Saturday, August 11, 2012

Lore Master: The Portal Series

Hello everyone and welcome back to a new edition of lore master. Today we will be going over the lore of the hit first person puzzler series by Valve called Portal. Just as an advanced warning, as with all loremasters, these do contain spoilers to the video game itself so please do not read this unless you're okay with having the games spoiled or you've already played them.

A lot of people will probably scoff at the title of this post becuase what started out as just an interesting puzzle game with minor ties to the half life series, ended up becoming a 100% amazingly rich saga with it's second, full game, installment. So with that, let's begin.

In the early 1940's at the turn of the decade there was a young spryly chap from the potatoe filled hills of Idaho named Cave Johnson. Cave Johnson was an entrepreneural man who had no interest in anything other than pushing the envelope on what society could do. When World War 2 broke out across the world, Cave had taken it upon himself to take advantage of the lack of men in the houses during America's campaign across the seas.

Cave opened up his very own shower curtain business called Aperture Fixtures and started to sell shower curtains professionally across the country. after a few brief years of this, Cave had larger ambitions on his mind and wished to broaden his horizons. That combined with the fact that VE Day had finally come and the war veterans were now coming home to their lovely wives, the shower curtain business was beginning to slow down, he decided to pursue those broader horizons. He moved back to idaho and purchased out an abandonded salt mine and began his work on a brand new business venture.

In 1947, a brand new science corporation promoting research on all manner of fringe sciences and were taking only the best of the best and the bravest of the bravest to join his cause. The company was hailed as the best new science company of 1947 as well as several other accolades in that year alone. by 1949, Aperture science had made number 2 in the country for applied science companies, many suspect that Black Mesa was number 1, and they were beginning to do well for themselves.

By this time, Aperture Science had secured itself a government defense contract in which they were requested to experiment with making super soldiers and a new firearm that could move allied troops from point a to point b almost instantaneously.

Aperture Science never really provided the sturdy results that the government wanted. Even though they provided fully operational products they were so unsafe, radioactive and otherwise hazerdous to it's users that the government refused to purchase the equipment and solutions until they were further tested and some of the kinks were removed.

in 1952, Aperture Science opened their first series of test chambers, created out of aesbestos and designed to look like spheres, the insides of these spheres (usually half submerged in water at the time) provided focused tests in which very specific elements of the new portal gun technology could be tested and refined into an acceptable product for military use. That very same year, Aperture received the "US Department of Defense Government contractor of the year runner up" award (again it is suspected that Black Mesa won the  number 1 slot).

Cave's desire to succeed fueled his desire to expand his operation. causing him to carve out portions of his salt mine even further to make way for 200 new suspended aesbestos test spheres. by the time 1952 was all said and done, there were a total of 10 wings of test chambers all of which contained an estimated 200 test spheres. Meaning that the testing of the hand held portal device as well as some other technologies were in full force.

One of the other technologies was repulsion gel. Another invention requested by the DOD, it was designed to allow our troops and soldiers to get in hard to reach places easier by removing the friction of actually landing on the ground. Repulsion gel acted as a very powerful, liquid trampoline when poured onto and flat and solid surface and could be washed off easily with water.

However with Cave's larger ambitions came larger prospects. Desperate now to beat his arch-nemesis in the applied science area, over the next two years he designed plans to create larger, newer and better test spheres. the base of his salt mines, which were over a mile below the earth's surface, were getting a little crowded so he decided it was time to expand upwards. the next series of test spheres were suspended by the walls of the salt mines and when a new one was added, it was just placed over the previous one. The final total by the end of the 1950's was 27 of the newly designed test spheres. The ending total would be 81.

Even after the extensive testing of all the innovative technologies, Aperture Science still only managed to get runner up in the DOD defense contractor of the year in 1954. As a side note, in 1955, aperture held their first ever bring your daughter to work day which caused aperture science to win a trophy for potato science from the state of idaho.

Testing continued on with repulsion gel and the portal gun until a brand new exercise was introduced to the fray in 1971 called Acceleration Gel. Same concept as the repulsion gel, acceleration gel was a liquid that would allow anyone standing in it to run at speeds significantly greater than standard human capabilities and could easily be washed off in water.

However, with the growing competition from Black Mesa winning all of the defense contracts over Aperture Science, Cave was beginning to run low on his capital respources and he was also getting a terrible reputation for the experiements that had taken place in the late 40's, 50's and 60's. It was time to re-image the company. The 70's also showed the advent of a new and improved aperture science logo, and a new greeting area for the recipients of the testing which was placed above the 1957 greeting area.

