Reconstructing (Portal 2)

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This Portal 2 aesthetic theme is displayed after the player had awakened GLaDOS in the single player campaign. Because GLaDOS drops the player deeper into the facility, vegetation and animals presence is significantly diminished; however the facility is still in disrepair and like the earlier destroyed theme it is characterized by rusted, decayed areas filled with debris and broken glass.

Level transitions are usually placed in elevators surrounded by malfunctioning screens and rubble. There might be objects flying through the elevator shaft prior to it's arrival like cubes and turrets.


Notice the use of panels in the map.

This theme takes all the good bits from the destroyed theme, and adds GLaDOS, everyone's favourite homicidal computer. So when making a map don't forget to get her talking. This theme is supposed to gradually get cleaner, this gives the impression the facility is back to it's senses after a long sleep. The levels are very dynamic, plenty of panels are present, fixing walls, floors, and ceilings; they are used as test elements or just for decoration. And because of this theme's heavy use of entities that give the impression that everything is now alive, this theme is recommended for users with advanced knowledge of hammer.

Going by the campaign, Aerial Faith Plates, Thermal Discouragement Beams and Hard Light Surfaces are the main test elements used throughout the theme. However, that's a lot to go with, so don't try and cram everything in.

On another note unlike the destroyed maps which are fairly small, this theme's map are huge. In the game there are large places to maneuver, and long Faith Plate jumps, the ceilings are high and large toxic pools are common. Some of these pools are up to 1024 units wide.

Noticeable Elements

The reconstructing theme theme is characterized by the very dynamic feel of it. GLaDOS is back in control and she need to fix everything. Sometimes, she even builds the test chamber itself with you in it, adding the final touches.


Yep, she's back, and if you're using this theme you want her in it. Seriously; a map without dialogue is twice as boring as one that has it. That said, however, go for the unique quotes; we've heard the 'here come the test results' line millions of times, but how often do you hear 'like an eagle, piloting a blimp'? Even better, go for some of the cut lines that can still be found in the game's files! For a list of GLaDOS lines, see this.


Panels are present all around this theme, doing miscellaneous work other than forming the test chamber itself. There are literally hundreds of animations to pick and use from; and if that isn't enough, there are plenty of other panel models to use.

Note:Search for animations with 'wake' or 'powerup' in their name in the model browser.

These wake animations are specifically tailored for this point in the game, and really give the sense that the facility is coming back to its senses. A good thing to do is scrolling through all the animations, with time you'll know exactly what you are looking for.

A thing that is important to point out is that on a large-ish grid size, the panels will be recessed two units into the wall; This is normal. A common mistake is moving them so they are flush with the Walls, and then adding the brush. All this means is that the panel will actually stick out from the wall. On that note, the brush attached to the robotic arm should be 2 units thick.

Now about those miscellaneous dynamic elements to cover; let's begin with the elements relevant to this theme. One clever little trick is using a trigger_look to trigger a relay, either when the player looks at it or when a certain amount of time has passed. This relay should start the animation of a panel or a group of panels. You should use it for the player might not look where you intended him to look and he'll miss all your hard work making those panels.

But panels aren't always attached to robotic arms; some panels are just a brush. This is brilliant for making panels fall of the ceiling into toxic slime pools, which is good for two things. First, it looks awesome, and adds a dynamic element to your map. Second, however, it can be used in a large chamber to draw the players gaze and attention to a certain area, one that they might not have otherwise noticed straight away, perhaps giving them some guidance on where to go, so they can begin with a goal. To do this follow these instructions:

Step 1

Create a func_physbox, and texture it as you would to any other rusted panel, useful textures for that are:

  • black_wall_metal_005@
  • white_wall_tile_004@
  • squarebeams_rusty_01

@ - a variable, a set of letters and numbers.

Ensure the Motion Disabled flag is checked. Attach this func_physbox to a phys_hinge for maximum effect.

Step 2

Add a relay with the following outputs:

My Output > Target Entity Target Input Parameter Delay Only Once
Io11.png OnTrigger func_physbox EnableMotion   0.00 No
Io11.png OnTrigger phys_hinge Break   2.50 No

Don't constraint your self only to the ceiling, one can also perform this trick with wall panels; just don't use a hinge, but use a small phys_explosion behind the panel to knock it off the wall about a tenth of a second after its motion is enabled. There are instances you can use if you find them appealing:

  • 128x128_ceiling_panel_fall_01.vmf
  • 128x128_ceiling_panel_fall_02.vmf
  • 128x128_wall_panel_fall_01.vmf

Miscellaneous tips

These are the main elements that should be used through out this theme:

The geometry should be a lot clearer than in the previous theme; everything should be a bit blockier, and a lot more of the panels are black, also; though there are roughly the same amount of white tiles, the solution shouldn't be obvious. This is really what, visually, distinguishes the previous theme from this one. Don't hesitate to make whole walls white, just so long as black and white are in about equal proportion. If you want, add subtle visual indicator to where portals should be placed.

See also

The Aesthetics of Portal 2
Behind the Scenes