ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

Aperture —

I walk a fine line here. Let’s see how well I do.

The fine line is to accolade without spoiling. I hate spoiling, especially when so much about the greatness of something depends on you not knowing much. Knowing more and more about how something comes out pulls you a few paces away from your experience. If someone says “Ah, that game, with the flaming monkey head”, then you will likely find yourself no longer playing this new game, instead cleaving the experience into pre-flaming monkey head and post-flaming monkey head. It’s what people do, and I don’t want to do it for you here.

Sometimes, too, the reason you like something is less that thing than where you are in life. I’ve found that I adore a creation, and to others who do nothing but watch things in the same genre it’s just another one. I like the horrible movie The Apple simply because I am stunned at the level of choreography, costuming and set design put into this forgettable plot and badly-stitched set of scenes, especially because I make films myself now. Just as you can blow your mind realizing that the Leaning Tower of Pisa was built over hundreds of years and contractors on the job knew it was screwed up halfway through, I find myself attracted to some things because of the story of its creation. Or because I’ve never seen anything like it.

So yes, I am speaking of Portal. This is a game that came out this week for computers and consoles. I have the downloading network known as “Steam” installed on my computer, so I paid my $20 and got Portal and started playing it, considering it a little throwaway jaunt of a short few hours.

I did not expect a transcendental experience. But I sure as hell got one.

So I can’t, of course, tell you anything about the game in any concrete sense, other than to say it starts out somewhat simplistic and funny and then somewhere down the line my head exploded. And as I was picking up pieces of my exploded head, I got my head super-double-exploded, all while laughing what was left of my head off.

But I believe if I knew ANYTHING about the game beforehand, I’d have not had half this good experience. If I’d traipsed through a bunch of youtube videos or reviews or even backstory, I bet I’d have been enjoying it but not a combination of side-swiped and floored. (And then hammered and then head-explody, as previously referenced.)

So take my advice and download it now and play it and don’t read anything more about it. Just do it.

But more than this advice, something else here reminded me of effort I am making with GET LAMP.

GET LAMP is meant to eclipse BBS DOCUMENTARY on some levels. Obviously not in terms of pure length or number of interviews, but in image/sound quality, interactivity, adherence to the subject, crazy tangential references, and so on, I want you to be amazed when you go through it. Obviously, people who watch a lot of stuff may not be “amazed” by anything I do, or really have the capacity to be “amazed” by any movie that arrives on a DVD. But for a segment of people, I want them to see this film and be blown away on a bunch of levels. I want them to go in, expecting it to be OK, and then be blown away when it’s fantastic. BBS Documentary did this to people, but I want this one to be an even larger group of people.

And sometimes, when it’s dark and I’m tired, I look at footage to be shot and footage shot and think “This won’t be fantastic as I wish it to be”. But then, a little later, I look at it all from another angle and think “yes, if I pair this with this and add this, it will be, very much”.

Things like Portal remind me that there are people who, like myself, sit and stare at something and go “How can we make this even better. How can we make this go from being amazing to being beyond amazing. What will happen if I focus on this aspect for a week. What will happen if I take this risk.”

And that’s a great reminder.

Now go get Portal.

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  1. phuzz says:

    mmmm, Portalicious 🙂

    It’s all about the Weighted Companion Cube really:

    (oh, and THAT song, which I have on repeat right now)

  2. omf says:

    Yes, Portal is a triumph.

  3. Salmonitic Smegmahorn says:

    Ah, I thought you were talking about this Portal:

  4. Salmonitic Smegmahorn says:

    Ah, I thought you were talking about this Portal: