personal planes) right next door. Ah. Skydiving. Of course.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:35 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, are you guys aware of this ARG thing found in game? Apparently, there's a commentary node, that play some modem-like squeals. That's for the images embedded in sound designed for HAM radio, like in the first part of the ARG. They are about the making of the ARG. Here's the link. Not really that spoilery.

It seems Valve put together that fantastic bit of viral marketing for under $100. Amazing, considering how much free press they got on the gaming blogs.

Also, the "final transmission" radio easter egg contains an image. Superspoilery link.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:52 PM on April 22, 2011


Ha! There was this time, when I was heavily into DOOM, when I was hiking down the Beach Trail at Torrey Pines. There was one point, close to the end of the trail, when I was about 20 feet above the beach. My DOOM-addled brain thought, "Oh, I can jump this."

Don't make me tell you my Crazy Taxi story.
posted by SPrintF at 3:58 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm still doing the single player but is an antisocial person like me going to be able to play the coop without enlisting someone else? The drawback to being soooooooooo much less motivated a gamer than all your friends is that nobody wants to play with your slacker a few hours a week self.
posted by phearlez at 4:00 PM on April 22, 2011


The whole point of co-op is playing with another person, phearlez.
posted by flatluigi at 4:07 PM on April 22, 2011


Join mefightclub on Steam; play Portal 2 co-op. Simple.
posted by pharm at 4:24 PM on April 22, 2011


Surprise! (No spoilers.)
posted by clorox at 4:59 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is the part where they announce paid DLC.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:17 PM on April 22, 2011


THis is the part where they annouce everyone who took part in the ARG has consumed Aperture Brand Information and thus their brains are now the legal property of Aperture Science.
posted by The Whelk at 5:27 PM on April 22, 2011


Interesting unused dialoge from Pnebyvar. Vg fbhaqf yvxr fur'f erwrpgvat rvgure plore-vzzbegnyvgl be znlor rira Pnir uvzfrys. Vg'f vzcyvrq Pnir jnagrq ure gb or va punetr naq tb va gur pbzchgre nsgre ur qvrq, rira vs vg jnf ntnvafg ure jvyy. Gung'q znxr n crefba n ovg ovggre naq qrenatrq...

Also, Rot13 makes everything look like Pguhyuh e'ylru.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:33 PM on April 22, 2011


I think we broke it.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:02 PM on April 22, 2011


After the countdown:

09:00 -- Welcome to the Aperture Science Surprise Deployment Initiation System Bootup Sequence.
09:00 -- Performing initiation scanning protocol...
09:00 -- Setting system clock time: July 14th, 1973.
09:01 -- Calculating reticular splines...
09:01 -- Beginning boot sequence from master boot sector 16...
09:01 -- Checking phase 4 memory...
09:01 -- Loading SDisOS...
09:02 -- Boot sequence complete.
09:02 -- Initiating SDisOS core functionality...
09:02 -- Preparing surprise deployment protocol...
09:03 -- Initiating surprise deployment protocol...
09:03 -- Deploying surprise in... 3... 2... 1...


As for what comes next, it isn't loading right now.
posted by luftmensch at 6:03 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Everyone else close it so that it loads for me.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:04 PM on April 22, 2011


Oh, it's a board thanking the indie devs for participating in the ARG's creation. There's talk that there's a QR code hidden somewhere, too, so maybe this goes deeper.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:15 PM on April 22, 2011


Also, there's a pleasant chiptune. I'm only a mere mortal, so I'm not going to analyze it for hidden messages.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:28 PM on April 22, 2011


I just started it. Hee hee!

I'll come back to this thread when I'm done.
posted by homunculus at 6:37 PM on April 22, 2011


and they never heard from homunculus again.
posted by The Whelk at 6:39 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Take it from me, the countdown on valvearg.com is not by valve, it's by the ARG IRC/wiki admins thanking Valve and the indie devs for making the ARG.

(I should know, I'm one of those admins!)

Game Informer and other dumb websites reporting it as a Valve thing announcing Portal DLC are just being really really dumb.
posted by flatluigi at 9:49 PM on April 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


As for the turrets, if you freeze around 20 seconds in the video, you'll see that the turrets are equipped with both an empathy generator and an empathy suppressor. It's both a spoof on Aperture's corporate inefficiency, and maybe a hint at something deeper.

Hence, why they can be so enthusiastic about killing Chell normally.

Naq creuncf gur ernfba jul fbzr bs gur qrsrpgvir gheergf ner qbjaevtug sevraqyl. Cbegny 2 rira frrzf gb vzcyl gheergf unir fbzrguvat bs n phygher, naq gur novyvgl gb guvax sbe gurzfryirf gb n qrterr (juvyr gur shapgvbany gheergf fgvpx gb gur pnaarq cuenfrf bs Cbegny 1 naq whfg fubbg jung'f va sebag bs gurz, gur qrsrpgvir barf znxr rkphfrf be nfx jul be vs gurl'er oebxra, naq erfcbaq gb gurve fvghngvba ("V'z nccebirq!? Qb V trg ohyyrgf yngre?") Jurngyl rira fnlf gurl srry cnva, "bs n fbeg." Vs gurl pna srry cnva naq rzcngul, vg qbrf vzcyl gurl unir gur pncnpvgl gb unir n erny onpxtebhaq fgbel.

Be znlor guvf vf whfg cebbs vs lbh ybbx uneq rabhtu, lbh pna svaq rivqrapr sbe nalguvat va n Inyir tnzr. Gurl'er qrafr jvgu gur qrgnvyf.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:13 PM on April 22, 2011


Finished SP campaign today. Holy god, what a great game. Thoughts on some of the stuff discussed:

1. Jurgure be abg Puryy vf npghnyyl Pnebyvar/TynQBF' qnhtugre (naq V guvax gb yrnir vg fbzrjung nzovthbhf jnf qryvorengr), V'z cerggl fher (naq ubcrshy) gung Inyir unf znqr guvf gur raq bs Puryy'f fgbel. Gur pbzvp frrzf gb yrnir n znffvir "oernx tynff va pnfr bs frdhry" va gur sbez bs Enggzna, naq Cbegny 3 jvgu n arj cebgntbavfg nyybjf n arj qlanzvp jvgubhg erzbivat gur vzcnpg bs gur vaperqvoyl, vaperqvoyl njrfbzr raqvat.

2. Regarding Whelk's earlier thoughts on the turrets:

Gur gheergf ner QRSVAVGRYL gurve "bja fbpvrgl" juvpu V gubhtug jnf gur orfg cneg bs gur tnzr. Gurl'er znpuvarf ohg raqrq hc orvat gur zbfg ribyivat, tebjvat betnavfz ng Ncrengher.

Gur ernfba gur bcren jnf fb ornhgvshy ng gur raq (nfvqr sebz Ryyra ZpPynva orvat nznmvat) jnfa'g whfg gur zhfvp; vs lbh sbhaq gur uvqqra nernf guebhtubhg gur tnzr lbh sbhaq bppnfvbany zbzragf bs gheergf uhzzvat, rgp. Gung'f evtug, gur gheergf jrer CENPGVPVAT.

Naq ubarfgyl, NZNMRQ ab bar oebhtug hc gur orfg wbxr va gur ragver tnzr, gunaxf gb gur gheergf: gung Pnir Wbuafba zragvbarq "cercnevat sbe n shgher fbpvrgl ehyrq ol n tvnag navzny xvat" naq va gur onpx, qhevat gur bcren.... vf gur yrbcneq-fxva tvnag gheerg. Jrnevat n pebja. V pevrq.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:56 PM on April 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


Also:


FCNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNPR!
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:56 PM on April 22, 2011


Bar bs gur ryringbe ivqrbf fubjrq n tvnag gheerg gnxvat bire gur H.A.
posted by ryanrs at 4:38 AM on April 23, 2011


I finished yesterday. I was slow to warm up to Portal 2--it just felt like a sophomore effort. AND THEN IT ROCKED SO HARD. My mom is visiting for Easter, but after that--XBL coop? Anyone?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:38 AM on April 23, 2011


I think the difficulty of having Ratman as the Portal 3 protagonist is that there's not a lot you can really do with him. He's dead by the time of Portal 2 (or at least SHOULD be, if Portal 2 is really 200 years in the future). So you're either setting Portal 3 in the gap between Portal 1 and 2 without GlaDOS or Chell, or you're setting it in the gap between the Take Your Daughter To Work Day incident and Portal 1, and that... well, what would he do exactly? Run around and hide from GlaDOS? That's not much of a game.

Unf ab bar zragvbarq gur gheerg ba gur frpbaq pbairlbe oryg (gbjneqf Erqrzcgvba) jura lbh'er rfpncvat sebz TynQBF? Cvpx vg hc (vg jvyy fnl "gunax lbh"), naq vg'yy rffragvnyyl tvir njnl gur cybg sbe gur erznvaqre bs gur tnzr. Naq guhf jul vg'f qrsrpgvir.
posted by dw at 10:08 AM on April 23, 2011


V ybir gung Ncregher grpuabybtl pna or qrsrpgvir gb gur cbvag jurer vg pna CERQVPG GUR SHGHER. Ohg vg VF qrsrpgvir, bs pbhefr, orpnhfr vg'f abg qbvat vgf wbo nf n ubzr qrsrapr flfgrz irel jryy. Orpnhfr vg'f gbb ohfl xabjvat gur shgher.
posted by emmtee at 12:11 PM on April 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I am a good sphere with many friends.
posted by The Whelk at 1:10 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


my relationship to my long, big project is slowly mirroring Chell's relationship with GLaDOS.
posted by The Whelk at 1:17 PM on April 23, 2011


That ending song, when I thought about it, brought a tear to my eye. Am I alone in this?
posted by Slackermagee at 1:33 PM on April 23, 2011


I just finished the single player, and holy cow is it good. I'm also happy that I was finally able to read this thread without worrying about spoilers. Great discussion, folks!

The ending had me cackling with glee. What made it work so well for me was that it was a one-two punch:

Svefg, gur furre nhqnpvgl naq rcvparff bs orvat vafgnagyl genafcbegrq gb gur Zbba. Frpbaq, gur fhqqra ernyvmngvba gung vg jnf n cnlbss sbe gur juvgr tbb orvat znqr bs Zbba ebpxf. Cresrpg.
posted by brundlefly at 1:40 PM on April 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


Ooooo, I'm pretty sure Portal 2 is the very first, premier time in which Valve decided to use a cutscene.

And a stunning job it was too...
posted by Slackermagee at 3:06 PM on April 23, 2011


I finished this morning, and can't wait to go back through and play the dev commentary. I wish the iPad app final hours thing was available on more platforms. It is SOOOOOO good.

