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256px-Portal standalonebox

PORTAL COVER

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[[[Portal (video game)|edit]]] GameplayEdit

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A representation of how the magnitude of linear momentum is conserved through portals. By jumping into the blue portalA representation of how the magnitude of linear momentum is conserved through portals. By jumping into the blue portal, the character is launched out of the orange portal and onto the platform on the right.[[A more advanced portal technique. The character builds up speed using two blue portals, to reach an otherwise unreachable area. The second blue portal is carefully created mid-air, after exiting the orange portal for the first time, destroying the first blue portal in the process.|A more advanced portal technique. The character builds up speed using two blue portals]]A more advanced portal technique. The character builds up speed using two blue portals, to reach an otherwise unreachable area. The second blue portal is carefully created mid-air, after exiting the orange portal for the first time, destroying the first blue portal in the process.6 References


In Portal, the player controls the protagonist, Chell, from a first-person perspective as she is challenged to navigate through a series of rooms using the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device (portal gun or ASHPD). The portal gun can create two distinct portal ends, orange and blue. The portals create a visual and physical connection between two different locations in three-dimensional space. Neither end is specifically an entrance or exit; all objects that travel through one portal will exit through the other. An important aspect of the game's physics is momentum redirection.[12] As moving objects pass through portals, they come through the exit portal at the same direction as the exit portal is facing and with the same velocity with which they passed through the entrance portal.[13] For example, a common maneuver is to jump down to a portal on the floor and emerge through a wall, flying over a gap or another obstacle. This allows the player to launch objects or Chell herself over great distances, both vertically and horizontally, referred to as 'flinging' by Valve.[12] As GLaDOS puts it, "In layman's terms: speedy thing goes in, speedy thing comes out". If portal ends are not on parallel planes, the character passing through is reoriented to be upright with respect to gravity after leaving a portal end.

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Chell and all other objects in the game that can fit into the portal ends will pass through the portal. However, a portal shot cannot pass through an open portal; it will simply fail or create a new portal in an offset position. If a portal of the same color as an existing one is created, the previous portal is destroyed. Moving objects, glass, special wall surfaces, liquids, or areas that are too small will not accommodate portals. Chell is sometimes provided with cubes that she can pick up and use to climb on or to hold down large buttons that open doors or activate mechanisms. Particle fields known as emancipation grilles exist at the end of all and within some test chambers that, when passed through, close any open portals and disintegrate any object carried through. The fields also block attempts to fire portals through them.[14]

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Although Chell is equipped with mechanized heel springs to prevent damage from falling,[12] she can be killed by various other hazards in the test chambers, such as turret guns, bouncing balls of energy, and toxic liquid. She can also be killed by objects falling through portals, and by a series of crushers that appear in certain levels. Unlike most action games, there is no visible amount of health; Chell dies if she is dealt a certain amount of damage in a short time period, but returns to full health fairly quickly. Some obstacles, such as the energy balls and crushing pistons, will deal this necessary amount of damage with a single blow, thus causing instant death.

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The portal gun allows several possible approaches to completing the various test chambers. In its initial preview of Portal, GameSpot noted that many solutions exist for completing each puzzle, and that the gameplay "gets even crazier, and the diagrams shown in the trailer showed some incredibly crazy things that you can attempt."[15] Two additional modes are unlocked upon the completion of the game that challenge the player to work out alternative methods of solving each test chamber. Challenge maps are unlocked near the halfway point and Advanced Chambers are unlocked when the game is completed.[16] In Challenge mode, levels are revisited with the added goal of completing the test chamber either with as little time, with the least number of portals, or with the fewest footsteps possible. In Advanced mode, certain levels are made more complex with the addition of more obstacles and hazards.[17][18]

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The PC, Xbox 360 and Mac OS X versions of the game also feature a number of Achievements the player can earn by completing tasks. Achievements range from normal gameplay requirements, such as obtaining the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device, to various tricks, such as using portals to jump a particular distance. As with other Source engine games since Half-Life 2, Portal can be played with commentary enabled; special icons will appear in the game that the player can activate to hear how certain parts of the game were developed.

