Posts Tagged ‘Portal’

Rise & Shine: Games Drawn As Children’s Book Covers

I don't have kids, but I do have a house full of kid's books.

Consider this your daily dose of nice. Artist Joey Spiotto, aka Joebot, draws films and videogames as the covers of children’s books. His game work includes imagined covers for Half-Life 2 (above, in part), Skyrim, BioShock, Portal, Mass Effect and more.
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Untold Riches: An Analysis Of Portal’s Level Design


Words by Hamish Todd.

Portal has the best-designed first-person puzzles I’ve ever seen. They’re surprising, focused, and concise. They are also designed very perceptively, and we can learn a lot from looking at this perceptiveness. Read on for an analysis of Portal’s level design, and some lessons about what learning from it can do to improve game design.

BE WARNED: This article uses multiple animated .gif images on the same page, and might be tough to load on slower connections.
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Worlds Collide: Valve And JJ Abrams Working On Movie

I’m off in the strange, far-away land of Las Vegas right now, and I just got done watching Gabe Newell and JJ “Warring Trek of the Stars” Abrams chat each other up on stage. I’ll have more from the talk for you soon, but here’s the big take-away: Valve and Abrams are officially collaborating. “What we’re actually doing here,” Newell said at the talk’s conclusion, “is recapitulating a series of conversations that have been going on [between Abrams and I]. This is what happens when game and movie people get together. And we sort of reached the point where we decided that we needed to do more than talk. So we’re gonna try and figure out if we can make a Portal movie or a Half-Life movie together.” Meanwhile, Abrams added: “And we have a game idea we’d like to work with Valve on.” Finally, Gabe wrapped it up: “It’s time for our industries to stop talking about potential and really execute on it.”

Gaming Made Me: Jonathan Coulton

Interrupted while coiling his precious cables, the sound guy glowers at me. “Scarface? What?” Now, the way you can tell games journalists aren’t like other journalists is our shame. We’re shy, we lack the killer instinct, mostly, that enables tabloid hacks to doorstep grieving families and hack murdered children’s phones. I’m a case in point – 6′ 1″, 13 stone – and I’m being intimidated by a diminutive roadie. “His assistant is called Scarface,” I repeat. The roadie shrugs. As he shuffles away, he’s obviously assigned me to the same aberrant category as everyone else still hanging around at the Jonathan Coulton gig – No 1 Fans, all of them.

After the gig, from the gallery of Union Chapel, I look down on the accretion disc of fandom. They’re loitering but not mingling, in the hope of catching another sight of their hero. With its non-conformist heritage, this old Gothic church is a strangely perfect venue for Jonathan Coulton, whose music is packed full of liberality, anti-authoritarianism, irony and inclusiveness – and for his reverential fans. While he’s best known in gaming circles for endlessly singable Portal ditty Still Alive, Coulton is the high priest of geek music. This former programmer’s songs about geek culture are so well known he was made ‘Contributing Troubador’ at Popular Science magazine.
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A Timely Test: Portal 8 1/2 Minute Speed Run

I'm not going to lie to you, I have NO idea what is happening here

The Sourceruns team have completed a 8:31.93 run of Portal, which is absolutely ridiculous, brilliantly devious and laudably investigative. The latter descriptor is appropriate because of the level of understanding required to complete the run. These glitch-hunters have an in depth knowledge of each chamber, of the Source engine and of the strange ways in which portals work. You can watch the run below, and read about the techniques used and the analysis of each chamber in an extensive document. Oddly, the closest I think I’ve ever come to exploring a game in this way was when I played deathmatch Doom for an entire year without stopping. I knew every layout and every trick, and I was still rubbish.

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Space P-Body: Portal Goes To The ISS

Next month, the Adventure Core goes to Peru

Does P-Body sound at all like ‘oddity’? I don’t think it does, does it? That’s why I’m torturously explaining my lame gag here. That’s why they pay me the almost adequate bucks. Not to mention that the gag, if it can indeed be called a gag, is entirely redundant as this story doesn’t involve Portal 2’s co-op robo-chum P-Body in the slightest. Rather, it’s solely to do with the Space Core, who’s found himself – or at least his image – on a trip to the International Space Station courtesy of an anonymous fan at NASA.
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Box News: Portal Legos, Limbo Special Edition

Welcome to RPS’ first (and probably only) edition of Box News, an attempt at providing fair and balanced coverage of that most marginalized of objects in this digital age – the box – on the first day to conveniently feature more than one box-based news item in 437 years. On today’s show, we’ll be bringing you up-to-the-minute analysis of the developing Portal Lego set situation and having Limbo’s lavish new Special Edition box set live in the studio. So then, let’s dive right in.

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Valve On Why Games Could Very Well Fix Education

The first time I ever played Portal was damn near magical. Each room I walked into held promise of some diabolical new assault on both my brain and the laws of physics, but I made them look like child’s play. At the time, I was certain it proved I was a genius with an IQ so huge that even my bulging genius brain couldn’t count that high. Of course, I soon came to find out that everyone experienced Portal that way. So I wasn’t a genius. But the puzzle designers at Valve were.

