Thursday, January 31, 2013

Spiders on the Desk

I was minding my own business, I promise, when something moved in the corner of my eye. I jumped a little when I finally noticed the little spider crawling passed my left hand up to the phone cord, and paused long enough for me to rescue my nearby phone and snap a photo.

I don't know about you, but I'm not a fan of spiders being indoors, let alone near me. These guys sneak in every now and then, along with bees in the summer and other little insects. One time our Sales Manager nearly tore up her desk getting away from a flying beetle buzzing around...we took it out with spray cleaner. Another time our Director of Sales screamed out as a spider scurried over her computer keyboard next to her fingers. (>.<) Horrific!

I may be complaining here, but I wish that the cute otters outside (that swam by today), or the beaver down the river would come and pay us some regular visits to our office....rather than little today's spider. XD

~Little Jackalope~

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesday Treats

After staring at gummy bears all day (small project that I'm working on), I had to rest my eyes for a bit and decided to venture in the office kitchen to study the current table puzzle we are working on. A few moments later our Lead Tester and Designer come in with a treat: microwave smores!!! Since they were so nice, they offered me one as well...

It was amazing. The office folk get pretty creative about their snacks...I suppose it's something we secretly pride ourselves on. After all, a good detective, or artist, or programmer, or anybody could use a little mid-day pick-me-up. (And if you are another Her Interactive team member reading this, just so you know: this was a once-time special...'cause I may or may not have snuck into their desk and confiscated the remaining smore ingredients after they left for the day).

Twitter Quote Contest today! Head over to Twitter and reply to our tweet for a chance to win a digital guide!
~Little Jackalope~

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Naming GTH

Last July (2012) members from each department, along with the design team, sat down in a very important brainstorm meeting: the naming of ND#28 Ghost of Thornton Hall. This meeting was only to get a feel and better understanding of what was going to happen in the story, and then play around with different key words and possibly even some different title ideas. The meeting would end with everyone still thinking, because it would be a couple more weeks' process before we decided on an actual, solid title.

Some of the key words that were thought up and written on our conference room whiteboard included "terror", "spirit", "legend", along with the classic key words like "haunting", "secret" and "shadow". I can't share with you the rest of the key words because they hint at what happens in the game, or what can be found at the Hall.

It's super exciting getting to be a part of this history! I can barely contain my excitement over sharing this game with you, but it's still really early in the build process...more behind-the-scenes info to come later!

~Little Jackalope~

Monday, January 28, 2013

Nancy's Wardrobe

Over the weekend I impersonated a spy....or someone...stole a sapphire and bugged a pigeon. As in fed the pigeon a tracking device. If you guessed correctly, you'd know I've been playing The Phantom of Venice.

The game, as well as some projects I've been working along with some snooping through art files here in the office led me to ponder Nancy's wardrobe. At times we see her clothes in an old suitcase, or hear what she's wearing (like her flouncy dress in Secret of the Old Clock) and a few times we also get to dress her up, like in VEN.

Here's my question for you: what sort of outfit do you imagine Nancy wearing regularly? Does it vary from game to game (or book to book)? Do you prefer she wear a 1940s dress or a plaid skirt or khaki pants with a lovely blouse? Is she a sneakers kind of girl, or does she wear ballet flats? I'd love to hear your comments!

Ah yes, the weekend puzzle... From the looks of it, many of you were able to figure out this drop-quote puzzle that can be found in The Captive Curse or Alibi in Ashes. But it appears that the second part of the puzzle (the numbers below) may have stumped a few of you. Here's the solution: [It's an Ottendorf, or better known, a book cipher]. Here's the jist of it all: figure out by process of elimination what letters above are to be dropped down into the empty spaces to create full sentences. The cipher below works like this: [count the line, then the word, then the letter in that word]. Once you complete your deciphering, the end answer should be [Look above door]. A reference to something specific in Ghost of Thornton Hall.

