Have you ever heard of some awesome class about Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or why Lord of the Rings is totally better than Harry Potter, so suck it, losers, and thought, “Man, I sure went to the wrong college”? Well, you're not alone. Because unless you count yourself among Wabash College's proud few, odds are, making GlaDOS eat her hilarious words isn't doing your GPA any favors.
“Alongside Gilgamesh, Aristotle's Politics, John Donne's poetry, Shakespeare's Hamlet, and the Tao Te Ching, freshmen at Wabash will also encounter a video game called Portal,” wrote professor Michael Abbott, who you may recognize as creator of the fantastic Brainy Gamer blog.
The course, titled “Enduring Questions,” is one of a few freshman seminars required for all freshmen. Its main focus is on the nature of humanity as depicted by a number of “classic and contemporary works from multiple disciplines.” And so, what better work for brainy college students than one of gaming's greatest brain-benders?
“My very first thought was Portal. Accessible, smart, cross-platform, relatively short, full of big ideas worth exploring. I played it again to be sure my impressions still held. No problem there. If anything, I admire the game more now than when it first appeared. A beautiful design,” Abbott wrote.
So, best college course ever or greatest college course ever? Now then, if only we could get our “Crowbar Physics Taught by That LHC Guy Who Looks Kinda Like Gordon Freeman” class off the ground. The practical applications are – as you'd expect – innumerable.
Hello there, non-existent reader! Yes, that’s right: you don’t exist. After all, you can’t. You’re reading this site, which means your rig’s probably a feral monster – more beast than machine – but this article caught your eye, which implies you don’t own Portal yet. To say that someone of that description exists – why, that’s just silly.
Let’s say, though, that hypothetically you’re a real flesh-and-blood human being. And you don’t own Portal because – we don’t know – you just came out of a coma or something. And you’ve spent every waking second reconnecting with your family or whatever. We guess that’s a valid excuse. If that’s the case, click here, and then give the big red button a press.
And presto! Now you own Portal, and you didn’t have to spend a dime. Wasn’t that easy? Almost as easy as changing the television channel or closing your Internet browser so you can—hey, wait!
Valve recently kicked-off one of the most creative alternate reality games we’ve ever encountered. Yesterday, the developer updated its time-and-space-continuum-defying puzzler Portal with a single achievement and a bunch of hidden radio transmissions – some of which were encoded in Morse Code and one of which was, we kid you not, encoded in double Morse Code, and turned out to be the Morse Code for the Morse Code for “LOL.” Oh, Valve.
Anyway, eager fans have been working ‘round the clock to get to the bottom of Valve’s creative caper, and have uncovered – among other things – a few ASCII pictures and some dialogue from Aperture Science founder Cave Johnson. He seems like a great guy, too, as evidenced by nuggets like this one:
"Plus, in the event of your death, I personally guarantee that, thanks to the form you were required to sign this morning, your family will not suffer the indignities of a prolonged and costly legal battle against Aperture Science. Trust me, I am rich, and it is a burden I would not wish on anyone."
So, when will we find out more? Nothing’s set in stone, but the running theory is that something’s happening on March 11, as a version of GlaDOS that’s shown up in the ARG is marked “3.11,” which is also the date Gabe Newell’s set to receive the Pioneer Award at this year’s Game Developer’s Conference.
So, yeah. Mark your calendars, folks. Portal 2’s on the way, we hope. And if it’s not? Well then, this ARG might just take the cake for biggest letdown of all time. (We apologize for that one. Sincerely.)
The Independent Games Festival just went down, and as usual, the Student Showcase is knocking everyone’s socks off. The Student Showcase has a history of producing some amazing stuff. In fact, Valve’s uber-successful Portal was a product of the Student Showcase in 2006. Several more recent entries are about to be released on WiiWare and the Xbox Live Arcade.
The ten winners are certainly upholding the tradition of excellence in the Student Showcase. If only you could sit down and experience them now... good news, you can. Only one of the ten is not yet available for public play, but even it should be out soon.
There’s something for every taste here. For the casual gamer there’s “Paper Cakes, where the player must sketch a path for their avatar to reach the goal. Paper Cakes is especially great if you have a Wacom tablet. If you fancy yourself the artsy type, try “Dreamside Maroon” and grow a vine to the moon. Want something fast paced? Download “Igneous” and stay ahead of the lava. Just check here for the full list complete with download links. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we have some games to play.
