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PC Games (Games)

The Importance of Portal 222

Posted by Zonk
from the these-points-of-data-make-a-beautiful-line dept.
Team Fortress 2 and Episode Two may have been more anticipated elements of Valve's Orange Box offering, but it's the charmingly small Portal that's been getting a lot of attention in the last few days. MTV's Multiplayer blog thinks the game has the move of the year, and the Gamers with Jobs site offers up a convincing argument why Portal represents a significant step forward for storytelling in games: "Portal is an object lesson in interactive storytelling. We in the media are so fond of shaking our heads, scratching our beards and looking for the "art" in videogames. Well it's time for us all to shut the hell up. This is it. It's in this finely crafted, lovingly rendered piece of short-story literature. Honestly, I'd be surprised if the authors themselves see it as the accomplishment it is. It's a simple set of mechanics, a few pages of sound-booth dialog, a handful of textures and repetitive level designs. But then, a novel is only made up of 26 letters, black ink and white paper. And most artists of lasting brilliance don't recognize the importance of their own work. And how many now-revered musicians and painters died unknown and broke?" If you still haven't heard it, Jonathan Coulton's 'Still Alive' (the ending theme to Portal) has been in my head for over a week now. Just try to get it out of yours.
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The Importance of Portal

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  • Portal 2D (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Square Snow Man (985909) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @11:45AM (#20996631)
    For those interested a 2D version of this game portal can be played here [ungrounded.net]
  • by j.sanchez1 (1030764) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @11:49AM (#20996691)
    I really hope they continue this series somehow....

    I, for one, am hoping to see some really excellent add-on maps for Portal, either community-created or Valve-created (or both). Portal is pretty much open-ended, as far as mechanics. I am sure Valve could continue the storyline in a sequel, but I think the best thing is to just utilize the mechanics and engine for a limitless number of puzzle rooms.

    In a non-storyline mode, we could be seeing the birth of a new "casual-game" genre: Casual FPS.
  • For the what!? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @11:51AM (#20996729)
    The importance of Portal is the the ART!? Are you kidding?

    It has less story than most games. The areas are all virtually identical. There is only 1 way to interact with the environment.

    The only thing that might qualify it as art is the AMAZING ending and awesome song at the end. I didn't realize that was JoCo that made that song (mainly because he usually sings them himself)... It's a very compelling song.

    No, the game is much more important for the 'portal' technology and their ability to make a very compelling and fun puzzle game in a typical FPS environment.
  • by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @11:56AM (#20996819) Homepage

    For any fellow Quake players who enjoy trick maps: get Portal now! This has to be the most fun I've had since beating maps like rjartvf1 for the first time. Okay, so the maps don't involve a super large amount of it, but the potential is endless for map makers - it doesn't have Quake's physics but this is the Next Big Thing we've all been looking for.

    Portal is stocked full of humor and puzzles. I'd recommend it to anyone.

  • Author is off... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EriktheGreen (660160) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @11:57AM (#20996831) Journal
    Warning: A few spoilers included.

    I agree with a lot of the commentary on portal, and at the end of the game I was wondering "did anyone actually stop when they got burned to death?".

    But this author is too impressed with himself. Portal shows what kind of game can be produced when the production team isn't trying to make an "epic" game... have you ever compared the list of credits for half-life and hl:ep2? See how many more people are involved? Is the game that much better because of it? Valve is producing episodes instead of new games because people want more of the story, and it's not a bad thing, but the company seems to be adding more and more people to produce what is effectively a shorter version of HL2 each time... and they don't need to develop the engine or tools!

    The new weapon added is nice, but it's not revolutionary. Other than the weapon, this game was just more of the same... story telling, driving a vehicle, shutting off force fields, crawling in tunnels. Can't valve do that more, and more quickly, than two years per episode?

    However, portal made the orange box worth it.

    One other thing about valve not making a lot of progress... Counter-Strike: Source has been unaltered for a long time. Not to say it's not still fun, but why haven't there been at least some new things added to keep it fresh? Maybe change out some weapons, or add a few new ones? Remove or balance the overpowered weapons?
    Last time I checked CS:S had over 20,000 active game servers on the net. That's got to be close to or THE most popular team based shooter around.

    What are all those people doing?

    As to the end of portal, I think it fits in the half-life continuity before the events at Black Mesa in HL1, and probably prior to the incident with Borealis. I base this on the outdoor view of the building at the end of the game. I would actually have been pleased to end up on board a ship instead of outside a building :)

    GlaDOS is the best computer villain since Shodan.

    I think if Valve is smart they'll release a Portal 2, as well as increase the crossover between Portal and Half-life. Maybe Gordon will discover a portal gun onboard the Borealis, or maybe he'll meet the female heroine of Portal. Wondering where Portal and Half-life 2 meet will add a lot of freshness to the HL2 story and game.

