Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Out Today, Back Tomorrow

Novel Sleuth is out today, but he'll be back tomorrow with a new post.

In the meantime, here's a picture from a place we've been to in the Nancy Drew games. It was my first trip out there, so I thought I'd share this picture.
Can you guess where this was taken?
Has anyone been here before?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Puzzle #6 Answer

I hope everyone had a great weekend! For those of you who worked all weekend to solve this puzzle, here's the answer you've been waiting for. (click to enlarge the image)

The dates related to previous blog post names, and once we unscramble the highlighted letters we get:

Q: Nancy is always prepared for one of these.

A: A rainy day.

There's certainly some relevant advice to be had for those of us working out here in the rainy Northwest. Until later!


Friday, March 27, 2009

Weekend Puzzle #6

It's Friday, so here's your weekend puzzle. (click on the image to enlarge it.)


Q: Nancy is always prepared for one of these.


Good luck!

-Novel et al, exeunt-

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Importance of Sugar Rationing

Protector of the Candy!

Never underestimate the power of chocolate in an office of game designers!

-Novel... et al-

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Packing it all up.

So I've been doing a lot of work with packaging this week. I can't spoil which game just yet, but I will tell you that the process is a bit crazier than I had at first imagined. There is so much to be done. Copy and color proofing, print matching, fact-checking, and tons more. My job has mostly been to check for errors and provide feedback on the overall design and layout. I work directly with our illustrators to help create the best possible look for this product. And I've got to say that I've had a great deal of help, and of course a bit of inspiration (see below.)

But don't worry, you'll get to see the box soon enough. Trust me.

-Novel, over-

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

On the "new" Industry trends

Today there were some inter-office emails sent around that linked to a discussion on women and technology. The article was written from a panel at South by Southwest, a convention celebrating film, music, and other entertainment and artistic mediums. The panel was speaking about how females get into technological fields by first playing video games and becoming interested in their creation. The report was pretty cool, but one of the best things was that Megan Gaiser, our president, got to speak about HI! I can't include the link, but here's an excerpt of what was written,

Megan Gaiser, president and CEO of
Her Interactive (publisher of the popular game titles) gave a brief genesis of her company, explaining that publishers initially didn't want to market or develop games for women. "Since they wouldn't let us in the front door, we went around to the back door and starting learning how to sell directly on Amazon." They began turning a profit in 2002 after hiring a retail consultant and moving towards self-publishing, thus earning Nancy Drew the title of "The UnBarbie of Computer Games."

Gaiser pointed out, "Creativity is the great equalizer," and spoke about welcoming more women into the games industry. "It takes the balance of both genders to create unique and diversified content."
[www.joystiq.com, SXSW 2009: Gaming as a Gateway Drug: Getting Girls Interested in Technology, Kevin Kelly]

I think that's a pretty amazing statement, and it certainly represents something I believe whole-heartedly in.

- Novel:00 -

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Answer to Weekend Puzzle #5

I have to say, I'm impressed at how quickly this one was solved. I would have thought this one was a bona-fide stumper. For those of you who would like to know the solving steps, you can look below:

Clue #1
Start just past the “Monkey Center”: (this tells you which paragraph to start in)
(1,4) (1st word, 4th letter = S) South
(1,1) - 1 (1st word, 1st letter = T - 1 = S) South
(6,1) & (2,1) (6th word, 1st letter = S & 2nd word, 1st letter = W... so SW) Southwest
(9,3) (9th word, third letter = W) West
(16,3) & (21,1) + 1 (16th word, 3rd letter = N & 21st word, 1st letter = V + 1 = W) Northwest
(22,3) (22nd word, 3rd letter = N) North
(5,4) (5th word, 4th letter = N) North

So Clue #1 gives you some directions; S, S, SW, W, NW, N, N

If you start at the Monkey center on the grid map and draw a line between points based on the above directions, you get a shape that resembles a "U"

Following this and the other clues directions, we get; "U" "A" "B" "S" and "C"

If you rearrange those letters, you get...


So... that means that Nancy, and alternatively you, will get to go diving underwater in Ransom of the Seven Ships. Trust me when I say you're going to love it!

Thanks for participating, till next time!


Friday, March 20, 2009

Weekend Puzzle #5

Okay, so this week’s puzzle is really difficult… be wary. We had two designers team-up to create this one. Thanks to Mari and Rob for their collaborative effort on this one.

Use the March HI newsletter, Preparing for a Crisis in the Caribbean, to find out an activity you’ll be doing in RAN.

