Portal 2: Pretty Much Every PS3 Question Answered (and that Cake thing, too)

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Portal 2: Pretty Much Every PS3 Question Answered (and that Cake thing, too)

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Valve Software has repeatedly described Portal 2 for the PS3 as being “the best console version of the game.” And for good reason, given that you’ll get a free PC or Mac version of Portal 2 along with your PS3 copy, as well as exclusive cross-platform PS3-to-PC co-op gameplay and voice chat, Steamworks features and much more. Good stuff!

Not long ago, we asked you to submit your very best PS3 Portal 2 questions. We wanted every nerdy, detail-obsessed question possible and, as we’ve come to learn, PS3 fans never disappoint. Last week, we finally cornered Portal 2’s Project Lead Joshua Weier and Writer Erik Wolpaw in a bare concrete room under harsh florescent lighting. We slapped a thick stack of your questions on the table, cracked our knuckles, and extracted the answers via a combination of brow beating, idle threats, and good old-fashioned seduction.

Actually, we just called them on the phone and goofed off for an hour or so. It went something like this:

Jeff Rubenstein, PlayStation.Blog: I’m one of the people who played Portal via The Orange Box on PS3, and I’m told it wasn’t the best version of the game. Why not?

Joshua Weier, Valve Software: We learned a lot from The Orange Box, which was ported to the PS3 by an external group. This time, we developed it in-house at Valve and made it a full-fledged PS3 title. At the time of The Orange Box, we just didn’t have any internal PS3 knowledge at the company. As we worked on Portal 2, two things happened. One was that PlayStation had a very open stance on their platform and they were willing to do a lot of work with us to make Steamworks on the PS3 a reality. And Steamworks is a huge thing for Portal 2 and for Valve in general, so that really made us want to work with PlayStation.

The second thing is, as we’ve grown the company internally, we’ve hired people who have experience at great studios such as Naughty Dog and who have a lot of experience on the PS3. They were able to look at our engine and make the required tweaks to make sure Portal 2 works really well with the PS3.

Jeff, PSB: Steam and PS3: Two great tastes that taste great together? Tell us how you’re getting your chocolate in our peanut butter.

Joshua, Valve: We wanted to make sure that if you’re a Steam user, the PS3 experience is very familiar to you. When you’re playing the game on the PS3, you press the Select button to bring up the Steam overlay — that’s very similar to the PC and Mac version. From there, you can see your Steam friends, text chat, and invite them into Portal 2. And we also have Steam Cloud, which works the same way as it does on the PC or Mac, where your games are backed up to the Steam Cloud automatically via your Steam account. If you delete them or move to another PS3, they will be restored.

And this time around, you can actually play with your PC and Mac friends on your PS3, which is a pretty big deal. They show up as any old friend on your Steam friends list — you don’t even need to know whether they’re on a Mac or PC. You’re playing the same content, the game works the same way…it’s super-seamless for everyone. We’re all about giving gamers choices. Being able to hop into the game, find a buddy, and not care what platform he’s playing on is a pretty cool thing.


Jeff, PSB: You will need to sign up for a Steam account to take advantage of that, yes?

Joshua, Valve: If you want to take advantage of that, yes. We don’t require that you sign up if you want to use simple matchmaking or to play with your PS3 friends.

Sid, PSB: Given the Steamworks functionality, will the PS3 version be getting the same updates at the same time as the PC and Mac versions?

Joshua, Valve: It’s our goal that, as we update the PC or PS3 version, we keep them all in lockstep. Especially because we have co-op gameplay between both platforms. Not all of the PC updates we do will matter for the PS3 — there might be a videocard-specific update on the PC, or a PS3-specific tweak. But as far as content goes, we want to keep them in lockstep.

Sid, PSB: Another reader question: If a user gets Portal 2 for the PS3, can two people play that copy at the same time? One on the PS3 and one on the PC?

Joshua, Valve: Well, of course you can play two-player splitscreen on one PS3. But otherwise, it works the way Steam play does now — you can only be logged into one device at a time.

Sid, PSB: Obviously the PS3 version will have Trophies. Will Trophies be synchronized between both the PC/Mac and PS3 versions?

Joshua, Valve: For your Steam account, we have Steam Achievements that mirror the Trophies and those are always up to date between the PC and PS3. That does not include Trophies, however. Trophies have to be unlocked on the PS3.

Sid, PSB: A lot of PS3 owners have pre-ordered Portal 2. Will their pre-order bonuses apply to both the PC/Mac version and the PS3 version?

Joshua, Valve: Yes. We combine that into your Steam account and that will show up wherever you’re playing.

