With the first Portal 2 downloadable content pack released earlier this month, Valve now has its sights set on the next add-on for the game. Rather than simply providing new test chambers itself, Valve will instead deliver an "easy-to-use in-game map editor" for players to create and share their own test chambers.
Tools do already exist for players to create test chambers, character skins, sound effects, music, and more. The catch is they aren't especially easy to use; if you're just an average gamer with an idea for how a chamber could work, it's not a simple matter of throwing something together. The new editor -- based on the very simple description Valve provided -- sounds as if it should make creating a chamber much more approachable.
The new editor will allow chambers to be made for both single-player and co-op, and players will be able to vote on ones they've played. Its release is slated for "early next year," but, y'know, Valve time and all that. We were told the previous DLC would be out during the summer, which was then pushed to mid-September (still falling within summer, Valve was quick to note), and then finally October 4. It was, however, free, which you can't say about the DLC many companies release nowadays, so it's hard to complain.
Presumably the new editor will be free, too. We're checking with Valve on that and a few other points that weren't made clear in today's announcement, such as whether or not the editor will be released on PS3 and Xbox 360 in addition to the obvious platform of PC. If it does come to PS3, it's also a mystery if the platform's Steam support will allow for chambers to be shared between the PS3 and PC versions.