Z Chamber 02 Developer Commentary

Developer commentary may include spoilers; I recommend you finish PortalZ before reading further.


Entering chamber 2.
This was originally a later test chamber.  I eventually moved it to chamber two because I found it difficult to make fun test chambers where the player controlled no portals or only one portal (though kudos to the creators of Blue Portals, who since made an entire mod dedicated to that idea.

When you walk in, the portal device fires an orange portal at the glass.  This draws the player's attention to the device without a long wait, like in Portal's chamber two, but it also lets the player know right away that this device fires orange portals too, unlike the first portal device in Portal.

The arrows on the ceiling around the hole to the exit were added because, by the time many players got the device, they completely forgot they saw a hole above it at the start.  If only the portal device pedestal rotated on two axes, I would have liked to show it firing upward as a less subtle hint to the player, but in the end, it really took something this unsubtle to get them to notice.  In fact, for a while, the arrows were even more attention-grabbing than this, but in the 2020 update, I could not bring myself to ship without toning them down a little.


Turrets aim across the second hall.
While turrets are not formally introduced until later, I wanted to include them in this chamber—before you get the portalgun—because this is the last time a turret on a portalable floor poses a real threat.  On a related note, all these surfaces being portalable allows the player the option to go back through the chamber to get revenge on the turrets after acquiring the portal device.


Lasers in the upper hallway.
I liked building anticipation of getting the portal device by having the player go not only around, but over it.  This area initially had a bunch of turrets on either side.  During the development of this chamber, it was announced that Portal 2 would include, among other things, deadly lasers.  That seemed like a much more fun idea than just forcing the player to sprint down the hall and actually made this part of the chamber take time and thought.  Because no one had played Portal 2 yet, these lasers are more akin to the red laser walls in Portal: The Flash Version than Portal 2's thermal discouragement beams, but in the end I kept them at their higher level of...discouragement.


A window in the laser hall shows the end hall.
I was on the fence about adding this window for a long time.  It feels a little silly in hindsight, as it was undeniably a good idea.  It gives players a sense of where they were ultimately trying to go, and it hints at where that hole in the ceiling led, and thus where they are now relative to the portal device.


A sliding panel covers a hole in the wall so the portal device can fire a portal at it.
Given the options to add even more directions for the portal device to fire, or just have a panel cover the hole from earlier, I decided to go with the simpler solution here.


The path to the final hall is blocked by glass panels with holes to fire portals through.
This entire section was added because the hallway needed to be longer to accommodate the elevator shaft when it was added.  In the end, I like giving the player an opportunity to fire portals through more holes like the portal device did without backtracking, but an experienced player can bypass all three holes with a well-aimed shot.