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Valve Opens The Portal 61

Posted by Zonk
from the come-on-in dept.
Via Joystiq, an IGN story giving some background on the Portal project, the interesting FPS/Puzzler that Valve has planned to go out with Half-Life 2: Episode 2. The article interviews the team behind the technology, and gives some insight on what it must be like to have the best senior year of college ever: "Along with the other members of the Portal team, we were students at DigiPen Institute of Technology located in Redmond, WA, next to the Nintendo of America campus. During our senior year, the seven of us created a game called Narbacular Drop, which was an early test of our ideas about portal-based gameplay. Every year, DigiPen puts on an expo for graduating seniors to show their game projects to prospective employers. A couple of Valve people attended, and they asked us to come to the Valve offices and show it to Gabe Newell. Gabe watched our demo and basically hired us on the spot. It was kind of shocking. We stood around in the parking lot afterwards gibbering to ourselves for about 20 minutes."
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Valve Opens The Portal

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  • I have a copy of Narbacular drop, and while its interesting its definatly error prone, ie often forgets to draw things that are supposed to be there. Havn't been able to complete the demo because of this. But it is interesting. I assume they didn't hire these guys for their excellent coding skills :)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The rocks in level 3 won't show? Try hitting esc, and then 'Restart Level'. 9/10 this fixes problems like that for me.
    • I assume they didn't hire these guys for their excellent coding skills

      I'd say that they were hired PRECISELY for their coding skills, as well as their ideas. So they made a few mistakes. Didn't stop me from playing and beating ND about 7 times when I first played it.
    • I don't think you understand what "demo" means.
    • [Upfront disclaimer: I'm a Digipen Grad]

      It's honestly amazing to see what a group of Digipen Students can make. Consider the following: 1) A Digipen Project is completed in its entirety by a group of roughly 5 *students*, give or take. 2) Most projects are developed from concept to completion in roughtly 9 months. 3) During this 9 months, they are also balancing a truly murderous load of other coursework. 4) There is essentially no "budget" beyond what the team members are willing and able to chip in for to
  • by Brownstar (139242) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @03:57PM (#15827247)
    Having had 3 Senior years at the same college. I can say by far my last one was the best.

    With only 1 four credit class, that I had previously taken but initialy failed. I had a blast.

    I didn't even mind it too much when one of my friends informed a Freshman I was chatting up that when she started middle school, I had been starting college...

  • Wow! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Threni (635302) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @03:59PM (#15827257)
    Teleport! I wish I'd thought of that! Where do these guys get their original ideas from?

    Oh well - back to my 1950s science fiction books....
    • Re:Wow! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Sage Gaspar (688563) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @04:17PM (#15827358)
      User-created portals with one of the first games to have a pretty good physics engine. It's not the abstract idea of portal, it's the possibilities that this implementation opens up.
    • Re:Wow! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @04:20PM (#15827378)
      I've watched the demo video about 12 times now and all I can say is "Frickin Cool". Yeah teleport has existed for a while, but its never been used in this way.

      Even if this game isn't as good as it looks, i'm sure it will spawn a whole generation of FPS titles with new portal weapons/devices.

      How about a FPS multiplayer game, a runner can go ahead to setup the portal to beam his teammates in.
      It would make ambushes and capturing strategic locations cool, especially if your opponents could do it too.

      How about the ability to minaturize/enlarge items, a 'other dimension' storage for carried weapons or vehicles. Open your portal garage and drive out in your T180 Tank etc.

      Science fiction is as much innovation as it is invention. No, reversing the polatity on the main deflector doesnt count. :)
      • Re:Wow! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SirTalon42 (751509)
        I have to agree, from the video it looks like it would be pretty fun (hopefully it won't be crippled in multiplayer). It would be interesting to fight someone with only the teleporter gun (it could become very interesting if done right). I'm not sure if this counts as 'innovation', but its definitely going to make things much more interesting, FPS have been growing stale.
        • Re:Wow! (Score:2, Informative)

          by that_xmas (707449)
          That scene in the demo where the player seems to be chasing someone. He's actually chasing himself.
        • Re:Wow! (Score:2, Informative)

          by pdbaby (609052)
          Unreal Tournament has had a teleporter gun since its inception - you throw a beacon and you can right-click to teleport to it. Great fun telefragging people with it :) portals-as-an-offensive-weapon might be tricky, though
      • Perhaps they could make a capture the flag variant where players could create these "portals"
        near the enemy flag...

        Maybe they could add "classes", such that the Engineer constructs portals (maybe even, say, sentry guns), Medics could heal
        their teammates, etc, so as to encourage teamplay. Of course, level design and balance would be made easier if all the levels
        were symmetrical, with each team having their own fortress.

