In the vast majority of cases, the only people allowed to go behind closed doors on a huge game in the midst of development are the developers themselves. The reasons for this are myriad: a game's PR cycle can be wrecked if gamers see features, levels, or characters months in advance. Even worse, if tough decisions lead to cutting content from the final release, it can outrage fans.
That's why it's a rare treat to see as deeply into a game's working stages as did GT.TV's Geoff Keighley, which he chronicles in the eBook/app The Final Hours of Portal 2. Aptly named, this media experience features over 15,000 words compiled around videos, dioramas, interactive diagrams, and even samples from Jonathan Coulton's song as it was being written.
When it first released, Final Hours shook up the gaming sphere--not because of its content, but because it was locked behind a price tag. In an era where the average reader has come to expect online content for free, Keighley put a value of $1.99 on the app. He referred to it as an experiment and chose the number based on the price of a weekly magazine, hoping to recoup some of his multimedia and programming costs.
While some may disagree with the idea of an internet article as a paid opportunity, I'm eager to support top-notch journalism and the sheer amount of content--not to mention maybe encouraging dev studios to open their doors a little more for gamers who want a deeper look.
And the best part: offering my support just got a lot easier. Today, The Final Hours of Portal 2 became available outside the iPad app store for the first time. Eager readers can now find it on Steam as well, with all the interactive bits intact and ready for the playing!
If the idea of paid content doesn't sit right with you, know that Geoff Keighley has invited folks to send him feedback on it. For the rest of us, $1.99 should be well worth the exclusive look into Valve's development cycle. Even better, it comes with a never-before-seen look at the canned pre-Portal project, "Two Bots, One Wrench!" If that doesn't titillate you, I just don't know what will.