Portal: Something New

By Shamus Posted Thursday Oct 25, 2007

Filed under: Game Reviews 59 comments

I’ve written before about the difficulties of learning to navigate a 3d world in first person. It’s daunting and slow, and usually means the player needs to learn how to walk and look around before they can begin learning the particulars of the given game. There is a certain overhead that must be dealt with before someone can play first person games. Because of this, the conventional wisdom is that first-person games are for hard-core players. As someone who probably falls into the “hard-core” demographic, I’m not really in any kind of position to assail that line of reasoning.

On the other hand, the conventional wisdom seems to be that hard-core players, (the kind which, if you see where I’m going with this, play first person games) have no interest in puzzle games. They want to shoot aliens, gun down Nazis, capture flags, and generally pwn n00bs and whatnot. I’m a good counter-example to this, although one noisy man on a website does not constitute a viable market. Until now, nobody has been willing to risk a couple of million bucks finding out if the hardcore players want puzzle-focused games. First person games are notoriously expensive to produce and doing so is a waste if players would be just as happy doing the same puzzle within the context of a lightweight 2d game. So the only way it could even make sense to consider a FPS puzzler is if the gameplay demanded that sort of perspective.

9.8m/s<sup>2</sup>.  I’m looking down from a ledge into a pair of portals on the floor.  Looking down into the orange on I see the view looking up from the blue, and vice-versa. If I jump into the blue one I’ll come sailing out of the orange one feet-first. It’s disorienting, but fun.
9.8m/s2. I’m looking down from a ledge into a pair of portals on the floor. Looking down into the orange on I see the view looking up from the blue, and vice-versa. If I jump into the blue one I’ll come sailing out of the orange one feet-first. It’s disorienting, but fun.
Which is exactly what we have with Portal. It would be possible to translate this experience into some sort of overhead isometric view, or even a 2d view, but the result would truly diminish the game in measurable ways without simplifying the interface for casual gamers. This game needs first person to work.

The game, like all great puzzles, is something which can be grasped in seconds and yet leads to challenges of fiendish complexity. In the game you have a “Portal Gun”. You can place portals onto any smooth flat surface large enough to hold one. Once you make two portals, they will be “linked” so that you can walk through one and come out the other. You can put them anywhere: Floors, ceilings, walls. You can look through the portal and see where it goes. Put the two portals facing one another and you’ll find yourself looking over your own shoulder into infinity, with infinite copies of yourself looking through the infinite portals. It’s like, deep, man.

The sparse environments do a great job of keeping things focused on the puzzles
The sparse environments do a great job of keeping things focused on the puzzles
Portal is not a “puzzle shooter”. The puzzles are not intermissions between firefights. They are the game in its entirety. The designers didn’t hedge their bets by including some shooting. They didn’t try to make the puzzles easier for the kids to swallow by packaging them within the framework of defeating enemies and breaking their stuff. (Knocking over gun turrets by dropping things on them or bumbling into them is about as destructive as the puzzles get. Even at that, this makes up a very small portion of the gameplay.) The game has no weapons to pick up, no ammo, no health, no armor, no inventory. There is no HUD aside from the aiming reticule, no resource management, no dialog. Most of the game is spent in contemplative solitude. The designers embraced the first-person puzzle concept and committed themselves to the idea, and the result is one of the most refreshing and innovative games I’ve seen this millennium.

The game is short, and it’s clear they weren’t sure how far to push this. The game introduces the various types of puzzles, then layers them together with gradually increasing complexity, culminating in a timed situation where you must employ everything you’ve learned so far. Then it ends. It’s obvious that they have barely scratched the surface of what can be done with this gameplay. It seems they are hoping that the fan base will take these tools and expand the game via user-designed maps. I look forward to seeing where that goes.


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59 thoughts on “Portal: Something New

  1. Ian says:

    Oh yes, I can’t wait for the custom maps to start rolling in.

    I’ve had a great deal of fun with Portal, even on my fifth and sixth time playing it. Finding new ways to get through the puzzles is very fun for me.

