Getting closer and closer to release date! Well… more like release “week”.
Who would have thought “week of April 18th” would ever sound so exciting?
First up is the brand new Portal 2 TV spot.
Valve spoke about how they’re tired of marketing agencies with MCV, and how they’re doing it themselves for Portal 2.
Valve has built the Portal 2 TV ads itself.
Because, it says, no one knows how to market a game better than the people that made it.
The studio said unoriginal ideas and late meetings make the value of creative agencies ‘pretty close to worthless’.
“No one knows the product better than the folks who made it,” Valve’s marketing VP Doug Lombardi told MCV.
“We’ve had many creative kick-off meetings with agencies over the years, and you’d be shocked by the treatments that have come back. Copycat treatments. Cliché treatments. Treatments that reveal the agency wasn’t listening in the initial meeting.
“With the Portal 2 ad, we playtested it and were able to make changes during production. With an agency, those types of tests are too often left to a post-mortem – at which point, the value of those realisations is pretty close to worthless.”
Valve spent eight weeks making its TV ad following a series of successful Valentine’s Day-themed online videos for Portal 2.
In the UK, an outdoor marketing push on bus sides and at train stations will complement the TV ads.
We’ve also heard about billboard advertisements. Looks like Valve is literally going full steam on the marketing for Portal 2.
But what about this TV spot?
Wow! Now that is how you advertise a game. We would have liked to see some… you know, some gameplay, but this is great nonetheless. We also found what seems to be an earlier version of the TV spot, featuring a slightly different GLaDOS voice-over. Check it out here.
Back to PAX East, Thumb Culture got to speak to Erik Wolpaw himself and ask him questions selected by the Thumb Culture readers. They also got to take a look at PAX East’s Portal 2 demo.
The interview is pretty interesting, and in case you haven’t seen the footage before, keep in mind that it has a lot of spoilers.
Steam Addicts also spoke to Erik Wolpaw, this time on Valve’s home turf, at their offices in Bellevue.
The interview is pretty cool, and touches on the miraculous qualities of the number “2 1/2”. We didn’t really spot any spoilers. There were some great parts in there:
And the timeline is post Half-Life 2?
Portal one was between Half-Life 1 and Half-Life 2. Portal 2 this in some indeterminate time post, obviously post Portal 1.
I see we’ve got a lot of growth going on in the facility…
Yeah it’s been a long time…
Can you tell us how long?
No, no were not saying how long.
Is it arbitrary or is it just we’re not revealing at this time?
Well either one, because there’s some spoilers embedded in either answer. Either one would probably be valid.
Hmm. What’s the matter, Mr. Wolpaw? Why you ain’t saying “hundreds of years” anymore?
I know Gabe was a little grouchy for a while about the whole PlayStation thing…
Well Gabe gets grouchy sometimes… I don’t know specifically what he was grouchy about, but the main thing is that Sony’s been really great about letting us integrate Steam into the PS3. So Portal is shipping with Steam on the PS3. It gives you a few things…
There’s Cloud saves. There’s Cross-Play, which means players on any Steam platform would be able to play with each other (so PS players can play with PC players can play with Mac); and then there’s Steam Play, which is a feature that if you buy the PS3 version you’ll own Portal 2 across all platforms. Which means you can just download the PC version (and have all of them).
So is that going to be a Portal 2-only thing for now or are we going to start coming out with some of the back catalogue?
Right now all that we’ve announced is Portal 2, so actually going into the future you know, Doug might have some more information about that…
So getting the PC version will also get you the PS3 version? Nice!
Interesting to hear about the back catalog as well.
More Portal 2 talk, this time from Eurogamer with… yet again, Erik Wolpaw and Chet Faliszek.
There’s so much interesting stuff here you have to see it all for yourselves. They’re not really spoilers, but there’s some really intriguing things. If you’re up for it, here it is. If you’re not, save it for after your first playthrough. Hell, if you can’t find it afterwards, you can even ask me to find it for you.
Joystiq also spoke to Erik about Portal 2, in an interview centered on the difficulty of the game.
