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<  Design concepts  ~  Game Design> Portal

picklebro
Posted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 12:39 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 19 Jan 2006 Posts: 110
I would like to suggest that you play the new game, "Portal" from Valve (www.steampowered.com). Once you've played it through, play it again with the developer commentary.

They talk about game design elements and player experience and what they learned from having people playtest their game.

I found it to be quite fun. Although it's a first-person game, the only gun you have makes portals. The storyline is good, the antagonist is quirky, and the gameplay is unique - and I really enjoyed hearing the developer team talk about why they did what they did, etc.

I'm going to try to post a review I made for a gaming community.
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Michael
Posted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 7:55 pm Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
What is the game about?
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picklebro
Posted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 4:08 am Reply with quote
Joined: 19 Jan 2006 Posts: 110
Well on the surface it would seem that you are perhaps a hired 'rat in a cage' being used to test a prototype device that allows people to portal between different locations inside a given room.

The story deepens and gets richer (and darker) as you play. There is no shooting people. The only guns-as-weapons are on some turrets that serve as puzzle enhancements.

Most of the gameplay revolves around exploiting the physics of the game and features of the puzzles to traverse the areas and get from level to level.
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Michael
Posted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 11:30 am Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
I have played it a little bit yesterday.
It seems to be a puzzle game that FPS players wouldn't be embarassed to play. Smart commercial move. Wink

I couldn't help but think, though, that a third person perspective would be a much nicer way to figure out the puzzles. Now I'm just standing around with this big gun in my hand and I often end up just shooting around randomly (as one does in FPS games).
I like solving the little puzzles. But so far, there's a not a lot of real content in the game. Which seems like a waste of technology.

I must admit that I don't pay much attention to the voice-over. I'm just conditioned to ignore computer-voices (had the same problem in Bio-Shock). And since English isn't my mother tongue, sometimes I don't even understand certain words. So maybe I'm missing the story because of this.
(then again, I firmly believe that a game should tell its story through interaction, and not through text -there's many texts in the world that I haven't read or heard yet; I'd rather get me another dose of Becket or Kafka or Borges if I'm in the mood for text)
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picklebro
Posted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 3:44 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 19 Jan 2006 Posts: 110
If you pay close attention as you continue to play you'll notice that you do learn the back story through some of the things that you see. I won't say more right now as I do not want to spoil it for you, but I'll be happy to discuss more when you are ready.

However, I disagree that one should learn completely through interaction. I think the great thing about computer technology in gaming is that you can engage 3 of the sensory pieces of human interaction, tactile, visual, audio (granted the tactile isn't really in-game per se). I would argue a great game makes good use of all 3 of these. And I think there should be overlap between what you hear and what you see.

HOWEVER, having audio in a language other than your mother-tongue is going to be a very limiting factor. So much is lost when you are internally cross-translating to your native tongue instead of just instinctively knowing what the words mean. Sad

As for 3rd person... I wouldn't say that it *shouldn't* be done in Portals, but I think for the experienced gamer it would have made some of the puzzles too easy. It would also take away from the 'cool factor' of going through the portals. I checked the web to see if I could find a 'force 3rd person perspective' switch for portals for you, but I didn't see one.
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Michael
Posted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 6:34 pm Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
Because of the first person camera, many people, including Auriea, cannot play this game. It makes them sick. Crying or Very sad
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picklebro
Posted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 6:51 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 19 Jan 2006 Posts: 110
Yes, that is always a possibility of FPS games. Crying or Very sad And I found that when I'm falling - especially doing the double-portal I sometimes had to look away to keep from getting dizzy because it kept flipping me right-side up after being upside-down.

Also, playing in a dark room sometimes alleviates some of the nausea.
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Vrav
Posted: Sun Mar 16, 2008 11:02 am Reply with quote
Joined: 25 Oct 2007 Posts: 168 Location: Oregon
I know this thread is pretty old, but I didn't buy the game until this week. Going into third person is the same as in other Valve games.

From the console (`), enabled in Options>Keyboard>Advanced:

sv_cheats 1 (default 0)
thirdperson

That's all you need to do. There are some cool features, too:

cam_ideallag # (default 4.0)
... Setting it to 0 makes the portal transition less sickness-inducing.

cam_idealdist # (default... I forget)
... Changing this will cause the camera to zoom back further. You can set it to 200 maximum, for example, but when cam_collision 1 is set it will not zoom that far at all times, closing in on the girl upon colliding with the walls. You can disable cam_collision by setting it to 0, but will be able to look through the level, which may spoil gameplay.

cam_idealyaw #
... This might be messed up when you first go into third person - setting it to 0 swings the camera back behind your character.

thirdperson_platformer # (default 0)
... Enabling this by setting it to 1 will cause the camera to swing around as you look, not turning the character. When you move, she will run in the direction you are looking. This is something I've not encountered in a Valve game before; pretty cool... but doesn't really work with the gun.

There are a lot of other settings, but they didn't do anything interesting or usable for me. cam_idealpitch changes the pitch between 0 and 90, but isn't very useful in my opinion. In third person, you're always stuck aiming through her head. I don't know about how to change that.

If you want to automate all of this, you can create a cfg file and bind it to a button. Into Notepad, you could type this, for example:

Code:
sv_cheats 1
thirdperson
cam_idealyaw 0
cam_idealdist 200
cam_ideallag 0


Save it as "thirdperson.cfg"—quotes included as they force the file extension change—and throw it in your game's cfg directory, usually something like:

C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps\NAME\portal\portal\cfg\

Finally, from the game console, type, for example, binding it to g:

bind g "exec thirdperson.cfg"

And firstperson for good measure:

bind h firstperson

Now you have control. These bindings are saved between sessions, too.

It's sorta fun to check out Chell using these options, as well. She's just beautiful, and actually looks around at stuff. Shocked Cool. Screenshot!
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Michael
Posted: Sun Mar 16, 2008 2:41 pm Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
Thanks for the tips.

Am I the only one who thinks that that avatar looks a bit like Kim Swift, one of the designers of Portal?



This wouldn't surprise me because Gordon Freeman looks exactly like Greg Coomer, long term employee at Valve
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Vrav
Posted: Sun Mar 16, 2008 11:19 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 25 Oct 2007 Posts: 168 Location: Oregon
Heh, you're right. The face they used for Chell is listed in the credits as Alesia Glidewell, but I can see the resemblance in both women.
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picklebro
Posted: Sun Mar 23, 2008 7:58 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 19 Jan 2006 Posts: 110
I think it's amazing that valve invested so much energy (and obviously money) into making their characters have human-like facial expressions....and then just used that technology as though it were a normal part of the commonplace world, rather than making their games (HL2, etc) tech demos for facial animations. To me that shows a lot of dedication to game immersion.
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