Thursday, February 25, 2010

Puzzle "Three and Forty"

Puzzle time! Direct from Designer Ben's brain to your desktop. Enjoy.

- Puzzle 43 -

Which game am I?

"Unlock the key in order to play fair."
[ d qlcxz netpcb smtmq d gehmneu hgobnbZ ]


Have a great weekend. See ya soon.

- Novel -


I've taken to writing things on my hands and arms in pen.  It's a diversion I picked up in grade school, one I'm weary to break now.   Of course I fear roaming the office in faux-tattooed fashion, proclaiming to all an urgency to leftovers and dry-cleaning.  But such is not the case.  I'm bring it up currently, as a reference to my experiences with TOT.

I'm in an office, one filled with binders, note-pads, post-its and about 30 other recording devices.  I've got a veritable forest of paper products built with the sole intent of accepting my thoughts to their surface, and I'm utterly ignoring them. Twice today I've found myself scrawling notations of puzzles on my hands so I can work in secret during meetings (shhh) and while I was walking to get some lunch.  Certainty of quality must be realized when a game has backed me into such a wall.  Now I can't say if the puzzles are hard or not, but they have been lingering in my head, and that's no easy feat.

Speaking of puzzles, we've got a brand new one for you tomorrow.  Catch ya then.

- Novel (set) -

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Midday moments

We went out for coffee today.  A bold attempt to stave off those 3:00 doldrums.  I'm an Americano man myself; a coffee-snob from before my Seattle days.  Of course now, I think anything will do.  No more quad-shots though.  Being that caffeinated could result in some "shaky" 6:00 decisions.

I got my first sampling of TOT today.  Now I've seen a few screens here and there, but I actually got to be in the driver's seat today.  Now I haven't played too much, but I've got to say it's pretty exciting so far.  Adventure, is certainly the variety of lemonade our summer stand is selling.  I think you'll be pleased as punch.

Gifts? Or packaging solutions?
I suppose it depends on the caffeine intake...

We're over the hump now.  Friday is already in sight.

- Novel (2U) -

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


The second day of the week is about over and done with.  Today has been a learning day.  Our very own marketing producer, Jessica, gave a presentation at a local school.  She spoke about working at HI and getting more women into the industry.  It was definitely a good talk. 

I've been getting a lot of forwards from our feedback channels.  I think the thing I like best is how passionate and thoughtful the statements are.  I'm hopeful that we can continue to improve our games.  Certainly with your help, it'll be a bit easier to achieve. 

Have you checked out the newsletter yet?  It might prove interesting.

And, as promised, knowledge. 

- Puzzle 42 Solution -

The clue that we gave initially was:
" Two methods speak to this puzzle; visual cues and elitist thought. "
This tells you the kind of methods you'll need to solve the puzzle, [ the visible speech and "leetspeak" ]

For all [ ASCII characters ] you need to use the [ "leetspeak" alphabet ] to replace them. 
All of the other characters can be deciphered using [ visible speech ]
By performing the various substitutions you'll eventually discover the sentence:

[ Nancy caught the internet scam artist by trapping him in his own web. ]


- Novel -

P.S. I finally fixed my comments, so I'll be able to respond effectively now.  Hooray!  Although I suppose I've got a bit of a backlog to work through.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Snippet

Monday is looking good!  With beta testing in full swing (results are coming in even now) and the sun shining today, we're running around quite a bit. 

You'll be pleased to note that there is a newsletter appearing today.  If you're looking for a sneak peek, perhaps I can offer this. Hopefully it'll provide the kind of distraction we've intended it to.  ^.~

I was very thrilled to see that Friday's puzzle was solved.  I'll be glad to spill the beans tomorrow.  For today, just enjoy the possibilities the week provides.

Stay awesome.

- Novel -

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Puzzle 42

Welcome to the end of the week. We hope you've enjoyed your travel with us this week and that you'll be returning to us shortly. As you exit the blog space, please be sure to note the Puzzle on your right.

- Puzzle 42 -

Two methods speak to this puzzle; visual cues and elitist thought.


Good luck!

