This article contains spoilers. Read at your own risk!
It might spoil your gaming experience when first playing the related games.
Aperture Science Personality Constructs, also known as Personality Cores or Personality Spheres, are artificial intelligences developed by Aperture Science. They are housed within spherical casings for ease of transport, and are used for a wide range of purposes in the Enrichment Center. Alongside the Nanobots, they are the backbones of the facility.
Personality Cores are typically stored within a case equipped with two handles, above and under, which fits around the Core itself. They have a large, single "eye", which glows in a color related to its function, a pupil varying in size, and a varying number of dots at each side of the eye. The Core can rotate in all directions within its case, allowing it to see in every direction not hidden by the case. In the back of the Core, a three-pin plug to connect it to computer terminals can typically be found.
Personality Cores are very solid and robust devices, as they are unaffected by long falls, and can withstand moderate trauma (such as being partially crushed by a robotic clamp).
In Portal 2, Wheatley states that a Personality Core is never to disengage itself from its ceiling rail, as doing so would supposedly result in the termination of the core; this proves to be untrue when Wheatley still functions after his fall. Contrary to popular belief, a detached core can move. A detached core moves very slowly and tediously, rotating its exterior shell and handlebars.
It appears to have an extremely long battery life. The Aperture Science Apocalypse announcements indicate that in the event of the collapse of society, Aperture Science Personality constructs are designed to function on power sources as low as 1.1 volts for protracted periods of time.
As demonstrated by Wheatley, a Personality Core is also equipped with a flashlight function, seemingly for use if the Core ends up in a low-light environment. For unknown reasons, Wheatley was told that he would die if he used the flashlight; this is in fact untrue, and the belief is more than likely a result of Wheatley's status as an "idiot core."
When Chell detaches all of GLaDOS' Cores in Portal, the Cores are flung to different locations once GLaDOS is hit with a rocket. Despite no longer being physically attached to GLaDOS, they appear to be still linked to her somehow by a greenish, semi-transparent beam. It is only when grabbed by Chell and destroyed in the Emergency Intelligence Incinerator that their effect on GLaDOS stops (In Portal 2, the Personality Cores only affect Wheatley when attached to him). GLaDOS is also equipped with four discs and four servers installed in the entrance of her chamber. The Orange Box Prima Guide states that these four discs "represent each aspect" of her Personality Cores, but it is unknown what that means exactly.
Cores are not foolproof and can become corrupted. Using these corrupt cores to control another will also corrupt that core in the process. Several of these corrupted cores were seen in Portal 2:
- The "Space Core," a yellow core with a rapidly dilating pupil who speaks enthusiastically and disjointedly about space;
- The "Adventure Core" (who also claims his name is "Rick"), a green core with a cat-like pupil and highly macho personality who attempts to flirt with Chell; and
- The "Fact Core," a pink core with a large round pupil who spews random (and often inaccurate) trivia while also claiming to be superior to the other two corrupted cores.
Wheatley himself had already become partly corrupted prior to his fight with Chell. The Space Core puts him on 50% corruption, the Adventure Core on 75% and the Fact Core on 100%, effectively preventing him from doing any further actions without being shut down fully in the process.
All cores appear to have a built-in failsafe that prevents them from telling the Test Subjects how to solve a test, when they attempt to do so, they receive a jolt of pain as GLaDOS partly explained and Wheatley demonstrated in one test chamber.
In Portal, the Personality Cores are introduced on GLaDOS, whom is dotted with four of these types:
- The Morality Core, a purple Core with a rather blurred pupil and two dots installed onto her to stop her from flooding the Enrichment Center with neurotoxin;
- The Curiosity Core, an orange Core with an average size pupil and four dots that is insatiably curious about everything around it (it even recognizes Chell as "the lady from the tests");
- The Intelligence Core (also known as "Crazy Core" and "Cakemix Core"), a blue Core with a very dilated pupil and six dots that gives a twisted cake recipe.
- The Anger Core (also known as "Emotional Core" or "Aggressive Sphere"), a red core with a rather small pupil and eight dots that emits angry growling sounds.
While the destruction of the cores in Portal appeared to negatively effect GLaDOS' ability to function, according to GLaDOS in Portal 2, the cores restricted her by injecting their thoughts into her process. She stresses that after she regains the awareness of her Genetic Lifeform component, Caroline, that it was a very different feeling to hear her own voice expressing these morals instead of the voices of the Cores. Aditionally, she mentions that when Wheatley was originally attached to her prior to the events of Portal, he was a Core that would force her into doing the dumbest ideas as a means of controlling her.
