Portal: Prelude Forum

Everything that has an end, has a beginning...

You are not logged in.

#1 13-04-2011 22:27:58

RS1
Member
Registered: 13-04-2011

I'm sorry..

I really appreciate the time that people put in to make mods for games like this so before anything I will say thank you for that.

However, I'm sorry to say that I found this mod to be deeply unenjoyable. Given the effort on your part I think I at least need to make the effort of explaining why.

What made Portal truly great was that it was a thinking person's game. You didn't need to be very twitchy to play it and even my wife picked it up despite never having played any sort of FPS game ever. A few months later my seven year old son picked it up and he too was able to get to grips with it quite quickly.  These are two different people who, for different reasons, still found Portal to be a first step into using FPS controls. This is not the case with Prelude.

There's not a huge amount of replay value in the original because, once you've figured out the puzzles, everything becomes all too easy. However, Prelude seems to reverse this trend - even when you know what you are supposed to be doing it's still incredibly hard and during many points downright irritating. Every jump has to be very exacting and precise and there is no room for error at all. My wife and son couldn't even begin to play this and I too just gave up after half a dozen levels when I realised I wasn't having fun.

Gone are those simple questioning moments of "How do I do this?" and with them so too are the moments of pleasure inspired by the game when you suddenly shout "Thats how I do it" Spending 20 minutes just stood there looking around before finally realising how simple it actually is.  The thinking is the bit that takes effort, the actual doing is very simple. With Prelude this is replaced by "I know what they expect me to do but it just isn't working". When you do it there's no satisfaction, just a feeling of "Finally" before more of the same.

Let me expand on that with an example. Testing Chamber 1 - Having just picked up the first part of the Portal Gun I was thinking, "how do I get past these turrets without them spotting me?" I thought about it for a while before eventually realising what was expected of me, a berserker charge at the nearest turret.  It's counter to everything Portal is about and it's artless. No puzzle, no skill, just brute force and I took no satisfaction in completing the room.

I went through the video walkthroughs you've linked on the site but if you look at the comments you'll see people making the exact same comments each time. It's damn hard aiming a portal gun as you're falling through space..it's nigh on impossible if you're actually have to gain your bearings as you flip within a few seconds. There are no positive comments there,...just people who like me are frustrated.



Portal 2 is released in a weeks time and if you are planning to do a similar type of mod for it please remember what makes this game different from the average FPS. Spend more time working on the level design, making interesting and complex puzzles and playtest it with the community. If they struggle with a particular jump, either fix it or scrap it because unless you do so you'll get lots more people who, like me, simply gave up. Level 18 and 19 could be brilliant but most of us will give up long before that.

Make it about thinking and more thinking and then a little bit of doing. Don't make it about doing, more doing and then thinking have you got it totally wrong because the doing isn't working. Level design is key with a game like this and it's why Prelude is so poor and why it's not been adopted by the community.

When you've got the individual chambers working and people are giving positive feedback about the levels ask people for help and get real people to do the voices so you can finish it. There are a lot of people out there willing to record voices for mods like this and people like me will go out of our way to make your mod better. All we tend to ask for in return is a mention in the credits.  You made a very clever choice in your original design that these were the humans working at Aperture before the comptuer came in and then you gave them computer voices anyway.  In addition to the puzzling, what made Portal special was the ### - A beautifully voiced, slightly ethereal female who turned out to be a homicidal maniac.  Without Glados the voices needed to be spot on but sadly, they were not.

I have to be honest with you - there's a part of me that thinks it would be better just to give up now - but if you do decide to continue modding I wish you the best and hope that next time your effort pays off.

Offline

 

#2 14-04-2011 00:50:05

NykO18
Administrator
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 29-08-2008
Website

Re: I'm sorry..

I appreciate the feedback, but as far as I'm concerned, you're just telling me that you're not part of the target audience. And in that case, I can't do much for you, everything you've listed as flaws was intentional. This is NOT Portal, this is not made by Valve, this does not need to be played like Portal, this does not need to implement the same rules, it is not targeted at the same audience. I don't see why in the world any of these aspects should be mandatory when making mods. Making a mod is about changing the game, it's in the name... modification.

