In January 2008, I was searching for a new project. Portal was out since four months, and still, no-one had already did something really serious around it. I was following a lot a communities, seeing a lot of independant releases, but no mod and no serious story arc. This I why I decided to launch this project.
At start, the project was rather insignificant. It was not supposed to be a mod (modification of a game), but just a succession of test chambers, without any real logic between each of them. I had no goal, I was just making maps as I saw it. And finally, when I reached a dozen of test chambers, I realized that I would be a shame to waste all my work by only releasing yet another map pack without any real story. This is where I began to write a whole new story and decided to follow the famous belief that prequels are somewhat popular recently.
Portal: Prelude, as its name states it, is an unofficial prequel to the game Portal. Its story revolves around the pre-GlaDOS epoch, even before she was plugged in. At this time, test subjects were monitored by real Aperture Science employees whose work was tedious, lengthy and repetitive. This is why they decided to build a great artificial intelligence that could both replace them in these difficult tasks, but also take responsibility for many other tasks within the complex and compete with Black Mesa's superiority. All employees of the Aperture Science complex are now eagerly awaiting GlaDOS. Maybe even a little too eagerly, as the upcoming events will tell...
My goal was to make it a personnal project, without telling anyone about it. I wanted to surprise everyone by releasing a quality, polished and fully finished game, offering roughly the same amount of playtime than Portal. As months passed, I had more and more difficulties to keep working regularly on it. In real life, I'm both a student and an employee, and that didn't left me a lot of time to work on the game. This is where I decided to ask for some help, mainly from Jérémy "Capitaine Mousse" Barbe, who helped me by making four of the nineteen test chambers while I was working on the final level. Marc "Moroes" Bidoul helped me too, by making a few 3D models and textures.
How long ?
Eight months. Not eight month of continuous work of course, but eight month with some days filled with dozens of hours of hard work. I worked on the nineteen test chambers for 3 to 4 months, followed by 2 months on the final level, and 2 months of tests, debug, and polishing (interfaces, voices, commentaries, etc.). I must confess that it took me a lot more time than I initially thought, mainly because I had exams and work to do on behalf.
And after ?
In June 2008, I learned as everyone else that Valve was working on an official prequel of Portal. I must say that I was mostly the only guy on Earth not really happy by this announce. So, I decided to work twice as hard to release my version way before Valve's one. I hope that they will not take it too personnally, because mine was in development 5 months before their announcement.
Ok, that's right, it's a kind of big surprise. After 114,000 votes, Portal: Prelude didn't win the ModDB's Mod of the Year Awards, but made it to the third place! Surprinsigly enough, we also managed to beat the most acclaimed mods of 2008, including nearly every mod that got into Steam during the year.
I must say that I'm really happy with the results, it's kind of the best place ever for a little mod like ours that grew up rapidly from nowhere with a really small team but a really big motivation. It wouldn't have been fair to finish first or second regarding the amount of work and devotion put into some of the mods out there. Some of them who recreate everything from scratch and build something during years with sometimes hundreds of people. That's why I'm happy to be third!
I must say that our little team is quite proud of this result! After all, it proves that even if we crossed a terrific jungle of insults, harsh criticism and mockery, we managed to please the people at which this mod was first aimed: all-time Portal fans, hardcore challenge-looking players and a few of them who thought Portal: Prelude was cool enough to buy Portal once and for all (no joke here, I could cite you some e-mails I received).
Thanks to all our fans, to all the people who helped us and tried to help us in any way (e-mails, voices, forums, scores, bugfix, etc.), and thanks to all the people who sent us feedback via e-mails, comments, discussion boards or our forums. Thanks for the hundreds (maybe thousands) of e-mails to tell us your experience, your disappointements and your best moments. We couldn't reply to everyone (even if I tried to reply to at least 70-80% of them), but I can assure you we read everything.
Check our "meet the team" page to see all the people who really helped us.
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