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Showing posts from May, 2011

Mislead (You too)

Torrey Boyle and I, Kevin Conley have decided to investigate Valve's Portal 2 from a narrative perspective. During one of the levels a turret proclaims "I'm different"; this line seemed to strike a chord within our hearts so we gave it extra attention. Through this line we can relate it to the idea of determinism. Basically what determinism, or more specifically Hard-determinism explains is that humans are no different than robots. Why that sounds like a bunch of malarkey. Not really. Let me ask first, did you make the decision to be born, do you understand the machine that is the universe. No because no one does, it's unfathomable, although the pondering is justified. Ever since our births, certain events have been spiraling in motion in grand and very unnoticeable ways. From our parents influences on our pre-conscious state to the patch of grass that catches your eye for a fleeting moment. All things influence us more than we would like to believe, and there is…
Jed Copley, Chance Wilson, and Veronica Fennell have collaborated to investigatemotivation in the gaming world. Specifically, we wanted to focus on the motivationsthat GLAdOS provides to the player/character to complete tasks. To help give usideas and theory behind our ideas, we have incorporated the theories of ShoshannahTekofsky’s “Theory of Gaming Motivation”.

Tekofsky theorized that there are 3 basic rewards that gaming offers and motivatethe player into continuing and enjoying the game: achievement, recognition, andsatisfaction. Within these three rewards are 11 basic psychological needs that Tekofskygrouped and charted by which type of reward they offer.

Although Portal incorporates all 11 psychological needs in one way or another, we are focusing on the main needs that GLAdOS and Wheatley use for motivating the player/character: Emotional Regulation, Competition, Danger management.

The Theory of Gaming Motivation defines Emotional Regulation as the psychological response to outsid…

Finale Mongoose: Narrative of the series.

A few thoughts on the narrative of Portal 2 and a look in depth of what I consider the 5 characters of the series.

The first game's story was simple. GLaDos uses Chell to perform experiements with the Aperture Science Portal Device. Eventually GLaDos decides her experiments are finished, and attempts to kill Chell. Chell, now having what I would consider advance Portal training, easily escapes and "destroys" GLaDos.

There is very little story here to analyze and tear apart. You can see the ratman den's. You can assume he is around and even helping Chell. Basically this was meant to be pure gameplay, icing on the Orange Box cake. But it gained popularity, so they had to deepen the story. This brings us to the comic.

The story that bridges the two games is Valve's comic, Labrat. The story follows Ratmen, a schizophrenic scientist during GLaDo's installation of the conciousness core, Chell's escape, and her eventual recapture. In it you see that Chell is dragge…

Final Tally

The first thing I would like to add is on a discussion from last meeting, about Shell as a "shell" for the player being the reason that she is mostly inaudible. I would say that the game sets you up to be the emotional ploy and the voice of a character for the reason that Shell's inferior human intelligence would be easily attacked by Glados, while your intellect is untouchable by the video game's AI.
My biggest concern and area of thinking throughout this course has been on whether or not Portal can be truely deemed "art" in the same way that some other games are. The evidence that the game is an artistic piece of overwhelming: a complicated puzzle platformer, with every detail in minutia or on the large scale designed for a specific purpose, riddled with referencing to obscure academic and cultural phenomena. It is a thought provoking game that has been able to unintentionally capture the attention of children, adults, idiots, and geniuses, it is a game…

Narratives killed the Video Game Star.

The message of any medium is only as effective as the vehicle used to deliver said message, and for that reason, any intelligent designs a video game has must be reflected in the designs of the game itself. With such a paramount importance on the design of the game itself, then, the actual gameplay becomes the most important aspect of any video game theory that would come after it, being that any theory must be backed up by something in the game's levels or something in the gameplay. Players that slip beyond the realms of reality into the virtual world take on a new role, a role that may or may not reflect how individual players would truly react, should this world be made into the true reality and not the reality inside. This principle is a principle that is glazed over by the opponents of video games as a whole, as they suspect anyone who appears with a genie flair into the realm of Fallout 3 (for example) and proceeds to murder every inhabitant therein encountered will react in…

A Portal To Feminism, by Chris Bennett

In a world where the average game sees players tromping through the gore-spattered, phallic-laden, leatherneck power fantasies of every thirteen-year-old boy, the Portal franchise represents more than a series of delightful puzzles layered in a gooey helping of humor so pitch black it'd make Riddick himself squeal with delight. The games serve as a sublime subversion of the first-person shooter genre, and indeed much of the vast, predominately-masculine landscape of gaming as a whole, offering up a feminist interpretation of the conventions of each with a side of cake and potatoes. Naturally the most prominent examples are the stars of the games themselves, specifically long-runners Chell and GlaDos. It's tempting to redact points from Chell because she's about as blank a slate as one can get, even by Valve's standards. Where the Half-Life games established Gordon Freeman as a remarkably introverted theoretical physicist, he was nonetheless given a plac…

Aperture's Quest for Your Money

It is amazing that Portal has become such a huge hit. What began as just a little game thrown into the Orange Box quickly transformed into one of the most popular puzzle games that even spawned its own meme, "The cake is a lie." The game itself was and is so awesome that it managed to make a success out of itself without advertising. Thanks to its popularity its sequel was allowed the luxury of advertiment to promote its release. Unlike most commercials the Portal 2 commercials and advertisements are actually worth watching for the humor each possesses. The improvements and new elements within Portal 2 are amazing and the co-op feature is a very welcome addition to the game.

