Bethesda's epic sci-fi RPG is here, and it's a big one. From shipbuilding to exploring the surface of Mars, our thoughts so far.
Starfield Review... In Progress
The first trailer for Grand Theft Auto 6 is finally here.
Grand Theft Auto 6 Trailer
We take an in-depth look at Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora and tell you why it should be heavily on your radar!
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora - a Deep-Dive into its Potential
Range-wise, the ROG Rapture GT6 is phenomenal, and it's ideal for all gaming and non-gaming-related tasks.
ASUS ROG Rapture GT6 WiFi 6 Mesh System Review
AusGamers Portal 2 Developer Interview
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 11:48am 09/03/11 | Comments
AusGamers was lucky enough to visit Valve Software where we went hands-on with portal 2 and also spoke with Jeep Barnett who worked on the co-op side of things, the Steam integration on PS3 and was one of the original Portal 1 team-members...

Check out our interview with Jeep Barnett from Valve above, or click here to stream it in HD

AusGamers: Ok guys, welcome back to AusGamers, you’re here with Stephen Farrelly, your editor and host for this particular interview. We’re at Valve; a pretty special place. We’re actually in a nice little room where I’ve had hands-on with Portal 2.

And we’ve got Jeep, who is a programmer and worked on the first [Portal] game and obviously the second. Jeep, can you just run us through your overall duties on Portal 2?

Jeep Barnett: On Portal 2 I was a programmer and I mostly worked on the co-op portion of the game and a lot of stuff like the gesture system that allows you to do high-fives and interactions with your [co-op] partner.

AG: Let’s talk about that [co-op] -- obviously it’s a new component to the game. How fleshed out in terms of... I know it’s a similar narrative to the single-player, so how big are we talking?

Jeep: The co-op portion is its own campaign; it’s completely separate levels from the single-player and it’s just about as long but in and of itself, it’s longer than Portal 1 was.

AG: Now does it take place sort of parallel to the events of the single-player portion, or are we talking beforehand or is this something to do with why everything ends up being dilapidated as it is?

Jeep: The co-op section takes place after. There’ll be story ties where there’s kind of an overlap between them, but it’s mostly after the single-player portion of Portal 2.

AG: What was behind the decision to go with robots for the characters?

Jeep: Well the main thing is that in co-op, you end up dying a lot and we really wanted to play up the deaths, make them exciting and actually make it that by experimenting in the map and sometimes dying, you’d be able to just laugh every time it happened. So having human characters that would die -- and I don’t know how they would respawn -- but it’s a little bit gruesome. So we just thought it would be a lot more fun with the robots and with the gesture system it allows us a bit more creative freedom to do things like spin their spines all the way around and things like that.

AG: Can you elaborate a bit more on that actually, explain the gesture system a little bit for us?

Jeep: As you play through the game, you start with just a few gestures but you start to earn more as you go on. They give you different ways that you can express yourselves and interact with each other. So you’ll be able to do hugs or high-fives -- different things like that. You can even do rock-paper-scissors so if you’re trying to decide who should do the hard task in that level you can decide that way. There’s also air-gestures that allow you to do flips and splits and things like that while you’re flying through the air.

AG: And the purpose of these obviously is for letting the other player know -- if you’re playing with somebody from half-way around the world or whatever. Is there a single-player component to the co-op, can you play with an AI robot as well?

Jeep: You can only play with a live human; another player. You can play split-screen or you can play on the Internet.

AG: One of the big features is that we’ve got Steamworks on PS3. Did you have much to do with that, or can you run us through that a little bit at all? The big thing there is PS3 players can play with PC players is that correct?

Jeep: That’s correct, there’s cross-play. I worked a little bit on the networking to make that happen. It allows PS3 to play with PC or with Mac, and you can play Mac to PC -- the whole triangle there and it’s really cool. It’s completely seamless. You can connect to your Steam and PSN accounts which allows you to see friends from both of those Universes and just play with them as if it was all one Universe.

AG: Is the interface pretty much the same as the PC one, for PS3?

Jeep: Yeah, so at any time you can press select on the PS3 controller and it’ll bring up the Steam overlay, which allows you to look at different things like Achievements; what your friends are currently doing; you can chat with them through a typing interface and it’s nice and smooth and pretty cool.

AG: I’m not sure if you can answer this one, but did you guys go to Microsoft and see if there was anything that they were willing to do in terms of getting Steam happening there [Xbox 360]?

Jeep: I’m not sure. I wasn’t really a part of those talks and I honestly don’t know.

AG: Getting back to the actual single-player game: it looks really nice running on the PS3 -- I haven’t seen the 360 version -- and obviously the PC version looks really nice as well. What’s changed with the Source Engine in terms of a little bit more power, a bit more beefing up?

Jeep: Yeah, we’ve done a lot in terms of dynamic lighting that we haven’t done in our previous games, but a big part of it is optimisation -- making the game run faster on different types of systems. And just in-general optimising our code has allowed us to really push forward in terms of the AI, the number of polygons on the screen, as well as making sure the latency of the controls are much quicker than they used to be.

