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Portal

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Videogame-inspired gas masks? Now I've seen everything!


May 26
// Tony Ponce
Brian Cargile is another talented young artist with an extreeeeemely specific area of expertise. As you can see, he specializes in masks: gas masks, goggles, full face masks, you name it. As a one-man costume design house cal...
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Feast of Fiction proves that the cake is *sigh* not a lie


May 13
// Tony Ponce
Gaaaaaaaaaah! Another Portal cake reference! Kill it with fire! Kidding! I can't stay mad at Jimmy and Ashley. They pull off such magical feats week after week, concocting delicious delicacies that tantalize my taste buds. B...
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Portal 2 Perpetual Initiative serves 1.3 million tests


May 11
// Conrad Zimmerman
Released just this week, the Perpetual Testing Initiative expansion to Portal 2 has already resulted in a success of some kind. No, no. Don't tell me. I'll figure out the appropriate adjective eventually. More than 35,0...
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What has science done!? The Portal turret is real!


May 10
// Tony Ponce
I'd like to think that Cave Johnson is a professor at Penn State University, culling the student body for the next great Aperture Science minds. That would most likely explain why YouTuber kss5095 decided to build a fully fu...
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Atlas and P-Body toys will soon enrich your pitiful lives


Apr 28
// Tony Ponce
The first product of the Valve / threeA Toys team-up was this weird Companion Cube duck creature. The next set of goodies is thankfully (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective) a little more normal. At the ReVenture ...
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Valve to release Portal 2 level editor May 8


Apr 26
// Conrad Zimmerman
Starting next month, the possibilities for portal puzzles become as infinite as spaaaaaaaaace. Valve has announced a new update for Portal 2 which will arrive on May 8. The "Perpetual Testing Initiative" will give player...
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Coming soon: A Companion Cube / mutant duck thing


Mar 22
// Tony Ponce
The other week, threeA Toys announced a partnership for a series of goodies based on Valve properties. As a refresher, threeA has made some pretty sick stuff in the past, like that $400+ Metal Gear Rex figurine. The company w...
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You guys have heard of Kim Swift, right? Creator of Portal, former designer at Valve, and all-around badass? I interviewed her last week after getting some hands-on time with Airtight Games's upcoming downloadable title ...

Preview: Brain busting goodness in Quantum Conundrum

Mar 12 // Dale North
Quantum Conundrum (PC, PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade)Developer: Airtight GamesPublisher: Square EnixRelease: Summer 2012 The game centers around an Interdimensional Shift Device that the player uses to navigate the twisted house of a crazed scientist. Players work through this home in a first-person view, pushing through puzzles that have them changing dimensions to manipulate objects in the rooms. The fun comes with learning how each of the four strange dimensions change material properties, and things get crazy when players need to alternate between two or more dimensions to solve puzzles.  Take the Fluffy Dimension, for instance. One of the first puzzles I encountered had me switching to this dimension to make heavy safes as light as cotton. I was then able to lift the safe to place it on a switch, and then switch back to the normal world to have its weight come down to press the switch and open the door. Easy, right? Later puzzles require a bit more thinking, like one that had me picking up a safe in the Fluffy Dimension, throwing it, and then quickly switching to the normal dimension while it was still in mid-air, sending the properly weighted version through a glass pane so that I could continue to another room. Or, throwing cardboard boxes and then switching to a heavier dimension to give them weight, also breaking glass. Scoffing at my need for Swift's guidance? Try this one on: You may need to use a safe as transportation. You'd do this by switching to the fluffy dimension, then lifting and throwing a safe, switching to the slow motion dimension, jumping on it, and riding on top of it. If you needed to actually control the safe's movement, you could by switching between the standard dimension and a reverse gravity dimension.  Many of the game's puzzles are just like this, requiring you to really think about each of the four dimensions and how they can manipulate things in the rooms. Adding another layer of complexity is the need for one-time-use battery packs that fuel the Interdimensional Shift Device, and many of the room's puzzles have you working to access these packs first before tackling dimensional shifting. Combine item acquisition, dimensional shifting, the combining of dimensions, some basic first-person platforming and you have game that's likely to wring out every last bit of brain juice you have. Swift seemed to take a cruel joy in my struggles, laughing out loud at my failed attempts, though she was glad to eventually help out when I got stuck.  Quantum Conundrum has a quirky vibe that pairs nicely with its unique gameplay. The overall look of the game is a bit young and cartoony, but there's a charm to it that people of any age should enjoy. Sharp eyes will notice strange details in the setting that change with the dimension. The game's guiding narration is also quite funny and sometimes a bit off-the-wall. In one hallway, moving between rooms, the narrator randomly stated that he missed keytars and thought that they made everything better.  Influences from Swift's first game, Portal, can definitely be found in Quantum Conundrum. But while Portal focused on manipulating the entrances and exits of rooms and how momentum could carry through them, Quantum goes way beyond that by playing with how the physical properties of the contents of rooms can be changed on the fly, making for more complex and creative puzzles. It's a bigger and badder brain buster presented in a charming wrapper, and I can't imagine anyone that enjoyed Portal not digging it.  
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I had the pleasure of working through my first Quantum Conundrum play session with the help of its Creative Director, Kim Swift. After helping create Valve hit games Portal and both Left 4 Dead titles, Swift moved o...

