Valve's Portal 2, the much anticipated and loved video game, obviously took a huge undertaking to create. In the Final Hours of Portal 2, journalist Geoff Keighley observed Valve for three years to tell you how it all happened. It may be an app, but it's long form journalism brilliantly told on the iPad
What is it?
The Finals Hours of Portal 2, $2.49, iPad. It's a 15,000 word, 13 chapter account of what it took to make Portal 2. Keighley, who has done this before with Half-Life, specifically wanted to use the iPad as his medium this time so he could include photos and videos to better illustrate his words. So imagine a huge feature in a magazine but more interactive and more absorbing.
The app is purposefully simple. It's a simple, side swiping horizontal layout that only works in landscape. There's the occasional gallery and video of course, but the general idea, according to Joe Zeff, the designer of the app, as told to Fast Company, was to "design this app like a highway: you start at one end and drive along the road, seeing things along the side, but you don't get pulled to all these off-ramps and then worry about how to get back on the main road." I think that simplicity works in favour for long features like these because it gives you a sense of where you are, where you're going and where you've been (like the pages of a magazine would).
And yes, it's a fantastic read (even if I'm not that big fan of Portal 2).
Who's it good for?
People who like video games. People who like reading. People who like long form journalism. People who like behind the scenes access. People who are curious to how a good 'iPad magazine' would look like.
Why's it better than alternatives?
I really love the idea of pieces like these getting substantial treatment as apps. There given a ton of liberty to make words function in a way print could never. Being able to treat a magazine piece with swipes, zooms, taps and slides is just a better experience than if this was a magazine article or on the web. If I want to see a picture in closer detail, it's a simple tap. If I want to flip back to a different section, I just pop up the navigation bar. Maybe because its the streamlined topic, but it just feels better than most other magazine apps.
How could it be even better?
It's a pretty substantial download at 310 MB. I wish I could share bits of the article to friends. I wish they could do this for every topic I have a passing interest in.
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