Valve announced today that Portal 2's in-game puzzle maker will be called "Perpetual Testing Initiative," and will be available free on May 8 for PC and Mac. The DLC will be capable of publishing puzzles directly to Steam Workshop, where users can browse, install, and vote on the community's creations.
Plans for the puzzle creator were announced last year, and we confirmed that it was in beta at GDC earlier this year. According to Chet Faliszek, Left 4 Dead 2 is next in line for the Steam Workshop treatment.
“You’ll see the Steam Workshop coming from there, then to Left 4 Dead and then we’re going to keep using it,” said Faliszek. “It’s not just for the modders, it’s for the players. It’s a super easy way to consume the creations of other people that are just really hard to do otherwise.”
Any plans to flex your physics muscles by making and playing custom Portal 2 puzzles next month?
The Portal 2 puzzle creator will let players make their own test chambers without having to dive into Valve's complex level creation tools. We got a chance to catch up with Chet Faliszeck and Erik Johnson at GDC for a chat about Valve's plans for the user friendly level editor. "I believe they’re beta testing it right now," said Erik Johnson. "When the puzzle maker comes out, you will have a lot of content, that’s for sure."
Valve announced their plans for the Puzzle Creator on the Portal 2 site last year, where they released the first couple of screenshots. It looks very similar to the animated diagrams of the first Portal trailers, released way back in 2007. Much, much friendlier than Valve's Hammer editor.
Valve are expecting a rush of new maps when the new tools are released. October's Portal 2 post mentioned that Valve were also planning "a community site to host all of these player-created puzzles." The recently released Steam Workshop can do just that, presumably players will be able to use the Workshop to show off their levels and vote on their favourites.
"Correct," said Erik. We can expect to see Steam Workshop support appearing in other Valve games, too. "You’ll see the Steam Workshop coming from there, then to Left 4 Dead and then we’re going to keep using it," Chet Faliszeck added. "It’s not just for the modders, it’s for the players. It’s a super easy way to consume the creations of other people that are just really hard to do otherwise."
There's no release date for the new tools yet, but if it's in beta testing, it can't be too far off.
Not all of Valve's discarded ideas are great, the binned competitive multiplayer mode for Portal 2 is one such example, but some of them are. The video above is from a Valve talk at GDC in which they discussed many of the ideas that never made it into the full game. This scene was originally Portal 2's opening.
There were many more great ideas left on the drawing board. In fact, the whole game was set to pan out very differently. Eurogamer sat in on the conference, and describe out Wheatley was originally supposed to stay dead when Glados crushes him near the beginning. Rather than being a persistent companion, he was merely the first in a series of personality spheres you'd meet as you travelled through Aperture's labs. Other spheres included a paranoid AI and one that Valve's Eric Wolpaw calls "The Morgan Freeman sphere."
Players were originally supposed to find the Morgan Freeman sphere sat on a lonely stand in the middle of an empty room. "He'd been sitting on that little pedestal for a few centuries, and he was just incredibly, incredibly wise" said Wolpaw. "But only about the 20 by 20 space that he was in."
"As soon as you dragged him 22 feet out of the room, his mind was blown and he was pretty much useless. Although as the game progressed, he eventually got his feet under him and started delivering some homespun wisdom that all related back to this 20 by 20 space." Valve discarded the extra orbs when they found that players didn't bond to them as well as Wheatley, the first sphere went on to become an integral part of Portal 2's plot.
Valve were also planning to have several endings scattered throughout the campaign. "We had these parts throughout the game where Chell would die and that would be the end and we'd play a song, and if you wanted to you could just quit there." Wolpaw told the audience. "We had one that was like two minutes into the game, and if you died there, there was a song that was just about reviewing those first two minutes."
They also had a few other ideas. The next bit contains spoilers for the end of Portal 2, in case you haven't played it yet.
