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 as a standalone body for Personality Constructs and in android bodies like Atlas'. Input cores, by contrast, are elliptical in shape and are used for the turrets and in android bodies like P-Body's. Spherical cores that do not have limbs are generally attached to management rails in the Aperture Science computer-aided Enrichment Center.
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' destructive behavior (such as flooding test chambers and other vital parts of the facility with neurotoxin) by integrating with her subconscious 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 which is unknown, although it could be inferred that if the cores are inhabited by once humans (like GLaDOS) corruption could be caused by the human going insane from being trapped within an AI).
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. 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 each time one was destroyed, she also began to lose some of her reinforced prominent personality traits. These include her references to cake, and her moral values, which resulted in a much stronger desire to kill Chell.
The general form of a personality core is a large, spherical construct roughly a foot in diameter resembling an eyeball, containing sensors (with the "eye" presumably being the core's camera), two handles (possibly dating from when humans had to transport and handle them manually), and other equipment, such as ports to hold them onto a security rail for them to move on, or to plug into the central computer. The cores in Portal 2 also have eyelids.
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 AI Chamber.
A central core has the power to control and regulate the entire Enrichment Center, including the camera feeds, test chamber assembly and storage, turret production lines, and neurotoxin.
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, who was designed with the sole purpose of being the central core herself, has her own unique shape that is quite different from the other personality cores, with an oblong white "body", black "face", and a yellow "eye". Her "eye" appears to contain her identity, made clear when it was stuck into a potato during the events of Portal 2.
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 during the events of "Lab Rat," 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, and much like Chell, the morality core is mute. The disposal of this core is reflected in GLaDOS' apathetic attitude and utter disregard for life at 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 four dots beneath it. It has a tendency to constantly ask questions, ranging from its surroundings to Chell, to where it is going.
Like GLaDOS and the Intelligence core, the Curiosity Core is voiced by Ellen McClain
GLaDOS' third core, the intelligence core, (referred to as the "crazy core" in the subtitles), 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" and the "aggressive 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. 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; she remains resentful over her attempted destruction and makes snarky comments towards Chell while being tested early in the game.
The Anger Core is voiced by singer/musician and Faith No More vocalist Mike Patton
Intelligence Dampening Core
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 activation, 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".
Wheatley is voiced by English comedian Stephen Merchant
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 on 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. Each of their corruption levels is 25%, as indicated according to the Announcer when they are attached to Wheatley. And because the corruption level was already at 25% when the final fight with Wheatley started, it may be surmised that Wheatley himself is also a Corrupted Core.
GLaDOS was 80% corrupt when she was replaced in the game by Wheatley. Due to her behavior change after being put in the potato and then "reinstalled" at the end of Portal 2, it may be surmised that this reduced her own corruption to 0%. This change in GLaDOS (as well as Wheatley's behavior) further indicates that when a core is corrupt, it becomes irrational, in other words, "crazy" or "insane" by human standards, and even paranoid and homicidal.
The Space Sphere is one of three active, corrupted cores.(referred to as core 1 in subtitles) 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 blob of conversion gel to the surface of the moon. The Final Hours of Portal 2 reveals 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 Space Sphere is stuck in space, and is later known for getting bored of space and wanting to back home.
The second corrupted core, the Adventure Sphere (or as he calls himself, Rick) speaks like a stereotypical tough guy. 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. He is the first core to be sucked into space as after shooting a portal on the moon if one looks closely, they can see Rick fly off of Wheatley and into space.
The Fact Sphere is the third corrupted core.(Referred to as core 3 in subtitles.)It constantly states several random, twisted, and not entirely true "facts" related to history, the current situation, as well as subjective facts about how amazing and handsome it is. The Fact Sphere is the only core that managed to stay attached to Wheatley during the ending cutscene where Chell shoots a portal on the moon but is unseen.
The following expresses cores that serve a different purpose altogether: cores that are neither corrupted nor are personality cores.
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' instructions 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 gives thanks to 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 spherical core-based android with a pink eye and a set of arms.
SteamVR / The Lab
Virtual Reality Assistance and Education Core
The Virtual Reality Assistance and Education Core is introduced in the SteamVR tech demo and guides the player through the virtual reality tutorial. It is very polite and is able to float without any obvious means of propulsion; shortly after finishing its instruction of the player, its battery dies and is immediately picked up by two Bendies driving a golf cart.
The Lab introduced several new personality constructs sent to the player for calibration, voiced by Laura Bailey, Steve Blum, Phil LaMarr, Nolan North, Justin Roiland, Pendleton Ward, and Wally Wingert. They are:
- Auction Core
- Big News Core (that ran to get here)
- Boring Hard-Boiled Core (Wilson)
- Butter Core
- By-The-Book Core
- Calibration Core
- Climate Change Awareness Core
- Comfortable Core (that just feels right)
- Convict Core
- Emergency Preparedness Core
- Executive Core
- Fruit Punch Core
- Heavy Core
- Horror Story Core
- Investigation Core
- Magic Core
- Mourning Core
- Pilot Core
- Plague Core
- Respect Core
- Retirement Core
- Reverse Psychology Core
- Rhythm Core
- Rookie Core (Kelv)
- Salesman Core (Trevor, from the Work From Home Core Group)
- Skeptical / Nervous Core
- Snuggle Core
- Soup Core
- Spider Core
- Supervillain Core
- Tracer Core
- Useful Core (that is not a Gateway to Hell)
These cores use a model similar to the original Portal's with no exposed sides (except for one in the back) and a simple design, but with a thicker outline, more detailed eye and multiple different patterns, as well as a crash test logo on the side. The internal mechanism is the main difference, consisting of a sphere with circles of light moving based on how the core speaks.
Cores act as collectibles in this game, requiring certain characters to do tasks to find them.
An "Amorality Sphere" is featured in this game which carries out functions completely opposite to the Morality Sphere, which also allows GLaDOS to employ dangerous tools (such as electricity) on Batman, Wyldstyle, and Gandalf. It makes its appearance in "The End is Tri," where it is taken from GLaDOS and replaced with an actual Morality Sphere to blackmail her to help the heroes during the final battle. It appears later from a portal that appears after GLaDOS sings, which she is glad to see.
Another core found in Old Aperture claims to be Cave Johnson and pleads for help. Once the player does though, Cave accuses them of "slacking off". The core's eye is also square-shaped compared to other core eyes.
- 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 similar textures and 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.
- Poker Night 2 features a bounty price by GLaDOS called the "Paranoia Core," who behaves similarly to the Fact Sphere describing numerous events as well as being paranoid.
- Where the corrupt cores are first encountered in Portal 2, another core is being held above to illuminate them, moving weakly which confirms it is active. This core never makes another appearance and has no lines. Upon closer inspection inside reveals that it is an Adventure Sphere reskin, with the eye aperture constricted.
- Personality cores that serve basic tasks are surprisingly nice and polite, including Template:Sentry Turrets, the Oracle Turret, and Template:Frankenturret, proved by their voice lines, proof being that one of them refers to Chell as "lady".
- But free-thinking cores (such as Wheatley, Adventure Core) do not.
- The morality core has one dot on each side, and it's the first core to be detached and incinerated. The curiosity core has two dots (although on only one side), and it's the second core to be detached. The intelligence core has three dots on each side, and the anger core has four.