Valve On Portal 2: Spoiler Interview Part Two

By John Walker on April 28th, 2011 at 12:10 pm.

Cubes without corners are just dangerous.

And here’s part two of our exclusive spoiler-packed interview with Portal 2 writers Chet Faliszek and Jay Pinkerton. (Here’s part one.) Below we discuss how the game came to be so intricately detailed, what it was like working with Stephen Merchant and J.K. Simmons, and how much of Valve’s decisions are driven by creativity, or money. We also discover their thoughts on the crossover with the Half-Life universe, how heartwarming Jay finds the community, and quite how offended Valve writers get if you suggest their game contains cutscenes.

RPS: Story still seems to be so incidental to the first-person genre. But clearly that’s not the case at Valve. In Portal 2 it almost seems to be more important than the puzzles.

Jay: That’s a little bit subjective, as for a lot of people it’s puzzle first. Let’s just say there’s a little something for everybody.

Chet: But we care about it. Some people make it clear that it’s just the background. It’s something we always toss around. How you tell the story in single player versus how you tell the story in co-op’s different. So how are you going to tell the story when there’s guns shooting off continuously, versus when you have quiet’s going to be different.

RPS: You even have cutscenes in this game.

Chet: There are?

Jay: At the very end. The very end elevator ride.

Chet: The rest of the stuff is in-game. Is it really a cutscene if you’re tied to the bench?

RPS: I’m not criticising!

Chet: I think you are.

Jay: This interview’s over.

RPS: Wait, come back! I’m just saying it shows the emphasis you guys want to put on story.

Chet: I was trying to explain this to somebody the other day who hadn’t gotten to see it. There’s a lot of experiences in the game. I don’t want to say the word “cutscene”, because I don’t think the original room ride is really a cutscene. It’s an experience that you’re part of, and you can choose some things in there. But you’re going along, there’s no getting out of the room.

Jay: For me there more just these pivot points during the game. And you do need times just to slow down, and let your brain rest for a bit. Through playtesting we’ve learned that after a set number of puzzles it’s a good time to have a little fun with the character. But the pivot points, these are the moments where things are about to take a one-eighty on you, you’re about to go into a new environment. You’ve beaten this one level, and here we go off to act 3 or whatever. For us they were never really cutscenes, like, “Okay, here’s your big moment to do a scene,” so much as they were, “Okay, here’s our chance to let people know they’ve progressed.”

RPS: The scale of detail really surprised me. The turret building factory, where you can run straight past or watch these robot arms building in intricate detail.

Jay: Well, Chet and I personally did it, and we say thank you.

Chet: It’s how dense the game is, that’s where it comes from. In fact, I was reading the Escapist this morning, and they picked up that someone had asked me if it was the best game we had made, and I agreed. For single player it’s the best game we ever made. (For multiplayer Left 4 Dead is still dear to me.) And reading the comments, as I forced myself to do, they’re like, “Oh, what an arrogant prick.” And I’m like, well, he asked me a question, and I answered. I didn’t propose it forward. But don’t you think we learn from our previous games and get better at it? So, I’m not comparing it to any other games out in the world (though it is better) compared to all our others it’s the best one we’ve done. Because we’ve gotten better at it! How is that a controversial statement, that we’ve gotten better at things we do a lot of? It is weird.

Jay: There are so many things in the background. I think it’s a testament to the fact of how much unbridled creativity people have on this project. And it’s not a feeling of cracking the whip, “Get this done by Tuesday!” In the final act, when Wheatley’s taken over, there’s so much going on. I’m still spotting new things when I play it. And you do get this lived in sense of the world. My hat’s off to all of them.

RPS: Rooms crashing into each other takes that detail to another scale.

Jay: And there’s never a, “Hey, you go do that so this crashes into that.” It’s just someone’s like, “Oh, Wheatley’s taking over now? Oh, I’m going to go try this!” And there’s that ethos at Valve where the passion goes through. If someone wants to contribute in that way, they will happily work on it for hours and hours, because they’re like, “This will be so cool when it’s in the game.”

Chet: It doesn’t take as long as you’d think. It would take a lot longer if somebody mapped it out, handed it to an animator, and said “Animate this.” But instead when you’ve got the animator say, “Oh, I’ve got this cool idea. I want to do this thing,” they tend to work a lot faster because it’s something they want to do. That makes a big difference.

