Be their "Guest," if you dare
An iconic — and spooky — video game created by Southern Oregon designers will soon see a new life.
But the latest rendering of Trilobyte Games’ “The 7th Guest” adventure puzzle game won’t be played on a computer. It will play out on a tabletop — mouse, screen and keyboard traded in for cards, dice, minis and a board. Oh, and a decoder magnifying glass.
The game raised just shy of $62,000 from 713 backers during a month-long fundraising campaign, according to the Kickstarter crowdfunding website. Those backers should receive their games by December, Trilobyte senior producer William Hennes says.
“The fan base was still alive out there,” Hennes says. “Now we’re mixing tabletop games with video games, and so we’re crossing that divide, so to speak, and those fans were hanging on for that. That was extremely encouraging.”
Translating the video game into analog form started in early 2016, game designer Rob Landeros says. He co-designed the original video game, a commercial success that sold millions of copies. Released in 1993, it’s about a spooky haunted house filled with puzzles, and players are tasked with solving them.
Matthew Costello, who wrote dialogue for the original computer game, contacted Landeros over Facebook. The two continued to stay in touch after the video game’s release, and Costello had a specific thing he wanted to chat with Landeros about: board games, and the success they’ve had on crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter and Indie GoGo. Utilizing those types of sites to raise money and produce tabletop games is increasingly popular. A recent article on the Polygon entertainment website shows nearly $138 million went to successfully backed tabletop game projects on Kickstarter in 2017, with $84.6 million and $101.2 million raised in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
That caught Costello’s attention.
“He messaged me and told me that: ‘Hey, Rob, tabletop games are really doing well for crowdfunding. You should think about doing ‘The 7th Guest,’” Landeros says. “It took me about 10 minutes to think that might be a good idea.”
The message, he adds, was a flashpoint for him.
“I think there’s kind of a reaction toward getting back, away from all that social media and the digital thing and the distance between people to something more hands-on that you can play with real people in real-time, looking face to face at them,” Landeros says.
The game involves players rolling dice, traveling to rooms and solving the puzzles they find inside. Players who solve the puzzles first — including the final brain buster — and finish their mansion “tour” win the game, according to the Kickstarter. Players can decide at the beginning whether all 18 rooms must be visited or just some. Deciding to require visits to 10 or five rooms are coined the “dime” and “nickel” tours, respectively, Landeros says.
Landeros calls the game family-oriented and casual — the kind he’s attracted to.
“It’s not complicated at all,” he says.
Step one was recreating the layout of the video game house. Creating the puzzles came next. The video game had 20 puzzles, a number that wouldn’t cut it for the board version, Landeros says. They would need hundreds; 300 to be exact.
“We put out a call worldwide for people who could design logic puzzles, who were into it,” Landeros says, “who were into trivia, riddles and all kinds of stuff like that.”
The response was worldwide, with interested parties from across the U.S., England, Hungary and Indonesia, to name a few. In all, they received about 30 applications. That had to be narrowed down, first to a dozen or so, then to six, Hennes says. Getting from 12 to six came through puzzle-making “tests,” Hennes says.
“We needed the puzzle makers to go ahead and create some puzzles for us in specific categories that we asked them to do,” Hennes says. “And then from that, all the entries that we received, Rob and I then rated them separately, away from each other and then came back and compared our results. From there, the highest-scoring similar results narrowed it down to our six puzzle makers.”
The puzzle makers would submit puzzles, and Landeros and Hennes would sort them by category — trivia, logic or cryptic — and keep track of the ones they collected on a spreadsheet.
“Some easy, some difficult, but mostly intermediate,” Landeros says of the puzzle difficulty.
Making the board game came with some bumps in the road, including issues over initial component quality.
“For us the quality needed to meet and exceed our expectations, and it wasn’t doing that, so we had to send them back, tell them to resend,” Hennes says. “Finally we got to that point where we all got it and said, ‘Yes, this is it.’”
Additional content may be coming soon in the form of game expansions, Hennes says, and Trilobyte is working with retail distributors.
“To see it now, finally, in this form is awesome,” Hennes says. “It’s a great birthing, I think.”
Reach web editor Ryan Pfeil at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 541-776-4468. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.