Valve Cut Nausea-Inducing Wall-Walking Gel From Portal 2, Reveals Writer

Logan Westbrook

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Feb 21, 2008
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Valve Cut Nausea-Inducing Wall-Walking Gel From Portal 2, Reveals Writer

Zipping through portals is tricky enough if first person games make you feel sick, and doing it while upside down could only have made it worse.

If you're one of the poor unfortunates that experiences motion sickness and nausea when you play first person shooters, then you probably owe Valve a pretty big thank you. Portal 2 writer Erik Wolpaw has revealed that Valve originally planned to include a gel that let you walk on walls in Portal 2, but dropped it after it made people queasy.

Wolpaw said that the gel had added a nice gameplay twist, but that it was incredibly disorientating. He added that nausea was a constant concern when developing first person games, so the decision was made to drop the gel. He added that Valve was so concerned about the possibility of Portal 2 making people nauseous in general - a very real threat in a game that has so many rapid changes in position and perspective - that it adjusted the frame rate and movement to try and minimize the effects. Wolpaw said that this action on Valve's part should help even people who normally do suffer from FPS motion sickness to enjoy the game

Of all the different kinds of stories that you could tell about videogame development, quirky ones like this are probably the most interesting. It's one thing to know that a feature was removed because it had memory glitches or something mundane like that, but it's quite another to learn that something got ditched because it was making people feeling sick, or making them sleepy, or something else equally bizarre.

Source: EA [http://www.ea.com/uk/news/portal-2-interview-erik-wolpaw] via Joystiq [http://www.joystiq.com/2011/04/25/portal-2s-wall-walking-gel-would-have-made-you-sick/]






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Megacherv

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Sep 24, 2008
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Ahh yes, I noticed this when playing TAG: The Power of Paint (the game the gel ideas came from, team was hired by Valve)

I agree, it's quite dizzying on that game, I doubt it'd have worked well in Portal 2
 

Celtic_Kerr

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May 21, 2010
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Interesting... I wonder -if the rumors of a portal 3 are anywhere near accurate- what they'll add next...

It's pretty cool when your developer decides to adjust the frame rate so that you don't feel incredibly sick to your stomach
 

Ashcrexl

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May 27, 2009
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man, i haven't felt dizzy playing a game since Okami. now i know it's thanks to guys like the VALVe testing department. Thanks guys!
 

Art Axiv

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Dec 25, 2008
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Despite I play FPS games a lot, there are instances where I do feel sick while playing an FPS game. I felt sick when I played Quake 3 the first few times.
 

Andronicus

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Mar 25, 2009
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Nice to see Valve taking all spectrums of interest into account when designing their game, although it is a little disappointing to hear; I think it would have made for some interesting puzzles. Optional DLC, perhaps?
 

tombman888

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Jul 12, 2009
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Anyone else here play the game TAG? made by the people who were hired to do the Gels in Portal 2; It involved all 3 of the Gels (called paints) and it was very very hard to keep my head on during the wall walking parts.
 

Bretty

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Jul 15, 2008
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Says a lot about Valve really. Look at this scenario and think of some Dev houses would be thrilled by this:

Play tester starts going white after 20 minutes of wall walking/jumping and bouncing.

5 minutes later..... BLUUUURGH!!!
 

ElectrifiedSorcerer

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Apr 8, 2011
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Megacherv said:
Ahh yes, I noticed this when playing TAG: The Power of Paint (the game the gel ideas came from, team was hired by Valve)

I agree, it's quite dizzying on that game, I doubt it'd have worked well in Portal 2
The Tag guys ended up contributing Gel to Portal 2? Did not know that. Thank you for that factoid
 

Jadak

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Nov 4, 2008
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Does anyone else think that nausea is the last thing any developer should seriously be worrying about? Granted, I don't really care about this particularly feature one way or the other, but I'd like to believe that the people who are sensitive to that be sort of thing aren't all that likely to be into these games in the first place, and they should just worry about if it's good for the game, not if motion sickness susceptible people have issues with it..
 

ace_of_something

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I know I haven't had motion sickness problems with FPS since they switched to polygons instead of sprites.
Except Mirrors Edge that game gave me a headache.
 

ThisWasAWaste

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Aug 7, 2009
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Tag - the game about using liquids (bouncy, speedy, and sticky) that was developed as a student project for DigiPen Institute of Technology, then incorporated into Portal 2 after valve hired the team behind it - had this feature. I'm glad they dropped it in favor of having the white gel (at least that's my theory :) ), it was a little vertigo inducing.

Anyone interested in seeing it in action can visit https://www.digipen.edu/gamers/ to download Tag for free (and Narbacular Drop if you're interested as well - the student project that became the original portal after valve hired that team as well).
 

CardinalPiggles

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Jun 24, 2010
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ah man, that would have been awesome.

maybe they should have put it in for people that wanted it, and gave an option to skip such chambers involving it.
 

Megacherv

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Sep 24, 2008
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ElectrifiedSorcerer said:
Megacherv said:
Ahh yes, I noticed this when playing TAG: The Power of Paint (the game the gel ideas came from, team was hired by Valve)

I agree, it's quite dizzying on that game, I doubt it'd have worked well in Portal 2
The Tag guys ended up contributing Gel to Portal 2? Did not know that. Thank you for that factoid
They're now part of Valve, the same thing that happened with the Narbarcular Drop team
 

ThisWasAWaste

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Aug 7, 2009
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Jadak said:
Does anyone else think that nausea is the last thing any developer should seriously be worrying about? Granted, I don't really care about this particularly feature one way or the other, but I'd like to believe that the people who are sensitive to that be sort of thing aren't all that likely to be into these games in the first place, and they should just worry about if it's good for the game, not if motion sickness susceptible people have issues with it..
I think it's a great thing to worry about. If someone buys portal, they should be able to take it home and enjoy it - not get sick from all the movement in the game. People can have motion sickness to some degree and still like FPSes. It doesn't sound like valve was catering to people with extreme motion sickness. I played Tag (mentioned in the above post), and it was fairly disorienting (and I play mostly FPSes). It wasn't extremely terrible, but when you combine that with portals I can see a lot of problems arising.
 

omicron1

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Mar 26, 2008
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Someone mentioned the similar system in Prey (which apparently did not cause nausea), by which I infer the main problem with the Portal 2 gel was the suddenness of turns.

Prey had wall-walking conveyor-belt things, yes, but they always had gentle sloping curves to change orientation. With Portal 2's environments, and gels, you'd have sharp corners, sudden attachments, and fast turns. Hence the difference.

On the subject of the vacuum tubes, I can only assume they made the levels too linear. Portal 2 tends to be all about player agency (even though that agency is mostly limited to the small portal-placing spots); with a static, inert vacuum tube, you've got a very limited, environment-focused solution. You can't exactly do much with it except suck down turrets in interesting ways; hence its removal.
 

Fleaman

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Nov 10, 2010
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Jadak said:
Does anyone else think that nausea is the last thing any developer should seriously be worrying about? Granted, I don't really care about this particularly feature one way or the other, but I'd like to believe that the people who are sensitive to that be sort of thing aren't all that likely to be into these games in the first place, and they should just worry about if it's good for the game, not if motion sickness susceptible people have issues with it..
"These games", though, isn't referring to first-person shooters here. Most FPSes are shooty, with the high-intensity action being the main draw. Portal, however, is a thinky game. Even feeble RPG-players with three second reaction time can enjoy Portal's thinkiness.
 

xhable

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Oct 17, 2008
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... I really want the wall walking gel now!.. found I completed portal 2 too quickly!