        What would really seal the deal though, is if they gave this "team fortress" mod away for
        • Maybe they could add "classes", such that the Engineer constructs portals (maybe even, say, sentry guns), Medics could heal
          their teammates, etc, so as to encourage teamplay. Of course, level design and balance would be made easier if all the levels
          were symmetrical, with each team having their own fortress.


          Then they could call the portal a spawn point, set it in a jungle, add 60's music, and call it Battlefield Vietnam.
        • So exactly like Teamfortress, but with portals? Unlikely, since Portal and Teamfortress 2 are separate projects.
      • Question is, how do you keep people from making portals that give them visibility of _way_ more players than normal, saturating their network pipes?
    • Re:Wow! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rapsey (241302)
      Tell me how many innovative companies or products are trully innovative? There were plenty of mp3 players before iPod arrived, there were search companies before google. Very few ideas are truly innovative. Most are just improvements over old ideas or finding new ways to use something.
    • Where do these guys get their original ideas from?


      Looney Toons' portable hole, of course.
  • Game Industry (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I hope these kids got good contracts and aren't going to be exploited like so many other game developers . . . .
  • by eison (56778) <pkteison@ho[ ]il.com ['tma' in gap]> on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @04:59PM (#15827641) Homepage
    Ok, so I think this 'portal' game looks neat, and would like to try it.
    But 'episodic gameplay' sounds suspiciously like 'recurring monthly charge' or whatnot.
    Can I walk into a store and buy a copy? How do I get and play just this 'portal' game?

    I don't have half life 2, or valve or steam or whatever. And I'm not willing to sign up for any sort of we'll-give-you-a-new-game-every-month-try-it-you'l l-like-it sort of system. Can I still play?
    • To answer your question specifically, you can refer to this post http://www.steampowered.com/index.php?area=news&ar chive=yes&id=691 [steampowered.com]. This is part of Valve's Content Delivery system aka Steam. It would appear that you only need to purchase Half Life 2: Episode 2 which comes bundled with Portal and TF2 (Team Fortress 2).

      Having said all that, you are not obligated to buy anything by setting up a Steam account. I've had a Steam account for over 4 years (early beta tester was not fun :/ ), I've
      • So, basically, you can get it without having Steam but you can't actually get Portal as a standalone game. Unless I'm reading the page wrong.

        This is a shame, really, as there are people (myself being one of them) who have no interest at all in standard FPS games who would like Portal - as it's not a standard FPS. But without a way of buying it on its own, the fact that you also have to buy it with HL2:E2 is pretty much a dealbreaker.

        • by Sage Gaspar (688563) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @05:50PM (#15827946)
          Portal is three hours of single-player gameplay, you probably wouldn't want it as a standalone game. They use steam to track things like how many people bought it, how many people downloaded it, and how many people actually finished it. If it does well, I'd expect it to get fully fleshed out into a longer single-player game and also several multiplayer components.
          • Portal is three hours of single-player gameplay, you probably wouldn't want it as a standalone game.

            Actually, I would. I like short, pick-up-and-play puzzle-based games. (I like RPGs mostly, but they're less use for a quick burst of gaming, and puzzlers fill that niche)
            This is exactly what Portal looks like, and hence something I would want on its own.

            • Actually, I would. I like short, pick-up-and-play puzzle-based games. (I like RPGs mostly, but they're less use for a quick burst of gaming, and puzzlers fill that niche). This is exactly what Portal looks like, and hence something I would want on its own.

              I hear ya there, but I think Portal is honestly the tech demo and we're going to see a more complete version coming out later. What I'm actually thinking more about in terms of the puzzle aspect is user-created puzzles. If the portal gun is fun and moddi
          • I would favour an integration into HL2-Episodes (it's already set in the same universe, according to some articles), as the Portal-Gun would make a nifty addition to Gordon's arsenal, don't you think? Add destructible environments (like Red Faction had back in ye olde times) and it could well end up being my favourite Shooter-Universe :-)
        • So... spending $20 for an innovative title by itself is cool...

          but spending $20 on an innovative title, a revisioned old game and an expansion to a new game is a bad deal?

          • So... spending $20 for an innovative title by itself is cool...
            but spending $20 on an innovative title, a revisioned old game and an expansion to a new game is a bad deal?

