For the past several months I’ve been working on an audio mod for Valve’s original hit, Portal. In between class and work I spent time recording and designing as many of the games sounds as I could. I’m happy to say it’s finally finished and I’m proud of it!
I have to admit this project started with an underestimated idea of number of SFX and time required. However, I had one goal that I stuck with to the end; to make every sound completely original. By that, I mean every single sound was created with my own recordings. No library, previously designed, or downloaded sounds played any part in the design process. It’s hard to explain how great it feels to say that. Like I’ve said before, there’s nothing like hearing your own sounds played back in-game for the first time.
If you’re interested in giving Project Portal a try you can download the SourceMod for Windows or Mac below. Just unzip, follow the simple “Install_Instructions.txt”, and enjoy.
This whole project has been an invaluable learning experience. I’ve learned all kinds of new skills and concepts, and refined many I already had. I hadn’t planned on it, but making this into a source mod taught me a whole lot more about the Source engine than I ever thought I would know. Most of my troubleshooting consisted of inspecting all of the original game scripts and resource files to figure out how everything worked. I even modified a few parts of the scripts to customize sound parameters and also made some required script changes to create a SourceMod for both PC and Mac. Let’s just say the Mac/Steam combination provides many unique hurdles to jump over to make SourceMods work.
On the audio side of things, I refined my session/file management ideas. In the very beginning, I basically had a session for each sound I was designing. This wasn’t necessarily the best method for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it created an unnecessary amount of clutter. Secondly, it didn’t allow for easy comparison/interaction of the many different SFX that may be triggered at any one moment. It didn’t take too long for me to figure out an new (much more efficient) workflow to accommodate this.
Of course, the ultimate way to test sounds is to hear them during gameplay! It’s the final way to tell whether or not your sounds fit well in-game and decide what changes need to be made. This gave me an excuse to spend a lot of time playing (oops, testing!) Portal at work and home. I now think with portals more than ever!
- A total of 172 sound files were replaced.
- Project Portal started it’s journey in Pro Tools, made a rest stop at Reason, and happily arrived at Cubase.
- Most of the elevator movement comes from recording the electromagnetic fields of a laptop, hair straightener, and field recorder
- If it smells a little when you enter/exit a portal, it might be from my toilet water.
- Sorry, I’m taken. My girlfriend is a Portal Turret.
- It is said that you can hear the spirit of my dog, Charlie, in various chambers.
- Who’s awesome? You’re awesome.
- All sounds were designed from my own original recordings.
- Making an installation process user-friendly is serious business.
- The new radio jingle was created while sitting against a tree, staring at Lake Michigan, and confusing people who walked by.
- Those pesky energy balls used to be doorbells in a past life.
- There are people on this earth that haven’t played Portal before. They don’t think in Portals.
- I’ve got 99 problems but loop points ain’t (airen’t?) one.
- I don’t want to end on 13 fun facts.
Hope Project Portal is enjoyed by all who try it out. Depending on the difficulty, it might get ported to Portal 2 in the future. Time to take a short breath and figure out what’s next!