This is the excerpt for your very first post.
As I’ve played portal more and more, the level environment of the main facility in the game has begun to remind me more and more of a stylized futuristic insane asylum. The padding in the elevator walls and on some others in the facility, the flat lighting and Glados’ initially soothing voice being piped in from unseen speakers are all reminiscent of some sort of wild futuristic mental hospital complete with puzzles. The cameras placed around the facility to monitor Chell and the constant knowledge that Glados is watching you add to the sense that the player is trapped in an insane asylum. The back parts of the facility that Chell makes her way into later in the game are reminiscent of another different potential vision of a mental institution, with frantic-looking writing scrawled on the wall in various unknown substances. In fact, the entire facility that Portal is set in could be seen as a sort of asylum-gone-wrong scenario – but not for Chell, rather for Glados. By the end of the game it becomes fairly clear that Glados has gone crazy and had probably constructed many (if not all) of the levels as obstacles not to test the portal gun but as some sort of twisted test (or perhaps intended torture or killing) of Chell. Chell might not be crazy enough to be put in a mental institution but Glados is crazy enough to make an entire high-tech obstacle course just to mess with Chell for fun. It’s like a twisted version of the whole “mouse in a maze” experiment trope, with vats of acid and armed robots trying to stop Chell. In a sense, the entire facility is like a reverse madhouse, meant to protect the insane Glados from those who would try to reach the controller of the maze.
image source: https://brcondron.wordpress.com/2016/09/07/first-blog-post/
Portal is heavily invested in the little things. Although the storyline is relatively simple, the attention to detail is unbelievable. The gameplay almost depends more on the details of the game design than on the actual storyline. Sure, the storyline drives it all forward, but what makes it all worthwhile are the little things. Let’s use the … Continue reading “It’s all about the little things”
Portal is heavily invested in the little things. Although the storyline is relatively simple, the attention to detail is unbelievable. The gameplay almost depends more on the details of the game design than on the actual storyline. Sure, the storyline drives it all forward, but what makes it all worthwhile are the little things. Let’s use the final level as an example.
I didn’t notice all of the details that went into GladOs’ personality until Alec activated the subtitles. I recognised when her voice changed when I played the level before, but I didn’t realize that it was an intentional part of game design for her voice to sound a specific way at a particular moment. For example, when you destroy the (incredibly adorable) first orb GladOs’ voice becomes “seductive” since she is trying to lure you in and kill you. Her voice immediately changes after the incineration of the first orb, which she claims held together her sanity, from the normal robotic voice to a confident voice convinced your death is near. That was pretty freaky! The orbs themselves were each given distinct aspects of GladOs’ personality since they make up GladOs. I was somewhat amazed when the subtitles were activated and the blue orb was citing a cake recipe! Why do they promise cake? What’s Chell’s backstory? Who knows, but hey at least they commit to the cake theme. In fact, the line, “the cake is a lie,” most likely exploded on the internet due to the player constantly running across the line throughout the game. This recurring theme is one of the most memorable aspects of the game – yes, it has to do with the storyline, but honestly just seeing it written EVERYWHERE is enough to make the player remember it. The emphasis on building the narrative into the game rather than neatly handing it to the player as a storyline allows players to piece his or her own storyline together. We never receive a clear storyline or backstory for any character nor the facility, but that didn’t really matter in the end. What mattered was the fact that you recognised that the cake was a lie and escaped the Aperture Testing facility.
The little things – the writing on the walls, the easter egg rooms, the ending cut scene – these all add to the gaming experience. The storyline is present, but it’s the little things – the attention to details -that make Portal memorable.
Chell soars across the room in her Air Portals and dunks into another blue portal! The crowd goes wild! “Bzzzt!” When I began my play-through of Portal I conjured up my past exposure to science fiction’s dystopian future subgenre through various tabs on my internet browser. Some of the included films were The Island (2005), Total Recall (2012), and […]
Chell soars across the room in her Air Portals and dunks into another blue portal! The crowd goes wild! “Bzzzt!”