To this day, Portal stands as the most masterful example of invisibly intuitive teaching I’ve ever discovered. It slowly builds upon itself – sneaking new techniques into your repertoire until you’re snoozing through puzzles that would’ve short-circuited your synapses maybe 20 minutes earlier. Is it a fit for classrooms, though? My first inclination would be to think not. I mean, it’s not exactly a hyper-accurate physics simulation – even with science jokes making up the bulk of both Portal 1 and 2’s brilliantly witty dialogue. That, however, is precisely the point, according to Valve director of education Leslie Redd and designer Yasser Malaika. It’s how Valve games teach – not what they’re teaching – that could help save a rusty, way-behind-the-times education system.

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Bring Your Valve To School Day: Teach With Portals

A modern American school child learning modern American school things.

Year after year, many schools struggle to teach kids basic math and reading skills. Portal, on the other hand, taught my childlike, directionally-crippled brain a slew of hyper-complex spatial reasoning abilities. In about 30 minutes. So I guess maybe it could be a good fit for the classroom. And hey, what do you know (aside from a Portal-imbued slew of hyper-complex spatial reasoning abilities)? Valve seems to think so too. The resulting program’s been dubbed Teach With Portals, and it’s just the beginning of Valve’s new Steam For Schools initiative.

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Portal At The Pictures: Lab Ratt

There's a great attention to detail here.

Portal has been a surprisingly prolific source of inspiration for many high quality products, so a short fifteen minute film based on its universe isn’t that big of a deal any more. However, what I love about Synthetic Pictures‘ Aperture: Lab Ratt (as spotted by The Sixth Axis) is how, in making a film based on Valve’s Lab Rat comic, how successfully they portray the evil of GLaDOS.

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There Are Six Sides To Every: CUBE Mod

The award for the funkiest Gravity Gun goes to...
The movie Cube, the TV show Lost and, Portal are all broken down and reassembled in CUBE, a Half-Life 2: Episode Two mod about self-assembling test chambers. Unsurprisingly, I spent a lot of time stuck, but in a good way. CUBE’s an odd one: accomplished and beautifully designed in most respects, but always on the cusp of crashing. Engine errors are as ubiquitous as new puzzles. I’m still working my way through it: there’s hours of content and multiple endings to complete, but it’s worth picking up and persevering if you miss Valve’s elaborately designed roomy puzzles.
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The Portal 2 That Could Have Been


Imagine a Portal 2 with no GLaDOS, Chell, nor portals. Set in the 1980s. With competitive multiplayer and quantum co-op. And multiple endings. At various points, those were all things that could have hapened, as revealed by Valve last night in San Francisco.

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Pop A Portal In Minecraft

My mind, it is blown.
We’ll just have to come to terms with rule #89: if it exists, it’s in Minecraft. As proof RPS (RedstonePistonSpawner) readers, here’s a look at the newly updated Portal gun mod that, when combined with the Portal 2 gels mod, manages to drop some Aperture Science all over Blockland, or Blockworld. What the hell is the name of the world that Minecraft creates, anyway? I’m calling it Cubea (pronounced like Cuba) from now on. Amazing video and instructions herein.
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Moretal: Portal Mod Rexaura

Boring old non-companion cube.
You, there! Does your t-shirt say ‘I Love Portal, Especially Mods’? And is that a giant foam handheld Portal device? Say, aren’t you the chap who runs pleasemakemoreportalsmodes.com? Didn’t you name your twin sons ‘Blue’ and ‘Orange’? Is that a map to Erik Wolpaw’s house in your back pocket? Nope? I was wrong on all counts. Well this is horribly awkward. You’ve never even heard of Portal, and you’re now calling the police. Fine: I’ll just have to find someone else to talk to about this marvellous Portal mod I’ve been playing. The mod is Rexaura, and it’s more Portal in the best possible way.
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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.
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Glad Tidings: Portal Free Until Sep 20th

Free cake for everyone

Goodness, that happened with absolutely no fanfare. The original Portal, if you somehow don’t already own it, can now be installed and played for free via Steam. I’ve just checked it on a spare Steam account and it works just dandy. This is true of both the PC and the Mac version, by the way. If you’re determined to pay money for it, you can still cough up for The Orange Box or the Portal 1+2 package, but just Portal itself now defiantly costs no-pennies. Grab it from here.

Update: transpires that this is only available until September 20th, as part of a games and learning initiative from Valve. So get your skates on, yes? As long as you install the game before the expiry date, it’s yours to keep forever.

You can see more on Valve’s “Learn With Portals” program, wherein they’re encouraging kids to create Portal levels themselves, in the rather charming video below.
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Thinking With Fluff: Quantum Conundrum

WTF

When one of the original designers of Portal reveals a new game, it’s time to pay attention. Kim Swift, now of Airtight Games, has been chatting to Gamespot about her new project, Quantum Conundrum. Even the title should tell you that science remains high on the agenda. The game has you searching for your mad scientist uncle whose home, a gigantic mansion, has been converted into a series of perplexing science experiments. I don’t think there will be any neurotoxins this time around, though I have been wrong before when it comes to neurotoxins. It didn’t end well. Launch trailer and video with commentary by Kim below.

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