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Kim Swift's New Game Is A Return To Her Portal Roots

Now at a new studio and with a new game announced, Portal designer Kim Swift says that Quantum Conundrum is a return to her roots -- a small, goofy team designing a game democratically.
Being hired out of college to design her dream game at Valve was a magnificent opportunity for game designer and Portal creator Kim Swift, but as she tells it, a rapidly growing team size was really cramping her style. "Valve has gotten a lot bigger since I’ve left," Swift told Gamasutra in a recent interview. "The company at least doubled in size while I was there, it might have even tripled." Swift's first title at the studio, Portal, was designed the way she prefers to run things: with a small, young team, by committee. But as Valve grew, so did her team size, making this approach more difficult. By the time work began on Left 4 Dead 2, that approach -- especially in the face of a one-year development cycle -- became difficult. Swift left the company in 2009 to join Dark Void developer Airtight Gamnes, taking the lead on a humble 16-person team dedicated to developing games with a wider appeal. Her first game at the studio, Quantum Conundrum, was announced earlier this year. Its mechanics (she describes it as a "first-person puzzle platformer") bring to mind Portal, and as it turns out, the development cycle does too. Swift says development on the game feels like a return to Portal, "just because we have a really small team and we’re all pretty young, and we’re kind of goofy. We give each other a lot of crap and joke around every day. "And so I really like that a lot." Lots more insight from Swift is ahead in today's Gamasutra feature.

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