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The first Nancy Drew game in 5 years will transform us again

  Nancy drew the silent spy

Her Interactive

It has come to that. I slid the heavy block-shaped Mayan calendar into the stone door of the monolith and turned it tight. I insert a stone key, which is provided with Mayan glyphs, and the old grave creaks. I stumble backward, startled by the skeleton of a seventh-century writer, fear frozen in her mummified face.

Trembling, I go in to grab the notes she has ̵

1; secrets of the old world – but they are empty! Suddenly I'm pushed from behind into the grave, the papers are torn from my hands as the door strikes and throws me into the darkness. I'm running out of breath if I do not do something fast. I have to find a way to escape. Does something shine in the mouth of the skeleton? I reach in and –

"I will not tell you again to sign out and go to bed, it's a school night."

This is the third time that my mother tells me to get off the computer, but I'm about to crack the case. Catch the culprit. Discover secrets that are as old as history. Sure, I could be tired at school tomorrow, but I've been through worse. I was frozen to death in a lighthouse and knocked down in a theater planned for demolition. On my travels to French castles, Japanese ryokans, Egyptian campgrounds and the Parisian catacombs, I've salvaged priceless artefacts and brought notorious criminals to justice.

Not in real life though. That could describe any of us who played Nancy Drew video games back then. We are Nancy Drew superfans and have been playing these games for 20 years.

And we are not alone.

Nancy who?

Nancy Drew is the legendary fictional detective who was originally created in a mystery series by Caroline Keene. The saga began in the 1930s when publisher Edward Stratemeyer created a counterpart to his best-selling Hardy Boys book series. Nancy was born when he wanted "a contemporary American girl at her best: bright, smart, resourceful and full of energy."

There were hundreds of books that plunged Nancy into startling puzzles, whether it was a creepy ballerina doll dancing on the lawns of an old mansion, or tracking down family heirlooms in Scotland whose chief noticing was the sound of bagpipes.


Nancy has the skills and knowledge to do anything – from everyday life like dancing, swimming, cooking, sailing and golfing to the really bizarre trick riding when forced to hide in a circus.

With a strong female protagonist as lead actress, Nancy brought feminism into the mainstream for young women worldwide. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is a fan and recently posted on Instagram that Nancy Drew is one of the stars in The Book of Gutsy Women, which she co-wrote with daughter Chelsea Clinton.

"My friends and I all wanted to be more like Nancy: smart, brave and independent," Clinton said on Instagram.

When Nancy Drew's book series came to an end, the character switched to television with The Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew Mysteries, released in 1979. The show has been re-shot a few times, most recently for the CW. The detective had a feature film with Emma Roberts in 2007 and another new movie this year.

After all, the appeal of a strong female role model was strong enough for Nancy Drew to be translated into video games for a whole new generation. The Nancy Drew of the 21st century uses science, technology, engineering and math or STEM to solve its puzzles.

Clue Crew Forever

As adult women, we both shamelessly admit that we want to devote most of our free time to the latest Nancy game, Midnight in Salem, when it's released in December. We talked to Penny Milliken, CEO of Her Interactive, the studio behind the game franchise, about the series that changed our lives.

"We receive an awful lot of fan emails and letters that testify to the impact Nancy Drew games have on their lives," says Milliken.

Despite the cult following, Her Interactive fought to keep Nancy Drew's games running. The 33rd game, Midnight in Salem, the first Nancy Drew game in five years, will be released on Windows and Mac on Tuesday and is a big step forward for the series. In this latest game, Nancy is in Salem, Massachusetts, and investigates the arson of the haunted Hawthorne House. The detective, with the help of the Hardy Boys, must connect with the vile witch trials of the 1690s to find out who – or what – is responsible.

But according to Milliken, there is still a lot to be expected in the new game alongside another intriguing riddle.

The studio has made larger and smaller updates, making Nancy more modern than the cartoony roots of the Secrets Can Kill series from 1998. Full 3D environments have been added to provide a more realistic search and clue experience To enable solving puzzles. Midnight in Salem also offers free exploration, more characters than the four usual suspects, and improved animation.

Previously, game developers had to create completely new assets and environments for each new game because nothing was reusable. "The look was quaint and beautiful," she says – but it was limiting. Midnight in Salem is based on Unity, a gaming engine with reusable assets and 3D.

  Frank and Joe Hardy

Frank and Joe Hardy at midnight in Salem (L) compared to their first appearance in Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon (R).

Her Interactive / screenshot of CNET

Midnight in Salem remains true to its roots and is still "point and click".

But without Lani Minella, the voice actress of Nancy Drew. Sea of ​​Darkness was her last game, and a new actress, Brittany Cox, will be speaking to Nancy at Salem at midnight.

Translation of Nancy Drew from Books into Games

After the detective's first PC game in 1998 – with a covert investigation following the murder of a student – 1999 Stay Tuned for Danger Mansion was launched in 2000 and by Since then, each year until 2015, two games debuted.

The Point and Click games let you play as Nancy and solve the puzzle as she wanted. Whether you play as a junior or senior detective, you interview suspects, solve puzzles, discover clues, and escape several difficult situations to catch the culprit.

The games have been gradually updated over time. The first cartoon characters and graphics became more realistic over the next 10 years. What stagnated in the fourth game, Treasure in the Royal Tower, became the beautiful, hypnotic, ever-falling snowflakes in the Sea of ​​Darkness, game number 32. At midnight in Salem, promo photos attract a realistic fire.