RPS: So how was it working with Stephen Merchant and J.K. Simmons?

Jay: Stephen Merchant was an absolute delight to work with. We’d been a fan of his before he got on the project. We’ve worked with some very good actors before at Valve, but I think this is the first time we’ve worked with a genuine comedian. That was a real treat for us. We would come in with script, and to a degree he felt like a collaborator. He would take lines and make them his own.

RPS: Was there any improvisation?

Jay: A lot of it would be variations on a theme. So if Wheatley’s on the ground and wants to be picked up, and we gave him five lines, he’d come up with another ten. He was very good as a naturalistic actor. He really sunk his teeth into the heel-turn, if I can use a wrestling term. He would take these lines, and make it part of his performance. He wouldn’t change the joke – he innately understood the joke – you wouldn’t have to explain it to him, and he’d just be improving it on the fly. J.K. Simmons, he’s worked with the Coen brothers, with inveterately great actors. He was a true professional. Walked in, read his stuff, asked lots of questions about it. He hadn’t worked a lot in the game universe, but was just super-raring to go.

RPS: I was really impressed with his timing. Timing is often horribly fucked up in games, but here it was perfect.

Jay: And that’s it. When you’re working especially with comedy scripts, and I’m not naming names, but I have worked with actors in the past where you’re sitting there going through fifty takes, and they’ve yet to figure out the joke. When you’re working with pros like Simmons and Merchant, where they read it, they get it, and they’re trying their ass off to make it funny for you, it was a real great experience.

Chet: Also, with the timing, it helps that me, Jay and Erik hook up the audio. So we put it in the game. We’re not just throwing it over the fence, and hoping somebody else gets the timing of the jokes. A lot of the time it’s literally a half-second beat makes something funny or not funny.

Jay: I can’t tell you how much time we spent, all three of us, huddled over a computer, shaving off a fourth of a second, a third of a second. We record it, we cut it, we put it in the game, and then we program it in and make sure it’s at the point where we’re happy with it.

Chet: Also you get out of the office.

Jay: Oh, and Nolan North, who’s done a million games. I think he’s worked on all of them. He was a lot of fun to work with because he has such a good vocabulary for gaming. In the same way that with Stephen Merchant you don’t have to explain comedy to him, you don’t have to explain games to Nolan North. He innately understands when he reads a script.

RPS: You pushed Ellen McLain way further. She’s your most frequent collaborator.

Jay: She’s Valve’s muse, I guess.

RPS: She gets a lot more range.

Jay: Ellen lives here in Seattle, and that afforded us the time to work with her a lot. We could just go down there week to week and throw stuff in. What you’re seeing there is the fact that we were able to experiment so much. We were allowed to get adventurous. Ellen embodies the character at this point, loves the character, and loves the franchise, and it shows.

RPS: People often paint this idyllic vision of Valve, that you guys do all these things, these extra projects, teaming up with indies, and so on. But surely at some point there’s someone checking your figures? These decisions, say working with PopCap to produce the Valve-themed Peggle, is it really just a creative thing is or there someone pushing the marketing?

Chet: Seriously, there’s like four or five people who would be the bean counters, and that’s even lumping Gabe into that, and Gabe’s probably the most wanton spending guy there is. We’re comfortable enough.

Jay: Comfortable enough to experiment. And to enjoy the experiments.

Chet: And you’re allowed to say, “I wanna go try this thing, or do this thing”, or, “Hey I know this guy, let’s do this thing with them.” It’s always encouraged. The Peggle stuff was literally, Eric Tams, who works here, worked on the original Peggle. We’re friends with him, let’s do something more, let’s keep having fun. If we’re having fun doing it, then the community’s probably having fun consuming it, and if they’re having fun they’re going to stick around. It’s kind of simple that way. If we were tight to the bone, starving, and had no money, we’d still try to be doing this stuff, but maybe there’d be somebody looking more closely at it. But there’s still this idea that just doing all these things, and letting people run with things they’re passionate about, in the end will work out.

RPS: But at the moment all this stuff is coming through others. PopCap released the Peggle, the indies are releasing the Portal stuff. Is there a desire in Valve to start putting out your own micro-projects?