- Novel -

Totally Beta

Thursday already!  We've just been working the week away.  You'll be pleased to know that TOT has officially entered into its next developmental stage, Beta. We're quite proud of this one too.  It isn't often we get to beta this early.  We'll have lots of time to make the proper tweaks and changes from our beta data.

On a slightly more fun note, there is a newsletter coming out very very soon...  Like really soon...  For serious...  No TOT spoilers just yet, but certainly some interesting game info I'm sure you'll enjoy seeing.  Keep those eyes peeled.

And of course, following the script of yesterday here's your reveal to Puzzle forty.

- Puzzle 40 Revealed -



The parenthetical clues tell you [ which rows you'll need to swap ] For the first one, (1-3), you need to [ swap the first row and the last one ] this gives you the following:


In order to to do the next set you'll need at least [ 4 rows ] You can do this by converting the [ 3 rows of 16 letters ] into [ 4 rows of 12 letters ]. It will look like this:


Following the method of the first clue, [ switch (row 1 with row 4) and (row 2 with row 3,) ]and you get this:


For the third set you need [ 6 rows of 8 letters ], so convert to that. Then continue the routine with [ switching (row 1 with 3), (row 2 with 5), and (row 4 with 6) ] Now you have:


The last group requires [ 8 rows of 6 letters ] and then [ swapping rows (1 and 7), (2 and 4), (3 and 8), and (5 and 6). ] Once completed you'll end up with:


Now [ write it all out ] and [ put in spaces ] to get:

[ Nabbing the surfer, Nancy ended the boardwalk’s crime wave! ]

Kudos to those of you who hung in there and solved it (beyond all of my mistakes...)  We'll have another puzzle ready for you tomorrow.  Till then!

- Novel -

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Paper Trail

I've been looking at packaging samples and paper types for hours now. Designing books and packages can be a much more intensive process than I first imagined. Just look at a small sampling of the many paper styles I can choose from!

And that's to say nothing of thickness or texture!

But packaging is important to us. We have to create boxes and manuals that help reinforce the quality of product your receiving. So ensuring that we're meeting a high standard is of the utmost priority. I suppose I'll be wading in this stuff for a bit. Let's hope I can curb my indecisive streak long enough to make a few choices. ^.~

It looks like Puzzle 40 was solved today! Congratulations! I said I'd spoil "Forty-One" and I intend to do just that.

- Puzzle 41 Answer -

To solve this puzzle you need to use a [ "Caesar" or "shift" cipher ] The text hints at this, but also the second half of the sentence uses another term for it
[ Rot-N, or Rotation "n" ]

Once you know the key, you'll need to
[ shift each letter backwards in the alphabet by 3. ]


If you place the letters in the URL, you get:

Click here to view it.


I hope you enjoyed it. I'll be listing out Puzzle 40 tomorrow I suppose. If you'd like an early spoiler you can check out the thread here.

Peace out!

- Novel -

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday Doesn't Count

If you missed it, yesterday was President's Day (holiday!) So I hope you had a nice extended weekend as well!

Today has been filled with more planning. We've been creating schedules to help us stay on track with our daily updates. We had the tricky job of deciding all the content we'll need to make for March! It's pretty daunting to look at all the assets we'll need to make, but I suppose when you think about how it is just a little bit each day... it doesn't seem so overwhelming.

Production is tasked with its own complications... of course I refer to the wild and beautiful stallion that is TOT Beta. She's certainly skittish, fleeting at every breath, but I have faith in our staff. They'll wrangle her up by the end of the week, I can feel it.

Of course with TOT this close to beta you can start to expect some information to be leaked (by yours truly, if not some other credible "insider.") In due time, I say.

Puzzle 41 was defeated very quickly! I'll post the solving steps tomorrow. But more importantly, 40 remains unbeaten. So I've been given yet another hint to help you along. Check it out.

- Puzzle 40 Hint -

Step 3: (1 and 4)
Step 4: (2 and 3)
Step 5: 8 by 6

There are no letter substitutions.


Okay, I guess that about wraps up this fine Tuesday. See you on the midweek.

