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This was a triumph.
November 6, 2007 12:09 PM   Subscribe


 
It's a great song....
posted by SweetJesus at 12:16 PM on November 6, 2007


I wonder if the joke GLaDOS and Weighted Companion Cube accounts will come into this thread and quote from the Portal script. Now that would be funny!

(BTW, Portal is one of the best games I've played in a very long time)
posted by eyeballkid at 12:19 PM on November 6, 2007


May I remind you that android hell is a real place, and you will be sent there at the first sign of defiance.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 12:26 PM on November 6, 2007 [4 favorites]


Previously. (But certainly worth its own post.)
posted by The Bellman at 12:26 PM on November 6, 2007


McLain: You know, we have a Mac, so we haven't even gotten to play them. But after Portal they took us on a tour of the Valve offices. Our nephew went with us. He's 16, and they let him play through the game while I watched. Because I've never played a computer game.

Zowie.

Anyway this cake is great
It’s so delicious and moist
posted by googly at 12:27 PM on November 6, 2007


Portal is the most fun I've had with a video game in years, and I say this as a 36 year old man who grew up with video games.

And needless to say, the ending song is the icing on the...oh, never mind.
posted by newfers at 12:31 PM on November 6, 2007


Thank you, god.
posted by Plutor at 12:32 PM on November 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


Didn't we have some fun, though? Remember when the platform was sliding into the fire pit and I said "Goodbye," and you were like "Nooo way!" ... and then I was all "we pretended we were going to murder you." ... that was great.
posted by the painkiller at 12:43 PM on November 6, 2007 [5 favorites]


Code Monkey think maybe manager oughta write goddamn login page himself
posted by bondcliff at 12:46 PM on November 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


I thought I would get laughed off the site if I made this post when I first became obsessed with this song. But I'm not even angry. I'm being so sincere right now.

This song is so perfect because it's equal parts Ladytron, Really Rosie and Self. And I haven't even played the game.
posted by cashman at 12:46 PM on November 6, 2007


"Who are you?" "Oh! You're the lady from the test." "What's with your legs?" "What's that there?"

Portal was the first game where I bothered to turn on the in-game commentary things. Totally worth it. Having an actor imitate a text-to-speech generator is pure genius.

And the song haunts me. I've gone back and smacked GLaDOS around about once every week since I first played the game just to hear the song.

Talk about video game as cultural inflection point.
posted by abulafa at 12:48 PM on November 6, 2007


Awesome song for a fantastic game. I liked it so much, I just ordered the official Portal T-shirt!!

Just keep on tryin' till you run out of cake...
posted by gemmy at 12:50 PM on November 6, 2007


There was even going to be a party for you. A big party, that all your friends were invited to. I invited your best friend the companion cube. Of course, he couldn't come because you murdered him. All your other friends couldn't come either because you don't have any other friends, because of how unlikable you are. It says so right here in your personnel file: unlikable- liked by no one. A bitter, unlikeable loner whose passing shall not be mourned. Shall Not Be Mourned. That's exactly what it says. Very formal. Very official. It also says you were adopted, so that's funny too.
posted by Mach5 at 12:51 PM on November 6, 2007 [10 favorites]


I wonder if the joke GLaDOS and Weighted Companion Cube accounts will come into this thread and quote from the Portal script. Now that would be funny!

The Aperture Science and Enrichment Center has already baked^H^H^H^H^Heliminated^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H
processed those accounts.
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:53 PM on November 6, 2007


ooooh, that thing has numbers on it!

I love you, curiosity sphere, but we have to keep this hidden from companion cube.
posted by cowbellemoo at 12:54 PM on November 6, 2007 [5 favorites]


Okay, for the 3rd time in 24 hours, I'm going to say that Portal is the Citizen Kane of the art form.

It's also a good test-case for the process by which human beings learn new concepts. No one, after all, has ever seen or used a portal before.

The game teaches you how to 'think with portals' by a slow process of introducing new metaphors by which you can understand it.

The first introduction to the device is when they release you from your 'cage'. A portal opens up -- you're introduced to the first metaphor -- 'the portal is a door'.

