While visiting Valve a couple of weeks back, and shortly after completing Portal, I had the opportunity to natter with two of the leads on the game, Kim Swift and Jeep Barnett. We discussed the story – and the glee – of their arrival at Valve, how it was fitting in and creating their first professional game, and, as you might expect, Weighted Companion Cubes. (We’re assuming you’ve already finished Portal here, spoiler chums).
RPS: Tell us about that day when Valve visited the Digipen expo.
Kim Swift: Every year Digipen holds an expo for graduating seniors, and all of us on the Portal team were all going to school together. And we made a game called Narbacular Drop for our senior project. During the expo, Digipen grabs a whole bunch of developers from across the country to come in and take a look at student’s projects. A couple of people from Valve came by and took a look at our game, and first they told us everything that we did wrong with it. But then at the end they said, “This is an interesting concept,” and gave us some business cards. We called them back, and they invited us in to show the game to a bunch of employees here at Valve, as well as Gabe Newell, and after about fifteen minutes through our presentation Gabe stopped everyone in the room from talking and asked us what we were going to do after we graduate. And offered us a job to come in and make Portal. So we immediately said, “Oh my God, are you kidding? Yes!” We went outside and stared at each other for about twenty, thirty minutes, just not believing our luck.