Clue #1
Start just past the “Monkey Center”:
(1,1) - 1
(6,1) & (2,1)
(16,3) & (21,1) + 1

Clue #2
Start at the end of the “Resort”:
(11,1) + 1
(16,1) + 3
(1,1) + 3

Clue #3
Start at the edge of the “Steep”:
(3,3) + 1
(8,6) + 3
(9,3) + 1

Clue #4
Start beyond the “Blue Hole”:
(7,5) & (33,1)
(8,1,) - 1 & (9,3) + 2
(43,1) & (43,2)
(41,3) & (46,1) + 4
(11,2) & (17,2) - 1
(40,3) & (41,6) - 2

Clue #5
Start after the “Cove”:
(2,1) + 4
(4,2) & (5,1) + 3
(11,3) + 1 & (2,6) + 1

Good luck to all!

Novel – Fin.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

HI Snapshots #8

Anyone speak Russian?

I always thought it was pretty amazing that such a small company would be able to produce and translate their games to so many languages. It's great to think about people all over the globe playing the same game... and probably getting stuck on the same puzzle. :P


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Do you Hacky?

If you read Friday's blog about burgers, then I'm sure you'll understand the need for some of the office to get up and get moving. Another fun office tradition is to play a bit of hacky-sack for exercise (and a nice healthy break, weather permitting.) It's been an office staple for much longer than I've been here, and the artists absolutely love the excuse to get outside and unwind for a bit. Enjoying the sun is my favorite part, particularly with the silly Seattle weather we've been having. So what kind of activities do you all do to keep the mind and body sharp?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day

Did you remember to wear green today? There have been a couple "pinchers" around the office on the prowl, but thankfully I’m in suitable fashion. I did manage to stumble upon an interesting item I thought I’d share with you all today (given its obvious context with the holiday.)

This is a keychain passed around the office as a promotion for the release of Nancy Drew®: The Haunting of Castle Malloy. Not only does the marketing team reach out to you guys, but sometimes they like to build a bit of anticipation within the office too. There were some masks floating around the office during the Phantom of Venice release, and Mardi Gras beads when Legend of the Crystal Skull launched. I think it’s pretty cool that the office has a kind of “pep rally” for its workers.

I wonder what we’ll see when Ransom of the Seven Ships gets released… ohhhh the anticipation.

~ Slan go foil

Monday, March 16, 2009

Answer to the Weekend Puzzle #4

Okay sleuths, it's time to find out the answer to the riddle. Were you able to solve it?

March 8th = Daylight Saving Time

March 17th = Saint Patricks Day

March 20th = First Day of Spring

Unscramble the letters to get:

"Danger at a Spa"

That's a Dossier reference I believe, pretty excellent! Don't forget about the special newsletter puzzle this weekend. It should be rather exciting. I can't wait to try it.

Novel, Out.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Weekend Puzzle #4

A tad late, but still in time for your weekend enjoyment… thanks to designer Mari!


March 8th

March 17th

March 20th

Unscramble me and get an alternate title, perhaps?


Good luck!

Bacon Lovers

Today I was invited to go to lunch with a group of co-workers. They have an outing every Friday, in a ritual they dubiously dubbed, "Burger Fridays." The tradition was originally established as a way to rate various burger joints in the surrounding area, but these cool cats have slowly turned it into an all-office event.

These days, they have an open invitation and choose the lunch spot through discussion each Friday (now not necessarily a burger shop.) In addition, the Friday lunch crew is about as diverse as the office could get; Artists, Programmers, Writers, and more. It's a good time for each of the departments to swap stories and socialize.

Community is something HI prides itself on, and it's always nice to see such a motley bunch bond over burgers and fries. Count me in next week.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Newsletter Jive

In some form of shameless promotion, designer Mari and I have combined forces to create a dreadfully difficult weekend puzzle. I thought I'd give everyone the heads up, as the clues to this puzzle are going to be found in next week's newsletter (hence the "shameless promotion"). You can sign up for the HI newsletter on the main page (www.HerInteractive.com).

The newsletter is going to have some pretty excellent content in it this month (I've seen a sneak preview) and should be published on Monday or Tuesday. The special "Newsletter Puzzle" will be released next Friday, March 20th.

It's always seems so busy on Thursdays. ^.^

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

HI Snapshots #7

Ok, who forgot to run the Dishwasher?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Answer to the Weekend Puzzle #3...

This puzzle was quite challenging, congrats to those of you who completed it.

KNOTE = Token (3rd letter is K)

RRTUEEAC = Creature (3rd letter is E)

IIMDO = Idiom (3rd letter is I, 4th letter is O)

Unscramble the letters and local pride is: Okie

Monday, March 9, 2009

"Welcome Back" Mondays

Hello. Hello. I’m Ian, or Novel_Sleuth, and I’ll be blogging with you today. Brandon, our blog-meister for the past few months, has now departed for greater adventures, and we wish him the best in Japan. I’ll be providing the content in his absence. But don’t worry, all the great material will keep on coming, plus maybe a few surprises along the way. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime I’ll give just a short introduction for myself.