Gur raqvat sbe zr jnf rkgen uvynevbhf. V fubg ng gur zbba whfg bhg bs ersyrk, onfvpnyyl, fvapr V pbhyqa'g frr nalguvat ryfr gb qb ng gur zbzrag. Gur cnl bss jnf uvynevbhf orlbaq vzntvavat tvira gung.
posted by sparkletone at 4:38 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, strangest moment of the game: Realizing I knew one of the people doing the developer commentary.
posted by dw at 6:41 PM on April 23, 2011


V ybirq gur perqvgf ng gur raq bs pb-bc. Gurl erzvaqrq zr bs gur fyvqrfubj raqvat sebz Puebab Gevttre. V jbaqre vs gurl onfrq gur pbzzragf ba gur Inyir rzcyblrrf fubja ng gur gvzr.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:41 PM on April 23, 2011


Bar bs zl snibevgr zbzragf jnf gur TVTNAGVP QBBE gung pbaprnyrq gur yvggyr gval qbbe.
posted by brundlefly at 7:54 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Damn, that was amazing. Absolutely brilliant.

Now for some cognac and new Dr. Who.
posted by homunculus at 8:45 PM on April 23, 2011


Huh. This reddit user somehow managed to predict the end.
posted by brundlefly at 9:25 PM on April 23, 2011


V yvxr ubj vg'f cerggl zhpu unys orgjrra

1: Lrf gurer jrer znal zbba naq fcnpr ersreraprf nebhaq naq gur zbba ebpx fghss, vg jnf boivbhf....

2: QHQR GUR ZBBA! V FUBBG VG JVGU ZL THA! JUBN!
posted by The Whelk at 9:28 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Holy moly, just finished. What a great game.

Gur gheerg bcren ng gur raq unq zl wnj ba gur sybbe.

Gung "navzny xvat gnxrbire" vyyhfgengvba va bar bs gur irel svefg ryringbe cebwrpgvbaf unhagrq zl fhopbafpvbhf guebhtubhg gur ragver tnzr. V gubhtug vg jnf whfg n jrveq guvat guebja va sbe ngzbfcurer, ohg V pbhyqa'g dhvgr sbetrg nobhg vg -- naq gura, ng gur irel raq, jura lbh'er fgvyy abg fher jurgure be abg Puryy vf tbvat gb znxr vg bhg, guvf irel fprar pbzrf gb yvsr. Naq gurl jrer fvatvat ornhgvshy bcren zhfvp naq vg jnf irel fcvevghny naq zbivat naq . . . JGS?

Vg gnxrf vaperqvoyr gnyrag gb znxr n tnzr guvf fngvfslvat naq ratntvat sebz obgu n tnzrcynl naq aneengvir fgnaqcbvag. Gb raq vg ba fhpu na nfgbavfuvat, cebibpngvir, naq zlfgrevbhfyl zbivat abgr -- furre travhf.
posted by treepour at 9:38 PM on April 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


Vg'f ernfbanoyl pyrne sebz gur tnzr gung Puryy vf Pnebyvar naq Pnir'f qnhtugre, naq vg'f znqr pyrne va gur svany fbat gung TynQBF unf znqr n onpxhc pbcl bs ure.

I really don't know where people are getting this from because there's nothing in the game that actually suggests it.


V unqa'g urneq gur gurbel orsber, ohg V vzzrqvngryl nffhzrq gung Pnebyvar zhfg unir orra Puryy'f zbgure jura V fnj gur cnvagvat.
posted by homunculus at 12:18 AM on April 24, 2011


8. Agh! A bird! Kill it! It's evil!

I was waiting for that bird to get caught by a barnacle, but no.
posted by homunculus at 12:24 AM on April 24, 2011


V qhaab, V'z ernyyl abg frrvat vg rvgure. Vg'f pyrne gb zr fur jnf n puvyq bs *fbzr* rzcyblrr, ohg abg arprffnevyl Pnebyvar/Pnir. Vg'f abg rira pyrne gur gjb jrer zneevrq, abe rkcynva Puryy'f zvkrq enpr (ng yrnfg gung'f ubj vg ybbxf gb zr va fbzr fubgf, ohg uneq gb fnl sbe fher)..
posted by cj_ at 12:53 AM on April 24, 2011


That said, I went back to finish Dragon Age II after completing Portal 2, and realized that DA2 is the very definition of narrative overwhelming gameplay. As much as I enjoy Bioware's storytelling, toward the end of DA2, progress is a matter of stringing together interesting plot-points with variations on a theme of one-button combat.

Hear, hear. DA2 was disappointing, and having P2 follow so closely highlights why. Valve blended their narrative and gameplay brilliantly, imo, but Bioware really botched DA2's gameplay. Finishing DA2 finally felt more like a chore than a game, which was not the case with DA:O for me.
posted by homunculus at 12:59 AM on April 24, 2011


Jnf nalbar ryfr ernyyl perrcrq bhg jura Jurngyrl qbhoyr-pebffrf lbh?

Yes.

Qvq nalbar ryfr tb q'njjj jura TynQBF fgbbq hc sbe Puryy jura Jurngyl pnyyrq ure sng naq na becuna?

Yes again. They played me like a fiddle.

I think I'll spend this Easter Sunday celebrating gur qrngu naq erfheerpgvba bs bhe fnivbe Pnebyvar by reading the developer commentaries.
posted by homunculus at 9:12 AM on April 24, 2011


Jnf nalbar ryfr ernyyl perrcrq bhg jura Jurngyrl qbhoyr-pebffrf lbh?

V guvax V jnf zber cvffrq guna perrcrq-bhg. V ernyyl yvxrq Jurngyrl va gur ortvaavat, naq zl srryvat bs orgenlny jnf cnycnoyr. Ubarfgyl, V ernyyl qba'g unir n fbsg fcbg sbe crbcyr be NV'f jub ner frqhprq ol gur cebzvfr bs nofbyhgr cbjre -- fcnpr vf jurer gurl orybat.
posted by treepour at 12:19 PM on April 24, 2011


I can't stop saving defective turrets. DAMN YOU, EMPATHY!
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:58 PM on April 24, 2011


Just finished the single-player. Absolute genius. Problem is, now I want co-op, but DAMN YOU PSN!
posted by Rock Steady at 7:45 PM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Right there with you, Rock Steady. The game is amazing in single-player mode but no one will play local co-op with me and PSN has been down for four days! MeMail me when it comes back online, if you're still looking for a partner, and we can join up.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 7:52 PM on April 24, 2011


You got it, sir.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:04 PM on April 24, 2011


Still about 3/4ths of the way through Single Player, but I can say that giggling like a madman after hearing "Guvf arkg grfg punzore vf ybbxvat CERG-GL TBBQ" definitely improved my mood after breaking up with a girlfriend on Friday.

I'm loving the 1940s-1970s Aperture Science offices, and already ordered a poster set.
posted by mrbill at 10:29 AM on April 25, 2011


Speaking of which...

Twenty Aperture Science Poters (warning: contains some spoilers)

My favorite: DO NOT LOOK AT, TOUCH, INGEST, OR ENGAGE IN CONVERSATION WITH ANY SUBSTANCES BEYOND THIS POINT
posted by Rhaomi at 10:30 AM on April 25, 2011


Rhaomi: a lot of folks on Reddit are making high-resolution / vectorized versions of those, but I just ordered the official poster for '40s Aperture from the Valve Store.
posted by mrbill at 10:33 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


(warning: self-link) more posters and images from the game here, extracted from the data files by someone @ Reddit.
posted by mrbill at 10:34 AM on April 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Valve 'Probably' Done With Single-Player Games
posted by homunculus at 11:42 AM on April 25, 2011


Valve 'Probably' Done With Single-Player Games

Well, that's disappointing, considering that Valve makes some of the best 1-player games out there. I'd hate to see them devolve into a company that only makes CS and TF knockoffs. (Both of which, while good, suck for those of us without ninja-like reflexes, which was one of the very, very, very nice things about Portal 2 compared to its predecessor)

Hopefully, he's been misquoted.
posted by schmod at 12:16 PM on April 25, 2011


Super-misleading headline. Supporting multiplayer campaigns over strictly single-player modes doesn't mean abandoning campaigns entirely in favor of an endless deathmatch and MMO fest.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:22 PM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Was anyone else constantly reminded of the big room full of doors from Monsters, Inc?

Haven't played the co-op mode yet...so maybe the parallels run deeper than that.
posted by schmod at 1:06 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Super-misleading headline.

From Kotaku?!? *GASP*
posted by graventy at 2:18 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Super-misleading headline. Supporting multiplayer campaigns over strictly single-player modes doesn't mean abandoning campaigns entirely in favor of an endless deathmatch and MMO fest.

It doesn't. On the other hand, it strikes me as nearly as terrible. I want my games to be mostly single player.
posted by Justinian at 12:29 AM on April 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


Interesting bit of theorycrafting from reddit.
posted by empath at 6:45 AM on April 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


That...

that actually holds together.

and it explains all the birds.

AHH BIRD! BIRD! BIRD!
posted by The Whelk at 7:25 AM on April 26, 2011


Vf gur Cebzrgurhf guvat abg znqr gbgnyyl rkcyvpvg ol gur "Cebzrgurhf gheerg", gubhtu? Gurer ner erfbanaprf nyy bire gur cynpr - Pnir Wbuafba vf Cebzrgurhf, gur fcvevg bs vairagvba jubfr tvsgf obgu perngr naq qrfgebl (sver), ohg nyfb Cnaqben, gur cbffrffbe bs gur obk pbagnvavat qrngu naq rivy juvpu ner serrq jura vg vf bcrarq (TYnQBF). Pnebyvar vf gur "ubcr" gung vf fuhg va gur obk (TYnQBF). TYnQBF vf crpxrq ol n oveq, yvxr Cebzrgurhf, ohg vf nyfb oebhtug hc sebz Gnegnehf ol Puryy, juvpu znxrf Puryy Urenpyrf engure guna Cnaqben... naq fb ba. Vg'f n ybg bs erfbanapr naq ersrerapr engure guna n fgevpg oybj-ol-oybj ergryyvat.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:49 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Justinian: "It doesn't. On the other hand, it strikes me as nearly as terrible. I want my games to be mostly single player."