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Live show: Introducing Weekend Escape with Brett and Cait


Mar 10
// Brett Zeidler
[Check out Weekend Escape every Saturday over on Destructoid's Twitch.tv channel at 12pm Pacific with Destructoid Contributors Brett Zeidler and Caitlin Cooke  as they play through entire games with a focus on co-op. It...
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New fan game gives Mario a friggin' Portal gun


Mar 03
// Tony Ponce
Hey guys! Remember this Mario / Portal crossover video? Looked like fun, didn't it? I wish we could play that for realsies, though... Wait a sec! You CAN! Oh boy! Indie studio Stabyourself has just released Mari0 (that's a z...
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ThinkGeek's PotatOS is GLaDOS in a friggin' potato


Feb 10
// Tony Ponce
Back in December, ThinkGeek rolled out a big line of Portal 2 tie-in merchandise, from an Aperture Labs shower curtain to the super popular talking Cave Johnson portrait. The weirdest item, however, was definitely the PotatO...
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Valve begins hyping something (HALF-LIFE 3 CONFIRMED OMG)


Dec 12
// Jim Sterling
This past Saturday, Valve released a video featuring Portal 2 antagonist Wheatley. Unsurprisingly, the Internet descended upon it with icepicks and magnifying glasses, ready to take it apart and examine every frame for clues ...
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Custom Portal Gun is all flashy and glowy


Dec 05
// Tony Ponce
Destructoid has homeboys and homegirls all over the world. Do you ever stop to think how rad that is? Henriquegds, a community member hailing from Brazil, wanted to share some love for his friend LauraSan's custom-built Porta...
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Someone at ThinkGeek really enjoyed Portal 2


Dec 02
// Jordan Devore
ThinkGeek is making good use of its licensing agreement with Valve by introducing nine Portal 2-themed products. We're a little obsessed with the game as well, so it's all good. I was quite certain nothing would top the ridic...
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Black Friday: Rayman Origins $30 at GameStop, much more


Nov 23
// Brett Zeidler
We're just two days away from Black Friday. Everything has culminated up to this point. While everyone else is sifting through the piles of ads looking for the best deals after eating two platefuls of turkey, you've already g...
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The coolest bedroom you will never have


Nov 22
// Victoria Medina
James Farr, possibly the coolest dad ever, likes Portal, and so does his son. So they gave his bedroom and adjoining bathroom a themed makeover. This isn't the first time that a fan has expressed incredible creativ...
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Real-life, speaking Cave Johnson portraits from ThinkGeek


Nov 08
// Jordan Devore
ThinkGeek, the fine merchant of fairly affordable Internet treasures, is preparing a new item which will be of interest to Portal 2 fans. It's a portrait of Aperture Science's Cave Johnson that spouts off thirteen quotes fro...
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GLaDOS makes the iPhone 4S better


Oct 08
// Tony Ponce
Apple recently showcased the Siri personal assistant software for use with the new iPhone 4S. Apple missed a great opportunity to collaborate with Aperture Science for the vastly superior GLaDOSiri app. This is sooooo much better. Apple - Introducing GLaDOSiri on iPhone 4S [YouTube]
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Free Portal 2 DLC on Steam, Xbox 360, and PS3 next month


Sep 30
// Jordan Devore
The long-awaited free add-on content for Portal 2 has been in the works for what feels like a long time, but Valve has reassuring news on that front: it's hitting Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and Steam next month. And by "...
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Yay for learning! Portal is free until September 20th


Sep 16
// Maurice Tan
It's fun enough to learn to think with portals, but there's arguably little in existence that is more fun than learning with the Portal games as an educational tool. As long as you don't have to hear that damn song ever agai...
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Steam Trading exits beta, now supports more games


Sep 06
// Jordan Devore
Just the other day, I was pondering why I hadn't tinkered with Steam Trading much yet. It allows you to swap full games (if they are Steam gifts) and in-game items with other players. As of today, the feature is no longer in ...

