How to Make an Aperture Laboratories Personality Core Plush (Part 3)

Introduction:

We’re almost there! Today, we’ll be finishing up our personality core: attaching the handles, finishing and stuffing the sphere, and stitching on the final decorations. If you missed part two, you can find it here.

Let’s begin:

Grab the handles you sewed and stuffed earlier, the part of the sphere we created last time, and a length of black thread. We’re going to attach the black cylinder to the edge of the side sphere panel, as shown below.

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But first, we’re going to need to cut out a hole where you want to attach the handle. The circle should be no wider than about 3/4s of an inch across. It’s fairly hard to predict just how big our circle will be when using the method laid out below, so cut it small at first and only make it bigger if you need to.

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Find the place which will be the center of your circle, and fold the material over so that your center point is at the corner of the folded felt, as shown above.

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Cut the corner in a curve. The result will be something like this:

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By folding the sphere in half, we can find the exact place where we need to cut out a symmetrical circle on the other side of the optic. We’ll also need to cut two of these circles below the optic for the lower handle.

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Remember, the holes need to be on the same level so that the handle won’t be crooked.

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I cut the holes a little too big. Learn from my mistakes, and cut your holes small at first. Only make them bigger if you really need to! You can stitch the black cylinders into holes that are a bit too big, but it will stretch and pucker the fabric around them, resulting in an ugly finish.

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Sew in the black cylinders, using a length of black thread and a blanket stitch. At the end, when you’ve stitch both, you should have something like this:

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Now, stitch in the lower handle in the same way.

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Here’s how it looks inside:

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You can see some of the puckering around the black cylinders. Oops…

Now, it’s time to finish the sphere itself, and stuff it. Grab the last two sphere panels and a length of white thread.

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You know how to do this by now. Starting at the top, blanket stitch the panels together down the curved side, until you get to the bottom.

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Grab the other panel and stitch it to the raw edge of the other side of the sphere. And… you’re finished with the basic sphere! (Finally, after like three posts worth of this…) It should look something like this:

Sphere Finished

Now, it’s time to turn the sphere inside out and stitch up the back.

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Starting at the bottom, grab another length of white thread and, once more using a blanket stitch, sew up the seam about a fourth of the way. Then, tie off the thread. We need to leave a gap of several inches so that we can pull the handles through and turn the core right side out.

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Snip the thread and tie another knot at the end. Starting at the top, stitch up the seam, leaving about a three inch gap un-sewed.

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Reach through the gap, grab one of the handles, and pull it through. You’ll have to bend it, but that’s fine. If it’s stuffed firmly, as it should be, you’ll be able to just press it back into shape later on. Anyway, pull one handle through, then the other, and turn the whole thing right side out. Now, it’s time to stuff your core!

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Don’t skimp on this step. You want your core to be fairly firm, so he holds his shape when you give him a great big hug! (And he is supposed to be a robot made of metal, after all…) Also, make sure you stuff the black cylinders so that the handles aren’t floppy.

Stuffed Core

Alright! Now it’s time to stitch up that gaping hole at the back. Get a length of white thread, knot the end, and get ready to make a hidden stitch. This special stitch of my own devising is designed to mimic the back-and-forth loops of a right-side-out blanket stitch, but sewed from the outside.

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Pass the needle through one of the raw edges of the felt. Pull it through, and loop back over, making another stitch through the edge of the other panel. You want to fold the raw edge over slightly. Below, I’ve illustrated the steps of this stitch with a few photos.

Hidden Stitch

This stitch fairly difficult to master, and even more difficult to explain properly. The end result should be that the raw edges of the panels are tucked underneath the seam, invisible to any prying eyes. 😛 If you can’t get the hang of this stitch, that’s fine. Just use a simple whip stitch. Even if the result is a bit ugly, it’s fine. We’ll be covering it up with the core’s back port in just a few minutes. When you reach the end of the gap, tie off the thread.

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We are almost done, and we’re completely through with any stuffing or blanket stitching. Now, it’s time to stitch together the back port, and attach it to the sphere.