Chet: We do design experiments that we incorporate into our bigger games. That keeps people fresh. We’re talking about doing another round of letting people experiment, doing what they’re interested in doing, and then from that we’ll see what comes from it. A lot of that made it into Portal, a lot of that made it into Left 4 Dead. The experimentation keeps it fresh.

RPS: Talking of Left 4 Dead, I’m so keen to start spreading the rumour that GLaDOS created the corpses in L4D. That line in the game, where she says she’s going to start reanimating corpses.

Jay: You conspiracy theorist.

Chet: There’s enough Half-Life concerns and tie-ins.

RPS: But don’t you think it’s interesting, that desire, that Stephen King-style idea that at a certain point all these worlds come together, people love that. It adds a weird tangibility to your fiction. You can see why people chase it.

Chet: Yeah, that’s always a cool thing. But equally handcuffing yourself to provide that isn’t necessarily an intelligent choice.

RPS: But at the same time, people are so desperate for, say, portal guns in Episode 3. People are craving for the crossovers. Is it not tempting to meet those cravings?

Jay: I think it’s more fun to see the creativity of the fanbase. If you go onto deviantART or something like that, the character that they’ve turned Chell into… As we said earlier, Chell is an avatar, but what they’ve turned her into and reflected onto her – that’s one of the most heartwarming things to see?

Chet: It’s heartwarming?

Jay: Well, not heartwarming. What’s the word that’s less silly?

Chet: But, “heartwarming”?

Jay: Encouraging? Inspiring?

RPS: “Jay wipes a tear from the corner of his eye.”

Jay: Come up with a really manly word for me.

RPS: “Fucking awesome.”

Jay: Imagine Clint Eastwood saying it in a gravelly voice. But keeping it open-ended, letting people connect the dots themselves, it much more rewarding than just spelling it out.

RPS: And there’s still a lot of ambiguity left by the end of Portal 2.

Jay: Yeah, it’s nice to imply this science arms race between Black Mesa and Aperture.

Chet: The Black Mesa guys are all serious and stuff, and they think they’re awesome, but who fucked up the whole world? Black Mesa!

Jay: Tonally they’re very different. I think it works better. A wink-nudge link. Rather than tearing down the wall and seeing how these two universes collide. I’m not sure if the results would be… would it be the great taste of peanut butter and chocolate, or would it be the taste of peanut butter and chowder? I don’t know.

RPS: Thanks for your time.

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64 Comments »

  1. harald74 says:

    It will be like peanut butter and chocolate, damnit! Just do it! Pleeeaaaasssseeee….

    • battles_atlas says:

      Have to say, my only disappointment in Portal 2 was the lack of HL cross-over. Other than the mention of Black Mesa I didn’t pick up anything. I was really hoping for a big juice HL reveal at some point.

    • Rush Ton says:

      There are a few other subtle references if you look for them. My personal favourite is in the trophy cabinet near the start of the Cave Johnson section where there are a series of awards for which aperture is always the runner up or second place. Always in the shadow of some other company.

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      Stompywitch says:

      The ending to Portal 2 is a huge reveal for the Half-Life series…

    • Danny252 says:

      As well as the Borealis one.

    • battles_atlas says:

      @ Stompywitch

      How so? Corn is going to take over the world from the Combine?

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      I think if anything, the presence of corn or wheat proves the combine is still necessary.

      Man that was a stupid joke, but it was just begging to be said.

    • battles_atlas says:

      I doff my hat to you, Sir

    • pagad says:

      I lol’d.

    • Wulf says:

      Great joke. Good job. Well done.

    • alice says:

      *slow clap*

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Thank you, thank you. Since Carlin died, I consider myself the living king of comedy.

  2. Premium User Badge

    James G says:

    The choreographed incidental details in Portal 2 were some of the most impressive I’ve ever seen in a game. Not only was there so much movement going on in the backgrounds, but it had such a physicality to it that it felt part of the level.

  3. Confusatron says:

    See how they quickly changed the subject when Ep. 3 was mentioned? Crafty bastards…
    Great interview, by the way.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Could be that there are already more Ep3 references in Portal 2 than we realize: we don’t know it because we haven’t played ep3 yet.

      You know: like the one song Dejobaan put out during the ARG. The one that starts “I don’t know a Cave from a hole in the ground.”? The song was mildly amusing, but once you realize it’s chock full of Portal 2 references, it takes on a whole new meaning.

