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]
Jul 25, 2012
Way back in December 2009, when this humble intern was an even humbler college sophomore with no job who was sinking scores of hours into Dragon Age: Origins, we reported on a guy who goes by DemonStrate beating Portal in a touch over 10 minutes. While that seemed astounding at the time, the record has since been smashed to pieces by SourceRuns, demolishing GLaDOS in just 8:31. That's a good minute and a half faster than DemonStrate, and 53 seconds faster than their own previous record-breaking run. See the video for yourself below.
"To be SDA legal we have done our run without using scripts/cheats/hacks for any portion of the run," the speed demons posted on YouTube. "This run first started after the discovery of a new glitch, which snowballed into a whirlwind of discoveries of new tricks, skips, and glitches. We started running chambers in April, took a brief hiatus, and then resumed work in late June. The bulk of the run was completed in about 2 weeks time."
Jul 23, 2012
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - firstname.lastname@example.org (Alec Meer)
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…)
This is a picture of a panel that, on Friday, will be bolted onto the Japanese HTV-3 resupply craft and hurled into space. The craft will ferry supplies to the International Space Station and launch a little bit of Portal 2 into the cosmos. A post on the Portal 2 blog spotted by VG247 mentions that an anonymous NASA tech managed to burn the tiny picture of Wheatley space core onto one of the craft's panels. "Please note that when we mentioned an "anonymous tech at NASA" we weren't kidding: NASA in no way officially endorses secretly laser-engraving characters from Portal onto their spacecraft," say Valve.
On which note, if you happen to be a NASA engineer with access to a laser-engraving machine, and you just happen to accidentally burn the PCG logo onto a panel and then send it into space then I'd like to say that we'd absolutely keep it a secret, and definitely wouldn't post it everywhere on the site and then look at it and burst out cheering every day forever. JUST SAYING.
Now, because space is brilliant, here's a video that Tom spotted over the weekend made up of pictures snapped from the International Space Station in low Earth orbit. Prepare to have the tingly awe receptors in your frontal lobe tickled ... NOW.
View from the ISS at Night from Knate Myers on Vimeo.
Update: Thanks to those who have pointed out that it's the space core. The Internet Error Police will be here shortly to perform a routine disintegration. My last request is for someone to laser-etch "I should have written SPACE COOOORE" onto my tombstone, and then fire it into space.
Jul 20, 2012
Portal 2 Blog
Thanks to an anonymous tech at NASA, Wheatley is actually going to actual space. This Friday at 10:06 EST, the Japanese HTV-3 resupply craft to the ISS will launch the above panel into space. Though mankind will surely regret giving Wheatley a celestial perch to plot his next move, we here at Valve are mostly just impressed with NASA's bold, unprecedented resupply craft numbering scheme. And please note that when we mentioned an "anonymous tech at NASA" we weren't kidding: NASA in no way officially endorses secretly laser-engraving characters from Portal onto their spacecraft. Believe it or not, they don't even officially endorse Portal 2, despite the fact that it's a really excellent game.
You can watch the launch here beginning at 9:15 EST / 6:15 PST.
You can watch the launch here beginning at 9:15 EST / 6:15 PST.
Remember the prototype for a Portal 2 Lego set that we mentioned a few weeks back? It was submitted on Lego Cuusoo, a site that hosts idea pitches for future commercial sets. If an idea gains enough followers it's forwarded to a "review stage" where giant Lego men poke it to see if the idea's viable, and then gradually rotate a huge, C shaped fist to deliver a clumsy thumbs-up or thumbs-down on the project.
Portal Lego has now reached that stage! Will it succeed? Who knows. It's impossible to know what's going on behind those fixed ever-smiling faces. It's out of our hands now, but we can still look at pictures of the prototypes, which are probably the cutest thing on the internet right now. Take a look.
UPDATE: Rabbit Island is in fact the cutest thing on the internet right now, but Portal Lego takes a close second place.
Jul 16, 2012
Shacknews - Alice O'Connor
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.
You love Steam sales. I love Steam sales. EA, however, don't love Steam sales. Just a few weeks ago their senior vice president made his opinion clear, claiming that they "cheapen" intellectual property. A few days ago the Origin Summer Sale kicked off anyway.
We asked Valve's director of business management, Jason Holtman, whether Steam sales have any affect on day-one purchases during last week's Develop conference. He doesn't agree with EA. Not even a little bit.
"If that’s what we thought was happening, or that’s what we saw happening, we wouldn't do it. Actually, all the data is contrary to that. A promotion is not a policy; a promotion is just a feature to give people more value," said Jason, speaking to PC Gamer.
"It’s not as if a 75% offer or a 50% off sale at some point in time cannibalises a sale that would have happened earlier, it’s just not true. We’re actually seeing both of them growing. We don’t see one cannibalising the other. If we did, we wouldn't do it." he continued.
Steam sales go from the sublime to the ridiculous-ly cheap. There's even one going on right now. Check out this real time evidence of a Steam summer sale in progress. It's a wonderful time for bargains.
"We put Left 4 Dead 2 and Portal 2 on sale. If we thought that was killing our franchise, or hurting the value of games, or hurting the revenue we could generate as a company, we wouldn't do it," continues Jason. "We've even gone so far as to give away Portal for free a couple of times. Whole days where it's not free for a day, it's just free."
Valve's sales still weren't dented: "We looked at this amazing data afterwards. The day after the sales were exactly the same, if not more," he says.
"People aren't making a decision thinking 'I'm always going to wait for perfect pricing.' There are time elements to it, there are fan elements to it, there are value elements to it. People sometimes like paying the full amount on the first day because they want to play it now and they want to be a fan.
"Those features you’re talking about - like the sales - we just think of them as customer features. They're not policies or mandates. Things like this are super smart: this would be fun; people would play this game; they’d pick it up if they didn’t have it; they’d tell their friends about it."
For more from Jason, check our story on how TF2 inspired Greenlight. We've also posted his views on Greenlight's rating system.
Thanks to Dan Griliopoulos for the image.