The tech and memory constraints of bringing Portal to graphing calculators

The game developer who brought a simplified version of Portal to the Ti-83/84 graphing calculator, Alex Marcolina, says that making the game for such a simple device was not easy and it forced him to be creative, according to an interview with VentureBeat.

Marcolina, a game design student from California, spent more than a year of his spare time working on and off on his re-imagining of Portal for graphing calculators. He says the Ti84 calculator was the first platform to pique his interest in game programming, which is why he decided to make his game for the platform.

"Plus," he tells VentureBeat, "I always say that programming for such a restrictive platform really forces you to be creative and work harder to get your work done.

"If you program something simple for the computer, even if you program it badly it will still run quickly, whereas with a calculator, you need to work extra hard in order to make your code run at a reasonable speed."

Marcolina says the biggest challenge was working with the Ti84's memory contraints, which only allowed for 16K for executable code. He says that converting Portal's 3D puzzles into smaller 2D puzzles that could run on the calculator was also a challenge.

"Level design was definitely the part I spent the most work on for this project," he says.

VentureBeat's full interview in which Marcolina talks more about his process developing Portal for the Ti84 and his plans for the future can be read here.

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