The Visual Effects of Portal: No Escape

Aug 31 // Dave Riley
For starters: what's your background in the industry?  I have been desktop compositing for 6 years. I have worked in storyboarding, test commercials, full-up commercials, short films, and recently the feature film Tower Heist, directed by Bret Ratner. I worked as an assistant art director in commercial preproduction for over 2 years before I started branching off into shorts, full-up commercials and feature film work.  And how did you get involved in this project?  A very good friend of mine, Cesar Kuriyama, saw one of my posts on Facebook one day in May complaining about how I was having a hard time finding more freelance work.  He contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in working on a really awesome short, pro bono, since I had free time. He could not continue on the short because he was asked to give a TED Talk and needed the time to prepare. I told him yes, and he handed off some shots he had just started to me, and the director gave some other ones that I started from scratch. How closely did you work with the project leads?  I worked very closely with Dan and Jon even though I am NYC based and they are in LA. I got on several calls with Dan Trachtenberg throughout the project and I spoke to Jon Chesson almost daily via GChat.  During a phone call, Dan and I discovered we had met many times before and never realized it. We both attended college in Philadelphia. I went to the University of the Arts and he went to Temple University. During his time there he was working in their 16mm film developing room. I used to walk down there all the time to develop my Kodak film. He’d taken over running things after the previous manager left to work at my school. Small world! What were your duties on the film?  I composited 7 shots. Shot 5 (she looks at the barrel and blue light illuminates her face), 8 (she turns to camera with amber portals behind her), 8a (she turns to camera with blue portals behind her), 11 (we see her from behind as she runs into the amber portal), 12 (short shot after the door opens when she falls to the ground), 12a (she is on the ground, fires the portal above the guard and kicks the cot so it falls onto the guard), and 20 (when she first runs out onto the rooftop) What moments are you particularly proud of?  Shot 5 and and Shot 12a are my favorites because the blue light cast by the gun was entirely created by me. In shot 5 it was a combination of hand animated paintings that were tracked onto her face, and screened on, and isolating her highlights and tinting them blue. I also used a 3D version of the gun built by someone else on the team to add additional lighting to the gun as well. Shot 12a was strictly isolating the highlights on her skin, and parts of the background wall and tinting them blue.  What are the differences between working on a personal project like this versus a big budget picture?  Well first of all on a big budget film you are all in the same building! We were all spread out across the country. Dan and Jon were in LA along with other team members, and myself and a few others were NYC based, and I believe our CG guy was in Connecticut. Other than that we all have worked on big budget projects and films, so we know what to do and how to do it.  What's your schedule like when working on a project? How long does the average FX shot take to construct?  Is there a significant difference between animating a teleportation portal and painting a movie star's reflection out of a window? Well, I created the inside look of the portal but the main particle system used for the ring was made by Paul Griswold. I made some supplementary particle systems to suit my needs (like fly off particles, some dripping particles, and a few loose wispy ones) but all the rings were created by him. As far as how long it took to composite: it was all after hours work. We all have day jobs, so we would pick up work on Portal after we got home. A slap comp takes about a day. Then revisions and sweetening, probably three or four days per shot. With something like painting a reflection out of a window: that’s all about tracking, and just cloning, and copying preexisting pieces over the undesired reflections. In a scene like shot 8 or 8a in Portal, we were adding 3D elements that do not belong. So color correcting, adding light FX, and camera distortions/blurs to really sell it takes longer to do.  Are films where you're gonna stay, or do you have aspirations in games too? What sort of advice can you give to the up and coming artist?  I have worked my way up from preproduction to films and that is where I'd love to stay. My advice is never lose sight of your goals and focus on your weaknesses. If you can't make them strengths at least remove them. When I first moved from Philadelphia to New York City I knew I was only going to work in test commercials for a short time. Then I was going to move on. Despite this particular companies best efforts to keep me, I left when I planned to leave. I taught myself the programs I needed to know, studied every second I could (still taking Nuke classes even today) and made lots of friends with people who knew them better! This way I could ask them lots of questions! Also, FXPHD, and Video Copilot are your best friends! So basically: work your ass off, make lots of friends, be willing to wade through shit when necessary.  Exactly. You are never too good for a project. Ever. Now, if you’ll permit me to sass you: did you actually PLAY portal?   No. A long time ago when I worked as an assistant editor, I watched an editor, Rob Aiello, beat the first one (he has no relation to Danny Aiello. I think I have asked him that over a thousand times). The song at the ending credits always made me laugh.  Knowing your internet habits (or lack thereof), you’re probably the only person in the world who doesn’t know how big of a meme that song became. Alright then, when you're not working, what games keep you busy these days?  My heart belongs to Survival Horror (Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Dead Rising, Alan Wake) however I find myself playing a lot of Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. I have been known to also play games that no one in their right mind will play (Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom, Deadly Premonition, God Hand, Alone in the Dark) Some people might take umbrage to you calling some of those games bad! If I can scrape together fifty bucks will you start production on a God Hand feature film starring me? Ha. Well I am not a Director, nor am I a DP. So if you can find them, a camera man, a camera, get a set crew, find somewhere to shoot, and figure out whose going to do the DI then sure. I’ll comp it.  What's next on the block? I know Hollywood brings in the big bucks, but don't abandon game-related films right after you've started!  I am most definitely not! I would rather like to make a Fallout short. I talked to Jon and Dan about it but with everything going on like it is with Portal I think it will be a long while before we can actually sit down and have a proper conversation. I also told them whatever short they move onto from here that I would love to be a part of. My pipe dream is someday when I get much more established and I get the right plot going I'd love to write a script for a Silent Hill movie. I know I already promised fifty bucks to Godhand, but I’m willing to go as high as sixty for any Silent Hill script better than Silent Hill: Origins or Homecoming. That won’t be a problem.  Well, thanks for talking about the film! And tell Dan and Jon and the rest of the team that we thank all of from the bottom of our hearts. I will! They will love to hear it I promise you!
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You probably didn't notice Jonathan Skabla's name amid the slew of credits at the end of Portal: No Escape, the recently released short by Dan Trachtenberg of The Totally Rad Show. He might be a faceless animator to you,...

