Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Early Sketches

Sometimes it helps the artists to sketch out their images before they begin on the computer. I rather enjoy seeing their hand work before it comes to life on the screen, and this blog is the perfect place to show you what I dug up. While searching for potential images to use in the Amateur Sleuth Blog re-design, I found this buried in the deep archive:

On the left is the original sketch of the Koko Kringle Kow. On the right is the finished Kow that was first seen on the Koko Kringle candy wrapper in Secret of the Scarlet Hand, found in Sonny Joon's messy desk in the lab. Sonny Joon reflects many of the artists in that their early sketches turned into real in-game doodles.

Check out this early sketch of The White Wolf of Icicle Creek! This is too cool...

I'll be sure to share with you more early sketches in the future. ;)
~Little Jackalope~

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I recently realized that last week a year ago I began writing to you all. I'm excited about this. In honor of the Little Jackalope's being here for so long (and yes, I'm temporarily referring to myself in third-person) I plan on updating the look of the Amateur Sleuth blog. After all, it could use an update. Before I begin the make-over, are there any images that come to your mind when you think of Her Interactive, Nancy Drew, the Her Interactive office, or the Amateur Sleuth Blog? I hope to use some imagery, and any bit of help would be great. ~.^
Speaking of beginnings, look what I found! These are early box designs of our first two games, and they cannot be found anywhere, but I'd thought I'd show you what they looked like back in the early days: Until tomorrow!
~Little Jackalope~

Monday, November 28, 2011

After Thanksgiving + Driveways

If you are reading this today (Monday), then you only have until the end of today (11:59 PST) to purchase a digital Nancy Drew game download for 50% off, and if you purchase any physical product, you will get free shipping. ;) I made a silly decision to go shopping over the weekend when the crowds were better defined as "herds". Might I recommend research and strategic planning for your holiday purchases in order to best save time, money, and stress.

I hope you all had an excellent Thanksgiving weekend! After a relaxing break, the Her Interactive workers returned today to start afresh a new week. This is the view we had just as we entered the parking lot:A tree-lined road filled with beautiful orange leaves caked along the sides! It was a little wet, too, but this got me thinking about driveways in several Nancy Drew books. I often imagined a few locations where Nancy drives off of the main road and onto a private driveway that weaved through tall trees overhanging the drive like a tunnel. It would take a moment to finally reach the house or building that was so secluded and backed away from the road. Homes like this that are hidden seem very mysterious and really intriguing. It makes a detective wonder what the owners could be hiding...?

~Little Jackalope~

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend

Hey all!

I just wanted to share a few announcements before the Thanksgiving weekend:
  • The latest Newsletter has just been sent out!
  • Yesterday we posted an interview with our Sales and Operations Manager, Maureen.
  • There will be no Twitter Quote Contest today :(
  • Congrats to our Testimonial of the week winner, Veronica! She will receive her prize, a Nancy Drew Mug soon! For a chance to win a prize next week, submit your testimony to and we will select a winner on Friday, December 2nd.
  • New holiday sale!! Get any Digital Download game for 50% off. Also, any physical product you purchase will have free shipping, only if you order this weekend before the end of Monday, so be quick!
  • The office will be closed from now until Monday for the Thanksgiving holiday (that's why you get to read the Weekend Mystery below a few days early.)
Have a great weekend!
Stay sleuthy!

~Little Jackalope~

Weekend Mystery Part 2 = "First Clue"

“Of course Nancy will take the case! She’s really good at tracking down the source scary notes,” chimed in Bess. “Sure, Mrs. Wilkins, I could take this case for you, as long as it’s ok if my friends can help..?” replied Nancy. “Oh of course!” answered the nervous lady. “Just please hurry, I’m not sure how much time I really have before everyone finds out I lost the key, or when my life will end!”

Bess walked over to Mrs. Wilkins and placed a hand on her trembling shoulder. “There’s no need to panic. We’ll find the cruel author for you and solve this case…right, Nancy?” Nancy wasn’t listening. She was gazing at the note and asked “Where did you find this note again?” Mrs. Wilkins blinked and looked at her hands. “Hmm…I do not know exactly. I found it in my purse as I was walking to the bank. I haven’t gone anywhere else today and have no idea how it slipped into my bag.” Nancy smiled and looked up. “Alright, we’ll investigate the clue in this note” she said.