Whenever the Cores are not connected to the Central A.I. system or are one themselves, they are confined to ceiling-mounted Management Rails, allowing them to travel around the facility. They can be linked to computer terminals to reposition a test chamber's panels, accessing mainframes, or to activate breaker-room elevators.
While some Personality Cores have very basic functions like in Portal, some are capable of being sentient independently, and are able to learn from their experiences and display human-like traits. Wheatley and GLaDOS would express various feelings such as enthusiasm, fear, or anger, in an advanced way. The cores also are able to simulate the feeling of pain and will react to surges of electricity running through their circuits as displayed by Wheatley. One of GLaDOS' taunts in Portal also mentions that the difference between her and Chell was that She could feel pain.
Sometime during the events of the singleplayer campaign in Portal 2, ATLAS and P-body, two robots made out of scraps are used in couples in Testing Tracks as part of the Cooperative Testing Initiative by GLaDOS. One of them, apparently with masculine personality (ATLAS), was built from a modified Personality Core. Although, the other with feminine personality (P-body), upon blueprints seen during game loading times implies that the interior of its eye is very much similar to a Personality Core. Apparently, it was later confirmed that they are both Cores when GLaDOS stresses on them on how their Cores were based on "basic calculators".
The Rocket Sentry, the fifth known type of a basic Core, also appears to be a Personality Core mounted on a moving arm and equipped with a rocket launcher. Instead of talking, it emits beeps before projecting its rockets. It also has three colors instead of only one, related to its different modes (green: idle, yellow: locked on target; red: firing). The size of its pupil is similar to that of the Anger Core.
Storage and disposal
At the end of Portal, numerous Personality Cores stored around the promised cake and a Companion Cube can be seen waking up. During the time that elapsed between Portal and Portal 2, these Personality Cores carved out sections of the neglected Enrichment Center as their own, while traveling around the facility via the laboratory ceiling rails they are confined to.
At the conclusion of Portal 2, a large bin of corrupted cores is discovered before the final encounter with Wheatley, three of which are used as a means of corrupting him and forcing a core replacement. The fourth was warned about not turning on his flashlight.
Since almost all sentient machinery in the Enrichment Center are generated from Personality Cores, including Sentry Turrets, Rocket Sentries, and both ATLAS and P-body, there are only few cores that were designed to handle the more operational duties in the facility.
The main antagonist of Portal and the first half of the single player campaign in Portal 2, she is a murderous sentient computer system, a yellow-eyed core significantly different in shape from other cores, being of a "half-cylinder" shape and without any coating. She was primarily designed to handle the Central Core body, therefore handling all responsibilities for the Enrichment Center.
When Wheatley takes control of the Central Core body in Portal 2, he opts for installing her into a potato battery.
Appears in: Portal
The Morality (Purple-eyed) core was installed onto GLaDOS to control her from flooding the Enrichment Center with neurotoxin (This supposedly occurred in the 2000s, though no year is specified). It neither speaks nor moves around, even when held. However in Portal 2, GLaDOS comments about hearing the voices of others giving her morals. This means the Morality Core was merely instructing her programming. In the Portal 2: Lab Rat comic, Doug Rattmann notes that, even with a moral awareness, a human being can still ignore its own morals and doubted that the Morality Core was enough to keep GLaDOS under control. His doubts in the core were well-founded.
- "Who are you? What is that? Oh, what's that? What's that? What is THAT? Ooh, that thing has numbers on it! Ah! What's wrong with your leg?"
- ―The Curiosity Core
Appears in: Portal
An orange-eyed core with a very inquisitive mind. It constantly looks around, repeatedly questions about things it sees, people it meets and pretty much everything else in a high-pitched, childlike voice. According to GLaDOS, she only kept Chell alive out of curiosity until the Curiosity Core was destroyed.
- "One 18.25 ounce package chocolate cake mix."
- ―The Intelligence Core
Appears in: Portal
This sphere's eye is light blue and has a heavily dilated pupil. When held, it lazily rolls around in its shell, reciting a long cake recipe containing dozens of unusual and often inedible ingredients. When the core's voice is pitched up by about 20 percent, it is possible to hear that actually GLaDOS is reciting the recipe.
Appears in: Portal
A red-eyed sphere with a shrunken pupil that twitches and shakes around madly, growling and snarling incoherently like a wild animal all the time. When the player is about to incinerate it, the core starts whimpering like a small dog. This core may be the source, or at least part of the source, of GLaDOS' fury.
