Things you didn’t know about the development of the portal

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There aren’t many games that can compete with Portal. It was an outstanding puzzler that was released over a decade ago, but is still loved to this day by players new and old. It takes place in an underground research facility where you, as the player, must pass a series of “tests”, while being guided by a disembodied robotic voice. Things get complicated when you begin to realize that your robotic guide, GLaDOS, may not have good intentions.



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The development of Portal is an interesting story to tell, saw how it all started with a team of college students and their 15-minute indie game. In this article, we’ve put together some information about the creation of Portal that you’ve probably never heard before.

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seven Chell’s real-world model

Since Portal is a first-person game and Chell is in a test facility with no mirrors or reflective glass, you don’t get a glimpse of his character model very often. The best way to see it clearly is to place two portals next to each other in a wall corner.

If you do this you will see that Chell is a woman with an athletic build and dark hair, wearing an orange jumpsuit and weird boots that allow it to survive a fall from any height.

It appears that, her in-game model was actually based on Alesia Glidewell, an American producer and voice actor. You may know her voice, among others, when she played Alma Wade in FEAR 2: Project Origin and FEAR 3.

6 The original plot of Portal

If you are a fan of the games, you probably already know that Portal started as the independent project of a few university students… but how much do you know on this independent project?

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Portal’s successor was called Narbacular Drop, and it was about a princess who was kidnapped by a demon. Princess No-Knees (who earned her name because she couldn’t jump) used the mechanism that would become portals to attempt to escape her dungeon. However, for Princess No-Knees, the portals were actually created by the dungeon itself; the dungeon was actually a sentient being named Wally.

If you’re interested, you can always download Narbacular Drop to play from the university’s website.

5 The haunted ramblings of Rattman

Doug Rattman was the only scientist to survive when GLaDOS killed everyone in the Aperture Science installation. He managed to escape by traveling through back rooms and maintenance areas where GLaDOS had no way to release his deadly neurotoxin. The dens he built there to live in can even be found in both Portal games.

When Portal first came out and people started finding its lairs, some players swore they could hear “Rat Man” (as they nicknamed him, ultimately inspiring his real name) talk alone when they were there. At the time, players had heated debates over whether or not that was true.

It appears that, Rattman’s voice wasn’t in the first game, but it has been added to his lairs in Portal 2. He was voiced by Marc Laidlaw, a Valve writer who didn’t work on Portal but wrote the Half-Life games. The full ramblings are on the Portal 2 soundtrack, titled “Ghost of Rattman”.

4 The limits of a small team

Think back to the world as it was before Portal was released. A small team of developers had created a relatively unknown indie game, which so impressed Valve founder Gabe Newell that he hired them. Valve was a growing game company; Half-Life had been a hit, and Steam, which initially only offered Valve games, began including third-party games in 2005.

However, despite much optimism about the company’s future, they didn’t have a lot of resources to dedicate to Portal developers. The game was created by a small team working with a big task: to turn a 15-minute indie game into something worthy of sitting on store shelves. Valve and the team didn’t want to disrupt the initial design they loved so much, but also tried to connect it to the Half-Life universe that had been so successful.

In the end, having a small team turned out to be a blessing in disguise; it had a lot of benefits for the final product. For one thing, the original developers were able to take the humor they included in Narbacular Drop and refine it without the interference of too many voices. Another example is how much the developers were able, with the independence given to them, to experiment with gameplay and mechanics. In a bigger game with a bigger team, anything unconventional has to be taught or explained to dozens of people, while the portal team was able to try new things without any hindrance.


3 Chell voice actor

Have you ever noticed that Chell makes noise in Portal, but no voice actor is listed for her in the end credits? Admittedly, she never speaks, but she does growl and moan as the turrets fire at her.

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It turns out that nobody is credited because these recordings are in fact the archived ones that Valve already had on hand! They are among the citizens that appear in Half-Life 2. So, technically, Chell’s voice actor is Mary Kae Irvin. Do with this information what you want.

2 The dissatisfied role of the party escort robot

After escaping from GLaDOS in the first portal, she tells you to assume the “party escort submission position” (basically, to lay down) and that a “party associate” will arrive to take her to the party that GLaDOS has promised her.

In an interview with Game Informer, a writer for Portal, Eric Wolpaw, said he wanted to include a Party Escort Bot – a Core with limbs – in the second half of the game that would follow scary Chell as she escapes, waiting for her to assume the party escort submission position.

Although he didn’t make the original game, the Party Escort Bot eventually made two appearances. The first is the Portal finale. If you’re wondering how that can be, since we just noticed it was never in the first game, it’s because a patch changed the ending slightly. In the original version, Chell walks out and falls unconscious as she stares into the sunlight. In the patched version, in the prelude to Portal 2, Chell hears the voice of the Party Escort Bot saying, “Thank you for assuming the party escort submissive position.” Chell still falls unconscious, but she is slowly moved as it happens. The second appearance is the only time we see the Bot: in the webcomic Portal 2: Lab Rat. The comic shows Doug Rattman watching the Party Escort Bot bring Chell back to the facility.


1 The meme that was never meant to be: Hoopy the Hoop

Hoopy the Hoop is a piece of junk that became a meme because it didn’t become a meme. Yes, you read that right.

Although it is a relatively short game, Portal managed to trigger a bunch of memes within the gaming community(the phrase “the cake is a lie” was undoubtedly the most popular and enduring). While they definitely aimed to make a fun game, the developers had no idea it would take off the way it did.

In fact, they actually had a prediction that part of the game would become a meme, if part went: Hoopy the Hoop. It’s a circular piece of junk that falls right in front of Chell during the game’s final shots (pre-patch and post-patch), where you see sunlight and the smoldering wreckage of Aperture Science’s Enrichment Center. The hoop bounces for a moment, then falls past the remains of GLaDOS. The developers affectionately named it Hoopy the Hoop.

The community found it so hilarious that the developers thought this mundane item would become a meme that it became a joke among the game’s fans.

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