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.
The Perpetual Testing Initiative (PeTI) is live! Even though most of you will be getting your first sweet taste of test chamber construction today, a lucky few of you have already been beta testing for the last couple of months. An unfair head start? You bet. But it's thanks to this massive injustice that you have a ton of great test chambers to solve on launch day.
In fact, one of the beta testers made so many great maps that we've decided to award him the first ever Aperture Science Employee of the Moment Certificate for his provisional excellence in the field of test chamber construction. Congratulations, Mevious! Enjoy it while it lasts.
Those of you interested in checking out Mevious' terrific maps can get them all at once by subscribing to them at this collection page. Make sure to also Follow Mevious on his Workshop author page so you can keep track of what he makes in the future.
Remember, the next employee of the moment could be YOU! That's right: transient fame and fleeting fortune could be yours. Dethrone the tyrant Mevious! He's been on top for too long. He's getting soft, and you're hungry. Be like Rocky in all the Rocky movies. Except for Rocky I, where he lost (unless you're counting victories of the heart, which won't win you any awards from us). Or Rocky VI, where it was a show fight and didn't count. In fact, just focus on Rocky IV. The last half.
Cave Johnson here. Your boss. It's come to my attention that some of you are concerned after receiving my all-staff memo yesterday ("You: Design Test Chambers or You're Fired"). So to put your minds at ease, let me clarify: You are not mentally ill and you did read the memo just fine. It was real. You should be designing test chambers, right now and at all times, or by God I will fire you.
Having said that, let's be honest: Some of you are incapable of designing a test chamber, whatever the motivation. You're only getting marginally better results than a dog would. Worse, actually. A dog designing even a substandard test chamber'd be pretty damned impressive, let's not kid ourselves.
But don't worry, you're not fired yet. It turns out there's an even better job you can do instead of being fired: Getting launched into an infinite series of alternate Earths to evaluate all the test chambers your smarter coworkers are making.
Wait, it gets better: I'll be right there with you. Every step of the way, whether the tests work or not, Cave'll be by your side, facing whatever life-threatening dangers we might run into out there. And even better, I won't actually physically be there. I'll be here, talking into a microphone, from complete and total safety. That way the people who'll be monitoring whether you're still alive won't have to split their focus worrying about me.
So there you have it. Everyone's useful in the Perpetual Testing Initiative. Except Peter Jenkins, which brings me to the point of this memo: Pete, you're fired.
Alright, that should wrap it up. Everybody except Pete get back to work when this sentence finishes... now.
The gaming press have chimed in on our new free Puzzle Maker, available May 8th, and the verdict is unanimous: It is NOT complicated to make your very own Portal test chambers. "Easy to use," says IGN's Charles Onyette. "Satisfying and easy," adds 1UP's Chris Pereira. "Possibly the easiest level editor known to man," claims NOW Gamer's Adam Barnes.
Wow! Is our Puzzle Maker really this easy to use, or are these guys just bald-faced liars? Let's find out, and try to make a playable map in only FIVE STEPS.
Here's the basic map template you start with. Note: This is not step one. On the left, you can select from any of the puzzle elements from Portal 2.
Okay, now we're at Step One. If you have a friend helping you count, tell them to start now. Let's choose a big red button and place it somewhere on the map.
Step Two: Connect the button to the door.
Oh, man, we're already up to two steps. We better get moving. Seriously, we might have over-promised on this.
Step Three: Surprise! We're throwing this step away. That's how confident we are.
Step Four: Now we're looking at this picture of Gabe someone made in the Puzzle Maker.
Step Five: Now we're going to rebuild our map to see it in action.
Seconds later, it works! We did it. The gaming press are not liars.*
Here we are solving the puzzle:
So we built a test chamber: Now what? It's time to publish it to the Steam Workshop. You can share your puzzle with everyone, or just share it with friends, or even keep it private until you think it's ready.
This is obviously a very, very, very, simple map. But don't worry: the Puzzle Maker is as powerful as it is easy to use. You'll be designing complex brain-busters in no time, trust us.
In fact, you don't even have to trust us.
The Perpetual Testing Initiative's still in beta, and people have already been hard at work making great science.
Three months ago Skyrim unleashed the Creation Kit on Steam. Not only did it let users create amazing mods for an amazing game, it allowed them to browse, download, and share those mods using the Steam Workshop.
Now we're introducing the Perpetual Testing Initiative (PeTI), which combines a powerful, easy-to-use Puzzle Maker with full Steam Workshop integration, and will be available free for the PC and Mac on May 8th.
The Steam Workshop
There are already hundreds of incredible Portal 2 puzzles in the wild, but chances are you haven't played them. They're hard to find, hard to install, and hard to manage. We're changing that. Now that we're adding the Steam Workshop to Portal 2, you'll be able to browse a virtually endless stream of community-crafted puzzles, then install and play them with just one click from any web browser. Play the most popular maps in the world, or just what your friend created last night.
The Puzzle Maker
With the Puzzle Maker, you can create test chambers of all shapes and sizes. It's incredibly easy to use jump right in and start making cool stuff. When you're happy with your work, publish it to the Workshop for your friends. or even the whole world, to play. Get feedback, gain followers, and build collections of puzzles to break people's brains. You're the designer now; let's see what you can dream up.
Make sure to check back next week for more information on the Perpetual Testing Initiative!
The Steam Workshop, which lets users publish and download custom mods, is now available for Skyrim. To celebrate, Valve and Bethesda have teamed up to bring you a mod called "Fall of the Space Core, Vol. 1", which'll let the aggressively space-centric little robot tag along on your adventures in Tamriel.
