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Wop #3: Terraria's Portal Gun



Terraria; one of my favorite games of all time. I've played through it more times than I can count, and have logged more hours into it than I care to admit. The game is a sandbox game full of crazy bosses and easter eggs. Needless to say, it tends to have its own spin on the laws of physics, but almost always these spins are based on real physical laws. One such way the game has fun with physics is with its reference to Valve's Portal series: the Portal Gun.

The problem isn't that the gun allows for instant teleportation (the game already has teleportation pads and potions). The problem lies in the affect of holding the gun. When holding the gun, the player's terminal velocity changes from 51 MPH (22.79 m/s) to 179 MPH (80.02 m/s). Assuming that the net force on the object is mg-bv, which should be equal to 0 at terminal velocity, meaning terminal velocity = mg/b, and g and b are constant, this means that the portal gun would be two and a half times the mass of the player. Though this would make the player insanely strong, this isn't entirely unrealistic.

However, this assumes that gravity is constant. When holding the gun, the time taken to accelerate to this new terminal velocity is the same as it would be to accelerate to the former, meaning the acceleration due to gravity is what increases 3.5x. As such, it can be safely assumed that the portal gun, as it exists in Terraria, breaks laws of physics. Though, in a video game, which is more fun? Being bound by the laws of physics, or being able to have some fun with laws that we can't change in real life?

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I agree that some liberties have to be taken when designing a game to make the game more fun, but it is interesting to see how video game physics relate to those of the real world.

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