About Portal: Prelude


In January 2008, I was looking for a new project. Portal has been out for four months, and no one had done anything really serious around it. I was a part of a lot a communities and following a lot of independent releases, but no mod and no serious story arcs were being released. This I why I decided to launch this project.


Originally, the project was rather insignificant. It was not supposed to be a mod (modification of a game), but just a succession of test chambers, without any real logic between them. I had no goal, I was just making maps as I saw it. And finally, when I reached a dozen test chambers, I realized that it would be a shame to waste all this work by only releasing yet another map pack without any real backstory. This is where I began to write a whole new story and decided to follow the famous belief that prequels are somewhat popular recently.


Portal: Prelude, as its name implies, is an unofficial prequel to the game Portal. Its story revolves around the pre-GlaDOS epoch way before she was plugged in. Back then, test subjects were still monitored by real Aperture Science employees, a tedious, dull, and repetitive job. One of the reasons why they decided to build a great artificial intelligence that could both replace them for these complex tasks and also take responsibility for many other functions within the complex while competing with Black Mesa's superiority.

All employees of the Aperture Science complex are now eagerly awaiting GlaDOS. A little too eagerly maybe, as the unfolding events will tell...


My goal was to make it a personal project, without telling anyone about it. I wanted to surprise everyone by releasing a quality, polished, and fully finished game, offering roughly the same amount of playtime as Portal. As months passed, I had more and more difficulty working on it regularly. In real life, I was both a student and an employee, and that didn't leave me with a lot of time to work on the game. This is where I decided to ask for some help, mainly from Jérémy "Capitaine Mousse" Barbe, who helped me by making four of the nineteen test chambers while I was working on the final level. Marc "Moroes" Bidoul helped me too, by making a few 3D models and textures.

How long?

Nine months. Not nine months of continuous work of course, but nine months with some days filled with dozens of hours of hard work. I worked on the nineteen test chambers for 3 to 4 months, followed by 2 months on the final level, and 2 months of testing, debugging, and polishing (interfaces, voices, commentaries, etc.). It took me a lot more time than I initially thought, mainly because I also had school exams and my actual job to do on the side.

And after?

In June 2008, I learned like everyone else that Valve was potentially working on an official prequel of Portal. It felt like I was the only person on Earth not entirely happy with this announcement. So, I decided to work twice as hard to release my version way before Valve ever could. I certainly hope that they did not take it too personally, because I was in development 5 months before their announcement.

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