Sid, PSB: Any chance for supporting a USB mouse and keyboard control scheme?

Joshua, Valve: No, unfortunately we don’t do that. The whole game is built around playtesting, which extends to the hardware and how people use it. We have people internally who played on the PS3 — we use it all the time — and we constantly iterated it. Luckily, Portal 2’s not a super twitchy, complicated game, so we just focused on making a comfortable controller experience.

Sid, PSB: Does Portal 2 on PS3 require a hard drive install? How much space does it take up?

Joshua, Valve: We do not require users to install to the hard drive [note: there’s no hard drive install at all], but you’ll need 22 MB for saved games.

Sid, PSB: If the Steamworks system and Portal 2 are well received by the PS3 community, do you see any opportunity or chance of re-releasing older Valve titles through that framework onto the PS3?

Joshua, Valve: You know, we’ll see. If customers are super excited and there seems to be an opportunity there, we’re always interested in looking at that kind of thing. Right now, we’re just waiting to see how everyone responds.

Sid, PSB: On that note, are you thinking about DLC for Portal 2 in general?

Erik Wolpaw, Valve: We’re definitely thinking about DLC. I believe we’ll be talking about some of those details soon. We are doing DLC, we just haven’t released the details yet.


Sid, PSB: Tell me about the split-screen support for the PS3. How has it been implemented?

Joshua, Valve: It’s pretty straightforward. If you start a co-op game, you have the option of doing it remotely with another PS3 or PC/Mac, or you can do local splitscreen. Splitscreen is a really fun way to play Portal 2, actually, because the co-op is all about communication. Having the person right next to you on the couch makes it much easier to give them a high-five.

Sid, PSB: Is Portal 2’s co-op play drop-in, drop-out?

Joshua, Valve: It’s not drop-in, drop-out because you can’t play the co-op game by yourself due to the way the puzzles are structured in the co-op mode — you’ll always need two players. You can invite whoever you want into your game, and then the game figures out where you both are in your game progress based on what the two of you have done. It’s probably best to play with one friend, as you’ll learn together and build a rapport, but it’s not necessary.

Sid, PSB: A common question: Will the PS3 version have a smooth framerate and look great?

Joshua, Valve: Oh yeah. We’ve done a lot of work to make sure that’s the case.

Sid, PSB: Let’s settle this once and for all: there’s no PlayStation Move support in Portal 2, right

Erik, Valve: There is no Move support.

Sid, PSB: What is your favorite feature in Portal 2 that didn’t make it into Portal?

Erik, Valve: Co-op is the biggest one. It’s just a huge game changer — it makes you re-think the way you solve puzzles with portals. It’s a whole different experience in co-op.

Jeff, PSB: I’m trying to wrap my head around having another set of portals in co-op… what are you doing to make sure I’m not punching my partner rather than high-fiving them?

Erik, Valve: The puzzles are a little bit more complex in co-op, but you’ve also got a second brain to work with you on those puzzles. Playtesting is the cornerstone of Valve’s development philosophy — we playtest early and often. Two people looking at a puzzle can make a difficult thing a lot, lot easier. And we train you; the game is a gradual progression in terms of puzzles. By the end of the game, you’re doing things that would have seemed really daunting at the beginning of the game.

Sid, PSB: Another popular question from our readers: Is Portal 2 a longer, beefier game than the original Portal?

Erik, Valve: Oh yeah, it’s definitely longer. And…I’m not quite sure what the definition of ‘beefier’ is, but…sure, it’s beefier. Less cake, more beef?

Joshua, Valve: It’s tough to talk in terms of hours, as everyone plays through the game at their own pace. But just the single-player part of Portal 2 is about two-and-a-half to three times longer than all of Portal 1. So that should give you an idea. Then co-op, which is a separate track, is about two times longer than Portal 1.

Erik, Valve: It’s definitely a more elaborate story in terms of what happens from beginning to end. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed by the amount of story that’s in the game.

Jeff, PSB: I hate to get into the cake thing…but were you guys taken aback or surprised by how persistent a meme the “cake is a lie” thing became?

Erik, Valve: Yeah, it was a shock. But I assume that’s probably always the way it is, you know? It’s really hard to manufacture a meme and have it catch on. It probably always comes as a shock to whoever had a hand in making it.

Jeff, PSB: Was there a moment in Portal 2 where you thought, “I wonder if this is going to stick like the cake meme?”

