The 1986 sci-fi epic is reborn: An astronaut returns to Earth only to discover mankind has vanished without a trace... Read more
Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on May 9, 2012.
About this project
NOTE: THIS PROJECT IS BEING REBOOTED. SEE UPDATE #10 FOR DETAILS. The easiest way to find the new version of the campaign is to visit www.portal1986.com or search for "Swigart" or "Portal" on Kickstarter. When the new page is live, you'll see a "v2.0" designation in the title. Thanks you for your interest and we hope to see you at the new page.
CCNode: FILE 1 OF 1. PRIORITY ONE MESSAGE!!!
- Hierarchical filter level seven in effect.
- I am HOMER. How may I serve you?
- One moment. You requested a story.
- Once upon a time... I can't tell that story.
- You've selected "Portal (1986) Reborn". You want to know what it is.
- To understand what it is, you must understand what it was...
What It Was Before...
Released in 1986 on the Commodore 64, Amiga, and other early platforms as the world's first "computer novel", Rob Swigart's Portal (1986) was an epic science-fiction tale-within-a-tale about an astronaut who unexpectedly returns home after a failed hundred year voyage to find all the inhabitants of Earth have vanished into thin air, the remnants of civilization decaying in their absence. The animals are fine and run wild across the planet. There are no signs of violence. Humanity is simply... gone.
A biological storytelling A.I. patterned after the Greek poet, Homer, must aid this last human in uncovering the mystery of mankind's disappearance, a mystery inextricably tied to the past of a child prodigy named Peter Devore. Unlocking forbidden science, he is hunted across the planet. In a race against time with people willing to kill to stop him, his actions will change mankind forever...
FUN FACT: One of the original Portal's predictions was a universe of 11-dimensions (10 of space, 1 of time) NINE YEARS before quantum physicist Ed Witten combined the five existing superstring theories into a single 11-dimensional theory in 1995 (M-Theory). It also predicted the Internet.
What It Will Be Now...
Completely re-imagined with the capabilities of a modern 3D game engine, Rob Swigart's Portal (1986) Reborn is a casual, third-person perspective sci-fi adventure game featuring motion capture, scripted in-game cutscenes, original music, sound effects, voiced dialogue, and 360 degrees of freedom.
- In addition to all of this you can expect some surprisingly familiar voices, Easter Eggs galore, an all-new extended ending, and other fun surprises.
Impossible in 1986, you will now be able to visually and audibly experience the haunting, empty streets of New Chicago, the chilling winds echoing in the ice tunnels beneath Antarctica, the lush tropical vegetation growing in the geothermal vent of the Terminus chasm, and the deep thrumming of Vega-26's engines as it sails silently toward the awe-inspiring Anomaly and a date with destiny...
Setting & Atmosphere
Mankind has been gone for a decade by the time The Astronaut returns from his hundred year journey beyond the stars. The animals roam wild. Buildings decay from non-use, gathering piles of dust and unexpected plant life as nature attempts to reclaim the land. Power is sporadic but is still being generated... somewhere.
The artificial intelligences that helped run the world have been asleep for what might as well be a million years from their point of view and only the Astronaut's arrival and interaction with Homer causes them to stir from their slumber. As Homer says, "We were built to serve... but there is no one. No one but you."
Imagine an entire city without a single solitary person other than you. Downtown, the wind scatters detritus back and forth across the streets. The lack of familiar human sounds, the hustle and bustle of the city, is deafening. You practically expect a zombie or an alien to jump out at you from behind every corner but even that does not happen. You are alone. And it may be for the rest of your days.
You walk down the numerous steps of a non-functioning escalator and find yourself in what appears to be a city-sized mall. Most of the buildings are locked and the massive, open-spaced corridors are littered with personal belongings. Then you see the familiar symbol of the local Med-Center beckoning you inside. Its double-doors slide open as you approach, stirring up years worth of dust that clump together in odd patterns.
Inside, you find a nurse's station with a working terminal but you're not sure how to use it. It doesn't look like any computer you're familiar with and an eerie green light emanates from it. You're afraid to turn it on, afraid to learn the truth. The possibility of finding out you're now infected with some horrible plague that wiped out humanity (and dissolved their bodies!) or some other equally devastating horror makes you move away, delaying the inevitable.
While exploring, you discover the bodies. There are six of them. Abandoned by their caregivers in the days leading up to whatever it is that happened, they died alone and neglected, each now preserved by some kind of protective membrane. The corpses send your mind reeling... but at least they're human, your only proof that other people ever existed.
Slowly, you gather up your courage and return to the nurse's station. The strange computer's green light is still there, giving you an uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach.
You turn it on.
- With the help of your ghostly, holographic A.I. companion, Homer, you'll be transported to different eras and locations of a "simulated past" revolving around Peter Devore's dystopian "managed-world" where everyone is monitored, even sweat output is tabulated, and education is pre-programmed.
- Your investigations will play out in three layers:
Layer 1 - With WorldNet in disrepair, major A.I. nodes still slumbering, and access to data only trickling in at first, Homer will rely on your human touch and intuition to enhance his simulations. Once arriving at a location/time, personal belongings, audio journals, e-tablets, and other clues and puzzles will lead you to who was present, what they were doing, and perhaps even why.
Layer 2 - As you accumulate new information and the 10 major A.I. nodes still functioning (Medical, Military, Psychology, SciTech, History, Geography, Wasatch, Life Support, Education and Central Processing) become more responsive, Homer will be able to enhance the simulation with "virtual" NPC's, allowing you to interact with and question them. In addition, you may be able to:
- Jump forward or backward in time for a better perspective of what events may have occurred in-between.
- Interact with NPC's, areas, and items only present in one time or the other.
- Take on the outward appearance of other characters for different responses (and challenges) when interacting with NPC's.
- Some puzzles will require you to do all of these things and more in order to solve them.
Layer 3 - When you have enough information for Homer, he will play back a full simulation of what he believes occurred during the time and location in question, shedding new light on the central mystery of what happened to mankind and why.
- Using your own wits, emotions, and senses in combination with Homer's advanced capabilities, you will put the pieces of the past together, and unlock the truth before your final connection to humanity is severed forever...
Being an experiment in narrative during the early days of computing, the original Portal was severely limited in its presentation. Fans were enthralled by the story, but were far less enthused about the interface and mechanics.
By re-presenting the original Portal as a full-fledged 3D adventure game with music, sound effects, art, voice acting, and gameplay, we can amplify the telling of this classic science-fiction saga by orders of magnitude and provide a whole new level of immersive experience to audiences old and new.
Few things would please Rob more than to see his beloved universe and characters reborn and be able to finally answer the question that has been haunting many of us for over a quarter of a century: “What happened NEXT?”. YOU can help make that happen.
As one can expect, we're going to have to rename the game prior to its release so people don't confuse it for Valve's brilliant 2007 puzzler of the same name.
For this campaign, we're doing something we haven't seen anywhere else: Instead of US choosing what items you'll get as your reward, we're offering different LEVELS of items that YOU get to pick from based on your level of support and what you want.
Want duplicate items? Done. Don't care about the physical tchotchkes, gewgaws, knickknacks, baubles, lagniappes, or trinkets? Get additional digital copies of the game for your friends instead. Its up to you.
Right out of the gate, you can get the complete game as a DRM-free digital download for just $15, a price only offered here and only to our Kickstarter supporters. For the $30 tier reward, we're giving away all the digital bonuses, no-holds barred, PLUS one Level A Item of your choice. From there on out, the rewards just get better and better.
What We Are:
We are a small group of people with varying degrees of industry experience who saw an opportunity with Kickstarter to revive a wonderful science-fiction classic as a modern adventure game.
We all work other jobs to pay the bills, some in the industry and some without. As a start-up, this will be our first game together as a team. Our individual credentials and our good intentions can be verified with any number of organizations and people referenced in this pitch document. We are sincere in our efforts to make this game a reality.
Who We Are:
Besides being the writer of the 1986 murder-mystery adventure game Murder on the Mississippi, creator of the original Portal computer novel, and author of over a dozen books, Rob Swigart is a founding member of the Electronic Literature Organization, and spent 33 years teaching literature and creative writing at San Jose State University. Rob will serve as Executive Producer on the project.
PGA member Andy Hoffman will serve as Producer, managing the team to project completion. With over 20+ years of experience, Andy has worked with publishers, game developers, universities, and film-makers in shipping video game titles, educational software, and other transmedia products.
Eric Dieter will serve as Creative Director, ensuring the project meets with the team's vision and expectations of quality.Ericserved for six years as Director of Services for the interactive/digital division of a broadcasting company, and is the writer of the internal "series bible" and comic book miniseries for Irrational Games' Freedom Force video game series. He is also a story and voiceover contributor on the indie StarCraft Universe project, and has voiced for game titles like Heroes of Newerth and Mystery of the Ancients.
Artist, 3D modeler, and composer Joel Steudler (Dawn of Fantasy) will be providing music, storyboards, and 2D graphics.
The rest of our core team will be handling level design, concept art, character models, user interface design, and more. These members are currently wrapping up their contract work at other studios and will be introduced as soon as they are contractually able to do so. To compensate, we will be showing off some of their work in the near future. Additional members necessary to round out the team will be retained upon completion of the Kickstarter campaign.
Some of the authors we have tentative agreements with for in-game content are: MATT COSTELLO (The 7th Guest, The 11th Hour, Doom 3, Rage), PHIL ROSSI (Crescent, Harvey, Eden), NATHAN LOWELL (Golden Age of the Solar Clipper Series), JAMES MELZER (Zombie Chronicles, Hull's Landing), JOHN MIERAU (Harlan's Wake, The List, Asunder) and MUR LAFFERTY (The Takeover, Playing For Keeps, The Afterlife Series).
PHIL ROSSI and MUR LAFFERTY, both accomplished voice actors as well as authors, will also be pulling double-duty with their portrayal of Peter's parents, Ran and Seemie Devore.
We are also extremely excited to announce that fan-favorite voice actors, STEPHEN RUSSELL and TERRI BROSIUS (Thief, Thief II, Thief: Deadly Shadows, System Shock 2, Freedom Force, Freedom Force vs The 3rd Reich) have also agreed to join our cast upon a successful completion of this Kickstarter campaign!
Its no secret that games today cost more money to develop than most of us will ever see in ten lifetimes. Development costs include overhead, payroll, licenses, fees, taxes, and so on. It gets very expensive, very quickly which is bad for small independent studios and the gamers they create for. This is why they give up so much to the mega-publishers in order to get their games made. Kickstarter flips this dynamic on its head.
Where's the money going?
5% of total funds raised for this campaign will go to Kickstarter and 3.2% of total funds raised to Amazon Payment Services. The remaining amount will be used to cover the full-time salaries (mitigated through the use of profit-sharing) of our development team (including new hires) for the 18-month development cycle, to pay voice actors/writers, and to purchase equipment, software, and services required to complete the game. Rob and Andy will not be receiving salaries and will instead profit only on the success of the finished game.
If you're a long-time fan or a newly-minted one, please make a pledge and spread the word via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other social media. And please, share your love for the original Portal with others in the comments section.
It's been a long wait, these last 26 years, and the Portal characters are still fresh in our minds. Its time to let them see the light of day once more. The 30th anniversary isn't all that far off you know...
Upon success of this campaign, we plan on an 18-month development cycle with a final release on PC and Mac in time for the 2013 holidays.
Thanks for reading our pitch and happy gaming.
TRANSIT QUERY TERMINATED
Not at all, but we *are* trying to reach out to older fans who remember the 1986 original as well as a newer audience. Valve now owns the Trademark on "Portal" and we don't want to be sued into oblivion (or worse, banned from ever playing Half-Life 3).
Rest assured that we will rename the game prior to its release, likely within a month or so after this Kickstarter campaign is completed.
Will "A low-budget, non-violent all-ages casual player science-fiction mystery thriller" suffice? How about "Quantum Leap meets STNG's Holodeck meets Dreamfall"? Now you see the problem with pitching to mega-publishers.
You will have multiple sources to choose from for your download.
We expect to distribute through Steam, GOG, and other online outlets to be determined at a later date. Some of the services we will be distributing through may be considered by some to still be "DRM" because you have to use their service or software to play while others may be considered "non-DRM" because you don't need anything. The choice is yours on what service you prefer.
After the campaign has ended, we will contact you through Kickstarter and ask you what items you want.
English by default and we expect to localize for French, Italian, German, & Spanish but this is highly tentative.
We expect to release on both PC and Mac. We will support a Linux port and other platforms if the demand for these is strong enough.
We have been evaluating several engines for some time prior to launching this campaign and will continue to do so. We can tell you, however, that it will likely begin with a "U".
No, a number of items will be available long before then and you may have the option of receiving them earlier. If so, this will appear on the survey we'll be sending out post-campaign.
Hindsight is always 20/20 but we did a lot of thinking about this for a very long time, so please know that this wasn't a decision based on greed or madness.
We strongly believe there is (and always has been) a market for adventure games despite the industry mindset that adventure games are dead and buried. To us, this is not only an opportunity to reimagine a sci-fi classic but also show publishers what can be done with what they would consider a chickenfeed budget.
You see, the average non-AAA game's budget is around ten million dollars ($10,000,000). We can work with far less than this because our game is smaller in scope, has a limited number of interactive locations, fewer models, reusable assets incorporated into the gameplay, and doesn't require a massive marketing budget.
That said, by the time you factor in the various fees taken by Kickstarter (5%) and Amazon (3.2%), federal and state taxes (the big one), reward fulfillment (a tiny fraction), and other costs involved just with raising the funds, the usable amount remaining will be considerably less than what we've set as our goal.
The funds remaining must then cover the salaries of an entire team of developers for 18 months plus equipment, software, licenses, fees, utilities, voice actors, writers, and so on.
For those reasons and others, we set the bar comparatively high versus other Kickstarter projects. To set it any lower would have been a disservice to our supporters expecting a finished game that blows them away and a catastrophe for the dev team trying to make it.
It becomes null and void.
A pledge is simply a promise to fund backed up by Amazon Payment Services. When you pledge, you're saying "If you make your goal, then I will support you with X amount of dollars." No money is taken beforehand.
If the project fails to reach its goal, your pledge is no longer valid and you will not be charged.
Prototypes, like finished games, take time and money. This is the reason Kickstarter is used in the first place and why most other video game projects also do not have a prototype.
A number of successful video game projects on Kickstarter have been funded on little more than the reputation of the lead designer and the name of the property they are creating or resurrecting. We are not famous game designers. We do not have their reputations nor their previous successes. What we do have, however, is a passionate team comprised of people who have worked or are working in the industry. We have also revealed more concept art, story, and features than other comparable games that do have known designers. Regardless of which project it may be or who's behind it, you are funding the idea of the game and relying on the word of the team behind that idea to get it done.
Get a 4x6 Metallic Photo Print of the Box Art Suitable for Framing + Our Deepest Thanks for Supporting This Campaign. (Please add $6 dollars for international shipping.)Estimated delivery:
STANDARD DIGITAL EDITION: 1 Downloadable Digital copy of the game, DRM-Free. This low, low price only available for those who helped fund.Estimated delivery:
DELUXE DIGITAL EDITION: Includes 1 Downloadable Digital copy of the game and the following digital items: Original Music Soundtrack, 1988 Novelization, "Making Of" Art Book, Intercorp World Map, Desktop Wallpaper, Comic Book, Anthology Book, Worldnet Manual, and more.
BONUS: GET 1 LEVEL A ITEM OF YOUR CHOICE. (Please add $6 dollars for international shipping unless you are choosing a 2nd digital copy of the game as your item.)
LEVEL A Items to choose from: Gyges Mission Patch, Gyges Mission Medal, Gyges Commemorative Coin, Mousepad Featuring the Box Art, Intercorp World Map Metallic Art Print, Comic Book, Anthology Book Featuring Collected In-Game Stories, "Dramatis Personae" Metallic Art Print, or an additional Digital Copy of the Game.Estimated delivery:
DELUXE DIGITAL EDITION + Pick TWO LEVEL A items of your choice. (Please add $6 dollars for international shipping.)Estimated delivery:
DELUXE DIGITAL EDITION + Pick THREE LEVEL A items of your choice. (Please add $6 dollars for international shipping.)Estimated delivery:
DELUXE DIGITAL EDITION + Pick FOUR LEVEL A Items of your choice. (Please add $6 dollars for international shipping.)Estimated delivery:
ARCHIVAL HARDCOPY COLLECTOR'S EDITION 4+1: DELUXE BOX with 8x12 Metallic Photo Print of the Box Art Suitable for Framing + ALL Digital Items on Disc + FOUR LEVEL A Items + ONE LEVEL B Item + YOUR NAME IN THE CREDITS. (Please add $15 dollars for international shipping.)
LEVEL B items to choose from: "Mentor's Aphorisms" Backer T-Shirt, “Thatcher's Rock” Authentic Black Meteorite, Homer Mini-Bust, 2013 Print Edition of the Novel, our Design Bible, or the "Making Of" Art Book.Estimated delivery:
ARCHIVAL HARDCOPY COLLECTOR'S EDITION 5+2: DELUXE BOX with 8x12 Metallic Photo Print of the Box Art Suitable for Framing + ALL Digital Items on Disc + FIVE LEVEL A Items + TWO LEVEL B Items + Your Name in the Credits. (Please add $15 dollars for international shipping.)Estimated delivery:
ARCHIVAL HARDCOPY COLLECTOR'S EDITION 6+3: DELUXE BOX with 8x12 Metallic Photo Print of the Box Art Suitable for Framing + ALL Digital Items on Disc + SIX LEVEL A Items + THREE LEVEL B Items + Your Name in the Credits. (Please add $15 dollars for international shipping.)Estimated delivery:
ARCHIVAL HARDCOPY COLLECTOR'S EDITION 7+4: DELUXE BOX with 8x12 Metallic Photo Print of the Box Art Suitable for Framing + ALL Downloadable Items on Disc + SEVEN LEVEL A Items + FOUR LEVEL B Items + Your Name in the Credits. (Please add $15 dollars for international shipping.)Estimated delivery:
ELITE NEUTRALIZATION EDITION 1: DELUXE BOX with 8x12 Metallic Photo Print of the Box Art Suitable for Framing + ALL Digital Items on Disc + 5 DIGITAL COPIES OF THE GAME + ALL LEVEL A Items + FIVE LEVEL B Items + Your Name in the Credits. (Please add $15 dollars for international shipping.)Estimated delivery:
ELITE NEUTRALIZATION EDITION 2: DELUXE BOX with 8x12 Metallic Photo Print of the Box Art Suitable for Framing + ALL Digital Items on Disc + 10 DIGITAL COPIES OF THE GAME + ALL LEVEL A and LEVEL B Items + Your Name in the Credits. (Please add $15 dollars for international shipping.)Estimated delivery:
1 backer Limited (19 left of 20)
AGNI EDITION: DELUXE BOX with 8x12 Metallic Photo Print of the Box Art Suitable for Framing + ALL Digital Items on Disc + 20 DIGITAL COPIES OF THE GAME + ALL LEVEL A & B Items + Your Name in the Credits + YOUR NAME IN THE STORY + SIGNED, ORIGINAL PRODUCTION ART + A LARGE 8" BUST OF HOMER + A CALABI-YAU MANIFOLD CRYSTAL SCULPTURE.Estimated delivery:
0 backers Limited (10 left of 10)
MT. EREBUS EDITION: DELUXE BOX with 8x12 Metallic Photo Print of the Box Art Suitable for Framing + ALL Digital Items on Disc + 30 DIGITAL COPIES OF THE GAME + ALL LEVEL A & B items + Your Name in the Credits + YOUR LIKENESS IN THE GAME + Signed, Original Producton Art + a Large 8" Bust of Homer + a Calabi-Yau Manifold Crystal Sculpture + LIMITED EDITION MODEL REPLICAS OF THE GYGES AND VEGA-26 SPACECRAFT.Estimated delivery:
0 backers Limited (6 left of 6)
TERMINUS EDITION: DELUXE BOX with 8x12 Metallic Photo Print of the Box Art Suitable for Framing + ALL Digital Items on Disc + 40 DIGITAL COPIES OF THE GAME + ALL LEVEL A and B Items + Your Name in the Credits + YOUR LIKENESS PERISHES ON-SCREEN DURING A DRAMATIC SCENE (Oh, the Humanity!) + Signed, Original Producton Art + a Large 8" Bust of Homer + a Calabi-Yau Manifold Crystal Sculpture + Limited Edition Model Replicas of the Gyges and Vega-26 Spacecraft + COMMEMORATIVE PLAQUE + EXCLUSIVE RELEASE PARTY CELEBRATION (must be able to travel to our location) + YOUR PHOTO WITH THE DEV TEAM + All Items Autographed At Your Discretion.Estimated delivery:
- (33 days)