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The game features two characters: the player-controlled silent protagonist named Chell, and GLaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System), a computer artificial intelligence that monitors and directs the player. In the English-language version, GLaDOS is voiced by Ellen McLain, though her voice has been altered to sound more mechanical. The only background information presented about Chell is given by GLaDOS; the credibility of these facts, such as Chell being adopted, an orphan, and having no friends, is questionable at best, as GLaDOS is a liar by her own admission. In the "Lab Rat" comic created by Valve to bridge the gap between Portal and Portal 2, Chell's records reveal she was ultimately rejected as a test subject for having too much "tenacity", but was moved to the top of the test queue due to a "hunch" by Doug Rattman, a former employee of Aperture Science.[19][20]

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[[[Portal (video game)|edit]]]Edit

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Upper Peninsula of Michiganshower curtainsmercury poisoningresearch and developmentCounter-Heimlich ManeuverTake-A-Wish FoundationU.S. SenateBlack Mesabring-your-daughter-to-work dayCombinePortal takes place in the Enrichment Center for Aperture Laboratories—also known as Aperture Science—which is the fictional research corporation responsible for the creation of the portal gun. According to information presented in Portal 2, the location of the complex is in the . Information about the company, developed by Valve for creating the setting of the game, is revealed during the game and via the real-world promotional website. According to the Aperture Science Web site, Cave Johnson founded the company in 1953 for the sole purpose of making for the U.S. military. However, after becoming mentally unstable from in 1978, Johnson created a three-tier plan to make his organization successful. The first two tiers, the (a maneuver designed to ensure choking) and the (a program to give the wishes of dying children to unrelated, entirely healthy adults), were commercial failures and led to an investigation of the company by the . However, when the investigative committee heard of the success of the third tier, a man-sized ad-hoc quantum tunnel through physical space with possible applications as a shower curtain, it recessed permanently and gave Aperture Science an open-ended contract to continue its research. The development of GLaDOS, an artificially intelligent research assistant and disk-operating system, began in 1986 in response to 's work on similar portal technology. A presentation seen during gameplay reveals that GLaDOS was also included in a proposed bid for de-icing fuel lines, incorporated as a fully functional disk-operation system that is arguably alive, unlike Black Mesa's proposal, which inhibits ice, nothing more. Roughly thirteen years later, work on GLaDOS was completed and the untested AI was activated during the company's first annual in 1998. Immediately after activation, the facility was flooded with deadly neurotoxin by the AI. Events of the first game occur shortly thereafter, presumably leaving the facility forgotten by the outside world due to apocalyptic happenings. Wolpaw, in describing the ending of Portal 2, affirmed that the invasion from Half-Life has occurred during Portal's events.


The portions of the Aperture Science Enrichment Center that Chell explores suggest that it is part of a massive research installation. At the time of events depicted in Portal, the Aperture Science Enrichment Center facility seems to be long-deserted, although most of its equipment remains operational without human control.[25] Aperture Science exists in the Half-Life universe,[15][23] with the events of Portal occurring sometime between the story of Half-Life and Half-Life 2.[26] Aperture Science Inc. is also mentioned during Half-Life 2: Episode Two, in which the icebreaker ship Borealis, belonging to the corporation, is said to have disappeared under mysterious circumstances, along with the crew and part of its drydock. During its development, Half-Life 2 featured a chapter set on the Borealis, but this was abandoned and removed before release.[27]

[[[Portal (video game)|edit]]] Plot featured a chapter set on the Borealis, but this was abandoned and removed before release.[27]Edit

