During a panel today at PAX Prime 2012 in Seattle, Valve writers Chet Faliszek and Erik Wolpaw revealed some interesting tidbits about their time in the industry. Foremost among these pieces of trivia is the fact that Portal’s protagonist Chell was originally planned to marry a turret in the second game.
According to Wolpaw, at one point in Portal 2 Chell was going to stumble upon a pile of abandoned turrets. These turrets were like a lost tribe one might find surviving on a forgotten island somewhere. Chell would help these turrets in some way, then the giant Animal Turret King (seen in Portal 2), would marry off one of its turrets to Chell. Valve even had a bride turret constructed. This turret would follow Chell around for the rest of the game in a similar fashion to Watson in Sherlock Holmes Nemesis.
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Here are some other interesting bits of information from the panel, which focused on writing for video game:
- Valve writers start by writing story around the game, not vice versa.
- The writers sit in on every voice acting session.
- Chet and Erik hate cinematics, and want to keep the player in control as much as possible.
- One thing that drives Wolpaw nuts about the first Portal is the line about a test chamber being designed for military androids. The sign on this door shows human stick figures, and Wolpaw wanted to change their heads to be squares to aid the joke.
- Erik Wolpaw says Portal has a song during the credits because God Hand, one of his all-time favorite games, did the same thing.
- The voice of GlaDOS was originally a text-to-speech program. The software got a lot of laughs, but failed to deliver GlaDOS’s human element near the end of the game. The writers asked actress Ellen McLain to emulate this voice as much as possible. Fortunately she also happened to be a operatic falsetto singer, so she could perform "Still Alive."
- If you want to write for video games, learn how to code. Being able to think like a programmer and learn to work with code makes you a much more valuable in the development process.