If you've never read a copy of Game Developer magazine, it's interesting stuff. Lots of tidbits in every issue that, while not exactly news-worthy, are still handy to know. Case in point, the latest issue, which has a big feature on the making of Portal. Gamasutra have published an extract from the piece, which explains how the combination of Erik Wolpaw (Old Man Murray) and some bored playtesters hit on GLaDOS, the game's starlet:
A week after the meeting, Erik came back with some sample dialog he'd recorded using a text-to-speech program. It was a series of announcements that played over the newly-christened "relaxation vault" that appears in Portal's first room.
Everyone on the team liked the funny, sinister tone of the writing, and so Erik continued to write and record announcements for other chambers, while still searching for the story proper. At some point, however, it became apparent that these announcements were providing playtesters with the incentive to keep playing that we'd been looking for all along.
Better yet, in the sterile, empty test chamber environment, players were actually becoming attached to the alternately soothing and menacing computer guide. We'd found the narrative voice of Portal.
Just goes to show, you can't plan an act of genius. It just happens.
Exclusive: Inside The Making Of Portal [Gamasutra]