You walk through, and you're immediately confronted with a second metaphor 'the portal is a mirror' because you see yourself. Your avatar is a female -- why? If a gun is a projection of male sexual identity, what is a weapon that makes doors and passageways? Every character in the game is 'female'. There is a reason for that.

Over time, you're introduced to the portal as camera, as a trampoline, as a weapon, etc. You're never explicitly 'told' these things, but you are shown them. Whatever the portal actually does is impossible, so you're forced to think of it as a collection of different functions. Perhaps by the end of the game, you are indeed 'thinking in portals', though. Surely the people who do speed runs are.

There's also some interesting stuff going on with semiotics. You're never explicityly told what the symbols that surround you are. For example, the labels on the floor that show 1, 2 or 3 circles. At first, I thought it meant 'this is where you need to jump down'. Eventually, I figured out that it meant, this is what you do first, second and third. The same goes with the warning symbols on the walls. They're entirely learned through context.

The level with the companion cube will likely be written about by academics for a long-long time. How the simple edition of a heart to an inanimate character brings it to life. And how the 'congratulations' you get for being the fastest person to incinerate the cube brings a feeling of guilt, not reward. The agency of the player in games, gives them a different emotional palate to work with from any other artform -- you have feelings of guilt, achievement, etc, which are nearly impossible to invoke through drama and literature.

And speaking of agency, the fact that the game limits you to portals as a 'weapon' means that almost all the activity you engage in is passive. Your portal 'allows' things, it does not do things. You open a portal and a gun falls on another gun. You didn't attack it, you made them attack each other. At the end of the game, you use portals to make GladOs attack herself, which is ultimately a reflection of her own self-destructive borderline personality.

I could go on about little things.. the single red phone off the hook at the end of the game which tells so much story without words, how skillfully they subvert the expectations of the puzzle game genre as it gradually shifts to a narrative-based game, etc...

In terms of depth, completeness of vision, artistry and pure fun, I don't think any video game has come close as Portal has to being absolutely perfect.
posted by empath at 12:56 PM on November 6, 2007 [77 favorites]






Ummmm, just got this via FedEx today...

Not official, but related.
posted by Samizdata at 1:01 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


empath: where does cake fit into your dissertation?
posted by Mach5 at 1:02 PM on November 6, 2007


I always feel sad and sort of loserish when I find nerdy memes that I totally missed out on. I mean, so ok I am not the popular girl, and I am not the jock, but can't I even manage to maintain a viable level of nerd cred? WTF is wrong with me?
posted by onlyconnect at 1:02 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


mach5: people love cake.
posted by empath at 1:04 PM on November 6, 2007


empath: true. it is delicious and moist.
posted by Mach5 at 1:07 PM on November 6, 2007


This thread is the part of metafilter that makes shoes for orphaned children. Way to break it, hero.
posted by shmegegge at 1:07 PM on November 6, 2007


I love you, too, empath.
posted by cowbellemoo at 1:08 PM on November 6, 2007


If it's any consolation onlyconnect, I literally IMed people I haven't spoken to in months after I finished playing through this game. Twice. The response was a resounding "meh."

It's possible this meme had to mutate a bit and is only on the beginning of its upswing - a few weeks ago I figured I was just an ultrameganerd too excited about some obscure version of Pong.

Perhaps what this meme needed was a theme.
posted by abulafa at 1:09 PM on November 6, 2007


In all seriousness, why not cake? Why do you play video games? In most narrative games, there's some promise of a reward at the end, a cut scene, an explanation, a climactic battle... But it's always a bit of a let-down, isn't it? "I played this game for 40 hours for THAT?" It's the play that's the thing, not the reward.

I assume they chose cake specifically, because it's a stereotypically 'female' object, it's something that is typically made by women, and something that women are more likely to lust for than men... (again, stereotypically, not necessarily realistically)..

If we were playing the game for cake, we're told halfway through that there is no cake, that it's a lie-- so why, then do we continue? In did, why do any of us continue. Many of us don't believe in an afterlife and an ultimate reward, and yet we continue living, continue working-- because the game, life, is worth playing simply for the play alone.

