Thursday, December 31, 2009

Being Resolute

So today is the last day in the office this year! I'm excited to see what happens in the coming decade. I'm sure there will be cases to solve and news to uncover, but we'll get to that eventually. Here's the final bit of information for 2009.

-- Extra Holiday Puzzle Solution --
The whole puzzle is solved using [ homophones and homographs ]
you need to [ replace the quoted words with a different, relevant word ]

looks like "crying" + sounds like "metal rock"
- this first one uses the 'looks like' to cue us that it is a [ homograph/heterophone (same spelling, different pronounciation) ]
Here we can replace [ "crying" with tear" ] but we know from above that we need to [ change the pronunciation, in this case to 'târ' (vs. 'tîr')]
next you replace [ metal rock with ore ] the clue tells us to [ ignore the spelling and focus on the pronunciation (homophone/heterograph)]
If we combine the two sounds you get [ terror (tear + ore) ]

sounds like "oldye tyme hotel"
- following the steps above we can discern that this is [ inn ] and from it we take only [ pronunciation ] giving us the second word [ in ]

sounds like "you from long ago"
- if we replace the quoted word with [ thee ] we'll easily be able to hear what we're supposed to get, [ the ]

looks and sounds like "a man tagged" + looks and sounds like "a-ventral"
- both of these final words should [ be spelled and pronounced ] as their replaced counterparts. 'A man tagged' is often [ out (as in baseball) ] and though 'a-ventral' isn't a real word, we can deduce its meaning as "not ventral" or [ dorsal, which may sometimes be referred to as the "back" ] Combine the two sounds and you get the final word [ outback ]

string it all together aaaaaaand....
[ Terror in the Outback ]


Don't get too excited, as I'll freely admit to trolling the forums for this one. Though I'll neither confirm nor deny any inside info I have on its existence or otherwise. :P

I hope you've had some good fun this past year. I'd be delighted to entertain you in the coming future-times. Please stop back on by in this next decade, we'd love to see you again. ^.~

- Novel (out) -

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Opening presents and present openings

With much of the office on "vay-kay" and a few on the sidelines with illness (myself included) you'd be surprised at the stillness settling in the HI headquarters. I thought it might be nice to say a little bit about the wonderful workers in our office who have labored through the holidays.

With a company like ours, small that is, you'll notice that many of our employees get to wear mulitple "job" hats. This is most apparent during the winter holidays. With so many employees out of the office, the few who continue working often take over more responsibilities to help cover those in absence. For instance, our QA lead has been handling a large volume of Tech Support duties in addition to her testing work. Even our Administrative Assistant is up to his ears with not only Customer Service and Tech Support, but also in helping our Sales department. Yipes!

I've got to applaud these hard working employees (and all the ones I didn't mention,) they keep us up and running when the rest of the company is out. As you can imagine it's no easy task, but it's nice to know that someone is here keeping the home fires burning. S' a good feeling. Thanks to everyone who's helped out!

I see the extra holiday puzzle was indeed solved. I'll provide the steps to solving it tomorrow. Congrats to those of you who worked hard to complete it.

We'll see ya soon!

- Novel (-5) -

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Wishes and Thoughts

Hey everyone,

Just wanted to wish you all a great holiday! We've had a wonderful year making the Nancy Drew games and I wanted to thank all of you for hanging out and participating. You've made the experience that much more magnificent. Enjoy all the cheer and celebration of the coming days. We'll see you soon.

- Novel -

p.s. I'm sneaking in a puzzle. It's total fluff though, but I think everyone will appreciate it.

-- Extra Holiday Puzzle --

looks like "crying" + sounds like "metal rock"
sounds like "oldye tyme hotel"
sounds like "you from long ago"
looks and sounds like "a man tagged" + looks and sounds like "a-ventral"

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Contests Queued

So we've decided to run a contest next month. I can't really release any details (mostly cause we don't have them yet.) I was hoping I could solicit you all into giving me some input on the contests we run. In the past there was a gamut of contests, from trivia sweepstakes to essay challenges, we've had some great variety.

What was your favorite contest? and why?
What would you like to see in the future?

You can post your answers as comments here or start a thread on the MB if you feel so inclined. :P Who knows, maybe this new contest will be right up your alley.

Hasta luego!

- Novel -

Monday, December 21, 2009

Days Down

The office is really empty, what with Christmas occurring this fine Friday. Still, we're finding ways to occupy ourselves. Mostly meetings and pizza... :P

I noticed that the puzzle was solved already, that's great! I'll go ahead and list the steps.

-- Answer for Puzzle #35 --

First you'll need to [ assign one clue to each picture ], this can be done "somewhat" through process of elimination. The order is as follows (from right to left, top to bottom) [ Picture 1 = Clue 4, Picture 2 = Clue 2, Picture 3 = Clue 1, Picture 4 = Clue 3 ]

Now you solve for each clue.
Picture 1 [ you would name either Hardy ]
Picture 2 [ a young horse is a foal ]
Picture 3 [ the images in this picture rhyme ]
Picture 4 [ this is a picture of a hippo ]

Now if you rearrange the letters in [ Hardy, foal, rhyme, hippo ] you can spell
[ Happy Holidays from HER ]


I hope you enjoyed the puzzle, I'm going to try to have one made by Wednesday. Either way, I'm here till then, so stop on by the 'ole blog-o-sphere, and we'll see if we can't stir up some fun.

