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Last week, my misidentification of a laser engraving on a space part suggested the wrong personality core from Portal 2 was symbolically being flown to space (a fate echoing the game's story.) A team of 18 teenagers from Nevada stepped in to restore order, and properly send the Space Core—or, well, a plushy version of him, anyway—to near space.
That image above is of Space Core (and an Energizer Bunny) at about 91,000 feet, which were launched yesterday by the University of Nevada-Las Vegas' Summer Advanced Gifted Education Academy—aka smart kids. One, named Jake, enrolled in a class called "Project: Space!" whose goal was to send up two weather balloons. "In the first week, I found out that the majority of the class were huge Portal and Portal 2 fans when we sung both 'Still Alive' and 'Want You Gone' from memory," Jake writes.
After seeing the story last week, Jake proposed the idea of launching a Space Core into space, which was immediately supported. He wrote Valve, which quickly sent back its thanks and encouragement and the Space Core plushy. (The Energizer Bunny was the group's hat-tip to the battery maker, which supplied the power source.)
"After much preparation and anxiety, we sent up the weather balloon [Saturday] morning and retrieved it in the afternoon," Jake wrote. "The balloon ended up going up about 91,000 feet (we could have done better, but the wind decided to make our lives harder)."
The photo above is blurry because the balloon's camera lens still was fogged by a cloud it had passed through. The image is of the balloon just before it burst.
"Lots of things have been sent into space before, but I think this is the first time a space core was sent up," he noted in conclusion. Indeed.
The project team, Flying Apple Space Technologies (so named because Newton's fell to Earth, theirs is going in the opposite direction) is working on uploading a full video of the Space Core's flight. They also have another launch coming up and are keen to find supporters so that they can send up more scientific instruments. Previous launches by the SAGE Academy have included Geiger counters, weather loggers and a flight predictor.
You're about to see what happens when a team of "speed-runners" knows enough about the progress and timing of a game that they can finish something that normally takes hours in just over eight minutes.
The run, with video slightly edited for your viewing pleasure, is above, while this online document is full of notes detailing how they actually did it.
For the doubters, there's this:
There were no cheats, hacks, or modifications made to the game while the speedrunning took place. Everything you see in this video can be done on a current Steam version of Portal without using any console commands. Any part where the video "stutters" or when a "console box pops up" signifies a segment. The console box is a demo artifact, and we couldn't fix it from popping up.
And if that's not enough, there's a link to download a demo of the run in full below.
Portal Done Pro-er - Portal Speedrun - 8:31.93 - WR [YouTube, via Beefjack]
Does P-Body sound at all like ‘oddity’? I don’t think it does, does it? That’s why I’m torturously explaining my lame gag here. That’s why they pay me the almost adequate bucks. Not to mention that the gag, if it can indeed be called a gag, is entirely redundant as this story doesn’t involve Portal 2′s co-op robo-chum P-Body in the slightest. Rather, it’s solely to do with the Space Core, who’s found himself – or at least his image – on a trip to the International Space Station courtesy of an anonymous fan at NASA. (more…)
Valve has muttered and murmured about bringing Steam and its Source engine to Linux before, and now it's revealed the plan--port Steam and Left 4 Dead 2 to Ubuntu 12.04, then work from there. Steam will come to Linux in all its glory, and Valve's building a speedy OpenGL version of Source it can use for more of its games too.
The Valve Linux Team already has Steam and L4D2 up and running natively on Ubuntu, the 11-person group formed in 2011 explains in its first blog post. They need a bit more work before we can all play with them, though, and Valve notes, "Our goal is to have L4D2 performing under Linux as well as it performs under Windows."
Why Ubuntu? The team explains, "First, we're just starting development and working with a single distribution is critical when you are experimenting, as we are. It reduces the variability of the testing space and makes early iteration easier and faster. Secondly, Ubuntu is a popular distribution and has recognition with the general gaming and developer communities."
Depending on how well it goes down, the team will look at bringing Steam to more distros. And, naturally, Valve wants to bring more of its games to Linux.
Linux users have enthusiastically supported efforts to bring proper games to its platform (sorry, Tux Racer), consistently paying far more to the Humble Bundles than Mac and Windows folks.