Yes, this is my life story. I don't care if you asked.
I have always been a tinkerer. In 1995, I had this old game called Logic Quest. It kind of sucked, but it had this cool 3D world editor. I would spend hours with that stupid thing. Most of what you could place were flat, two-sided rectangles. This was what I wasted my life with - a 3D puzzle game's world editor. I had so many ideas for what could be done with it, and even attempted to implement a few of these. Alas, the game wasn't all that open for development, and the only language I knew was Microsoft QBasic, so most of what I ended up with were texture mods. At some point, I put it down and got addicted to Sim City, Roller Coaster Tycoon, Age of Empires, and Empire Earth. I played with the Scenario Editors on each one quite a bit. All the time, though, I kept thinking about that 3D game editor. What if there were a program like that, but better and more modern? I had played Half Life and Counter Strike before but never knew about the modding community behind them. This was probably because I hadn't actually purchased these games and was simply playing them at school during "music" class. That's a story for another time.
I'd never really been into the FPS genre. RTS ruled my life until the year 2007, when a friend (who ended up helping me out with the website) would not shut up about cake, and how much of a lie it was. Soon after, I entered a local Game Stop and walked out with a little orange box and about forty dollars less in my pocket. When I discovered that there was a world editor, and some kind person had created something to help n00bs throw maps together, I was hooked. It kind of hurts to think about just how badly this sucked. I made maps for the sole purpose of making them, and not for anyone else's benefit. Of course, it didn't stay that way. One map in this series of useless junk was somewhat less so than the others. This map was called "Save The Cube".
The premise was simple. I didn't want to kill the Companion Cube, as the name should imply. This map was obnoxiously difficult and full of glitches and newbie mistakes. At the end, the player would be presented with the incinerator and a button. Instead of killing the cube, there was a rather obvious escape route into poorly made BTS corridors. It may have been junk, but it was still the best thing I had at the time. I expanded this one chamber into a series of roughly eight. It seemed like that would be the end when I finally got Garry's Mod and started making random hover-tubs. The iconic minge contraptions gave way to more thought-out assemblies. Slowly, the appeal of welding things together dwindled, and the idea of building large aesthetically pleasing areas that serve no particular useful function grew. That's what I had been doing all along with that game thirteen years before. In pauses where I couldn't figure out what to build in these vast expanses, I started working on a remake of those old Portal chambers, now that I had learned enough about Hammer to become quite ashamed at the low quality of my prior work. That remake grew from eight chambers to thirteen, with a vague idea of making thirty. There was still no pressure or even a notion of release, but I had shown it to a few friends who seemed to enjoy it. Further ideas for test chambers were sketched out on paper, and it seemed I would never finish them.
Then one fine Spring morning, I started up Steam to find that Portal had updated. These later confirmed rumors of a return to the Enrichment Center somehow made me want to finish the project I was avoiding. Soon after, it had snowballed to this. It's essentially done now. I'm in the process of finding last-minute glitches and tweaking the goals for the challenge maps.
The final version of this mod has 30 test chambers, at least half of which have challenges available. Seven have advanced chambers, and there's a decent amount of "behind the scenes" content.