Portal 2 Wasn't Going To Include Portals, According To iPad App

For five months in 2008, Valve Software was making a version of Portal 2 that wasn't going to include Portals. And it was going to be a prequel, set in the '50s. The game, based on an internal prototype called F-Stop, was built around a new gameplay mechanic that thrilled people at Valve.

But the feedback from test players was harsh, according to journalist Geoff Keighley, who reveals the story in "The Final Hours Of Portal 2", a slick and impressive multimedia app that launched today on iTunes. Those uneasy test players from 2008 wanted portals in their Portal 2. They wanted Chell and GLaDOS, the minimal cast of the first Portal to be in Portal 2.

F-Stop's amazing new gameplay mechanic remains a mystery to those outside Valve. Keighley says that Valve asked him to keep it out, but he has stuffed about 25,000 other words about the making of Portal 2 - plus exclusive images and video - in an app that reads and functions like a futuristic magazine article. In his $2.49 app, Keighley makes the most of spending part of the last few years as a wallflower at Valve, watching the ups and surprising number of downs in the development cycle of a game that, this week, is earning critical raves.

The app includes concept art from F-Stop (including the image above), videos of a scuttled Valve game called Two Bots, One Wrench, and even an interactive widget that lets a user learn how the game's portals work. The main draw of the app, however, is Keighley's lengthy making of story that includes mini-profiles of the eclectic team behind the game, from the male Portal 2 developer who gets one haircut a year to the lady who used to puppeteer the Red Fraggle in Jim Henson's Fraggle Rock.

There are minor Portal 2 spoilers in Keighley's story, but anyone who is curious about the game and is armed with an iPhone definitely should grab this. It's a good place to find out which Half-Life reference was cut from Portal 2, what crazy games Valve was making during a three-month period when the studio took a break from all of its scheduled projects, and you'll even find out how we here at Kotaku made Valve very nervous a few years back. (Okay, can't resist telling some of that one here... In June, 2008, we uncovered a casting call for the role of Cave Johnson and reported the guy would be part of Portal 2, back when Valve was still making the F-Stop version and Cave was scripted to lead a robot revolution and put the player on trial. Valve considered cutting Cave).

Keighley's app is live now on iTunes. Get it.

The Final Hours of Portal 2 [iTunes]


    Perhaps they'll see how the community reacts to the secrecy of F-Stop, and how we all wanna know more, and then perhaps release it in a manner similar to how they did it with the first Portal.

    If may just be good marketing, but the fact they're keeping the mechanics secret, makes me immediately imagine that F-Stop possesses something that will challenge me, intrigue me and make F-Stop as unique as Portal.

    iPad only Stephen, don't know why, it's a very stupid decision


    I don't own a single apple product, which is a shame as I would really like to see that app

      Most people do. Get with the times.

    Sounds like f-stop would be a fine game on it's own, just not what people want from a game with 'portal" in it's name.

    F-Stop... So the 'thrilling' gameplay mechanic is possibly based on photography.

      I could actually fathom that, though my money would be more of a hologram projector.

      In a "Portal" context I reckon it would probably be about recording a scenario play out, then changing it and using a combo of the recording and new setup to solve the problem.

        F-Stop is most likely an early testing phase name that was chosen because of the relation to "Aperture" in the Portal series.

        Highly doubt it would have anything to so with photography, just as Aperture Labs. didn't focus on developing secret camera tech.

    F-Stop will be released before Episode 3. You heard it here first.


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