            Yes, very much so, and for two definite reasons that I have against game bundles in general. (Although if it's a really short game I'd prefer a slightly cheaper price - but it's the bundling not the price that I'm really talking about here)

            One, having to buy buy a game (or games) I don't want to get one that I do is annoying. I'd rat

            • It actually strikes me as a stab at getting people who would purchase a popular title from a popular genre to take a look at an innovative product in a less popular genre. Also, Valve is tracking play-time through Steam, so if you buy both and log 15 hours in Portals and 0 hours in HL2:e2 and TF2... Valve will know and get the appropriate demographic information from your purchase. Remember, the Thought Police are everywere... ;)
        • "So, basically, you can get it without having Steam but you can't actually get Portal as a standalone game."

          You will need a Steam account to install the game. The Steam account does not cost you anything to setup or charge you a monthly fee but you do need to have one in order to install and play the game.
        • Why dont you just view it as buying Portal and getting Episode 2 for free?
      • Steam sucks. I cannot play even a single player game without being connected to the interweb. Of course Steam gives me the option to go into "Offline Mode." But, that just means "Exit Program, try again when you got a connection."
    • As it works now, Valve's releases have been available at retail, but they still install Steam, and the the game require Steam to operate, so there's no escaping that. So far, Steam hasn't had any sort of subscription option (with a recurring monthly charge), like you describe. It does look likely that you won't be able to buy Portal standalone, though. Looks like it will come part-and-parcel with Half-Life 2: Episode 2. You didn't need to own Half-Life 2 to play Episode 1, so you probably won't have to have
    • Not sure if you'll be able to purchase Portal by itself, but Half-Life 2:Episide One was (inexplicably) available in many stores for less that it was on Steam. Even if you're not interested in Half-Life, I would think that a similar package for Episode Two would be well worth it. Fifteen bucks for HL2:Ep2, Portal and Team Fortress 2? That's a good deal no matter which of the three games you're interested in.

      However, you will probably still need to sign up for a Steam account (it's free) since that functi
    • "I'm not willing to sign up for any sort of we'll-give-you-a-new-game-every-month-try-it-you' l l-like-it sort of system. Can I still play?"

      Yes, yes you can. This "episodic content" is essentially in the form of (small) self-contained games which are published in a serialized manner, to be bought either through stores or through Valve's downloading service.

      Sort of like a series of novels. You don't actually have to buy the former novels to read the new ones, though you might miss out on something if you do.
    • -Option 1-

      Download the Steam client and set up an account. It sounds like Portal is bundled with HL: Ep 2, so then you need to buy that. It will definitely be available on Steam, and probably in stores as well. If you buy it in a store, you will enter a CD-key that gets tied to your Steam account.

      Steam then magically unlocks a key for you to play the game. You now have to agree to a license that says you will be a good little consumer, and never try to fool their "protection" measures or disassemble the
  • IGN: ... It looks like the character is wearing an orange one-zee, is this guy maybe performing some sort of "community service?"

    Excuse me, but when did a "onesie" become a "one-zee"?

    Does it come from that PBS series with Queen LaBiblia kidnapping Miss Reader to teach her blue-haired alien subjects how to make imaginations grow with Earth children's stories with the help of her ship's computer, 1Z2Z? (Why can't I remember the name of that show, and why isn't it listed on IMDb or anywhere else on the net?
    • I like perfoming random acts of kindness, so here:

      Source: http://www.rickstv.com/tvo/feedback.html [rickstv.com] (Control+F "1Z2Z")

      "Back in the early-mid 70's, NBC had spent a load of dough to convert their classic "Peacock" logo to a streamlined looking "N". However, NBC forgot to take into account that the Nebraska Public Television Network had a nearly identical logo for years. NBC managed to avoid a messy lawsuit by paying NPTV some money in an out-of-court settlement, as well as donating a bunch of state-of-the

      • Funny, someone apparently wanted to know about both the shows you had wanted to...

        Damn. Now I want to see those shows...


        You don't know how long I've been racking my brain trying to recall the names of those shows. The images from them are burned into my brain, and bits of the music from them, little folksy tunes:

        "But now Queen LaBiblia won't let Miss Reader go / Until she's taught the Queen to make imaginations grow."

        For the longest time the only search results I could get on them were my own requests for
  • It seems like Valve is following a similar path to id Software's "we don't make games, we make game engines" idea. The only difference is that Valve is focusing more on developing mods rather than full fledged games. (Yes, Counter-Strike and Day of Defeat at now commerical, but considering how many other mods have been made they are the exception not the rule.)
    • Since the advent of Steam, Valve has taken on the role of a publisher. They realized that they stand to make more money publishing indy games based on their technology than they do selling engine licenses, where they have much more competition. As a coder for a half-life 2 mod project, I would say that the Source engine itself is not that special in the first place.
  • YouTube Vid (Score:3, Informative)

    by Drathos (1092) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @11:51AM (#15832533)
    There's a trailer of sorts at YouTube [youtube.com]. Looks like it could be really cool.

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