Some of you might know that, during my spare time, I co-host the tubular Podcast 17. Today, in approximately 3 hours and 20 minutes (4PM PST/7PM EST/0AM GMT; check out the Steam Group announcement for exact scheduling in your area), we’ll be interviewing the one and only Mevious, one of the world’s top Portal level designers (creator of Portal Pro and Rexaura), and currently the Employee of the Moment on Portal 2′s Perpetual Testing Initiative, over at the Steam Workshop.
Category: Portal 2
[UPDATE: The application has been brought back online and, apparently, all malware is gone. Good riddance! You can now safely install and read Final Hours of Portal 2.]
Geoff Keighley’s “The Final Hours of Portal 2“ is an interactive digital story that chronicles the development of Portal 2, from its inception in late 2007 to its release in early 2011. It’s a follow-up to Geoff’s previous “The Final Hours” articles, which he created as part of GameSpot’s “Behind the Games” series. The first one he ever wrote was “The Final Hours of Half-Life“, and if I’m not mistaken, the last one was “The Final Hours of Half-Life 2“.
Despite being a terrible PC port, having been originally designed for the iOS, it remains an insightful and very well-done interactive article of sorts; and I’m hoping Valve will bring Geoff back in for a possible ”The Final Hours of Half-Life 3” (more recently, he actually did “The Final Hours of Mass Effect 3“). But wait a minute – what’s this?
Released barely two days ago, Portal 2′s latest DLC offering, the Perpetual Testing Initiative has turned out to be a pretty massive success, as heralded by a press release from Valve in which they announced some of the PeTI service’s early statistics. Apparently, over 35,000 custom puzzle levels have already been created and published over the Steam Workshop. In total, the Portal 2 playerbase have already consumed over 1.3 million test chamber downloads.
In celebration, Valve is holding a Weekend Workshop sale on the Steam Store, during which Portal 2 will remain at its Midweek Madness discount of 66% off (about 6 dollars/5 euros), Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim will be 33% off, and within Team Fortress 2′s in-game Mann Co Store, many of the officially released, community-created Steam Workshop items will be available for 50% off their regular price. Now that’s science for you. Quick, go buy things!
And if you haven’t had enough science within the PeTI, then allow me to provide you with some of my recommendations: CaretCaret’s “12 Angry Tests” series, which contains some of the greatest level design, puzzle gameplay and bizarre humor I have ever experienced; Jaxe’s excellent “Decay” mini-series, sporting some incredible level design, built for intermediate to skilled Portal players; Motanum’s A La Tag series, with unique and innovatie gameplay strongly focused on gel gameplay; and the Podcast 17 Community Chamber collection, encompassing all puzzle levels created by my brothers in arms and colleagues: the Podcast 17 community members.
At last, Portal 2′s second DLC release, the Perpetual Testing Initiative, has been released to all owners of Portal 2 for free! Featuring a brand new easy-to-use “Puzzle Maker” toolkit for creating your own test chambers, alongside integration with the Steam Workshop, allowing near-instant uploading, rating, sharing, downloading and playing custom levels; and a new side-story featuring Cave Johnson – you absolutely cannot miss this thing. If all goes well, Portal 2 should be downloading and installing the new DLC update as you’re reading this article. In addition, Portal 2′s Steam Workshop section is now live.
If your Portal 2 has not updated yet, and is showing no signs of doing so, consider simply starting up the game/restarting Steam/verifying your game cache; or in some cases, uninstalling Portal 2 (but don’t worry, the Steam Cloud will restore everything). Keep in mind that it is a sizeable update, with an average size of 815 MB.
While you wait for the download to finish, check out the redesigned official Portal 2 website, and consider reading Cave Johnson’s rant about building more test chambers, as well as Valve’s simple guide on setting up your own test chamber in the new Puzzle Maker. You might also be interested in reading my impressions of the Perpetual Testing Initiative itself, which you’ll find in our review. Once all that’s done… get testing!
As you may or may not know, I wasn’t exactly pleased with Portal 2′s first DLC outing – “Peer Review“. While the Challenge Mode added much-needed replay value to the game, it really should have been in the game from launch. The only other bit of content in there, the new ”Art Therapy” co-op course, was rather disappointing, with poor writing and plot, as well as some meager and poorly balanced gameplay offerings.
I don’t subscribe to the school of thought that all free DLC is automatically good – you have to draw the line somewhere. And solid feedback will help make future releases better. For instance, the poor reactions to L4D1′s underwhelming ”Crash Course” almost certainly helped Valve build better L4D DLC in the form of L4D2′s “The Passing” (although later on they did let us down again with “The Sacrifice“). So we needn’t be afraid to voice our opinions.
But enough about all that. Here we are, with Portal 2′s second, and perhaps final DLC release almost upon us. The Perpetual Testing Initiative promises to turn Portal 2 into a never-ending house of pure science, providing it with enough replayability and content to feed 5 full-priced Call of Duty games. But does it fulfill that promise?
Since Portal 2′s release in April of last year, we’ve seen the release of a number of terrific fan-films: the poignant and clever “Outside Aperture“; the intriguing but lovely “Portal: No Escape“; and of course, the hilarious “Aperture: A Triumph of Science“. They serve as testaments to the community’s dedication, and appreciation for the world that Valve has so masterfully crafted. But every once in a while, one of those amazing projects comes around that’s just so promising, you can’t help but just be stunned. And this is one of them!
In little over a week, on the 8th of May, Valve will release the Perpetual Testing Initiative DLC, for Portal 2, or PeTI. Featuring a simple, yet versatile puzzle creator/editor toolkit that can interface with the advanced Hammer Editor, and integration with the Steam Workshop, allowing you to freely upload, rate, comment, and download anyone’s puzzle chambers – it may not be a new singleplayer test course or a set of advanced chambers, but it will give Portal 2 new life, and keep its community active for the foreseeable future.
A trailer for the PeTI was released yesterday, and while most of it is another hilarious Cave Johnson infographic short, it includes a sneak peek at the PeTI’s puzzle maker in action towards the end. Let’s take a look!
[UPDATE]: More details on the Puzzle Maker – apparently, you will be able to export Puzzle Maker maps to the Hammer Editor for extra detail and design. In addition, Hammer-made maps can be uploaded to the Workshop. You won’t be able to import Hammer maps to the Puzzle Maker, but hopefully, much like co-op support, this will be added to the PTI following its release.]
What would a Portal-related announcement be without a wacky, non-canon trailer short from Cave Johnson providing some manner of insane backstory to whatever is vehind the announcement? It’d be… a trailer-less announcement, that’s what! Thankfully, that’s never a possibility when you’re dealing with Aperture.