“Never bring a knife to a gunfight” – a wise saying that’s kept Cowboy duels the world over interesting for years. That cardinal rule doesn’t say anything about stone-shattering mining hammers, though, and there’s a very good reason for that. To quote an enemy from Red Faction: Guerrilla: “Snap! Crack! Sounds of brain splattering like wet spaghetti against a wall.” Hey, I never said I was quoting something that came from the poor guy’s mouth.
Battering EDF goons into Mars-flavored space-paste isn’t the only thing my hulking steel hammer does, either. It can render years of architectural progress futile in a few powerful blows, taking chunk after chunk out of buildings until all that remains is splintered scrap. As you can imagine, the practical applications for this futuristic form of Building Neutralization are endless. Wall in my way? Knock it down. Gun emplacement in my way? Knock it down. EDF fortress in my way? Well, you get the idea. But aside from the novelty of being able to run through walls screaming, “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch,” the ability to homerun-swing the entire environment around me into chalky dust – to never be impeded or have to take “the long way around” – is incredibly liberating. In fact, other shooters now feel limited and strange to me because they lack that feature.
Clearly, Red Faction developer Volition is onto something here. Completely destroyable structures give me all kinds of new options, keeping missions endlessly fresh. What Volition created, then, is a good, well-implemented game mechanic. It brings me endless amounts of joy and – even more importantly – I can’t imagine playing other games of its variety without it. As much as the game’s destructible environments have been pushed and marketed, they aren’t some big gimmick. In fact, interestingly enough, Red Faction: Guerrilla’s also a perfect example of how to both define and avoid cheap gimmicks – lessons that, if cranky, keyboard-bound gamers are to be believed, are quite important.
Yeah – this is getting pretty ridiculous. Just when you thought Valve’s market-dominating Steam service couldn’t cut any more off its game prices without bleeding money, they go and prove everyone wrong.
This weekend, Valve’s offering the Orange Box – a complete steal even at its original price – for $9.99. For those who haven’t been keeping score, the Orange Box contains Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episodes One and Two, Half-Life 2: The Lost Coast, Portal, and Team Fortress 2. Really, the only things this virtual incarnation of said box lacks are, well, actual oranges and any sort of box. But hey, you’re saving the trees for cheap, and isn’t that basically the American Dream?
So, six amazing games. Ten bucks. Breathing lightly on piggy bank will yield you that kind of scratch. Seriously, if you haven’t played these games, what are you even waiting for? Afraid you might lose your job while utterly engrossed in your new purchases? Well, if Steam keeps topping itself like this, you probably won’t need much money to keep your gaming appetite sated anyway.
EA has certainly taken a turn for the less-reviled as of late -- a sudden change that can be attributed to risk-taking, trouble-making CEO John Riccitiello. However, even creative greats like Picasso, De Vinci, and Batman were only human, and all humans have breaking points. For Riccitiello, that point was seemingly first-person run 'n' rebel Mirror's Edge.
"I was totally convinced that game needed to be third-person and not first-person, because I wanted to see Faith," Riccitiello said.
“I was really wrong about the third-person thing,” he continued, citing the highly anticipated title's finished form.
But even with titles like Mirror's Edge under his belt, Riccitiello's heart is clad in a business suit, and some "creative risks" -- like Tim Schafer-Jack Black collaboration Brutal Legend -- give him palpitations (the bad kind; not the blood-pumping, required-to-survive kind).
"I have seen it," Riccitiello replied when asked if EA has considered publishing Brutal Legend. "I am well aware of what the game is. It’s a very significant creative risk."
"Sometimes significant creative risks end up being some of the world’s best products. Spore was also a significant creative risk. So was The Sims. Portal, BioShock. But so was [the relatively poor-selling, high quality Tim Schafer title] Grim Fandango."
Scott Dacus is such a big fan of Portal his ringtone is the game’s theme song, “Still Alive.” However, an even bigger fan of the game commissioned Scott to build this case as a gift for his wife. We think this man is a genius or headed for divorce court—either way, he’s our new hero!
Hit the jump for an up-close look at a case which will never threaten to stab you, and in fact cannot speak.
Finishing The Orange Box left us in a state of shock. It wasn’t
Half-Life 2: Episode 2’s requisite cliffhanger ending that floored us;
rather, it was the realization that Episode 2 is the low point of the
entire Orange Box package. Portal and Team Fortress 2 completely
eclipse what Valve bills as the “centerpiece” of the bundle.