Portal 2 Celebrates 10 Years with Time Travel!

portal 2

Last week, one of the most iconic puzzle games in the history of video games turned ten years old.

Portal 2 is the beloved sequel to the groundbreaking (and mind-bending) game about a gun that creates portals through which you can leap, fall, and maneuver your way past increasingly complex puzzles and locked rooms. You can make portals — blue or orange, one to enter, the other to exit — with the famous portal gun.

Whether there are buttons to be pressed, lasers to be re-directed, or inaccessible platforms to access, your portal gun is the only tool you need to finish the job… if you’re clever enough.

I reached out to some of my video game-savvy friends to ask their thoughts on ten years of Portal 2, and the feedback was unanimously positive:

Each puzzle taught a lesson, building upon your knowledge of the game’s “rules” and “tricks.” By the end of the game, your brain has been re-wired to solve some of the most brutal possible puzzles. It definitely felt like my brain was running at max capacity playing the portal games.

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The best puzzle games teach us lessons and allow us to build on those lessons to get better. The more crosswords you solve, the more experience you have unraveling clues and filling in grids. It’s the same thing with Portal.

Another video game enthusiast shared this:

It (along with Portal 1) is one of the only puzzle games that managed to complete from start to finish without resorting to an online hint guide of some sort. It was difficult enough that I felt challenged, but intuitive and logical enough that I was eventually able to figure everything out, which to me is the hallmark of a fun game.

Might also be the first time I ever felt genuine sympathy for a robot in a game. (Or at least the… well, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who has yet to play through it.)

Oh yeah, it’s also the only first-person puzzle game I can think of where I don’t want to spoil anything for people.

It’s a rare puzzle (and rarer game) indeed where failure doesn’t feel like failure, and instead feels like a learning experience that pushes you to try again with what you’ve learned. Some puzzles and games make that a crushing experience… but Portal makes it fun. Portal makes it compelling. And Portal makes it all so satisfying when you figure it all out.

And now, as fans mark a decade of brain-melting Portal 2 puzzles, a fan-designed free mod known as Portal Reloaded is set to challenge Portal 2 fans all over again.

Portal2-Reloaded-Mod-Valve

How? By adding time travel to the mix.

Yes, your portal gun isn’t just allowing you to manipulate space… it’s allowing you to manipulate time as well.

From the Kotaku article about Portal Reloaded:

Portal Reloaded is a mod, released just in time for Portal 2‘s 10th birthday, that introduces a new set of test chambers and, more importantly, a new portal colour. You’ll still be using the old blue and orange ones, but the green one you’ll also get will let you move through time, as you set up puzzles in one timeline and then move them along/solve them across two different eras, set 20 years apart.

When a game that already lets you bend space to your whim with some clever positioning, the possibility of bending time the same way is practically irresistible.

But will people be talking about Portal Reloaded in ten years the same way they do about Portal 2? Unfortunately, there’s no green portals to tell us the answer. We’ll just have to wait and see.


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A Crossword Roundup: 10,000 Days of Shortz, The Crossword Mysteries, and ACPT!

Hello crossword fans! In today’s post I just wanted to offer a quick little roundup of crossword-related items and stories, so I’ve got three for you today.

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Firstly, I’d like to congratulate Will Shortz on editing his 10,000th crossword! (Approximately. It’s actually his 10,000th day as editor, which is still a very impressive number!)

Friend of the blog Deb Amlen interviewed Will to mark the occasion, and it offers a nice little snapshot of Will’s career as editor of The New York Times crossword, as well as some insight into the man behind the puzzle.

There are also some intriguing stats included in the interview. This one caught my eye:

The Times is publishing more teen constructors than ever before. In the whole history of the Times Crossword up to me, only six teenagers are known to have had crosswords in the paper. I’ve published 46 teens so far, with two more coming up this month.

46 teens! That’s amazing.

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Of course, the part that’s getting a lot of traction online is this quote: “I read all but one of the daily crossword blogs”

Now, I hesitate to bring this part up, because there’s virtually no way to discuss it without sounding like I’m picking a side. It’s not hard to deduce what daily blog Will is referring to here — plenty of others have made the connection already — and the presumed writer of that blog responded to the comment in typically salty fashion, as did his many fans and readers.

I choose not to wade into that particularly turbulent Internet space, which is why I’m not naming names or providing links. If you are that interested, it’s not hard to find them.

But I DO want to say that there are plenty of terrific crossword blogs out there, big and small, that all add to the daily crossword discussion in important ways. Some are more critical than others. Some are acerbic to the point of being fairly unpleasant to read regularly. But there’s definitely a blog out there about the Times daily crossword for you.

In any case, congratulations to Will Shortz on 10,000 days as the most recognizable name in crosswords. Other than Brian Eno, Yoko Ono, Bobby Orr, Mel Ott, Rip Torn, Oona Chaplin…

Anyway, congrats on being A recognizable name in crosswords. =)

Speaking of recognizable names and crosswords, the fifth Crossword Mysteries movie will be premiering Sunday night, April 11th, at 8 PM Eastern! It is entitled Riddle Me Dead, and here’s the plot synopsis:

Tess gets invited to be part of a popular game show, but when the host is unexpectedly murdered, she and Detective Logan O’Connor try to discover who was behind it all.

Not only that, but Hallmark Movies & Mysteries is running a Crossword Mysteries marathon all day, starting at noon, so you can catch up on all things Tess Harper and Logan O’Connor before the newest entry in the series debuts that night!

Of course, you could also just read the four posts about the movies that I’ve written for the blog here, here, here, and here. Just saying.

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Finally, I’ll cap off this trifecta of crossword-related notes by reminding you that registration is open for this year’s American Crossword Puzzle Tournament! The tournament is running from April 23rd through the 25th, complete with all sorts of events!

The tournament has gone virtual this year, so if you’ve ever thought about entering the tournament and testing your puzzly skills, this is the perfect opportunity for you. The deadline to register is Friday, April 23rd, noon Eastern.

There are sample puzzles to try out as well!

Will you be attending ACPT this year, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers? Or tuning in for the latest Crossword Mysteries film? What do you think of 10,000 days of Will Shortz-edited NYT crosswords? Let us know in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you.


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A Month of Puzzly Celebration!

January is a good month for puzzles and puzzly pursuits. Not only is National Puzzle Day coming up soon, but there are two delightful anniversaries for us to celebrate.

Two years ago this month, one of the newer parts of the puzzle community was founded: The Crossword Puzzle Collaboration Directory.

This Facebook group is part gathering place for established and aspiring constructors and part resource for constructors of all skill levels.

People post and share information about everything from grid construction, editing programs, and cluing advice to networking, test-solving, and encouraging feedback.

Inexperienced and aspiring constructors meet and collaborate with established names. Obstacles, problems, and questions are handled with equal care and support. Heck, some constructors even post rejection notices they’ve received in order to share the valuable feedback it contains.

It’s become a hub for discovering and supporting underrepresented voices in puzzles as well, not only encouraging valuable new partnerships, but hopefully recruiting the next generation of constructors for all backgrounds.

It’s been a pleasure to watch this community grow and evolve as newer constructors become more confident and established voices launch new puzzly projects. I can’t wait to see what emerges from this marvelous endeavor in the months and years to come.

The second anniversary to celebrate this month belongs to domino master, kinetic artist, and friend of the blog Lily Hevesh, aka Hevesh5, who is celebrating 11 years as a domino artist and YouTuber.

Over the past decade, Lily has evolved from a foundling YouTuber with a few dozen dominoes into an influential member of the world domino community. She has designed works of kinetic art for films, TV shows, and special events, as well as Guinness World Records and collaborations involving hundreds of thousands of dominoes.

Continually pushing the boundaries of what you can do with dominoes — from chains and Rube Goldberg devices to literal works of art — Lily has amassed more than two million followers on YouTube and transformed a small hobby into a thriving business and contributing member of her community.

I’m overjoyed to see her ambitious plans for the future, especially after being a fan for so long. Every new video shows off her incredible range and talent, and I look forward to seeing what new wonders she has in store for us all in the future.

Happy Anniversary, Crossword Puzzle Collaboration Directory!
Happy Anniversary, Lily!

And happy puzzling to you, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers!


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