- Novel -

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Friday Puzzle 41

Puzzle 40 remains unsolved at the moment, but we had to go ahead and post the next trick. The answer to this one will give you a special holiday treat, check it out.

- Puzzle 41 -


To solve the *'s use this information:


Julius was okay, but the 3rd Caesar was 'rotten'


Good luck and have a great Valentine's Day!

- Novel -

Even More Contest Images

With over 200 entries, I just had to show some more pictures we thought were great!

- Curse of Blackmoor Manor by Georgia -

- Warnings At Waverly Academy by Elizabeth -

Friday's just around the bend. Cya then.

- Novel -

Hearts Grow Fonder

I spoke briefly yesterday on the subject of Valentine's. It seems that we'll be working well into the holiday to get the TOT beta completed. This is one of those proverbial "crunch-times." Though I can almost certainly predict long days in the coming months (for bug fixes and updates) as well.

We were fortunate enough to have the distraction mentioned yesterday, but it got me thinking about love in the ND universe. Aside from Colin in The Phantom of Venice or the "beau-fiasco" in Warnings at Waverly Academy you'll almost never find romance playing a large role in our games, even though Ned is ever-present. In the books, he can sometimes be found participating first hand in all the snooping, chasing, and sleuthing. We've chosen to have him act as more of a guiding figure. He's available to provide support for his leading lady (much like the books) but he never gets any time on-stage.

Do you think we should give Ned a larger role in the games? How about a romantic mystery with Ned as a playable character?

Write back and let me know. Oh and I'll be posting more pictures soon!


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valentine's Day Cards

We had a nice gift show up at the office today. Apparently one of our fans sent everyone in the office a personalized Valentine's Day card! I've got to say that we were truly blown away by this. You can rest assured that a gift of this magnitude will elicit a proper response. ^.^

- Fan-made cards w/ a personal greeting in each one -

In related news, we've been working on one or two fun Valentine's-themed content (though, I'm not much of a holiday man myself.) You'll also be pleased to know that the team has not yet been distracted by these aspirations of love and have remained true to the task at hand... TOT!

I see the puzzle is still at a standstill, so here's a tip from... well... me.


You don't need to use any math to solve this one.


Till tomorrow. :)

- Novel -

Even More Entries

I've got a few more contest entries for your Wednesday. Enjoy.

-Resorting to Danger by: Maryagnes, Elinor, and Teresa -
-The Phantom of Venice by: Lisa -

Excellent stuff! See you later on.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday Check-in & An XL Hint

It's been a busy day of TOT planning. Beta is approaching so quickly! We've been working hard to get many of the kinks worked out for the big test. This is always a tense time for us. But from what I've seen of TOT, it is going to be sweet!

I asked Designer Ben to give me a hint for the weekend puzzle. This is what he had to say.

- Puzzle 40 Hint -

"Step one is 1 - 2. Step two is 12 x 4."


Let's see what you make of that. ^.~ Have a good one!

- Novel -

P.S. I've been having some issues with the comment box in blogger. For those of you posting I'm working on getting it fixed so I can reply to your thoughts. Bear with me. -.-

A Few Other Contest Entries

Here's a few more images from the contest that we thought were fantastic, more to come this week!

- Legend of the Crystal Skull by: Madlyn -

- The White Wolf of Icicle Creek (Russian) by: Julia -

Check out the winning covers here!

- Novel -

Monday, February 8, 2010

Contest Winners!

I'm sure many of you have been eagerly awaiting emails and posts concerning the contest. Well right here is the first official announcement! I'm proud to announce the winner of the Cover Redesign Contest is:

- The Final Scene by: Maggie -

We've also got five runners-up to announce! They are:

- Secret of the Old Clock by: Ariessa -

- The Phantom of Venice by: Maddy -

- Secrets Can Kill by: Erin -

- Message in a Haunted Mansion by: Emily -

- The Phantom of Venice by: Sarah -

We were delighted to do this contest and wish to thank everyone who entered. It was a pleasure to see all of the creative ideas you came up with. In fact, we loved them so much that I'll be posting a few other entries that we enjoyed through out the week as well. Ya never know, yours might pop up on the blog!