I’ve been working at HI for almost 2 years now, and yes, it is as fun as it sounds. I’m an avid reader, writer, and gamer. I love movies but don't really watch TV. I like puzzles and enigmatic titles. And coincidentally I started this job just like Brandon, as an intern (no Amateur Sleuth blog back then though >.< ) I suppose that’s enough for now, on to business!

I’ve received a few requests to hold off on posting the Weekend Puzzle answers so quickly. I’m thinking of waiting until Tuesday or Wednesday… or is everyone too anxious for an answer?

Keep on sleuthin’


Friday, March 6, 2009

Weekend Puzzle #3

I know that you have been waiting for it… courtesy of designer Mari!


“To find out some future friends…”




3, 3, 3 & 4  (Local Pride)


Good luck!

Michael Jackson’s Arcade for sale!

I posted earlier that I’m a big fan of Michael Jackson – it turns out MJ is quite a big fan of video games! Part of his vast arcade collection is being sold with the rest of his estate.




You can check out the rest of his collection that's up for sale here.

AS Fans Worldwide

I use a nifty little program called Google Analytics to see the viewer traffic for this blog and it shows some pretty interesting information. Like say, there are readers from 6 of the 7 continents! Nancy Drew fans worldwide!



Thursday, March 5, 2009

さようなら HerInteractive!!

さようなら HI!

Hi everyone, I am sorry to say that my internship period at HerInteractive ends tomorrow.

I have thoroughly enjoyed working at HerInteractive, and writing for the Amateur Sleuth Blog has become one of my favorite day-to-day activities. I hope that you fans continue to stay up-to-date on many of the fun things that we have going on at HI through this page, the Dare to Play blog and our new Twitter!

I am now off to Tokyo, Japan, where I will be studying abroad for a semester – learning the Japanese language, taking in the city sights, and hopefully eating lots and lots of sushi :)

After Friday, our new writer will be Ian – serving the same ole’ AS juice that you thirst for. There shouldn’t be too many changes, and I think that the Weekend Puzzle may become a mainstay (to keep all of you sleuths on check in between games!)

Arigatou Gozaismasu, thank you all so much! :)


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Guest Writer Nora explains testing!

QA Lead Nora is in charge of all of the testing that goes on at HI, here’s a great explanation into what exactly ‘testing’ is:

Here at Her Interactive, we’re obsessed with perfection. Before we release a game into the wild, we want to make sure that every detail is in place. The diverse backgrounds of our team members really come in handy here—we’ve got art history experts who can comment on architecture, a master birder who can tell us whether those bird sounds are realistic for the part of the world in which our game is set, and plenty of science and technology buffs. But what about the nuts-and-bolts stuff, like making sure the game works on the types of computers our players use, and making sure there aren’t any crashes or other technical problems? Well, that’s where the QA team comes in.

QA stands for “Quality Assurance”, and that’s also a pretty good description of our goal: we want to make sure that our games are as high-quality as they can be in every aspect. The QA team here at HI consists of the QA Lead (that’s me), and of testers. Here’s a picture of our hardware lab, where the testers work on a variety of different PCs:


While testing can be a really exciting job, it’s more than just playing games. Testers complete “test passes”, where they examine every detail of a certain aspect of a game. For example, today one of our testers is working on a conversation pass, where she’ll check every possible conversation option in the game against the script to make sure that the sound is working correctly, that choosing each line of dialogue leads to the correct scene, and more. Within each test pass are “test cases”, specific items like “see what happens if you complete a puzzle but try to back out before picking up the item you’ve won”.

There’s even more to testing, like automation (see what happens when you use a special program to automatically play a certain puzzle 100 times in a row or to get a really high score, for example), but that’s probably a topic for another post!


Thanks Nora! :)

Hey Sluethers, have anyone of you tried a “test pass” any ND game before?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Happy square root day!

Happy square root day!


When will the next one be?

Monday, March 2, 2009

HI Snapshots #6

Running out of space… :P



And the answer to Weekend Puzzle #2 is…

A little trickier this time.. eh? The key to the clues centered around a little bit of “letter math”:

  • Evolutionary Revolutionary Ship:  HMS Beagle
  • -3 (remove the HMS) Beagle
  • 3 (leave the middle 3 - Bea) [Bea]gle
  • -3 (remove the last 3 - gle) Bea
  • 14th letter of the alphabet is n (add that to the end) 



Now just who (or what) is this mysterious “Bean”? Hmmm..

Stay tuned for their debut in Nancy Drew: Ransom of the Seven Ships!