  2. Quanity says:

    Though I absolutely agree that Portal is one of the simplest, yet most innovative games since, I dunno, a long time at least, I can prove that the game also works in 2D. It’s different, but not any less addictive and entertaining. Find out here:

  3. krellen says:

    The guy that does the Zero Punctuation reviews over at the Escapist said this was the best game he’d seen in a very long time. In fact, contrary to form, he couldn’t find a single bad thing to say about Portal. It even makes me tempted to deal with Steam, that’s how good the game is. :D

  4. wererogue says:

    Or at the makers’ site, http://portal.wecreatestuff.com/

    I really enjoyed Portal, and I’m looking forward to the custom maps too. I’d like to see how a valve sequel could play out – armed with only the [Aperture Science Portal Device] the specimen has to survive in a post-apocalyptic world.

    Actually, I’m not sure that would be that bad. Or they could just release a big fat map pack.

    If you enjoyed the humour of the site, http://www.aperturescience.com/ is pretty entertaining, too.

  5. wererogue says:

    Late, and site!=game. Sorry :/

  6. Phlux says:

    Yay! Portal! This game was (and is) fantastic.

    I think this game was a risky experiment that will pay off in a big way. They no doubt bundled it into the Orange Box as a way of achieving some gauranteed paypack for the cost of development.

    Now that it’s become a big hit, there will no doubt be a portal 2, portal multiplayer or (my own personal fantasy) inclusion of the Portal gameplay into the Half Life series proper.

    The Aperture Science organization gets a little cameo in Episode 2, and will clearly play a large role in Episode 3. Since Half Life uses portal/teleporting technology as its key plot device, it’s not too huge of a stretch to think that Gordon might end up with a portal gun in the near future.

  7. JoeFaust says:

    While I definitely agree with you that the gameplay in Portal is awesome, I think you’re missing the biggest part of what made the game great: The writing.

    The dark humor of Portal is absolutely perfect. The small little side-rooms with “the cake is a lie” are awesome.

    User created maps will be fun, to be sure. But what I really want is a proper sequel (or perhaps even prequel) so I can spend some more time antagonizing GLaDOS.

  8. Rawling says:

    Favourite. Game. Evar. Would that it were longer; would that I could run it properly under DX9.

  9. Joe says:

    Stuff’s already happening at http://www.portal-mods.com

    few custom maps are up, as well as some new textures and other goodies. It’s a good time in a box.

  10. MintSkittle says:

    7 JoeFaust:
    User created maps will be fun, to be sure. But what I really want is a proper sequel (or perhaps even prequel) so I can spend some more time antagonizing GLaDOS.

    Didn’t you see the end? I’m pretty sure GLaDOS will be back in some form.

  11. Phlux says:

    I think a “portal machine” mod would be fantastic.

    Use gears, pipes, water, conveyorbelts, etc…and link them between multiple portals.

    the idea of a gearshaft connecting two non-adjacent rooms, powering an elevator or something…that could be really sweet.

  12. Gothmog says:

    Speaking of the end… BEST ENDING CREDITS EVAR.

    The song was written by Jonathan Coulton http://www.jonathancoulton.com
    Who has written more brilliant songs in the same style/vein/whatever. Go check out his site if you haven’t heard of him, you can demo every song in his impressively large library right there on the site.

  13. Dev Null says:

    Gah! I hate you all! After playing Narbacular Drop (I believe at Shamus’ suggestion – I forget) Portal was one of the main attractions of the Orange Box for me… and it doesn’t work! Hoping for a response from the Steam customer support people sometime soon.

    BTW, if you’re hanging out for cool custom levels, go track down the user-made maps for Narbacular Drop. There’s about a million-point-five, and some of them very good; I’m still working my way through the collection.

  14. Ian says:

    @Gothmog: VERY MUCH AGREED.

    Still Alive has been a fixture on my Winamp playlist since I beat Portal for my first time.

  15. Shamus says:

    Phlux: Sadly, that isn’t possible right now. Portals can’t move. Each portal needs a localized physics simulation running at either end (because the Havoc physics engine can’t handle the gravity shifts for objects halfway through) and the engine needs to crunch some numbers before it can render the portal. (I expect it’s like a sudden BSP cut in the level geometry, which can be kind of hairy.) It takes 50ms-100ms or so to pull this off, and that’s after all the optimizations Valve could muster. A moving portal would present some real challenges to an already dicey proposition.

    There is a hack that lets you play HL2 levels with the portal gun. It works (sort of) but what is clear is that the cube-like environments in Portal were probably crucial for making portals work. Throw a portal on a wall just above some rolling terrain or a heap of dirt and hop in: The collision detection will freak out in a number of amusing ways, from dropping you out of the level to embedding you in concrete to killing you outright.