Wheatley (Intelligence Dampening Core)
Appears in: Portal 2
A blue-eyed core that is one of the main characters of Portal 2. Wheatley helps Chell escape the facility for the entire first half of the game. According to GLaDOS, he was one of the cores put onto her to see how she would react. It worked by putting foolish thoughts into her head, preventing intelligent thoughts from appearing.
GLaDOS stressed how moronic this core was, having been created to be the biggest moron known to mankind and described him like a tumor. Oddly, despite his lack of intelligence, he is quite logical on occasions, but often is quite blunt on his resolutions and doesn't think things through thoroughly. He is also the only known core that lacks a pupil.
- "SPACE! YEAH-HAAAAA!"
- ―The Space Core
A yellow-eyed core who lets off sparks as it twitches. It speaks rapidly and endlessly about space and space-related activities. At the end of Portal 2, when it is floating in space with Wheatley, it repeats "I'm in space! So much space! We're in space!" It does not however seem to know much about space, despite being obsessed with it.
Rick (Adventure Core)
- "I'll tell ya', it's times like this I wish I had a waist so I could wear all my black belts. Yeah, I'm a black belt . . . in pretty much everything. Karate. Larate. Taekwondo. Jiu Jitsu. Kick punching. Belt making. . . . Bedroom."
Appears in: Portal 2
A green-eyed core whose iris appears pixelated, rather than a solid light like the other cores. Its pupil is rectangular in shape. Besides having a proud and boastful male voice, it claims its name is Rick, and that it enjoys thrills and danger, and even attempts to flirt with Chell during the final battle. When Rick is first seen, it is hanging and swinging on a wire, in a manner not unlike that which would be expected from an archetypal adventurer coming to the rescue. If the player holds on to it for long enough, it repeatedly asks for a weapon, sings an adventure song, and flirts with Chell. At the conclusion of the battle, Rick is the first core to be sucked into space, though it is not seen with Wheatley and the Space Core after the credits.
If the player, during the final boss fight, holds onto Rick for long enough, it will mention "saying a good line." It then tells the player to get Wheatley to say, "You've been a thorn in my side for long enough." After the Fact Core is attached, Wheatley will yell this line at the player, causing Rick to answer "Yeah? Well, this thorn is about to take you down! Man, that sounded a lot better in my head."
- "Cellular phones will not give you cancer; only hepatitis."
- ―The Fact Core
Appears in: Portal 2
A pink-eyed core who rapidly rattles off multiple historical, mathematical, and scientific facts of varying accuracy, some true, some false, and some just plain illogical. It also boasts about its own intellect and appearance while dismissing the other two cores. It describes itself as "the most intelligent and handsome sphere," while it insults the Space Core, the Adventure Core, and even Chell in addition to words of discouragement.
One of its facts are about how William Shakespeare did not exist, and that Sir Francis Bacon wrote his plays. This is possibly a reference to The Eyre Affair, where there is an ongoing debate as to who really wrote Shakespeare's plays, mostly consisting of claiming that Sir Francis Bacon wrote them.
Some of the Fact Sphere's facts contain in-game references. A few of them are:
- Edmund Hillary, the first person to climb Mt. Everest, did so accidentally while chasing a bird. (This refers to Chell going through Test Shaft 09 after GLaDOS was kidnapped by a bird.)
- The Schrodinger's Cat paradox outlines a situation in which a cat in a box must be considered, for all intents and purposes, simultaneously alive and dead. Schrodinger created this paradox as a justification for killing cats. (Referencing GLaDOS using this thought puzzle to trick the scientists into supplying her with neurotoxin.)
- "To initiate a core transfer, please deposit substitute core in the receptacle."
- ―Aperture Science Announcement System[src]
When the cores become damaged, they usually develop problems. Some include a feedback loop, which causes them to have the same thoughts or processes over and over again, or multiple personalities, where a core will constantly switch between the personality of someone else and its own, or try and make sense of random data. When a core experiences these symptoms, the Aperture Science main computer (usually GLaDOS or Wheatley) cannot function properly; therefore, a core transfer is needed. If an alternate core is present in the main computer chamber, the Aperture Science Announcement System will detect it and note that a core transfer may be needed and ask that an associate plug the replacement core into the Aperture Science Core Transfer Receptacle. It will then ask the cores if they would like to proceed with a core transfer. If both cores agree or disagree then the transfer will either continue or stop. However, if one core disagrees with the other, then a stalemate occurs and it is up to a qualified Stalemate Associate to decide if the core transfer procedure should continue or stop. To continue the transfer, the Stalemate Associate needs to press the Stalemate Resolution Button in a room just off the main computer chamber. Once pressed, the core transfer will proceed and the new core will be installed onto the main computer system. However, in one instance, the button did blow up when Wheatley tried to kill Chell. Defective cores are then taken to a storage space, most likely awaiting incineration or destruction.
