Valve unleashes Portal 2 Authoring Tools beta

Valve has released the first beta of its map modding tools for sci-fi puzzler Portal 2.

The game developer made the announcement last night on the Think With Portals blog, saying, "Today we're opening up the beta of the Portal 2 Authoring Tools to everyone! It's available as a free download for all owners of the PC version of Portal 2 and can be found under the "Tools" tab in Steam."

The company is, of course, using the word 'everyone' in the Microsoft sense, as anyone who has purchased the Mac version of the jumping-through-holes-with-boxes game seems to have been left out in the cold.

"The Portal 2 Authoring Tools include versions of the same tools we used to make Portal 2," continues the announcement. "They'll allow you to create your own single player and co-op maps, new character skins, 3D models, sound effects, and music."

The tools include and updated version of Hammer, the Source level editor, and updated Faceposer, a tweaked suite of command line compiling utilities and a bunch of example maps and instances.

Valve suggest that anyone interested in making their own maps for Portal 2 should join either the Portal 2 or General Source community mailing lists which are a rich source of tips from fellow modders.

Third-party map making has been a popular pastime among basement-dwelling gamers since the 90s when popular first-person shooters like Doom on the PC and Marathon on the Mac started offering budding designers the tools to make their own levels.

Nowadays, any game worth its salt will have some kind of level editor, as third-party levels are increasingly seen as a cheap way of increasing longevity and generating income for the game's developers.

Valve hasn't made it clear how third-party modifications will be distributed, but we're willing to bet that they'll keep a tight reign on what you are and are not allowed to install through the company's Steam infrastructure.