  16. Phlux says:


    Interesting stuff. I remember the audio commentary talking about the rendering delay, but didn’t really consider how that would impact throwing the portals into a non-square environment.

    What I was thinking of wasn’t so much moving portals, though, but maybe something as simple as running an electrical extension cord from a room to room spanning great distances. Or maybe there’s an engine with a shaft spinning in one room, and a gear with nothing to turn it in another room. put two portals together, run a length of pipe through the portal, and viola, you have a working do-hickey.

    I think the physics engine in the game can handle something basic like that.

    They must have had a heck of a time developing this game. it’s incredibly complicated to describe these concepts on paper. you really need visual aids to do the job.

  17. Shamus says:

    Phlux: Now THAT is a cunning idea.

    I don’t know how Havoc would handle that (since the shaft is going through the portal it might not be able to be used for sophisticated stuff like that) but if it could work it would be another whole layer of puzzles. That would be… amazing.

  18. Sharpe says:

    Run a long enough pipe through two portals on opposite sides of a narrow hallway, and weld the ends together… voila, infinitely long pipe. It would probably have to stay perfectly straight, too.

    Portal technology is so facinating, I hope they explore more possibilities next time around.

  19. mikeful says:

    There is another Portal custom map forum. http://portalcake.com/

  20. Locri says:

    I would second one of the posters above… I’m amazed that you didn’t even touch on the amazing humour in the game. I’ve rarely had a game make me laugh so much, have so many quotable things, and make two brand new internet memes within an extremely short period of time. Not to mention the huge popularity of “Still Alive” is enjoying.

  21. Phlux says:

    Shamus: I agree. Not only would the puzzles be amazing, they fit very naturally into the Half-Life world.

    I think a “multi-portal” gun could be interesting too. A bit difficult to visualize. I guess you’d have to have different colors. Now you could make a portal machine that has multiple different components utilizing multiple independent portal gates. That could make for some truly brain-busting puzzles.

    It needn’t be terribly complicated to the user either. A simple scroll-wheel function could switch you between your A, B and C portal “sets”. My brain tingles at the idea of doing a 3-axis multi-portal fling maneuver.

    I wish I was a competent programmer…I’d love to make that mod.

  22. Deoxy says:

    I hadn’t heard of this game, but I’ve imagined real-world consequences of portal technology for a few years now. It is truly, unbelievably universe-changing in scope.

    Try (essentially) infinite fuel for air- and spacecraft, without the burden of carrying the fuel’s mass.

    Try “no more airlines” (yay!). Instant travel anywhere we’ve already been.

    Try infinite power. Seriously, no more energy crisis (portal at the bottom of a tube, comes out the top, water-wheel in the middle… add water, and watch it go forever).

    Try infinite batteries for hand-held devices (as they are always “plugged in” via internal portal to ye olde infinite power source mentioned above).

    Heck, try “portable hole”! Carry a little laptop computer sized tablet… open it, reach in, and get something from your closet at home (if that’s where the opening is). Shoot, carry several, including one that goes into your refrigerator.

    The destructive capabilities are at least as unreal… How about a portal to the SUN?!? Um, ouchie.

    It’s really, REALLY nuts.

  23. M says:

    @Sharpe, #18:

    Unless I’m misinterpreting what you suggest, the pipe wouldn’t be infinitely long, it’d be exactly as long as the hallway is wide. It’s just…well…

    …wow. Thinking of the physics of that is giving me a headache.

  24. Ozy says:

    His Portal song is great, but I still can’t forgive Jonathan Coulton for the as-yet-uncorrected error in his song Mandelbrot Set. How can a song possibly pay homage to a mathematical concept while containing known errors? Mandelbrot certainly didn’t become a renowned mathematician by half-assing his proofs!

  25. James Blair says:

    I’m pretty sure portals won’t be the “infinite power source” you might think it would be, any more than you can get “infinite power” from a 25K rpm router turning a generator. I imagine the portals would use more power than that water wheel could generate in a million years!

  26. guy says:

    yes, but imagine a portal to a point near a black hole. We’d get a lot of power from that, although there is no such thing as infinite power, although you might be able to beat entropy, but maybe not.