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Grab the other 4 inch black circle, the gray circle with a cross cut out, and the 1 inch gray circle. Stitch them together as shown below:

Back Port

We’re going to attach this port to the back of the sphere, right over the seam we just stitched up.

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Place the port in the center of the back of the sphere. Grab a needle and a length of black thread, and, beginning at the bottom of the circle, on the seam line, make a stitch. Sew it on  all the way around, as shown below:

Back Stitch

Here’s what it should look like when it’s stitched on:

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The top and bottom of our core are looking a bit empty… Grab the two 4 inch gray rectangles, and the 2 ½ inch black rectangles. Stitch them together as shown below:

Top and Bottom peices

These will be stitched onto the top and bottom of the sphere. Use the same method we used earlier for the back port to attach them, this time with a length of gray thread.

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Stitch one on top and one on bottom.

Now, grab some black thread and the four long black accent strips and get ready to attach them. When sewn on, they will look like this:

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You’ll need two for the top and two for the bottom of the sphere. They pass above the black handle pieces, and are stitched to the edges of the 4 inch black circles at the front and back of the core. Attach them to the black circles as shown below.

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We’ll just be using a simple whip stitch. One stitch through, then back over and through again, till you get to the end of the short edge of the strip.

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Attach the other end of the strip to the black circle at the back of the sphere. It should be flush with the sphere, and look like this:

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Stitch another strip in the same way on the other side of the optic, then turn the core over and do the same at the bottom with the other two strips. Depending on how spherical your core turned out, you may have to trim the strips so that they fit.

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There you go! We’re almost done. Just one more little thing to finish off…

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Grab the last two pieces, the 3 inch by 2 inch black rectangles, and a length of black thread. We’ll stitch these over the center of the white handle bars, to add some definition.

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Wrap one of the rectangles around the white tube, right at the center. The 3 inch sides should be the ones that you’re stitching together. Make sure that the rectangle is centered before you begin. Stitch up the side with a whip stitch, as shown below:

Handle Accent

You should pass the needle through the white fabric of the handle bar for a couple of stitches, so that you fix the black accent in place.

In the end, it should look like this:

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And… there you have it! You’ve completed your very own Aperture Laboratories Personality Core plush! Give him a big hug, just to let him know that you love him to bits, and go show him off to all your geeky friends. 😛

Here are a few more pictures of my Space Core:

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Look how happy he is! Don’t you just wanna give him a great big hug??? ❤

How to properly care for your Personality Core:

The stuffing I use is supposedly machine washable, and, if you double thread all your needles, the plush *should* be strong enough to withstand a gentle machine washing. However, felt does get annoying little pills of fiber on its surface when machine washed, so I usually don’t wash any of my felt creations this way. If you really need to clean a spot or two off your personality core, use a damp washcloth to scrub it away.

(Note: The Enrichment Center makes no guarantees regarding the ability of an Aperture Laboratories Personality Core to survive machine washing, floods, lightning strikes, incineration, the Apocalypse, or any other unspecified catastrophic events. In the event that any of the above happen, you are on your own. However, we are pleased to let you know that all Aperture Science Personality Constructs will remain completely functional in low power, apocalyptic situations of as little as 1.1 volts. Good luck, test subject!)

Always show your personality core how much you care about him! A few hugs, cuddles, or words of endearment to this little robotic companion of yours will go a long way to keeping him happy, and stable. Do not, under any circumstances, attach your core to the Aperture mainframe or use him to replace a damaged central system core, as this will probably cause him to go completely power mad and try to kill you and/or throw you into dangerous testing situations once he assumes complete control of the facility. This has happened before. Once. Don’t do it. You will die.

Anyway, yay! We made it! Here is celebratory digital cake: 🎂🎂🎂


Thanks so much for bearing with me for this long haul. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you make a personality core using this tutorial, please take a picture and tag me on Instagram (or Twitter). I’d love to see what you make! You can find me @ariaemaher on both platforms.