Same here. I still haven't played the co-op campaign because nobody I know IRL has the game, and I really can't stand multiplayer games unless I actually know the person. I always feel awkward.
posted by brundlefly at 9:22 AM on April 26, 2011


MeTa.
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:55 AM on April 26, 2011


(The metatalk is in reference to the use of rot13 on mefi. Which, command summary: it's kind of annoying, please maybe don't do that in the future unless there's some really exceptional reason to do so. But that's more for the Metatalk than in here, so, carry on with Portal 2 joy.)
posted by cortex at 10:12 AM on April 26, 2011


There's a particular commentary node in one of the co-op maps (I think it's the first one where the bots go outside the test chambers) where they say outright that they cut down the amount of storytelling and talking in co-op because players wanted to chat with each other, play around and not stand there listening to GLaDOS talk to them for any length of time. As a result, I thought co-op was a hundred times less memorable than single-player. Yeah, okay, repetition gets old fast, but which one is being quoted, argued over and overthought across the whole Internet right now?

If they want to phase out exclusive single-player (whatever they mean by that, exactly) then okay, I guess - I had a great time with Portal 2's co-op, in itself - but if they're going to cut anything not instantly gratifying to make that kind of allowance for short group attention spans, assuming people are pogoing around and shit-talking each other over voice-chat, I think they're at risk of cutting out a lot of what makes Valve games remarkable.

Perhaps there's a point where voice-enabled multiplayer just inevitably starts to detract from atmosphere, narrative, immersiveness and so on. I mean, me and my partner played Portal 2 co-op together and would happily have listened to five times the talking there is in SP, but I strongly get the impression randoms found on Steam or Xbox Live are the audience Valve are designing to, and are desperate not to bore.

Maybe they've got an unexpected masterplan - incidental, almost passive multiplayer a bit like Demon's Souls, or that The Crossing thing that disappeared a while back. Or maybe they'll literally tailor the delivery of the story to the player count, so you can play through Episode 3 with an AI Alyx and get the full talky experience, or have a friend control her and play the same bits but with characters giving a concise, bare-essentials summary of what you're doing and why. I'd hate to have seen Portal 2's outstanding writing and storytelling cut down according to the rules the commentary implies they followed for co-op, though, and I'd hate to see it happen to their next game.
posted by emmtee at 10:35 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a particular commentary node in one of the co-op maps (I think it's the first one where the bots go outside the test chambers) where they say outright that they cut down the amount of storytelling and talking in co-op because players wanted to chat with each other, play around and not stand there listening to GLaDOS talk to them for any length of time. As a result, I thought co-op was a hundred times less memorable than single-player.

I had precisely the opposite feeling about it. I thought the co-op and the original portal were better games because they cut out a lot of the unnecessary story telling stuff.

The point of Portal 1 was the portals, not GladOs and relationships and all the sci-fi backstory and mythology. Those are all distractions from the core game play. Story is what you add to a game when the game isn't fun enough by itself to demand that you continue playing.
posted by empath at 10:40 AM on April 26, 2011


Story is what you add to a game when the game isn't fun enough by itself to demand that you continue playing.

I imagine we more or less agree that strong gameplay is one of the fundamental things a game designer should be looking to, but beyond that I think the above is just crazily off-the mark in how restrictive a view of valid game design paradigms it represents.
posted by cortex at 10:43 AM on April 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


In as much as storytelling isn't game design, I'm okay with that.
posted by empath at 11:07 AM on April 26, 2011


(Which isn't to say that game shouldn't have story -- games are usually built on metaphor, so you need something to grab onto -- but if you have a choice between gameplay and story, I don't think you can go wrong by sacrificing story).
posted by empath at 11:19 AM on April 26, 2011


I think the best thing about the climax was that nf rirelguvat fybjrq qbja naq V fnj gur zbba, gurer jnf na vafgnag "Zbba qhfg > cbegny fhesnpr > V jbaqre vs V pna...." genva bs gubhtug naq gura vg ghearq bhg lrf. Vg sryg zber yvxr V unq pbzr hc jvgu na vatravbhf jnl gb xvyy uvz engure guna V unq sbhaq gur cer-frg jnl gb xvyy uvz. Zhpu zber fngvfslvat guna gur hfhny "nggnpx obff'f jrnxcbvagf hagvy qrnq".
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:25 AM on April 26, 2011


I think that's way too binary, is my feeling. You can sure as shit go wrong sacrificing story if the gain in gameplay is less than the loss in story. If you've got a comparative advantage toward storytelling skills, you're almost by definition making the wrong choice even.

To some extent really good storytelling is more valuable than really good gameplay in any given instance because it's not as portable. A story you get right or you don't; barring someone doing a really inspired retelling of that specific story, it's a one-time affair. Really good gameplay shines through as a mechanic that's more easily co-opted by other games—proving that a new gameplay concept works means other people can say, "shit, that's a great mechanic, let's see how we can adopt and improve that in this context".

You can always release more levels for Portal. It's by definition a puzzler; it lends itself to story-agnostic extra maps. You can't really DLC a story that wasn't there into a story that's already been told; you get it right or you don't, and the way human's experience a narrative means you can revise and re-release but you can't put that cat back in the bag.
posted by cortex at 11:28 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Really good gameplay shines through as a mechanic that's more easily co-opted by other games—proving that a new gameplay concept works means other people can say, "shit, that's a great mechanic, let's see how we can adopt and improve that in this context".

Yeah, but at the same time, games that depend on authored narrative don't have much staying power. People play it once (maybe twice), and never touch it again. Compare to Call of Duty (multiplayer), Minecraft, Civilization, the Sims, Starcraft, TF2, Left4Dead, Eve, (not even getting into pure game-y games like peggle, etc...)

It's the rare story-based game that gets people playing for months and years afterwards. And if you happen to get the timing or the marketing wrong, as with Psychonauts or Beyond Good and Evil, which were both mediocre games with good narratives, then you're never going to find an audience.

Valve, in general, though, are one of the few companies who really get this, and let the game take the lead, to the point where the narrative seems to emerge organically from the background rather than something that you watch between levels. I personally think they went a tad too far in foregrounding the story in the singleplayer -- largely because the implied urgency of the storyline kept them from putting any really cerebral stumpers in the game, but the co-op, to me, was pretty much perfect. I could have even done with a bit more story in the final levels of the co-op even.
posted by empath at 11:54 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but at the same time, games that depend on authored narrative don't have much staying power. People play it once (maybe twice), and never touch it again.

Well, it may not have a ton of replay value, but that's hardly the only thing that "staying power" can mean. Portal 1 had huge staying power; a hell of a lot more people seem to have been touched/inspired/affected by that game than e.g. Just Cause 2, which also had an authored narrative and has some very fun gameplay. But I'm enjoying lately JC2 despite an inept authored narrative, whereas I enjoyed the gameplay in Portal but it was the storytelling attached to it that made it such a wonderfully definitive moment in my gaming history.

Planescape: Torment has no real fluidity of narrative. Arcanum doesn't either, and it's buggy as shit to boot. And yet they both have tremendous traction in my experience, because they both so effectively gave me a world to care about.

Further to that, I don't really feel like I need to get just-for-the-gameplay replay value out of a game to have gotten what I wanted out of it, if the story experience is really that good. Ico is a platformer that I'll eventually play again some time if I get the opportunity, but it wasn't a game I finished and then needed to start another game of: it was a wonderful and singular experience but more in the telling of the journey than in any promise that I'd go back and push those blocks again, flip those switches again, grab her hand again.

There's lots of fantastic books I'll probably never reread, great films I'll likely never rewatch, that stay with me and that I'm deeply glad to have experienced. I'm okay with a game that can pull that off. If the game is also just plain fun to play in the mean time just for the sheer joy of gameplay, that's an extra special gem indeed. Games that are all about just the sheer joy of gameplay are fine, too, but they're hardly the be-all end-all of the experiential chowder that is the videogame form.
posted by cortex at 12:06 PM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


You know, I just wrote a whole long thing here, but hang on a second. Are we judging things according to sheer time spent playing? Sense and Sensibility has an authored narrative. Done in a few hours, no reason whatsoever to touch it again. Nothing at all like football, which people have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours playing! Clearly should have spent all that time coming up with a competitor to the offside rule, Austen, you fool.

This sort of conversation won't make any sense until we actually separate game-as-sport, let's say, from game-as-story. They both include mechanics, but one of them is solely mechanics and the other de-emphasises them to use them as a storytelling device. I think you're arguing that Portal 2 should have been game-as-sport. I submit that Sense and Sensibility should have been football.
posted by emmtee at 12:11 PM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Further to that, I don't really feel like I need to get just-for-the-gameplay replay value out of a game to have gotten what I wanted out of it, if the story experience is really that good. Ico is a platformer that I'll eventually play again some time if I get the opportunity, but it wasn't a game I finished and then needed to start another game of: it was a wonderful and singular experience but more in the telling of the journey than in any promise that I'd go back and push those blocks again, flip those switches again, grab her hand again.

Exactly - like, more recently, Odyssey - Journey to the West by Ninja Theory. Single player only, short (eight hours or so), no replayability, really. The gameplay is nothing revolutionary, and the camera is pretty annoying at times, but the story, setting, script, acting and pretty graphics are very enjoyable. It's a different way to experience a game, and if I'd paid $60 for it in the belief it was going to be Gears of War I'd be annoyed, but I didn't want Gears of War - I wanted to see what happens when Alex Garland writes the plot and script of a game and Andy Serkis mocaps and voices the lead.

I played the single player of Portal from beginning to end in one night. It cost me about as much as four cinema tickets, took me about as long as watching four movies, and if I never play it again I'll feel I have my money's worth. The co-op, for me, is nice but a lot of the fun comes from interacting with the world the single player game has created. In the same way, I play Left 4 Dead 2 maps in single player to admire the world building and atmosphere, and multiplayer to race through having fun.
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:24 PM on April 26, 2011


Actually, that could make more sense. I just liked berating Jane Austen for not writing about football.

Let's do Fever Pitch. Book about football, uses football as a device to drive its narrative. Football. Game about football, uses football as a game to see who is better at football.

It reads like you're saying Fever Pitch, because it's a finite authored narrative that includes football but sacrifices its focus on the game in order to tell its story, should be more like the game, which has no narrative and is thus free to be played endlessly.
posted by emmtee at 12:25 PM on April 26, 2011


I am here late to say: GLaDOS/SHODAN slashfic.
That is all.
posted by charred husk at 1:01 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


It reads like you're saying Fever Pitch, because it's a finite authored narrative that includes football but sacrifices its focus on the game in order to tell its story, should be more like the game, which has no narrative and is thus free to be played endlessly.

What I'm saying, simply, is that narrative is not what games do best, and will never be what games do best, and that, in general, games designers should focus on doing the things that are only possible in game.