  27. Althanis says:

    Rawling: evEr. Go to school. Learn to spell. Being cool and $2.99 will get you a Big Mac. Intentionally misspelling works just makes you stupid IMHO.

    As for Portal, its one of my favorite games ever. No need to limit it to this millenium Shamus. =)

  28. DGM says:

    Depending on how small and numerous you could make the portals, I’d love to see computers made with those things. Imagine having literal “computer room,” as in a closet that contains nothing but a big supercomputer. Now take a laptop that’s little more than a keyboard & screen with portal connections to the supercomputer’s processing and memory hardware, with the power for it all being supplied from the room’s side.

    All the computing power you could ever need, combined with the portability of a very lightweight laptop and the endless power supply of a wall outlet!

  29. Phlux says:

    They don’t really describe how the portal gets its energy in the game, but it certainly seems that there is some sort of link between the portal gun itself and the two portals it can create.

    When passing through the energy fields, portals made by the gun are turned off. I suppose that implies some sort of wireless connection, perhaps a wireless power source even, that is disrupted by these fields.

    I agree that “infinite” energy is unlikely, unless the portals are stable and require no additional energy input beyond creation. The amount of energy that could be derived would still be immense.

    I’m not an expert on solar power, but it is my understanding that at earth’s distance from the sun, a 100% efficient cell can only hope to extract energy in the kW/m^2 range, but at the distance of Mercury’s orbit, the potential energy output per square meter is many times greater

    Sring one of those cells up with an extension cord through a portal, and power your house with it.

  30. ZzzzSleep says:

    Shamus, you say that the game would be largely diminished if it were in 2d. Have you tried the 2d flash version of Portal? http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/404612
    I’d be grateful if someone would let me know how it compares to the real thing.

  31. Miral says:

    The one I’ve always wanted is to have a little comms box that can make point-to-point connections anywhere in the world with zero latency (no speed-of-light delays, after all). That’s some serious broadband.

    But you definitely won’t be able to use portals to achieve infinite power. Don’t forget the Laws of Thermodynamics after all — the energy cost to set up and maintain a portal must exceed any energy gain from the use of that portal. You can’t create energy. (You can’t destroy energy either, but it can be lost through inefficiency and conversion to eg. heat energy.)

    Similarly the portable portal ideas (and how they are presented in the game) probably won’t work as some kind of power source would be required at each end to keep the portal open. Still, ignoring all that you can have a lot of fun with the concept :)

  32. Snook says:

    Miral: That’s with our current understanding of physics. We don’t know how portals work, or what sort of physics they use, so who knows what could happen?

  33. Avaz says:

    I was just wondering. If there are portable portals, would they be called portalbles? ;)


  34. Shamus says:

    I was actually thinking of the 2d flash game when I wrote the part above. While the flash this is amusing, it doesn’t have that same brain-tickling appeal that it does in a 3d context where you can look through the portal.

    Like I said, it’s diminishes the experience.

  35. Zaghadka says:

    I just wanted to mention that this page about “Portal” is brought to my browser by “Envirolet waterless toilets.”

    I have tears in my eyes.

  36. Steve C says:

    I posted these links last week in the comments of one of your Half life posts. I don’t know if anyone read it because nobody commented afterwards. I’ll repeat it here 1 time and then I promise not to repeat it again.

    You can use the Portal gun in Half Life 2. Since Shamus said that he devoured Portal and is also done with Half Life too, I thought this might generate some replay value.

    Watch it in action:

    Directions on how to pull it off:

  37. Aires says:

    What platform is Portal for? Could I get it for PC?

  38. Zincorium says:

    @Miral: While energy cannot be created or destroyed, it most certainly can be moved, and that’s where it becomes useful. A highly resilient thermocouple running from down in the mantle to out in space would produce extreme amounts of energy, heck, one that transported the heat from there to a spot in the ocean to produce steam (driving a turbine) could be more than equal to a dam on a major river.

    You’re taking an already existing source of energy, and doing something with it. So no violations.

  39. M says:


    It’s only for PC, as far as I know.

  40. Elethiomel says:

    Quality beats quantity every time. Portal shows us that.

  41. Deoxy says:

    Yes, the easy assumption is that moving through the portal will use more energy than you could get back, but unless it requires energy based on how far you are going or your potential energy (compared to all gravitational sources in the entire universe, no less), infinite energy is still possible.