On the other hand, if you’re not a huge fan of Portal, and would like to see me make something from another game or fandom, please let me know! Send me your plush ideas, and I’ll definitely see what I can do… Also, let me know if there are any improvements I could make on this tutorial, or anything which could be better explained. I know explaining how to sew something is hard, so hopefully all the pictures will help you.

Anyway, bye for now!

🙂


Personality Cores

How to Make an Aperture Laboratories Personality Core Plush (Part 2)

Introduction:

Hello, everyone! Welcome back (to the Enrichment Center). Today, I’ll be continuing my Aperture Laboratories Personality Core plush tutorial. If you missed Part 1, check it out here first.

Last time, we finished our personality core’s optic and attached it to the front panel of the sphere. Today, we’ll be focusing on completing our core’s handles and sides, and then next time we’ll attach the handles and finish up the outer decoration.

So, grab your scissors and thread and let’s get started!

                                                                                                                             

Let’s begin:

Personality cores have to ports on either side of their spherical bodies. For the plush, these consist of two pieces, which, like the optic from earlier, have to be stitched together first before attaching them to the sphere. Below, you’ll see the pieces laid out:

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You’ll need one of the 3 ½ inch gray circles, and one of the 2 inch black circles with a slot cut out of the middle. Stitch these together using the same method as we used for the optic: take a length of black thread, knotted at the end, and pass it up through the gray and out at the edge of the black circle. Then, pass it back through the gray felt to the WRONG side of the port. This is the first stitch. Make another one about an eighth of an inch away, and so on, all around the edge of the black circle. Don’t forget to also stitch around the inside slot!

Side Port Front and Back

 

Above, you can see what the finished port should look like. We’re going to need to make two of these, so grab the other gray and black circles and sew them together in the same way.

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Perfect! Set the two ports aside for now. We’ll come back to them in a minute. Right now, we want to focus on the actual sphere. Grab the front sphere panel we made last time (the one with the optic stitched on) and one of the four remaining white sphere panels. We’re going to attach these two together. Place them together as shown below. Make sure that the optic panel is placed WRONG side out, (i. e., the second panel should be covering the optic, and the side of the optic panel with visible stitching should be facing outwards).

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Pick a side, any side! (We’re going to use a blanket stitch to attach the panels on one of the curved sides.)

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Grab a length of white thread, knotted at the end, and, starting at the top corner of the panel, make the first stitch. We’ll be using what is called a blanket stitch to attach the sphere panels together. Below, you can see how to make one of these strong, simple stitches. Remember: the smaller and closer together you stitch, the stronger, and less noticeable, the seam will be!

Blanket Stitch

 

There you have it! The blanket stitch is indispensable for sewing plushies, and you just mastered it. This is what a several blanket stitches look like, one after another. They look ugly now, but don’t worry! We’re going to turn the sphere right side out once we’ve finished it.

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REMEMBER: Don’t sew through the edge of the black circle when you get to the middle of the panel!

When you reach the bottom corner, tie off the thread a shown below:

Tying Off

Awesome! The sphere part of our personality core is now about 2/5ths completed! Look how adorable he already is…

Cute Space Core

Now, attach another sphere panel to the other side of the optic panel, just as you did a minute ago. Remember to sew on the wrong side of the fabric!

When you’ve finished with that, and you have three panels sewn all together, it’s time to grab those side ports we made earlier and stitch them onto the sides of our personality core. You’ll want to put these in the center of the panel, like you did with the optic, but set them back towards the raw edge of the felt, as shown below, so that they will be more centered on the side of the sphere.