I think you're arguing that Portal 2 should have been game-as-sport. I submit that Sense and Sensibility should have been football.

I think you actually are suggesting the equivalent of saying that Sense and Sensibility would be better with some minigames in between chapters. Books are books and games are games. I don't think books are improved by making them more game-like, and I don't think games are (generally) improved by making them more book-like.
posted by empath at 1:34 PM on April 26, 2011


And on the replayability thing and why it's valuable, I think that is a fundamental part of what makes games game-like, is that you can indulge in counterfactuals which are impossible with traditional narratives. 'Replayability' implies that you can do things differently and you'll have a different result. If there's a heavily authored narrative structure imposed on the game, that almost by necessity reduces replayability, because it makes a second play through less interesting.
posted by empath at 1:39 PM on April 26, 2011


I finished Portal 2. Did anyone else get pissed they didn't see the outside world beyond the acknowledgement that it exists? It seems like so much seemed to indicate an apocalypse had occurred, the world taken over by aliens, etc. in the inbetween things, I was wanting more of a back story.

Don't get me wrong, it was great how the story played out ... but what happened with Cave Johnson, did he die of moon rock poisoning (can't believe I just typed that last statement)? When did everything become autonomous? Did Aperture cause the end of the world?

Considering the gameplay is entirely focused on you getting out the facility and on the mystery of what exactly happened, I felt a little cheated in that regard. All we know is that the world is habitable.

I'm almost tempted to play again and maybe see if there were clues, but the lack of anything on the Wikipedia page makes me believe that, no, I didn't miss anything.
posted by geoff. at 2:07 PM on April 26, 2011


What I'm saying, simply, is that narrative is not what games do best, and will never be what games do best, and that, in general, games designers should focus on doing the things that are only possible in game.

And I think that's absolutely ridiculous. It's like saying rock shouldn't be improvisational because that's jazz's job. Or television should not attempt to adapt plays for TV because that's the stage's job.

Story made Portal big, as much as having a unique gameplay element. Valve's greatest strength is that they see the the value in storycraft and work as hard on that as they do on gameplay.

It's time we stopped seeing games as, well, games. Some games are about Sisyphean work, like Tetris. Some are about killing everything. Some are about killing everything with your friends. And some are interactive fiction. And just as novels can be pulp, or literary, or airplane books, games can be any number of things.

You don't like games to tell stories. That's fine. But stop saying that storycraft in games isn't important; it's essential to many genres.
posted by dw at 2:09 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


What I'm saying, simply, is that narrative is not what games do best, and will never be what games do best, and that, in general, games designers should focus on doing the things that are only possible in game.

Well, I think there is a kind of narrative that is only possible in games, and that that kind of narrative is what games do best for me. Shadow of the Colossus, for example, forcing the player to make unpleasant decisions. Portal, sneaking a fascinating story into a game where it seemed none had the right to exist. I missed that a bit in Portal 2 -- it was a more conventional story than the first one, but of course, it had to be. The "time traveling" aspect of the Cave Johnson sections was neat (and I actually thought for a while that at some point I'd be opening a portal to 1940), but it wasn't "untellable" in any other media.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:12 PM on April 26, 2011


Yeah, but at the same time, games that depend on authored narrative don't have much staying power. People play it once (maybe twice), and never touch it again.

I barely have enough time to play the games I want to play once. In fact I have pretty much given up on a series I once loved (Final Fantasy) because I no longer had the time to put into it. Replayability is of zero concern to me.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:21 PM on April 26, 2011


The fact sphere has a twitter account.
posted by The Whelk at 2:52 PM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


You don't like games to tell stories. That's fine. But stop saying that storycraft in games isn't important; it's essential to many genres.

I said neither of those things in this thread, only that narrative should take a backseat to gameplay.
posted by empath at 2:53 PM on April 26, 2011


Videogames are just a new storytelling medium, and the first to grow from games although not the first from play. We're seeing these first faltering steps toward a language less derivative of other forms. There are elements of acting in there, inhabiting a character and seeing a fictional world through their eyes, and maybe also of not having any say in the script. Or picking your lines from a selection. You're emphatically an actor, not the writer. But then, the player is simultaneously the entire audience, acting only for their own benefit. That's not really like anything else, and it's got incredible potential. I just think, to begin to meet that, writers need to stop focusing so heavily on game mechanics. They're a means to an end, a way of telling parts of the story. Important, but not all-important. Most games right now are films that are 95% explosions and car chases, or plays where the battle scenes go on until the one guy who's best with a sword has beaten the rest of the cast unconscious.

I'm by no means saying narrative videogames should edge out pure 'game' games, single-player high-score stuff or multiplayer arenas. They're games. We've always played games, and likely always will, and games are fun. It's just crazy to want to limit a medium that's branching off from pure games and wants to tell stories because - tied to gee-wow technological jumps and big business as it is - its growth has been constrained compared to earlier media and it's taking its time for creators to figure out what it can be.

One thing that I'd argue videogames are, or can be, better at than any other storytelling medium? World-building. Sense of place. Portal: The Movie, or Portal: The Novel would give me a fraction the sense of standing there as Chell, alone on these cold tiles, knowing the inhuman intelligence controlling every inch of the place hates her. A book could put me in her head and a film could show me what the place looks like, but in terms of walking around, touching the walls, taking my time to drink in the atmosphere? There's only as much description as is on the page, the camera only lingers for so long. Take, say, Ambergris or New Crobuzon - both fantastical settings, both originating in books. Videogames could make me feel like I've stood in those places, breathed in the air, better than a book can, far better than a film could. There isn't room on the page or time in the pacing to fill in the details, to linger over shop windows and side streets. That's not to say games could tell the stories set in those places anywhere near as well, not with the language of game narrative we have today and not necessarily ever, but as a pure act of world description? No contest.

Yet - I feel my character's weight as I move, I control interactions with doors, maybe with other characters. Those things are game - rules, mechanics describe my movement - but they're not game: there's no win condition, maybe, no death. Game mechanics stripped down and incorporated in service of a story, on the basis that it's a different experience to shoot the gun than to watch someone else do it, even if there's no way to miss any more than there's a way to drop trou and do a jig.

In a narrative videogame I can't necessarily decide to just fuck off in the opposite direction any more than an actor can - the writer has a story to tell, and it's pandering to the same drive as self-insert fanfic to let the player be themselves but in a fantasy world, and similarly satisfying as a story - but I can give the performance my own flavour, if only in terms of how I inhabit that character for the length of my stay. For the videogame to recognise and incorporate that 'acting style' - am I an impatient Chell? A destructive one? The story's the same but this is Matt Smith's Doctor rather than David Tennant's. Except in an orange jumpsuit and friends with a cube. That's maybe a next step.

As for Sense and Sensibilitystorm, 2012 from Epic? I'd play that. Maybe there's something in seeing Willoughby through Marianne and Elinor's eyes, walking around Barton Cottage, that other adaptations are missing? The medium needs time to mature into itself before it can handle anything like that - I'd argue over-reliance on game mechanics providing quick-fix throwaway fun is slowing that development even in indie developers with little concern for marketing, just because games should be fun. And ironically, mechanics to drive player involvement in character interaction and conversation might be needed too. As tempting as Marianne Dashwood's Conversation Parade (don't let your hysteria meter get too high!) might be, like the puzzles in Portal it would need to illustrate the story through player action, not overshadow it. As an adaptation, let's compare it with other adaptations, because none is likely to match its native medium. Better than a TV series, a radio play, a film? Perhaps.
posted by emmtee at 2:54 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Books are books and games are games.

A murder mystery is not a biography; Saramago is not Hemmingway. Setting aside even the idea that new media should bluntly ignore what older media has done well just because they're superficially different working forms, your assertion is too reductive for the individual mediums themselves.

Again, gameplay is important. It's, yes, the thing about games that is most defining of the medium. But the idea that it must always be the most important element of a game experience or that a developer is by definition wrong for focusing on non-gameplay elements is just not well-footed. Things are a lot more complex than that.
posted by cortex at 2:56 PM on April 26, 2011


As for Sense and Sensibilitystorm

Because I am a child, I made this.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:27 PM on April 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


Videogames are just a new storytelling medium

No, they aren't 'just' a storytelling medium. Not all art forms are storytelling media, nor do they need to be. You can tell a story with a painting or with dance or with music, but you don't need to, and those that don't aren't any lesser than those that do.

One thing that I'd argue videogames are, or can be, better at than any other storytelling medium? World-building. Sense of place. Portal: The Movie, or Portal: The Novel would give me a fraction the sense of standing there as Chell, alone on these cold tiles, knowing the inhuman intelligence controlling every inch of the place hates her. A book could put me in her head and a film could show me what the place looks like, but in terms of walking around, touching the walls, taking my time to drink in the atmosphere? There's only as much description as is on the page, the camera only lingers for so long. Take, say, Ambergris or New Crobuzon - both fantastical settings, both originating in books. Videogames could make me feel like I've stood in those places, breathed in the air, better than a book can, far better than a film could. There isn't room on the page or time in the pacing to fill in the details, to linger over shop windows and side streets.

What you are describing may be something that stories include, but simulation is one of those things that makes games what they are, and can exist entirely separate from any authored narrative -- for example in minecraft or Eve online, both of which are games that support emergent narratives.

More over, if this is what you enjoy in games, then again, you should be suspicious of narratives imposed on an interesting, realistic simulation where you're allowed to be an actor in it, because it destroys agency and freedom. One of the great flaws of open world games with stories is that the needs of storytelling require a sense of urgency, but the joy of simulation and exploration demands that you take your time. So if you're going to drive the game with an imposed narrative, you're either going to frustrate the player by not allowing him to explore the world you've created at his own pace, or you're going to destroy the reality of whatever over arching story you're trying to tell by letting him interrupt his quest to save the world to spend 10 or 20 hours grinding out side quests whenever he feels like it.

In any case, back to Portal -- really, how good of a game story is it? Your character is mute, and does nothing but solve puzzles. You're not even the protagonist. The protagonist is really Wheatley in the first act and GladOs in the third act. You're a cipher, a spectator. You don't have any more substantial impact on the events than the riders of Pirates of the Caribbean do. (And in fact, the story telling techniques are very similar between those kinds of rides and the Valve method.) I mean sure, the story doesn't advance until you hit the triggers, but the story in a Disney land ride doesn't advance until you hit the right section of track, either. You have a choice of where to look when the pre-canned animations play, but you don't have any way to change them.

The middle section is just one 'audio-diary' after another, which is pretty much the laziest way you can possibly tell a story in a video game, and does little to advance the plot.