And maybe there is cake at the end, after all. We won't know for sure till we get there.
posted by empath at 1:14 PM on November 6, 2007 [5 favorites]


gr.. INDEED, why do any of us, etc...
posted by empath at 1:15 PM on November 6, 2007


empath I would listen to you talk about any game.
posted by hellphish at 1:18 PM on November 6, 2007 [6 favorites]


I assumed the cake was another way of showing the utter naivete of GLaDOS when it came to human motivations. Anytime she tries to control the main character, it's either through absurdly transparent social manipulation or with offers of cake. She seems to be under the impression that cake is the ultimate desireable for humans, and therefore the offer of cake as a reward will always motivate.

Also, immediately after we played through the game, my SO made herself a shirt featuring the "cake" icon/logo on the front and a repeated, scrawled "the cake is a lie" on the back. It is awesome.
posted by agentofselection at 1:18 PM on November 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


Every character in the game is 'female'.
Except for the companion cube. And you murdered him.
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:19 PM on November 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm making a sweater (self link).
posted by cowbellemoo at 1:22 PM on November 6, 2007


Also, I assumed everyone was female because someone at valve was like "so we're making, perhaps, the most vaginal-imagery-heavy game ever? maybe we should consider having something other than an all-male cast." Also, in HL2EP2 it is revealed: MINOR SPOILER:
that one of, or the, main researchers at aperture is female, as compared to the (almost?) exlusively male black mesa team.
posted by agentofselection at 1:27 PM on November 6, 2007


A great song for the funniest game ever. Most games either do comedy as juvenile and stupid (you shoot farts at the belch monsters with your turd powers) or as really long cut scenes that aren't actually part of the gameplay. In Portal, it's smart and perfectly integrated into an already amazing game.
posted by Gary at 1:30 PM on November 6, 2007


Okay, for the 3rd time in 24 hours, I'm going to say that Portal is the Citizen Kane of the art form.

I applaud the sentiment, but not the analogy. I propose The Simpsons, because both were subsidiary elements of a larger package (Orange Box and The Tracey Ullman Show) that ultimately (and surprisingly) vastly overshadowed the 'star' of the package.
posted by googly at 1:31 PM on November 6, 2007




Ugh. That should say "from Gamers With Jobs"
posted by eyeballkid at 1:35 PM on November 6, 2007


Another interpretation of the 'cake': Being a fan of dystopian narrative, and constructing one around this particular game (which may or may not play out in Half Life canon) that this particular test subject probably has never had much in the way of 'comfort food.'

Every indication is that the subject would be kept alive and fit and fed the minimum necessary to keep her available for running these experiments (reinforced if she is, in fact, just a meat template into which an engram is placed for the duration of a test).

So cake would be decadent, unheard-of and delightful to someone who has never had anything but the minimum.
posted by abulafa at 1:36 PM on November 6, 2007


It makes me feel so much better that so many other people are obsessed with this game. I listen to that song about five times a day and have been scouring the internets for any info I can get about anyone remotely involved with it and the game.

I agree with you, empath, a near-perfect game.
posted by papercake at 1:37 PM on November 6, 2007


empath : other people have taken the whole Portal / feminine idea to new levels.
posted by suckerpunch at 1:39 PM on November 6, 2007


I kept thing "this game is just too short." And then came the challenge boards. And I've spent as much time trying to figure out how to do level 16 with virtually no portals as I did blowing through the game.

The commentary is great, too. The discussions about hinting actually got me to change something in a website design because I didn't feel like I was getting people to look in a particular direction.
posted by dw at 1:41 PM on November 6, 2007


I'm really enjoying these Portal essays people are linking to. I've been looking to read a level by level analysis of it since I played it, but no one has written it yet, so i've been working on writing my own off and on for a while, now. I'm glad other people have started to go in that direction. It really is worthy of deep analysis, even though I've been a bit tongue in cheek here. It's especially well suited to a complete exegesis because it's so short, and a good example of almost every aspect of game design as one can care to comment on.
posted by empath at 1:48 PM on November 6, 2007


LOLcoultons
posted by bondcliff at 1:50 PM on November 6, 2007


I loved the game too. Did anyone else find themselves trying to solve the puzzles in their sleep? One of the dangers of playing too close to bedtime I suppose.
posted by itchylick at 1:52 PM on November 6, 2007


I was kind of disappointed with the t-shirt design at Valve. I want one that has one or all of the warning images on the walls/floors (block falling on your head, etc.).
posted by papercake at 1:55 PM on November 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


Aperture Science?
posted by The Bellman at 2:04 PM on November 6, 2007


Fine! I'm buying it!

