Thinking With Fluff: Quantum Conundrum


When one of the original designers of Portal reveals a new game, it’s time to pay attention. Kim Swift, now of Airtight Games, has been chatting to Gamespot about her new project, Quantum Conundrum. Even the title should tell you that science remains high on the agenda. The game has you searching for your mad scientist uncle whose home, a gigantic mansion, has been converted into a series of perplexing science experiments. I don’t think there will be any neurotoxins this time around, though I have been wrong before when it comes to neurotoxins. It didn’t end well. Launch trailer and video with commentary by Kim below.

It all looks a bit confusing. If only someone could talk us through an example of how puzzles can be solved multidimensionally.

So there you have it! Huge amount of promise and the pedigree is undeniably strong. It doesn’t have the immediate ‘wowholyshitwhatmyheadhurts’ factor that Portal did, but then few things ever will. Despite that, the similarities are obvious. Puzzle rooms to traverse, boxes, buttons and lasers. That’s not a bad thing though. It’s a very good thing. I’ll be very happy indeed if Kim makes first person puzzle games about the manipulation of space for the remainder of her career. Especially if, as this suggests, they have their own unique character and charm. I won’t even mind if there aren’t neurotoxins every time. The boy rescuing his uncle plot is very family-friendly but here’s hoping the puzzles will still require a fully grown up brain.


  1. Flukie says:

    It looks interesting, I’d like to see one complicated level mind, only one though not to spoil anything.
    The second trailer does give hints to something a little more complex, not as wtf how am I gonna do this as the Portal trailers though even though that ended being faiiirly straight forward after you got the mechanics down.

  2. pakoito says:

    More experiments…for science.


  3. p4warrior says:

    What was she talking to Gamestop about? Maybe about removing coupon codes from her games?

  4. wonderpookie says:

    “You kinda wanna be there, but not really”

    Yea, basically.

  5. skinlo says:

    Don’t think I’ll be clever enough for that game.

  6. Evil Otto says:

    “here’s hoping the puzzles will still require a fully grown up brain.”

    Implying that you needed to have an adult brain to finish portal?

    • Nallen says:

      No, implying he hopes the puzzles will still require a fully grown up brain.

      Well not really implying, more stating.

      But we’re all very impressed with how clever you must be.

  7. Tei says:

    The video has destroyed any reservation I could have. It looks like a good puzzle game, head scratching and fun. I want.

  8. Matt says:

    La BOHR a tory? That’s not how an American pronounces it!

    • dsi1 says:

      Maybe if you’re an American who didn’t watch Dexter’s Laboratory.

  9. gallardo1 says:

    it’s fluffy enough for me

    • Shadowcat says:

      I loved the portrait on the wall! Fluffy dimension should have been an easter egg in Undying :)

  10. CaspianRoach says:

    This game looks awesome. And fluffy. I like my games fluffy.

  11. PodX140 says:

    Looks VERY promising, portal MKII please and thank you.

    I am wondering why valve didn’t pick this up? Enix offer a better deal? Or maybe Valve was less then amiable to work with the first time around?

    Also, she is fantastic at explaining the game. She sounded a bit nervous at first, but then treated the game as a gamer, not a presenter. I liked that.

    EDIT: Noticed a turret sound at the point where she walked into the laser room? Is that just me?

    • Man Raised by Puffins says:

      I am wondering why valve didn’t pick this up?

      Because they aren’t a publisher? In any case, the little Steam logo at the end of the trailer thoroughly puts paid to such odd speculation.

    • Malkara says:

      Uh, Valve self-publishes all their games.

    • CMaster says:

      Yeah, but self-publishing doesn’t make them a publisher of other’s works.
      I think there’s some misunderstanding though – Valve hired the Narbacular Drop team to all come work for them full time. At some point after Portal, Kim Swift walked to go work for these guys instead.

    • PetiteGreve says:

      Kim Swift left Valve in december 2009 to join Airtight Games to work : as a lead (1), with friends (2), on her own projects (3) (not just the one Valve decided to do – the other Narbacular Drop devs worked on almost all following Valve titles : HL2:Ep2/L4D1/L4D2/Alien Swarm…)

      … and also after Valve pulled her from the GDC 2009 (Game Design Challenge) 2 days before it was over, because the subject was “My first time: Sex and autobiograph”.

      We all understand Valve had to avoid a (potential) massive PR-drama caused by crazy puritanism militants (“sex is bad, blah blah no sex before marriage blah blah”), just because a new employee with only 1 (or 2.5 if you count her work on the L4D series) shipped game inhouse did a small prototype game in an almost-unknown game design contest.
      => Imagine Fox News running a week-long “coverage” on how Portal 2 is full of sexual content and promoting teenage sex and more (simply because one of its devs made a small game on her first time).

      It’s still something she may have felt like a restraining move, something preventing her from doing what she wanted to do with her life. When you’re just out of the university, you may not be ready to settle down in a company.

