Swift denies pressure to top Portal with Quantum Conundrum

And insists she hasn't finished Portal 2.

Portal lead designer Kim Swift insists she isn't feeling the pressure to top the classic Valve puzzler with her new game Quantum Conundrum.

Speaking to Eurogamer this week, Kim Swift, now creative director at Airtight Games, explained that, as she sees it, dwelling on the past is not a positive way to approach game design.

"Y'know, I try not to think about it, mainly because I think my profession is to make fun for people," she said.

"I'm supposed to make fun and interesting things for people to play, and I think if you're getting so hung up on what you did before and trying to top that, it's a really bad attitude. You're not going to want to make fun any more as you're so worried about competing with yourself. I don't want to think about it that way."

Quantum Conundrum, out this Summer on PC, PSN and XBLA via publisher Square Enix, offers a first person puzzle experience that should feel familiar to fans of Swift's breakout effort. It wasn't a conscious attempt to tie the two titles together in gamers' minds, she insisted - it's just the sort of thing that she enjoys making.

"When I left Valve I had in mind that I wanted to make another game kind of like Portal, just because I really enjoyed making Portal," she said.

"I know how to make those kind of games and in general I just want to make games that I want to play. I guess it's kind of selfish on my part."

Some have speculated that its core concept - which sees the player switching between different dimensions to solve puzzles - started life as an early pitch for a Portal sequel. However, Swift stated that she never presented the concept while working at Valve.

"I didn't really have it until I left Valve," she explained.

"I knew I wanted to work on more games like Portal but I didn't have any particular game design in mind. I started working at Airtight on a different prototype but that got cancelled so our team decided to pitch ideas internally and decide what we wanted to work on next.

"I wasn't the only person to pitch a game forward on my team. I think we had a total of five pitches we were trying to decide between. We all voted and decided on the concept of Quantum Conundrum, just because it was really easy for us to prototype it and see really quickly if it was fun."

Swift added that the finished game, which is still without a firm release date, should take the average player about 10 hours to work through. Her team has also ensured there's sufficient impetus to come back for a second play-through too.

"We have two different types of collectibles and we have a challenge system," she explained.

"We're clocking the number of times you shift dimensions as well as your time on each map. We have a leaderboard set up so you can compete to get the best score."

Finally, Swift remained diplomatic when asked for her verdict on Portal 2, which was made without her involvement.

"I honestly haven't gotten to play very much of it," she replied.

"I haven't played very much of any game in the last year. We tried to finish Quantum Conundrum in under a year so I've been really busy."

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Fred Dutton

Fred Dutton


Fred Dutton was Eurogamer's US news editor, based in Washington DC.


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