Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fighting Mongooses on Level Design

CB of the Fighting Mongooses, continuing to relentlessly spam the blog with inanity. Today's topic: architecture! That's vague, though, so let's narrow it down just a hair, and correlate the design of the Testing Center with the mindset of its deliciously diabolical propagator, GLaDos. Note that this is in reference exclusively to Portal the First.
Before GLaDos' intentions have been made explicitly clear - while the player continues to identify her as a benign, if sardonic and witty testing aid - the facilities remain monochromatic and sterile. The Weighted Storage Cubes are completely unremarkable, the color scheme (excluding the Portal Gun) runs the gamut from red to black to white, and the only glimpses of areas outside the testing chambers are mundane offices perched about in the corners of several rooms.
Test Chamber 16, the chamber which introduces the turrets and provides perhaps the most definitive evidence of GLaDos' malevolence/insanity up to that point, notably offers the player the first opportunity to slip behind the tail and explore the first of the Rat Man's den. The den is a bleak room drenched in rusty reds and browns, and discarded equipment lines the walls. It's a startling shift from the polished, robotic tones of the Test Center thus far, and a stark sign that all is not well within the facility.
Test Chamber 17, a.k.a. the Crypt of Our Dearly Beloved Companion Cube, offers an even more penetrative glimpse into the machinations of the Testing Center. Poetry and portraits line yet another conspicuously-hidden den, eulogizing and glorifying the Companion Cube to what I consider a moving extent. It's a deeply human (and humorous touch), and the memorial, coupled with the euthanization of the Companion Cube, foreshadow GLaDos' own intentions toward Chell.
The incinerator is self-explanatory: flames lapping at your feet, and as JD noted, that evil little medley whistling in the air. GLaDos has made it inescapably clear that you're set to be murdered, either for a flight of fancy or so that she has more cake to herself.
It's the backside of the Testing Center that stands as the centerpiece of this particular thesis, as it's a deliberate extension of the hidden dens scattered behind the tiling in the chambers. The level design is symbolic of GLaDos herself: functional, highly lethal, and incredibly dark and oppressive. While the technology operating in these areas appears to be running without a problem, it seems to serve no purpose besides alternately aiding your escape and ending your life - GLaDos' MO throughout the game.
GLaDos' personal chamber is a bit of a conundrum, reverting back to the pristine monochrome of the test chambers. Arguably, it's indicative of how GLaDos views herself - clean, functional, and efficient. The chamber exploding and ostensibly caving in on her, by extension, is illustrative of how her attempts at murdering Chell backfired horribly.

That was surprisingly difficult. Still fun times, though. Thoughts? Opinions? Candy?

Fighting Mongooses Part Two

I Played through portal again to get myself in the mindset. I wanted to have a mind full of Weighted storage cubes before I started looking at the theory of study. One thing I noticed from a theatrical point of view, There is very little music. There is the occasional radio in a Rat Man nest or with a few cubes. Other than that, I can think of only really think of a few moments with music. The moment when you finally get the full Portal gun, where you can fire two portals. The music is bright and and technological. You were just given the key to a new world, and the quick musical moment adds to that feeling.

Another is when GLaDos tries to incinerate you. The music is sharp and dreadful, kind of like a techno Snidely Whiplash moment.
The final moment I really noticed the music was during the climatic battle after you burn away her Moralty core. It is your standard climactic moment music.

Now this serves two purposes. The first is the lack of music. This gives the environments already sterile and solitary feel even more alienation. The second, in my opinion, is to give GLaDos a flare for the dramatic.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Narrative Speculation of Portal

The "cake is a lie" is the key to understanding Portal's narrative meaning. Possibly referencing the nature of our world, where we are told from a young age that the world is our oyster and there is many splendors to be achieved. But in truth, the prize, goal and cake aren't actually achievable things, just the journey to that lie. However, is Portal referencing the journey to the lie is the prize.
In essence, is Portal trying to bring to mind the delusional world we live in, or bringing to our attention that the "cake" is a journey? (One take)

Another take on Portal's narrative: a warning of technological control.
All things are made by people, so why does Glados control? A likely conclusion might be he was made by the government to control, but he became too unstable and developed a mind of his own. His instability being a warning of too much technological dependence can turn on us. (Another Take)

By the way, me and kconley are taking a narrative approach to our study.

Just learned a new word!


Not sure what it is (though I can guess) but it sounds like something you should all look up. I saw it mentioned in a comment about studies of how amnesia functions in video games.

There is SUCH interesting work going on in this field...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fighting Mongooses Are Go

Chris Bennett of the Fighting Mongooses, reporting in. Collectively, our team has devoured the original Portal and supped on the screenshots of the sequel. Needless to say, we're hungry for more.
We've gathered up a few sources already - we're going for a nice, even mix of incisive interviews offered up by those darling little developers, and pretentious undergraduate theses we found in the interweb's seedy underbelly.
We hope to offer up morsels both delicious and moist in the coming post, and we're going to thoroughly enjoy gaming for the greater good. Also, typing in the second person. Friggin' righteous.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Hello, all. We will have a very brief class meeting this coming Tuesday, April 26th, at 10:00am in the Drover Den. I'll hand out some info and we can check out the new console, download Portal, etc. See you there!