[[[Portal (video game)|edit]]] PlotEdit

Portal's plot is revealed to the player via audio messages from GLaDOS and side rooms found in the later levels. According to The Final Hours of Portal 2, the year is established to be "somewhere in 2010" — twelve years after its abandonment. The game begins with protagonist Chell waking up from a stasis bed and hearing instructions and warnings from GLaDOS about the upcoming test experience. This part of the game involves distinct test chambers that, in sequence, introduce players to the game's mechanics. GLaDOS's announcements serve not only to instruct Chell and help her progress through the game, but also to create atmosphere and develop the AI as a character.[12] Chell is promised cake and grief counseling as her reward if she manages to complete all the test chambers.[28]

Chell proceeds through the empty Enrichment Center, interacting only with GLaDOS. Over the course of the game, GLaDOS's motives are hinted to be more sinister than her helpful demeanor suggests. Although she is designed to appear helpful and encouraging, GLaDOS's actions and speech suggest insincerity and callous disregard for the safety and well-being of the test subjects. The test chambers become increasingly dangerous as Chell proceeds, and GLaDOS even directs Chell through a live-fire course designed for military androids as a result of "mandatory scheduled maintenance" in the regular test chamber. In another chamber, GLaDOS boasts about the fidelity and importance of the Weighted Companion Cube, a waist-high crate with a single large pink heart on each face, for helping Chell to complete the chamber. However, GLaDOS then declares that it "unfortunately must be euthanized" in an "emergency intelligence incinerator" before Chell can continue.[25] Some of the later chambers include automated turrets with child-like voices (also voiced by McLain) that fire at Chell, only to sympathize with her after being disabled ("I don't blame you" and "No hard feelings").[29][30]

After Chell completes the final test chamber, GLaDOS congratulates her and prepares her "victory candescence", maneuvering Chell into a pit of fire. As GLaDOS assures her that "all Aperture technologies remain safely operational up to 4,000 degrees [sic] kelvin", Chell escapes with the use of the portal gun and makes her way through the maintenance areas within the Enrichment Center.[31] GLaDOS becomes panicked and insists that she was only pretending to kill Chell, as part of testing. GLaDOS then asks Chell to assume the "party escort submission position", lying face-first on the ground, so that a "party escort robot" can take her to her reward. Chell, thinking that GLaDOS is trying to trick her into a vulnerable position, continues forward. Throughout this section, GLaDOS still sends messages to Chell and it becomes clear that she has become corrupt and may have killed everyone else in the center. Chell makes her way through the maintenance areas and empty office spaces behind the chambers, sometimes following graffiti messages which point in the right direction. These backstage areas, which are in an extremely dilapidated state, stand in stark contrast to the pristine test chambers. The graffiti includes statements such as "the cake is a lie" and pastiches of Emily Dickinson's poem "The Chariot," Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "The Reaper and the Flowers," and Emily Brontë's "No Coward Soul Is Mine," mourning the death of the Companion Cube.[12]

GLaDOS attempts to dissuade Chell with threats of physical harm and misleading statements claiming that she is going the wrong way as Chell makes her way deeper into the maintenance areas. Eventually, Chell reaches a large chamber where GLaDOS's hardware hangs overhead. GLaDOS continues to plead with Chell, but during the exchange one of GLaDOS' personality core spheres falls off; Chell drops it in an incinerator. GLaDOS reveals that Chell has just destroyed the morality core, which the Aperture Science employees allegedly installed after GLaDOS flooded the enrichment center with a deadly neurotoxin, and goes on to state that now there is nothing to prevent her from doing so once again. A six-minute countdown starts as Chell dislodges and incinerates more pieces of GLaDOS, while GLaDOS attempts to discourage her both verbally with a series of taunts and increasingly juvenile insults and physically by firing rockets at Chell. After she has destroyed the final piece, a portal malfunction tears the room apart and transports everything to the surface. Chell is then seen lying outside the facility's gates amid the remains of GLaDOS. One of the final scenes is changed through a patch of the PC version that was made available a few days before Portal 2's announcement; in this retroactive continuity, Chell is dragged away from the scene by an unseen entity speaking in a robotic voice, thanking her for assuming the party escort submission position.[23][32]

