Tom Chiu - Technical Designer/Level Designer / 901.857.6610
Tom Chiu - Patent Pending


Tom Chiu - Patent Pending Tom Chiu - Patent Pending Tom Chiu - Patent Pending Tom Chiu - Patent Pending
Tom Chiu - Patent Pending - Images Tom Chiu - Patent Pending - Level Tom Chiu - Patent Pending - Design Introspection

Overview: Patent Pending is a 30 minute single-player Portal 2 level of intermediate difficulty consisting of four chambers set in the destroyed Aperture Science facilities. Chell encounters a series of challenging tests in the overgrown chambers before the reboot of GlaDOS. With ingenuity rather than reflexes, she must tackle obstacles ranging from devastating crushers and aggressive turrets to scorching laser fields and slimy acid pools. This level won the grand prize in the Valve-sponsored contest beating out 240 other entries and was downloaded over 30,000 times with a five out of five user rating.

Design Goals:

  • Design challenging but easy-to-execute puzzles
  • Make interesting reuse of space and mechanics
  • Break up geometric patterns with organic imperfections
  • Immerse the player with a dynamic environment

Mission Type: Single-player stand-alone

Play Time: ~30 minutes


  • Concept and design
  • Building the blockmesh
  • Gameplay scripting
  • Detailing
  • Lighting & FX

Development Time: 3 weeks (45 hrs/week)





Arrival Elevator: The info panels turn on in groups of three to five to simulate a power-up of an old facility. The sequence reminds the player that he is running through an abandoned experiment.


The Tune-Up Chamber: The first chamber eases the player in with a linear puzzle. The initial line-of-sight presents the player with the objective (exit door), the final piece (the button), and the tool to solve the puzzle (hard light surface).


The Cave-In: After each puzzle chamber, the level rewards the player with visually appealing transitions such as this cave-in.


Turret Bowling: In a change of gameplay style, the level has the player knocking over the turrets by flinging the cube at them.


Prepping the Catapult: The player encounters two buttons he must activate simultaneously. He learns to launch cubes at the same time by setting them on a light bridge first. The fun of the puzzle comes from setting up the domino effect.


Dynamic Environment: Throughout the level, the player encounters falling tiles, breaking cables, dripping water, quakes, and other signs of a decayed facility.


The Cubicle: The player must figure out how to extract the reflector cube from this room. The multitude of windows here provide a clear view of the tools at his disposal.


A Subtle Hint: The break of the white tiles by the metal lining give the observant player a hint on how to solve the puzzle.


Detailed Transitions: Many detailed areas such as this one reside in the transitions where gameplay is minimal. This design style immerses the player with diverse visuals while keeping the main puzzle areas clean of rubble and foliage that will hinder the player.


Artificial Lighting: This puzzle chamber directs the player to the first step of the puzzle by accenting the cube dispenser with artificial aqua lighting.


Final Crossing: The level cools the player down from a challenging puzzle with a simple crossing of a slime pool with an excursion funnel.


Full Playthrough