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Stitch these on exactly the way you did with the optic in the first part of this tutorial, using a length of gray thread. When you’re done, it will look like this:

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Here’s a couple more photos:

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And the inside…

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Now, it’s time to make the handles that sit above and below the core’s optic, which can be used to carry him around. Set aside the sphere for now, and grab the four handle side pieces (the solid ones, not the similar ones with holes cut out) and the eight small white circles, as shown below:

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Stitch them on as shown. When that’s done, grab the two long white rectangular handle pieces. These will become the actual handles of the core, the part you hold with your hands. Fold the pieces in half and sew each of them down the long edge, using a blanket stitch, to make two white tubes:

Handles

Turn both of the tubes right side out. I use a ‘special’ stuffing skewer to help with this. They’re really just little wood sticks, which often come packaged inside bags of stuffing. They really come in handy when trying to turn narrow or small pieces right side out, or when stuffing small corners. You can use the eraser end of a pencil as well, which I have often done.

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Now that the handles are right side out, you can attach them to the interior handle sides. These are those gray pieces which look just like the four side pieces we saw earlier, but with two circles cut out. There are four of these pieces, two for each handle. Attach the white handle piece at the smaller end of the interior side piece with a blanket stitch, as shown below.

Handle Blanket Stitch

Sew all the way around, then tie off your thread. Do this for all four interior side pieces.

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Phew! Still a few steps to go, but don’t worry. We’re nearly done with the handles! Grab the four black rectangles (they’re 2 inches by 1 ½ inches), fold them in half, and blanket stitch them up the shorter side to make four small black cylinders, as shown below:

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Turn them right side out, like you did with the white handle pieces, and stitch them to the interior handle side; again, just as you did before:

Handle Blanket Stitch #2

Now, it’s time to finish off these finicky handles, once and for all! Now, bear with me here. Turn the handles inside out, as shown below:

Inside Out

Now, all the raw edges will be on the outside. It’s time to grab those exterior sides we made earlier and attach them to the interior sides with a blanket stitch, as shown below:

Handle Sides

Stitch all four handle sides together, all the way around, matching small ends to small ends and big ends to big ends. You should end up with something like this:

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Okay. We’re almost done. Now it’s finally time to turn these right side out, once and for all!Right Side Out

Finally, stuff the handles firmly. Don’t skimp on the stuffing! The handles need to hold their shape.

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And… here are the finished handles!

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Wow… We are about two thirds of the way through! Next time, we’ll attach the handles, finish up the sphere itself, and add the last few details. See you then! Bring celebratory digital cake… 🎂🎂🎂


Please let me know if you enjoyed (Part 2 of) this tutorial! I’ve been wanting to do sewing tutorials for a long time, but this is the first one I’ve ever made. I know there’s probably a lot I could do to improve, so… give me a chance to make another tutorial! If there’s something geeky that you’d like to be able to sew, please let me know. I’d love to hear you suggestions, and if there’s something you want me to make, I’ll definitely see what I can do!


Personality Cores

Game Review: Portal 2

Portal 2Aperture Laboratories has had some remodeling done… and it’s not pretty.


DISCLAIMER: The following review contains heavy SPOILERS for both Portal and Portal 2, as well as a discussion of human scientific testing. Please proceed at your own risk.

As you probably know, if you read my review, I loved the first Portal game. It’s smart, sciency atmosphere, awesome puzzle gameplay and portal physics, sarcastic AI companion, and perfect touch of delightfully dark humor made it one of my favorite games to date, if not my absolute favorite ever. So, of course, I assumed that I would love-love-love the sequel, Portal 2, just as much.

I was wrong.

Partially.

Let me explain.

Portal 2 takes place an undisclosed, but certainly long, period of time after the first game. At the end of Portal (see what I said about SPOILERS?), Chell, the player character, destroys and escapes the testing facility, only to be dragged back belowground once more. At the beginning of Portal 2, we see that she has been in some kind of coma, or hypersleep, inside Aperture Laboratories. She is awakened by a small robot named Wheatley, who needs her help to escape to the surface. But they can only get out if they retrieve the ‘gun that makes holes’ (i. e., the Portal Device), which has been lost somewhere in the abandoned and overgrown facility.

