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July 20, 2006 12:30 AM   Subscribe

Welcome to the Aperture Science Enrichment Center. Remember our motto: "There's a hole in the sky, through which things can fly." (Coming soon.)
posted by nervestaple (26 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Resisting the urge to criticize adposting... That's actually really cool. Me wants. Is there a deathmatch version? a 16-player arena could turn AWESOME.
posted by kfury at 12:44 AM on July 20, 2006


Intresting. The trailer though, they couldn't hire a real voice actor? The synth voice was irritating from a stylisitic standpoint.
posted by delmoi at 12:55 AM on July 20, 2006


Die hard Half Life fan. Can't wait, can't wait, can't wait.

Maybe I'm alone in this, but I really enjoy Valve's strategy of releasing roughly 5 hours of gameplay every six months rather than, say, 40 hours of gameplay every three years. And I really like watching this story line progress.

Also, Portal and Team Fortress 2 look seriously badass.
posted by quite unimportant at 1:01 AM on July 20, 2006


quite: I actually really dislike it... it strikes me as a way to raise prices, a nickel-and-dime approach. Finish your damn game and release it all at once. Dribbling it out and charging three times as much for it sucks. (Oblivion is particularly bad in this area.)
posted by Malor at 2:33 AM on July 20, 2006


Oh btw, the pepsiblueshift tag is awesome. :)
posted by Malor at 2:34 AM on July 20, 2006


No, kfury, it's a singleplayer add-on that's being bundled with HL2 episode 2. If you can get the site to work, Portal is based on a little physics/portal demo called Narbacular Drop, which was released by these guys. It was their senior project at DigiPen, which is why it's rough around the edges. Valve brought them in to expand the idea in HL2, and here we go.

Finally, a game worth upgrading my computer for.
posted by duende at 2:40 AM on July 20, 2006


The trailer though, they couldn't hire a real voice actor? The synth voice was irritating from a stylisitic standpoint.

The game's setting, insofar as there is one, is that you're an employee of the Aperture Science Enrichment Center taking a training course. The synth voice is the narrator of the training video. So yeah, I'm sure they could've hired a voice actor, but then it wouldn't be as funny.

I love the idea of a first-person puzzler and look forward to playing this.
posted by chrominance at 4:33 AM on July 20, 2006


So yeah, I'm sure they could've hired a voice actor, but then it wouldn't be as funny.

Exactly.
posted by fairmettle at 4:44 AM on July 20, 2006


Portals are the new hotness and all that, but phooey. I never had so much fun as with a suped-up use-limited grappling hook on the space maps in Quake 3.

Especially with the weapons rejigged to push instead of hurt. Nothing like being slammed off the open edge of q3dm17, only to latch onto the railgun platform in time to launch yourself back over the center of the map at speed, catch the quad damage platform, fling yourself down at high speed, then land at your opponents feet (only map hazards were instantly lethal) and shotgun/railgun them off into space.

The level design of this 'Portals' game seems conducive to highfalutin' grappling hook action, but I doubt many share my enthusiasm for tensioned-elastic-rope hijinx.
posted by Tzarius at 4:52 AM on July 20, 2006


delmoi: The synth voice was irritating from a stylisitic standpoint.

You think? I thought exactly the opposite from a stylistic standpoint :) - plus, the Half-Life series has a precedent for synthesised (or rather, oddly-emphasised) voices in the G-Man, and I would be amazed if the Aperture voiceover wasn't linked to him in the narrative in some way.

Anyway, short of HL2 Episode 2, Portal's leapt right to the front of the list of games I'm looking forward to. I thought Narbacular Drop was an excellent idea hamstrung by a really ropey technical side, so it's fantastic to see the concept given the space and time it needs to really fly.

Beyond that, the first-person meta-genre is rapidly clogging itself up with identikit crap, and as good as first-person shooters can be when they're full of excellent art and thoughtful design, it's great that someone's doing something other than a combat-focused action game that takes advantage of the immediacy of a first-person viewpoint. There's so much scope for games to put the player right at the heart of the action, and yet so few do anything novel with the idea.

To be honest, as soon as I found out Portal was set in the Half-Life 2 continuity, had a narrative element to it and was relevant to the HL2 storyline in some way, I would've crawled over broken glass to play it. So $20 for a download over Steam this Christmas sounds good to me!

Oh yeah, and for any (other) Half-Life story fans who haven't heard of or noticed it, the "Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device" rather heavily hints at ASHPD, or Adrian Shepard from Opposing Force, who we've not seen in the 'twenty-or-so years later' Half-Life setting, and who it seems pretty fair to suspect is the orange-jumpsuited player character in Portal.
posted by terpsichoria at 5:03 AM on July 20, 2006


The impression I got is that it's not related to Half Life, but it's free with Half Life Episode 2.
posted by empath at 5:56 AM on July 20, 2006


It's definitely set in the Half-Life universe - the previews from the press event Valve held the other day confirm it.
posted by terpsichoria at 6:10 AM on July 20, 2006


now there's a hole in the sky
and the ground's not cold
and if the ground's not cold
everything is gonna burn
we'll all take turns
i'll get mine, too


(obligatory Pixies quote)

Awesome! This looks cool. It makes me sad that my computer is a relic of the stone age. Right now, there are little hamsters running in wheels, generating just enough power for me to type this. Some day, when I get a real system, I'll be all over this.
posted by rex dart, eskimo spy at 6:34 AM on July 20, 2006


The trailer though, they couldn't hire a real voice actor? The synth voice was irritating from a stylisitic standpoint.

