Now You’re Thinking With Screenshots

It's so hard to convey time travel with a lone, static screenshot. FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS

Indie dev Arthur ‘Mr. Pondukian’ Lee was so wrapped up in mashing together Portal and Snapshot for this physics- and time-warping tech demo that he forgot to even give it a name! Silly boy. That’s breaking one of the golden rules of self-promotion. In every other respect, Lee is very clearly not silly: this is a flat-out astonishing proof of concept. What if… instead of simply opening a doorway to another area, entering a portal you created also rewound time to the point where you created its exit, which was itself done by taking a screenshot of your desired destination point/time? Ack, my clumsy words plum don’t sum this up at all satisfactorily. I’m going to have to ask you to watch this video. It’s worth it, trust me.

That’s a real, working tech demo, made in Unity 3D, by the way, doubters.

Proper clever, proper bonkers stuff. And, as every other bugger on the internet has already observed: get this in Portal 3, Mister Valve.

If I had access to that technology, I would use it to portal to my kitchen, at a time when I still had milk in the house, thus saving me from a beyond-agonising, uncaffeinated trip to the shop.

Coming next: a game about portals in which puzzles revolve around creating a world in which Portal never existed, and thus cannot be referenced in any discussion of games containing space-time manipulation.

(Thanks, IndieGames).


  1. Bull0 says:

    Well, I mean, that was amazing. My mind is blown.

    The easiest way to break the Portal comparison would be to remove the restriction of gates needing to be created on walls. But that’d be quite fiddly both to implement and to play with. This works.

  2. Jams O'Donnell says:

    At 1:29 I lost my mind, Lovecraft-style. That’s unpossible!

  3. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Uh. Couldn’t you just drink the coffee without milk?

    Apart from that: interesting demo!

  4. ArcaneSaint says:

    So, what if you take a screenshot of the falling boxes, and then place that screenshot right at the point where the boxes are going to fall?

    Edit: My apologies if this was explained in the video, but I muted the sound so it wouldn’t interfere with the Bastion soundtrack.

    • Raniz says:

      I’m guessing the boxes would fall out of the floor. If you’re fast enough they will collide at some point above the floor/portal.

    • DeathCarrot says:

      If you mean at like 0:50 but instead immediately placing the portal below the falling boxes, the boxes in the player’s spacetime would fall into the screenshot’s spacetime and collide with the falling boxes there.

    • MFToast says:

      The boxes would disappear to that time, if the whole time thing is really consistent. You would still be in the current present, and the boxes would then exist in your “past”. Hoping you can take objects through those portals!

  5. jon_hill987 says:

    “Alright this next test may involve trace amounts of time travel. So word of advice: if you meet yourself on the testing track don’t make eye contact. Lab boys tell me that’ll wipe out time – entirely. Forward and backward. So do both of yourselves a favor and let that handsome devil go about his business.”

    • Oozo says:

      I’d hire you.

    • Syra says:

      Say hello caroline!

    • jon_hill987 says:

      One thing I wondered, was that meant as a reference to Back to the Future: Part II? Or has that idea been used in something earlier?

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      I was terribly disappointed that the test chamber you’re referencing did not, in fact, involve time travel. That is all.

  6. TheLordHimself says:

    Best Music Ever!

  7. c-Row says:

    That easily made 23.5 times more sense to me than Recall.

  8. Hooi says:

    I wonder if Valve is sweating bullets, hoping no one stumbles on their “F-stop” mechanic before they can use it in a game.

    • Mollusc Infestation says:

      Don’t let them trick you. They just want you to get excited about this so they can revel in your frustration when they never get round to putting it in a game.

    • shoptroll says:

      That’s what I thought too.

      Didn’t Kim Swift originally want to introduce time-travel elements in the puzzle design for Portal 2?

    • Jahkaivah says:

      Yeah and Valve said it proved too confusing to make a game out of.

      It is possibly they were over-complicating the premise with this game finding a simplification…. but at the same time I have to question the gameplay potential in this game here. I can forsee some issues like how being able to bring objects from the past to the present can allow the player to overflood the game world.

    • passingstranger says:

      It was never completely explained, but Kim Swift’s proposed time-manipulation mechanic sounded a lot like The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom.

    • tossrStu says:

      @Hooj: Actually my first thought on reading about this was “Hang on, ‘f-stop’ is a photography term… I wonder if…?”

  9. Nallen says:

    What happens if your screenshot contains a screenshot?


    • Nallen says:

      Also screen screen screen screen screen screeeen scrEEn. This word is now a meaningless sound.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      No, just a visit from Xzibit.

  10. Paraquat says:

    Surely using up all of your past-milk would mean you wouldn’t have milk at a different point in the future (between “past” and “now?”) You’re forgetting the third law of thermodynamics, aka conservation of milk.

    • Ovno says:

      Ahh no the milk would have been time duped, sadly though as a time duplicate the milk and any who drink it would be doomed…

    • jon_hill987 says:

      You must not use the code of codes! With each and every use, you risk tearing the universe asunder!

    • Mollusc Infestation says:

      “We’ve torn the universe a new time hole all right, but it’s clenching shut fast.”

  11. Lambchops says:

    I’m not one to make demands but . . . get this into a game with proper puzzles and stuff, ta!

  12. KillahMate says:

    I was actually already assuming F-Stop would be using something like this.

  13. CaspianRoach says:

    My stupid monkey brain can’t comprehend non-euclidian geometry.

  14. Korsi says:

    This guy makes really funny, entertaining games. He’s also been working on something inspired by Cave Story for like 6 years (I thought he would’ve finished or given up by now but his site says still in progress so wow). He also made the Merry Gear Solid games, which were cute little Christmas MGS parodies,

    (It’s Mr. Podunkian btw, without the N)

  15. Lamellama says:

    It’s wonderful but I don’t know if I can comprehend the solution to the potential puzzles, so the game scares me into not wanting to play it.

  16. D says:

    I was disappointed that he didn’t try to get the falling boxes to interfere with the falling boxes.