Kim Swift, designer of Portal and Left 4 Dead, was just not cut out for working at the swiftly-growing Valve, she explained to Gamasutra last week. The increasing team sizes and tightening deadlines clashed with her preference for a democratic design process that lets everyone "have a say in what they work on" and for small teams with a "fun, almost family-like atmosphere."
The more relaxed atmosphere of her sixteen-person team at Square Enix's Airtight Games is letting Swift and her team find the fun in their upcoming physics platformer Quantum Conundrum.
Swift explained a great deal about Quantum Conundrum, a game where players must switch between different dimensions that each have different physical properties that enable them to solve puzzles. For instance, there is a "fluffy" dimension where gravity is very weak, and a "slow-motion" dimension.
It's an interesting interview, and provides insights into how Swift is building levels like paintings, using lighting and leading lines to direct players' attention toward the clues they need to solve the puzzles. It's the same approach Swift and Valve used with Portal. Swift acknowledged the Portal comparisons are inevitable, but pointed out, "Well, these are the kinds of games that I like to play, and therefore they're the games that I like to make!"