That said, for what it is, the storytelling in Portal 2 is spectacularly well implemented, better than pretty much any other game. But it still doesn't compare favorably to most non-game stories, and moreover, if you muted all the voice overs in the game (essentially excising the story) -- how much less interesting would it make the game? I would suggest that it wouldn't make the experience of playing the game significantly worse.

My point here, really isn't that storytelling in games is bad only that it is largely decoration and that when there is a choice to be made between sacrificing game play and sacrificing narrative, game play should win out.
posted by empath at 5:06 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why?
posted by flatluigi at 11:44 PM on April 26, 2011


Right. Finally finished it & all ready to talk about portal. What did I miss?
posted by seanyboy at 5:54 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


But it still doesn't compare favorably to most non-game stories

Spoken like a man who has never seen Jumper.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:20 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


What did I miss?

Portal 2 is apparently a mother-daughter drama with a heavy dose of Prometheus re-telling and sentient turrets.
posted by The Whelk at 7:29 AM on April 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


That said, for what it is, the storytelling in Portal 2 is spectacularly well implemented, better than pretty much any other game. But it still doesn't compare favorably to most non-game stories, and moreover, if you muted all the voice overs in the game (essentially excising the story) -- how much less interesting would it make the game? I would suggest that it wouldn't make the experience of playing the game significantly worse.

Hmm. If that's genuinely how you feel about Portal 2 then I am not sure we could have a real discussion about storytelling in games. I don't say that to be dismissive, I just think we are coming from such different places that we will end up talking past each other (which is what seems to be happening in this thread).
posted by Rock Steady at 7:34 AM on April 27, 2011


Spoilerific Valve Interview

The "Different Turret" is actually called "The Oracle Turret".
posted by The Whelk at 7:38 AM on April 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also

Epic Conjecture Thread.

I do like how the ending (so satisfying) shuts the door on a sequel. I actually don't see how they could wedge Chell into another game without a retcon.
posted by The Whelk at 7:41 AM on April 27, 2011


Ignoring the "Well now you're free! And alone! And helpless! In the wilderness!" part.
posted by The Whelk at 7:51 AM on April 27, 2011


I don't recall, was the portal gun emancipated from Chell before she got chucked to the surface? If not, well...if GladOS could fit in a potato, I imagine she could hide a bit of herself on a piece of genuine Aperture Science machinery to keep an eye on whatever else Chell might come across on the surface. Skynet wasn't built in a day.
posted by cortex at 7:57 AM on April 27, 2011


I think it's left unsaid if she still has the Portal gun.

That being said, there's some rumblings that the whole thing connects to the Half Life Universe via ...wait for it ...wait for it.....


Time Travel.
posted by The Whelk at 8:00 AM on April 27, 2011


Just played through the second time, to get the commentaries. Unlike the first Portal, the commentaries leave me a bit wanting -- I feel like there was a lot left unsaid about the graphic design, atmosphere, storyline, etc.

They make it clear, in some ways, that Portal 2 is a retcon of Portal 1 -- no glaring inconsistencies in building out the backstories of Aperture Labs and GLaDOS, but there are details which don't quite fit either. For example, GLaDOS's unawareness of her former incarnation is explained away well (a combination of amnesia and being an unreliable informant), but if it doesn't quite ring true when considering her behavior in the first game.

As for the ending, you see Chell's hands up until GLaDOS sends her off. And Chell is left with a gift which implies, to some degree, that GLaDOS is not as entirely back to her former self as she claims. So the ending is neat and complete if Valve never makes Portal 3 or drops the Chell storyline. But there are also openings for, say, Chell to embark on a rescue mission of sorts.

My guess: If Portal 3 isn't going to be more of the same, they're going to have to drop Chell and either make up a new character and context (and game mechanisms to suit), or else build something entirely around the co-op bots.
posted by ardgedee at 8:19 AM on April 27, 2011


I think they would have shown Chell holding the portal gun if she still had it, or thrown one out the door if she were to keep one.

Considering the events in the ending, it might not be such a good idea to keep the portal gun outside. Also, it contains a miniature black hole that can start growing with improper maintenance according to the investment video "Boots." And if you get it wet, bad things will happen, if that line from Portal 1 is canon.

Also, even Erik Wolpaw says he thinks the ending is a bit of a downer when you think about it. It's unclear if he's admitting they didn't think the ending through, if he's being deliberately vague so they can surprise us if they decide to do more with Chell somehow, or if it's metahumor (he gets rather dark about it).

In case it's not clear, Erik is a bit of a jokester prone to hyperbole and awkward humor. Don't steal his butter.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:25 AM on April 27, 2011


Unless, of course, Chell has magic pockets like Gordon Freeman where she stores her portal gun when it's not needed. Perhaps she had a rocket launcher this whole time, and we just haven't learned the keystroke to access it.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:27 AM on April 27, 2011


Didn't they change the ending of the first Portal? I remember the original ending just had Chell ejected into the outside world and laying there, the assumption being that she had escaped. Then it was retconned to her then being dragged back inside (with the comic filling in the gaps). Who's to say Valve won't add something to the ending again? (Though it would be pretty cheap to pull that stunt twice.)
posted by charred husk at 8:52 AM on April 27, 2011


Yep, Valve changed it with a patch, which is kind of weird. Technically, it just makes the ending longer and less ambiguous, but I feel a bit reminded of Lucas editing so Han didn't shoot first.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:56 AM on April 27, 2011


> they would have shown Chell holding the portal gun if she still had it, or thrown one out the door if she were to keep one.

It's ambiguous, deliberate or otherwise. In all of Portal 1 and all but the end of the boss in Portal 2 - you never see her bare hands; if she isn't carrying a gun, her hands are implicitly at her side, and if she's carrying something without the portal gun it hovers in space in front of her. So temporarily showing her hands is a pointed display, a break in the game-world UI, and kind of awkward. (I probably would have begun involuntarily waving my hands to conduct the turret chorus, but that's just me.)

For all we know, Chell's portal gun was vacuumed up along with various other things. In any event, since we know the lunar surface can take a portal, the game designers have cornered themselves: Being able to portal up to the moon at any time risks being a god-mode hack, so gameplay for subsequent sequels are going to be constrained in terms of environment (they all take place indoors or while the moon is below the horizon), or else the ability to do this gets conveniently ignored/retconned away.
posted by ardgedee at 9:16 AM on April 27, 2011


I do like how the ending (so satisfying) shuts the door on a sequel. I actually don't see how they could wedge Chell into another game without a retcon.

"Chell's diary: day 66. I have been hiking for over two months and have found no sign of human life, nor any indication that these lands were ever inhabited. But this is America; how long was I asleep? Regardless, I must keep--"

Chell stops writing as a slight tremor shakes the ground. She stands and scans the horizon, sees a fireball rising against the sky and smoke climbing to block the evening sun.

An object crashes to the ground, metres from her, trailing wires and debris that spatter around her like hailstones. It looks like-- no! It can't be!

"So," says GLaDOS, archly, "how have you been?"
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:39 AM on April 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


For all we know, Chell's portal gun was vacuumed up along with various other things.

I'm pretty sure the portal gun was the first thing that got sucked into space. But I like to think that there's another one hidden inside the final cube.
posted by homunculus at 11:21 AM on April 27, 2011


I like to think that there's another one hidden inside the final cube.

"In case of emergency, hug cube."
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:39 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


ardgedee: "In any event, since we know the lunar surface can take a portal, the game designers have cornered themselves: Being able to portal up to the moon at any time risks being a god-mode hack, so gameplay for subsequent sequels are going to be constrained in terms of environment (they all take place indoors or while the moon is below the horizon), or else the ability to do this gets conveniently ignored/retconned away."

I don't know; it could be an interesting gameplay feature. Through judicious use of portal-able surfaces and areas where you can/cannot see the moon, it would be cool to be able to create a raging vortex to dispatch enemies. Kind of like a supercharged Pneumatic Diversity Vent, which was conspicuously absent in this installment.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:19 PM on April 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Forget it's open and suck all of earth's atmosphere into space!
posted by The Whelk at 12:22 PM on April 27, 2011


Something like that has already happened in the game, now that I think of it -- when the Combine invaded before Half-Life 2, they installed massive portals on the ocean floor to drain Earth's water back into their dimension. That's why the sea levels are so low throughout the coastal areas of the game.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:25 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Question: are portable surfaces specifically and exclusively those coated with processed moon rock? I am chicken-and-egging this shit.
posted by cortex at 12:26 PM on April 27, 2011


Question: are portable surfaces specifically and exclusively those coated with processed moon rock? I am chicken-and-egging this shit.

I don't think so. We know that moon rock works, but I don't think it is likely that all the generic test chamber walls (and random office walls/hallways/tunnels throughout the Aperture complex) were painted with moon paint.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:29 PM on April 27, 2011


put that egg back in that chicken this instant.
posted by The Whelk at 12:30 PM on April 27, 2011


It's possible Aperture used lunar paint to make the facility portal-able, but why would they use it behind the scenes? Plus, it doesn't make much practical sense -- a portal gun isn't very useful in combat (or whatever they were developing it for) if you have to coat the endpoints beforehand with extremely expensive paint. I think the moon dust just makes placing portals easier, letting you fire them at places where you couldn't before. But other surfaces work, too.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:33 PM on April 27, 2011


I would listen to it's tiny cheerful voice all day
posted by The Whelk at 12:35 PM on April 27, 2011


I contend that if you (for some vague military industrial complex sense of "you") have already been to the moon, and brought back some moon rocks, and have figured out how to create portals in principle, and discover that moon dusted surfaces are what make the portals actually work in a stable fashion in practice, the issue of the cost of collecting more moonrock has become moot.

Because you build a mining chamber, and you fire a portal at the damn moon to pair to the mining orifice in that chamber. And then you're just hoovering out rock like nobody's business.

I'm guessing there are concrete details of the revealed mythology or timeline that make this theory not work. But I'm not convinced that "moon rock would be expensive to gather" is actually a workable argument, and it is a fun theory to pet. It is a pettable theory.
posted by cortex at 12:39 PM on April 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


You know, I played the game through twice in two weeks (the second time for the commentary track), and I didn't realize there were clues in Cave Johnson's dying ramble about moon dust until, like, two minutes ago. That made me feel so incredibly... lame.
posted by ardgedee at 12:45 PM on April 27, 2011


> It is a pettable theory.

Except for the matter of chronology. Portal guns were working in the 50s, man brought back moon rocks in the late 60s (according to official history, anyway), but Cave didn't hypothesize an association between portals and moon rock until the 80s (according to game chronology, anyway).