Like I always say, modders are not rewarded for their work, it doesnít matter that much how many players play it. Itís a perfect opportunity to leave the pre-established standards of the industry and focus more on a niche of players or a specific genre. These kind of players donít often have the opportunity to play a game that fits their needs/skills since the mass market logic has diluted the video-game industry to a dull dozen of blockbusters a year. It has always been intended to be very difficult and even have warnings everywhere.

As for the voices, I think you're misinterpreting me as a professional video-game studio with funding.
Having voices, as bad as they are, is already a luxury that most modders don't give a shit about. wink

Offline

 

#3 14-04-2011 10:42:13

RS1
Member
Registered: 13-04-2011

Re: I'm sorry..

I think there are a number of issues here that need raising.

Firstly, you talk about me not being part of the target audience but I'd ask, Who exactly is the target audience here?  You say you have put about nine months into this and you can see by the content that a lot of effort has gone into it but the map pack seems to have slipped into obscurity - it's not even listed in the sticky on the Steam forum of best rated maps and the vast majority of reviews I could find about it slated it. If I'm going to be honest with you I believe that you did aim for an expansion which was designed to be harder than the original. However, I think poor level design turned this from being merely hard into being a mess which required a huge amount of luck and repetition to complete. I don't think you handle criticism well and I think you simply claimed this was intentional, so much that perhaps you even believe it yourself now.

The other option is that you spent 9 months of your life making something which only a small percentage of players would actually like. That in itself is madness.

I want to explain something to you regarding your use of the word Modification because Portal : Prelude isn't one. Perhaps it's a language thing but modification of a game is substantially changing the theme by modifying the base files to create something different from the original. Counterstike is a mod from Half Life. Portal itself is a mod. They are drastically different from the games they were made from, they play differently, they are in some cases barely recognisable.  What you've made is a level pack.

Now, I don't want to diminish your work. You've gone far than most level creators because, as you say, you've got custom files in there and you've put a story to it whereas others haven't but the textures and meshes are directly taken from the original, you've used the word Portal in the name, you reference the original story characters and concepts. It is clearly....Portal.

I'm not saying a level pack is inferior to a mod so please don't take it that way but I say this because I want you to understand that, if you make an expansion pack like this, advertise it as a prequel, use the same assets, the textures, meshes, the Glados voice and then slap the name Portal on it you're going to have to accept criticisms and comparisons to the brand you're riding on the coattails of and you're going to have to accept the same rules.

If you're going to use arguments such as the ones made above, "it's not Portal", "it does not need to be played like Portal".....Protip - Don't call it Portal : Prelude. If you want to "leave the pre-established standards of the industry" you need to do so with another medium.

Allow me to provide an example. In Portal, light grey tiles were an indication that a portal could be placed there, darker areas or metallic areas indicated they could not. It became part of the mindset and the developers went to great lengths to guide players in the first levels by making one light tile on a wall of dark tiles or by making one part of the wall extend from the rest. Then, in later levels, they made whole walls light so you'd have to work it out yourself and make it harder. It's the same testing environment, the same Aperture Laboratories and the same Portal gun yet Prelude doesn't follow these simple rules and I believe you did that because in absence of clever level design, these little cheats on your part served to make the game seem more complex and interesting.

As for the voices and the backstory, I think there was some merit here. THe story itself is in fact one of the better parts of the game and it was a smart move because I'll bet a lot of players put aside the terribad level design to see that story unfold but it was also a double edged sword. Glados was a brilliant character and simply by virtue of the fact you couldn't recreate her voice you were bound to lose out on the original. Having no voices would have been a step down....having those voices was a bigger step down. You say most modders don't give a shit about them but I think their attitude to their maps is something you have missed; it's better to leave something out than add something which isn't good. They have focused on making good levels and no story and as a result theirs are better. I'd spend more time on their forums and less on yours if not for the fact that Prelude could be brilliant whereas theirs will only ever be good.