    I can't wait to see what games people develop with the portal generation code in the half-life SDK.

    Erik
  • by Solder Fumes (797270) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @12:10PM (#20997091)
    I'm not really sure you can call Portal an FPS because of the "shooter" part...after all, in the game you never hold a weapon expressly intended to destroy anything or hurt anyone. Not even a generic wrecking tool like a crowbar. The portal generator is a gun only in the sense that it projects energy to a distant surface...it's not a weapon. Not even as much of a weapon as the Gravity Gun in HL2, which got a lot of attention at the time as a puzzle solving device rather than a traditional weapon. The joy of Portal was the way in which it guided you to do the "wrong" thing...gradually distrust the computer, start to notice the signs of something amiss, and improvise to use this mostly innocuous device to destroy obstacles. It was possible to continue believing the announcer...on the first reports of the gameplay on forums, you could find players saying that they "beat" Portal and the ending was pointless: they had trustingly ridden the platform into the incinerator. The game rewarded suspicion and curiosity, yet allowed the player to be an obedient lab rat if that was their predilection.

    I don't really have a good term for the game, though on the basis of similar discussions we might call it a "first-person-puzzle-suspense-tragicomedy."
  • Portal GotY? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by metroid composite (710698) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @12:38PM (#20997581) Homepage Journal
    I first heard people suggesting Portal was GotY a week or so ago. I didn't think much of it at the time, but I have to admit that there's some merit to the suggestion. The game is innovative, compelling all the way through, and Penny Arcade has already called it "the best thing on [Orange Box] [penny-arcade.com]", which puts it ahead of some very good games. (Obviously some people will disagree with PA, but personally it's a toss up between Portal and TF2 for me, so seems reasonable).
  • by chill (34294) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @02:03PM (#20998937) Journal
    No, this is not a troll. I really want to know because the game looks great. Will it run under WINE or Cedega? Is there a native Linux version?
  • Steam is great! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @02:07PM (#20999013)
    I really didn't like Steam, years ago. That is, until I actually caved and started to use it.

    It is *really* great! It is absolutely hassle free, it keeps your games patched, you can reinstall your computer and get your games up-and-running in no time at all. Play at a friends house? No problem.

    Right of first sale, you say? As if you ever sold a game...

    Try it, use it, and then if you really still don't like it, I'll call you a liar!
  • Re:Author is off... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by VoidWraith (797276) <void_wraith@h o t mail.com> on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @04:28PM (#21001241)
    Calendars in Portal say 1983. So since the Black Mesa incident (Half-Life) was in the 00s (also according to calendars), Portal predates Half-Life by quite a bit. GLaDOS must be referring to something different.
  • Re:Author is off... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TGTilde (874930) <todd.wilkinson0@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @12:01AM (#21005887)
    Unless the calendars are old... A lot of the premise of Portal is on not being able to tell when and where you are. At some point in the past Aperture was obviously manned...but how long ago?
  • Re:Author is off... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by elFarto the 2nd (709099) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @06:05AM (#21007871)

    There is a line spoken by GLaDOS, something to the effect, "I'm the only thing between you and them". Where 'them' is likely to be the Combine. There seem to be many theories floating around, but one of them is that GLaDOS wanted the player to destroy her (or at least appear to have).

    Regards
    elFarto
  • by RulerOf (975607) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @10:56AM (#21085251)
    they had trustingly ridden the platform into the incinerator.

    I don't understand how people could have done that, and I'm not even particularly good at FPS games. I quit HL2 because I couldn't solve some of the puzzles, but interestingly enough, Portal was the first FPS I've played in a long time that just made complete and utter sense to me. I got the portal concept before it was even explained (might have to do with the 20 minutes of Serious Sam that I played back in the day, they introduced portals into the Quake 3 engine. I thought it was a neat concept.)

    That point in particular though in Portal, as you're riding the platform downward in that narrow hall, having been wondering the whole time why such an incredibly impersonal computer would be reassuring you over and over again that you're going to get cake as impetus to complete all the tests, and you see the black spray painted slice of cake on the wall, and an overwhelming sense of something just NOT being right as you're moving downward... You turn the corner and BAM, you know you're not getting any cake, and then the computer says you're going to die. I followed that with a verbal utterance of "What the fuck?!" and knee-jerk reacted to solve my situation with the only tools that were given to me in the series of tests: The portal device, and the expertise in using it to solve my dilemma.

    Portal is one of the most well made and well done games I've ever played, and it's the reason I bought Orange Box instead of just TF2 (which kinda sucks imho). If you haven't done so yet, play through it with the director commentary, it's incredibly insightful.

    Also: Am I the only one who went out and bought cake in the days following completion of Portal?

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