Portal 2
because why not.

We've Both downloaded packages we're going to regret. A potato?

Living, breathing controls. A fluid adventure. Epic humorism (sanguine and melancholic).

Portal 2 is at least twice as portal as portal was by any and all objective standards.

What is a sequel? Is it some kind of rat that lurks in the rafters? Is cashing in on a franchise, or the desire to see familiar characters grow and repeat their performances (or try new performances on for size) killing genres and destroying the delicate fabric of gaming art? Can we even tell the difference between a franchise and any other kind of publication, considering the industry standard of copying?

Recently things have come to an unremarkable, and unremarked head in some distant corner of our mutual recreation. It brings up an excellent point, entirely aside from the legal implications.

What is this sequel thing, really?

If the idea of going through a portal and coming out somewhere else in first person were patentable, then, surely, id, or possibly Origin would own it, and portal wouldn't have been made without a licensing agreement to show that Aperture Science's portal gun is not a derivative work of the translocator from UT or the quake rocket jump by bizarre association (Patent No. 57383: For Digital Addition of Velocity Vectors in 3 Dimensions through use of Jumping And Clicking the Mouse At The Right Time). Can you own physics? You can assuredly own video game physics packages, sell them, and defend them; they have value despite merely being a way to represent thermodynamics within the constraints of other, more confusing applications of thermodynamics (electronics), which, as far as I know, is still in the public domain (though, perhaps, some good minds could do some important work on that, and push it in the direction of Monsanto's copyright of DNA, or the persistent drug company practice of owning colonies of cells that come from real people).

If you can patent well timed humor, then Portal 2 is not a derivative work of portal 1 except in small 'guest written' appearances in marketing material that preceded the game or in the bite size commentary by some objects which appear in game so briefly that the reams of exposed dialog found in the package files which have been dutifully unpacked by various fans are some kind of monument to the wasted efforts of developers.

By the time you read this, Starcraft 2 will have been in the amazon top 100 best sellers list for over a thousand years. A promising beginning to its predicted tenure of "eternity" with that status. In that time, the question will probably never come up whether Starcraft 2 qualifies as a sequel, since it is meant to reproduce Starcraft in almost every way, with the subtle exceptions of unit behavior which could only be recognized by someone who played Starcraft.

Some time during Portal 2, as you are carted through an endless nothingness inside a mountain clutching an impossibly evil AI affixed to a potato, you may reflect on how Portal 2 is less a sequel to Portal, and more like a sequel to the entire Orange Box. You've got your FPS sequences interspersed with extremely long and extremely soul crushing tram rides that appear to move you through space, though, if you actually know anything about map design, you recognize the shadow fogs that you see as you stare into the distance are the computational opposite of infinite; a nothingness in which you float like a rat in a maze as stimuli are shoved through temporarily opened doors in the wall, or floor, or in really upsetting cases, the ceiling, without warning. Ironically, Portal 1's well conducted experiments were appropriately indifferent to your results. Either you will get to the exit or not. It is none of the business of the developers if you do not, one way or the other. Many did, and quickly (that first wonderful, magical night, where, for once, the urge to play '5 more minutes' stopped before fatigue and irritation started to stir in their cages) at that, to discover their reward pellet. So sweet! Portal 2 is more like a pair of kids (and their half dozen friends from school) tear-assing through a local fairground as you trot along behind, trying to keep an eye on all 6 and still keep a special eye out for the object of whatever 'lookit lookit lookit' cries might be arising from your charges. Often at odds with each other. "Oh wow, that looks cool--are you going to ride it?" "Yeah, those look good, do you want to get one?" "I don't know if you really want the giant bear--it takes tickets and you have to pop a lot of balloons" "Sure we can get lunch, let me just club your 5 friends over the head with this rock and drag them to a pavilion where we can order some hotdogs and cokes for 72$". You will certainly feel like you get your money's worth in terms of child-pleasing overstimulation, provided you can separate that goal from the goal of personal satisfaction and comfort.

One of my favorite things is a Robot with emotions. I tend to assume robots have emotions, and, specifically, that they have robot emotions. Meaning, there's a universal quality to their experiences, but, also, they are robots. We're a machine that can do 'whatever it wants' (which usually means doing a lot of 'what we're told' broken up by 'what is absolutely necessary' interspersed with 'nothing, because we don't feel like it'). But despite that total freedom without limitation, for whatever reason, we still experience existential dread. To be fair, we experience that as a byproduct of a society built on 1000s of years of refining the human impulse to accomplish something, and a natural evolution that took an offshoot of some vaguely ratlike ancestral animal's family tree that got its monkey on, and skewed it toward pack-hunting.