- Novel -

Friday, December 18, 2009

Puzzle 35

I hope everyone had a great week, here's a little mind bender for you to play with over the weekend. Enjoy!

-- Puzzle 35 --

Use the clues to solve each picture, then scramble them to make a phrase.

1) What does this picture do?
2) What is a young one?
3) What is this a picture of?
4) What would you name either of these?


Good luck!

- Novel -

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Working Out

It would seem some of the office has already begun to head towards the home front for holiday festivities. Still rolling on our sugar-high from yesterday's cookie explosion, some of us are playing a few roles. You may have noticed my cadence on the tweets today, expect more of it. ;)

But what's really going down in HI? Clean up. Yup just like I mentioned last week, the final year-end grind continues. S' hard to start new projects with merriment on the way. Still, whispers of TOT drift down the cube-space every now and then. There's talk of tornadoes... And I believe... questions of whether or not any one has actually seen one. Well? have you? :P

I said I'd reveal the puzzle, so here it is, in all its majesty.

-- Answer to Puzzle #34 --


The first thing to know is [ you'll be changing the numbers to letters of the alphabet ]
Start at the beginning [ T = 20th letter of the alphabet ] next you'll [ count 14 letters past T, if you hit Z, just wrap back around to A (and vice versa) ] The next number equals [ H ] and so [ 23 letters beyond H is E ] This makes our first word [ The ].

Instead of starting anew with each word, you'll carry on from [ the last letter you made, in this case E ] An important thing to understand is [ every time you encounter a vowel, reverse the direction of your count ] So for 13 you'll [ count up from E to get R ].

Continue in this manner [
reversing counting direction every time you hit a vowel ] until you've solved the puzzle. Once you've solved for all the numbers, you'll read the phrase:

The ransom suspect hardly said anything of note ]


See you all tomorrow, with a brand new puzzle to boot!

- Novel -

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Cookies

So today was the office cookie contest! There were quite a few exquisite entries; orange cardamom sugar cookies, butterscotch chocolate chip, toffee almond chocolate squares. Ah well, you get the picture. Needless to say, we're all about ready to burst. I managed to grab a few photos, check 'em out below.

A winner hasn't been chosen just yet, but my money is on those sugar cookies. :P Besides, they all were pretty excellent in my book.

We'll catch up tomorrow. TTFN

- Novel -

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Missing One

Hiyo! I hope everyone had a great weekend (mine was a teensy-bit extended, as you no doubt noticed) but we've already had a busy beginning to the week!

I'm not sure if you all know this or not, but we actually sell the music from our games in compilations [Music for Mysteries]. Each compilation contains the musical scores from ~5 or so games. Anywho, we have now released Volumes 1-4 (previously we just had 3 and 4).

It's pretty cool to be able to provide these little extras. I know sometimes we show off concept art from our games, but I'd love to see us do some designer/artist commentary. I'm totally partial to director's commentary. I love hearing about the passion behind a great game [ or movie ;) ] Of the many extra features you've seen for games (or other media) what do you like best?

I am very impressed that the puzzle was solved! Great job to everyone who worked on it. I'll post the solution steps in the coming days. Kudos till then!

- Novel -

Friday, December 11, 2009

Chilling Out

Weekends! We've wrapped up few important things this week, and many of the teams are working on closing out projects before the new year ends:

Design is finishing up phase 2 of Trail of the Twister. I haven't seen much more than pen-and-paper concepts, but even those play great!

Art is working on completing their first milestone for TOT art. Usually this means outside environments or exteriors, and some puzzles. They've been working a lot, but we haven't been able to sneak any peeks just yet.

Production is also wrapping up the first few pieces of TOT. Usually this includes building one or two puzzles, and a few environment scenes. (They're always limited by art and design though. :P)

Marketing of course is dragging its heels, we're still talking WAC and RED, just in case there was some buzz you missed. But hey we've also been working on a few end of the year specials (not to mention newsletters!) Besides, someone's gotta stop and chat with you all. ^.~

Well, stay groovy!

- Novel -

Ohhhhhh! The Puzzle! That's my favorite part of Friday. Okay. Seeing as you still haven't solved #34, I've received a hint for it. Check it out:

-- Hint for Puzzle #34 --

"I've solved a few letters to help get you on your way. Good luck."



Thursday, December 10, 2009

Warming Up to the Idea

For the fourth day in the week I only have a small bit of news, but I do have a rather serious question. ^.~

We're doing a special for WAC, which is pretty sweet. Also we should have a newsletter popping up sometime tomorrow, so keep an eye out for that.

So next week we're going to have a bit of holiday fun... we're having a cookie contest! Now I've got a few ideas (Peanut butter chocolate chip, Snicker-doodles, etc.) but I think the competition is going be pretty good. I figure with your combined knowledge, you all could give me some great suggestions! So, know any amazing cookie recipes?

