Over the next two weeks we'll bringing you our pick of the games of the generation - and today we're starting off with Portal, Valve's exceptionally smart puzzler that was the surprise highlight of The Orange Box when it launched in October 2007.
Back in the early '90s, the definition of 'indie' music went under a transformation. What had started as a tag for any act that released music without the help of a major record label became a way of describing - and selling - a sound and a lifestyle. Once it was all about crudely recorded cassette tapes and direct, intimate fan interaction; today it's Coldplay, with all the corporate fixings.
Kim Swift sprang to fame as the project lead on Valve's wonderful first-person puzzler, Portal. It was a game that managed to be brilliantly clever, incredibly funny, and yet accessible to a wider gaming audience. It's with this philosophy that Swift begins her new job heading up a team at Airtight Games. We took this chance to look back over the path that took her here, beginning with the game that inspired Portal, Narbacular Drop.
On a recent trip to Germany to see Left 4 Dead, of which more soon, we sat down with Valve's VP of marketing Doug Lombardi to talk about things. Things like Portal, and whether we'll see an Orange Box 2. Like everyone at Valve, Doug's job title is a bit misleading; he does a broad range of things across the company, and has even - as he points out here - dabbled in development to some extent. He also plays Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead with us when we fly over to see Valve, which is nice of him (it's nice of him to let us win all the time, too). Anyway, enough being nice about Doug - here are a few selected excerpts from our discussion, with more to come when we're allowed to talk about what the developer was actually in Germany to show off...
Gosh! It seems like only 3 months and 8 days ago that we last sat down for half an hour with Valve co-founder Gabe Newell, which is probably because that was when we last sat down with him. He said lots of things back then, so for our Games Convention chat this past week we were able to skip some of the pleasantries and talk in more depth about Orange Box, Steam, Wii controls and which is better PlayStations or Xboxes. Only kidding. Sort of. Plus we talked about those excellent TF2 movie shorts - have you watched the Soldier one yet? Read on also for Gabe using a swearword, which we think is an exclusive. Enjoy.
Originally published on GamesIndustry.biz, today's wide-ranging interview with Valve co-founder Gabe Newell touches on everything from the decision to extend Half-Life 2 episodically and introduce advertising to online multiplayer game Counter-Strike, to the future of the Steam business and what to expect from the next five years of gaming hardware. It also offers an insight into how Valve is structured, and why the developer believes listening to its customers is paramount to its success.
Kim Swift gives me performance anxiety. "Now you're thinking with portals," says Portal. Unfortunately I'm not. It's a flaw in Valve's preview approach. Most scenarios in Portal have to be solved by firing a portal entrance and a portal exit at different bits of wall. You then either enter one to exit through the other, or move an object through. And if you can't immediately see what you're meant to do, every second lost to the solution's pursuit gives the invisible man chiselling "dunce" on your pride the chance to add a flourish. By now mine's backlit serif, and twinned with a town in Castilla-La Mancha. Freed of the pressure of having the lead designer sat behind you the entire time you play, you can probably think more clearly. The impossible will be easy. At least to start.
GC: Valve opens up in Leipzig