      Also, something to bear in mind: we never see Doug Rattman’s body in Portal 2. It could be that he turns up in ep3.

    • qrter says:

      We don’t see any bodies in either Portal game. GLaDOS doesn’t seem to be the type to let rotting carcasses lying around, even if they were hidden behind the walls.

    • applecup says:

      That’s not quite true. She did leave skeletons in test chambers. Wheatley had to shake them out, remember?

  4. hav says:

    Great set of interviews. Stuff like this is why I read RPS in the first place!

    That an the snarky british commentaries of course.

    • Fringe says:

      SNARK!

      Half-Life crossover!

    • Deston says:

      Yeah these interviews were an excellent read, thanks guys!

      I haven’t heard much from Jay before but Chet is a genuinely awesome dude; I spoke with him quite a few times over email and he went well out of his way to help me out with some Left 4 Dead modding.

      Heh – I remember he also found the time to troll me about G-Man and Alyx / Chell conspiracies which I initially fell for while gulping down a huge swig of coffee. Choking ensued.

  5. Tei says:

    Theres a alternate universe where Portal 2 include Clint Eastwood gravelly voice. Gameplay is slighty different, more based on “connect the dots” gameplay, and “Object finding” games. But keeping it open-ended.

    Mr. M. Night Shyamalan helped writing the end. You play as Harpo, in the Part Where You Time Travel.

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      Oozo says:

      Ironically, I just told somebody today that my problem with Portal 2 puzzle’s is at times that they feel like you were given that amazing paint-box with all those great crayons and brushes and colours in them – but in the end, instead of letting you paint whatever you want, they just ask you to do a “connect the dots”-drawing.

      With Clint Eastwoods gravely voice as a narrator, I’d play Tei’s parallel universe game with pleasure, though.

  6. ColOfNature says:

    Haha, wow. Four-way crossover: Aperture Science vs Black Mesa Labs vs the Combine vs Reliable Excavation & Demolition vs Builders League United vs Zombies. The Valve Mega-Mashup!

  7. Rii says:

    /em goes to look-up Chell on deviantART

    EDIT: oooh, Alyx and Chell. I approve.

  8. Terry Wogan says:

    Thanks for this interview – interesting stuff! Was hoping for them to be a little less slippery on Ep. 3, though!

  9. jealouspirate says:

    I’m really enjoying this interview series. Valve is so great at, as they say here, catching your imagination and then leaving enough blanks for your mind run wild with it. I think this very deliberate element of mystery is one of the reasons Half Life and Portal are so captivating.

    • harald74 says:

      Excactly. And it’s why the idea of an Alien prequel turns me off. You don’t have to explain the Space Jockey, damnit!

  10. Premium User Badge

    MinisterofDOOM says:

    I’m glad to see that Valve’s fine team of writers understand that mysteries are only mysterious as long as they’re still mysteries. When you reveal all the details of something, it stops being a mystery. And while there are certainly instances where the reveal IS the point, or the reward, or the climax, there are also instances where the mystery itself is the point.

    When you BUILD upon mystery, revealing that mystery undermines your story. It’s just like with Dune. When F. Herbert was writing, there was so much of that vast universe that was implied but never expressly detailed. Then when his son and that asylum escapee Kevin Anderson started writing three dozen books a year, they flooded the mythos with so much DETAIL they squashed out the mystery. Now there aren’t any questions left. It traded mysterious depth for a Star Trek like coldness. Sure, more story has been told, but you have to ask yourself: did we really NEED to tell that story? Or was it best left to the readers?

    Much of the time, in instances like Half Life or Portal or Dune, where a universe has been built and then a small portion of that universe’s story has been explained, a huge part of the pleasure for fans is imagining what happens in the parts of that universe we’ve never seen. It’s the same for Star Wars, it’s the same for Lord of the Rings, it’s the same for a number of grand stories out there. If you set up a world in such a way that it takes on a life of its own, that world begins telling its own stories. And closing off all the doorways with explicit answers only deadens the world as a whole.

    As much as I want to see the Half Life/Portal universe crossovers realized, I also want to see them held at bay, since it leaves me to create those parts of the story for myself. It also adds a grand degree of epic depth to the worlds of both, in the same way darkness can make a small room feel vast.

