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Level With Me, Level With Me.

Portal Zoo

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Level With Me was a series of conversations with level designers like Dan Pinchbeck, Jack Monahan, Magnar Jenssen, Brendon Chung, Davey Wreden, Ed Key, and Richard Perrin. At the end, we all collaborated on a Portal 2 mod. You can download that mod here. Liner notes, installation notes, and screenshots are after the jump.

I’m not really sure who “Level With Me” is for. I suspect that means I’ve made it for no one. Yes, there are some genuine puzzles. Also, there are some purely conceptual puzzles. And then there’s one section where the only thing you really do is open a door. (It’s a pretty cool door though.)

The original plan was just to release the Portal 2 map, largely as it was, and then promptly wash my hands of it. I was reluctant to take authorship. Unfortunately, my conscience — in the form of Davey Wreden’s sonorous, pleading voice — intervened and made me postpone the mod for 2 weeks, to complete it to a personal standard. That standard demanded two additional levels, wholly built by me, that bookend the original map and hopefully contextualize the process of its construction.

If you’ve been reading the series from the beginning, you may recognize certain ideas we discussed, now given some sort of life. If not, read the interviews after you play and trace their origins. It’s like a game.

As always in my mods, I’ve included the .VMF map source files in \levelwithme\mapsrc\ if you want to see how I did something. It is my hope that these conversations have demystified the process of game design: we aren’t wizards or scientists or artists, we’re mostly just people who talk about stuff and took the time to learn how to constrain ourselves to the limits of our tools. You can easily do it too, and you should.

INSTALLATION (as of December 21st, 2011)
1) Download and unzip the folder to \Steam\SteamApps\Sourcemods\
(OSX users: drop the folder into something like “~/Library/Application Support/Steam/SteamApps/Common/Portal 2” instead.)
2) Install Portal 2 if you haven’t, and run it at least once to generate some files.
3) Restart Steam.
4) Run “Level With Me” in your Steam games list.
(OSX users: download and unzip this .app, which acts as a symlink sort of, and start the mod with this shortcut instead. Thanks to Don.Gato.)

– .BIK movie files might not play properly on OSX. Sorry.
– Weird workarounds are necessary for OSX users to even play this. Sorry.
– In general, I get the feeling that Portal 2 wasn’t built to accommodate the Sourcemod folder format. It’ll likely get phased out even further in the next big Portal 2 patch that adds integrated community map sharing and such. I will patch the release on ModDB accordingly when that time comes.

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Robert Yang


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