Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Portal 2 Lessons in Perpetual Testing

A few weeks ago Valve announced the Portal 2 Perpetual Testing Initiative and ever since the Initiative launched I've been neck deep in figuring out new and unique ways to kill my friends. That is, of course, what Portal 2 is all about. I actually now realize how Wheatley feels (spoilers?) as I build my very own test chambers and then send my friends to their certain peril while I look on and chuckle manically at their deaths or praise them for their successes.

The trick to building test chambers can sometimes get lost in the journey. It's all about simplicity. I've found that some of my chambers, while clever, unique, and challenging, are much too complex for people to grasp. A problem that one wouldn't often think about while building the chamber. The solution always seems obvious to the one who designed it. The challenge is making it complex enough that the solution isn't obvious at first but becomes clearer as the subject learns your chamber. You're aiming to reward your test subjects with the 'Ah! HA!' moments. When suddenly everything clicks together and they just get it. Sometimes death is a very good method of encouragement. I really like it, but as my friends have told me my chambers are vicious and unforgiving, so maybe I enjoy killing them a little too much. I also like to force subjects into uncomfortable situations. The feeling of knowing that there's turrets aiming at you and no way to get at them can make for some interestingly tense moments.

So if you're interested in a challenge, and are more than comfortable getting stranded, gunned down by turrets, and flung into deadly goo by all means check out the Foundry. I built it, so you know it's going to be tough. 

Here's a teaser I put together so you can get an idea of what you'll be getting yourself into.