The final scene, after a long and speedy zoom through the bowels of the facility, shows a mix of shelves surrounding a Black Forest cake[33] and the Weighted Companion Cube. The shelves contain dozens of other personality cores, some of which begin to light up before a robotic arm descends and extinguishes the candle on the cake.[34] As the credits roll, GLaDOS delivers a concluding report: the song "Still Alive", considering the experiment to be a huge success

[hide]System requirements
Minimum Recommended
Windows[1]
Operating system Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000
CPU 1.7 GHz 3.0 GHz
Memory 512 MB 1 GB
Graphics hardware DirectX 8 video card DirectX 9 video card
Network Internet Connection
Mac[1]
Operating system Leopard 10.5.8, Snow Leopard 10.6.3
Memory 1 GB
Graphics hardware NVIDIA GeForce 8 / ATI X1600 or higher
Network Internet Connection

[[[Portal (video game)|edit]]] ConceptEdit

Portal is Valve's spiritual successor to the freeware game Narbacular Drop, the 2005 independent game released by students of the DigiPen Institute of Technology; the original Narbacular Drop team is now employed at Valve.[36][37] Valve had become interested in Narbacular Drop after seeing the game at DigiPen's annual career fair; Robin Walker, one of Valve's developers, saw the game at the fair, and later contacted the team, providing them with advice and offering them to show their game at Valve's offices. After their presentation, Valve's president Gabe Newell quickly offered the entire team jobs at Valve to develop the game further.[38] Newell later commented that he was impressed with the Digipen team as "they had actually carried the concept through", already having included the interaction between portals and physics, completing most of the work that Valve would have had to commit on their own.[38] Certain elements have been retained from Narbacular Drop, such as the system of identifying the two unique portal endpoints with the colors orange and blue. A key difference in the signature portal mechanic between the two games however is that Portal's portal gun cannot create a portal through an existing portal unlike in Narbacular Drop. The game's original setting, of a princess trying to escape a dungeon, was also dropped in favor of the Aperture Science approach.[38] Portal took approximately two years and four months to complete after the DigiPen team was brought into Valve,[39] and no more than ten people were involved with its development.[40] Portal writer Erik Wolpaw, who, along with fellow writer Chet Faliszek, was hired by Valve for the game, claimed that "Without the constraints, Portal would not be as good a game."[41]

The Portal team worked with Half-Life series writer Marc Laidlaw on fitting the game into the series' plot.[42] This was done, in part, due to the limited art capabilities of the small team; instead of creating new assets for Portal, they decided to tie the game to an existing franchise—Half-Life 2—to allow them to reuse the Half-Life 2 art assets.[23] Wolpaw and Faliszek were put to work on the dialogue for Portal.[37] The concept of a computer AI guiding the player through experimental facilities to test the portal gun was arrived at early in the writing process.[23] They drafted early lines for the yet-named "polite" AI with humorous situations, such as requesting the player's character to "assume the party escort submission position", and found this style of approach to be well-suited to the game they wanted to create, ultimately leading to the creation of the GLaDOS character.[23] GLaDOS was central to the plot, as Wolpaw notes "We designed the game to have a very clear beginning, middle, and end, and we wanted GLaDOS to go through a personality shift at each of these points."[43] Wolpaw further describes the idea of using cake as the reward came about as "at the beginning of the Portal development process, we sat down as a group to decide what philosopher or school of philosophy our game would be based on. That was followed by about 15 minutes of silence and then someone mentioned that a lot of people like cake."[23][43]

