Advanced Game Design study Project with Portal 2

This is a study in game design using, Valve's Portal 2 Educational Version, and Gamestar Mechanic. This is not a Game Development project. If you wish to develop your own unique game, head over to the game development project.

In this project, you will:
  1. Study Portal 2, and what makes it unique among games.
  2. Use the Puzzle creator to develop a minimum 4 unique test chambers (probably closer to 8) that follow the design conventions of Portal 2.
  3. Design some unique games that are just outside of the box of normal Game conventions and use components in unique ways to create unique game mechanics within Gamestar Mechanic (you may alternately use Kodu or Stencyl if you are so motivated).

Daily Work Habits:

Split your time. You will need to split each cycle between Portal 2 (Play and editing) and Gamestar Mechanic.
  • P/Gx3
  • PP/GG/P/T


Before beginning this project you should be familiar with:
  • Game Design Basics - You need to have all of your quests finished in GSM. If you lost your password from last year, you may have 2 class periods to catch up. After that, you need to get this done at home.
  • Keeping a Blog. You must have a portfolio where you write / talk about your study in Portal 2 and how it's informing your ideas about game design.

Yes, you must wear headphones! Game commands are auditory.

Yes, you can turn on closed captioning, but a large portion of the game space (atmosphere / ambiance) is created through soundtrack. PUT YOUR HEADPHONES ON!!!!!!

"Let's do some science!"


Here's what you should accomplish / have to show for your efforts.

Portal 2 Portfolio:

  • 4 + Test chambers (probably closer to 8) growing in complexity of components (meaning start simple and focus on mechanics more than components).
    1. Goals
    2. Rules
    3. Space
    4. Mechanics
    5. Components

Game Design Portfolio:

  • Create an original game [s] using puzzle solving mechanics or using standard components in a non-standard way in Gamestar Mechanic
    1. Goals
    2. Rules
    3. Space
    4. Mechanics
    5. Components

Study and apply the 5 Elements of game design.

A game can have beautiful graphics and brilliant programming, but unless it is fun to play, it will be an epic failure. During the Game Design project in Gamestar Mechanic, you learned about the systemic nature of games and how these 5 elements work together to make a game that is fun to play.
  1. Goals
  2. Rules
  3. Space
  4. Mechanics
  5. Components

This project is all about applying those in unique or complex environments. Everything you do in this project should refer to the above 5 elements.

Making Test Chambers


For more on chamber creation and playing the game, check here.
  1. Watch this video and try the Puzzle Maker, found under Community Test Chambers.
  2. Make a test chamber using the items you've been exposed to in the game so far.
  3. Test it.
  4. Reiterate:
  5. Edit and test again....

My Test Chamber series:

  • Video 1 (Avoiding common design errors)
  • More to come...

Components & Stuff

Posting Test chambers to your blog / portfolio

  1. Set up SOM and size the recorder for your Portal 2 window.
  2. Now, get someone to play your test chamber and record it!
  3. Do the same for that person.
  4. Publish to Screencast-o-matic or School tube and embed it on your blog or download the video as an Mp4 & upload the video to Schooltube .
    1. DO NOT DOWNLOAD YOUR VIDEO!!!! Sign up & Upload to SOM...

  5. Describe the plan for your chamber in terms of:
    • Goals
    • Rules
    • Space
    • Mechanics
    • Components

  1. Here is a minimum coverage sample.

Using Gamestar Mechanic

I expect to see some radically innovative games from your Gamestar Mechanic workshop. You should be thinking in radically new ways as you experience GlaDOS, Cave, and Wheatly's test chambers. Let's see some of that reflected in your own games.


Here are some examples using Keys. Notice, these were made as a part of the apprenticeship badge, and they had access to keys for the Game Gift.


Portals in GSM don't work anything like portals in Portal, but these games are creative nonetheless.

Design Challenges

Here are some challenges to keep your test chambers fresh.tallchamber.jpg

Tall test chamber

  1. Revisit the following levels if you can:
  2. Blog about the process of creation. What tools did you use? Post a lot of screen shots and a screencast of it working.

The combo

  1. Take two or three of your favorite test chambers and combine them to make one awesome test chamber.
  2. Blog about the process of creation. What tools did you use? Post a lot of screen shots and a screencast of it working.

The Wheatley Goldberg

In the spirit of Wheatly Labs, you're going to build a level that solves itself. Seriously, not kidding. But instead of making it insanely simple (cube drops on the button), we're going to make it insanely stupidly complex. Enter, the Rube Goldberg machine.
  1. Design an incredibly complicated (Rube Goldberg style) puzzle that can be solved with little to no player interaction using the different tools made available in the Portal 2 Puzzle Maker.
  2. You may use anything at this point. Go for it!
  3. Blog about the process of creation. What tools did you use? Post a lot of screen shots and a screencast of it working.