Also, since Skyrim was the only major release of 2011 without Nolan North in it, you should consider this mod a patch to fix that problem. You can now feel free to include Skyrim in the "Nolan North" section of your video game library, which is to say, your video game library.
Ooh! We forgot to mention something yesterday: One of the awards we were up for at the VGAs was Best Character. We can't say for sure if we came in second, but we definitely didn't win, so Wheatley's acceptance speech was never aired. Until now!
Speaking of not winning, guess who didn't win Destructoid's Game of the Year. If you guessed Portal 2, we hope you didn't actually call your local sports book and put any money on that guess, because we won! WE'RE #1! Unless you're reading E-Online, in which case, WE'RE BACK TO #2!
Look, we understand that awards season is a turbulent emotional hell ride. But you know what would probably make you feel better? Buying things. It just feels good. With that in mind, we've put a bunch of Portal 2 merchandise on sale. For example, this incredible 1970s-style Portal 2 movie poster is 50% off! And if you're planning to go out to eat for the holidays, you should know that many restaurants now require shirts, something this 50% off "Wheatley Laboratories" tee is 100% guaranteed to be. Frankly, there's figuratively literally too much Portal 2 stuff on sale to list in one blog post, but you can check it all out here. If you order forty bucks worth of stuff, we'll throw in a FREE Aperture Lanyard. Just add it to your cart and then enter the code "COMBUSTIBLELANYARD" at the checkout.
And just so you don't think all we're trying to do is sell you stuff, here's a sentence where we don't try to sell you anything. Now that that's over, J!nx has some excellent Portal gear, including the world's only Portal-themed baby onesies. Between now and December 22nd, you can get ten bucks off a thirty-five dollar order by entering the code "MILKANDCOOKIES" when you checkout.
Finally, do you like Portal 2? If the answer to that question is "no", then, man, did you make a wrong turn somewhere on the Internet. For everyone else, how would you like to celebrate those warm feelings every time you move your mouse? Because now that's possible with SteelSeries' new Portal 2 mousepad. It won't be available to order until tomorrow. But from then until December 26th, you'll be able to buy it for 15% off by using the code "SSP215".
In our last blog post, we announced that both the VGA and X-Play awards had nominated Portal 2 for Game of the Year. How'd things turn out? Well, you'll be happy to learn, we just barely lost both of them, helping cement our frankly historic dominance of the Second Best Game of the Year category. And the good news doesn't end there: We also grabbed the number two spot in Paste Magazine's first annual GOTY list, while clawing our way to a dramatic second place victory on C-Net. Just so you don't think we're getting cocky, though, the Associated Press and MSN UK put us at the top of their respective lists. You can't not win them all.
To celebrate all this runner-uppering, for the next twenty-four hours, Portal 2 is 75% off on Steam. If you're paying in US dollars, that means you can buy Portal 2 right now for seven dollars and fifty cents! If you're paying in non-US dollars, you'll have to boot up a spreadsheet and do the math yourself, but we guarantee the result will be just as startling.
And if you already own Portal 2, might we suggest you buy a few copies to give away as gifts? No? Well, unless you somehow skipped the last couple sentences, too late - it's suggested. Good luck getting the idea out of your head. You may as well buy some copies before it drives you insane. Sure, it's the second best gift you can give this season, but at a price you'd expect from the seventeenth or eighteenth best gift. Plus, let's say you give someone the number one game of the year. How are you going to top that next year? You'll have to buy them a car. Be smart about this.
Well, it's awards season again, which can only mean one thing: somebody might give us one. And unlike a lot of gaming blogs, we won't snow you with a lot of false modesty: Winning is great and we would like an award, please.
Luckily, it looks like we're off to a good start. Portal 2 has been nominated for eleven awards in X-Play's Best of 2011 Awards, including Game of the Year.
We bet you're thinking that eleven nominations sounds like a lot. First, it is. But second, we're up for twelve nominations at this year's VGAs, which will air live on Spike TV Saturday, December 10th (8pm EST). If you have a spare minute and an opinion about Portal 2, you can vote for us in their Reader Poll.
Now you're probably thinking, "Wow, you guys are nominated for a lot of stuff, but you haven't actually won anything." Well, how about this? You just made us cry. Congratulations, big man. Maybe you should swagger over to Macworld to see who got their Editor's Choice award? Or a little magazine called TIME, where we didn't technically "win" anything, but came in a very respectable second place for Game of the Year.
Could TIME Magazine's Second Favorite Person of the Year Award be far behind? We're feeling pretty confident.
After we released the Portal 2 Authoring Tools earlier this year, we were thrilled by how quickly over 700 player-created puzzles were released into the wild. As successful as that was, the feedback we got was that many aspiring puzzle designers were finding that because of the complexity of the tool set, becoming the next GLaDOS was much harder than they expected. On top of that, it was too tedious and time consuming to actually find and play the puzzles that players were creating.
We're going to fix all of that. The next major update to Portal 2 will make it far simpler (and more fun) to create and distribute your own Portal 2 puzzles.
The simplified puzzle creator will let players easily carve out their creations in a straightforward but powerful way. They'll then be able to immediately upload those levels to their Steam Cloud and share them with other players online. We're also building a community site to host all of these player-created puzzles. The site will allow players to quickly find new puzzles and add them to their game, ready to play, with a single click. Players will then be able to rate the puzzles they've played, leave comments for puzzle creators, and follow creators they like.
We're positive there are a ton of great puzzle designers just waiting for the right tools, and we're working hard to tap into all that creativity. We'll keep you posted as we continue to make progress with the update. For now, here are some screenshots of the puzzle creator to get the ideas flowing.