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Portal 2 Interview With Lead Writer Erik Wolpaw



In honour of Portal 2 being released, we got in touch with Erik Wolpaw, the lead writer for the game and asked him to tell us all about it.

In honour of Portal 2 being released, we got in touch with Erik Wolpaw, the lead writer for the game and asked him to tell us all about it.

Describe Portal 2 in one sentence.
Funny mind bending first-person puzzle game.

Where did the concept behind Portal 2 come from?
The original idea for Portal came from a student group at Digipen. At the time it was named Narbacular Drop. Valve hired the students and renamed the game. That became of course Portal that shipped with The Orange Box back in 2007.

What other ideas came up for Portal 2 that were eventually cut?
At one point we had a new Gel that allowed players to walk up the side of walls. While this added a new twist to the game, the effect was so disorientating that it made people nauseas.

While working on a first-person game you always have to be aware of that issue so we removed that Gel. We also made changes to frame rate and movement that will help anyone play Portal 2 even if they do experience a feeling of nauseas while playing other first-person games.

How does the story line for the co-op mode of Portal 2 differ from the single player? Were they equally difficult to write for?
The co-op story is a little different to write for because you have two people playing and they will have their own story. They will walk away not talking about the trials and tribulations of Atlas and P-Body but instead laughing about what they did to each other. So the story needs to give space for their story to breath next to the game’s story.

Though fun, the original Portal was a fairly short game. How does Portal 2 compare and is there a high level of replayability?
With a single player game over 3x in length of the original and a co-op game over 2x as long there is plenty of content in the game. As we expanded out the game, we also included all new puzzle elements, locations and characters. The minute to minute experience of Portal 2 is the densest content game we have ever made.

We were stumped more than once playing through Portal. Is the level of difficulty for Portal 2 around the same as last time?
We extensively tested Portal 2 with outside play testers to insure the game was not made too difficult. While hardcore players will be able to pull off tricks or solve puzzles in special ways, all players will be able to solve the puzzles and continue the game.

We all know the companion cube is the real star of the game. When is “Companion Cube, The Game” coming out?
We have a special map dedicated to the Weighted Companion Cube in Portal 2. You will need to see if you are still friends.

How does writing for the character GLaDOS compare to other characters you’ve worked with in the past?
Writing for GLaDOS is a great deal of fun. In real life we could never be as cruel or twisted with our friends and family. GLaDOS is a great outlet for all those inner thoughts we don’t say aloud.

Will there be cake?
You will have to play to find out.


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