As the foursome walked away from the town hall, Ned noticed Nancy begin to scribble in her notebook. He turned to her and asked “We don’t have much of a lead, what is our next move?” Nancy smiled and said “We are heading across the river. The numbers in this note refer to the alphabet but not in standard alphabet order. We need to convert these numbers using the “key alphabet”, meaning the letters as they are in order on a computer keyboard. The first few letters on a keyboard are Q, W, and E and so on. This note says ‘Blue Lilacs at RHF’.” George made a face. “What do Blue Lilacs have to do with anything and what is RHF?” she questioned. Ned thought out loud “RHF…River Heights, something.” Bess’s eyes grew wide. “Flowers! Or, Floral! There’s a flower shop called River Heights Floral!”

The group hopped into Nancy’s car and drove to the flower shop. They greeted the owner and inquired about Blue Lilacs. “I sold my last few to a young school girl yesterday, and I don’t remember who else made a purchase before her, sorry.” The florist went back to a table and began tying a bouquet of lilies. Nancy studied the interior of the shop and rested her eyes on a sign propped against an empty vase. The sign was an advertisement of Blue Lilacs. Nancy walked up to it and reached behind the poster. After feeling around, she pulled out a piece of paper with familiar handwriting in green ink. On it was scrawled “Not even flowers will get you out of hot water, but this might help you: Flag this" followed by several jointed lines.

"What do you make of this, Nancy?" Ned inquired. Nancy gave him a knowing look and began to crack the code...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Character Animation

Today I got to attend a super awesome animation meeting! A few animators presented their work on the latest character's movements and lip syncs, so I got to see them for the first time moving along with their speech. It was super cool!

It takes a while to get to this point. Character development is a long process that needs to be taken in care. The first step comes from the Designer, who describes how the character looks: heritage, height, build, hair, eyes, age, facial features, and clothing are noted with the accompaniment of several image samples and references. Meanwhile the writer builds the character: how they behave and talk, decides the voice and accent, what they say and how they say it in response to Nancy's questions etc.

Next, the Character Designer conceptualizes: taking all of the descriptions, he illustrates the characters. After several edits and plenty of feedback, he begins forming the 3D shape, seen here:Next, the animators rig the characters with joints, muscle movements, and assemble figits so they can move like normal human beings.

They sync the dialogue with the actor's voices and when all the animation is finished, the characters are placed in their respective environments, like in this picture here:Then comes a grand presentation time for further critique and comments, which I got to sit in on today. Sadly, I won't be able to share too many details, but I will say that these characters are so cool! (Try identifying where this picture of Bess and George can be found in ASH.)

*Tomorrow will be the second part of the Weekend Mystery series since the office will be closed Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday.
~Little Jackalope~

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fall Leaves

The autumn leaves are still falling at our office. With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching, I have been looking at a lot of fall-related images, and there are a lot of pretty leaves. Digging into Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake, I find several different kinds, such as oak, maple, ivy and one titled "shrub".

~Leaves outside of our office~

Even though DOG feels very autumn-like, it could be that much of the foliage is from deciduous trees (leaf-bearing versus cone-bearing coniferous trees). Warnings at Waverly Academy is a more appropriate game to describe our weather. It feels like day one in the game; we are just waiting for the following day when snow begins to fall.

Until the snowstorm, I wish you an (early) happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate this week:

Looks like you sleuths nailed the weekend puzzle! Stay tuned for the continuation (and puzzle answer) of the weekend mystery!
~Little Jackalope~

Friday, November 18, 2011

Weekend Mystery Part 1 = "The Threat"

“Oh, Nancy!” A middle-aged woman waved her arm and scurried up to Nancy and her friends as fast as she could in her tall heels. Nancy, Bess, George and Ned were gazing at the old Town Hall one last time before the construction crew began to demolish it in preparation for the work on the new museum.

The dark, curly-haired lady in a frilly blouse and skirt was hurrying up to the group. “Hello, Mrs. Wilkins!” called Nancy as she and her friends turned to face the clerk who was out-of-breathe and appeared anxious. “Oh Nancy, I’m glad I found you! I need your help”, she stopped to catch her breath as Nancy glanced at her friends with piqued interest. “How can I help you?” she asked. Mrs. Wilkins reached into her purse and pulled out a piece of scrap paper from her large bag slung over her left arm and handed it to the detective. “I found this in my bag yesterday. I think I might be in danger!” Mrs. Wilkins exclaimed.Bess, George and Ned crowd around Nancy as the titian-haired girl looked down at the note. On the torn paper was scrawled the words “If you lose the key, you are permanently done for!” Below the menacing words was written “Redeem yourself by using the key alphabet:”. Mrs. Wilkins gripped her bag with tense hands as she heard the words read aloud. “What makes you think someone is after you?” questioned George. Mrs. Wilkins hesitated. “I have lost an important key to a file cabinet where I work. It’s really embarrassing to admit this, and I didn’t think I’d be in too much trouble, but now I believe it’s a matter of life and death. Will you take this case for me?”