~Little Jackalope~

Friday, January 25, 2013

Weekend Puzzle #182

Happy Friday! Here at the office we prepare for the weekend with lunchtime boardgames, and today in particular would involve a small team running a spaceship to defend the galaxy. Later, after working on our projects, I plan on sneaking into the game build for GTH and then snooping through the top secret project files of ND#29 (oh yes, our Design team has long ago started on this one, as mentioned in Cathy's interview video on YouTube here.)

I hope you all get to start off the weekend right as well, and to add to your plans, here I present you with the weekend puzzle...just a little something for you to have fun with and ponder over these next few days. Enjoy sleuths!

(Click on the image for a larger view)
(Oh, and don't forget to answer the poll question on the right. I'd love to hear who you prefer most!) :) 
*Edited: I nearly forgot about Erin!
~Little Jackalope~

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Interview with Creative Director, Tim!

The first revealed hint from the past blog post 13 hints for 2013 has been revealed today! #5 on the list, "Director" was a reference to our Creative Director, Tim.

Today we posted a video interview of this long-term Her Interactive artist who has worked on every Nancy Drew game to our YouTube Channel. Enjoy!

Here's a tip for you: the next to be revealed will *likely be #3.
~Little Jackalope~

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Awards, Trophies and Badges

We have gone through many end-game awards over the years. At first, we were left to feel proud of ourselves over the accomplished game, which, after the closing letter, would drop us into the end credits. But when we made The Haunted Carousel, we added something a little extra to say "Well done!"

Game awards!

Because of Nancy's subscription to "Sassy Detective" magazine, we tied in the "Sassy Detective Awards" that awarded you a digital certificate named after what you were best at or did the most of when solving the case, like solving puzzles, calling friends, finding Easter Eggs, etc.

Later, in Legend of the Crystal Skull, we changed it up to a list, so that you can read all of the awards you can possibly get. The ones you earn would be checked off. Also, in the end credits would appear a detective's badge (either Junior or Senior) with as many stars as awards you earned.

And now, we have reached my favorite award: In The Deadly Device, at the end of the game you get special trophies that light up when you achieve it. I find this the most beautiful display of awards we've had yet, but that's just my opinion. XD

Are you good at remembering character's quotes from the games? Try identifying this week's Twitter Quote in today's contest!
~Little Jackalope~

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Historical Reference: Theatre

We have a Caption Contest winner! After the judges read through all comments on Facebook, it was narrowed down to Rachael G. of Australia for her caption:

Gray: "So you don't think wrapping ourselves in foil and paper clips to create little faraday suits would protect us?"

Congrats Rachael! (Thanks for participating, everyone! Stay tuned for more caption contests in the future!)

I continued to do some archive-digging today and found some interesting things in our art folders. Our artists always start out with some direction from our design team, and then reference real images and items and places before they begin on the artwork for the game. This way it adds to the realism of the environment. I can't show you too much of what we are referencing here for Ghost of Thornton Hall, but I can show you some photos from the past.

Check it out! As one of our many references that we collected for creating the theatre in The Final Scene, we looked at the American Conservatory here:

I thought this looked really cool! I researched a little more on this gorgeous theatre to compare to our game, and the Royal Palladium looks like it's falling apart compared to its awesome reference. Can you imagine sitting in the house as a guest of a terrific show here?

Head's up! New poll on your right -->
~Little Jackalope~

Monday, January 21, 2013

Super Early Testing for GTH

Today hits the mark as the first day that we begin some serious testing for Nancy Drew: Ghost of Thornton Hall! We brought in our full-time testers today because we now have a "playable" game build. There is a 75% chance that the game will crash on you if you try doing something (like play a puzzle) before you are supposed to. There are still a gazillion bugs and lots of incomplete art in the game, but at least it's stubbed and there are placeholders to pretend with, for the time being.

~Sneaking on to the testing game build~ 

An example would be a male character in GTH...when he's done talking and moving, a female character appears in his place. Then, when you ask "him" a question, you see him animate again. Little things like this are all over Thornton Hall. Character appear, then reappear.

This week, we are bringing in our regular Focus Group testers to try out a few of our puzzles... I wonder what Designer Cathy has in store for them this time....ok. Now I HAVE to go snooping through the game build! My lips are sealed.

