3D Realms To Continue “Portal Race”

By Jim Rossignol on March 18th, 2008 at 2:42 pm.


IGN delivered an interesting quote in yesterday’s Scott Miller interview, regarding the direction 3D Realms are taking with the new projects they’re working on:

While Prey pioneered the portal concept, Valve’s Portal took it to an all-new level. It really shows what you can do when you focus on a single core cool gameplay concept. So, while Portal impressed the heck out of us, it has also inspired us to return the favor to Valve and hopefully leapfrog them as they did us. We believe we have new ideas for portals that will keep the portal race interesting.

That’s an interesting statement: “The Portal Race” could be an awesome period of FPS development history.

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28 Comments »

  1. spirit7 says:

    Surely they’re too busy with Duke Nukem Forever to worry about portals? Oh wait…

    I doubt Valve are quaking in their boots anyway, it’ll take 3DR at least 11 years.

    The portal race will be very one-sided, methinks…

  2. Optimaximal says:

    “The Portal Race” could be an awesome period of FPS development history.

    It could also be the direst, with multiple (probably eastern european) substandard attempts dilluting the ‘genre’, with no games carrying off the ‘format’ with as much panaché, wit or capability as Portal (or too a lesser extent, Prey).

  3. Sean says:

    As long as portals don’t become the newest “colored lighting” or “HDR” fad. Gratuitously overused until the newness wears off.

  4. Turin Turambar says:

    Well, Prey was a shooter, the portal thing was only a gimmick to give the game a weird scifi atmosphere. Portal was a puzzle based game where you only make portals. So Prey 2 will only “surpass” Portal if they change the genre of the game, me thinks.

  5. Cyren says:

    So which one is Black Mesa and which one is Aperture Science?

  6. Flint says:

    I’m left wondering what sort of new and exciting things can you come up with from a subject like portals? They’re gateways you can go in and out from, like doors. In Prey you used them as passageways, in Portal you created them yourself.

    What’s left to explore with them?

  7. Sucram says:

    What about escalation!

    You bring a portal in space, he brings a portal in time and space.

  8. Leeks! says:

    My gaming history timeline may be entirely wrong, but doesn’t Narbacular Drop predate Prey by quite a lot?

  9. Alex says:

    The sad thing is, I don’t think many people were reminded of Prey when playing Portal as in “wow, they really leapfrogged one on 3D Realms here” – Portal blew Prey clean out of the water, not just with its use of the portal mechanic, but with its level design, artistic design and storytelling.

    In short, they weren’t really comparable – which doesn’t make it much of a race to begin with.

    It all sounds a bit like 3D Realms wanting to be elegant in acknowledging Valve and Portal and still make it sound like they matter.

  10. Alex says:

    My gaming history timeline may be entirely wrong, but doesn’t Narbacular Drop predate Prey by quite a lot?

    In true 3D Realms fashion, they started developing Prey in 1995. That said, even after 11 years of development their use of portals as a game mechanic was a lot less innovative (and fun!) as Narbacular Drop‘s (and Portal after it).

  11. Dinger says:

    Yes, escalation indeed. One of the awe-inspiring aspects of Portal was how well they implemented an obviously limiting mechanic. I mean, they way they let you throw portals around made it clear that level design involved seriously inhibiting the level contents (complexity of rooms) or the portal functionality (fizzers, teflon surfaces) for things to work right. It why we scratch our head and wonder if even Valve has the testing power to pull off a portal gun in combat on the Borealis.

    So yeah, if they want to escalate, go ahead. Time and Space would be awesome. Give a portal gun that goes say 5 minutes back (or ahead) in time. Have your hefty recorder just record the player’s previous actions, and make the bad guys do what they like. if the current player is nearby. If the “old player” gets killed, slowly transform the terrain into Wackyland.

    never gonna happen. Be cool though

  12. Flint says:

    There seriously needs to be a game set in Wackyland. Although I prefer the Tiny Toons version.

  13. Bishpo says:

    ahhh… just like brian wilson and the beatles.

  14. Alex says:

    Ha! Which one’ll spiral into drug-induced insanity?

    I know who I would bet on (it may already have happened).

  15. xeallos says:

    Too bad the original UNREAL had “portal” technology in some of its deathmatch levels. Remember the “teleporters” that you could look through and see to the other side? They actually went a step further and had DM arenas with infinite loop style exits on either end, as you “left” one end of the arena you’d come back and “enter” the other side, seamlessly and without any effects.

