(Entire) Life Science: Portal 2 Perpetual Test Initiative Out

Valve credits 'Miss Stabby' for this image, so I will too. Then I'll firmly reprimand her for LEAVING OFF GABE'S BEARD HOW COULD YOU.

Finding your true calling is tough. Perhaps, for instance, you have the diabolical, mustachioed mind of a puzzle designer, but some horrific mutation has left you with the largely unhelpful hands of a pirate, ghost, or lobster. And also, you’re kind of lazy. Well, so much for coding your dreams into virtual reality. Guess you’ll have to settle for a life of convenience store tedium or awesome high-seas swashbuckling. Fortunately, you’re exactly who Valve had in mind when it created the exceedingly easy-to-use Perpetual Testing Initiative mapmaker.

OK, maybe not exactly. Your case is pretty specific. But close enough. Browsing through the Steam Workshop, there’s already some impressively complex brain (and space-time continuum) bending stuff on display. I’m re-downloading Portal 2 as we speak, so a roundup of the best and least prone to making me feel dumb can’t be too far off. Will yours be among them? Only if you stop twiddling your giant lobster thumbs and get cracking now.


  1. marcusfell says:


  2. hench says:

    Does anyone know if Valve are going to update Hammer editor now with the upcoming CS:GO release? It is quite primitive to work with

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      They’ve hinted that they want to overhaul it in the past, but I’m not sure if that project became the testing initiative or not. Their tools are definitely in need of some major work.

  3. Beelzebud says:

    I can’t get over how slick this thing works. I really hope to see editors like this for other games. The way the Workshop works with it is nice too. Overall one sweet ass mod tool.

    • nibbling_totoros says:

      It’s ridiculous how easy Valve made it for newbies to make their own custom maps. You can even load new custom maps as you are actively playing one- no need to reload the game. They also put in an instant “in-game view” throwing you into your map as you make it, so you can see how it would look like during gameplay.

      I give Valve a lot of credit for this one- this is going to make portal 2 live for a long long time.

      • MikoSquiz says:

        [EDIT] Poot! Put my comment in the wrong place.

      • passingstranger says:

        One of my major hopes for gaming right now is that this trend takes off. I’ve been putting a good amount of time into Trials Evolution, which also has a polished level editor, and the amount of creativity and time that people are willing to put into levels just because they think other people will enjoy them is fantastic. Huge amounts of free content powered by people who just like creating.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I’ve yet to fire it up, but from the videos it looked like a specialised Sauerbraten.

      Edit: Well, not a mile off. No first-person editing, and it’s a shame about the build times. It’d be useful to be able to do an unline geom+entities build for quick iterative testing of things.

  4. QualityJeverage says:

    I don’t feel it’s an exaggeration to say this is the best “layman’s” level editor I’ve ever used. It’s easily the first time I’ve felt I can actually make something worth playing without having to wrestle with external software that I simply don’t have the patience to learn.

    It isn’t that I think software like Hammer is bad. I’m just being honest when I say I haven’t been able to muster the energy to learn how to make anything worthwhile with that stuff. This in-game editor, on the other hand, is absolutely fabulous.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      If it makes you feel better, I’m assured by several veteran mappers that Hammer really is not great at all to work with. Apparently the folks at Valve haven’t been very happy with it for a long time either but it basically needs rebuilding from scratch if they want to have it the way they want it, and that’s a bear of a project.. and, of course, nobody gets to delegate without consent at Valve.

  5. grechzoo says:

    This is nice. Love portal, this tool-set is one of the slickest, most fully featured modding tools out there and for probably my favorite game of this generation as well.

    Couldn’t ask for more. Oh wait, Valve have put portal 2 on sale so more people can play and potentially make levels.


    • QualityJeverage says:

      Yep! Picked up the bundle of 1 and 2 for $8.49 to get my girlfriend into it. This is a good day for Portal-ers.

  6. DickSocrates says:

    I’m usually grumpy about everything, but everything about this update it great. It’s precisely what this game needed. Just played through 2 new maps and liked them both. Though the editor isn’t as infinite as Hammer, the levels are perfect for puzzling, which is all I ever wanted from Portal, and which is why I didn’t like Portal 2 as much as I loved 1.