Commercials for Portal 2 show glimses of insight into the story and the type of narrative one will witness. Dark humor, implications of insanity, hints of a corrupt company that does not value human life, and an intense focus on testing are all displayed in the various commercials. While playing the game …

Elements in Multi-player

As I played through single and mult-player I noticed a difference in the mechanics of the puzzles. The puzzles forced people playing together forced both players to rely heavily on each other. The new game elements that were introduced in the single player were presented in ways in the co-op that required both players to depend on the other. The hard light bridge was more difficult to use within the co-op. It was really easy for players to kill each other or themselves if they were not careful with their portals. The gels, especially the orange speed gel, were the most effected by the use of four portals instead of two. One level literally had one player running through their own portals with the help of the gel in order to gain momentum while the other player had to replace one of the running player's portals with one of the non-running players portals to literally shoot them across the level, through crushing spikes, and into a button. Combinations appeared in multiplayer that d…

Co-op Story Placement Possibilities

The marketing of this game has a lot to do with the popularity of the first game and the hidden meaning that is looked for throughout both Portal and Portal 2. The big question is where the co-op story takes place during the main story. There are three possible places the co-op story line could have taken place. The first and most unlikely is the co-op story takes place before the original Portal game. This is possible because at the end of Portal 2 co-op the player sees all the humans stored within tanks. Could Chell be among them?
The second possible placement for the co-op storyline would be shortly after GLaDOS awakens in the Portal 2 storyline. This is more noticable after someone has played through the single player compaign and then the co-op. Some GLaDOS says in the co-op come up in the single player, like when she discusses seeing a deer on the surface.
The final placement possible is after Portal 2 and it seems to be the most likely, however it is not definate. GLaDOS is in fu…

Another Glance at Co-op

Continuing on my previous statements this may be a good place to discuss the teamwork in the multi-player aspect of Portal 2 and teh effect of the game on teamwork. The multi-player portion of the game is difficult if played with a person for only a short amount of time and if it is played with a person non-stop it is very frustrating for one or both players depending on the personalities of the two. The game itself adds stress with GLaDOS saying that 0ne player is doing better than or more more work than the other. This is also shown in single player in the chapter titled "The Escape" at the when Wheatley is put in control, GLaDOS pushes Wheatly to grow resentful of Chell which is the cause of the second half of the game to take place. All these factors make Portal 2 difficult and frustrating at times but it is for some reason fun.

A Glance at Co-op

After recently playing Portal I have decided to write about the multiplayer and how it may play into marketing. The first feature I noticed while playing multiplayer that I found interesting was the the ability to play multiplayer both online and with another person in the room. I've noticed that this feature is disappearing from many of the big title games that appear on the 360 and PS3 sysetems. Since the original Portal did not contain multi-player the inclusion of multi-player in Portal could prove helpful in its marketing. While the original was fun it grew boting if you were simply being a spectator.

Feminism in Portal and Portal 2

John and I found an article written by Chris Holt who shares the same gender related analysis that we have previously commented on.

Feminism is a reoccuring theme throughout Portal and Portal 2. It is depicted by the difference between the voices given to the characters. For instance, GLaDos is given a robotic voice which makes her sound more intelligent. In Portal 2, it is revealed that she was designed to be the most sophisticated and powerful artificial intelligence within the facility. On the other hand, the characters who are given realistic human voices are male. The human voices represent lower intelligence and a higher level of dependence. For example Wheatley, who is given the most humanistic voice was infact designed to slow down GLaDos and to be the most "moronic" robot. Also, the turrets are given human voices and represent a low intelligence level with the exception of the operatic s…

Chell as a Non-Character

Chell has nearly no characteristics. We know she’s not one for talking. We know she’s female. We know at some point between Portal and Portal 2 she got a bit warm and pulled down the top part of her jumpsuit. We know nothing about her back story, other than speculation based on clues throughout the games (apparently one of the potato battery projects in Portal 2 has “By Chell” on it, and GLaDOS confirms that Chell is adopted in the “I literally do not have enough energy to lie” section), and the only thing we know for sure about her personality is that at some point she tested high for “tenacity.”With such a non-characterized character, whose actions do nothing to influence the outcome of the storyline (the game can only end one way), can Chell be seen as anything other than the player’s avatar? If this is the case, then we should view all the elements in the game that are meant to psychologically affect Chell as being directed only at the gamer. All of GLaDOS and Wheatley’s taunts an…

The Myth of the Gun

An interesting exploration of the cultural relevance of First-Person Shooters. Not quite related to Portal, but a very fascinating nonetheless.

Theoretical Mongoose: Level Design Ire.

Over the past twenty solar periods, i've been wrestling with a rather rare case of "I really don't like this game" and have been attempting to figure out why so that I could correct that so that I may be able to continue my work. However, the level design work i've been doing is, I found, precisely the reason for the feeling. Portal Un is perhaps the best example of a self-contained level system, not a single space is wasted and there is no hint of filler anywhere. The game is really just that, a puzzle game. As the Obligatory Mongoose noted earlier in the term, "The level design is symbolic of GLaDos herself: functional, highly lethal, and incredibly dark and oppressive", the operative word being *functional*. Portal Deux, however, is not functional. Portal Deux features enormous levels with mind-bendingly distant platforms, with the obvious culmination being firing a portal ONTO THE FRIGGIN MOON. The extent of the large rooms and the nature of the cha…