Cores (also referred to as Spheres, Personality Cores/Spheres, or Aperture Science Artificial Personality Constructs) are machines designed to house advanced artificial intelligence, mostly unique for their ability to express emotions. Cores generally come in two varieties: Spherical and Input. Spheres are the standard form, used for android bodies (such as Atlas) and other purposes. Input Cores are eliptical Cores such as are used in Turrets or P-Body.
Each unique core is either integrated into a robotic body or left in standalone sphere form. (these spheres are usually attached to management rails) in the Aperture Science computer-aided Enrichment Center, such as the Turrets, Atlas, and P-body.
Developed by Aperture Science technicians, GLaDOS is the earliest known personality core - specifically designed for becoming the Enrichment Center's overseer. The next cores developed were given the purpose of counteracting GLaDOS' psychotic behavior (such as flooding test chambers and other vital parts of the facility with neurotoxin) by integrating with her (sub)concious and altering her personality.
Often present in the form of spherical shapes, these cores are a more simplistic design as their purpose had been more at hand instead. This contrasts with the majority of the designs of Aperture androids in the Enrichment Center that are personality core-based such as Atlas (enclosed core design), P-body (core inputs), and Turrets (also core inputs).
After the events of Portal, it became apparent that some of the unused (deactivated) cores kept in storage have been automatically reactivated by the facility to maintain the Enrichment Center. Under extreme circumstances/time, these cores have been unable to compensate, and have failed to do so. Some cores become corrupted (the cause of this is unknown).
As the name implies, each core has its own unique personality and behavior, which can be incorporated into the central core when they are physically attached to it. However, most cores were unneeded and deactivated. These were later reactivated after the destruction of GLaDOS in Portal.
During the conflict with GLaDOS in Portal, whenever Chell would drop a personality core into the incinerator, not only did GLaDOS experience pain when they are destroyed, she also began to lose some of her reinforced prominent personality traits. These include as her references to cake, and her moral values, which resulted in a much stronger desire to kill Chell.
The Central Core is the highest rank of all Aperture Science Personality Cores in the Enrichment Center, given to the core hardwired into the enormous robotic body in the Central Control Chamber.
A central core has the power to control and regulate the entire Enrichment Center, including the camera feeds, Testing Chamber Assembly and Storage, and the Turret Production Lines.
During the events of Portal 2, it becomes apparent that any form of personality core would be more than qualified to be hardwired into the mainframe to become a central core. This is a feature preset by Aperture as a means of replacing corrupted central AI; and if the central core happens to disagree with their impeachment, a Stalemate Resolution Associate will have to force the replacement procedure.
GLaDOS, whom was designed with the sole purpose of being the central core herself; does not possess a spherical shape like other personality cores.
The Morality Core is one of the more important cores attached on GLaDOS in Portal. It is a core with a purple 'eye' and two dots just beneath it. It was installed onto GLaDOS some time before GLaDOS awakened Chell, in order to prevent her from filling the Enrichment Center with neurotoxin.
It also seems to be what allows GLaDOS to keep her weapons under control, as she stated that she was unable to deactivate her rocket turret once the core was incinerated.
It is the first core collected and incinerated by Chell, which causes GLaDOS to begin losing her moral traits and once again start filling the room with Neurotoxin. Unlike other cores, the Morality Core is mute. The disposal of this core is reflected in GLaDOS' apathetic attitude and utter disregard for life in the end of Portal and prevalent in Portal 2, though how much of this was under the core's control is uncertain due to the resurfacing of these emotions in GLaDOS after re-discovering her Genetic Lifeform component; Caroline.
The second core attached to GLaDOS is the Curiosity Core. It is the core with an orange 'eye' and two dots beneath it. It has a tendency to constantly ask questions, ranging from its surroundings, to Chell, to where it is going.
GLaDOS' third core, the Cake Core, has a blue 'eye' with a huge pupil with six dots beneath it. It rambles on about an odd recipe for a rather unique kind of cake, which is the cake shown before the end credits of Portal. GLaDOS does not make references to Cake in Portal 2, and it is presumed that this is because the Core was destroyed in Portal.
The last core attached to GLaDOS is the Anger Core. It has a red 'eye' with eight dots beneath it. It is also referred to as the Emotion Core. Rather than speak, the Core snarls and growls ferociously at Chell. (These snarls and growls were later used in Valve's game 'Left 4 Dead', which featured the same actor, Mike Patton, as the infected.) Once Chell puts the Anger Core into the Incinerator, GLaDOS begins to implode. In Portal 2, GLaDOS, due to the loss of this core, sounds very mellow, and barely expresses any emotional indications of hostility.