    • Donjonson says:

      Lisa- “You have to listen to the notes she’s NOT playing!”
      Guy- “Pssh, I can do that at home.”

      Ah yeah, I get what you’re saying, totally agree, some people like it all dissected and then wrapped up in a neat little package… you mentioned the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings universes, I was reading Houellebecq’s discussion of Lovecraft last night, he created something similiar, and in fact , something that can never really be fully anatomised as the things he wrote about are TOO VAST AND TERRIBLE TO UNDERSTAND LET ALONE IMAGINE BWAH HAHAHAHAHAHA.

      Ahem…. great interview by the way, I’m listening to the Portal 2 soundtrack as I read!

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      MinisterofDOOM says:

      Lovecraft is another excellent example. I know a lot of people take issue with “At the Mountains of Madness” because of what it does with the origin backstory of the Cthulu mythos.

  11. Jorum says:

    So whose gonna be first to mod a L4D Aperture science level?
    Badly-imitated GLaDOS gets bonus points.

    Although I took that reanimation comment as just another one of GLaDOS’s jibes, that even you die she’ll still screw you around.

    • whydidyoumakemeregister says:

      There is a level, I think after you open the second huge hatch, that has the fences from L4D blocking off a huge open area, and I stood there for way too long expecting a horde to come and start climbing over them.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Man Raised by Puffins says:

    And if further proof of the importance of good voice acting and timing were necessary, I present to you:

    Exhibit A: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A88YiZdXugA
    Exhibit B: http://audioboo.fm/boos/342094-terrible-spotify-portal-2-ad

  13. Jables says:

    Okay, this has been bothering me massively, not so much the thing itself as that no one seems to react at all!!

    Okay, here it comes, massive SPOILERS!

    What is up with the fact that while you can CLEARLY see that it”s night over GLaDOS chamber in the end, and that the surface is only a few levels up – in the end cutscene you go like half a kilometer up and it’s in the middle of the day!?

    By the by, what bothers me isn’t the thing in itself, but rather that nobody has commented on it! ;)

    • explosiveface says:

      When GLaDOS drags you back from the moon, you pass out. When you wake up, her chamber has been fixed and it’s day. The distance thing is less clear, but she could have just moved the chamber for some reason.

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      choie says:

      Crapples, beaten. Edited to remove redundant explanation.

    • Wulf says:

      I kind of thought this was obvious…

      When you were out, GLaDOS prepared the singing turret ride, she had them all get into place for you to see on your trip up, with the crescendo with the giant turret and all. This was all planned by her to give you a good send off. If you didn’t have to go up so far, then you wouldn’t have seen all that stuff – stuff that she’d obviously prepared.

      GLaDOS likes celebrations. It’s like the cake from Portal 1, and probably something about Caroline, so I suspect it’s because Caroline enjoyed parties.

      And as a sort of denouement to this comment, I’ll point out that the whole thing surrounding the cake (and it potentially being a lie) in the original was probably the personality of Caroline fighting for dominance with that of GLaDOS, since there were clearly two personalities in one brain, there.

    • Lilliput King says:

      What bothers me is that no-one has mentioned the 3rd ‘paradox’ isn’t a paradox at all!

    • KenTWOu says:

      @Jables Also MASSIVE SPOILERS: we left GLaDOS on the surface on Aperture science parking at the end of the first game, but find GLaDOS in her chamber at the beginning of the sequel. Somebody even connects her power cords to power supply.

  14. Chris D says:

    And the nominations for the most gratuitous use of the word “fuck” during a serious interview are…..

    • TuesdayExpress says:

      …yes, but they did edit all the “Belgium”s out.

  15. Koozer says:

    Super Smash Bros: Valve Edition.

  16. WebFusion says:

    I’ve yet to see a single journalist inquire about the new set of SDK/Mapping tools supposedly in the works. When will we have a new, user-friendly version of Hammer? What kind of integration is Valve planning for community-generated content? Will mappers be able to submit new map-packs for approval/distro through the valve store, or will we be relegated to using 3rd party download vehicles (as with Tf2/L4D, etc.)