Within the first few minutes of gameplay, Portal 2 is already unlike its predecessor. Where the first game was full of white walls and clean surfaces and an extreme minimalism which I found quite interesting, Portal 2 has turned that concept on its head. The clean, Spartan facility has been wrecked. There are vines and plants and smashed machinery everywhere. Although many of the testing chambers, and an unnamed AI (not GLaDOS), remain functional after what the AI believes has been ‘the apocalypse’, there is hardly a room which has not been ravaged by destruction or partially reclaimed by nature. The addition of new characters, namely Wheatley and the AI, is quite jarring, if you’re used to the loneliness and long silences of the first game. Even many of the textures and sound design from the original Portal have been completely changed. But, I was willing to roll with it. After all, sequels can’t always be quite as good as the first game. And aesthetics often change between games in any series.

And if that was where it had stayed, with the addition of new, talkative characters and a slight change in aesthetics, I would have been fine with that. It was rather unfortunate, therefore, when Wheatley (again, SPOILERS!!!) decided to take control of the facility, implant GLaDOS’s (still living) artificial mind into a child’s science project potato battery, and dump us both down a 4,000 foot shaft into the real heart of Aperture Laboratories.

Beneath the Enrichment Center, the modern underground testing and sciencing facilities of Aperture Laboratories, there lies an abandoned salt mine, chock full of dark and disturbing secrets. In the first Portal game, it is not made clear why exactly human subjects are being handed portal guns and shoved out into the testing chambers. My dad’s rather interesting theory, that they were being trained to use the gun in various situations so that they could become some kind of soldiers or operatives for Aperture, was disproved in the first game when it turned out (SPOILERS) that the cake really is a lie, and the only thing waiting for test subjects at the end of the testing track was certain fiery death. Portal 2 confirms my suspicions that this is all a case of ‘gratuitous sciencing’, or the ‘we do what we must because we can’ mentality.

The salt mine beneath the Enrichment Center hides the abandoned and condemned facilities of the Aperture Science Innovators, and the companies later incarnations, which have been blocked off and hidden for years. The company was founded, as far as I can tell, in the early-to-mid 1940s by enterprising businessman and inventor Cave Johnson, and used to recruit human test subjects, who were subjected to all kinds of disturbing and horrible experiments in the name of ‘science’ and ‘progress’, as well as used to test Cave’s promising invention, the Aperture Science Quantum Tunneling Device, which bears an interesting resemblance to the more streamlined Portal Device of later years. As you explore this area of the game, Cave’s cheerful, callous indifference regarding human life becomes shockingly apparent. As you come across old company policy signs and listen to the prerecorded messages of Cave Johnson himself, little pieces and bits of information fall together into a perfect picture of Aperture Science in the ‘old days’. The storytelling of this section of the game is absolutely brilliant.

However, I’m not really sure I’m comfortable with the story that Valve decided to tell.

In fact, I know I’m not.

“Aria!” you are probably saying, “It’s okay. It’s just a game. It’s just something somebody made up.” Yeah. It is just a game. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some historical background to all this. And that’s what makes it so disturbing.

I was first introduced to the Portal games by a YouTube video, a theory about the Companion Cube. The Cube, which, despite being a silent, inanimate object, has become “one of the most popular characters in the gaming community”, and during the first part of this video, the creator was exploring why this is, why people adore the silent, heart-covered Cube so much. He talked about scientific and psychological testing in the 1950s, back when “science was still interesting because there were no limits on human testing”, and when people had been put into extreme isolation for days on end, just to see what would happen. The creator of the video argued that because Chell (and, by extention, the player) are in such extreme isolation during the first game, as soon as they are handed a little plastic box with a couple of hearts on it and told to look after it, they develop an emotional attachment to the Cube, and come to see it as a friend in their loneliness. I’m not going to rehash the whole video here. What I wanted to show you was that little throwaway line, the historical precident: Back in the 1950s when science was still interesting because there were no limits on human testing…

And that’s the little bit of information I had bouncing around in my brain when I began to explore the Aperture Science Innovators facilities. And that’s the little bit of information that made all, or most of, the difference.

