Discussion of the yet-to-be-released game “Portal” by Valve Software.

As much as I hate Windows, that’s where the gaming is. Obviously there’s no innate reason why gaming and Windows are so closely tied. It’s just the way things are right now: approximately ten years ago when early 3D games like Quake were coming out Windows was the platform. Then, when gamers demanded higher quality graphics and started buying video cards, the platform was Windows.

Now we’re stuck in something of a feedback loop: people will tend toward Windows for games, game makers will tend toward Windows for a platform. The graphics cards and drivers are made with Windows and DirectX in mind. The opportunities for non-Windows games are great, but the risks are too. This is always the case with an unproven market.

So I keep Windows around to play the occasional game. I’d prefer to play in my native environment, but if a movie comes out in Spanish that I want to see, I’ll see it. One such game I look forward to is Valve‘s Portal. It’s a mindbender that involves some nasty physics tricks. Basically, what would happen if you transformed momentum along a two-dimensional axis into momentum along a three-dimensional axis, vice versa, and all sorts of combinations.

The player has a gun that targets flat surfaces. One firing mode creates an entrance portal, the other an exit portal. You shoot a wall and you can now walk through the wall. If the entrance portal is on a ceiling you’ll be moving at the speed you walked through the portal plus gravity. If you place the entrance on the ground ten feet down and the other next to you then you’ll pop out of the one next to you at the speed of your fall. Etc.

It’s a really interesting and complex concept that sells itself. But I was very happy to happen along its prequel: Narbacular Drop. It’s basically the same thing, except Narbacular Drop uses a less complex engine and was built by a team of then-students. You can download it (win32) here.

The greatest thing about games like this is it really showcases the way that computers become so crucial to entertainment in the future. With a computer-based system you can do things you could never do on a movie set or television show. The possibilities are endless.

I just wish that they would make the buggers gnu/linux compatible.


One response to “Portal”

  1. […] box’: Half-Life2 Episode 2, Team Fortress 2 (multiplayer), and the game I mentioned last December, […]

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