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  • '7th Guest' welcomes gamer buy-in

    Medford company launches Kickstarter campaign for series finale
  • Medford video game maker Trilobyte Games unveiled plans for the third and final episode in its 7th Guest franchise.
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  • Medford video game maker Trilobyte Games unveiled plans for the third and final episode in its 7th Guest franchise.
    The aim is to produce the last installment within the next year, riding a surge of support from its fans and players.
    The company is largely relying on Kickstarter funding for the $435,000 project, with fans and gamers pledging financial backing.
    Kickstarter has emerged as the dominant vehicle for funding independent games, said Trilobyte co-founder Charlie McHenry, who helped re-energize the firm in 2010.
    "Projects like Dwarf Fortress have raised phenomenal amounts of money — in the millions," McHenry said. "Many (are able to) stretch goals beyond their original ask." (Correction: See below)
    Dwarf Forest, a city-building game developed by Tarn Adams while he was working on a mathematics doctorate at Stanford, is published by Bay 12 Games.
    "They were asking for a couple of million and got almost 7 million," McHenry said.
    The inaugural 7th Guest, released in 1993, sold 2 million copies and propelled compatible-hardware sales, earning kudos from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who called it "the new standard in interactive entertainment."
    The 11th Hour sequel followed in 1995.
    "We've been waiting to make The 7th Guest: 3 for a long time," said Rob Landeros, co-founder, creative director and CEO of Trilobyte Games. "The team's in place; new puzzles are in development, and the most notorious villain in all gaming, Henry Stauf, is poised to return and finish the story that begins in The 7th Guest.
    In The 7th Guest: 3, Stauf's high-definition house is filled with 20 "devilishly clever puzzles" to test gamers, Trilobyte said.
    "The house is not only filled with puzzles, it is a puzzle; one gigantic, mechanical mind-bender."
    To complete the game and the story, players must solve every puzzle in the house and the puzzle of the house itself. Only then will Stauf's secret be revealed.
    In the first nine hours of a 39-day funding period, the project attracted more than $21,000.
    Updated 10:05 a.m. Nov. 1: In the first 24 hours, the project garnered $28,000.
    Landeros said top financial backers will have their portraits and busts displayed at prominent places in the game's mansion.
    Landeros estimated development and production time will take a year, making it available for the 2014 holiday season.
    The price has not been set, but will likely be in the $29.95 range for PC and Mac users.
    Trilobyte distributes its games on Steam, Europe's GoodOld Games (GOG.com), France's DotEMu (dotemu.com), gamersgate.com, and Amazon, as well as iTunes App Store and Mac App Store.
    "That's a robust distribution channel," McHenry said. "Quite uncharacteristic for a small studio in rural America."
    The company is modestly profitable but had trouble finding more conventional financial backing to spur growth. Instead it has followed the industry's 21st century path.
    "We've turned to Kickstarter after attempting to play with the local incubator and angel group," McHenry said. "Local investors couldn't seem to put us in a category that fit and was comfortable for them. We didn't seem a start-up, though we were, and no one seemed to be able to value our intellectual property. Well, we've made those points moot now, and we're bootstrapping our growth like we always have. "
    Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregMTBusiness, and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.
    Correction: This quote has been clarified.
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