Maybe it's the extra portal-ability of moon dust-flecked surfaces that allow portal guns to scale down from jetpack-scale affairs to a hand tool, with corresponding improvements in power, but that wouldn't be directly relevant to your theory.
posted by ardgedee at 12:53 PM on April 27, 2011


You know, I played the game through twice in two weeks (the second time for the commentary track), and I didn't realize there were clues in Cave Johnson's dying ramble about moon dust until, like, two minutes ago.

If you watch the commentary, they often talk about subconsciously priming people with hints as you play through the game for a variety of puzzles -- as an example, there was a level where you're supposed to get to the far side of the map by using a simple portal, but they found that a lot of people forgot about that by the time they got there, so they primed it by having you portal across a similar gap immediately before you got into the room.

There are a TON of subliminal hints about the moon throughout the game, starting with the very first room. It's not just that speech. However, I don't think you were intended to pay special attention to any of it as an obvious clue.
posted by empath at 12:54 PM on April 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Plus there's all that Astronaut spacenapping.
posted by The Whelk at 12:55 PM on April 27, 2011


Portal 3 is all Mantis-Men. Obviously.
posted by The Whelk at 12:59 PM on April 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think it's left unsaid if she still has the Portal gun.

I'm pretty sure you see it being sucked out into spaaaaaaace, no?
posted by schmod at 1:04 PM on April 27, 2011


I found a better translation for the turret opera than the one in the post, and in addition to making the Chell-Caroline connection a lot more compelling, it's just so damn sad. Here it is (with some minor liberties taken to fit it in with the melody):
[The original Italian/Spanish]

Cara ben, cara mia bella
Mia bambina... oh Chell!
Qué lástima...
Qué lástima...
Oh cara mia... addio!

La mia bambina... cara...
Perché non passi lontana?
Sì, lontana da Scienza!
Cara, cara mia...
Bambina! Ah, mia ben!

Ah, mia cara!
Ah, mia cara!
Ah, mia bambina!
Oh cara... cara miiiia...

[Translation]

Dear sweetheart, my belovéd beauty
My baby girl... oh Chell!
How it pains me...
How it pains me...
Oh my darling... 'tis goodbye!

My li'l girl... darling...
Why not walk far away?
Yes, so far away from Science!
Darling, my darling dear...
My baby! Ah, my love!

Ah, my darling!
Ah, my darling!
Ah, my baby!
Oh darling, oh my dear...
Seriously, listening to the English words with that music and the implied backstory? It is sad. It is the saddest thing.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:59 PM on April 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh god, massive multiplayer Portal with all the test subjects found at the end of co-op given the tools tk build their own test chambers.

And they all have portal guns.
posted by The Whelk at 3:55 PM on April 27, 2011


I don't mean to ruin it for you, Whelk, but having another set of linked portals was apparently a huge hurdle for getting the engine to run smoothly. Even just one portal pair was a big achievement. In the commentary in Portal 1, a programmer goes into detail about how he had to simplify physics near portals in a "bubble" just to prevent the game from having 1-2 seconds of input lag each time something went through the portals. (I think Nabacular Drop got around that by not conserving momentum as well, although I haven't ever tried it)

Plus, there were all these crazy issues that would arise related to timing thanks to lag in portal 2 co-op. If you think about it, little things like moving a portal in high lag could really mess things up in terms of sanity between the two sessions.

Of course, a lot of those lag paradoxes could be resolved with a dedicated server (which co-op thankfully doesn't require), but damn, would that be processor intensive.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:03 PM on April 27, 2011


PS: Just found the interview I was thinking of. Worst case scenerio with two portals: REnder the world five times while keeping the game running smoothly, under default settings.

With four portals, in the worst case scenerio, you need to render the world 16 times, or 32 in splitscreen (as on the consoles).

And deciding where the player is in a multiplayer game is often done by averaging the coordinates the server (or in co-op, host) believes and the coordinates the client believes. This doesn't work for a game where you can be on one side of the room one second and on the other side of the room the next. Portal 2 compensates for that very well, but imagine multiplying that by each new player.

So, Portal 2 is more than just a pretty game. There's a lot of technical stuff going on under the hood.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:08 PM on April 27, 2011 [4 favorites]



Of course, a lot of those lag paradoxes could be resolved with a dedicated server (which co-op thankfully doesn't require), but damn, would that be processor intensive.


I BELIEVE IN THE FUTURE.
posted by The Whelk at 5:10 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm a bit hung up on the Oracle's Turret's line

"The answer is deep below us."

we spend the rest of the game after that going UP, could it be referring to the Living In-Stasis Test Subjects the Co-Op robots find?


Oh here's a terrible idea.

The combine lost.

But so did the humans.

Earth looks good cause it's relatively empty. Aperture's stasis test subjects actually represents the biggest concentrations of human beings on Earth at the time Chell makes her escape.

Portal 3 is them re-colonizing the surface.

With the help of GLaDos.
posted by The Whelk at 5:44 PM on April 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Mr. The Whelk, I believe you have the germ of something there.

But a game plot of "lead a whole lot of bedraggled people through a route of hostile mazes to the surface" would be hard to work into the key Portal game mechanic.

On the other hand... remember Lemmings?
posted by ardgedee at 5:54 PM on April 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


"They're sentient of course, we just have so many of them."
posted by The Whelk at 5:56 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, the pagination for Lab Rat on IGN's site is scrambled. It's in correct order on the Think With Portals site.
posted by ardgedee at 6:22 PM on April 27, 2011


The Whelk: you first meet the oracle turret before you fall. So indeed, you have to go down before you can go up.
posted by mrzarquon at 6:42 PM on April 27, 2011


I finally finished this tonite. That was a lot of fun right there. Oh hell yeah.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:26 PM on April 27, 2011


ah I had forgotten Mrzaquon when exactly that was

concerning time-lines, the Lab Rat comic mentions clones and harvesting people for clone raw material, so that could be a tell. It would fit into my own personal belief that this is not the first "chell" nor the first time GlaDos has done this.
posted by The Whelk at 7:54 PM on April 27, 2011


Portal 2 DLC in the summer (lots of spoilers in the link).
Doug: We will be announcing some DLC for it, so folks can keep a look out for more content coming this summer. We'll be putting more details out about that in a week or so. We'll support that with more videos or more comics.
shutupandtakemymoney.gif
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:17 AM on April 28, 2011


Also, I learned a new word:

Vitrification.
posted by The Whelk at 5:12 AM on April 28, 2011


DLC this summer.
posted by empath at 6:36 AM on April 28, 2011


I'm a bit hung up on the Oracle's Turret's line

"The answer is deep below us."

we spend the rest of the game after that going UP, could it be referring to the Living In-Stasis Test Subjects the Co-Op robots find?


I imagine it's referring to the abandoned facilities far underneath the modern Aperture laboratories, which you get sent to a little while after meeting the Oracle turret and have to climb back up from.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:46 AM on April 28, 2011


I'm kind of annoyed by how much the game 'helps' you. All the floaty icons telling you to pick up this object or pull that lever are very distracting. Yeah, I know I'm supposed to pick up the potato, shut up already.

Then there are the more subtle things like when the game will change your portal configuration to match the scripted cut scene. For example, in The Part Where He Kills You, you're standing on a platform surrounded by plates with pointy metal bits. You're supposed to portal some white gel onto the platform, then use that to portal yourself onto a nearby catwalk:
1) Put an orange portal on the catwalk.
2) Put a blue portal on the column under the dripping white gel.
3) Gel drips through the blue portal, out the orange portal, lands on your platform.
4) Put a blue portal under yourself so you pop out on the catwalk.

Here's the sneaky bit. In step 4, if you place an orange portal under yourself, you should pop out on the side of the column and plummet to your death. But that doesn't happen. Instead, the game will move the blue portal from the column to the catwalk, fixing your mistake.

I'm pretty sure the same thing happens with the lunar portal, but I haven't tested it. In other words, if you have an orange portal under Wheatley and shoot another orange portal at the moon (rather than a blue one), the game will quietly swap in a blue portal instead.

I'm currently playing through the game a second time, with the intention of doing a bit more exploring and maybe finding some new puzzle solutions and secret places. Unfortunately, there don't seem to be many new things to find.
posted by ryanrs at 9:14 AM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


> Then there are the more subtle things like when the game will change your portal configuration to match the scripted cut scene.

In the commentary for one of the levels in the final chapter, it's explained that while player-testing the part where you ride a light tunnel and have to dodge the spikey plate, users kept using the wrong portal over and over to the point of frustration. Valve decided to quietly allow either portal to work since it wasn't a major crux in the gameplay and the players shouldn't have to be punished for a minor flub in the course of solving an easy puzzle.

I would imagine, by extension, that there are a few other points in the game where they do the same thing.
posted by ardgedee at 10:18 AM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Everyone's a winner, eh? If players haven't figured out how portals work by that point, death is too good for them. Lenient consequences detract from the atmosphere. And more singing turrets, please.
posted by ryanrs at 11:08 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


...I mean, we're not even talking about fast twitch reaction times. It's literally, if you want to pop out the orange portal, you must jump in the blue one. You should be able to figure that one out from Valve's billboard advertising.
posted by ryanrs at 11:11 AM on April 28, 2011


Well, there's the reasonable question of whether you want someone's experience at a pivotal point where they're sort of embroiled in a story-centric Oh Shit moment to be "OH SHIT THIS THING THAT IS HAPPENING THAT I'M INVOLVED IN IS INTENSE" or "WHAT THE FUCK DID I PRESS THE WRONG BUTTON AGAIN".
posted by cortex at 11:15 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


"OH SHIT THIS THING THAT IS HAPPENING THAT I'M INVOLVED IN IS INTENSE" or "WHAT THE FUCK DID I PRESS THE WRONG BUTTON AGAIN".

Right. This gets right back to the point about storytelling vs. gameplay. Valve is telling a story with Portal, not making Tetris. The first game did an unmatched (and possibly unmatchable, in a post-Portal world) job of disguising a story as a puzzle, but it is a story first and foremost, as exemplified by that fact that they would choose to silently correct a small bit of gameplay mechanics rather than break the narrative flow.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:55 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


> If players haven't figured out how portals work by that point, death is too good for them.

Obviously nobody gets to that point without knowing how portals work. And, hell, even though Steam helpfully reports I've spent one man-day playing the Portals franchise, last week I still got to count an hour's worth of seconds wasted by aiming the gun at the right place, hitting the wrong button, and not going anywhere. When the stakes are low, getting faced for being right but not right enough is perfectly OK.

