i’m not even angry.
“I’m being so sincere right now. Even though you broke my heart. And killed me. And tore me to pieces. And threw every piece into a fire.”
Welcome to PORTAL. Always remember: the cake is a lie.
In addition to being a fantastic concept with a fantastic game around it, with a fantastically snide plot and fantastic presentation, writing, and voice work around the plot, Portal is actually a textbook example of learning in game design. The titular portals that drive the game are a bit of a mindbreak. This only increases once you discover all the things you can do with portals.
The designers deal with this by slowly and exactly introducing each concept, maneuver, and mechanic. They also supply a horde of visual cues, some subtle, some obvious, to help you on your merry way. By the time the bottom drops out, the User is totally competent at manipulating portals, boxes, momentum, enemies, and laser beams – all of which become pretty important pretty fast.
I mention this super-geeky subset of game design because of a book I was given called A THEORY OF FUN, by Raph Koster. If you’re interested in game design at all, practically or abstractly, you should read this book. Koster is occasionally cryptic and meandering, but the text as a whole is filled with wisdom of the highest order, about the nitty gritty of design and the overarching philsophy of games, play, and learning.