Because something like that could have really happened.

I didn’t sleep very well after that. I wandered around feeling disturbed and empty and depressed. I put the game away and told myself I would never, never, never play it again. The dark, delightful humor of the first game had been taken and destroyed, and replaced by nothing but darkness.

I did finish the game, later on. Because I’m stubborn like that, I guess. But I was, quite frankly, disappointed with the climax and final battle. The game didn’t have that Portal flavor anymore. It had become just another sequel, the plot grasping at straws to keep hanging on a little bit longer, a wordy fight between GLaDOS and Wheatley to explain stuff quickly and without showing it (telling, not showing, as the author in me would admonish), the wordy explanation tacked on afterwards. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the end of the game itself, the humor of the singing turrets, exhilarating rise in the elevator into an abandoned aboveground shed in the middle of nowhere, and my reunion with my dear companion cube (I know why I love it now, though, so maybe that defeats my emotional response a bit). Even the “SPAAAACE!!!!” part had me giggling. But it felt as if, after their brilliant display of disturbing storytelling in the middle of the game, the creators of the game run out of ideas, or at least ideas that make slightly more sense than shooting a portal at the moon.

I know there are people who love-love-love this game, and I can see why. But it just wasn’t for me. I still love Portal, and I can understand and (kind of) appreciate your extra-dark humor in hindsight, Portal 2, but that doesn’t mean I’ll play you ever again.


Final Rating

Plot, technical development, storytelling: 4 out of 5 stars

“I’m in SPAAAAACE!!! But work on your plot, please.”

Personal reactions: 2 out of 5 stars

“I hate science now. Thanks, Cave Johnson.”

ESRB says: +10 for Fantasy Violence, Mild Language

Really??? I actually had to look that up, because I didn’t know. I assumed it was T for Teen, but it’s rated LOWER than the first game??????? (It is true about the mild language, by the way. Cave Johnson, GLaDOS, you don’t have to cuss to get your point across. GLaDOS, you didn’t cuss in the first game, so why are you doing it now?)

I say: I would definitely kick it up a notch, to T for Teen at least, or even M for disturbing themes. I wonder how many young kids have played this. Am I the only person who was at all disturbed by this game, even temporarily? Anyway, use your discernment. It probably depends on the maturity of the player, but I would say more like +16, to be honest…


Here is digital cake. 🎂 🎂 🎂

Enjoy.

Also, I happen to have an Instagram account, now! If you’d like to check it out, just swing by http://www.instagram.com/ariaemaher/ And if you like Portal stuff, I have a Portal-themed painting I did that you can check out over there…

🙂

Wednesday with Words: Turtles All the Way Down

For school I got to read A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking, which explains some of the crazier aspects of physics so that the ordinary person can understand. This rather humorous quote appears near the beginning of the book. Sometimes, I wish that we could all return to a simpler age, when it was acceptable to believe that the world sat on the back of a turtle.

Some decades ago, a well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: “What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant turtle.” The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, “What is the turtle standing on? “Your very clever, young man, very clever,” said the old lady, “But it’s turtles all the way down!”

Stephen Hawking, A Briefer History of Time

On my reading list this week:

Cyndere’s Midnight by Jeffery Overstreet: The second book in the Auralia Thread. I’m really enjoying these books, and I find the fantasy world fresh and original.

Bleak House by Charles Dickens: Little-known fact about me: I absolutely love the Victorian era, Victorian London and generally all things Victorian. Including Charles Dickens books. I’m only halfway through the first chapter, but I’m already very intrigued. Charles Dickens is a true master of writing.

The Life of the Caterpillar by J. H. Faber: I’m doing this for school and I really like J. H. Faber’s books, even though I’m not a big fan of bugs. I also read another one of his books, The Life of the Spider, and I found it very interesting and informative, not like a dry, boring old textbook at all. My only regret is that many of the beautiful butterflies and moths that are described in The Life of the Caterpillar are only found in France.

Wednesday with Words is hosted by ladydusk.

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