Erik, Valve: Usually in a joking sense. You pick the dumbest thing possible you just wrote and you say, “this is it, this is the one!” But at no point did we seriously consider it. Process-wise, you stick with what works. At no point in our process is “thinking up the meme” part of the process. It either happens or it doesn’t. You do the thing you always do and hope for the best. Most things come out and there’s no meme, so it’s very possible there’s no meme here. Hopefully you’re just entertained for eight or nine solid hours.

Sid, PSB: Are you sick of “the cake is a lie?” Are you over it?

Erik, Valve: Well, it’s not like we’re angry about it! It’s flattering that people latched onto it like that. It’s more that we figure everyone else is most likely sick of it. Internally, we thought, “if we go back to that cake well, people are going to be livid!” Actually, I don’t know if they’d be mad — they’d probably be sad. It’d be so pathetic, you know?

Sid, PSB: So will you be moving on to other pastries in Portal 2?

Erik, Valve: Well, that would be a spoiler. Actually, I’m going to spoil it — no! No, no, no. None of it! The cake has been retired, it’s gone. Well, kind of. I think some geeky artist might have buried a cake reference in there somewhere, but it’s buried deep. You don’t have to worry about it.

Comments are closed.


2 Author Replies

  • This is sounding awesome!

  • Ugggh. This is the longest week ever. Waiting for this game is going to wear me out. Portal 2 is by far the most anticipated game on my radar. A few months later it may be Uncharted but for now Portal is all I can think about.

  • Awesomesauce is all I really have to say. This was a great read and very informative.

  • I cannot wait! Valve has never disappointed me in the past. I love to support you guys anyway I can and I’ll de picking this up ASAP on Tuesday.

  • Buying this game on PS3 lands you a free copy on PC… and people complain they can’t use a keyboard and mouse. It’s whiney irrational jerks like you that’s why parts of the industry are going casual :/

  • Jeff, you should’ve followed up the Move question with “Will there be a patch for Move later on?”. Especially now that they can easily patch the games because of Steam, this should definitely come….

    And, like I said before, I’ll buy Portal 2 later when I clear my backlog just to support valve. Please Valve, give us L4D Collection (1+2).

  • “Sid, PSB: If the Steamworks system and Portal 2 are well received by the PS3 community, do you see any opportunity or chance of re-releasing older Valve titles through that framework onto the PS3?

    Joshua, Valve: You know, we’ll see. If customers are super excited and there seems to be an opportunity there, we’re always interested in looking at that kind of thing. Right now, we’re just waiting to see how everyone responds.”

    I would so buy the Orange Box again if it comes to PS3. MY Body is Ready

  • Steam could be such a wonderful boon for PSN. I would love to see Steamworks implemented in other games. Heck, give us continuous access to the Steam layer when you press the playstation button.

  • Steam on PS3, wow, looking really nice, and sadly in a way, Steamworks looks even better than the actual PSN, lol. At least it’s evolving way faster since it already have full cloud saves sync!! And I suppose that it’s pretty sure that if it works work them, and if they incorporate it in other games, than maybe steam will be the 1st to have cross games voice chat, lol.

    Anyway, long live the SteamWorks integration to the playstation platform!!! =D

  • I have to find that cake to prove everyone the cake is not a lie! I´m sure when they say deep they mean “When you see a big hole, go down and you will find it”

  • @56
    Lol even better. Cross Platform chat xD!

  • good thing about the whole cake thing… i was sooooo sick of seeing it all over the web

    but great interview Jeff

    you really nailed every question i had
    thank you sir!

  • Thanks guys. Can’t wait to get the game Tuesday and play with my friend on PC. Announcing that PS3 and PC users can play each other was some of the best news I have ever heard.

  • Awesome!!

  • I want this game its gonna be awesome but I really dont have enough money so Im gonna have to save up

  • Great Q&A, I learned a few things I did not know before. This game is going to be amazing, I just wish the SP was longer than 2-3x’s the original, because I could beat Portal in about two hours or less, even when i took my sweet time going through the puzzles. And it is unlikely I will be playing co-op, so that part of Portal 2 is pretty much a complete loss for me.

    Either way though I hope the PS3 version turns out as good as they claim, and I hope it sells very well. Because if we can prove to the gaming world that PS3 players can push software just as good as our competitors when we have all the extra features, then we will probably see a lot more devs taking our side when it comes to mutiplat games, which hopefully will be the end of terrible ports, weaker graphics and lackluster support for our online titles.

    I am definitely going to be keeping an eye on this games sales for the PS3, from the evidence presented so far this may be one of the best selling PS3 games of 2011, although there is probably one-too-many people who have no idea how great the Portal series really is. Hopefully with all the advertising VALVe is doing, it may have opened more peoples eyes to this series.

