Why Valve needs to change Portal's mechanics (slightly)

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I've recently been playing Portal: Prelude, another fan made mod for Portal. I'm currently about half way through - or I think I'm half way through.  I've played as far as test chamber 9 out of 19, though of course there could be more content afterwards.

However, I'm finding this mod a lot more difficult than the original game. I'm not finding the puzzles particularly difficult to work out - the problem is that I'm lacking the skill to perform the tricks needed. There are a lot of cases where you need to move a portal whilst moving at high speed and it's led me to think that actually the core mechanics of the game need tweaking as it's making the game more difficult than it should be.

The root cause of my problem can be demonstrated quite easily. Just create two portals on the floor and then fall into one of them. If you aim your fall right you will now oscillate up and down through them. When you fall through one of the portals, you emerge upside down from the other one. The problem is that the game will immediately try to turn you the right way up. If you're looking nearly straight up or down, it quickly flicks you the right way up with a slight change in your viewpoint. If you're looking nearer to horizontal then you will be rolled slowly to the right way up over the course of a second or so.

When just falling this isn't too bad, but when it interacts with your ability to aim at things we start to have serious problems. If you're looking vertically, the instant flip reverses your turn direction. If you're looking straight down you'll emerge looking straight up, so mouse movement is now suddenly different. Before you enter the portal you can't look any further down, and then suddenly you can move your viewport down another 180 degrees because it thinks you emerged looking straight up. Also when looking vertically, your turn direction will suddenly reverse. If you are looking down and turn the mouse to the right, the image will appear to rotate anti clockwise, but once you have fallen through the portal and are looking straight up, a mouse movement to the right will result in the view turning clockwise.

If you are looking closer to horizontal when you enter the portal, the situation is even worse as the auto rolling just totally messes up any attempt to aim.

I think that the only reason this isn't a problem in the original game is that the puzzles were deliberately designed to avoid this situation. The only occasion that comes to mind is one part of test chamber 18 where you are "climbing" by falling into successively higher portals, but in that case you have a fairly long fall so you have a couple of seconds to get accustomed to the new viewpoint.

The only way I can think to fix this is to postpone the correcting of your orientation until you have landed on a surface. What do people think?

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This page contains a single entry by KeefJudge published on January 20, 2009 1:51 PM.

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