Valve has said it once contemplated making Portal 2 without including the portal gun, and instead used other ideas like paint or a gravity gun.
Speaking with PC Gamer, project lead Josh Weier and writer Erik Wolpaw said Valve had gotten a little sick of portals, but the games testers did not.
“We did go down a couple of paths with some mechanics that we actually won’t talk about because we might use them at some point, said Wolpaw.
“But one of the ideas was: what if the Portal franchise is, instead of always being about Portals – which’d be tough because it’s called Portal – but what if it was always about introducing a new puzzle element that you’re going through? It’s about Aperture Science, and now you’re going through this new testing track with this new element.
“We pretty quickly found that, even though we had a couple of pretty interesting mechanics, that people would always, to a person, every play tester we had would say, ‘Yeah this is alright, but where’s my portal gun?’
“So then we went down the path of, ‘Well okay, what are all the things we thought of during Portal 1, and what are new things, what are new puzzle elements that combinatorially create this much larger puzzle space?’ As much as we may have been sick of portals, we found that play testers were not. They wanted more portals, and all the new puzzle elements did make it more interesting all of a sudden, between the paint stuff.
“Also paint was one of the things we had played with as being “Okay this is the central mechanic: the goo.” That was one of the ones that we tried that we were actually able to fold into, and they actually played pretty well with, portals. We also went down a couple of branches where we’d take the central mechanics that we thought we were going to use as the fundamental component and try and mix it with portals. And for a lot of reasons, different mechanics – either they’re just redundant, or they just ruin each other. There was all sorts of other stuff. We also didn’t want it to be a game where I have a portal gun for half the game, and then this other thing for half the game.”
“Plus I think Portal had this real elegance, where it was just: ‘I have my portal gun, and everything is dripping from that,’ And we didn’t want to lose that, right?,” added Weier.
“We felt that was important, players understood it and we wanted to find ways to make you and your portals more powerful, but in ways that were really obvious to people.”
Regardless, Portal 2 still seems challenging and wacky enough to keep you interested.
Portal 2 is out on February 9 for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. Check out the latest trailer for it here.