  16. Dan Forever says:

    Has anyone else not, upon seeing “the portal race”, thought “portal wars”? As in Half Life 2, as in Xen invasion. As in we’re all doomed! Run! Save yourselves!

  17. Fazer says:

    There was no portal race. Valve didn’t want to leapfrog 3DRealms. They didn’t pioneered the portal technology. They’re just trying to look smart and important.

  18. Vinic says:

    The next few years will probably yield some pretty interesting portal gimmicks. I can see portal-based multiplayer battles being very interesting — and hell of frustrating.

  19. Funkula says:

    Serious Sam had portals too. I think it was also the first FPS to feature directional gravity.

  20. nowak says:

    Going by Valve’s and 3DRealm’s development times, I can’t wait to see Portal 2 one-up Prey 2 in 2014.

  21. Taxman says:

    3D Realms didn’t make Prey (the one that was released) Human Head did, 3D Realms were just there publisher though they do own the IP.

    I think it took Human Head about 3 years to do Prey so assuming they are building off what they have already done they could probably shave the development time down & push out Prey 2 in 2009.

    Really Prey is much like Duke Nukem Forever except everyone new Prey was canned internally at 3D Realms, until the current version was released & surprised everyone.

    Duke is the same they are on their fourth (I think) version & we shouldn’t really think of it as being in continuous development all these years, just development was terminated then restarted so whatever DNF comes out isn’t the culmination of all these many years just whatever they have been doing for the last 3-4.

    Of course that isn’t going to stop the tide of media when DNF comes out from stating this is what they have been working on for so long etc.

    Anyway competition is good if they can come up with some good portal ideas that improve the FPS game play all the better (Portal was a puzzle not a shooter game some folks seem to forget).

  22. Scandalon says:

    xeallos, you beat me to it! The story goes (IIRC) that Unreal was already using “portals” internally as a way to speed up rendering, after Prey was announced (and the non-euclidean space gimmick was explained) Tim Sweeney went “Oh, I’ve already got the pluming in place, just never thought of using it like that” and got portals in the current sense of the term working in a day or so.

    It was pretty cool walking into a tiny shack (or dropping into a little hole in the ground) and emerging in a much larger room.

    I can’t find a screenshot from the original, I did find a post from 06 where someone tossed together a portal gun in the then-current version of the Unreal engine after seeing valve’s video: http://utforums.epicgames.com/showthread.php?t=530848

    Also, Quake3 had some limited portal usage.

  23. Duoae says:

    @Flint

    I’m left wondering what sort of new and exciting things can you come up with from a subject like portals? They’re gateways you can go in and out from, like doors. In Prey you used them as passageways, in Portal you created them yourself.

    What’s left to explore with them?

    There are several things you can do with Portals and portal technology. Ironically, the unreleased Prey (based on an actual portal engine) was the most innovative and difficult to implement version of the technology and idea of the game. The portals in Prey, Narbacular Drop and Portal are ‘hacked’ into the BSP engine… they are all compromises and not true portal implementations.

    I suggest that people read and watch the videos on Lon Meteo’s Prey page for the history of the 3D Realms’ developed title.

    Another project which is similar is ‘The Room’ which was developed by Lionhead studios.

    You’ll notice that they use portals in that too. Portals are dynamically scalable – something that was used once in Human Head’s Portal (under used if you ask me)…

    Anyway… hopefully it will be interesting.

  24. Alex says:

    Anyway competition is good if they can come up with some good portal ideas that improve the FPS game play all the better (Portal was a puzzle not a shooter game some folks seem to forget).

    Surely the mediocre FPS part of the Prey mix was what dragged the game down, though.

    I mean, it’s great to want to improve shooters as a genre, but the first step surely would be to make a decent FPS first.

  25. Faust says:

    I actually really liked Prey, I thought there was a lot of really nice bits and I even enjoyed what story it had…..

    But the portals weren’t really a big part of it.. I thought the gravity element was much more prevailant than the portals, which seemed to be used only as a transport method as they were static.

  26. Leelad says:

    I think it’s a hard thing to get right. Prey got it spot on portal make it fun..you take it too far and you have a game that’s like the portal hard levels that no one can play.

    Interested to see what they come up with.