Brandon Boyer

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Though by now the cake is a cliche, and we know every bar of Still Alive frontwards and back from repeat Rock Band playthroughs, the release of the standalone version of Portal on Xbox Live Arcade has given us delightful deja vu of just what was so exceptional about the game to begin with.

Helpfully, industry news site Gamasutra has reprinted its 2007 original postmortem from the development team themselves, giving us a behind the scenes look at how GlaDOS, one of the sharpest-written villains in the history of games, got her voice, courtesy some playful synthesized hacking from Valve writer Erik Wolpaw:

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.


Our hope was that by the end of the Portal, players would know GLaDOS better than any boss monster in the history of gaming. Though we knew at some point the player would have to meet and destroy her, we thought it would be even more satisfying if players got a chance to cause her some emotional pain along the way.

Thinking With Portals: Creating Valve’s New IP [Gamasutra]

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