It's Time to Review Our Portal 2 Testing with the Kotaku Game Club

Illustration for article titled It's Time to Review Our Portal 2 Testing with the Kotaku Game Club

Welcome back everyone! Today is our first Kotaku Game Club meeting of 2012, and the opening discussion of our series on Kotaku Game of the Year Portal 2.

Since this month's game was released last May, we've changed the traditional Game Club formula a little bit. Instead of basing discussions around chronological portions of the game, this month we'll be looking at different design components of the game each week. Today we'll be discussing puzzle & level design.


With that in mind, a reminder that every meeting this month may include critical spoilers. If you're playing Portal 2 for the first time, I'd say you should get through the game and come back.

If you're one of the many Kotaku readers whose New Year's resolution was to join the Game Club before, here's a quick crash course: Our goal is to play games together so that we can share our experiences and discover (or rediscover) the game as a community. We meet each week in the Game Club's comments section to discuss our experiences with the chosen game, including its narrative and mechanical themes and our own responses to them.

Our meetings start at 4pm Eastern every Thursday, and last an hour or so after the post is published. The goal of the Game Club to get everybody talking, so don't be shy about putting out your ideas - That's what we're here for.

So here our puzzle-centric jump off question for the week: Is there any single learned skill that you think should have been more reinforced or explicitly taught?

Every puzzle in Portal 2 has a purpose: Each room either teaches a new technique or asks you to combine some of the ones you've learned until that point. As a result, our progression is very transparent. While there is something magical about the way Valve combines those learned ideas into complex puzzles, that intricate progression is built around the idea that, once you've finished a puzzle, you fully understand all the moving pieces.


That's not necessarily true, though. You can get stuck, get confused, and then suddenly solve a puzzle without fully understanding how you did it. If that happens, the lesson is lost: If a similar concept is introduced in later puzzles, you approach it as if you never even tried that earlier, which can cause more confusion. Can we identify those instances and see if there's a way that they could have been prevented?

Next week we'll be discussing the mechanical elements of Portal 2 (how gels work, etc). Let's meet here on Kotaku next Thursday, January 19th, at 4pm Eastern.


I wish the "Conversion Gel" had a better introduction. There was no real introduction to its use, the first time you had to use it, it was fairly irritating, and I must admit, for a game as hilarious as Portal 2, I wouldn't have minded having to be spoon-fed instructions on how to use it.