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pockets and Coats

Today our writer was walking around with a sub sandwich tucked in his vest pocket. It made me laugh because it looked so random and funny. If someone has big pockets in a coat or vest, one could hide a lot of different things inside.

I particularly like large pockets because I can put my gloves, wallet, and phone all in one place that is safe and easy to reach them. It's also good to put those things in a pocket instead of walking around with a purse or bag, which can be left alone somewhere or get stolen. Of course, you can put the important things in your pockets and just use the purse as a ruse, that way if it gets lost or stolen you wouldn't need to worry too much.

I figured owning a sort of trench coat would be the most Nancy-like coat to own:
This coat has deep pockets that are perfect for protecting cold hands, or phones, or...sandwiches. >.<

Weekend puzzle tomorrow! This time we have a story series to accompany it.
~Little Jackalope~

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Left-Over Halloween Decorations

As I was walking around the office today, I noticed a few Halloween decorations that were still up. There are still some crows hanging around, plastic spiders in the snack basket in the kitchen, and in the front office was the ceramic jack-o-lantern filled with candy (this is a good thing). Here is a particularly eye-catching piece for taller people who walk by this cubicle:

~Large skull glaring at passers by...unfortunately it's not made of crystal~

We should probably begin putting up Thanksgiving- and Christmas-themed decorations soon...

Twitter Quote contest is today! Head over to see if you know who said the quote!
~Little Jackalope~

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ned Nickerson

Every once in a while it's good to focus in on Nancy's family and friends. A special one in particular is Ned Nickerson.

The first time we get to see him in-game was as a phone avatar and in a picture in Nancy's room in Alibi in Ashes, but his voice has been around since near the beginning. The voice actor for Ned has done several other voices besides Nancy's boyfriend. He was also Charlie Murphy in Message in a Haunted Mansion, Sherman Trout in The Final Scene, and Henry Albert Daddle in Secret of the Scarlet Hand.
Ned is a very loyal and caring boyfriend who is there for Nancy when she needs to talk aloud her case or when she needs a hint. Some of my favorite quotes are below:

--(Fake German accent) "Hallo – eez dees Marthe Windergrassen? Who eez pleez calling me?" -- Secrets Can Kill REMASTERED.
--"Nothing like a good sneaking suspicion to keep you on your toes, I always say." -- Curse of Blackmoor Manor.

Ok sleuths, here's the solution for the weekend puzzle. The hint given yesterday [binary code] means to translate those numbers using that method. Here's how: [binary code is when you have columns for the numbers (zero and ones only) going from right to left.] The columns represent this worth: [starting at the far right is the 'ones' column. The second-to-right is the 'twos' column, next is the 4s column...]. Each column [doubles as it moves to the left]. You only need to have the columns up to 16, and will look like this: [ 16 | 8 | 4 | 2 | 1 ].

Now place the sets of numbers provided in the puzzle under your place-valued columns. Zeros mean nothing, while a 'one' means that place value. Now add all of the place values. Example: 01010 means there is a one in the 2s column and a one in the 8s column, so you add 2+8. The answer would be 10. Once you've got all of the binary numbers solved, figure out [what letter of the alphabet the numbers represent. A=1, B=2, C=3] and translate to get your ultimate answer.

[10100 = 20 = T
1000 = 8 = H
1001 = 9 = I
10010 = 18 = R
10100 = 20 = T
101 = 5 = E
101 = 5 = E
1110 = 14 = N
111 = 7 = G
1000 = 8 = H
1111 = 15 = O
10011 = 19 = S
10100 = 20 = T
10011 = 19 = S].

Twitter Quote contest is tomorrow! Stay tuned to see if you'll recognize this one. ;)
~Little Jackalope~

Monday, November 14, 2011

Birthdays in November + Winner

It's always fun when some one's birthday comes around, that's when we get to kindly tease or celebrate with them...perhaps both. What's extra nice is when a birthday treat comes in and everyone gets to partake in the desert.

Today was a production worker's birthday and cake was brought in to celebrate! Yum.