[[[Portal (video game)|edit]]] DesignEdit

EnlargeEdit

A typical Portal test chamber, with both of the player's colored portals opened. The Weighted Companion Cube can also be seen. The clean, spartan look to the chambers were influenced by the film The Island.The austere settings in the game came about because testers spent too much time trying to complete the puzzles using decorative but non-functional elements. As a result, the setting was minimized to make the usable aspects of the puzzle easier to spot, using the clinical feel of the setting in the film The Island as reference.[44] While there were plans for a third area, an office space, to be included after the test chambers and the maintenance areas, the team ran out of time to include it.[44] They also dropped the introduction of the Rat Man, a character who left the messages in the maintenance areas, to avoid creating too much narrative for the game,[45] though the character was developed further in a tie-in comic "Lab Rat", that ties Portal and Portal 2's story together.[19][20] According to Swift, the final battle with GLaDOS went through many iterations, including having the player chased by James Bond lasers, which was partially applied to the turrets, Portal Kombat where the player would have needed to redirect rockets while avoiding turret fire, and a chase sequence following a fleeing GLaDOS. Eventually, they found that playtesters enjoyed a rather simple puzzle with a countdown timer near the end; Swift noted, "Time pressure makes people think something is a lot more complicated than it really is," and Wolpaw admitted, "It was really cheap to make [the neurotoxin gas]" in order to simplify the dialogue during the battle.[40]

Chell's face and body are modeled after Alésia Glidewell, an American freelance actress and voice-over artist, selected by Valve from a local modeling agency for her face and body structure.[39][46] Ellen McLain provided the voice of the antagonist GLaDOS. Erik Wolpaw noted, "When we were still fishing around for the turret voice, Ellen did a sultry version. It didn't work for the turrets, but we liked it a lot, and so a slightly modified version of that became the model for GLaDOS's final incarnation."[43] Mike Patton's voice also appears in the game performing the growling and snarling of the final core-chip of GLaDOS.

The Weighted Companion Cube inspiration was from project lead Kim Swift with additional input from Wolpaw from reading some "declassified government interrogation thing" whereby "isolation leads subjects to begin to attach to inanimate objects";[40][43] Swift commented, "We had a long level called Box Marathon; we wanted players to bring this box with them from the beginning to the end. But people would forget about the box, so we added dialogue, applied the heart to the cube, and continued to up the ante until people became attached to the box. Later on, we added the incineration idea. The artistic expression grew from the gameplay."[44] Wolpaw further noted that the need to incinerate the Weighted Companion Cube came as a result of the final boss battle design; they recognized they had not introduced the idea of incineration necessary to complete the boss battle, and by training the player to do it with the Weighted Companion Cube, found the narrative "way stronger" with its "death".[47] Swift noted that reported psychological comparisons to both the Milgram experiment and 2001: A Space Odyssey are happenstance.[44]

The portal gun's full name, Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device, can be abbreviated as ASHPD, which resembles a shortening of the name Adrian Shephard, the protagonist of Half-Life: Opposing Force. This similarity was noticed by fans before the game's release; as a result, the team placed a red herring in the game by having the letters of Adrian Shephard highlighted on keyboards found within the game.[44] According to Kim Swift, the cake is a Black Forest cake that she thought looked the best at the nearby Regent Bakery and Café in Redmond, Washington, and, as an easter egg within the game, its recipe is scattered among various screens showing lines of binary code.[33][48] The Regent Bakery has stated that since the release of the game, its Black Forest cake has been one of its more popular items.[48]

[[[Portal (video game)|edit]]] SoundtrackEdit

Most of the game's soundtrack is non-lyrical ambient music composed by Kelly Bailey and Mike Morasky, somewhat dark and mysterious to match the mood of the environments. The closing credits song, "Still Alive," was written by Jonathan Coulton and sung by Ellen McLain (a classically trained operatic soprano) as the GLaDOS character. Wolpaw notes that Coulton was invited to Valve a year before the release of Portal as the team knew that it wanted to involve Coulton in some fashion. "Once Kim [Swift] and I met with him, it quickly became apparent that he had the perfect sensibility to write a song for GLaDOS."[35][43] The song was released as a free downloadable song for the music video game Rock Band on April 1, 2008.[49][50][51] The soundtrack for Portal was released as a part of The Orange Box Original Soundtrack[52] and includes both GLaDOS's in-game rendition and Coulton's vocal mix of "Still Alive." A brief instrumental version done in a Latin style can be heard playing over radios in-game.

