Highly Suspect Agency

How to play Portal 2 without losing your mind

quat, May 06, 2021
games portal2

Ok so I want to collect all of the "things that 99% of the dedicated portal2 players use but noone ever really talks about" into one post I can point to. Here we go!


F6 and F7 save and load the game. Not everyone knows this, but now you do!


The developer console is where you enter commands. It can be enabled in settings (under "Keyboard and Mouse"), and the default key to open the console is ` (backtick). You can also add the -console launch option to open the console when the game starts, useful in Portal Reloaded where the console isn't available for some reason.

If you create a file at steamapps/common/Portal 2/portal2/cfg/autoexec.cfg, every time you start the game, it will execute each line of the file as if you typed it in the developer console.

The console will show command completions, and the find command can be used to search through commands.

Hey what's a bind

I'm going to talk about "binds" a lot. The in-game settings menu allows you to customize some keybinds, but if you open the developer console and use the bind command, you can bind things to any arbitrary command. Running bind x "noclip", for example, will run noclip when you press x.

You can print a listing of all bindings with key_listboundkeys, and e.g. unbind x can be used to delete a binding. Multiple commands can be bound to the same key by separating them with ; (a semicolon).

The in-game keybindings menu uses this bind system internally as well; enter key_listboundkeys and observe how it's already populated with a bunch of stuff.

To bind things to the mouse wheel, bind them to MWHEELDOWN or MWHEELUP. The numpad can be addressed with KP_END for 1, KP_DOWNARROW for 2, KP_PGDN for 3 etc.

Useful cheats and bindings

I'll preface this by saying everybody cheats. Basically everyone has a keyboard full of their own cheat keybinds, and you'll be hard-pressed to find someone in the community who like, never cheats. This is a puzzle game first and foremost, it doesn't matter if you accidentally fell off a ledge and used noclip to get back on. As long as you had fun figuring out the puzzle and your solution would have worked without any noclip, it counts! (Don't go into p2 speedrunning with this mindset.)

If you're entering these into a bind command don't forget to wrap them in double quotes btw. And it's handy to prefix cheat commands with sv_cheats 1; so you don't need a separate "enable cheats" bind.

When playing in co-op, only Atlas can enable sv_cheats, but after that both players can use cheats.

With all that out of the way! Your bread-and-butter binds:

And some more specialized binds:

Uhhh more useful commands

Not really things that need to be bound to a key per se, but they're nice commands to know about. Look, I just wanna dump this info on you

Okay next section!

SAR and loading fixes

SAR is a plugin/mod/tool/thing that Portal 2 speedrunners use. You can download the latest version over here. It's like 99% nerdy speedrunner stuff, but there is a really nice-to-have loading screen fix as well, that makes loading take much less time.

In particular this makes quicksaves fun and useful again: loading a quicksave created on the same map takes less than a second, on my PC.

Full installation instructions are available on the Portal speedrunners wiki but in short, to enable the load remover:

plugin_load sar
sar_fast_load_preset normal

SAR also has a few more commands that might be useful to casual players. Put these in your autoexec under plugin_load as well.

A full list of commands is available here. There are a lot.

Oh and if you're curious it stands for "Source Auto Record", because the original purpose of the tool is to automatically record demos on the first tick of loading a map, but as you can see it's grown in scope quite a bit...


This is more for making maps and not playing them, but I want to point you in the direction of BEEMOD. It's a tool to customize the items available in Puzzlemaker. There's custom test elements, but also things like additional map geometry (wedges, blocks, holes-in-glass), more features for the vanilla map elements (you can enable Portal 1-style victory lifts that only move when you stand on them), more map themes, and more. All available in the in-game editor for you to use, no Hammer knowledge needed.

I will say a few things:

How do I bunnyhop?

Really really quick overview:

That's basically it.

There's wayyyy more detailed guides out there and I'm not an expert. It takes a lot of practice to get a "feel" for the right way to move and how momentum carries.

Hey quat uhh, this is all well and good, but what maps should i actually play with these newfound powers

Well I'm glad you asked, because unfortunately, browsing the workshop by "Most Popular" is not a very good way to find high-quality maps*.

A longtime Portal 2 friend curated this collection called "Introduction to the Workshop", which has all the classics. It's a bit old now but it's timeless, I always recommend it to new workshop players. You'll pick up all the puzzle techniques you'll need to solve community maps that aren't part of the main game (what?), and have a good time doing it.

All of the people included in that collection are fairly prolific mappers, so browse their profiles and check out their other work and their favorites lists as well.

Here's my list of workshop favorites, although it's mostly hard shit and kinda outdated by now...

*It's mainly because completing a map prompts you with the rating screen, so maps with more completions get more popular, so easy maps rise to the top. Occasionally you'll find bangers in there but like, approach it the way you'd approach Mario Maker's popular section.

Now go forth!

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