Erik Wolpaw Talks In Depth About Portal 2

George Lucas interviews Bill Gates.

A really fantastic in-depth interview with Valve’s Erik Wolpaw has been posted by the NYU Game Center as part of their lecture series. During it Wolpaw plays Portal 2, talking about the process behind creating the game, the motivations behind many of the decisions, and a great deal of thought about how story and games interact. You can watch it below.

This is a hefty interview. It’s about an hour twenty. Things begin purely discussing Portal 2, along with watching the opening sequence. That’s interesting, seeing a comedy game play in front of an audience. As things progress the conversation broadens, discussing the state of games, means of portraying fiction (including Wolpaw’s ingenious idea for including choose your own adventures in games that insist on including books). It’s a properly interesting stuff, and well worth dedicating a chunk of your day to.

There’s also quite a lot of fun to be had watching as the admiring interviewer sees how uncomfortable he can make the extremely modest Wolpaw with (appropriate) praise. That peaks at about 45 minutes in.

(Oh, and he mentions us, which is rather nice.)


  1. tomeoftom says:

    Oh, YES. I’ve been craving something like this for ages. I cannot wait to sit inside his brain for an hour twenty, thanks John!

  2. MattM says:

    I WANT TO PLAY THIS GAME! Darn PSN outage.

  3. Crusoe says:

    Awesome! Still not played tho. Pc on the brink :(

  4. thessalian_pine says:

    Gah, this will have to wait until I get around to playing Portal 2.

  5. Timofee says:

    He must have got a major crick in his neck from sitting like that.

    Also, awesome.

  6. McDan says:

    Very much, awesome.

  7. Anton says:

    Hearing him give a shout out to Rock Paper Shotgun was nice.

  8. tomeoftom says:

    Wow, that was really interesting. Surprisingly diverse questions from the audience, as well.

  9. Talon says:

    Whoo, I barely managed to get into this.

    This was a lot of fun, and only reinforced my belief that Valve is awesome.

    The only minor quibble that I had was that some in the audience hadn’t played Portal 2 and/or went through the developer commentary and/or read The Last Hours of Portal 2, which I think could’ve actually answered some of their questions.

    But even so, there was a lot of interesting commentary on ludonarrative dissonance, and man, Erik is awesome. And funny. Don’t forget funny.

  10. oceanclub says:

    I thought Stephen Merchant was brilliant in Portal 2, but I do hope Valve get to work with Richard Ayoade at some point as well.


  11. Njordsk says:


    Now apply that to HL3. Please

    Very please.

  12. drplote says:

    Nvm. I guess I could just watch the embedded video!

  13. Donjonson says:

    Yuss…. looking forward to this.. last exam tomorrow, then I can watch all the lecture series videos I want!! …waitaminute….

  14. The Dark One says:

    I wonder what horrible secret Erik revealed at the 31 minute mark that forced them to edit it out…

  15. po says:

    Oh good :) This to some extent makes up for the lack of developer commentary on Portal 2 (hoping for it in a DLC).

  16. fuggles says:

    There was developer commentary on Portal 2, it’s in extras….

  17. michaelar says:

    Oh man, I just realized Erik Wolpaw also co-wrote Psychonauts. This guy is, if possible, even more amazing than I realized.

  18. eclipse mattaru says:

    I really want to watch this but I haven’t played Portal 2 yet. Just how spoilerish is the video for a heathen like me?

    • Man Raised by Puffins says:

      It’s not terribly spoilery until the Q&A, but I’d strongly suggest giving it a miss until you’ve played the game.

  19. Daave says:

    Great vid. Valve seem determined to challenge every preconception of games one by one.

  20. TheTourist314 says:

    I am just astonished by how almost embarassed Wolpaw seemed to get by all the compliments he was getting.

  21. opaulo30 says:

    God the moderator is REALLY annoying. Sorry to sound like a jerk, but he keeps interrupting and he asks about his own hunches which Erik refutes. Ha ha…Sorry, maybe he is just excited or whatever. Portal 2 is an awesome game and all, but chill dude. maybe switch to decaf.