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What Could Have Been / Portal 2

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Originally, Portal 2 wasn't planned to be a direct sequel, but a prequel that featured no portals at all.
  • The game initially wouldn't have featured portals at all, instead featuring a mechanic code-named "F-Stop". While Valve refused to discuss the concept for many years (believing the idea had potential and being interested in potentially bringing it back in the future), the documentary Exposure by LunchHouse Software shows that it was based on taking pictures of objects. This converts them into a picture that can be moved around and resized through the level at will. The game itself was also planned to be called "Aperture Camera" at this time.
  • Story-wise, this early version was also very different. Originally a prequel set in the 1950s, the game would've instead starred a new character by the name of Mel. Cave Johnson was the main antagonist of this version, envisioned here as a "southern billionaire" kind of person.
  • GLaDOS wasn't present at all in this version of the game, the only reference to her being a character named "Betty", given the official technical name "Gyroscopic Liability Absolver and Disc Operating System". Betty's purpose was to roll out and absolve Aperture Science of any liability from the horrific things that could happen to subjects during testing.
  • Mannequins were featured as major characters in the game, but outside of them having an "odd AI", little is known about what their intended role in the game would've been.
  • Aperture Camera was eventually scrapped due to negative reception from testers, who loved the F-Stop idea but were disappointed in the lack of portals and GLaDOS.

  • After the failure of Aperture Camera, the developers started out by including GLaDOS in the game, but there were several ideas on how to do so at first. One concept involved her surviving her destruction at the end of the first game, but being left badly damaged (to the point of only being her Portal 1 head on a series of frayed cables). She remembered that something happened to her and that she used to have more of a body, but wouldn't know who the player was at first. Another version had her still online at the start of Portal 2, but voicing all her lines in a cold and monotonous way similar to how she spoke in the first game, implying that her personality had been knocked offline. This last idea lasted long enough that all its voice lines remain unused in the final game.
    • The developers also knew early on that they wanted to make GLaDOS more expressive. In the final game, this was accomplished by redesigning her head to give her more facial range, but in earlier versions, the plan was to reveal that some of the wires on her Portal 1 body were actually a pair of arms.
  • In earlier versions of the game, Wheatley was planned to be one of six cores the player would meet during the game. One of them was the Morgan Freeman core, who was abandoned on a pedestal in a tiny room for an unknown length of time and was extremely wise about everything in it, but would become easily agitated and confused when removed. The Adventure, Fact, and Space cores were also among these cores. The extra cores were cut because there wasn't enough time to flesh out so many characters, but a few of them were recycled for the Final Boss.
    • The cores went through several design iterations as well. At one point, they were planned to use their Portal 1 models, but with the addition of squash and stretch to help them better convey emotion.
    • There were also several different methods of movement tested out for them, including them sprouting spider legs, having larger legs with feet made out of halves of a cube (which they could hide in to appear as a regular cube), them floating, and transforming into a mechanical crab to scuttle around. Ultimately, this was replaced with the Management Rail system seen in the final game.
  • Subtitle data exists for a scene set during the parts in Old Aperture, where it would've been revealed that Cave Johnson didn't die before he could be uploaded into a computer like the final game implies. Instead, Caroline was used as a test subject for the potentially-dangerous upload process, and Cave was uploaded afterwards. However, for unknown reasons, Cave ended up being put into an immobile cube, and was abandoned and forgotten in the depths of Aperture. When you meet him, he begs you to unplug him to kill him and end his torture. Afterwards, the player would've used his deactivated body as a platform to climb up.
  • Wheatley's more malicious side would've been hinted at earlier on in an earlier draft of the script.
    • Originally, it was intended to be implied that Chell was just the latest in a long line of people Wheatley woke up from stasis in an attempt to escape, with all of the others getting killed along the way. This is still mentioned in the final battle if you let Wheatley talk for long enough, but a combination of his Sanity Slippage and the Blatant Lies he tells during the battle leave it ambiguous if it really happened or notnote .
    • Some Dummied Out lines of dialogue suggests that Wheatley was the one who released the neurotoxin on "Bring your Daughter to Work Day", rather than GLaDOS.
    Wheatley: Over there is where they used to keep the old neurotoxin release button. BIG responsibility, the guy in charge of the neurotoxin release button. And guess who he WAS? He wasn't me. But I was his assistant, and I did a lot of his admin. You know, in the end, yes, they let me go. It's all politics, to be honest. It's a big popularity contest, it's all about who you know, and whose back you're willing to scratch, who doesn't touch — or, in my case, who did accidentally touch — the neurotoxin button. But, you know, not entirely my fault! You shoulda seen the SIZE of it, it was huge! And I should have gotten a raise for all the times I DIDN'T accidentally bump into it."
  • There are unused voice lines in the final game suggesting that the Space Core would've gotten tired of space, finding it to be "too big" and wanting to go back to Earth.
  • One early version of the final battle had the stalemate be resolved by Chell saying "yes" out loud.
  • The Final Hours of Portal 2 details several plans for single-player DLC campaigns, including one where the player would've gone to space and seen the Space Core again, and another where one of the co-op bots would venture deeper into Aperture with the help of Rick the Adventure Sphere, eventually meeting the AI of Cave Johnson. Ultimately, these were scrapped in favor of DLC for the co-op campaign, as any single-player content would need to have more story content, and as such, more art and animation work than Valve had available at the time.
  • The co-op mode would've originally featured human characters, using Chell from the main game and Mel from Aperture Camera. It was later changed to feature robots, both to better justify respawning after death, and because it turned the constant gruesome deaths the players experienced from horrifying to hilarious.
    • After the change to robots was made, the original plot involved Atlas and P-Body helping GLaDOS get new test subjects after she decides robots aren't as satisfying to test on because they don't scream in agony as they die. Initially, the two hunted through the facility in search of more humans, but when that didn't work, GLaDOS sent them on a spelunking expedition to find artifacts left behind by Aperture's employees, in hopes they would somehow make them more "human". Many voice lines from this unused plot remain in the final game, including a section where Atlas and P-Body find a parody Garfield comic and GLaDOS rewrites the ending to involve deadly neurotoxin after finding it "boring".
    • She was also planned to have lines where she would randomly praise one of the robots while insulting the other, trying to convince the two robots to dislike each other for an unknown reason.