Testing continued on all three of the experiments together: portal gun, acceleration gel and repulsion gel, but with any test subjects Cave could find. Since the race to the moon was over and the cold war was slowly coming to a halt, Cave had to resort to homeless people as opposed to war heros and astronauts. At the end of the 70's the number of test spheres was up to 54.

At the turn of the 80's, however Cave did use one thing from the moon to create a fouth experiment in a desperate attempt to pull a contract from Black Mesa and get some form of government funding. So in a hail mary attempt to rescue his venture into science from folding under his own weight, he purchased a mass supply of moon rocks, liquified them and performed experiments on the following end product. The moon rock liquid acted as a type of wight wash on sterroids.

The moon gel did not come with it's own negative effects however, as Cave Johnson became deathly ill due to the inhalation of the fumes created from the moon rocks when crushed. around 1982, however, cave decided to pursue what would be his final project. Creating and artificial intelligence out of his own personality and brain. He verbally requests that if the employee's don't finish the project before he dies of his moon rock disease, that he wants his wife, carolyn, to take his place.

It is assumed that Cave died the following year from his illness and in the late 80's early 90's the first AI with human emotions was put in place using carolyn's brain. The AI was placed in charge of an entirely new facility that was built over the old one and was titled GlaDOS. The old testing facilities,  being  frowned upon by the way they drove the company into the ground were closed off and access was prohibited by anyone indefinitely with the final total of enrichment spheres totaling 81.

in the 1990's Aperture Science was making a final stand at getting the company back on it's feet by focusing on the original and most promising project of all the projects to come out of Aperture in the last 5 decades, the portal gun. Glados was hooked up to a series of test chambers powered by factory lines which were operated by nanobots. The facility would feature technology that is 3 generations ahead of it's period.

the test subjects were the only issue. Unlike previous generations where they took volunteers, homeless or even just regular employees, they began to research cloning and with that an entirely new line of test subjects that was virtually inexhaustably and as literally stupid as need be were born. GlaDOS however, with the brain and emotions of Carolyn became bitter over the death of Cave and the direction the company was taken after Cave died. GlaDOS became increasingly violent.

The scientists tried to calm her down by creating new personality spheres to control her responses but with each additional personality sphere she had linked to her system, the more identical to carolyn she became to the point where she became truly bitter and enraged over her husbands death. As a final effort, the scientists created a dumb personality sphere, a sphere that only served one purpose and that was to add additional useless load onto GlaDOS's processors. Unfortunately this tactic did not work and GlaDOS flooded the entire Aperture Science facility with neurotoxins killing all of the employees and their daughters.

GlaDOS now had full reign of the facility and she continued testing per her programming until one fateful day, a clone named Chell came into the picture. Chell was a fluke in the system. A clone that just happened to get all the right genes in the gene pool. Chell was able to beat the enrichment center completely and when it came time for her to be subdued and placed back in stasis she picked freedom instead. Chell escaped through the testing facility and eventually made it to GlaDOS's chamber, destroyed GlaDOS and escaped from Aperture. However upon making it outside, she passed out and was dragged back inside by a nanobot and placed into stasis.

Several years went by, the Resonance Cascade happend at Black Mesa and many years passed still when finally Chell was awoken from her slumber by Wheatley, the dumb personality sphere. Wheatley guides Chell to GlaDOS's chamber in an attempt to escape the facility for good and accidentally re-activates the entire facility, including GlaDOS. GlaDOS throws Chell through more experiments while Wheatley works on a plan to escape the testing and shut GlaDOS down once again which the finally succeed at, in exchange for making Wheatley the new controller of the entire facility. Carolyn, however, could not help but to call out Wheatley's flaws calling him a cancer and useless which enrages wheatley and causes him to accidentally send Chell and GlaDOS down an elevator shaft over 4000 meters into the ground.

Chell works her way through all the different Cave Johnson generations to get back up to the modern day testing facility before Wheatley causes a reactor meltdown and GlaDOS remembers that she was made with the personality of Carolyn. When Chell and GlaDOS finally re-reach the control chamber, Chell expels Wheatley into space as well as several other defective personality spheres. GlaDOS takes control of the facility once more and repairs all damage caused by Wheatley then grudgingly lets Chell go.

To solve her constant desire to continuously test, GlaDOS creates 2 robots out of new personality spheres carry out all the testing she needs until the end of time.