[[[Portal (video game)|edit]]] MerchandiseEdit

The popularity of the game and of its characters has led Valve to develop merchandise for Portal made available through its online Steam store. Some of the more popular items were the Weighted Companion Cube plush toys and fuzzy dice.[53] When first released, both were sold out in under 24 hours.[54] Other products available through the Valve store include t-shirts and Aperture Science coffee mugs and parking stickers, and merchandise relating to the phrase the cake is a lie, which has become an internet meme. Wolpaw noted they did not expect certain elements of the game to be as popular as they were, while other elements they had expected to become fads were ignored, such as a giant hoop that rolls on-screen during the final scene of the game that the team had named Hoopy.[23]

[[[Portal (video game)|edit]]] DistributionJanuary 2008, Valve released a special demo version titled Portal: The First Slice, free for any Steam user using Nvidia graphics hardware as part of a collaboration between the two companies.[55] It also comes packaged with Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, Peggle Extreme, and Half-Life 2: Lost Coast. The demo includes test chambers 00 to 10 (eleven in total). Valve has since made the demo available to all Steam users.[56]Edit

[[[Portal (video game)|edit]]] PortalEdit

Portal was first released as part of The Orange Box for Microsoft Windows (both retail and through Steam), Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3; in addition to Portal, the Box also included Half-Life 2 and its two add-on episodes and Team Fortress 2. Portal's inclusion within the Box was considered an experiment by Valve; having no idea of the success of Portal, the Box provided it a "safety net" via means of these other games. Portal was kept to a modest length in case the game did not go over well with players.[34] Since then, a standalone version of the game was released for Microsoft Windows users.

Portal was the first Valve-developed game to be added to the Mac OS X-compatible list of games available on the launch of the Steam client for Mac on May 12, 2010, supporting Steam Play, in which players that had bought the game either on a Macintosh or Windows computer could also play it on the alternate system. As part of the promotion, Portal was offered as a free title for any Steam user during the two weeks following the Mac client's launch.[57] Within the first week of this offer, over 1.5 million copies of the game were downloaded through Steam.[58]

[[[Portal (video game)|edit]]] Portal: Still AliveEdit

Portal: Still Alive was announced as an exclusive Xbox Live Arcade game at the 2008 E3 convention, and was released on October 22, 2008.[59] It features the original game, 14 new challenges, and new achievements.[60] The additional content was based on levels from the map pack "Portal: The Flash Version" created by We Create Stuff and contains no additional story-related levels.[61] According to Valve spokesman Doug Lombardi, Microsoft had previously rejected Portal on the platform due to its large size.[62] Portal: Still Alive was well-received by reviewers.[63] 1UP's Andrew Hayward stated that, with the easier access and lower cost than paying for The Orange Box, Portal is now "stronger than ever".[64] IGN editor Cam Shea ranked it fifth on his top 10 list of Xbox Live Arcade games. He stated that it was debatable whether an owner of The Orange Box should purchase this, as its added levels do not add to the plot. However, he praised the quality of the new maps included in the game.[65] The game ranked 7th in a later list of top Xbox Box Live titles compiled by IGN's staff in September 2010.[66]

[[[Portal (video game)|edit]]] SequelEdit

Main article: Portal 2Edit

Swift stated that future Portal developments would depend on the community's reactions, saying, "We're still playing it by ear at this point, figuring out if we want to do multiplayer next, or Portal 2, or release map packs."[17] Some rumors regarding a sequel arose due to casting calls for voice actors.[67][68] On March 10, 2010, Portal 2 was officially announced for a release late in that year;[69] the announcement was preceded by an alternate reality game based on unexpected patches made to Portal that contained cryptic messages in relation to Portal 2's announcement, including one that changed the fate of Chell at the end of the game. Though Portal 2 was announced for a Q4 2010 release, the game was eventually released on April 19, 2011.[32][70][71][72]

[[[Portal (video game)|edit]]] Critical receptionEdit

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