The lights are on
In their GDC talk "Making A Sequel To A Game That Doesn't Need One," Portal 2 writers Erik Wolpaw and Chet Faliszek detailed a very different version of one of the most beloved games of this generation. Early in development, Portal 2 shared little in common with the original outside of the title and the involvement of Aperture Science.
Originally, the game was set in the 1980s. Players would wake up on what appeared to be a desert island, complete with palm trees, hammocks, and a beautiful view of the sea. Upon attempting to explore, however, the player would be stopped by glass walls that eventually enclosed them on all sides. Your protagonist would watch helplessly as the trees sink into the ground, the water level recedes, and the environment reveals itself as yet another Aperture test chamber.
Eventually, players would discover that they were playing as a different character this time around. This protagonist went by the name Mel, and featured a different colored jumpsuit than the first game's Chell. Wolpaw explained, "Honestly, we felt as writers that she had her day. She fought GLADoS, escaped, and we just let her be."
When they took this version to QA, they found that testers didn't immediately mind the change. However, they eventually became disappointed when GLaDOS woke up and didn't recognize the player as the character that defeated her in the first game.
Before that build was complete, Chell wasn't the only character absent from Portal 2. GLaDOS wasn't a part of the game's original plan, and Cave Johnson was set to be the primary antagonist. He would talk about every test chamber as the player entered it, and this would be followed by the appearance of a small robot named Betty. This droid would roll into the room and quickly spout legalese, similar to the side effect disclaimers during prescription drug commercials.
Players had a glimpse of different personality spheres late in the final version of Portal 2, but the original plan called for numerous spheres outside of the bumbling Wheatley. One was referred to as the "Morgan Freeman sphere," and it possessed extraordinary wisdom...although his knowledge was confined to information about the 20x20 chamber he lived in.
While the game was always going to be called Portal 2, the first drafts omitted the titular gameplay mechanic entirely. In its place was something called the F-Stop, which Wolpaw and Faliszek declined to comment on. Interestingly, they explained that they didn't want to talk about it in case they wanted to use it in the future.
If you played Portal 2, its insane ending is most likely still fresh in your mind. It was a universally beloved conclusion to the game, but it wasn't always the only one. The team at Valve originally planned on including numerous false endings throughout the single-player story. In the first game, some testers were tricked into thinking that the slow ride into the fire pit was the actual ending of the game. "A small percentage was fine with just riding it into the fire. That was a good ending for them," says Wolpaw.
Encouraged by the response to the original's false ending, the team planned on repeating this joke, along with a new song each time. The first would occur only two minutes into the game, and ended with a song sang by Wolpaw and writer Jay Pinkerton that recapped the thrilling events of those initial 120 seconds. Another would have been triggered at a point where the moon was visible through a crack in the ceiling. If the player shot one portal on the moon and one on the wall, they'd be sucked into space. The game would "end" with Chell asphyxiating in space while listening to a sad song about the moon. Eventually, this concept was altered until it became the actual ending for Portal 2. "We managed to make it a great mix between totally awesome and completely stupid," said Wolpaw.
Also in place during Portal 2's early days was a competitive multiplayer mode. "It was a mix of the Amiga game Speedball and Portal, but with neither of the good parts of either of those games," says Wolpaw. The mode was scrapped quickly, but some of its concepts made their way into the eventual co-op mode.
Near the end of the talk, the writers opened up to questions from the floor. One attendee asked if we'd ever see another Portal game, considering the first game never needed a sequel to begin with. Wolpaw and Faliszek didn't say anything, and responded with some brief, nervous-sounding mutters. It obviously wasn't any kind of confirmation, but in combination with their thoughts on further utilizing the F-Stop mechanic, some Valve fans may take it as a hint towards the continuation of the beloved series.
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Some of this sounds awesome, I hope they do use some of this in the future.
hands down the best game of 2011!!!
Hands down the funniest, best-written, and best-acted games I've ever played. Portal 2 is easily in my top two for game of the year 2011, along with Arkham City, so to get some insight into the creative process of the people who worked on it is pretty cool. Wolpaw and Faliszek need to keep writing games, please.
Valve QA is usually pretty good, but after reading that, I wish they ignored QA and continued with their original plans.
The multiplayer sounds like it could have been fun, but if it really wasn't implemented that well, I'll pass
That beginning sounds awesome, they should have used that, besides the whole "no Chell or GlaDos" part
Portal may never needed a sequel but, even if they were ignorant of it at first, many things on the game was material for a sequel. Just think about all the graffiti walls, messages and directions that Chell found behind the test chambers and on the way to GLaDOS chamber. You could perfectly think that someone is Still Alive (This was a triu- sorry, got caught up there), that someaone is helping Chell. I for one always kept this as a possibility, imagine my surprise when the Rat Lab comic book appeared for the first time. The game did'nt needed a sequel, it deserved one, and i'm really happy that they took that decision to make it happen. In all of its innocence, this game had a soul and a beating heart behind it, and the outcome for Portal 2 shows just that.
Some of these ideas were cool. I like the idea of multiple false endings, especially when one ending comes 2 minutes in. Plus you'd hear more awesome Portal songs. Also the idea of Cave Johnson talking the entire game sounds like...like...awesome.
Wow, a morgan freeman sphere.. I think that sphere and Wheatley would of been a hard fight to say which one is my favorite. I really like hearing how the games development changed as over time how the play testers actually felt certain ways and how there were different mechanics than just portals. I really loved this article as Portal is one of my favorite series of fresh, original, and humorous games out there to date.