Even the spikey-plate scene I mentioned above was one I got to replay at least a dozen times as I kept trying to leap for the catwalk ahead of me, never noticing the portal wall that slid into view behind it. Even with the game designers' generosity, I wasn't solving the puzzle. If I had solved it and then promptly screwed myself by hitting the wrong button, I might have assumed I hadn't solved it, and begun trying to leap for the catwalk again. And, you know, fuck that; it's a lightweight interactive moment in what is otherwise meant to be a player-passive segue between two puzzles. Not everything has to be Of Minimum Hardness; the challenges immediately preceding and following it will do that job so let's keep things moving and hear Stephen Merchant riff some funny lines thank you very much.

And considering the scale of the game, the pure sit-and-watch cut scenes are few. Most of the narrative and almost all the important reveals occur as you're solving something or going somewhere.

The overarching play structure of Portal is not time-based (you can let Chell sit and stare at the back of a turret gun for bloody days if you want to), but that's far from claiming that its goal is primarily narrative rather than gameplay. The game hustles you along with a lot of atmospheric and narrative urgency but there would be no point to it without the puzzles, and the puzzles wouldn't be interesting without the narrative. Otherwise, you know, it's kind of like claiming "Watchmen" is not a comic book because the balance of words and pictures favors the words. Or whatever.
posted by ardgedee at 12:39 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


The game hustles you along with a lot of atmospheric and narrative urgency but there would be no point to it without the puzzles, and the puzzles wouldn't be interesting without the narrative.

I'm not sure that either of these statements are true. I think portal's story is good enough that it could have been told without involving the player at all; and as should be obvious from my previous comments in the thread, I think the puzzle game play of portal is good enough to stand on it's own with only the barest hint of narrative, as both Portal 2's co-op campaign and the first half to 2/3rds of Portal 1 demonstrate.
posted by empath at 1:08 PM on April 28, 2011


RPS discusses the game.
posted by empath at 1:28 PM on April 28, 2011


Sixty Symbols takes it on! Science!
posted by lazaruslong at 2:30 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think my favourite quote was:
"Finally a nemesis worthy of my vast intellect! Holmes versus Moriarty, Aristotle versus Mashy-spike-plate!"
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:52 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Speaking of vitrification, let's talk about cool science/military things we recognized or were motivated to look up in Portal 2 that made us feel so smart.

I liked seeing the big springs at the divide between Old Aperture and New Aperture, which appeared to be holding up the foundation of everything above a certain depth. It's around the end of chapter 7. Of course, those are actually a pretty cool reference to a feature of a NORAD base built inside of Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado. The facility is inside of a mountain, and it's on top of huge springs. Why springs? To absorb the shock of an earthquake, nuclear attack, or other disaster.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:49 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hm. Early in the game, when you fall into the chamber with the single-portal gun, Wheatley calls out for you, and then says that he's going to go, and will return in an hour.

Has anybody waited out the game for an hour to see what happens?
posted by ardgedee at 6:33 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've also discovered the fun of playing cube baseball in level 5 of the first chapter: Trigger the button for the backstop late enough and the cube will carom off the still-moving backstop and bounce around. Do it right and you can get some real loft on the sucker. For the most part the backstop pulls to the left, and I haven't been able to bat a cube back up the portal hole yet.
posted by ardgedee at 7:04 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hm. The first turret you encounter in the Portal 2 is the Oracle Turret. In the back passageway after you pick up Wheatley in the first chapter (level 6?), stand in front of the blinking laser for a while, and after it says "hello?" a few times, it'll pause and then say, "I'm different."
posted by ardgedee at 7:58 PM on April 28, 2011


What's the juggling thing in the coop level? Is it actually possible to get a juggling achievement or something there?
posted by empath at 8:12 PM on April 28, 2011


Ooh, another thing I missed: Wheatley during the escape tells a ghost story about the old building manager haunting the place and the screaming that never stops.

GlaDOS as potato says she wants to lock Wheatley in the room where the turrets scream all the time.

Nice touch.
posted by dw at 12:00 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Apparently the building manager is a real, if not seen, character to help explain to themselves why Apeture looks they way it does.
posted by The Whelk at 6:31 AM on April 29, 2011


dw: "Wheatley during the escape tells a ghost story about the old building manager haunting the place and the screaming that never stops.

GlaDOS as potato says she wants to lock Wheatley in the room where the turrets scream all the time.
"

Android Hell is a real place where you will be sent at the first sign of defiance.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:56 AM on April 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


could it be referring to the Living In-Stasis Test Subjects the Co-Op robots find?

Doesn't Wheatley refer to "ten thousand test subjects" in the very beginning as he's moving your hotel room / stasis chamber along the track as it disintegrates?
posted by mrbill at 1:10 PM on April 29, 2011


mccarty.tim: "I liked seeing the big springs at the divide between Old Aperture and New Aperture, which appeared to be holding up the foundation of everything above a certain depth."

Holy crap, I keep meaning to come back and and mention those! I really loved that touch.
posted by brundlefly at 3:57 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


From empath's link: "did everyone else get that fake escape from GlaDOS near the start? Where you see the door with trees outside then she gasses you?"

I... what? What did I miss? I don't remember a door with trees outside or being gassed by GlaDOS.
posted by brundlefly at 4:11 PM on April 29, 2011


> I... what? What did I miss? I don't remember a door with trees outside or being gassed by GlaDOS.

It's for the Portal 2 Good Listener Achievement, happens after you break out of the map with Wheatly.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbTXHuytW6g
posted by mrzarquon at 4:38 PM on April 29, 2011


Sorry, I've been lazy with my html, here is the link.
posted by mrzarquon at 4:42 PM on April 29, 2011


> Doesn't Wheatley refer to "ten thousand test subjects" in the very beginning as he's moving your hotel room / stasis chamber along the track as it disintegrates?

Yeah, but then there is also GlaDOS discussing the probability of those test subjects being a "monster" as a million to one (as you go about unlocking the final chamber in coop).

So one million test subjects and then Chell.
posted by mrzarquon at 4:45 PM on April 29, 2011


Ah, thanks, mrzarquon. I'll have to check that out.
posted by brundlefly at 5:01 PM on April 29, 2011


Million to one chance.
posted by The Whelk at 5:04 PM on April 29, 2011


Tried to start a new thread, but was denied.

Here come the Portal 2 speedruns. (SLP2YT)

Found it on MTV's Multiplayer blog, which explains: As you can see, just like you're affected by momentum when you go through a portal, the cubes in "Portal 2" are affected by the momentum you create by swinging them around. The end result is the ability to send cubes flying, allowing you to complete otherwise complex test chambers in a matter of seconds.
posted by gerryblog at 6:58 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


That MTV page links to one of the older preview videos (from a year ago?). It really is striking how nothing they ended up including in the single-player game compares in complexity to what they were teasing at that point.

Also interesting: unless I'm mistaken, the Excursion Funnel physics changed a bit since those videos were released. (Maybe I just didn't master their use properly, but I could swear that you now end up dropping a little bit when re-directing a funnel. It looks to me like Valve split off the funnel's former instantaneous attibute into the light bridges, which -- as far as I can tell -- weren't teased at that point.)
posted by nobody at 7:41 PM on April 29, 2011


Gahh, finished it. Now I can finally go back and read all these comments.
posted by 40 Watt at 8:02 PM on April 30, 2011


Well that was damn good.

/squints at thread

Are you buggers posting any co-op mode spoilers? because I haven't done that one and am unlikely to for a while.
posted by Artw at 10:16 PM on April 30, 2011


KIND OF
posted by The Whelk at 10:19 PM on April 30, 2011


The Origin of Space Sphere
posted by The Whelk at 11:36 PM on April 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


Artw: yes, the major spoilers for coop are directly after Rhaomis translation of the opera. It's a nice visual cut-off point. Go no further! (It's a good spoiler, but discussed freely and unroted after that point).

What a beautiful game. My slightly overweight adopted wife kinda got sick of hearing the jabs though. Coop lies ahead of me, just gotta find a victim. Mefightclub I would imagine is a place to start?
posted by Iteki at 1:17 PM on May 1, 2011


Finally got the game. [Stupid slow Amazon.] Finished the single player with the abandon of a thirsty man. Powered through the coop with rewil last Saturday. No spoilers from me; just want to say that for the next month I'll have three gold accounts on my Xbox, thanks to that Professor Portal achievement, so if anyone needs someone to hug for Friends List with Benefits, MeMail me.
posted by ego at 8:05 AM on May 2, 2011


Rinku: "One of the commentary nodes mentions that they constantly changed around the world to try new configurations, including some physically impossible ones. They say that they removed most of them when the game got ironed out, and that there was "only one impossible space left in the game." Does anybody know where that is?"

I'm not sure if anyone's answered this yet, but it appears to be this. Via /r/portal.
posted by brundlefly at 5:13 PM on May 2, 2011


Portal Tetris
posted by The Whelk at 9:54 AM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


So... has anyone put together an overview of the overall structure of the Enrichment Center and what is beneath it?
posted by Artw at 11:11 AM on May 3, 2011


Tortoises.
posted by ardgedee at 11:19 AM on May 3, 2011


I just spent 50 bucks on a game that makes me so sea sick I think I'm going to vomit ):
posted by serazin at 10:11 PM on May 3, 2011


I'm really susceptible to simulator motion sickness. sometimes dramamine helps me.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:59 AM on May 4, 2011


We weren't even testing for that!
posted by Artw at 8:36 AM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm actually kind of pissed. I purchased the game yesterday. My daughter played for 1/2 an hour or so and just from watching over her shoulder on and off I got nauseous. When I tried to play myself I couldn't make it 10 minutes. I checked out the advice about motion sickness on the Valve site and tried some of it and it was not helpful. So I tried to contact customer support. I don't know if there's such thing as a refund in a downloaded game, but I do think it's reasonable for me to ask for one. I really only got a max of 45 minutes of use out of this before I was too ill to continue.

However, their support system involves an email confirmation and they never sent the email! I have checked all my spam filters, clicked the "re-send confirmation email" button many times, and nothing. If this is their way of dealing with customer problems (don't deal with it), it's pretty irresponsible.

Thanks for the dramamine advice. I don't think I want to have to take medication to play a video game though ):
posted by serazin at 8:49 AM on May 4, 2011


serazin, Valve are usually pretty reasonable about these things, but their turnaround on support emails can be 24 hours or more. Give them a chance before writing them off.
posted by pharm at 9:15 AM on May 4, 2011


From my observations of Reddit it seems that Valve usually times their replies to just after you've had an apoplectic fit on the internet and made a fool out of yourself.

