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The Other Portal 2

Portal 2We all had a lot of fun with Valve's Portal 2 last year, but what finally arrived as a finished product turns out to be very different than what was originally intended.  All of that great stuff from Portal 2 that we know and love — Wheatley, GLaDOS, Chell, "Want You Gone" — wasn't the focus of the original concept.  At the Game Developers Conference this week, Valve writers Chet Faliszek and Erik Wolpaw held court to discuss how the original Portal 2 pitch was a much different experience that involved multiple personality spheres, a different role for Aperture Science founder Cave Johnson, and an explanation for that bizarre GLaDOS-comprehends-Garfield sound clip that was uncovered a while back. has the rundown on the Portal 2 panel.

The co-op campaign's initial premise was that GLaDOS would continue to perform tests using the robots introduced in the single-player, but without a human observer around to interpret the results, all her testing data would be in a "weird Schrodinger's cat of quantum uncertainty." In order to make up for this, GLaDOS sends the robots out into Aperture to find human artifacts and try to understand how humans think. One of the first items they would bring back is a crappy Garfield knock-off called "Dorfeldt".

Except, between GLaDOS and the two co-op bots, none of them understood why humans find the traditional Dorfeldt strip -- complete with inane punchline about eating his owner's lasagna -- funny at all. So GLaDOS decides to re-write Dorfeldt to her standards of humor. This time, instead of the traditional exasperation of why Dorfeldt has eaten the lasagna, the owner informs Dorfeldt that he has activated the neurotoxins in the room, and the last panel has Dorfeldt thinking, "I've made terrible choices in my life" before dying.

There's some great stuff that landed on the cutting room floor that we may see again sometime in a future Valve game, but in the end I think I'm pleased that Portal 2 wound up being the experience that it was.  There are so many wondrous moments in the game that I'd hate to imagine any of my favorites being replaced.   After all that players went through in the original Portal, not returning to the Chell versus GLaDOS conflict would have been a disappointment.  GLaDOS experiences major character development throughout the Portal 2 story and it would have been wrong to rob her of that.  As for Dorfeldt though... I think I'd like to see more of that.