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Early screenshot of Testchamber 13 showing off an early ASHPD inspired by the Gravity Gun

This article refers to Portal during its development stages from mid-2005 to its release on 10th October 2007.

Acquisition and leak[]

A member of the Valve Cut Content community acquired a hard drive from Valve containing a development archive of Portal dated December 2006 back in early 2015 that contained materials, models, particles, and sounds from as early as 2005. Their intention was to make a total conversion mod for Portal that allowed players to dynamically switch between development eras and this mod was known as Portal Project-Beta.

In June 2016, the assets were leaked to Facepunch which resulted in the indefinite suspension of Project-Beta's development.

A finalized version of Portal Project-Beta was released in May 2017, though the mod does not contain any new content and further development has ceased.

Original Plot[]

The actual puzzles themselves were finalized early on during development. The main differences between build iterations are the art styles themselves.



One of the earliest known iterations of Testchamber 18

The 2005 iteration of Portal largely took design cues from Half-Life 2, especially Nova Prospekt. Most notably, instead of being guided through the facility by GLaDOS, the player was to navigate the facility alone and eventually escape. Instead of facing GLaDOS, during the escape sequence the player would instead have to manually escape the facility. In the final escape map, the player would have to search for car batteries to power a locked door while avoiding hazards such as turrets and fires. The escape map is the only map available for download from this era and any other publicly available 2005 campaign era maps are remakes using assets from this map.


Screenshot from 2017-08-02 19-49-20

Early Testchamber 00 screenshot with Star Trek inspired styled door frame

In early 2006, the transition was made from the Nova Prospekt design to a cleaner, more sci-fi look. The doors instead of being brush based took on a new Star-Trek-like design. Some antiquated assets such as the analog clock and Combine elevator initially remained, however. The flame Portals as well as a newer, sleeker portal gun were also developed later during this era. The indicator lights were also static orange lines instead of the dotted lines seen in later builds.

Interestingly, in the Portal trailer as well as all subsequent media releases up until Portal's demonstration at GC 2006, most world props such as the exit doors and buttons were just simple ambient occlusions.

The Portal demonstration at X06 in Barcelona at the end of September 2006 introduced spiral portals, dotted indicator lights as well as a newly designed Testchamber 18, which arguably saw the most changes in level design over the course of development.

Screenshot from 2017-08-02 19-29-34

The moving array of rollermines which was a placeholder for GLaDOS in late 2006

Portal in late 2006 (and essentially all development eras before 2005) was largely similar to the final product, with the exception of a slightly different map layout, textures, lighting, and a differently animated portal gun as well as a different GLaDOS battle.

Instead of using a rocket turret to blow cores off of GLaDOS, the player was to chase a fleeing GLaDOS, using rocket turrets to damage her while avoiding turret fire. One of the reasons this boss battle was scrapped was because players felt sorry for attacking an essentially defenseless GLaDOS.

Notably, the room where GLaDOS was originally to be confronted was reused as the last turret battle before GLaDOS in the final game.

Early 2007[]

Portal in early 2007 maintains almost the same design as late 2006 with the exception of some small level changes, most notably a redesigned Test Chamber 18 which can be seen in the Game Informer sneak peek.

At GDC 2007, the retail Portals replaced the older spiral portals. A newer, differently animated portal gun model with the player's hand on the barrel can also be seen. Additionally the transition is made from a male character to Chell.

External links[]