      So, that’s why (imo) we may not see much cooperation between Valve and Kim Swift in the near future (but keep in mind that’s just my own speculation).

    • sneetch says:


      Yeah, but they only self-publish the digital version on Steam, EA tend to publish the retail copies. The same could be happening here, Eidos might be just doing the retail and console versions and Valve are handing the digital PC one.

  12. killerkerara says:

    Using slow mo to get the safe through the lazers blew my mind. o.o

  13. Dood says:

    I get a strong Psychonatus vibe from the graphics. Which is a good thing.

  14. Muzman says:

    Cool. Any talk of what the other batteries/dimensions/powers are?
    Rubber and flip gravity would be fun.
    The prospect of four of the things plugged in at once is quite something.

  15. Miodrag Kovachevic says:

    Could this be related to the “F-Stop” version of Portal 2 Valve scrapped?

    • Vandelay says:

      F-stop was not Kim Swift’s idea and is likely to appear in a future Valve game. I doubt very much that she took it to another company. I believe her idea was time manipulation, involving rewinding and pausing objects in motion.

  16. Fumarole says:

    The prospect of four of the things plugged in at once is quite something.

    I can see this being quite the mindbender.

  17. Zenicetus says:

    Looks like fun. My only reservation might be that I like puzzle games that allow more than one way of using the tools at hand to solve a problem. This looks like it might be one of those more linear, “figure out he trick” games. With up to four dimensions available (?) in each room, maybe there will be more than one solution for some puzzles. I like the concept, and the art style.

  18. somnolentsurfer says:

    Huh. You play a kid, and the view is set low. Cute.

    Also, from the description you gave, I think you got the trailers the wrong way round…

    • Saul says:

      I think Adam as trying to bend our minds further by doing the old switcheroo on the videos…

  19. LionsPhil says:

    Hmm. Most peculiar. The latter trailer looks a little execution-difficult, rather than working-out-what-to-do difficult, as with her misdrop of the slow-motion laser-breaker, but early days.

  20. Vexing Vision says:

    It looks like I should really look forward to it. But for some reason, I can’t find myself interested. How odd.

  21. Pointy says:

    Looking good.

    So, there’s fluffy and slowmo, I wonder what other tools/dimensions will be thrown into the mix?

    My head always aches a touch when I think about what the later parts of the game may entail.
    Puzzles that start utilizing all the tricks you have been given.

    I’m thankful that Portal2 never got too full on in its later stages. I think they got the balance spot on.

    High hopes for this game.

  22. gwathdring says:

    I’ve been spoiled by Space Chem. It will take a bit of convincing for me to be interested. I want something more mind-bendy than Portal 2 singleplayer … as mind-bendy as Portal 1 felt the very first time I played it. Then again, if the gameplay has all the charm and verve the art style suggests, I might be interested anyway. We’ll see.

  23. MD says:

    Looks promising! I really hope they pull it off. Two things I’d love to see are a level editor, and a robust enough set of tools and rules and objects to allow for emergent complexity. (That sounded like I was using jargon for the sake of it, but it’s the best phrase I know of to describe what I mean.)

  24. caicaiaa says:

    Good Web for shopping online:
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  25. wu wei says:

    Infinite Vacation, anyone? :)

  26. blainestereo says:

    The game itself looks pretty promising.

    Her voice is so annoying though. I had to skip the last couple of minutes of the video because I really started to want to punch her in the larynx, and it feels so wrong to want to do that to a gal who gave us Portals.

    We really love your work, Kim, now shut the hell up!

    • MD says:

      I like her voice! But then I feel guilty because maybe it’s just that I find it attractive, and I’m a shallow easily-won idiotman.

  27. sneetch says:

    I like it.

    PS blainestereo does not speak for us, despite what he thinks.

  28. Ovno says:


  29. MOARGAN says:

    This game looks so portal-y Like, it’s so obvious it’s come from the same people.

    That said, it looks like, insanely lush.

  30. Dances to Podcasts says:

    I was a bit worried when I heard about her leaving VALVe, since it seemed like it could un-awesome Portal 2. However, if it gives us more awesome games, as this seems to be, I’m all for it. :)

  31. jackelope says:

    It’s like Portal and Psychonaughts had a fluffy baby. Might have to make this a pre-order.

  32. Thiefsie says:

    I’m worried it’s too kidsy – consoley art-style, cartoon writing etc… doctor whatever… c’mon.. portal was kind of sinister behind all the fun.. I don’t get that for this… so it’s largely unappealing apart from the puzzle slant, and yes I guess that is an intro but kind of arbitrary, need the battery for the device mechanics are a little dull, lets hope it is pulled off nicely. Looks like a combo of portal, braid, and the game where you use concurrent copies of yourself to complete tasks…

    Why is slow mo arbitrarily always available and doesn’t need a battery?

    Also she sounds like Gooch from Scrubs haha