Initially, there was a scene part way through the game in which you'd catch a glimpse of the moon. To trigger an early death you could portal up there to "asphyxiate while listening to a sad song about the moon." Valve eventually dropped the multiple endings because they felt as though they didn't have enough good ideas, but the moon went on to become Portal 2's memorable finale. According to Wolpaw, it was the "perfect mix of being totally awesome and completely stupid." It's hard to disagree.
Valve's Chet Faliszek and Eric Wolpaw conducted a Portal 2 postmortem at GDC last night. The writers talked candidly about alternate endings and the difficulties of following up on their critically acclaimed first game. Chet also mentioned that, at some point in development, the team experimented with competitive Portal 2 multiplayer modes.
Chet also mentioned that they sucked. "We also tried a competitive multiplayer mode which we put together over the space of a month or two," he revealed. "It was a mix of the old Amiga game Speedball and Portal, except with none of the good parts of either of those two. The game was super chaotic and no fun, so the only good news about this part was that we cut it pretty quickly."
Speedball 2 was a competitive, violent, and featured an incredible soundtrack, and I love the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device as much as the next man. That said, I can imagine this combo resulting in a confusing mess of nonsense. Valve made attempts to satisfy more competitive gamers by including leaderboards and a challenge mode in some later DLC.
Last night the 12th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards took place in San Francisco. The awards ceremony celebrates the "creativity, artistry and technical genius of the finest developers and games." It was hosted by Epic’s Cliff Bleszinski.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim brought home the bacon with Game of the Year, but Portal 2 brought home three different types of bacon: Game Design, Best Audio and Best Narrative. Fledgling developers Super Giant took recieved two awards for the innovative Bastion: Best Debut and Best Downloadable Game. Battlefield 3 took Best Technology, but not best Visual Arts which was awarded to PS3’s Uncharted 3. Boo!
The 14th Annual Independent Games Festival Awards happened before the show. They’re about encouraging innovation and recognisng the best indie devs about. Our Tom was nominated for his excellently designed indie, Gunpoint. He was pipped to the post by one of his favourite game designers, Derek Yu, though so I doubt he’s that upset. Fez took the coveted Seumas McNally Grand Prize.
Click through for the list of nominees and winners. Congratulations to everyone involved!
The winners appear in bold. Here are all the results from the Game Developer’s Choice Awards.
Game of the Year Batman: Arkham City (Rocksteady Studios) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios) Portal 2 (Valve) Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Eidos Montreal) Dark Souls (FromSoftware) Best Game Design The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios) The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Nintendo) Portal 2 (Valve) Batman: Arkham City (Rocksteady Studios) Dark Souls (FromSoftware) Innovation Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure (Toys For Bob) Portal 2 (Valve) Bastion (Supergiant Games) Johann Sebastian Joust (Die Gute Fabrik) L.A. Noire (Team Bondi) Best Technology Battlefield 3 (DICE) L.A. Noire (Team Bondi) Crysis 2 (Crytek Frankfurt/UK) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios) Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (Naughty Dog) Best Handheld/Mobile Game Tiny Tower (NimbleBit) Super Mario 3D Land (Nintendo) Jetpack Joyride (Halfbrick) Infinity Blade II (Chair Entertainment) Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (Capy Games/Superbrothers) Best Audio Bastion (Supergiant Games) LittleBigPlanet 2 (Media Molecule) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios) Dead Space 2 (Visceral Games) Portal 2 (Valve) Best Downloadable Game Stacking (Double Fine) From Dust (Ubisoft Montpellier) Bastion (Supergiant Games) Outland (Housemarque) Frozen Synapse (Mode 7) est Narrative Portal 2 (Valve) The Witcher 2 (CD Projekt RED) Bastion (Supergiant Games) Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (Naughty Dog) Saints Row: The Third (Volition) Best Debut Supergiant Games (Bastion) Team Bondi (L.A. Noire) Re-Logic (Terraria) BioWare Austin (Star Wars: The Old Republic) Eidos Montreal (Deus Ex: Human Revolution) Best Visual Arts Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (Naughty Dog) Rayman Origins (Ubisoft Montpellier) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios) El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron (Ignition Japan) Battlefield 3 (DICE) Pioneer Award Dave Theurer, creator of Missile Command, Tempest, and I, Robot Ambassador Award Ken Doroshow and Paul M. Smith, game industry lawyers for the Supreme Court case against California Lifetime Achievement Award Warren Spector, founder Junction Point Studios
And here are the results of the Independent Games Festival awards. Gratz on getting nominated Tom! Seumas McNally Grand Prize Dear Esther (thechineseroom) Fez (Polytron) Frozen Synapse (Mode 7 Games) Johann Sebastian Joust (Die Gute Fabrik) Spelunky (Mossmouth) Technical Excellence Antichamber (Demruth) Fez (Polytron) Prom Week (Expressive Intelligence Studio, UC Santa Cruz) Realm of the Mad God (Wild Shadow Studios & Spry Fox) Spelunky (Mossmouth) Excellence in Visual Art Botanicula (Amanita Design) Dear Esther (thechineseroom) Lume (State of Play Games) Mirage (Mario von Rickenbach) Wonderputt (Damp Gnat) Excellence in Design Atom Zombie Smasher (Blendo Games) English Country Tune (Stephen Lavelle) Frozen Synapse (Mode 7 Games) Gunpoint (Tom Francis, John Roberts, and Fabian van Dommelen) Spelunky (Mossmouth) Excellence in Audio Botanicula (Amanita Design) Dear Esther (thechineseroom) Pugs Luv Beats (Lucky Frame) To The Moon (Freebird Games) Waking Mars (Tiger Style) Best Mobile Game ASYNC Corp (Powerhead Games) Beat Sneak Bandit (Simogo) Faraway (Steph Thirion) Ridiculous Fishing (Vlambeer) Waking Mars (Tiger Style) Nuovo Award (Designed "to honor abstract, shortform, and unconventional game development.") At a Distance (Terry Cavanagh) Dear Esther (thechineseroom) Fingle (Game Oven Studios) GIRP (Bennett Foddy) Proteus (Ed Key and David Kanaga) Johann Sebastian Joust (Die Gute Fabrik) Storyteller (Daniel Benmergui) Way (CoCo & Co.) Best Student Game The Bridge (Case Western Reserve University) Dust (Art Institute of Phoenix) The Floor Is Jelly (Kansas City Art Institute) Nous (DigiPen Institute of Technology) One and One Story (Liceo Scientifico G.B. Morgagni) Pixi (DigiPen Institute of Technology - Singapore) The Snowfield (Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab) Way (Carnegie Mellon University) Audience Award Frozen Synapse (Mode 7 Games) XBLA Award Super Time Force (Capybara Games)
Forbes have published their latest list of the planet's richest people, and have declared Valve co-founder Gabe Newell the Newest Video Game Billionaire. Of the 1226 billionaires on the planet, Newell is the 854th richest with an estimated worth of $1.5 billion.
Valve keep their finances strictly private, so Forbes consulted "video game industry insiders, equity analysts, investment bankers, and technology analysts" for figures and factored in the tremendous success of Portal 2 and the continued growth of Steam as factors in their latest estimate.
"Even the most conservative estimates put Valve’s enterprise value at more than $3 billion," they say. Newell owns more than half of Valve, placing his estimated worth at the 1.5 billion mark.
Well done them. That is rather a lot of cash. They could probably pool all their resources and create a working Portal gun if they wanted to, but they'd probably rather make games.
We've seen some impressive fan-made Portal guns in the past, but they've been rare, costly one-off projects. Valve are giving us the chance to get hold of our own Aperture Science Handheld Portal Devices without having to burn ourselves horribly putting together an injection mould. Joystiq mention that, at Valve's request, toy manufacturers, NECA have put together a life-sized Portal gun. It'll hit the shops this summer with a $130 price tag attached.