When I began my play-through of Portal I conjured up my past exposure to science fiction’s dystopian future subgenre through various tabs on my internet browser. Some of the included films were The Island (2005), Total Recall (2012), and I, Robot (2004). These three films are similar in that they share a futuristic setting with a persistent skepticism by the protagonist of the “reality” in which they live in. Albeit Chell doesn’t talk (gameplay still in progress), there hasn’t been an indication that she is hesitant to progress. With GLaDOS’ constant bickering, it doesn’t feel as if Chell has any choice in the matter as GLaDOS continuously talks about progressing through the rooms as obstacles needed to be completed. Themes that were also included in my research of the genre were Artificial Intelligence, robots, advanced weaponry, distorting space and time, and bionic enhancements.
The interaction with the turrets during my gameplay reminded me of the game Azure Striker GUNVOLT (3DS). I would build a barrier using blocks and hide behind them until I was ready to make my move. Although Azure Striker GUNVOLT is a 2D platform game the game strategies were similar. The aesthetic choices were also similar. The backdrop in Azure Striker is a darkened cityscape and the chambers that hold the various bosses resembled the room structure in Portal. Interestingly enough, one of the bosses in Azure Striker uses portals to make their attacks.
The most important aspect of the game, personally, was the bionic leg enhancements on Chell’s legs. Without the enhancements the portal physics would be pointless. As a basketball fan, the joy in executing 360 degree spins into a second blue portal and soaring out of the orange portal was priceless. Did I mention I am using the WASD + trackpad combination to complete the game?
This notion of intersectionality between various media allows for deeper exploration and appreciation of a video game. Without an understanding of futuristic dystopian sci-fi or personal appreciation of air gliding in basketball, Portal would have been a mundane puzzle platform game.
Everyone who’s played Portal knows its humor. GLaDOS supplied gamers (and subsequently, the internet) with memorable, dark quips of the Emancipation Grid—”which may, in semi-rare cases, emancipate dental fillings, crowns, tooth enamel and teeth” (Tanner 1)—and the promise of cake amidst incredibly dangerous test chambers. Moreover, within the game, humor is such an important part … Continue reading “Lonely Humor in Portal”
Everyone who’s played Portal knows its humor. GLaDOS supplied gamers (and subsequently, the internet) with memorable, dark quips of the Emancipation Grid—”which may, in semi-rare cases, emancipate dental fillings, crowns, tooth enamel and teeth” (Tanner 1)—and the promise of cake amidst incredibly dangerous test chambers. Moreover, within the game, humor is such an important part of the playfulness of Portal. The player experiences quality comedy then gets to dart across a room by shooting portals everywhere. Portal reeks of joy and fun, but on this play-through, I also noticed another essential part of the game that I never caught: the loneliness and creepiness of Portal’s game world.
It makes sense that I didn’t catch that aspect the first go-around. I beat the game in three or four hours, and at that point, I was the kind of player that wanted to beat the game and progress through the story as quick as possible. I never bothered to explore a game or examine how the game was designed, other than it possibly hampering my progress. This time around, when I soaked in the world again with new analytical lenses and slower play, Portal became much more unsettling. Aside from the interactions with GLaDOS, the soundscape of Portal drilled into my head emptiness and the fact that nothing else was with me in this world. Other than the occasional button push or whooshing of the portals, all of the rooms buzzed mechanically and dully. Additionally, the context of having played this game previously and knowing that GLaDOS killed all of the scientists (hence, why Aperture is empty) unsettled me even more. Aperture is a dangerous abandoned facility where I play a character that is essentially the plaything of a rouge AI. That sounds like a horror sci-fi premise. Playing this game alone and slowly (with a frustrating touchpad) made my experience dizzying, to the point that I had to exit the game and do something else, usually to talk to someone.
Yet, in that creeping loneliness, the humor of GLaDOS works very effectively. I felt lonely enough in the test chambers that anytime I heard dialogue from GLaDOS, I relished it. I loved the overt dark humor and slips of a deceiving, passive-aggressive AI. The humor really cut through the tension of loneliness and provided a space for latent social feelings to emerge. The obvious awareness of sinister things at work in the writing of GLaDOS’s lines and jokes helped me connect to an otherwise kind of foreboding world. Having a humorous antagonist along with great mechanics against a lonely atmosphere really fostered an interesting evocative competition between creepiness and playfulness. It also helped me appreciate the connection that so many players have to the delightfully crazy and murderous GLaDOS.