The final antagonist of the single-player campaign in Portal 2, Wheatley, also known as the Intelligence Dampening Sphere, is portrayed as bumbling, chatty, desperate when things did not catch up to his expectations, and often hesitant. He is the first character to have interacted with Chell in the game, and is one of many cores seen awakening at the end of Portal.
It was not long before it was revealed by GLaDOS that Wheatley was originally designed by the Aperture Science technicians with the express purpose of rendering GLaDOS less dangerous during her initial activations, via attaching Wheatley onto her to generate an infinite stream of flawed suggestions to distract her.
It was thought that this would prevent her from killing the scientists when activated and improve the operations of the facility. According to GLaDOS, Wheatley is "the product of the greatest minds of a generation working together with the express purpose of building the dumbest moron who ever lived".
The Paranoia Core is a bounty prize offered by GLaDOS in the game Poker Night 2. He speaks much like a stereotypical paranoid person, quickly and nervously. He is also identical in appearance to Wheatley.
Due to technical difficulties over time, a core may be detected as a Corrupted Core and would be subject to disposal. However, if the corrupted core is the central core, a substitute core must be present in a core receptacle in order to initiate a core transfer. Central Core Corruption will not be detected if another core is not present. This is because other cores would not usually be present, except for core transfer. Once a substitute core is found, both cores must agree or disagree to the core transfer procedure. If one agrees while the other disagrees, the transfer process cannot occur unless a Stalemate Resolution Associate is present in order to press the stalemate resolution button, which will initiate the core transfer process once the Associate has returned to the Central Chamber.
During the fight against Wheatley in Portal 2, GLaDOS/PotatOS summons three corrupted cores to Chell for her to attach to Wheatley in order to make him corrupt enough to initiate another core transfer procedure.
All three Corrupted Cores are voiced by Nolan North.
The Space Sphere is one of three active, corrupted cores. It speaks rapidly, and possesses an unhealthy obsession with space. Its key personality trait is its often-repeated desire to travel to outer space. It finally gets to live its dream of going to space when it is sucked through the portal that connects the remaining blot of Conversion Gel to the surface of the Moon. The Final Hours of Portal 2 reveal Valve's inspiration for the Space Core: an Oregon Coast Aquarium ad with a goldfish rapidly and repeatedly humming, blurting, and stating that he would like to go to the aquarium, much like the Space Core does.
The second corrupted core, the Adventure Sphere (or as he calls himself, Rick) speaks like a stereotypical soldier. Upon seeing Chell, he starts to swoon over her. He even tries (unsuccessfully) to convince Chell to take a "lady break" while he deals with Wheatley. After shooting a portal on the moon, an observant one can see Rick fly off of Wheatley.
The Fact Sphere is the third corrupted core. It constantly states several random, twisted and not entirely true "facts" related to history, the current situation, as well as apparent facts about how amazing and handsome it is.
Cores that are neither corrupted nor personality cores, but cores that serve a different purpose altogether.
Party Escort Bot
During the events of Portal, GLaDOS refers to the Party Associate after failing her attempt to kill Chell at the end of the final test chamber. As Chell did not follow GLaDOS as the latter instructed her to "place the device on the ground, then lie on [her] stomach with [her] arms at [her] sides" which was described as the "party escort submission position", it is presumed that the Party Escort Bot was required to travel to the surface in order to retrieve her and "escort her to the party". Prior to the March 3, 2010 patch, Portal ended with Chell slowly regaining consciousness on the parking lot above the Aperture Science Enrichment Center. Since the patch was added to bridge the gap between Portal and Portal 2, Chell is instead slowly and unwillingly dragged back towards the facility by the unseen Party Escort Bot as it thanks her for "assuming the party escort submission position". The Party Escort Bot is seen briefly in the Portal 2: Lab Rat comic and was only partially depicted, revealed to be a core-based android with a pink eye.
- The bomb model used in Portal 2 is named 'personality_sphere_angry' within the game files, suggesting the Anger core was to make an appearance in the sequel.
- The bomb model also possesses various typical personality core animations that can be viewed in the Model Viewer in the Authoring Tools. These include a stationary animation, a test animation where the core aimlessly looks around, and an angry animation where it twitches violently.
- In early screenshots released prior to the Portal 2 E3 teaser trailer, the texture of personality cores were yet to receive detailing and minor scratches, as the textures of the plating were matte white. Since then the textures have been greatly improved, and compared to Portal, the Cores from then to the retail version have a wider range of emotions.