“One of the things we learned after releasing Portal 1“, Wolpaw told us, “was that there were a couple puzzles in Portal 1 that required some sort of twitchy ninja skills to actually execute the solution.” He added that Valve monitored the game on Steam and that those who quit the game “almost universally” quit after playing one of the two puzzles that are most difficult to execute.
The biggest pleasure of Portal, said Wolpaw, is the “aha moment,” the moment when a player understands the puzzle and discovers its solution. “If you then struggle with the controller for twenty minutes to execute the solution that you already know,” said Wolpaw, “almost universally we found that it was frustrating people.”
We know what they’re talking about, so it’s great that they’re taking some steps in that direction.
When asked if those who enjoyed honing their ninja skills would be treated to any challenge rooms in Portal 2, Wolpaw told us that they won’t be shipping with the game. “We’ve kind of shifted those over to achievements,” said Wolpaw, though he added Valve is planning Portal 2 DLC, which should be announced after the game ships next month.
Oh, snap. Portal 2 DLC. We’ve seen a magazine scan mention it, but it’s good to hear it straight from the man, on the Internet.
Plenty more in the article itself right here. Free of spoilers, so enjoy.
Next up is Games Radar, who went over to PAX East to check out Portal 2 and spoke to its project leader, Joshua Weier.
The first page is basically the preview, and it’s filled with spoilers. The second page – not so much.
“Chell has always sort of been an avatar for the player, so initially we weren’t going to use Chell – we were going to use a new character, but people said time and time again that it was weird that ‘GLaDOS didn’t know who I was.’ They didn’t mean Chell per se, they meant ‘me as a player,’ like, ‘I had this experience with GLaDOS and now she doesn’t know who I am.’ So it was important to keep Chell for that reason,” said Weier.
“But really Chell is just sort of a personification of the player in the game. But with characters like Wheatley, Cave Johnson, and GLaDOS, they refer to you as the player, and I think it’s important to draw the player into the game – feeling like you’re really there.”
Interesting! I’m sure everyone would have the same reaction.
Apparently, Chell wasn’t the only element of Portal that Valve considered replacing – Weier told us that early ideas entirely replaced the portal gun with a new device, which Valve worked on before deciding to stick with the portal mechanic and add new elements – like the Repulsion Gel – to change up the puzzles. But that doesn’t mean the idea was scrapped forever – Valve isn’t ready to spill any of its Portal 2 prototyping work.
“We’re still kicking that around – it’s kind of interesting. I think that kind of came from us trying to make Portal 2 a surprise. But the more we started to dig into the mechanics, the more we realized there was tons more for us to do,” said Weier.
Still kicking it around? Could we see a new device for future Portal games?
Back on the subject of Portal 2’s characters, we asked Weier about Valve’s decision to cast J.K. Simmons as Aperture founder Cave Johnson. He revealed that Simmons was the only actor Valve considered:
“We got thinking like, ‘who’s the person who should be this character,’ and it was always J.K. Simmons, and he was interested in doing it. I think he’s the only voice actor who ever wrote us a ‘thank you’ letter afterwards. So he was the most gracious guy – it was awesome.”
Weier wouldn’t comment on whether or not Johnson, whose only presence in what we saw came as a pre-recorded voice, was still alive, saying that he doesn’t “want to reveal any spoilers.”
Speaking of spoilers, Weier also wouldn’t comment on the leaked Achievements – and any Half-Life teasers within – though he did verify that they were legitimate.
Here is the article. They also did another smaller interview for the “non-Portal” game idea, which you can find here.
And last but not least, Kotaku went to PAX East, filmed the Cave Johnson demo and talked about it. The videos evidently have spoilers. If you’re up for it, check it out here.
Now we’re moving on to community stuff!
First up is Haystack Hair, a very skilled Lego builder from Brighton, who created a lovely little Lego version of the beloved Portal Sentry Turret. This front shot looks pretty great. This shot shows the turret’s inner mechanism, and this video shows how the mechanism actually works.
And check this out, created for a Portal-themed basement? Portal-themed? What else did they cook up? The couple who made this talked about it on Reddit, over here.
That’s all we’ve got now, although we’re sure we’ll have more previews and interviews to talk about in just a few days.
Oh, and sorry for the lack of articles, everyone. In any case, thanks for reading!