Early concepts for Portal 2 might as well not have been called Portal at all.
When you think about Portal, what do you think of? Is it GLaDOS’ brilliantly sociopathic commentary? Is it the cake, or lack thereof? Or is it the titular portal gun – the tool that you used to solve every single problem in the game? If you’re anything like me, you probably think of all three, but only one of those is in the title of the game.
Which makes it all the stranger that some of the earliest concepts for Portal 2 didn’t use portals at all. Speaking with PC Gamer, project lead Josh Weier and writer Eric Wolpaw discussed the development of one of the most anticipated puzzle games of all time.
It’s a great interview full of interesting tidbits, but this is one of the most interesting. Early on in development, says Wolpaw, the team thought, “What if [the Portal series] was always about introducing a new puzzle element that you’re going through?” In other words, it was a series always focused on different mechanics instead of a continuous one. “[It’s] about Aperture Science, and now you’re going through this new testing track with this new element.”
One of the earliest concepts that Valve toyed with was a game that revolved around the Half-Life 2 Gravity Gun and special “paint,” which later became the repulsion and propulsion goo seen in the E3 Demo. The only problem was that no matter the mechanic, every single tester would always say, “Yeah this is alright, but where’s my portal gun?” And really, can you blame them?
“I think Portal had this real elegance,” says Weier, “where it was just: ‘I have my portal gun, and everything is dripping from that,’ And we didn’t want to lose that, right?”
You know what? It’s probably for the best that they started over. Paint wouldn’t be nearly as catchy a title.
Check out the full PC Gamer interview – including why the co-op characters are robots – here!