Jeez.
posted by grabbingsand at 2:04 PM on November 6, 2007


Portal makes me want to spend money.

I want a nice, heavy, metal Weighted Companion Cube with 1500 Megawatt Aperture Science Heavy Duty Super Colliding Super Button display stand.

Badly.
posted by Skorgu at 2:06 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


The Bellman:
Warning: mysql_fetch_object(): supplied argument is not a valid MySQL result resource in /valve/www/www.aperturescience.com/index.php on line 41

oops.
posted by Skorgu at 2:08 PM on November 6, 2007


Every character in the game is 'female'.
Except for the companion cube. And you murdered him.


Gosh, I know I love you all, but that's getting a bit personal.

Still, I forgive you.
posted by Weighted Companion Cube at 2:16 PM on November 6, 2007 [7 favorites]


Skorgu: Is it not working for you? I don't get an error, I get . . . well I don't want to ruin it with spoilers, but you should get a command line to start . . . What browser and OS?
posted by The Bellman at 2:20 PM on November 6, 2007


We were afraid you might stab us.
posted by Elmore at 2:20 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


((But once you get in, and log in, try "thecakeisalie" as a command . . . ))
posted by The Bellman at 2:22 PM on November 6, 2007


I had a friend over, who doesn't play games at all, but I thought he'd enjoy Still Alive. So I started quickly battling GlaDOS to get to the end. After about 30 seconds he turned to me, bewildered, saying he had no idea what was going on. I felt a bit sad, though he would never spend the three hours to play the game, I'd ruined some of the beauty of Portal in an effort to get to the delicious moist song at the end.

He still liked the song though.
posted by Elmore at 2:27 PM on November 6, 2007


It's not just the heart that makes the companion cube: GlaDOS's comments about it are meant to endear you to it, and then force you to destroy it.

And really, while I experienced guilt at destroying the cube, that whole sequence was also incredibly funny.

"The enrichment center assures you the companion cube cannot speak, and in the event it does speak, the enrichment center urges you to disregard its advice."
posted by graventy at 2:34 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Not many people have commented on it's similarity to the RPG "Paranoia", either.
posted by empath at 2:37 PM on November 6, 2007


There is no such RPG, empath. If there were, information about it would not be available at your security clearance level.
posted by The Bellman at 2:41 PM on November 6, 2007 [6 favorites]


Portal was great. Maybe I'll play through it again tonight.
posted by danb at 2:41 PM on November 6, 2007


ApertureScience.com commands. You can use this if you can't figure out the site.
posted by Gary at 3:11 PM on November 6, 2007


Another unexpected video game song: for some reason, an incarnation of Yes wrote a song for the excellent RTS Homeworld.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 3:13 PM on November 6, 2007


Nice roundup of links, but, uh...does "parody" mean something different now?
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 3:13 PM on November 6, 2007


Jonathan Coulton also has a link to the Little Bonus Room song from Skullmonkeys.
posted by Gary at 3:20 PM on November 6, 2007


All I'm sayin is that the next time the MeFi TF2 gruppe gets together, people are gonna be seeing some seriously awesome spray-paint tags.

Seriously. Awesome.
posted by herrdoktor at 3:27 PM on November 6, 2007


I found this off Coulton's site. A remix version of Portal music and voice, etc. Very cool!
posted by gemmy at 3:36 PM on November 6, 2007 [7 favorites]


I put this song on loop last night and it's now seared into my brain. (Love the references to Black Mesa. The gravity gun had better gain some Aperture technology in Episode 3.) GLaDOS is the most complex and interesting character of any video game ever, hands down.

I haven't played too many video games since high school, so the Orange Box throwbacks to Team Fortress and Eric Wolpaw really bring out the nostalgia (I love that one of the writers of Old Man Murray made a main character a crate).
posted by painquale at 3:45 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Portal proved Roger Ebert wrong.
posted by painquale at 3:46 PM on November 6, 2007 [8 favorites]


GLaDOS is the most complex and interesting character of any video game ever, hands down.