Speaking of sealed lips, I suppose I dropped a big hint to the location of GTH in the weekend puzzle. The half-hidden letters in the weekend puzzle spell out [The Deep South]. Yep. It's true. of the 13 hints from 2013 will be answered soon, likely Thursday. (It's #5).
~Little Jackalope~

Friday, January 18, 2013

Weekend Puzzle #181

Today we had a special top-secret meeting concerning certain artwork for the future. We discussed the game and briefly talked about the story, the characters, location and specific relevant images to the game that we could use in this art. I will elaborate a little more on this later. For now, enjoy this puzzle concerning Ghost of Thornton Hall below...

Oh, wait! If you have a Facebook account, head over to our page and post your most creative caption to the photo for a chance to win an embossing plate that was used for Tomb of the Lost Queen. (See the previous post this week for more in-depth detail on this historical prize!) Contest ends Monday!

 ~Little Jackalope~

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Embossing the Box Art

If you have ever purchased one of our games in a retail store, chances are the game came with a cardboard box wrap-around...or, as we call them in our office, an "O-card".

If you tilt the box in the light, and rub your finger over the front, you can see and feel the bumps of the raised image (or "relief"). This process is called embossing, and creates a sort of new dimension to the illustration.

Here we have one of the embossing plates used for this process. When we press the card stock (that is to become the box) in between these two plates and apply pressure, the card stock is then imprinted and voila! You are left with a marvelous box design! Note: This plate in particular is one of the few that actually embossed the boxes. There is a chance that this very one embossed your game!

~Little Jackalope~

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Designing a Room: Abby

I was digging through our art archives again (still one of my favorite pastimes) and came across some art I did not recognize in Message in a Haunted Mansion, so of course, I'm sharing. (^.^)

Check it out! Some early room designs for Abby Sideris! The first two, of course, were design ideas that didn't make the cut. The last one was the final choice, and what you see in the game.

The first seems like a room Nancy would stay in; it's pretty, simple and charming. The second looks more like a traditional country bedroom...or maybe even a Victorian-themed room which would be appropriate for the house. I personally like the last design, it best suits Abby with its dark purples and night-sky feel. Quite celestial!

Twitter quote contest is going on now, head over and participate for a chance to win a Message in a Haunted Mansion digital guide!

Also, new poll on your right!
~Little Jackalope~

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Outside Our Office

The past couple of days here at Her Interactive have been a bit interesting. The landscaping team outside of our office have been tidying up the shrubbery and trimming the tree branches back around the building we reside in, every tree outside our window has been shaved half-way up, and now the view from our window has been greatly kind of feels like a fishbowl...and it's very different...

However, several team members caught sight of some wildlife today!

According to one of our bird experts, Designer Cathy, this is a Double-Crested Cormorant. And he was just sitting there on that branch flapping his wings ever so slightly for the longest time.
I'm not sure if we will be seeing less or more wildlife since the shrubbery is now gone...We'll see!

~Little Jackalope~

Monday, January 14, 2013

Free Digital Guides!

Because we appreciate our fans, starting today we are giving every one a free digital strategy guide for the digital game they purchase! WHOO-HOO!!! So if you purchase, say for example, Shadow at the Water's Edge digital download, you will automatically receive the digital strategy guide to go with...which can come in handy when trying to solve the giant Sudoku puzzle. (>.<) Enjoy!

As for the weekend puzzle riddle, it looks like, after a few hours of hard thinking, you solved it! Congratulations!

Here's the reveal:

You've seen me several times as you pass by
(You really can pass by several times, if you choose that path).
But never acknowledged me. I wonder why... ( can't talk to it of course...)
I'm surrounded by fellow friends (Framed pictures of other people).
Half-way between us our link ends. 
(The stairs split in half at the top and bottom, separating the collection of pictures).
To your right, I'm not much to see,
(When going downstairs, you can't see much of this painting on your right side).
To your left I gaze intently.
(When climbing upstairs, you can see this painting on your left).
It's quiet on this side, except when you are near 
(On this side of the stairs, there is no creaky steps, and the whispering happens only when you climb this side.)
Half-way up, it's my voice you will hear (Enough said. XD)
Only once, maybe twice... 
(You really only hear it once....but it makes you wonder if he will whisper again each time you come close).
I only mean to surprise (It's a scare in this game)

Tick-tock, creaking floor
(The sounds of this room: the grandfather clock, and the creaky steps on the staircase).
Remember my path, you'll pass once more.
(You will have to climb the stairs on this side at least one more time before you finish the game).