My point to you is this, if you make something that people like then you'll gladly get people helping you.  You don't need to manage a cast of voice actors - you just have to write the lines, e-mail them to people, get them to record the script and then cut them in. It wouldn't be perfect but it would be a damn site better and two weeks working on on this would be time well spent. In fact there's a post on these forums already from a group of guys willing to do it as I'm sure there would have been at the time. You don't need professional recording equipment since the average gaming headset produces sound which is of sufficient quality.

The website says that over a million people have downloaded this mod but I really don't believe that at all. That equates to roughly in 1 in 6 Portal players and I think that's a gross overstatement, especially considering when that post was made ( Edit : I realised after that my calculations were wrong. There are roughly 6 million players who picked up either Portal or the Orange Box but 3.5m of those people bought a console version.  According to your figures 1 out of every 2.5 people who played Portal on the PC downloaded Prelude - Not a chance, especially since 1.5m of those picked up the free version of Portal when it was given away. )  yet apart from one or two niche review sites the reviews are not that good and the player comments are even more negative. Do you not feel saddened to have put so much time and effort ( and I commend you on that effort ) to get so close to having a perfect expansion pack and then falling so far short.  A few more weeks on the voice and a little more playtesting with actual gamers to find out...."Is this actually fun?" could have made this brilliant. We're not talking a huge overhaul of the mod itself but a few simple changes based on comments from the gamers. 

You have one chamber where you have to move up through a series of platforms and there is one section of this room where you have to string together a chain of no less than three jumps and portal moves to get up to the next spot. This itself is harder than anything Portal had to offer and at this point I'd accept your comments that it was designed to be difficult but then you do the utterly stupid thing of forcing players into a race by putting a switch at the bottom that opens a door at the top on a timer. The sort of changes I am talking about are simple fixes. Firstly, remove the door, secondly put a platform halfway up where people can stop and reassess. If it makes you feel better leave two versions in and call your first attempt the "Advanced Chambers" the same as Portal.

I want my final over-riding message to be this - with the information you have now, two or three more weeks of your time would make Portal : Prelude a worthy expansion to the original. You are literally that close. With Portal 2 being released in 5 days and lots of people getting Portal free this is your opportunity to make your mark on the gaming world. However, I understand with the negative comments you've received you might not see the point. Maybe instead you'll choose to make an expansion for Portal 2 itself.  I have no doubt that your next attempt would be better but you need to get down off this high horse and accept where this one went wrong. You can make it harder than the originals but you need to retain some balance of the game itself and recognize the spirit of what made Portal brilliant instead of turning away from it.

Last edited by RS1 (14-04-2011 10:51:45)

Offline

 

#4 15-04-2011 06:15:40

NykO18
Administrator
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 29-08-2008
Website

Re: I'm sorry..

Wow, you're taking this fairly seriously... Sorry but it's been nearly three years now, I moved on and have absolutely no intention of changing anything or doing another one. I had my fair share of praise and a lot of people liked what we did and the fact that we didn't take them for morons. In fact, to this day I still receive congratulations e-mails once or twice a day... 3 years after... see the last one :

Hey there,
I just wanted to say well done for creating such an awesome mod! It's the best portal mod I've played, and I think it is just as good as the real game, possibly better! It was incredibly hard to finish, but it really gives a sense of achievement when you finish it. Once again, thank you and well done!

So yeah, target audience and all that.
It could have been better, it could have been worse, it's almost exactly what I wanted to accomplish and that's all that matters.

Then again... I don't like your tone very much. You assume a lot without any proof or knowledge of what you're saying, so OK we didn't make a million download... why not? I don't know. There's exactly 720,134 direct downloads outgoing from our website. And that doesn't even count people who downloaded it directly from third-party websites, got it from friends or installed it from a magazine's DVD (we've been published by at least a dozen video-game magazines around the world). I don't know where you were at the release date, but certainly not around.

I'm sorry if I sound a bit rude, but you're sounding very condescending and I can't help but think that you know better when in fact you don't. For me it clearly was a success. OK, maybe only 20% of the people who played it appreciated it (pure speculation), but that doesn't mean a failure to me; it means that 200,000 players appreciated it. And that's a lot.

Offline

 

Board footer

Powered by PunBB
© Copyright 2002–2008 PunBB