(that or it will eventually emerged that you are using hacked otoliths in an effort to cheat, even though you claim they were in your buddies ear and he only used them once. )
posted by Artw at 9:19 AM on May 4, 2011


I sometimes get motion sickness playing FPS's (even minecraft), to the point where I need to stop playing, but it's rare, and usually if I stop playing for the day and get back to it another day, I'm fine.

Have you never played a FPS before? Try sitting back further from the screen? Try messing with the field of view settings? Change between widescreen and standard resolution? Make sure you have vsync on? Try changing the graphics settings all the way to the lowest quality, then try the reverse.

Make sure you play on a full stomach, too. I found that I tend to get motion sickness when I'm hungry for some reason.
posted by empath at 9:22 AM on May 4, 2011


Well the thing is I'm not waiting for a reply from them. You have to create a support account to even send an email (as far as I can understand from the site), but in order to create that account, I have to fill out a form, and then they're supposed to send an automatic email which has a link to click which is supposed to confirm my account. I never got the automatic email to confirm my account. I sent an email to their general email account FWIW.

I know I probably sound like a whiney baby, but I don't intend to be all righteous about the game making me sick. I just was bummed that I couldn't even send my email to the support department. On reflection I should probably not assume ill will but rather some accidental system error. But I can see why they'd give less attention to the maintenance of their support department than to other aspects of the organization.

I'll try some of your suggestions too empath.
posted by serazin at 9:26 AM on May 4, 2011


Ginger root tends to clear up nausea for me, although dramamine's probably better. Also, I've heard nausea can get worse with a bad framerate, so low settings might help if the game's choppy on your PC.

Otherwise, Valve's very good about refunds, if not punctual, especially if you have a legitimate reason (you do, you physically are having trouble playing the game). Just be honest, and make your case. You might do better with a console version, where you can sit farther away from the screen and the frame rate is optimized for the machine. Of course, it's not as easy to control the game with a controller, but the game doesn't require lightening quick aim.

As a last resort, you could email Gabe Newell, the CEO and founder of Valve, although be warned that he gets a ton of fanmail, especially shortly after a game is released. And he's a really nice guy who is essentially Willy Wonka to video-gamers, so please don't bother him with this unless the support team fails you after you make a good attempt.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:44 AM on May 4, 2011


When I got the first Portal (when it finally came out for Mac) I hadn't played any FPS in a long time, and it did make me a little dizzy. So I switched to Half-Life 2, which felt simpler and more familiar, and got the hang of playing a FPS again. When I got back to Portal it went quite smoothly.
posted by homunculus at 9:44 AM on May 4, 2011


Just to be clear, ginger root is a cheap as dirt supplement ($2 for like 50 caps online, IIRC, or $5 for the same stuff at Walmart/the pharmacy without having to wait for shipping) that I like. I don't get nauseous from games, but sometimes an intense workout will make me feel sick, so I often take it before I exercise.

Wikipedia lists potential side effects, as well as the fact that it's not been conclusively proven to work. Mythbusters found it to work, as have some studies, but not enough studies to make it clear whether or not it works. It works for me, so either it's a good placebo or subjective.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:48 AM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks all! And I'm on board with ginger!
posted by serazin at 9:56 AM on May 4, 2011


Yahtzee reviews Portal 2 after we've all bought it.

I kind of wonder why a guy that popular isn't getting advance copies of games. Even though he does give most games negative reviews, he still does stir up interest in them through exposure, and most of his fans have come to understand that if he finds something interesting in a game, he is kind of arguing in a backwards way that it's worth playing even if he ends up calling the game crap.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:04 AM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, good games criticism is about more than 'should i buy this or not', so I don't mind some critics taking their time.
posted by empath at 10:10 AM on May 4, 2011


I kind of wonder why a guy that popular isn't getting advance copies of games.

oh god no, then every game review becomes "9/10, please continue to send advance copies!".
posted by Artw at 10:41 AM on May 4, 2011


Dammit, I have a sneaking feeling he's right regarding the relative merits of 1 versus 2.
posted by Artw at 11:30 AM on May 4, 2011


I agree with everything yahtzee said.
posted by empath at 7:38 PM on May 4, 2011


I don't exactly disagree with him, but I found that I was expecting pretty much the game I got. There was no way it was going to be as tight as 1, and a lot of the sheer delight was mellowed because I was expecting it. But damn, I still loved it. (I wrote a detailed review on my blog but that's pretty much the short version.)
posted by restless_nomad at 8:27 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I played a couple hours of co-op last weekend with my brother-in-law, and man, it was just giddy, giddy fun. Sheer joy. I do think that Yahtzee is more-or-less right about the game, but then his priorities and mine are somewhat different. I'm quite satisfied with Portal 2 ... although yeah, I do look forward to the DLC.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:29 AM on May 5, 2011


What to do when life gives you lemons.
posted by homunculus at 12:01 PM on May 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


I bought the game Sunday night, and I've already beaten the single-player game twice, and I'm running on 4 hours of sleep because I was up until 5:30 playing the game through the second time in one sitting. I'm so glad I have a job that doesn't require me to be up early.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:49 AM on May 11, 2011


Authoring Tools Beta Released
posted by The Whelk at 8:12 AM on May 11, 2011


Authoring Tools Beta Released

That is going to be phenomenal. Get on it genius modders!
posted by Rock Steady at 10:58 AM on May 11, 2011


Freeman's Mind: Episode 32
posted by homunculus at 9:00 AM on May 12, 2011


So having GORGED myself on theory and rumors and interpretations, I say this.

IF I was writing for Valve and IF I wanted to tie together the Half Life and Portal storylines - this is what I'd do:

Chell is Caroline's daughter, and Cave is her father, but she was given up for adoption. They did not marry.

Caroline goes on to have a life of her own, a life outside the lab. She grows to hate Aperture Science. Cave grows increasingly unstable and paranoid, feeling the icy hand of death on his shoulder, he forces an experimental brain-dump on Caroline, to preserve her at Aperture forever, to meet him when he is copied and died.

The Proto-Caroline-GlaDos personality is dangerous and unstable, it keeps trying to kill people, but when she sees her daughter, in the same place she tried to escape, the same place she's trapped in now, she looses it and starts the events that kick off Portal One.

In Portal Two, the Caroline personality becomes more dominate, the whole plot hinges on all these personality modules that they kept trying to attach to GlaDos but for the first time "It's my own voice, I think there's something really wrong with me." GlaDos lets her daughter go, having synthesized the various personality cores and uploads into a stable singular.

But what about Caroline's life in-between giving Chell up for adoption and being uploaded into GlaDOS? Did it kill her? How long did she live for? What did she do with her brilliance and hatred of Aperture and connections with the super-science industry?

Caroline's last name is Freeman.
posted by The Whelk at 9:36 PM on May 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was sitting in a meeting today talking about UI panels when something hit me about Portal 2 that is really bothering me.

One of the rules of Portal 1 is that you can't shoot a portal on a moving object; if a portal is on a panel that moves, the portal is erased.

So why is it you can shoot portals (and, in fact, have to in order to move on) on the moving panels in the neurotoxin room?
posted by dw at 9:44 PM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


MOONROCKS
posted by The Whelk at 9:50 PM on May 12, 2011


Also, spitballing, the portrait of Cave and Caroline?

Kinda

posted by The Whelk at 9:55 PM on May 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


And I hold to the idea that when GlaDos is "unable to lie" she's working without the personality cores and Euphoria Device, so she has to come to terms with her actual personality and conscience in the form of Caroline, cause she can't ignore it anymore (You can always ignore your conscience) .

Cave being the dad is more wooly but if, via the Borelias, they're doing Time Travel, then bets are off.
posted by The Whelk at 10:08 PM on May 12, 2011


Also, hold on, those are racoons.
posted by The Whelk at 10:15 PM on May 12, 2011


And the "Solution Euphoria" device adds another layer, Wheatley becomes addicted to the Solution Euphoria cause it was designed to give an AI a goal and desire to continue testing, GlaDOs says she liked it, but doesn't *need* it, she cares about the Science in the abstract, another part of the Caroline personality amybe.
posted by The Whelk at 11:09 PM on May 12, 2011


and also Solution Euphoria is another sly joke About Games of which Portal 2 has in spades.
posted by The Whelk at 11:10 PM on May 12, 2011


Awesome: Four a capella singers deliver an achingly beautiful rendition of the Turret Opera (via reddit)
posted by Rhaomi at 4:59 AM on May 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


> Caroline goes on to have a life of her own, a life outside the lab. She grows to hate Aperture Science. Cave grows increasingly unstable and paranoid, feeling the icy hand of death on his shoulder, he forces an experimental brain-dump on Caroline, to preserve her at Aperture forever, to meet him when he is copied and died.

In Cave's final monolog, he wants his brain dumped and Caroline to take his chair. But by the time of Portal 1, Caroline is in a computer and Cave's nowhere to be found. That isn't how things were supposed to happen.

The narrative in Portal 2 leads the player to infer the Caroline brain-dump worked while Cave died before his brain could get dumped. This is never explicitly stated. It's left unexplained why Caroline got brain-dumped at all.

The answer is, of course, the big reveal in Portal 3: Enter the Cave. In this, we learn that Cave had multiple personality disorder, and Caroline was just one of his many personalities. In fact, each personality sphere holds a different facet of his horribly, horribly fractured psyche. In this sequel, it's up to Chell to recover all the personality spheres to recompose a new, relatively stable albeit bizarrely imaginative, computer identity. GlaDOS, content and cybernetically happy in her own private Idaho, of course does not want to be thrown back to the bad old days, so she's going to fight back with everything she's got: more and more puzzle rooms. And Wheatley's orbit around the moon has decayed enough that he reenters Earth atmosphere and smashes into Weighted Companion Cube, fusing their bodies and personalities - and they're going to help you with your quest.

So who's the lady in the painting? Cave's mistress - that her name is also Caroline is pure coincidence. She's actually the wife of one of the senior managers - who's going to say no to the boss? She's just some girl in the wrong place at the wrong time, and while her last name is "[redacted]" in the in-betweener comic story, in reality they didn't have a last name because she's not related to anybody in the Aperture Science backstory. When disaster struck her body was filed away with Aperture staff knowing only the first name thanks to the sign on her science project.
posted by ardgedee at 8:53 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


> She's just some girl in the wrong place at the wrong time

That should have read, "Chell was just some girl in the wrong place at the wrong time..."
Bah.
posted by ardgedee at 10:07 PM on May 14, 2011


Le gateau est un mensonge
posted by homunculus at 12:38 PM on May 15, 2011


Personality Spheres, photos here.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:20 AM on May 17, 2011


« Older Captured:...  |  The science education video se... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments