Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on June 5, 2012.
About this project
In the tradition of Gabriel Knight III and The Longest Journey: Dreamfall, Rob Swigart's Portal (1986) Reborn [working title, release name TBD] is an all-new third-person perspective 3D adventure game based on an updated and expanded version of the 1986 classic science-fiction story, Portal, featuring a mix of scripted 3D in-game and 2D "motion comic" cutscenes, original music, sound effects, professionally voiced dialogue, and 360 degrees of freedom.
First released in 1986 as the world's first "computer novel" on the Commodore 64, Amiga, and other early platforms (and again as print novel in 1988) , Rob Swigart's Portal 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...
Read an early draft sampler of the updated novel!
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 12 Mission Locations (plus a bonus "post-game" location) spanning two decades in the life of Peter Devore, most include several areas to explore and a "before" and "after" time period containing different NPC's, items, tasks, and puzzles that shed more light on the people and events that lead to mankind's disappearance.
Mission Locations in the game will include:
- Springfield West Warren, IL - Including: Peter's Childhood Home, the Tunnels, the Park, and the Lamprey Rec Center.
- Old Chicago, IL - A violent and dangerous place in Peter's past.
- New Chicago, IL - An underground "warren" containing the Med-Center where Homer and the Astronaut interact.
- Piraeus, Greece - Where the world's elite plan Peter's demise and embrace other, more passionate, hobbies.
- Geneva, Switzerland - The seat of power for the puppet masters of Peter's world.
- The Agni - A submarine in the Mariana Trench teaches a cold lesson.
- Mt. Erebus, Antarctica - Home of Mentor and his army of "Ants".
- Terminus, Antarctica - Long thought to be merely a legend, could it truly exist? Probably, otherwise why would it be on this list?
- Kowloon, Hong Kong - Where the desperate and fearful make a decision with deadly consequences.
- With the help of your ghostly, holographic A.I. companion, Homer, you'll be transported to different Mission 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, instinct, and intuition to enhance his simulations. Once arriving at a location, 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 at that location.
- Interact with NPC's, areas, puzzles, tasks, and items (some being only present in one time period or the other).
- Take on the outward appearance of other characters for different responses and tasks when interacting with NPC's.
- Some puzzles/tasks will require you to do all of these things and more in order to solve them.
Layer 3 - When you have enough information gathered for Homer, he will play back a "full simulation" cutscene 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.
- To put all of the pieces of the past together and unlock the truth before your final connection to humanity is severed forever, you'll need to use all of your wits, emotions, intuition, and senses in combination with Homer's advanced holographic and informational capabilities (including several vision modes like thermographic and ultraviolet) to hone the one ability Homer does not possess:
- An understanding of human nature.
With over 900+ employees and six locations around the globe, Virtuos is the #1 provider of production services to the game and movie industries, delivering high-quality digital entertainment production including graphic design, programming, level design and QA. Among their clients are leading game and movie companies -- including 15 of the top 20 game companies in the world.
Trusted, proven, cost-effective, and scalable, Virtuos was a natural choice to work with in creating the game we envision and hope you'll want to play.
Pre-Production and Design
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. 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 Rob'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.
Additional developers, currently under contract elsewhere, will also be contributing to pre-production of the game.
But Wait... There's More!
We have tentative agreements for in-game content with 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!
Where's the Money Going?
Kickstarter will receive 5% of the total amount raised and Amazon Payment Services will receive approximately 3% to 4% of each pledge for transaction processing. Together, these will total around $50,000 of the funding goal.
The remaining amount will be used to cover the costs for pre-production, development performed by our external production partner, and to payfor voice actors, writers, services, fees, reward items, shipping, packaging, taxes, and other miscellaneous costs required to complete the game.
It's been a long wait, these last 26 years, and the Portal universe is 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...
TRANSIT QUERY TERMINATED
The Simple Truths About This Campaign:
1) This campaign is to fund the creation of an all-new third-person science-fiction adventure game in the tradition of Gabriel Knight III and The Longest Journey: Dreamfall.
2) The game will feature story and characters based on Rob Swigart's classic 1986 science-fiction story, "Portal". You don't need to be familiar with the original to appreciate the concepts behind it.
3) Like adventure game author Jane Jensen's Moebius, Rob and a small distributed team will be responsible for design and a third-party will handle production. In this case, the #1 provider of production services to the game and movie industries: Virtuos.
4) We need your help. We have a shoe-string marketing/content budget (hence the reason for Kickstarter). Please pledge your support and spread the word.
No. The original Portal release was an experimental, interactive "computer novel". This is an all-new third-person adventure game (like The Longest Journey: Dreamfall or Gabriel Knight III) featuring an updated and expanded version of that classic science-fiction story.
We will define the game design from A to Z during the pre-production phase and then work closely with Virtuos to build it.
Will "A low-budget, casual player science-fiction mystery thriller" suffice? How about "Quantum Leap meets The Matrix meets Dreamfall"? Homer is Al, the Astronaut is Sam, and Regent Sable is Mr. Smith?
Our video budget consists of whatever's in our pockets at the time. I wonder if Joss Whedon likes StarBurst Flavor-Morphs?
While point-and-click adventure games with 2D painted backgrounds and fixed cameras hold a high place in the nostalgia of our gaming pasts, one thing we absolutely did not want to do is make this one of those. Its important to both the gameplay and the story that you feel "present" in this world and we felt 3D conveys this feeling better.
English by default. We'll determine additional languages via a survey after the campaign. The traditional localization languages are English, French, Spanish, German, and Italian.
We expect to initially release on both PC and Mac. Other platforms are TBD.
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 to find out what items you want.
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).
"P86R" is just a working title. We have several names we've been batting around so rest assured, the game will be renamed shortly after this campaign's successful completion.
Now also includes PDF of the Design Bible.
Includes all the digital items from the $30 Digital Deluxe Edition. Level A items are *not* included.
Gyges Mission Patch: A cloth patch featuring the Gyges Misssion Logo just like the one on the Astronaut's flight suit.
Gyges Mission Medal: A cloth and metal medal just like the one presented to the Astronaut before his fateful launch to 61 Cygni.
Gyges Mission Coin: A commemorative coin just like the one given to the Astronaut to celebrate his mission to 61 Cygni.
Mouse Pad: A mousepad featuring the game's box art.
Intercorp World Map: A metallic photo print of the map discovered by the Astronaut in the Library of Congress.
Comic Book: A prequel comic focusing on the lives of several characters decades prior to the Gyges fateful launch to 61 Cygni.
Anthology Book: Featuring the collected short stories that will appear in the game.
Dramatis Personae Print: A metallic photo print featuring the main characters of the game.
Additional Digital Copy: Want a Mac version to complement your PC version? Or maybe your buddy's birthday is coming up? This solves it all.
Like the popular Assassin's Creed series of games, you will be transported to the past via computer-generated simulation. Unlike A.C., however, the data will not be your ancestor's memories but rather Homer's interpretation of the massive amount of collected and collated data from the artificial intelligence network of Peter Devore's future world, a time when everyone is monitored 24/7 from their heartbeat, sweat output, and heat signature, to cameras, personal journals, GPS coordinates, and more.
When you begin the game, most of this network (WorldNet) is in disrepair and slumbering. Over the course of the game, the A.I.'s will awaken, repair themselves, and provide more and more data until you have all the pieces you need to solve the mystery at the heart of the game.
- (51 days)