Portal 2: 'It expands on everything in the original'
28th Jan 2011 | 15:52
Portal represents a kind of success rarely seen in the world of video games today.
Love Portal 2? Check out Games Radar's special Portal 2 Launch Centre for all the latest news, movies and Portal 2 goodies.
While most well-renowned titles are continuations of already established, money-spinning franchises, it's becoming increasingly difficult for new IPs to have any impact on the industry whatsoever - especially when they're as off-the-wall (literally) as Valve's creation.
When it nestled on The Orange Box in 2007 - alongside Team Fortress 2 and overshadowed by the massive Half-Life 2 - Portal was a tadpole of a game, without any real potential for a release in its own right.
At somewhere around four hours long, the first-person puzzle title seemed more of a technological experiment than anything.
It was so fresh, however, that Valve's dabbling spawned a cult that has grown ever since. Now firmly in the minds of the mainstream, Portal 2 looks to build on the foundations of what's shaping up to be a very successful franchise.
But Portal is still unproven as a standalone, full fat title. While many don't doubt the gameplay potential of Portal 2, its future will now be decided on how it performs at retail.
We sat down with Valve's Chet Faliszek to find out whether the sequel can make the jump...
Portal is such a unique game, do you think there's anyone doing anything close to what you are with Portal?
I think games like World of Goo have a similar flavour to it. They took a puzzle game and wrapped an interesting and fun world around it. I really like that game. Perhaps Limbo, I don't really want to imply that we're their influence but there are games in my head which I consider to be similar to it.
Who do you see as your competition?
We don't really think of it that way, we just look at what we like and worry about that. We're our first customers; we don't look at what someone else is doing and allow it to influence us. No-one's ever going to be able to do anything exactly the same as something else, we just don't look at it that way.
What do you think differentiates Portal 2 from the first game?
It's a much bigger world, you meet a lot more characters, explore more spaces, the puzzle are expanded and you have a lot more tools to solve them. The easiest thing that we could have done was to just make it more difficult but instead what we've done is expanded the complexity of the tools given. We train the player up on them so they'll feel as smart as they did using the tools in Portal 1. You're never going to be like 'oh my god, I've got too much'.
We train the player in each of the elements and then start bringing them together. You learn to group them so it expands everything but retains the tightness of the original.
Valve has aligned itself with the PS3 in terms of consoles, why is that? Was it because it's so open? You said Portal 2 would be best on PS3, is that in terms of Steamworks or are there gameplay elements too?
If you bought the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions and put them side by side you can see they're identical games. The actual content is the same too across all platforms.
With the PS3 we can update more often, we don't have to have someone else gate that ability. We can play between the PC and PS3 players because we can update more frequently. That's our thing, we don't want to hurt one platform for the other and now that we can update more frequently it's easier for us to [avoid] that.
Then we added things like chat between the platforms, Steam Cloud for the PS3. Sony has been really great to work with, they've been really supportive and helpful for us to do this.
So from that end as gamers we always look at what we would want and how we wanted it and on the PS3 we've been able to deliver a lot of the things we would like to see.
We're getting towards the position where digital delivery is more important and games can be updated post-launch easier. Do you think the closed nature of the Xbox will harm it in some way in the future?
Well, Microsoft has also been good to work with in a different way; Left 4 Dead 2 mutations are being created by the community on the PC and we're actually able to share those with the Xbox 360 players on the same day and date. So there is some leeway there, it's just continually working on the relationship.
We're doing the PS3 as the first step. We'll learn things from it and so will Sony, as we go forward we'll take all that forward.
Obviously Valve will always be dedicated to PC, a lot of people talk about concerns with the PC market, is it in trouble?
No. It's thriving. Look at Minecraft, one dude up in Sweden sold a million copies of his game. You can do that because of how open the platform is. If you make a game that can run on people's systems they're going to play it.
Do you think it's more of a case that the PC is more suited to a particular set of genres?
Honestly, enough people plug their Xbox 360 controller into the PC that I don't think that distinction exists anymore. I think there're definitely some games like strategy games that require full keyboard. I was playing GTA4 on the PC using a controller and it was fine.
How have the recent PS3 hacks been received from the developer side, is it a concern?
No concern for us. We'll be fine. Bad for them, I mean, you know, no one likes to see that but we have no concern, we're not worried about it for Portal being on the PS3.
Do you think you can still protect your software and its integrity?
I don't think it's going to have any impact at all.