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Interview with Erik Johnson

Gamasutra has an amazing interview with Erik Johnson, the project manager at Valve and Portal 2. It's 4 pages long, but it's full of some great info both about the game and about developing in general.

Quote:
Portal was a game that many people felt didn't really need a sequel, despite how much fans loved the universe and would appreciate a return. How do you balance that expectation?

EJ: The first thing we did was judge fans by their reaction, and partly because Portal 1 was a much smaller game, they were saying they wanted more -- but what you are saying is really accurate, too.

For many people, it was this perfect experience. It was the game that, far and away, more people finished than any game we've made -- we can see in Steam if the game gets finished, and it was huge in that respect.

We looked back to find the core things players liked about Portal. We felt it was the story and the tone, the type of story it was, and the delivery mechanism of the story. We felt like for a lot of people, their reaction was surprise about the gameplay. Portals are obviously a huge part of the gameplay itself, but the thing they wanted was to be surprised -- like the type of game, what they thought when they played the game.

Quote:
It's an interesting dynamic because there's this love-hate relationship going on there. I know the player is just an avatar, really, but what have you discussed internally about what the player feels about GLaDOS?

EJ: We haven't really explored a huge amount of what her relationship is. Generally, it's more that the customer would think of how they think. We did a pretty good job of getting customers interested, which was our goal, and GLaDOS is generally not hated in the way bosses are typically hated in video games.

Even bosses that are executed really well, most of the time their goal is to feel like they are a direct antagonist and your goal is just to defeat them. GLaDOS definitely doesn't have that.

Read the full article here

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I liked the part where he almost told story info. I guess all we really got out of it is that the goal of portal 2 will not in fact be escaping; what it will be is anyone's guess.

Hear the turret, for it is knell. It summons thee to heaven, or to hell.

I really enjoyed the article for it's technical bits of information, like the stuff about developer commentary, as opposed to more nuggets of Portal 2 info.

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Yeah I've looked at adding developer commentary to my TF2 maps, whilst we (me and Nineaxis) never really got around to it, it's incredibly easy to do.

I was thinking about commentary nodes the other day actually, I was asking one of the P2 level designers which bits he was working on so that I'd know when it was released. I'll make sure I tell him to add as much commentary as possible when release nears.

youme wrote:
Yeah I've looked at adding developer commentary to my TF2 maps, whilst we (me and Nineaxis) never really got around to it, it's incredibly easy to do.

I was thinking about commentary nodes the other day actually, I was asking one of the P2 level designers which bits he was working on so that I'd know when it was released. I'll make sure I tell him to add as much commentary as possible when release nears.

Yeah, I was surprised at how (relatively) easy the Commentary Editor was. It's also nice because it can be done outside of mods; just add a switch or something that toggles sv_commentary [or something along those lines] to 1 or 0. I'm going to start adding it in any maps I make.

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Now with 100% more inline comments!