There will be lights and those lights will change colour, but will it make the "pwung" noise? There's only one way to find out, and that's to buy at least five. Perhaps ten. Maybe more. More. MORE.
NECA will also be releasing a line of Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress 2 and Half-Life action figures, a few of which were shown off at the NYC Toy Fair. The Team Fortress 2 wiki has a snap of the new figures, you'll find that below along with a few shots of that Portal gun. Baggsy the Heavy.
Quantum Conundrum is being developed by Portal creator Kim Swift. It's a first person puzzler in which you play a twelve your old boy lost in his mad scientist uncle's underground laboratory. It's full of safes, switches, lava and vast gaps with no bridges. This would be a serious problem but for the fact that you can switch between five dimensions, each of which affects matter differently. By switching between world on the fly, otherwise immovable objects like safes can be tossed, stacked and even surfed to make it past the mad machines and laserbeams that every mad scientist installs in their homes as standard. It's all demonstrated perfectly in the walkthrough video above from Gametrailers, spotted on RPS. It's out early this year, and looks rather good, don't you think?
Crysis 2 was the most pirated game last year, with nearly four million illegal downloads according to a report on Torrent Freak. The numbers were collated from stats put out by public BitTorrent trackers, and suggest a slight decrease in overall piracy numbers compared to 2010.
Crysis 2 was released in March, so it's had plenty of time to reach the 3,920,000 downloads mark. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, released in November, was the second most pirated game, with around 3,650,000 illegal downloads. Battlefield 3 was a close third at 3,510,000 downloads. Fifa 12 took fourth place with 3,390,000 downloads. Portal 2 was fifth with 3,240,000.
Those are some rather huge numbers, sadly, and around three times bigger than the most pirated console titles. They're slightly smaller than last year's round-up. It'd be nice if that was the start of a general downward trend, but PC piracy will continue to be a big concern for publishers in the coming year.
In most co-operative games, players don’t work together so much as work beside one another. The closest you’ll get to real teamwork is pulling the trigger at the same time. Portal 2 doesn’t work that way. Its co-op problems are impossible without a friend, and each reality-twisting solution forces you to share a brain.
My brain is neurotic, and though he hopefully never noticed, playing with Tom was competitive, too. Every time he worked out the solution first, it stung. Every time my suggested solution turned out to be wrong, I was convinced he thought I was an idiot. The problem is that you’re never just wrong in Portal 2, your idea is stupid, deadly and physically impossible.
Thank god it’s also funny. In singleplayer, Portal 2 is a finely scripted sitcom starring a woman, a robot and a potato. In co-op, it’s a slapstick buddy comedy, with both players as comic foil and GLaDOS as your straight man. When either of us would screw up, Tom and I wouldn’t yell or criticise one another – we left that to Owen and Tim, who were playing at the same time. Instead, we’d laugh, sometimes make P-Body and Atlas high-five, and leave my brain to find reasons to be paranoid on its own.
Having a friend along cancels out all the loneliness you feel in Portal 2's singleplayer. It's a deliberate part of that experience that Chell is isolated amidst the world of test chambers, but it's not always a relaxing way to spend a few hours in the way the co-operative mode can be. Once you've completed both, you're also far more likely to return to the co-op mode a second time than you are the singleplayer. Even knowing the solutions while playing with someone who is on their first run through is fun, as you get to step back and play shepherd to someone else's enjoyment.
As much as acting out the solution is kinetic and wonderful, it was the thought process I enjoyed most. Tom and I would walk in to a new challenge and think: “Um, wait, how do we do this?” We’d both stand still, playing the level through in our mind, once, twice, wait, I’ve got it! If I place a portal here – foont! – and then another here – pshoon! – then I can cover that floor with slime. Then, if I place two new portals at either end – foont! pshoon! – and now you run between them. Woosh. Woosh, woosh, wooshwooshwooshwoosh. And now I place the exit portal here – pshoon! – which will – Wheeeeeeee!
Read our Portal 2 review for more.
Highly Recommended: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Fifa 12.