Looks like this weekend's puzzle contest was a bit hard, yes? For those of you who submitted your answer, here is the winner selected today: Congrats to Laura S. for correctly answering! She will receive a digital copy of Curse of Blackmoor Manor. (If you are still stuck and have no clue how she solved it, here's your hint: [binary code]. Although the contest is now over, go ahead and give this puzzle a try for fun, it may be useful in the future.

I will post the answer and solution tomorrow. ;)
~Little Jackalope~

Friday, November 11, 2011

11.11.11 = Weekend Puzzle #129 (Contest!)

Today is 11.11.11! In honor of such a day, we are holding another contest, and the prize is a free digital download of game #11 Curse of Blackmoor Manor. (You may help eachother out on the message board if you'd like, but just remember to put all answer in spoiler code for those who would like to solve it on their own.)

Here are the rules, read carefully!

1. Solve the weekend puzzle below.
2. When you think you have the right answer, email it to with the subject line "Weekend Puzzle".
3. The prize? A digital copy of the Curse of Blackmoor Manor!
4. The time? Contest begins now and ends at 10am PST on Monday, November 14th.
5. One winner will be randomly drawn from all of the correct entries by 5pm, Monday, November 14th. (We want to be fair and give everyone a chance.) :) Each contestant may only enter once.
6. This contest is open to everyone.

Here's the puzzle (featuring a lot of 1s). Good luck!
(And a big thank you to those who have served and are currently serving our country, happy Veteran's Day!)
~Little Jackalope~

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Character Designer Interviewed!

I'm excited to announce that we interviewed our Character Designer, Van! Check out today's Dare to Play blog post here. I really like his designs. I admit I was a little worried about how Nancy's friends would turn out...because I'm a little protective of how I envision them. But now I am very happy how they look (George is my favorite). Bess is super cute and looks great with any hairstyle and wearing any sort of cute clothing, while George has that tomboyish style and haircut with a little teasing smirk on her face (that is so much like her). Ned was my most worrisome character, but look how cute he turned out!

These were the early concept sketches of the phone avatar/icons for Alibi in Ashes. Pretty neat, right?

~George Fayne~

~Bess Marvin~
~Ned Nickerson~

Guess what? Tomorrow's weekend puzzle will be a contest! Stay tuned for more details!
~Little Jackalope~

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Snow, yet?

I'm hearing that many places in the U.S. are getting snow already! Winter is coming and it might just be me, but I thought I smelled snow in the air the other day. (Here at the office we don't have any ice or snow yet.) It is getting colder, though, and my numbed fingers today are proof of this.

With winter coming soon, I thought about the snowy games; Treasure in the Royal Tower, The White Wolf of Icicle Creek, and Warnings at Waverly Academy. ICE involves a lot of outdoor investigating (and a few icy accidents). For now, this is how I enjoy snow; by playing a Nancy Drew game. Oh to hear the sound of snow crunching underfoot, walking around until you nearly freeze, and then going indoors to spend a little time in the sauna and then heading upstairs to enjoy a hot meal...of which Nancy has to cook three times a day. French toast does sound good right about now...

Take a look at this! I found this snooping in the ICE art folders and thought it was very pretty.

Sunsets create purple and pink snow!
This makes me want to fetch some hot cocoa, grab a blanket and play a game in the protection of a warm house. Who's with me?

~Little Jackalope~

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Digging for Treasure = Brady?!

My version of treasure hunting is finding all sorts of little pieces of history, information and art from past and present games. I went digging for something specific and decided to take a detour, exploring the folders and files along the way. This one particularly caught my eye:

A movie poster from The Final Scene featuring Brady Armstrong! I think it's a very nice poster, even if Brady isn't my #1 heartthrob choice. Would you see this movie if it were real? I think I'd rather take a black marker and color all over it... XD

Check out the newly added testimonials to our testimonial page! Remember to send in your testimonial to, because at the end of the week we will select one entry to receive a small, but very cool little prize. I promise you will like it. ;)

~Little Jackalope~

Monday, November 7, 2011

British Nancy Drew

Over the weekend I visited with my Grandparents, and my Grandma gave me this:

Check it out! This is a Great Britain 1974 printing of The Moonstone Castle Mystery, which I brought in to add to my office shelf. I find the different artwork fascinating, but what's even more peculiar is that on the back of the hard cover the rest of the books are listed out of normal order. Book #1 was The Secret of Shadow Ranch, #2 was The Mystery of the 99 Steps and The Moonstone Castle Mystery was the most recent at #36. I'm curious to how this little book time traveled from the 70s and made it's way half-way across the world to here. This is yet another bit of evidence that Nancy Drew is not just famous in America, but all over the world and from different times.

