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Airtight Games' Kim Swift discusses Portal comparisons and the democratic origin of Quantum Conundrum


"All I care about is, 'Is the game fun? Are players gonna pick it up and have a good time?' That, first and foremost, is my job," ex-Valve developer (Portal, Left 4 Dead) and current Airtight Games creative lead Kim Swift declared to me in a pre-NY Comic Con interview last week. She was referring to her current project, Quantum Conundrum, and its similarity to her past work on Portal. I was wondering if she worried that her first big game might color perceptions about her latest, similarly-sized game -- is it just more of the same?

"Making first-person puzzle games is what I like to do," Swift said. "And there aren't a whole lot of games ... there's Portal, and that's about it. So, to me, this is the kind of game that I want to play myself." She told me that the idea for QC had come about before arriving at Airtight, and when the opportunity came to head up a team as creative lead, she jumped at the chance. But she also didn't want to be a totalitarian monster.

"Once I had gotten my team together, I didn't just wanna say, 'Hey, we're making this game, dammit! It's gonna be the way I say it's gonna be!'" Swift explained. Rather, the team members created individual "one-sheets" which would then be voted on by the whole group. As it turns out, Quantum Conundrum won out. "It just happens that this one came out on top just because it was really easy to implement right away and test," she added.

The game's room-based puzzles and play on dimensional mechanics make it "modular" -- as in, individual components can be easily swapped out for others and quickly tested. This kind of development structure allows for quick iteration, a value prized among game developers. It also makes things like DLC all the more possible, which already makes sense for a game like Quantum Conundrum. Whether gamers will be demanding more after the game ships "early" next year remains to be seen, but what I saw had a lot of promise.

Gallery: Quantum Conundrum (PAX 2011) | 7 Photos

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