What am I? 
(The blinking portrait on the wall of the left staircase in Message in a Haunted Mansion).

~Little Jackalope~

Friday, January 11, 2013

Weekend Puzzle #180

Hey howdy hey all! I have been out sick these past days, and this weekend's planned puzzle will have to wait until later. Instead, I present to you a sort of riddle to puzzle your brains with until Monday.

You've seen me several times as you pass by
But never acknowledged me. I wonder why...
I'm surrounded by fellow friends
Half-way between us our link ends.
To your right, I'm not much to see,
To your left I gaze intently.
It's quiet on this side, except when you are near
Half-way up, it's my voice you will hear
Only once, maybe twice...
I only mean to surprise

Tick-tock, creaking floor
Remember my path, you'll pass once more.

What am I?

~Little Jackalope~

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Sudden Decision

We had another top-secret walk-through meeting today for Ghost of Thornton Hall. I'll try not to spoil it for you, but a small mention came up of a few second chances that we have done in the past. This instance is where you, as Nancy Drew, must make a quick-second decision to... well... do something.

A couple of examples that came to my mind were the ones from The Final Scene and The Haunted Carousel.

In The Final Scene, there is a moment where you are walking back stage and you see dust falling from above as you hear something coming from that direction. You are left with a few decisions: continue forward, stay put, look up, or move backwards. If you don't move fast enough, your head will soon be hurting and it's lights-out Nancy.

Same thing in The Haunted Carousel; you receive a note to arrive downstairs, but it's a dead-end. At this point something big from above comes flying down at you!!

Perhaps a word of advice to culprits and villains in the future: when it comes to Nancy, giving her a 2-second warning does not improve your chances of hurting her. Giving her a smack on the head from behind is more risky, but definitely a more accurate, and guaranteed hit.

Also, Happy 18th birthday to Andreea!!!

~Little Jackalope~

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Koko Mallos Krazy

I was looking through our merchandise store and realized that I had not discussed my absolute favorite image in there.

Koko Mallos!! Oh how I wish they were real...I already love marshmallows and these became a natural favorite when Ryan had me fetch some from the candy case in The Deadly Device. I just had to make sure that everyone else who was a fan could at least get these images on the products in the merchandise store.

Here are a few examples:

~The iPad design, T-shirt design and the mugs~

It especially looks great on the pillowcase; it's so very colorful!
...and since I was in the sugar type of mood, that's what this week's poll is about...Nancy Drew treats. (~.^) (See poll to the right of this page).
~Little Jackalope~

Monday, January 7, 2013

13 hints for 2013

Welcome back Monday! Oh how I have missed Mondays...when we re-start our projects with fresh eyes and re-focus our thoughts and hands on the tasks before us. Yes, I'm a nerd. XD

Let's start off the week with the puzzle solution. From the discussions I read of your progress on the message boards, it looks like you did indeed solve it, yet a few continued to search for something...more meaningful. And I don't blame you, but you can add the answer to the next weekend puzzle. ;) I suppose it's safe to say that the next few puzzles will all be related to each other through one description...and here at Her Interactive....this description is coming from our perspective.

Now did that make any sense? :-/
Anyways, the solution is to find those blog posts by the titles, locate the image in that post, and find the first letter in that image. Your final step will be to solve the anagram. Voila! I'll leave you to it. (~.^)

Although I can't predict the future, I do know a few things that we have been planning, and I thought I'd share my top 13 hints for this year. Please note: these may or may not directly mean what you first think....