    And the new… no, it’s slightly spoilerish. Just download a map (any map) and play it, with your sound on. Valve didn’t have to go this far for this update. I congratulate them. Begrudingly.

  7. Phantoon says:

    The only map creator I think I’ve enjoyed more was Timesplitter 3’s.

  8. Innovacious says:

    I watched a video from one of the beta testers. In the beta there was a trigger block. You could set it to do thing when you entered the block. He set it up to turn lights on and play music when he walked into it.

    No such thing in the final version. No control over sounds and if you don’t add strip lights or windows some areas just seem to have mysterious invisible light sources which you cannot change.

    The video has since been removed though, by the uploaded himself

  9. CPTblackadder says:

    Good luck going through 2,110 new tests. And it hasn’t even been out for a day!

    • grechzoo says:

      im seeing 6,000+ (500 in the last hour)

      with the ranking and popularity scales it should also be easy to filter out the poor ones.

      however im worried the difficult one might also suffer. there should have been 3 tiers of levels, easy medium or hard and then within those you are ranked. as i imagine really tough puzzles will suffer in this current system from most people who don’t like too much challenge.

      only been out for less than a day, but i think its a reasonable suggestion for the future, as considering the amount of content, being able to sort them by quality AND difficulty should be a big bonus.

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        I think you’ll find the really difficult ones leading the pack in popularity.

  10. buzzmong says:

    That’s Gabe? I thought it was The Gillen!

  11. Fringe says:

    I have one! Check it out: link to steamcommunity.com

    (shameless, I know)

  12. Quasar says:

    The editor is great fun – within a few minutes I was iterating all sorts of fun stuff.

    Here’s my first, nothing too complex but it was fun to make! link to steamcommunity.com

    EDIT: I said ‘fun’ three times. In two sentences.

    Oh god.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      It’s OK, this thing really is that…enjoyable.

      Valve really outdid themselves this time. This is the new standard for consumer-friendly level editing.

  13. Joc says:

    17 years ago, DoomEd 4.0 broke my masterpiece; I’ve not touched a map editor since. Judging by the comments so far though, maybe it’s time I got over it? Probably, aye.

  14. phylum sinter says:

    Lobster thumbs eh?!

    I saw it way at the beginning and it STILL slapped me right in the funnies. You know what i mean.

    Portal 2 followed by some user made levels are flowing into my data centers now, this is perhaps the best thing Valve could have done for the game… short of an expansion themselves. Or there’s that whole HL3 thing that might be worth putting out too. But really this is a great move by them.

    Does anyone know if you can add sounds to your maps?

  15. LionsPhil says:

    Heh heh; has anyone noticed that the player character isn’t Chell?

  16. Donjo says:

    AAGGHH.. it’s crashing my computer.. Reinstall never took so damn long…

  17. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    I said I’d buy Portal 2 when this was released. Glad I waited. Got it for around $7 last night from Steam.

  18. Gotem says:

    anyone saw any option to create a co-op test chamber? that would be very nice to have

    • LionsPhil says:

      No sign of that.

      I also note that Energy Pellets and Unstationary Platforms (those that surf on a light beam, not against a wall) seem to be missing from the editor. They weren’t only in Portal 1, were they?

      • QualityJeverage says:

        Yep, they were only in Portal 1. Energy Pellets were functionally replaced by lasers. Light beam platforms just weren’t there in Portal 2, for whatever reason.

    • QualityJeverage says:

      Nope. However, when publishing a level, the Workshop automatically adds tags based on the objects that are in the level, and such.

      One of those tags is “singleplayer,” which suggests to me that there might later be a co-op tag. At any rate, I’ll be very surprised if Valve never updates this editor or adds to it.

  19. JakBot says:

    Really “easy to use” editor, superb job I must say. Though I could do with some invisible/repeating triggers to make the levels feel a bit more living as I struggle to make the levels not look like big empty spaces.

    Anyway, here’s my first go:
    link to steamcommunity.com

  20. swubb says:

    This is really impressive. Finally an editor that is fun to use! It still eats up time though, tweaking and fiddling with things.

    Here’s my first (devilish) map:

    link to steamcommunity.com