I'm pretty sure that is a real voice actor. Synth voices don't sound like that.
posted by jjg at 7:38 AM on July 20, 2006


Portal was set in the Half-Life 2 continuity, had a narrative element to it and was relevant to the HL2 storyline in some way

I haven't read anything to indicate that Portal has a narrative element or is relevant to the storyline. Everything I've seen just characterizes the game as a first-person puzzle game. That GameSpy piece is the only one even to mention HL, and even so "set in the Half-Life universe" is not the same thing at all as "relevant to the Half-Life story". I suspect that, if they have stated that Portal takes place in the same universe, it's only because they (hypothetically) plan to introduce the portal gun in Episode Three.

Finish your damn game and release it all at once. Dribbling it out and charging three times as much for it sucks.

Except that it doesn't cost three times as much -- add the three Episode sequels together and you get exactly the same amount you would have spent for HL2.
posted by jjg at 7:53 AM on July 20, 2006


I thought some of the most entertaining parts of Opposing Force were figuring out creative ways to use the alien-barnacle-grappling-gun to solve problems. This looks like even more innovative and fun. Not to mention surreal.
posted by Gamblor at 8:13 AM on July 20, 2006


And how awesome would the portal gun integrated with the gravity gun be?
posted by Gamblor at 8:16 AM on July 20, 2006


I'm pretty sure that is a real voice actor. Synth voices don't sound like that.

Um, yeah it does. It's pretty clearly individual phonemes strung together, intentionally a bit sloppily.

The state of the art in synthesized speech is much better than most people think. Here are audio demos for Yamaha Vocaloid; "Kimi no uwasa" is particularly impressive.


I also noted some of the music they used in the trailer (during the in-game sequences) was straight from the HL2 soundtrack. I haven't played Episode 1, so maybe some of it was from that as well.
posted by Foosnark at 8:22 AM on July 20, 2006


I haven't read anything to indicate that Portal has a narrative element or is relevant to the storyline.

I must admit, I'm basing that on uncorroborated forum posts, albeit in places less prone to kids posting invented crap than most US gaming forums, and ones frequented by industry types more than you might expect. So while I'm certainly not claiming to know for sure, I'd err on the side of believing there's a narrative element strong enough to emerge within a couple of hours of play, rather than the game simply being a series of puzzles. But take that with a pinch of salt if you prefer.

And how awesome would the portal gun integrated with the gravity gun be?

It sort of already is, I think - the player picks stuff up with it in the trailer, and seems to be able to throw things, too - there's just no 'suck stuff up from a distance' function, since you can bring objects to yourself with portals instead (and presumably the controls would be getting ridiculously complicated if it did all this at once). In fact, the portal gun looks a lot like a sort of 'production' gravity gun (rather than one lashed together from spare parts) to my eye, with the three prongs at the front and all...
posted by terpsichoria at 8:45 AM on July 20, 2006


I just spent way too much time playing Narbunaga's Drop, and wow, it looks like this concept could be fun. All I can say is: gravitational resonator (two portals in the floor → falling through the center of the earth with no air resistance).

I'd love to get this game when it comes out without Half-Life. Viva la FPPS!†

†First Person Puzzle Shooter
posted by Eideteker at 9:51 AM on July 20, 2006


It's pretty clearly individual phonemes strung together, intentionally a bit sloppily.

Listen closer. The cadences are not at all like what you'd get from a synth, and chopping up synth output to get these cadences is way, way more trouble than simply hiring an actor and processing the result to sound artificial. Especially for a demo movie that isn't even the actual product.
posted by jjg at 11:46 AM on July 20, 2006


I remember thinking that it was a very good synthesizer indeed. That COULD be done with a synth... but it really would be much easier to start with a human voice and synth it up.

I just spent quite awhile playing with Narbacular Drop. Portals are fun.
posted by Malor at 3:06 PM on July 20, 2006


Prior art — the 1955 Warner Brothers cartoon The Hole Idea, directed by Robert McKimson^. It starred Professor Calvin Q. Calculus, who selflessly said:
I invented the portable hole for the good of humanity. But let us all hope it will never be used for evil purposes.
Unfortunately, the Thief paid little attention.
posted by cenoxo at 8:32 PM on July 20, 2006


terpsichoria:

Oh yeah, and for any (other) Half-Life story fans who haven't heard of or noticed it, the "Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device" rather heavily hints at ASHPD, or Adrian Shepard from Opposing Force, who we've not seen in the 'twenty-or-so years later' Half-Life setting, and who it seems pretty fair to suspect is the orange-jumpsuited player character in Portal.


I have no idea what you mean by "heavily hints at ASHPD", but I can tell you that the player character is not Adrian Shepherd from OpFor. There is no love lost between Valve and Gearbox, who created OpFor and BlueShift under license from Valve. Although Valve does own the intellectual property, they have no real interest in furthering the story lines created by Gearbox.
posted by Dunwitty at 2:33 AM on July 21, 2006


Really? Hah (assuming you're involved with either Valve or Gearbox), there's a Mefi scoop, then. I had no idea there was any friction between the companies. I just meant, of course, that the initials of the portal device named in the Portal trailer - the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device - spell ASHPD, which isn't a million miles from the name A. Shepard. If it's unintentional it's a weird coincidence. If it's intentional, and Valve have no interest in revisiting the characters from the HL1 expansion packs as you say, then I guess it's a throwaway reference.
posted by terpsichoria at 8:41 AM on July 21, 2006


That argument would be slightly plausible (though still a stretch) if Valve had a history of embedding these sorts of hidden messages in their work, but they don't do that sort of thing, and this would be a weird way to start.
posted by jjg at 11:23 AM on July 21, 2006


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