  • An old idea for a Portal sequel, experimented with even before Aperture Camera and F-STOP, was to introduce time travel to the regular Portal gameplay. The player would be able to record their movements as they went through a chamber, and could later replay those movements, working with their past self to solve puzzles. While initially promising, Gabe Newell later remarked that there was too much going on in gameplay and too many variables for the player to keep track of, so the idea was scrapped.
  • The player was originally planned to be given a gun that shoots paint in addition to the regular portal gun. It was later cut to simplify puzzles and to more easily control when the player had access to the gels. A paint gun would later form the basis for the Game Mod Aperture Tag: The Paint Gun Testing Initiative.
  • Pneumatic Diversity Vents were originally planned to feature as testing elements, used to suck up and remove turrets and other obstacles. This remained in the plans so late that a demonstrational video was released to promote the game, and the vents are still fully functional in the game code. It's believed they were cut because Valve couldn't find a good enough use for them, since there were already several mechanics for getting rid of turrets. In the final game, they're only used for cutscenes.
  • Remnants of a fourth gel type, known as "Sticky Gel" (commonly referred to as Adhesion Gel by fans), can be found in the game's code. This gel was purple, and would've allowed players to walk on walls and ceilings that had been covered in it. According to Valve, it was cut for inducing motion sickness in playtesters.
    • During the Perpetual Testing Inititive update, the fourth gel type was replaced with Reflection Gel, which caused lasers to bounce off surfaces covered in it. No official levels use it, but it still remains fully functional in the game, possibly because Valve found it more limited and less useful than the already-existing redirection cubes.
  • Two unused turret types also exist in the game code:
    • The first is a Walking Turret (also called the Mobile Turret or Moving Turret), a turret type that could've used its legs to walk around. It was cut because the team felt that a moving turret complicated the puzzles too much, and wouldn't let players accomplish chambers at their own pace.
    • The second is the Hover Turret, which still exists in the final game (albeit with a missing model and broken physics data). It would hang from the ceiling using a wire, and shoot a bright blue laser at the player if they stood in its line of sight. The reason for its scrapping is unknown.
  • Futbols were an early idea for the co-op campaign, glass spheres that the players would compete with in a game similar to basketball, where the players would use portals to try and send them into the other's goal. Futbols existed in two varieties: Glass, which would shatter on contact with the floor, and explosive, which would explode. Explosive futbols had their model changed and were used in the Final Boss, but glass futbols remain unused.
  • The Schrodinger's Cube is an unused variant of the Reflection Cube that exists as two linked cubes. Lasers that go into one cube would come out of the other one, and any fizzling or gel-painting that happened to one would effect the other. The game is coded to instantly replace any Schrodinger's Cubes that spawn with regular Reflection Cubes, but a single byte edit to the game disables this behavior, showing that they still fully work in the final game.