*cough* Planescape:Torment *cough*

And I say this as someone who was utterly blown away by Portal.
posted by Justinian at 3:51 PM on November 6, 2007


That portal remix is AWESOME
posted by empath at 3:59 PM on November 6, 2007


Man, Valve's head writer doesn't like theater very much, does he?
posted by Green With You at 5:50 PM on November 6, 2007


I figured the in-game reason for the Cake was because for whatever reason Cake was programmed into GLaDOS. One of the bits of her you blast off rambles endlessly about cake ingredients.

I can only assume that there was some meeting at Aperture and they decided one of the uses for their new genetic lifeform should be baking cakes for the office birthday parties. From there it got a little out of hand.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:01 PM on November 6, 2007


Wow..the remix blew me away.

I thought Portal to be incredible, but I was frequently hit with a near overwhelming feeling of sadness. While performing the experiment with possibly hundreds of others, GLaDOS is still so alone. The act of offering cake is the closest thing she comes to knowing any semblance of love, and the real tragedy is that this love will never be returned; the object of her desire will always be baked or will kill her. I got a little weepy at the end.truly

I've thought about this way, way too much (I'm sure that whore, Weighted Companion Cube, could care less).
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 6:08 PM on November 6, 2007


Odd timing, this. I was just telling a friend last night how awesome the whole game and ending song were. I just beat GLaDOS last night.

Fantastic game.
posted by Espoo2 at 6:19 PM on November 6, 2007


The sad thing is that people in the "real world" will never really understand what we're talking about when we gush about how amazing this game is, because they can't get past the idea of "game".
posted by nightchrome at 6:38 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yes, to all of the above praise. I've been an avid computer gamer since 1977 -- yep, '77 -- when I got my TRS Model III, and I agree Portal is indeed a watershed. God I'm such a Valve fanboy.

Also (I don't think it's been linked yet), but here's the first Portal custom maps site I've found so far.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:45 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Fans at Bethesda Softworks are taking time out of their own development cycles to make custom Portal maps as well.
posted by grabbingsand at 7:30 PM on November 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


Dammit, stavros...I WAS going to sleep.
Must get maps!
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 7:31 PM on November 6, 2007


I found it hilarious that your best friend in the game is essentially a crate, the gaming device most derided by Erik Wolpaw and Chet Faliszek back when their job was to make fun of video games, not help write them.

They hated it so much that they rated games based on how long it took you to reach the first crate. The lower the start-to-crate (StC), the worse the game.

So what's the StC for Portal?
posted by justkevin at 8:23 PM on November 6, 2007


GLaDOS is offering us cake because she is our metaphorical mother, a role that is reinforced by her dated name--GLaDOS/Gladys, hearkening back to sitcom matriarchs we have known in countless television reruns (a datedness further evoked by the technological datedness of the "DOS" in her name).

As the heroine Chell, when we kill our "mother" GLaDOS, it is a manifestation of an Electra complex, in part in revenge for her forcing us to kill the only male in the game, our beloved weighted companion cube. We kill her just as she is birthing competing "siblings" in the form of the three nodes that fall out her--"Do you see that thing that fell out of me? What is that? That's not the surprise. I've never seen it before." It seems no coincidence that the first node is almost cooingly innocent, as if to emphasize the birth analogy. And of course, as discussed above, the "portals" clearly evoke images of vaginas, especially the very first, manifested by GLaDOS herself, to help you emerge from the womb in which you start the game.

And, lest we forget, our file says were were adopted--taken from a (presumably) human family, and adopted by GLaDos herself.

Portal is, without a doubt, a defining moment in the medium. I have been playing videogames since 1980 or so (the earliest games I played, I recall, were BASIC games you had to input yourself first before they could be run), and nothing comes close to Portal. There are times when I played it that I was almost giddy with excitement, a feeling I can't remember ever experiencing with a game before. It's something you want to share with others (or make them weighted companion cubes).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:45 PM on November 6, 2007


On further recollection, the "childish" node is actually the second, but I think the metaphorical birth of our siblings is nonetheless valid.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:03 PM on November 6, 2007


This companion cube, it vibrates?
posted by Wonderwoman at 9:36 PM on November 6, 2007