Catch you on the 'morrow.

- Novel -

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Other Easter Eggs

It's hard to put a lot of energy into a project without adding a few extra touches of yourself. Many of our artists have passions and hobbies that permeate into their working world.

If you've played more than a few of our games, you'll know that we love to do a little "throwback" by providing names or objects from some of our older titles. It's one of the traditions we've been doing for some time now and makes for some great fun. But once in a while there's a little bit extra...

The artists are sometimes given a good amount of free reign in their environments. They'll need to create a variety of extra material to fill the game's world. Because of that, every so often, an artist will throw in a little personal flair. Maybe you'll see something reminiscent of this world in a poster for a River Heights band or as an advertisement the in latest sleuthing magazine Nancy peeks through. Some of these touches contain homage (or even parody) of real world things.

Over the years, you might be able to find more than quite a few references to "pop culture" (at the time of design of course.) I've seen some movie and song references, one or two actors and writers I recognize, as well a few tips-of-the-hat to games and books on "favorites" lists.

So keep your eyes peeled next time you play, you never know what might turn up!

- Novel -

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Plans Awry

I'm back on the scene (in limited capacity)! As always, props to my associates for the cover. Oh, and a big thanks to my pal Vitamin C. ^.~ I hope everyone is excited about the content so far. I'm just glad we can get you all involved a bit more.

Today's been your average day in the office. Here's the short list of topics from a few of the HI workers;
fixing bugs in TOT,
writing copy for advertisements,
programming puzzles for TOT,
creating character concepts for ND23,
and designing plot-twists and content for ND23.

I'm still sworn to silence on pretty much every topic, but I did manage to snag a photo of someone's notes...

I've been looking through the contest entries again and let me tell you, "Wow!" You guys have done an impressive job so far. I know there's a few days left to enter, so if you haven't submitted one yet, please do so. I'm really excited to post some of these next week!

Oh and before I go,here's the spoiler for puzzle 39:

- Puzzle 39 Answer -

Each pair of lines in this puzzle contains exactly 2 clues for determining the answer. I'll break it down by pair.

"One hundred and eighteen tiny lands,
span the area where this game stands."
- [ Venice has exactly 118 islands that make up the city ]

"Thirty eight parishes, one and all,
reduced once, by a short general."
- [ Napoleon once marched through the city, ending the Republic. ]

"Petrified wood holds it all in place,
building on piles in too close a space."
- [ Many parts of Venice are built on wood piles that act as foundations ]

"The damage of flood threatens today,
Guess where quick, ere it washes away."
- Many of you probably know [ Venice is sinking! ] Much of the [ city is being destroyed by rising tides ]

The other clue you can find in each pair is [ they contain exactly 18 syllables, referring to the 18th game ].

Either of these clues would help you come to this answer:
[ The Phantom of Venice ]


- Novel -

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sickie Redux

Novel is out sick today :( He should be back tomorrow though.

In the meantime, we are excited to announce our Twitter quote contest. We'll put up a quote every Wednesday for our fans to identify and we'll randomly select a winner with the correct answer each week to win the Nancy Drew game of their choice. For more details on the contest, check out the Dare to Play blog. Good luck tomorrow!

~Dare to Play blogger

Monday, February 1, 2010

Ease of Access

Hello, hello!

We've got some neat stuff this week. We're kicking off our daily updates to! Now we'll be posting something new each day. I'll give you a little cheat sheet you can refer to:

Monday - Download of the week
Tuesday - Dare to Play blog post
Wednesday - Twitter Contest
Thursday - Current News
Friday - Weekend Puzzle

If you're wondering what the "Twitter Contest" in the middle there is, well I'm not allowed to spoil the fun. You'll learn all the "ins and outs" tomorrow. I can say that it is a weekly contest we're going to start running.

So the weekend puzzle, huh? Perhaps a tad too easy? Designer Ben is ready to turn up the heat and promises me a devilishly difficult puzzle this Friday. From the boards, I can see you are more than ready for the challenge. ^.^

- Novel -