In April I made a blog post about our big Portal fan art stint, which at the time I thought would conclude with the end of the 12 Days of Portal comic (which also got a few bonus pages and a downloadable version of the song). Little did I know then that we'd do a further 30 Portal inspired pieces before the end of the month, not counting the bonus pages of the comic.
Most of these are unfinished gems that mim hasn't yet had a chance to finish, and I really wanted to give them some love, so I'll throw some of my favourites around this blog post.
After being harried by the infamous Crashing After Valve Vid bug for several weeks, we've finally been able to play the game through (I finished the single player campaign in one sitting - definitely a welcome milestone in the recovery of my hands). Interestingly, neither of us has started a new piece since. Between the PhD (which gets its own comic, but don't worry - the Honours Thesis comic still has some pages to go up and will get some closure before the end) that mim has just started and my efforts to get some other bits and pieces happening, Portal is less of a priority now than when we were waiting fervently for it to come out. That said, I'd like to do a third painting similar to Continue Testing... and the unfinished On Top Of The Known World (which I totally intend to finish), mim intends to finish some of the sketches I mentioned above, and there is certainly inspiration enough within the game itself, so this definitely isn't the end so far as our Portal fan art goes.
I've been toying with writing a review, but I'm not sure whether or not this is the place to focus on computer games - it already feels a bit like the lof has been neglected. Suffice to say, mim and I both feel that Portal 2 is worth playing, but doesn't really hold a candle to the original. A lot of the new gameplay elements feel underutilised, and many of the puzzles don't make the player feel as creative as the ones in the predecessor did (to paraphrase another Portal player, Portal 1 is "How do I use Portals to solve this puzzle?" whereas Portal 2 is "Where do I use portals to solve this puzzle?"). There felt like there were a number of story elements that weren't adequately explored. Without spoiling it, there is a major revelation about two thirds through - which I had guessed after discovering a not so subtle hint earlier in the game - involving "Caroline" (a character mentioned in one of the trailers), but there's no real development of her character, so it feels pretty meaningless. Portal 2's humour (one of Portal 1's strong suits) seems far less subtle and its overtness seems to undermine the fairly straight-faced universe presented in the first game. Any disappointments or niggling issues aside, Portal 2 is definitely still fun, and it's been enjoyable to hop into Chell's new boots. I'd rank Portal 2 as being at least as 'good' as Half-Life 2.
As I said in the previous blog post, having a fan-art-a-thon has been really rewarding from an artistic perspective - the constant flow of stuff has encouraged us to explore different styles and ideas that we normally wouldn't have. It's also been good for the site. We've pulled in a lot of new visitors (Welcome!) who, based on our stats, seem to be coming back. In addition to the stuff we've put up outside of twolofbees.com (the 12 Days of Portal video on YouTube and a sprinkling of stuff across DeviantArt and the Steam forums), we also seem to have shown up on Redit, FacePunch, a few other social networking sites, tons of image searches and the second half of this cowntdown-is-almost-over video one of the guys on the Steam forums put together. Mim and I want to extend a big thanks for everyone who liked our stuff enough to share it with their friends!