    Unless it takes at least one of those things into account (possibly both), situations can be devised that use gravity to produce more energy than it took to move the item or stuff you are dropping. ANY amount of overage, no matter how small, and BOOM, infinite energy.

    Hence, I doubt actual portal technology is possible. That was (partially) my point. The simple concept of this video game BREAKS THE WHOLE FREAKING UNIVERSE. Granted, it does so in VERY fun ways, and the mind games make a good mental exercise.

    (Actually, worm holes are the same, and they may be theoretically possible, depending on who you listen to and the current state of the science (it has varied on and off)… freaky things, man, and they challenge our understanding of the universe.)

  42. Nixorbo says:

    @#39: Then what have I been playing on my 360 for the past week?

  43. Althanis says:

    Halo 3?

  44. guy says:

    you don’t get it. Energy is not infinate. there is X watts of energy in the universe, you cannot get more except by destrying matter, and there is not an infinate amount of that. plus, you only get as much energy as can fit through the portal, and some energy will be lost as it goes through the space between the portals.

    1. STUPIDGUY12 says:

      The point is that there is no energy lost between portals. The portal does not slow things down that pass through them, nor remove energy. If they removed energy from anything passing through them, your character would probably die really fast. Plus, how is there only so much energy in the universe if gravity is a constant pull? The point is that, if using portals, what goes down can fall forever. There could be an infinite loop, generating infinite energy with infinite gravity.

      And clean up your spelling. I’m in the eighth grade and I seem to spell better than you.

  45. AndrewNZachsDad says:

    Althanis: re: #27 – While I certainly agree that the ubiquitous (and gratuitous) spelling errors which abound on internet forums are annoying and I would love if they stopped, I suggest the following in response to your comment: Spelling properly on a web forum and that same $2.99 will likely get you the same Big Mac… :)

    Regarding the “infinite energy” issue: consider that we may be defining “infinite energy” differently. When the Laws of Thermodynamics are used to claim that there is no way to create “infinite energy” they are actually referring to perpetual motion-type machines which actually create more energy than is put into them. In this particular instance the question of how much energy it takes to create a wormhole (or portal) and to keep it open is not coming into play. Using the waterwheel example, we are simply creating a way to “endlessly” convert the energy applied by gravity to the falling object into rotational energy. This is really no different than a river pushing a turbine with the exception that using the portal means a smaller volume of water. In both cases the energy transfer will cease when the water (or whatever) runs out (or evaporates) or when gravity ceases in that location.

    This is a similar discussion to the one regarding the practicability of water-powered engines. The engine is supposed to eloctrolyse water to create oxygen and hydrogen, then recombine them and use the resulting explosion to push a piston. Of course, this explosion also results in water, which you can then electrolyse…you can see where this is going.

    Opponents claim that this is creating “free” energy. In truth, it is simply converting electricity into motive power by using electrolysis to creating volatile elements. The amount of rotational energy may or may not allow you to use an alternator to charge the battery enough to power the electrolysis, the ignition of the hydrogen and all the electronic devices in the automobile, but that is not the point. Also, eventually the water would evaporate and need replacing, but this isn’t the point either. The point is that the energy would be cleaner and could be refuelled by filling up at any tap – much more convenient.

    Anyhoo, there’s my 2 cents. For what they’re worth. :)

  46. guy says:

    actually, that wouldn’t work because of how much power that would take to seperate the elements, you’d need to get that power from somewhere.

  47. AndrewNZachsDad says:

    guy: that is a perfect example of the point I started out making: the opponents of these sorts of energy schemes automatically assume one is trying to get free energy – that is, energy without first providing fuel. I’m sure I wasn’t very clear, so if you all will allow me a moment, I will try to explain:

    In a standard internal combustion engine a spark (ignition) is applied to volatile gasoline (fuel) and the ensuing combustion is used to push a piston. Hopefully, we can agree to ignore the rest of the transfer of energy which causes the wheels to turn or whatever. Instead, let us focus on the elements of this reaction: ignition and fuel. The ignition is provided by a spark which is “stored” in the car’s battery. The neat thing about a car’s battery is that part of the rotational energy being put into the drive shaft is used to turn an alternator which in turn recharges the battery. It is hardly a 100% perpetual motion system, but it has its charm. The fuel in the case of a gasoline engine is (strangely enough) gasoline which is stored in an already volatile form in the gas tank.