So good point. What is pack hunting? Pack hunting provides animals with experience. Sure, hunting in a pack is effective, but in order to pack hunt successfully, over the long term, you still have to get more food out of the hunt than the pack requires, as measured against other pack hunters in the same ecosystem. An animal completely evolved to always pack hunt looks like an ant. Ants have one set of genitalia per community. Come to think of it, I'm not even sure I know how they mix genes. Do they? Or do they just rely on random mutation? I should youtube some 6 minute presentations on that.

In any case, a reliable feature of pack hunters is that some members of the pack become excellent solo hunters. So, the pack is a school that trains great hunters. Because there is no substitute for training.

And Victory. And routine.

So a possibility is that you create a community in which success isn't recognized because it's not going to achieve the order of magnitude of success that will differentiate you reliably from your surroundings. Mosquitos are weirdly like this. They throw lives away by the 1000s just to stay in the environment, yet, despite each mosquito being the TIE fighter of insects, they persist and succeed--because no single mosquitos contribution is very important, therefore the production of more mosquitos is every mosquito's charge.

Then you have something like deer, who are giant rats, but have a hierarchy of toughness with their antlers. The antlers, when left to their own devices, grow to the point that everyone from the 'top' is shaved off, because they lock antlers and starve to death in the woods together, while a less-antlered buck mates with all the does.

Humans get to pick their antlers, and human women get to pick their mates. This crucial differentiation makes our pack tactical attitude cannibalistic. We pack tactically hunt each other in the romantic realm. Men and women band together to actively reenact warfare in which the prize is willing members of the opposite sex (though, perhaps, in the case of men, it is reasonable, sane members (boys be crazy)).

The eventual result of all this activity is Elon Musk, who is alarmed at the prospect of GLADOs. Even though he probably doesn't play games, because his palette is the manipulation of economies. So games are like buying Starbucks when you've got a decent roaster, from his point of view.

So let's say you have a property. You bought it on spec and decided to rent out the rooms on the upper floor while you live in the finished basement. At some point you realize that the finished basement was a tomb for someone's aging mother, and it now only serves as a psychic pit which will consume a good marriage. The key sticking point; Where will I take a shit while I invest in fixing this nightmare?

Answer, take on more risk. Make this enterprise bigger. Remember Akira? He was cool. He took a consequence free approach to investment in the context of gentrification in a growth sector.

I guess maybe that ended the universe? It did start over again after that, though, so the net-net is net-positive for positive nets.

Can you make more off of two properties than one? Maybe. Who knows? Maybe if you renovate your first property, it will become the kind of earner that buoys your second property and then you can stage a 3rd property.

Interestingly, Valve has become a tombstone in terms of promise. Linked inextricably to a market than they cannot hope to control, regulate, or benefit from, they ride on 3.5 properties. Team Fortress, Dota 2, and then a pie-chart (which amounts to 1.5 value) of Half-life, Left4Dead, and Portal. They sell hardware occasionally, and in so doing have reinvented the concept of 'loss-leader'.

Apparently, no amount of smart people in a competitive environment will ever get the right answer. Maybe find a new position for the dials and knobs.

Portal 2 is a franchise without a thesis. Portal 1 was a triumph. I'll make a note here: huge success. It's hard to overstate my satisfaction.

Gatekeeping the reigns of a great production house is a serious endeavor. If you allow too many Transformers, the talent will evacuate until you cannot build Avatars or Star Warses. Or Conspiracies (with Kenneth Branagh). Talent has a point to make. Finding talent is not a thing. Encouraging talent is.

Talent can Mcauley Culkin, Fred Savage, Kirsten Dunst, Eddie Murphy, Shirley Temple itself all day long, but the end result won't mean shit if it wasn't driven from a place of curiosity and fear.

At no point during Portal 2 am I ever confused or nervous about what's happening. The ending tries *SO HARD* to make me feel the least bit of genuine anxiety. It achieves Katy Perry's Chained To The Rhythm's level of existential dread. Which is the existential dread of parents' duty to put their child to bed before they get cranky.

"You have a big day tomorrow, sweetie".

As a crossover tie-in with Overwatch, or whatever the fuck.

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