  • I am personally glad there is no “Cake” reference that needs to die (mostly as bad as that stupid “The game” thing…) it was fun at first but now its just dull and boring.

    I would have like to know if Modded maps would be also available if they are in Portal 2 since it wasnt answered in here. I am not sure if Portal 2 on Stream will have it so it might be irrelevant.

  • i found a deal on the steam store where if i buy a bundle i get a skin for portal 2, is that just for the pc or is it both seeing as you can link your stuff up

  • Jeff, wasn’t trying to trash talk there. But it is true. The lack of established standards in an industry as large and profitable as this is rather baffling.

    Bloggers are great for grass-roots movements and “to be substantiated by larger, qualified outlets” information. Unfortunately, there’s a shortage of the latter and little consistency or credibility to the media that gamers are fed.

  • Valve gained a lot of respect from me with steam on the PS3 and them actually developing the PS3 version of their game this time. Kudos to Valve and I can’t wait for my copy to arrive from Amazon.

  • Good on ya, Valve.

  • sooo.. You’re telling me I wasted money on buying the pc version?

    Bad move..

    Find it frustrating to know I could’ve bought it on platform of choice rather than pc (they had it on sale on steam). Since I get a copy for both platforms.. tbh that’s bull..

  • Beg pardon for having a memory but I am positive that Gabe Newell, the man over at Valve said the PS3 was junk and would be in no way part of the future. He hated, no, loathed the system. That was why he outsourced The Orange Box to those hacks at EA and why it received one, MAYBE two patches at most. Now, the game still runs like crap and still has no support. When I emailed one comapny, they would both refer to the other. Nice way to round-a-bout your customer. That game was quite the red-headed step-child and it left a sour taste in my mouth.

    I guess the man who signs your checks over at Valve realized he was an idiot, since the Xbox can’t hack what you wanted to do with Portal 2 to cross platforms and all the other nice things spoke about.

    About time you took all that money Valve has and put it to good use purchasing some people with experience who were able to yank your venerable necks out of the sand and welcome Valve (and Gabe) to the truth.

  • There will always be cake, baby.

  • I wanted to know if I’d be able to play Portal 2 on PS3 with friends who own the other system.

    You know, the one that isn’t the Mac or the PC.

  • I love me some TF2 crossover items, which, it was recently revealed in the “Hatless” (for the record, it totally included hat related enhancements) that users who pre-order Portal 2 on Steam get the Companion Cube Pin: http://www.teamfortress.com/companioncubepin/ I already pre-ordered my PS3 copy of Portal 2 from Amazon (same day shipping was 99 cents, gotta love that), anyway, as you have already guess I am sure, I love using commas. But really, are there going to be any PS3 user specific TF2 unlocks or at least the Companion Cube Pin?

  • This was actually a great read. I understand not every developer/publisher wants to be asked questions like that but I always appreciate when somebody does it, and when somebody answers them.

  • There will ba cake…

  • @Hooligantuan no

    the xbox Live system isn’t as open

    it would be awesome if more games in the future have cross platform matching, I know people think mouse keyboard is the holygrail when it comes to controlling shooters but I think many PC owners would be surprised at how good some people are with the controller

  • Regarding rereleasing older steam games on PS3: “If customers are super excited and there seems to be an opportunity there, we’re always interested in looking at that kind of thing. Right now, we’re just waiting to see how everyone responds.”

    That’s the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. Didn’t make it much further into the article before I put my preorder in. Still mad there’s no Move support, though. :( maybe that will change in time.

  • What I really wanted to know was if the original Portal would be seeing a PSN release as a *proper* PS3 port. XBLA got a re-release of Portal, and I’d really like to see the same happen here.

    I find it very difficult to get into a series in the middle of things (which is why I still haven’t played any Assassin’s Creed games — PS3 version of the first was reported to be quite inferior). A proper port of Portal to PS3, or a patch for the Orange box that brings it up to reasonable quality, will be necessary for me to buy this.

    In the meantime, Brink here I come :)

  • Jeff, do you know if the get a mac/pc version for free with a ps3 purchase is a limited time offer or will it be available in about 2 months? because due to exams don’t want to buy this game just yet.

  • They should really work on making Aperture Laboratories for Playstation Home, or offices, that lead to testing grounds for employees of Aperture Science.

    Also, I know there won’t be cake, there will be… PanCakes! *hint*

  • We do what we must because we can…for the good of all of us, except (for) the ones who are dead. ~ Ekacon

  • Shame that the “2 to 3 times as long as Portal 1” length thing was just a dirty lie.

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