Valve released a set of Portal 2 map building tools earlier this year. The software is identical to what was used to create the game, and some folks have apparently found it a little difficult to use. Hunting down user-created maps is also tedious, according to Valve, so it's prepping an update to the authoring tools that promises address both issues.
Pictured above, the new editor interface looks like it's been pulled from one of the Portal 2 promo cartoons. Valve head Gabe Newell has made a point of encouraging schools to use Portal as a teaching tool, and the new authoring interface shouldn't be too intimidating for that audience or folks who haven't dabbled in map making before.
To make user-created test chambers easier to find, Valve is promising that users will be able to upload levels to the Steam Cloud instantly. Those levels will then be available to share with other players, and Valve is putting together a community site to host all the user-created content. Adding a new level to your Portal 2 install will purportedly take no more than a single click. The community site will have ratings, comments, and the ability to follow your favorite puzzle authors.
Back in the Quake era, I fooled around with making maps before ultimately becoming frustrated with the tools available at the time. This new puzzle editor looks like a huge improvement, albeit one that may be too oversimplified for hard-core map builders. Alas, there's no word on when Valve will make the new editor available to the public.