~Little Jackalope~

Friday, January 4, 2013

First Puzzle of 2013! #179

Well, that was a rather short first week here in the office (only 3 days!). We have already had some interesting things happen here in such a short time, like for example, one of our microwaves went up and died. Here it is under operation by our IT specialist:

And here is your puzzle, this one concerns our next game:

I Spy With My Little Eyes… = 12
The Characters of The Deadly Device = 11
Secrets and Meetings = 1
Enjoying Yellow Chicks = 1
Pumpkin Carving Contest!! = 8
File Formats = 1

I'm curious to see if you can solve this without directions. ;)


~Little Jackalope~

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Look Back at 2012

With the start of a new year, it's always fun and interesting to take a look back at the momentous events and other things that are worth remembering. Here's a brief summary of all of our highlights:

New Merchandise store!
In March, we added a merchandise store where you can go in and select a product and then design for yourself whatever Nancy Drew images you like on that item. (Stay tuned in 2013 for more images!)

International Game Shipping
With the move to a new digital store, we were happy to make our products available to our international fans!

Game Launches
We released Tomb of the Lost Queen and The Deadly Device!

New Social Sites
We now have Pinterest and Tumblr pages. (Follow us and share fun pictures and quotes and everything Nancy Drew!)

Intern Videos
Phoenix started video blogging and sharing fun behind-the-scenes content and interviews. Watch them now on our YouTube Channel!

Amateur Sleuth
Little Jackalope (me) began adding videos of the latest news along with a fun Halloween Snooping video. (Check them all out on our YouTube Channel here!)

Fun Contests
We've had Caption Contests on Facebook, Twitter Trivia and Quote Contests, a Pumpkin Carving Contest, TXT Challenge #3, and the Adventure Matters Contest where the winner got to pick the location to the 30th Nancy Drew game!

There were many other little things we have accomplished over the course of 2012, but if you would like to stay updated on all the new things for 2013, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube, subscribe to our Newsletter, and of course, for the most in-depth descriptions and behind-the-scenes action, read this daily blog (my favorite place for the latest news!).

What would you like to see this coming year? Are you ready for 2013? I'll dare to say that it will be another adventure!

~Little Jackalope~

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year 2013!

Hooray! We are back and ready to rock and roll Nancy Drew style this year. We have several things planned for 2013 and will leave plenty of room for more spontaneous, creative, fun and crazy cool things along the way.

How was every one's Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa and New Year's? Hope you all got to enjoy some fun times with your friends and family!

I'd thought to start off this year (a year for new experiences, and living in the moment) with a real-life Nancy Drew Moment I had over break...

I attempted to set up my own Internet at home, and after reading the instructions and step-by-step manual, I got stuck. (And what does one do when a sleuth gets stuck?) I called a phone friend, and explained my situation. After trying several different things to get it working, my phone friend concluded that there may be something wrong with the phone jack in the wall. I hung up and got out a screw driver from my inventory, took off the cover plate and gasped. None of the colored wires in the wall were connected to the jack!

There were 8 copper wires covered in 4 colors, and from looking at the receiving end of the phone jack, I knew I needed to match the colored wires in pairs and twist them around the four color-coded screws in the plate. Since I have played enough Nancy Drew games, I knew that the wires have to be completely touching the metal screws, so tying them tightly was essential.

Close observation of the wires led me to suspect that someone before me had clipped them to take the cover plate off so that they could safely paint the wall without getting the cover plate dirty, only they never re-connected the wires. Being on low tool supply, I looked around the half-empty house for another tool. A push-pin and tweezers would do well for peeling back extra space on the wires and twisting them in such small space (my fingers were two big for the job).

Once I finished twisting the wires and putting the plate back, I re-set the Internet, and voila! Internet!! I felt so proud of myself, I thought I could take on the task of diffusing a bomb, since I was skilled with these wires. But let's not plan on accomplishing such a mightier task. XD Re-wiring for the Internet was a safe enough Nancy Drew moment, at least for now. ;)

As for game Nancy Drew moments, what do you think about this one? (*Insert evil giggles here)

~Little Jackalope~