Joe Zeff Design

A boutique agency that blends software with storytelling, helping the world's largest companies tell better stories.

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The Final Hours of Portal 2

Joe Zeff Design is excited to announce the launch of The Final Hours of Portal 2, an iPad app we designed and developed to present the back story of one of this year's most publicized video games. We worked directly with journalist Geoff Keighley, host of GameTrailers TV on Spike and executive producer of the network's Video Game Awards, to turn his 15,000-word manuscript into a robust interactive experience. Keighley takes his audience behind the scenes at Valve Software, creators of the Portal franchise as well as popular video games such as Half-Life and Left 4 Dead, to reveal the people and processes that come together to make a blockbuster game. The app received global press on its very first day in the iTunes App Store here, here and here, and is featured at

Joe Zeff Design created the app using WoodWing's Digital Magazine Tools, packing it with interactive features that leverage the multimedia capabilities of the iPad. There are clickable videos, audio, music tracks, 360-degree panoramas, interactive polls and a timeline, objects you can spin, streamable music you can buy, images you can wipe to reveal underlying content, a message board and even an in-app game that demonstrates the concept of portals. At $1.99 it is certain to be a hot seller, judging by the millions of Portal fans and the sequel's overwhelmingly positive reviews.

The Final Hours of Portal 2 is yet another example of how Joe Zeff Design is helping content creators bypass traditional publishing models to sell their wares directly to consumers. We’re working on several apps that help writers and photographers create and extend their own personal brands by blending creativity and technology with rapidly emerging business opportunities. Three years ago when Geoff started his reporting at Valve headquarters in Seattle, he would have had few options other than submitting his manuscript to a magazine or book publisher. Today Geoff finds himself in a more advantageous position, as an entrepreneurial self-publisher with access to 200 million one-click buyers in the iTunes App Store.

“The Final Hours of Portal 2 is one of the first examples of original, long-form journalism for iPad," said Keighley, previously published in Entertainment Weekly, Business 2.0 and other magazines. "I can’t think of a better partner to bring my vision to life than Joe Zeff Design. Joe and his team were tireless allies during development, and were always willing to go the extra mile.”

The changes sweeping the publishing industry have transformed Joe Zeff Design as well. Widely known for our computer-generated imagery on magazine covers, the studio now focuses almost exclusively on digital publishing. We designed the popular Solar System for iPad app that appears in many of Apple's promotions for the iPad 2, and are currently working with its publisher, Touch Press, on another high-profile project. We have also designed iPad apps for PepsiCo and Splashlight, a high-end photography studio in New York City and Miami.

Joe will be addressing the fast-changing marketplace for content at the WoodWing Xperience next month in Amsterdam, in a presentation themed, "Reinvent Everything — Your Content, Your Business Model, Your Future."

"Joe Zeff is great at finding creative ways to publish to the iPad," said Shawn Duffy, Managing Director of WoodWing USA, which developed the tablet publishing software used to produce apps for Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, People and other leading publishers in 36 countries. "We're always looking forward to what he has coming around the corner."

Here's a hint: Our next project is a groundbreaking iPad app that represents an entirely new way to appreciate photography. The app is scheduled for release in the next two weeks . . . more details to come!

Many thanks to Geoff, Wim, Grant, Bradford and the amazing team at WoodWing for their contributions toward an app that's nearly as fun to experience as the game itself. Some screen images:

The Atlas character pops onto the cover, with musical accompaniment.

A highlights page provides a direct link to some of the interactive features.

An immersive panorama lets you tour the lobby of Valve Software in Seattle.

An animated cartoon by Eddie Guy of writers Chet Faliszek and Erik Wolpaw.

Spin robots Atlas and P-body with your finger to see them from every angle.

Comment on the app, and read what others had to say — a level of engagement that truly differentiates the iPad experience.

More screen images here.