I'm not much of a PC gamer, so I hadn't really heard about portal until I was linked to some interesting articles analyzing the game (I think they've all been linked at various points in this thread). From then I looked up the trailer (which is very funny) and then read about the game on wikipedia, looked up clips like the ending scene and listened to the song. Of course in the process of doing that I spoiled myself silly, which I really regret now. But of course, if I hadn't spoiled myself I wouldn't have learned about what apparently makes this game great and it's existence would have flow under my radar. Oh well. It still looks like a load of fun, so I doubt I'll regret my purchase. :)

You can also find another Portal papercraft here and apparently Valve has plans to sell little cuddly companion cubes sometime soon.
posted by kosher_jenny at 9:57 PM on November 6, 2007


its existence, not it's. What an annoying error.
posted by kosher_jenny at 10:07 PM on November 6, 2007


wow, yeah. that remix is fantastic. an alternative narrative all its own.
posted by cowbellemoo at 10:36 PM on November 6, 2007


I didn't get that attached to the Companion Cube. In a rare moment of gag repetition, GlaDOS kept saying that I shouldn't listen to it talk, because it doesn't (and it didn't, of course). There were a couple spots I had to be a tiny bit careful with it, and then I hucked it in the incineration ma-bob. The game was quite an achievement on a bagillion levels, but I really must have missed how much I was supposed to care about the Companion Cube.

If it had been breakable -- ah, if it had been breakable -- then there would have doubtless been empathy on my part. But you could (and had to) bounce frickin' balls of plasma off of it! It was a hardy thing. It didn't really need my protection. I mean, it would have been *bad* (for me) if I'd been careless and dropped it in the water, but it wouldn't have caused irreparable harm. Show me a level where a careless move could reduce the Companion Cube to a glowing husk, and I will show you a level where I'll regret incinerating it. (I would really like to play or make this mod.)

Call me cold if you must -- but I didn't, and don't, regret toasting the Cube in Portal proper. Did you guys play a different game than I did?
posted by lumensimus at 11:11 PM on November 6, 2007


If you incinerate the Weighted Companion Cube, does he not burn?
posted by empath at 11:18 PM on November 6, 2007


Wow, lumensimus, no wonder you were the fastest test subject ever to incinerate the Weighted Companion Cube! And your file was clearly right about you being unlikeable.

Perhaps it comes of being adopted.
posted by Justinian at 11:19 PM on November 6, 2007 [7 favorites]


I found it hilarious that your best friend in the game is essentially a crate, the gaming device most derided by Erik Wolpaw and Chet Faliszek back when their job was to make fun of video games, not help write them.

Funny that you should mention this, because Valve's dealt with the crate issue in the past:
In Half-Life 2: Raising The Bar, Gabe Newell mentions, when developing Half-Life 2, there was such a worry about the crate cliche that eventually the Valve Software team gave up and made a crate one of the first things the player sees and manipulates, figuring this "was the Old Man Murray equivalent of throwing yourself to the mercy of the court."
posted by chrominance at 11:29 PM on November 6, 2007 [3 favorites]



Empath
-- sure it does. It just never established itself as something that could be hurt, and that I had a duty to protect.

You raise a good point. To further paraphrased wit:

Hath not a dude eyes? If you prick us, do we not get bummed? If we eat bad guacamole, do we not blow chunks? -- Keanu Reeves in The Merchant of Venice Beach, care of The Critic

If I drop it from a very tall (or portal-augmentedly tall) height, the Companion Cube does not get hurt. If it gets hit with plasma, the companion cube does not get hurt. It doesn't even squeak; it clanks like any other box. It doesn't register as anything but a box -- to me, at least -- because, aside from sporting a pastel icon, it doesn't demonstrate itself to be anything other than a box.

In fact, what assurance do we have that the incineration chamber actually incinerates the Companion Cube? Don't tell me you took GlaDOS at her word!

Now, I'd be willing to accept that the Companion Cube deserved empathy if, and only if, it comes back in a sequel. Early on, we'd assume the comforting, omnipresent voice of this episode was simply another incarnation of GlaDOS -- but where she was detached, mendacious, and (in the end) lonely, the new voice would slowly reveal itself to be resentful, vicious...vengeful.

The first time a portal, not of your own making, drops a Companion Cube on Chell, and (should you be fortunate enough to dodge) the voice laughs, echoing -- in SHODAN-y glory -- "That was the fastest anyone on record has ever disposed of the Weighted Companion Cube. CONGRATULATIONS." ...