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    Personally, I think I’m more excited to see the new tools Valve has in store, as Hammer has been virtually unchanged for over a decade now, and desperately needs a facelift. I honestly think that getting tools that are much easier to access will give Valve’s entire current library (TF2, L4D, and Portal 2) a much needed kick in the pants if it allows people to get up and running creating maps much faster adn easier, without needing to learn things like entities, logic, etc.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Totally agree. Even though there’s still a very strong modding community built around the SDK, it’s definitely in a slump. I’d be a lot more tempted to get back into modding if the tools were overhauled.

    • michaelar says:

      Valve have actually said that a revamped version of their toolkit is what they’re working on next (along with everything else, of course). Source is certainly amazing, but the tools are difficult to work with, and they realize that. I’m looking forward to it!

  17. whydidyoumakemeregister says:

    Like I said yesterday, it seemed like JK Simmons was out of his element and the Cave Johnson character suffered because of it. None of the lines sound sincere, so to me he’s just a failed attempt at comic relief instead of something that immersed me further into the Aperture world.

    • Wulf says:

      I totally disagree. I couldn’t agree more if I wanted too, which is to say I’d probably bust a lung in the attempt, so I disagree quite a lot, then. Which is to say that I think you might be wrong about this.

      One of the more memorable moments of the game for me was the “YEAH, BURN HIS HOUSE DOWN!” part, where GLaDOS was riffing off Cave’s denial speech, it was a genuinely powerful scene and one of those that built up GLaDOS in my mind as a character whom I could sympathise with. She really loved him, really. She continues running the facility for him. She might think that at the end there, she deleted Caroline, but her desire to keep the facility running, to look after it, and to protect it all came from Carolline.

      And in that scene you could actually, for that moment, understand what Caroline saw in him. I felt so sorry for her and for Cave, despite Cave being something of a monster himself. But then, I say Cave is a monster but it always sounded like he involved himself in his experiments as much as his test subjects did, and that’s what killed him in the end. He could’ve distanced himself, but no. And then you realise that this is what drove GLaDOS insane.

      “I get to live forever, but he’s dead and always will be…”

      And then you begin to wonder if when talking about reanimating the dead, whether she wasn’t talking about reanimating Chell after killing her, but whether there was that hint of Caroline there, who missed Cave so sorely, that she’d have given anything to bring him back.

      That was poignant and powerful for me.

      Yes, I’m a silly person. I have feelings.

      Edit #1: And you know, I’m a bit :< over this now, because that still hangs with me. Portal 2 is a comedy game, but at the same time there's still a sadness there. The defeat of Cave Johnson, Caroline's loyalty, how GLaDOS's/Wheatley's evil nature was more because of the mainframe that screwed them up rather than their own personality flaws, how Wheatley ended up in space and you could do nothing to save him…

      There were a lot of sad points there for me. I laughed, but there were some moments where I just had a bit of a faint, sad smile going on, because there was always that fight there at Aperture to do well, but things always kept turning out the worst for them, always the worst, and that never really stopped for Portal 2, either.

      But this is one of the reasons I loved Cave, he was an exemplar of Aperture Science, of its ups and downs, and I don’t think they really could’ve done better with him. Not his scripts, or Simmons himself voice acting the role.

      It was perfect.

      I’m actually sorry that you can’t see it the way I do, and probably will never be able to.

    • Sh30l.exe says:

      Wulf, I felt compelled to say that I too felt a sense of melancholy interposed throughout the comedy. Was refreshing to see that shared.

    • Wulf says:

      There really was. It was the beast of Aperture that had gobbled them all up whole, every last one of them, and wouldn’t let any of them escape its cycle of hardships, GLaDOS couldn’t escape, and somehow it even managed to impose one, last curse on Wheatley, it’s like the whole thing is a living, breathing monster, more than the sum of its parts, and in Portal 2 you got to learn about those parts, and even feel empathy for them, and all they’ve been through.

      Aperture was a gestalt, really, and the way it was founded was the way it went on, and the story of that beast is a pretty fucked up one, to say the least. But that’s what makes Chell’s escape all the more exceptional, the first person to truly escape from the beast of Aperture, not even Rattman could do it, no one had been able to. Chell was the first, her and her little companion cube. For me, that’s what made the ending so completely amazing. And that hint in the ending of how maybe, just maybe, the curse of Aperture had been lifted. At least to some small extent.

      That’s what made the ending such a high for me. I was there, I did all that, but… it’s still a shame about the casualties.