  Midnight in Salem

Nancy Drew: Midnight in Salem offers a realistic fire animation.

Her Interactive

The technology featured in the stories has also slowly improved, from landline to smartphone, from handwritten notes to communications via laptops. For midnight in Salem, according to Milliken, there will be a new inventory system and interface for your phone.

But the thrill of solving puzzles after 45 minutes and deciphering glyphs and secret codes has remained the same as in kidnappings, murders, spooks, sabotage, monsters, and buried treasures.

What Nancy Drew taught me

The skills that dominated Book Nancy are taught through the games, forcing players to learn as well. We were exposed to Braille, the periodic table of elements and notes. We can now run an amateur radio, read Roman numerals, the Chinese zodiac, Mayan glyphs, Morse code, latitude and longitude, nautical flags, the Fujita scale, hieroglyphs, binary code and more.

We learned about the French Revolution, the prohibition era, World War II, Hawaiian legends, Venetian culture and history, Irish traditions, herbal remedies, nineteenth-century dining, cloud formations, Grimm's fairy tale, Nikola Tesla. female spies in the Civil War, Scottish tartans and the earthquake in San Francisco from 1906.

We can play the Italian card game Scopa and record the origin of artifacts. Do you need someone who plays bagpipe? We have it.

"We hear repeatedly from our fans:" I learned it from Nancy Drew, "says Milliken. Our stories are fictional, but where it matters and where we can When we share important historical information, we strive for historical interest and accuracy.

What knowledge will be added to our arsenal in Game 33. The witch trials in Salem of the 1690s, we will see this historic moment through the eyes of The Descendants of the City.

Milliken, whose favorite game Danger by Design, The Silent Spy and Midnight are in Salem (ours are probably the Secret of the Scarlet Hand, The Phantom of Venice and Treasure in the Royal Tower), but it's like choosing a favorite According to one of the most rewarding feedbacks from Her Interactive Players have learned to play logic and critical thinking in the games.

A role model for women in technology

For nearly 90 years, Nancy Drew has been a role model for women readers, especially young women Nancy opened the door to become another role model – one for women in technology.

Though women have come a long way in the workforce some areas still have a significant lack of diversity. Surveys have shown that more white men than women work in technology, with giants like Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and others not even reaching 30% of women. The numbers for women in color are even lower.

  Your interactive Penny Milliken

Your interactive CEO Penny Milliken.

Your interactive

Although not intentional, Her Interactive is predominantly female, as is the fan base – 90% women, 10% men. The beta test groups of the game reflect this relationship.

According to Milliken, women involved in the Nancy Drew project enjoy working on a game with a strong female heroine. The games also have variety – the first LGBTQ character appeared in the latest game, Sea of ​​Darkness.

"In one of the studios we used for voice recording, the team heard the remark about how unusual it was to see so many women on both sides of the booth in the studio," says Milliken.

The studio wants to inspire players to recognize the value of technology. And it works – Her Interactive has received countless e-mails, social media posts, and letters describing how the games have promoted STEM education and careers.

And since computer games are usually played by older users (just try a game, especially The Deadly Device, without working through the universal hint system), the team designed Nancy Drew: Codes & Notes for Children in Old Age from five to eight years old, to help younger girls engage with technology and learn the principles of coding.

So, what does Milliken say about women and girls today?

"Nancy Drew's enduring qualities are inspiring because they are timeless," she says. "Her ability as a character to break boundaries by being both bold and friendly is a key message for today: she always shows respect, radiates self-confidence, is inherently curious, and focuses on the facts, without any commitment to apologize for who she is. " [19659025] Secrets Can Kill at midnight in Salem "height =" 0 "width =" 1092 "data-original =" https://cnet2.cbsistatic.com/img/iwPRb9ZoVgLP06qcIFyyiwPO86g=/1092×0/2019/11/28/77821b7f -29f3-438c-bc8c-3c98c7d28810 / secrets-can-kill-v-mis.jpg "/>

The animation of characters has since the first release, Secrets Can Kill, A long way back in 1998.

Her Interactive

The Future of Nancy Drew

We have not seen the last curious bloodhound yet, but do not expect Her Interactive to begin releasing rapid-fire games to make up for the five-year losing streak. The studio is committed to producing a quality game at Midnight in Salem and is not planning to deliver a slapdash follow-up.

Milliken says the studio's primary goal is to remove the key findings from Midnight in Salem as a 3D game. It took 20 years for the proprietary engine to be perfected, but it was essentially outdated in competition with modern games.

"It was a big move to 3D and the new engine that influences everything in game design," says Milliken. "From motion capture to 3D models and animations, to new face-moving technologies, full-body gestures and storytelling for new environments and exploration, these new systems required more testing and more time."

  Midnight in Salem Interactive Motion Detection

Motion Detection was used to create the latest Nancy Drew game.

Your interactive

More characters mean more relationship development, puzzles, and suspects to examine. According to Milliken, the fans have requested all these elements.

Nancy could even move to Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. Her interactive project has already developed a Nancy Drew VR proposal based on one of the books with a Spanish director, but it is more likely that an AR project will first hit the market.

Milliken gave no indication of when we could expect a game after midnight in Salem, but pointed out that there are more on the way.

"We plan to be able to release games more regularly now and would like to thank all our fans for being in Salem for midnight."

Originally published on 3 December at 5:00 (PT).
Updated at 6:23 pm (PT). : More details added.


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