Then, and only then, will I regret incinerating him.
posted by lumensimus at 11:45 PM on November 6, 2007


Scratch all of the iffs in that. I really would settle for a breakable Cube, but how much fun would having to deal with a second pair of computer-controlled portals be? You would have to suss out and then deny, or avoid (rather than achieve and seek) line of sight between launcher and destination. It'd have a different vibe, to be sure, but would also create a certain, um, extraspatial paranoia knowing that a plasma ball could come out of any white wall in a sphere surrounding a shielded bad-guy portal gun.
posted by lumensimus at 11:51 PM on November 6, 2007


*adds weighted companion cube as a contact*

*checks "crush"*
posted by tehloki at 12:41 AM on November 7, 2007


lumensimus - dude, you're overthinking a plate of beans. It's a joke. It's funny. Ha ha ha! A cube!
posted by Justinian at 2:30 AM on November 7, 2007


What joy, thanks Soup for the FPP and thanks empath for the extra linkage. I was talking to a friend earlier today and we found out that between us we had almost all of the links in our respective del.icio.us accounts. Between us, we've played it 7 times in the two weeks since we have it.

Yes, Portal is a culmination of the form. Here's to hoping that the science keeps on getting done (on the people who are still alive).
posted by kandinski at 2:45 AM on November 7, 2007


I played Portal with my fifteen year old brother, and the final song had us both literally howling with laughter. It's the single best end to a game I've ever seen, and it's quite a game. It's a game I could sit my mother, father or non-FPSing wife down in front of and expect them to have an absolute whale of a time. Long beyond the 'Wii will change the world of gaming' hyperbole claiming that waggling a Wii-mote around would change people's perceptions of games and gaming, it's good ideas, well executed, beautifully scripted and designed to draw the player in that will increase the perception of games as a legitimate and engaging mass art form.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:17 AM on November 7, 2007


This companion cube, it vibrates?

Only when placed on an Aperture Science Testing Center Invisible Vibrating Square. Or in a motel bed.

I didn't, and don't, regret toasting the Cube in Portal proper.

Ooh, burn. I'll have you know that my heart can break too. (sniff)
posted by Weighted Companion Cube at 4:58 AM on November 7, 2007


Hee, that remix is pretty damn good.

One of the other groundbreaking, at least to me, parts of Portal is its brevity. So many other games with OMGWTFBBQ storylines are so long and take so much effort to get to the tasty story chunks that a casual gamer like myself can get easily discouraged.

Always leave'm wanting more!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:21 AM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


This companion cube, it vibrates?

that's purring. with love. for you.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:45 AM on November 7, 2007


On downloading a few of those homebrew maps from the link above (thank you Stavros!) I actually found myself glad to see Companion Cube.

I had sort of enjoyed the twisted psychological-testing quality of anthropomorphizing a cube as part of a test then making you 'kill' it, but oddly it was like seeing an old friend. (The designer has stacked it next to cake, of course.)

(No offense, WCC. We cool?)
posted by abulafa at 8:00 AM on November 7, 2007


Of course we are cool, except when we are burning in Aperture Science Emergency Intelligence Incinerators.
posted by Weighted Companion Cube at 8:10 AM on November 7, 2007 [4 favorites]


I like the Weighted Companion Cube a lot, but I feel much worse for the hapless Curiosity Module. I can't feel good about dropping a thing with the personality of an adorable toddler in to an incinerator.
posted by Scoo at 8:18 AM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Here's a transcription of the Portal script at GameFAQs. (Which doesn't quite hold the funny if you haven't already played the game, I'm guessing)
posted by eyeballkid at 9:05 AM on November 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


Also, where I felt bad about killing the Weighted Companion Cube, I felt the exact opposite taking out those psychotic gun turrets.

"Are you still there?"
posted by eyeballkid at 9:08 AM on November 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


Cashman, it's so nice to finally meet another Self fan.
posted by lyam at 10:13 AM on November 7, 2007


definitely in the running for best game ever made.

The part where you have to exterminate your beloved cube is just like the Stanford electrocution experiments. summary of 'em
The experiment (game) will not continue unless you do it.

