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Portal’s Kim Swift reveals Quantum Conundrum

Portal was fantastic, and much of that credit lies with Valve’s creation of the universe and characters of the world. That said, as important as GLaDOS, Chell, and the Companion Cube were, the portals themselves—and the mechanics and physics of them—are what really made the game. The concept of puzzling with portals comes from Kim Swift’s Nebtacular Drop, a student project that preceded Portal by several years. After working with Valve as the lead designer on Portal she left to join Airtight Games, and has now revealed her next project: Quantum Conundrum. It’s a first-person puzzler that sounds… well, it sounds a little like Portal.

Players in Quantum Conundrum will be traveling between dimensions using the Interdimensional Shift Device (no, not the Portal gun) to solve puzzles in a mad scientist’s (no, not GLaDOS) laboratory. But these dimensions aren’t like our own; they each have different properties that allow unique interactions. Everything is lighter and easier to manipulate in the “fluffy dimension,” for instance, letting the player move objects they couldn’t otherwise move.  The “slow-motion dimension” has similar, practical uses, like allowing players to decelerate fast-moving objects. In a demonstration of the game, Kim Swift had to stop a laser that was keeping her from progressing to the next area. She was able to block it with a box, but the laser was a few feet in the air, so she was unable to keep it blocked long enough to advance. By switching to the slow-motion dimension she could throw the box into place and turn on the slow-mo, giving her plenty of time to complete her tasks as the box slowly fell through the laser’s path.  

 The possibilities honestly appear endless, and the general gameplay concept seems as strong—if not stronger—than Portal’s, something we didn’t expect to say anytime soon. Quantum Conundrum is said to be four to six hours long and is scheduled for an early 2012 release for PC, PSN, and Xbox Live. Considering it’s being developed outside of dimension that runs in “Valve Time,” we expect that they might actually hit that release window, too.

Aug 26, 2011

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