AG: Was there much difference... is there platform parity I should say. Is it pretty much the same across all three platforms?

Jeep: No matter which platform you buy it on, it’s going to be almost the exact same game. There’s very, very little difference between them.

AG: And did you guys have much issue with the game in terms of designing for all three platforms? Obviously you guys are more PC-centric than anything else and there’s only been a handful of [Valve] games that have come out on the consoles...

Jeep: The hardest problem we usually have is making sure that the game controller has enough buttons, where the keyboard kind of has an infinite supply of them. But with Portal, there’s very few buttons that we actually need, so that was never a problem. There wasn’t really any big hurdles there.

AG: Finally, where would you like to see the series go after this? We’ve gone from an episode I guess you would call it, to a fully-fledged game, with supported co-op across three major platforms. Where would you personally like to see it go after this?

Jeep: That’s a really good question. The generic answer is we just love to see people who play Portal 2, what they think and react based on that. Personally I would just love to see a lot more levels. There’s so many different things you can do with all the new mechanics we’ve added that I think there’s just a very ripe ground for making new puzzles for playing the game by yourself or with friends.

AG: Did you guys find any of the puzzles -- sorry I know I said finally before, but I’ve just thought of a bunch of other questions -- did you guys ever find any of the puzzle elements that you had maybe dreamt up before putting them into hard code, just impossible and had to be taken back? Because I’m scared of a lot of the videos that I’ve seen online of this and I just played it and while I got through, there were some challenging parts.

Jeep: Everything is just really tricky to begin with. Just as an example, the gesture system -- making the high-fives work. In our first implementation of that it was very, very difficult to high-five your partner. So it’s all about watching people play the game and seeing how they expect it to work then trying to match their expectations and make sure it’s really easy for them to do those things.

And that applies to the mechanics as well. The faith plates on the ground: making sure that they’re visually distinguishable from other panels, that they don’t accidentally step on them. So that they know which direction they’re going to fly when they do stand on to it. All those sorts of things are just done through our iterative process to make sure they’re really accessible and really fun.

AG: Now this is one of the first Valve titles to almost ship on time and that’s got to be a bit of an amazing thing. Do you experience Valve Time?

Jeep: [laughs] This is the closest we’ve ever gotten and it was really surprising to me, because I think we’re getting a lot better at reducing the Valve Time. We’re getting a little better at it every single time we release a game.

AG: Awesome Jeep, well we’ll leave it there. Thanks so much, the game is looking amazing.

Thanks guys, you heard it here first with AusGamers. Well, probably fifth or sixth or seventh. Either way we’re here, the game is amazing and you’ll see it pretty soon!

Latest Comments
Posted 12:28pm 09/3/11
woop there it is
Posted 01:20pm 09/3/11
Did I read somewhere that if you buy the PS3 version you can activate it on PC as well? Would be sweet if you could co-op with one account ps3/pc.
Steve Farrelly
Posted 01:51pm 09/3/11
ctd, I'm almost 100% positive that's how it works from memory of my post-interview discussion with Jeep
Posted 02:29pm 09/3/11
Sweet interview Steve, really hanging out for this one for my PC ^^
Posted 02:33pm 09/3/11
will be interesting to see if cloud steam game saves save progress that's playable from both the ps3 and pc platforms seamlessly

ign said the ps3 copies get a pc activation after psn <-> steam account linking

Posted 02:34pm 09/3/11
Another great video interview, cheers Steve.
Posted 02:36pm 09/3/11
Yeah, buying the ps3 version will give you an activation key for the PC version, and ps3 and pc will also have cross-platform play.
trillion, pretty sure I read that you'll be able to start on the ps3/pc and finish on the pc/ps3 if you wanted to.
Posted 02:55pm 09/3/11
will be interesting to see if cloud steam game saves save progress that's playable from both the ps3 and pc platforms seamlessly

im pretty sure i can remember reading that it will work like that.

last edited by ravn0s at 14:55:42 09/Mar/11
Posted 03:09pm 09/3/11
yeah righto, it probably works like that between pc and mac right now, ps3 isnt too far abstracted to not
Posted 04:19pm 09/3/11
I'm afraid that PS3 Save games will NOT be compatible with PC/MAC out of the box.

“We’re using the cloud so that you can save to Steam from your PS3, but we’re not involved enough to say that you can pick up your progress on the PC using your PS3 save – we ran out of time.

“It’s achievable, but it’s hard, so next time!”’s-lombardi-ps3-steam-support
Posted 04:26pm 09/3/11
well that sucks. guess they can always include it in a future update though
Posted 07:13pm 09/3/11
Hmmm bit disappointed that all 3 versions will be pretty much the same (apart from controls).

Kinda wanted to hear "the PC version will look much better"...
Commenting has been locked for this item.