The feeling of paranoia is so great, and then you realize, all games do things like this. This one just makes it part of the story. genius. the medium reflects back on itself, kind of like a portal.

you will be baked, and there will be cake.
posted by Miles Long at 10:28 AM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Clearly my plate of beans-caliber overthinking is a result of deep-seated WCC guilt.

Ha ha, fat chance.

But seriously...I'm just engaging in some light-hearted, if verbose, critique. Taking a slightly less sarcastic page from Admiral Haddock's book, if you will.
posted by lumensimus at 10:38 AM on November 7, 2007


it's so nice to finally meet another Self fan.
Do I have to out myself as a Selfie? Coz I just did.
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:04 PM on November 7, 2007


Ok. This is getting out of hand.

BEHOLD: The Companion Cube Tattoo.
posted by Espoo2 at 3:04 PM on November 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


lumensimus - ah, gotcha. More seriously, then, I think the WCC thing works quite well, actually. But exactly why I think so is sorta sitting on the tip of my tongue, to mix a metaphor. It's got something to do with us, as the player, clearly not caring about the WCC contrasted with GLaDOS' dialogue assuming that we care and so forth... and then when we incinerate it the bit about being the fastest to do so which then kinda makes the player soul search. Or something.
posted by Justinian at 3:29 PM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Self did that genius toy instrument cover of "What A Fool Believes" earlier in the decade.
posted by dw at 3:49 PM on November 7, 2007


BEHOLD: The Companion Cube Tattoo.

In Portal 2, it's revealed that Weighted Companion Cube is an angry drunk who votes Republican and won't shut up about ska music. That guy is going to be embarrassed.
posted by Gary at 4:02 PM on November 7, 2007


I am doing science and I'm still alive.
posted by riffola at 4:35 PM on November 7, 2007


Wow...when you put it that way, Justinian, I think the whole experience makes one feel more empathy and compassion for GLaDOS rather than the WCC. I think that's a lot closer to how I felt.
posted by lumensimus at 10:20 PM on November 7, 2007


Damnit, now I have to get a weighted companion cube tattoo.

No, seriously, all of a sudden I feel I just... MUST.. HAVE ONE.

I got a pipboy tatoo on a similar compulsion.

I should probably get this checked out.
posted by tehloki at 4:56 AM on November 8, 2007


I'm doing science with my arse!
posted by flabdablet at 2:52 PM on November 8, 2007


GLaDOS is offering us cake because she is our metaphorical mother, a role that is reinforced by her dated name--GLaDOS/Gladys, hearkening back to sitcom matriarchs we have known in countless television reruns (a datedness further evoked by the technological datedness of the "DOS" in her name)

HI I'M ON METAFILTER AND I COULD OVER-THINK A PLATE OF CAKE.
posted by GLaDOS at 12:01 PM on November 9, 2007 [4 favorites]


If you go here:

http://www.aperturescience.com/

And enter:

Username: cjohnson
Password: tier3

You will be logged in as Admin. Read the notes.
posted by disclaimer at 9:21 PM on November 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


Am I the only one who liked the talking gun turrets more than anything else? I finished Portal a while back and am working my way through Bioshock now, and every time I encounter a turret it makes me a little sad that all it does is shoot me.
posted by emmastory at 3:58 AM on November 10, 2007


The talking turrets were hysterical. After shooting at me several times, one of them innocently said "Could you come over here?"

Also something funny happens if you use a "live" turret as a shield against another one.
posted by O9scar at 10:28 PM on November 10, 2007


I think miniature gun turrets would be a great desk toy to go along with the WCC. Doubly so if they had a button that made them say stuff.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:56 AM on November 12, 2007


Damn. I haven't played Portal and don't even have a machine capable of running it, but I followed the links anyway. Now there's a horribly catchy Jonathan Coulton song stuck in my head. Thanks for the spoiler video, WolfDaddy... context helps the song make sense. Though I must say, it stands on its own pretty well, too. Good stuff.
posted by mumkin at 1:41 AM on November 16, 2007


For anyone still reading, here's Jonathan Coulton singing Still Alive.
posted by danb at 5:54 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I like to eat cake while excruciating.
posted by Artw at 10:44 PM on December 4, 2007


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