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Portal 2 sold better on PC than Xbox 360 or PS3


Aug 30
// Jim Sterling
Valve has revealed that smash-hit sequel Portal 2 performed better on the PC than it did on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. Score another one for the glorious Golden Gods that you petty mortals know as PC gamers! "Portal 2 did...

Quantum Conundrum: Portal-y, but fluffier and cuter

Aug 27 // Dale North
You'll make use of your uncle's wacky invention, the Inter-Dimensional Shift Device. This IDS can shift dimensions at the touch of a button, and you'll use these shifts to change your world to solve some pretty clever puzzles. There's a lot of physics play, like in Portal, but the difference here is that the environment is changing with your shots. The IDS can do things like make heavy objects as light as a pillow by utilizing the Fluffy dimension, or help you access things on the roof in the Reverse Gravity dimension. There's five in all; we were also shown the Normal and Slow Motion dimensions, but the fifth remained under wraps for now. One of the best examples that used many of the game's revealed dimensions had the player changing a heavy safe into a fluffy, light one, so that it could be lifted. The safe was then thrown forward, and then switched back to its original, heavy state while in mid air. From there the player switched to the Slow Motion dimension, where time passes 20 times slower. While in slow motion, the player jumped onto the flying safe and then switched back to the normal dimension, riding it until gravity began to take over. From there he alternated between the normal and Reverse Gravity dimensions, falling and rising alternately, to ride the safe across a wide pit to sort of fly across to the other side safely. It's not another Portal, but you can definitely feel the influence. The dimensional angle is a different direction, for sure. The cuter, more cartoon-y art style and fun environment seem to be aimed at a broader audience. Don't let Conundrum's charming looks fool you into thinking that this is something a bit more simple, though. The demonstration Swift gave us proved that this game could be every bit as complex as Portal -- maybe even more. You'll still need to wear your thinking cap, but you may smile more with this one. Look for Quantum Conundrum on XBLA, PSN and Steam next year.
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When Square Enix told us that we would be seeing something new at PAX this year, I didn't expect to see anything like Quantum Conundrum. What a nice surprise. Square Enix is working with Airtight Games and Portal creator Kim ...

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Short film Portal: No Escape is a triumph


Aug 24
// Nick Chester
I didn't know I wanted a full length feature film based on Portal until last night. That's when I first watched Dan Trachtenberg's mind-blowing seven minute short, Portal: No Escape. Now I can't stop thinking about it. If yo...
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Portal's turrets find their way into Bastion on Steam


Aug 20
// Jordan Devore
Really, we shouldn't be shocked at this point when it comes to elements of Portal seeping into indie games. Even so, I can't help but find this footage of Portal's turrets in Supergiant Games' Bastion to be absolutely deligh...
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Valve on rewarding Sony for making PS3 an open platform


Aug 19
// Jordan Devore
Talking with Develop, Valve president Gabe Newell stated his belief that "We and other developers have to show we're creating value to Sony for opening up its network. We have to show them it's a smart business move." "With ...
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Portal 2 getting free DLC this September


Aug 19
// Jim Sterling
Valve promised Portal 2 downloadable content this Summer, but has just missed the sunny months, revealing instead that the digital goods will drop in September. It's free though, so quit yer bitching! No details have been for...
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Portal's Chell is thinking with LEGOs


Aug 14
// Tony Ponce
There have been other LEGO Portal figures crafted in the past, but nothing compared to this! LEGO artist Tyler (aka Legohaulic) has immortalized heroine Chell and her bosom buddy Companion Cube in brick form. These aren't jus...

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