I figured you sleuths would solve the weekend puzzle quickly! Here's the solution: find all of the words related to The White Wolf of Icicle Creek. Here's the complete list: [Isis, Bill, Lou, Fishing, Cooking, Breakfast, Frost, Laundry, Lodge, Egg, Icicle, Wolf, Howl]. Once you have found all 13 names and words, note all of the [unused letters in the grid], written out it will say [Call 1 555 Mystico], a jingle Nancy sings in the game.

~Little Jackalope~

Friday, November 4, 2011

Weekend Puzzle #128

Friday has come. It's time for another intense brain-boggler!'s not so much of a toughy this time, but good luck anyways!

Hint: [There are 3 names included]

*New announcement: We have a new page on our web site! Check out the Fan Testimonials.
Have a good weekend!
~Little Jackalope~

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Nik and Cathy Interview!

Today we posted an interview with our writer Nik and designer Cathy on our Dare to Play Blog! This is especially a great read if you are curious on how the Nancy Drew games first start out.It takes a lot of thought to get just the right story, design, layout, pacing, and balance of puzzles, logic, mystery, suspense, and effort to bring to life all of the characters in a fun and interesting way. You have to make sure that the characters each have a story, a background, reasons for behavior, and sometimes a little bit if wit and humor. To design a Nancy Drew adventure, you have to be able to think of literally every part of the game.

What I find really fun is this: every time I play a game, there is something new I fact, there are still some little bits of random connections and fun references hiding if you look hard enough. (Have you really tried finding all of the 8's and 80 references in Secrets Can Kill Remastered? There are a lot!)

Tomorrow's the weekend puzzle, stay tuned for a slightly easier one this time. ;)
~Little Jackalope~

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tweets and Birds

Do you Tweet? You don't have to have a Twitter account to view our "tweets", but you do need an account to participate in our weekly Twitter Quote Contest. (It happens every Wednesday). Here's how it works: early Wednesday we post or "tweet" a character quote on Twitter. Your job is to reply to @HerInteractive and identify who said that quote and in which game it was said. On Thursday, we randomly select a winner from all of the correct entries (those who identified both the correct character and game). Last names aren't required unless there is more than one character who shares the first name (like an Emily or Joe). You will not be disqualified from misspellings.

So what are you waiting for? Head over to our Twitter page and see if you know who said today's quote! This week's prize is a digital download of Message in a Haunted Mansion. (And the prizes vary from each week).

Check this out, one of the skilled artists drew this bird on a white board.
I thought a bird picture would be appropriate when mentioning Twitter.


On a side note...if you have a Facebook account, you should try beating my first score on Number Punch. When I first played, I finished in 1:06. Can you do better than that? ;)

~Little Jackalope~

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Post-Halloween + Flashlights

Has anybody tired of candy yet? We are still enjoying left-overs from yesterday's potluck, and still have plenty of candy left to eat. No worries, I'm sure it will all disappear soon.

With Halloween just behind us and the winter days becoming shorter, my thoughts have been on the darkness outside. Nancy has done a lot of sleuthing outside in the dark, or in dark spaces. She chases after burglars and culprits, investigates areas when no one is around, and she knows how to keep hidden. While it can be very dangerous to go prowling in the dark, Nancy is often prepared for such occasions. Her flashlight, or "torch light" as it is called in a few books, is kept safely in her convertible's glove compartment.

In the games, Nancy has acquired and used several different light sources for exploring in the dark, such as flashlights, lanterns, and glow sticks...plenty of glow sticks!
~Recognize this lantern?~
Are you prepared for the dark? I've learned from Nancy to put a flashlight in my car's glove box, and I know where to find a few candles should I need them. (I also have a little hand-held glitter globe that lights up different colors when shaken...but it isn't too bright or reliable.)

Looks like a few of you solved the weekend puzzle! Great work, it was a tough one!
Here's how it's done: First, it helps to figure out what the directions mean.
Directions: -->4x6^
A=T-B and N=L-R
Combine the I and J. No X.

The answer to these random letters:
[Make a grid across 4, and 6 tall.
Alphabet = Top to Bottom
Number them Left to Right.
Combine the I and the J into one space, and delete the X from the alphabet].

Now you find the letters from the numbers given: 9-1-9-14-18-17-23-10-3-4-6-17-12-1-3
Answer: [Cackles in the van] It's a reference to [Alibi in Ashes]. Hm...what could this mean?

~Little Jackalope~