    • James T says:

      I got pretty weary of Cave Johnson, although I blame the writers more than Simmons. The “throw the lemons back in life’s face” rant was a great moment that finally humanised Cave, but it just came too late after the endless wacky blabbing about hobo test subjects etc etc. It’s no wonder Simmons reincarnated his J. Jonah Jameson performance with Cave, they exhibit similar comic broadness.

  18. Wulf says:

    Okay, I’m going to do this… right now (since they seem to read the comments to interviews).

    Valve types, thank you for the extra content that you helped get into the potato sack games, as the majority of it was really good. I had a lot of fun with the stuff in The Ball, the C.H.A.S. map was great (even if the stuff of nightmares when it came to trying to get a gold on it), and so on. I don’t think many people have really voiced their opinions about this, but I wanted to. Some of it was really clever, too.

    I’d like to talk about The Ball again because I really enjoyed how it was a vignette into The Ball’s style of gameplay, how ancient temple got all mixed up with laboratory like it was some kind of twisted reality hacking experiment, that was very enjoyable for me. And it was smashing to see two charismatic AIs spar, that was very entertaining for me and I loved every moment of it. And by that I mean C.H.A.S., with teh Defence Grid AI (The Entity) trying to boost my morale versus GLaDOS’s mind games.

    In fact, I honestly think that C.H.A.S. was one of the things that cemented GLaDOS and The Entity as my two favourite AIs. They were truly great in that, the writing was fantastic for it, and for anyone who already had any of these games, they actually got these inclusions for free. Despite this, and how very enjoyable these little additions were, they were ignored.

    To me, it’s like being handed a box of chocolates and walking away scoffing it without so much of a word of thanks to the person who gave them to you. I bought the potato sack because it was a bloody good deal on those games, I didn’t buy it expecting new content to be added to every one of those games! So essentially I got a box of chocolates out of it, and titillating, scrumptious chocolates they were too.

    So… thank you. Thank you very much!

  19. Shih Tzu says:

    No, GLaDOS did not reanimate the corpses in Left 4 Dead, because there ARE no reanimated corpses in Left 4 Dead! Wasn’t anyone paying attention?

    The “zombies” in L4D are living humans who got infected with some sort of 28-Days-Later-style rage-virus that ate away the parts of their brains that made them recognizably human (and for whatever reason gave a select handful of them some really gross superpowers). This means that, whenever you play L4D, you are mowing down thousands upon thousands of living, breathing, unarmed plague victims. You MONSTER. Get away from my children.

  20. Premium User Badge

    Carra says:

    Always nice to hear how they do it at the great software companies.

  21. passingstranger says:

    I never made the “reanimating corpses” -> L4D link. I think it was much more just a throwaway joke about how, even in death, 90 year old Chell won’t be able to escape testing.

    • Tin_man_Tex says:

      I don’t think Chell will live to 90 I’m affraid.

      Repeated exposure to 1500MW Supercolliding Superbuttons, emancipation grids, those crazy energy ball things, the portal gun, travelling through the decaying science spheres made of asbestos, being repeatedly doused in repulsion ‘it does not like the human skeleton’ gel, propulsion gel, and conversion gel (ask Cave what that stuff is like, oh wait you can’t because it killed him).

      By this point her DNA is probably tattered shreds from all the radiation an other high energy particles.

    • Eukatheude says:

      So Chell dies just as soon as she gets out of Aperture.

  22. Dontdrop says:

    Fantastic interview, great job Mr. Walker

  23. benjamin says:

    There was some parts of Portal 2 that were hauntingly lonely. The worst time I found was walking through a room of empty chairs and a projector screen. I expected the projector to start up. It didn’t. There was only silence. And I realized that I was very much on my own.

  24. Gortos says:

    There are two minor theories that bother me a the moment, I hope someone finds out if they were intended:

    First: At some point, the announcer says that the Turrets were given one copy of the laws of robotics to share. You will encounter exactly one “I’m different”-turret, that won’t shoot you. So… Is this a coincidence or is it the one who got the copy?

    Second: The turret opera is a nice touch, but some were speculating it fulfills a purpose. They shouldn’t shoot Chell while she was leaving, but were ordered to attack as soon as she would come back (GlaDOS says she doesn’t want you back and sings she wants you gone…).

    I’m just wondering if the writers had thought about these details or if it’s just coincidence.