    A water engine works on the premise that we could replace dirty hydrocarbon-based gasoline with clean hydrogen. Hydrogen creates more “bang for the buck” speaking in energy released/volume than gasoline. This is of course being investigated (and soon released) by the major auto makers. These systems also use a spark to ignite the fuel. The main difference (besides efficiency and cleanliness) comes in when storage is considered: hydrogen is very conveniently stored all over the planet in water. By using electricity to separate the hydrogen from oxygen in water we provide ourselves the components necessary to create the explosion required to push that piston. So, we use a quantity of electricity (our energy cost) to electrolyse the water. Then we recombine the water and oxygen, add a spark and utilize the resulting explosion to propel our piston. From this point we follow the same steps as a gasoline engine, including using an alternator to reclaim some of the electrical energy. We also have the benefit of being able to recollect some of the water (the result of combining oxygen and hydrogen) to reuse as fuel.

    The current (pardon the pun) questions become, can we provide enough electricity to electrolyse enough water quickly enough to make this process practical in today’s automotive terms? We will always have to replenish our energy and fuel sources, but instead of batteries and gasoline we will be able to use batteries and water. let me be very clear: I do not know if it is possible to do this in an efficient manner without having to replace the battery every couple of kilometres. I am simply putting forward that these things are possible without breaking the laws of physics.

    Sorry for the rant. Shamus, I swear one day I will start my own freaking blog. In the meantime, thanks for creating a great community for these ideas to come out.


  48. AndrewNZachsDad says:

    Sorry for the multi-post, but of course I didn’t proof-read my own work. I referred to the auto makers’ ensuing foray into the world of hydrogen engines. I was referring of course to the hydrogen fuel cells and similar systems they are coming out with. The difference between these and water engines is that the fuel cell (et al) systems will once again store the fuel (hydrogen) in an already volatile state. These systems will also require special refinement andfuelling stations. The water engine (if possible) would have the added benefit of removing us of the need for stations dedicated to refuelling, as we could refuel anywhere there is a source of water.

    Thanks again. ;)

  49. Bizarre says:

    “Intentionally misspelling works just makes you stupid IMHO.”

    As opposed to unintentionally, you mean?

    Also, the problem with a water-powered engine is that it takes exactly the same amount of energy to electrolyse the water as it does to burn hydrogen. At some point there is an input of energy – a battery. And if you’re running a car off a a battery, pound for pound you’re better off with a standard electric engine.

    Petroleum is basically a way of converting geothermal energy into motive power. It takes less energy to release it than is contained in the bonds. For hydrogen, you expend just as much energy splitting it as you gain from it and, at the end of the day, you’re just running your car on stored battery.

    Now, if you could make hydrogen storage viable, that’s a different kettle of fish altogether.

  50. AndrewNZachsDad says:

    Thanks, Bizarre. This was the info I was personally missing. I was unsure as to what ratio of energy added to energy released one could expect from this process. AS I implied earlier this is more of a process of determining that it is possible than necessarily pratical. As far as hydrogen storage, this is what the fuel cell and super-cold storage systems attempt to resolve.

    Ah, well. I guess the important thing is we actually seem to be making real strides towards cleaner and more abundant energy. Next up? Warp drives… ;)


  51. Deoxy says:

    two comments:

    1) guy: you are completely ignoring what I said: IF portals are possible, then we can CREATE infinite energy (a machine that puts out more energy that in put in). That “if” alrady depends on violations of the laws of physics as we know them! It’s just that most people having stopped to consider just HOW MUCH is violates them… which was my point.

    2) Shamus, you asked for ads that need to be blocked? Given you criteria, there’s one showing on the right right now: http://www.MethodHome.com

    “join the zero mile high club.

    detox your home with omop and wood for good floor cleaner.”

    And the picture is shows a pair of intertwined male and female legs sticking out from another room, making clear that “zero mile high club” is indeed a take-off from “mile high club”. :-/

    I’ll repost this on a newer post, too.

  52. Dean says:

    “Run a long enough pipe through two portals on opposite sides of a narrow hallway, and weld the ends together… voila, infinitely long pipe. It would probably have to stay perfectly straight, too.”