It should be noted that the button itself did not explode, but that Wheatley had concealed several bombs behind raised panels opposite of the Resolution Annex entrance, which he then detonated when the button is pressed. The bombs can be seen just after the room is revealed and can be seen through the panels after they are raised.
Core transfers are extremely painful (simulation pain) to the cores involved. Considering that the core controlling the facility is connected to the central body by large amounts of wiring rather than the usual three-pin plug, the likely explanation is that core transfers require the replacement core to sustain a large amount of damage during the procedure.
- "Are you just saying that, or is it really going to hurt? You're just saying that, aren't you? No, you're not. It is going to hurt, isn't it? Exactly how painful are we - AGHHHHHH!"
"The Lab" cores
In "Slingshot" – one of the mini-games within the VR set of experiments – The Lab, we are introduced to the 32 following, uncalibrated cores, that you are supposed to use as ammunition:
- Very Heavy Core
- Auction Core
- Boring Hard Boiled Core (Wilson)
- Calibration Core
- Climate Change Awareness Core
- Convict Core
- Butter Core
- Comfortable Core (Core That Just Feels Right)
- By the Book Core
- Retirement Core
- Useful Core (That is Not a Gateway to Hell)
- Skeptical Core
- News Core (that ran to get there)
- Respect Core
- Emergency Preparedness Core
- Executive Core
- Fruit Punch Core
- Horror Story Core
- Investigation Core
- Magic Core
- Mourning Core
- Pilot Core
- Plague Core
- Reverse Psychology Core
- Rhythm Core
- Rookie Core (Gil)
- Snuggle Core
- Soup Core
- Spider Core
- Supervillain Core
- Salesman Core (Trevor)
- Tracer Core
Behind the scenes
- The Personality Core went through several design iterations. At some point during development, the Cores were simple grey spheres attached to a large ring with an undetermined blue glowing matter, with GLaDOS being a large sphere above the ring. Later in development, they were glowing light blue spheres, hanging to a "Birth of Venus"-like GLaDOS, until they were given their more detailed design with the different colors, reminiscent of a webcam design.
- Interestingly, the first Ratman Den in Portal 2 contains a mural of GLaDOS's activation in which the early light blue cores are attached to her.
- Personality Cores were said to play a more important role in Portal 2, as they appear to have rebuilt and transformed Aperture Laboratories themselves. A Personality Core even fills the role of Chell's sidekick during the first part of the game, specifically Wheatley. However, the idea of multiple cores besides Wheatley shown throughout the facility was cut due to the amount of time it would take to introduce more than one core. The idea was partially recycled into the three defective cores.
- The 3 corrupted core's models were originally going to be used for other core sidekicks found in the game.
- Portal 2: The Final Hours reveals some of the scrapped core sidekicks that were meant to appear in Portal 2. They are the Paranoia Core, Morgan Freeman Core, and the Quint Core.
- The Paranoia Core was later reused in Poker Night 2 where it has the same model as Wheatley.
- The Personality Core model is much more advanced in Portal 2, an example being the animation of Wheatley's model. While the Core itself is still independent from its case, the "face" has more unique plates that turn on themselves when the Core is achieving a task or has a particular emotion, and the eye is dotted with mock eyelids.
- The Final Hours of Portal 2 states that the inspiration for the Space Core came from a commercial for Oregon Coast Aquarium. Its striking similarities can be seen in the YouTube Video Oregon Coast Aquarium commercial.
- The core with its flashlight stuck on above the pile of corrupted Personality Cores in sp_a4_finale4 reuses the Adventure Core's eye texture.
- To celebrate the integration of the Steam Community Workshop to the game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Valve created their own addon patch where the Space Core falls onto the planet/astral being Nirn, in the Tamrielic province of Skyrim from "space."
- The Space Core makes an appearance during the Portal 2 Level Pack add-on for LEGO Dimensions. The Morality Core and a new core named the "Amorality Core" appear during the main story's climax. The Adventure Core and Cake Core also appear in the Portal 2 Adventure World as quest-giving NPCs.
- The Morality Core's model is bugged, only playing its idle animation once after being picked up by the player. It does this every time the player picks it up.
List of appearances
- Portal (First appearance)
- Portal: Still Alive (Non-canonical appearance)
- Portal ARG
- PotatoFoolsDay ARG
- Portal 2: Lab Rat
- Portal 2
- The Final Hours of Portal 2
Half-Life Wiki has more images related to Aperture Science Personality Construct.