Skip to main content

How Valve found Portal

Here's a thing.

Before Portal, there was another game. Designed by a handful of students at DigiPen Institute of Technology, Narbacular Drop wasn't much to look at: it was brown and buggy and the word 'Narbacular' doesn't actually mean anything at all. But it had something incredible going for it. It had portals.

This game, when demoed at a careers fair in 2005, would impress Valve so much it would eventually hire the entire Narbacular Drop team and ask them to make the game all over again, but with a different aesthetic and a much simpler name.

Join me in the video below for the full story. It's a good one.

Watch on YouTube

I was especially impressed to find out how many of the original team still work at Valve today. Out of those original eight members of Nuclear Monkey Software, four have remained, almost 12 years after being hired.

I spoke with one of those four, Jeep Barnett, for this piece. The interview in full is available on SoundCloud and you should give it a listen if you're a big Valve/Portal fan.

Hope you've enjoyed this week's episode and I'll see you next Thursday. Oh and if you haven't already, you can still download and play Narbacular Drop for free, even today.

Read this next