    Actually, the pipe would be exactly as long as the hallway is long, and probably fall straight to the floor.

    If you tried using one that was longer than the hallway, the ends wouldn’t line up exactly, and it would be difficult to weld. It’s not impossible to expel either, if it’s pushed out of both sides.

  53. Dev Null says:

    I’ll just indite myself for commenting on ancient threads in advance, but this is where it seemed to belong.

    I finally got to play Portal. I loved it! But…

    They did one thing that I think is a real shame, and took a lot of finesse out of some of the puzzle possibilities. In Narbacular Drop, you could shoot the portal gun through a portal; in Portal you can’t. What this meant, in some of the cleverer custom levels of ND, was that you’d shoot one portal next to you, and the second through some tortuous bit of terrain you couldn’t traverse. Looking through the one close to you you’d now be looking back towards yourself, and you could see whole new expanses of space that you couldn’t see before. Shoot the second portal again through the nearby one at one of the walls you can now see, and you could open up even newer expanses of portal-able walls, without ever moving a muscle. There were some fairly cool levels where’d you’d traverse almost the entire maze this way, ending up, after some heavy contortions, with a portal that went direct from the start of the level to the end in one step.

    I can see why they did it. It made some of the puzzles in Portal into puzzles instead of just cakewalks, but I missed the convolutions of trying to work out mentally where everything was from a point of view that was constantly jumping position and orientation. I think they may have lost more than they gained in the process of making the level design much easier.

  54. Zenchess says:

    Strange thing about portal that I’ve never seen mentioned anywhere else (although to be honest I haven’t read much about portal) is that there was a game created by a university with the *exact* same idea as portal a long time ago. In that game you would shoot something that created a door and then shoot a second door and you could walk through the first door into the second door. Exactly the same as far as I can tell (I’ve never played portal).

    It was pretty short, but apparently there is a free version of portal out there for the taking.

  55. Telas says:

    Just finished Portal. Nothing to add to the kudos, but the game in the previous post was called “Narbacular Drop”, and the guys at Valve apparently hired the dev team straight out of college for Portal. Link.

  56. Mephane says:

    Finally, I just HAVE to leave a comment here. It was this very post of yours, Shamus, that made me play Portal (and then, thereafter, HL2).

    I can’t wait for the sequel.

  57. Stupidguy12 says:

    This energy thing is forcibly hypothetical. I personally doubt that anyone will make a portable device that fires a sort of linkable wormhole.

  58. Blaze Agron says:

    I love Portal Physics. Few things fascinate me more. There is one thing that has been bugging me for quite some time now. Okay, here goes:

    Suppose a portal could move. What would happen if, say, you unhinged a door, shot a portal at it, and shoved it through another portal, essentially putting a portal inside a portal. Would it not go in? Would it disappear? Would it cause a singularity, or a rip in space and kill us all? Well, first lets take a look at a more controlled experiment. Keep in mind this is very hard to explain without visual representations.

    Craft a cylinder with the precise same diameter as the portal itself. Shoot a portal at a wall (portal A), and the other at the precise center of the cylinder (portal B). Then push the cylinder strait into portal A, with portal B facing out. The cylinder would emerge from portal B, and it would appear as though the cylinder stayed the same size as you pushed it (though you would see the orange/blue light of portal B shining out from the crease). Note that at no point would you be able to push the back of the cylinder, because this would defy newtons second law; it would be like pushing a wall (no rhyme intended). Rather, you would have to push on the sides. Remember those water-filled sacs you played with as a kid, that were kind of turned inside out of itself, and if you squeezed it, it turned inside-out, maintaining its shape? Same kind of thing, minus the inside-out part.

    So that wasn’t easy to explain, but I hope you got it. Next, what would happen if the cylinder was even a nanometer smaller then the portal? Well, it would hit itself. Pushing it into the portal would be like pushing it into a wall, because it would hit the outer edges of the cylinder…. I think. I donno, I just ran out of brain power.

    Now, what would happen if you threw the cylinder in, portal first? I’ll save that for another day; its way to long o explain.

    Side note: If the cylinder was hallow on the inside, and you put it halfway through, it would show the inside of the cylinder. So you could put a person or something (or better yet- something you need to hide, like money) on the inside, and pull it out. You would have a perfectly concealed object with no seams or holes. Winning. XD

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