While I was in Minneapolis I was walking through a mall and there was the Orange Box on sale. Under the influence of Nelson Minar and Ars Technica, and especially given that it was priced in those inexpensive Yankee Pesos, I had to pick one up. I never played Half-Life nor Team Fortress, but the latter sounds fun; I wonder if we should put together a dynamic-languages-mafia or concurrency-obsessives team or some such. I’m not a serious gamer, so I started with Portal. I’ve put in a couple of hours now; it’s quick, lightweight, occasionally quite difficult, unlike anything else, and funny. It seems to provoke outbursts of Deep Thinking, f’rinstance from Schlaghund and Leonard Richardson; so I guess I gotta say something. It’s amazing how deeply embedded in our collective consciousness is the notion of the lethally impersonal corporation with a dead marketing voice. Dear Marketing Professionals; when you think “message control” several generational cohorts of geeky target demographics are thinking about the Portal voice. Go play it, and shudder.


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From: Robert 'Groby' Blum (Oct 20 2007, at 23:49)

It was actually that voice that put me off portal. (Well, that, and the fact that the tutorial levels are endless)

Interesting to see that to you it seems a comment on society. I wonder if I'm too cynical from playing too many games ;)

Oh, and when you try out TF2, make sure you play with people who give you some time to learn. Nothing more frustrating than being slaughtered every ten seconds ;)


From: Jacob Fugal (Oct 21 2007, at 10:57)

I just happened to finish the game (Portal) about 20 minutes ago. Total play time about 4 hours, maybe 5. So not long, but definitely worth the $19 USD you can get it for on Steam, and a welcome member of the Orange Box. I'm looking forward to trying some of the advanced and challenge levels. (Under "Bonus Maps"). I'll be trying my luck with TF2 come tomorrow.


From: stephen o'grady (Oct 21 2007, at 11:39)

"I never played Half-Life nor Team Fortress, but the latter sounds fun."

The latter was so fun, in fact, that I was once upon a time forced to complete remove it from my machine.

And IANAG (I Am Not A Gamer ;)


From: Tom Armitage (Oct 21 2007, at 11:53)

"the tutorial levels are endless"

...is an interesting observation, given that they're not tutorial levels. They're the game. The game just happens to take the form of an obstacle course for much of it. There's a lot of storytelling *within* those "tutorial levels" that really pays off when you get your cake.


From: Mahlen Morris (Oct 21 2007, at 19:20)

Portal is a gem. It plays beautifully, and the writing is genuinely funny and distinctly chilling at the same time. When I was first presented with the notion of portals in the game, I never expected the amazing things that such a simple idea could let you do, and the levels do (in my opinion) a masterful job of making you think up the crazy things you end up doing in it.

Then the challenge levels break it all open. OK, the "obvious" way to do this level is in nine portals, can you do that? OK, how about five? You think "WHAT??", and then you bend your mind around how that could be done. Then you pull it off, think that you rock the world, and then the game says, you know, it can be done in four. And that seems crazy; what step could I do without? But then either you figure it out or you find the solution on YouTube, and you think, "Oh, I hadn't thought about portals that way...". And showing yourself new ways to do things is what makes games fun.

So it's a bit like coding, in that a small number of tools can be applied in a huge number of ways. It'd be interesting to see if you could make coding more like that.

I'd love the idea of an "ongoing" TF2 Clan. If your massively parallel language isn't cutting the mustard at Wide Finder, you can at least cap the Ruby team's flag!


"The cake is a lie!"


From: Ray Krueger (Oct 22 2007, at 06:17)

I just watched the trailer for portal at http://www.whatistheorangebox.com/portal.html

The trailer is pretty funny on it's own.

"If at first you don't succeed, you fail"...


From: mnt (Oct 22 2007, at 09:50)

You should visit the webpage of the (fictial) company Aperture Laboratories. It's just as nicely insane as the game.


From: Aaron Swartz (Oct 28 2007, at 13:06)

I don't play video games. Really. But there are two games I've decided to play when I saw the trailers: Portal and Spore. I had to buy a whole Windows machine to run Portal and spend almost a day fixing device drivers and other Windows nonsense, but it was worth it. It's a fantastic game.


From: Greg Smith (Oct 30 2007, at 17:25)

Portal is a really interesting development, it kind of cracks open the genre of First Person Shooters. I just wrote a post on digital space and gaming (I'm an architect) and Portal was one of the games I dug into.. I couldn't resist. I didn't event know about how twisted the narrative is though, on top of the gameplay being revolutionary! Wow.


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