- Novel -

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Staying Surprised

I thought I'd share another holiday photo with you today. This is one is from our spirited QA Lead. (that's short for Quality Assurance) She's certainly gotten in to the swing of the holiday cheer.

Ya know, she's responsible for all of the testing we do here. She's played through our entire library of games many times over. In fact she often gets the chance to see many of them well before we do! It's a tough job, but someone's got to make sure that they work as intended. :P

We'll be putting up a new special tomorrow on the homepage, be sure to check it out.

- Novel -

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Excess Heights

Somehow we've held onto the sun. Maybe for a couple days more. Though I'm jealous of those with snow. I happen to hold a fond fascination of those unique white flakes. Who knows...

It's been a slow news day here at the head quarters. I think the winter does that; a bit of secrecy surrounds the holidays, and with it a lot of people quietly plot when they can. The office is busy, but quiet, I've seen none of the usual wanderings of artists or programmers, or even "marketeers." We've all got our heads down (or perhaps up in the clouds) with plans for the coming weeks. But maybe that's the kind of day we should all have, one of quiet contemplation. It's a good choice for those chilly, but sun-filled, December moments.

And for further inspection, I give you today's hint for puzzle #34!

-- Hint for #34 --

"It revolves around the alphabet, but knowing when to rise or fall is not a consequence of consonants. "


Cheers, yall!

- Novel -

Monday, December 7, 2009


I hope everyone had a good weekend. It was fairly uneventful here in the NW, but with the holidays just around the bend, I expect things will liven up soon.

My lovely co-worker would be pleased as punch if I linked to her survey, so check it out: "HI Customer Satisfaction Survey 09" It's a good place to give us your thoughts if you've got time to fill it out.

I'm going to give everyone another day before giving a puzzle hint. Times are busy around now, so I'll give you just a bit more time before I spoil anything.

There's going to be a new newsletter coming out pretty soon. In the drafts I've seen, it'll have some excellent shopping suggestions, be sure to keep an eye out for that.

Ahh, the week is just beginning!

- Novel -

Friday, December 4, 2009

Puzzle 34

Eeeep it's already quite late. No, I didn't forget, we've just been extra busy. Would you believe there's already some puzzle testing is going on for ND22? I haven't had a chance to sneak behind closed doors, but I'll see if designer Cathy is willing to give me some hints.

This one is extra tricky, but I have no doubt that you can solve it by Monday.

-- Puzzle 34 --



Good luck everyone, and have a great weekend!

-Novel -

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Registering a Hit

Looks like another day of sun here on the West Coast! It's been a good start to December, let's see if the great weather keeps up. It has gotten quite a bit colder though. Maybe we're looking at the beginnings of a "white Christmas" here. Are you hoping for one as well?

I've been compiling some data for a survey, and yes it is as totally boring as it sounds. However it got me thinking about some things, game registration in particular. Did you know we use registration data for a whole caboodle of things? We have various staff members who can analyze all the data and translate into a variety useful info. Understanding certain trends or collecting a pool of users to survey is just the tip of the iceberg. It's pretty fancy. Another thing that we use it for is Beta tester selection, which is a pretty standard practice for games companies nowadays. And here you thought typing in all that info didn't do a single thing. :P

- Novel (2x12) -

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Slim Pic'n

There was sun today. Glorious is a good word to describe it. When the skies are blue, the office is not. People were busy, there was a much needed hacky-sack break, and all around good spirits. Speaking of which, I've got a picture for ya...

There's nothing wrong with a little holiday spirit in your cubicle decorations. I suppose now's the time to start stringing up the lights, eh?

-- Puzzle 33 Solution --

This puzzle is solved by completing two steps.
Step One
is finding the hidden words in the scramble: [ Honest, Fracas, Cowherd ] While the numbers at the bottom of the puzzle appear to [ relate to the length of the three words ] it actually [ sets the bounds for applicable code words (between 5-7 letters only) ]
Step Two is rearranging the letters of the code words to create [ Secret of Shadow Ranch ]


If you're wondering about the image I posted yesterday, it's the start of a floor plan for the Royal Palladium. That's right, the theatre from The Final Scene (one of my personal favorites.) We've been working on a strategy guide for that game. Does this mean some of the early titles might also see some hints and tips in the future? You can count on it!

Ciao, for now.

- Novel -

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Laying Out the Gifts

So we've posted a new promotion for the next couple of weeks. Check it out on our homepage if you haven't already. Transporte libre es bueno! We'll be disclosing some more promos as the year comes to an end.

I haven't forgotten about showing the solution for Puzzle 33... I've just yet to be given the key. :P I'll have that lined up for you by tomorrow's blog, promise.

For today though I thought I'd give you a little preview of some work we've been doing. I managed to snag this shot during a bit of a break.

Yeah, it is an odd illustration. What you see is the barest beginnings of a map, the rough outlines of what will become an architectural schematic of sorts. For some of you this might appear slightly familiar... think you can guess what it's from? I'll post the answer tomorrow. Till then, "keep it easy."

- Novel (XXV) -