Tanner, Nicole. “Top 10 GLaDOS Quotes.” IGN, 25 Mar. 2011, http://www.ign.com/articles/2011/03/25/top-10-glados-quotes?page=1. Accessed 6 Sep. 2016.
When playing through Portal again, having already beaten it, a new thing that caught my attention was how easy it is to play and replay the game. I normally am one who doesn’t find much entertainment in replaying games, but playing Portal a second time through I feel as engaged as the first time through. And having read the Henry Jenkins article … Continue reading “Portal’s Replay Value”
When playing through Portal again, having already beaten it, a new thing that caught my attention was how easy it is to play and replay the game. I normally am one who doesn’t find much entertainment in replaying games, but playing Portal a second time through I feel as engaged as the first time through. And having read the Henry Jenkins article “Game Design As Narrative Architecture”, I think this replay value comes from the detail that is put into the game that adds to its immersive nature. The more I play, the more I feel I know about Aperture Labs, or about GLaDOS. Because the game is embedded with a strong presence of the environmental storytelling that Jenkins alludes to, it not only creates a better play through the first time, but also adds value and entertainment to the game past completion. In addition, the game designers did a very good job of using the environmental storytelling aspect of Portal to slowly tell the story of the game. It was easy to follow, but also very rewarding as each completed level not only meant a new terrain but also more plot information.
Another very unique thing regarding Portal is the addition of Developer Commentary into the game. You have to have beaten the game before accessing the game mode, but it is very interesting to hear comments from the developers as you go through the levels. For instance, on one level, a player found a short cut that bypassed the majority of the level. However, instead of fixing the “bug”, the developers rewarded the players for their ingenuity in discovering the short cut and left it in the game. And while this doesn’t necessarily impact the environmental storytelling or the embedded narrative in the game, it does provide some insight about what was going through the developers’ minds while creating Portal.
After 2 game labs, and at home sessions, this gaming session was the first time that I really enjoyed playing Portal. In just one sitting I played double the amount of total time I had previously played. I definitely become more immersed and invested in a video game after I have become familiarized with its…
After 2 game labs, and at home sessions, this gaming session was the first time that I really enjoyed playing Portal. In just one sitting I played double the amount of total time I had previously played. I definitely become more immersed and invested in a video game after I have become familiarized with its modes of play. I struggle with being thrown into new worlds on a whim and adopting the set of rules and goals specific to that place. I think this is part of why I don’t play many video games. However, I am glad that the required playing time for Portal has fostered a greater interest and appreciation in me.
This time around I did something I had never done before (nor seen anyone in class do.) I shot my portal gun at the video cameras in the test chamber. GLaDOS did not appreciate this. Each time I dislodged a video camera, she had something to say. Some examples are phrases like:
“For your own safety, do not destroy testing equipment.”
“Facility equipment may be vital to your success, please do not destroy it.”
She says these things very matter of factly, and they sound true (this is of course before she turns on the player.) This kind of programmed in response of the game increases the reality of it, allowing the player to move deeper into the space. It also reinforced this idea of surveillance. Even when I destroyed the cameras in a testing chamber, GLaDOS could still watch my every move and comment on it. GLaDOS is watching you, but it’s for your own good. This (GLaDOS’ unstoppable surveillance) is something that maybe could clue a player in to the ending of the game. It seems that the farther one digs in Portal, the more obvious and inevitable the truth of the ending becomes.
After dislodging the cameras from the wall, I attempted to pick them up and place them on a button to open up a corridor passageway. I was able to pick up the camera and drop them on the buttons, but one camera would not hold it down. I tried adding a second one, but that did not work either. In that particular test chamber (I can’t recall the number) I was unable to locate a third camera, but I’m wondering if a third, fourth, or fifth additional camera would’ve made a difference or if the game just doesn’t work that way. I was surprised that GLaDOS had no comment on my attempts to activate the button with the cameras as well.