Trilobyte

Trilobyte

Trilobyte was a computer game developer founded in December 1990 by Graeme Devine and Rob Landeros. They are well-known in the computer game industry for The 7th Guest and The 11th Hour games, and to a lesser extent for Clandestiny and other titles.

Logo

The official company logo consists of a trilobite superimposed on a pyramid. The design for the logo went through many changes, from the simple, to celebrating holidays on their webpage (now defunct). The logo pictured here is from a mirror of the old official company page, and is more elaborate than versions seen within the games themselves.

History

The company is most famous for creating the PC game The 7th Guest, one of the first computer games for CD-ROM. Most of the footage for the game was filmed with a US$35,000 budget, Super VHS cameras, and blue butcher paper as a background that would later be removed to help insert the actors in the game, a process called chromakey, or bluescreen). The game was a puzzle-solving game similar in style to Myst. However, most of the puzzles in The 7th Guest were based on versions of real puzzles invented by people such as Max Bezzel, while the puzzles in Myst were mostly fantasy-based. Also, The 7th Guest's puzzles were mostly independent from their environment, whereas Myst's puzzles were heavily integrated into the environment. For the time, it had amazing graphics by Robert Stein III, Gene Bodio and Alan Iglesias, MIDI music by The Fat Man, and an interesting story by Matthew J. Costello. During planning, a sequel was already being considered in anticipation of success. The final version of The 7th Guest was released in 1993. 60,000 copies were snapped up overnight, and a bevy of requests for reorders arrived days later. When the game was released, some CD-ROM manufacturers registered up to a 300 percent increase in sales for CD-ROM drives.

Overall, the game proved to be a turning point in CD-ROM based technology. If not for the popularity of The 7th Guest and Myst, a similar-styled adventure game, the CD-ROM would not have been as popular and would have taken longer to gain a foothold in the marketplace.

The 11th Hour was released in the fall of 1995, after missing its original release date by more than a year. It was one of the first games to support 16-bit color. Graphically, the game was superb for the time. It featured detailed environments and fluid motion. However, the game drew criticism for several reasons. The game was released in DOS when Windows 95 had already been out for some time. The company was flooded with callers trying to get the game to run on their machines. The game still used MIDI for music, instead of CD audio. In addition, the gameplay was not well received by some, with players getting angry at the puzzles and riddles they had to solve, ranging from abstract logic to anagrams. Despite the massive amount of pre-orders from vendors, sales ended up being far below the expected amount, and the game did not recover its production costs, a key factor in the company's financial downfall.

The next projects for Trilobyte were published by Trilobyte itself. Clandestiny, with gameplay similar to the previous The 7th Guest and The 11th Hour, though using cel animated (cartoon) video rather than live action, and Uncle Henry's Playhouse, a re-packaging of a number of the puzzles and games from The 7th Guest, The 11th Hour and Clandestiny. However, neither of them did well commercially, and they are not well-known.

After Clandestiny, the company effectively took two internal directions. Landeros led a project called Tender Loving Care, while Devine started a Massively Multiplayer project, Millennium. Tender Loving Care (starring John Hurt), often referred to simply as TLC, was completed in 1998.

About the same time, Red Orb Entertainment, a division of Brøderbund, signed on to publish two titles on Devine's "side" of the company — Assault!, a top-down multiplayer action game, and Extreme Racing, a racing game, which ran on a shared game engine. Red Orb was also publishing the games Riven and Prince of Persia 3D at the time. Assault! was later renamed Extreme Warfare and changed from top-down to a first person perspective. Extreme Racing was likewise retitled Baja 1000 Racing and attached to a SCORE International racing license. Both games made appearances at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) trade show that year.

Closing

The Learning Company purchased Brøderbund in 1998. The Learning Company then canceled many of the current Red Orb game projects and Trilobyte. With 'both eggs in the Red Orb basket', it was unable to find new publishers for the titles and shut down on 1998-09-15.

A third part of The 7th Guest series, not developed by, and unknown to Trilobyte, was rumored to be in development using the Unreal engine. Only a few screen shots of this canceled game exist, with few details existing about it except for a proposed introduction storyline. Later, Rob Landeros also developed a proposal for another first-person sequel in The 7th Guest series — The Collector.

In 2002 a UK I.T. Company was launched, called Trilobyte Technologies Ltd. The name was inspired from the Trilobyte computer game company, and they took over their original domain of tbyte.com Still to this day, more than 10 years after the original company's demise they still host the last ever released game patches, and have a page dedicated to them on their links section. Both Graeme Devine and Rob Landeros are aware of Trilobyte Technologies Ltd and have spoken to be humbled by their statement.

Released games

The 7th Guest — the first title released by Trilobyte Software. It sold over 2 million copies, making more than US$50 million for the company.

The 11th Hour — the sequel to The 7th Guest. Many production problems and release date slipped by a year resulted in lost profits and sales of only 1.7 million units.

Clandestiny — a cel animated child-friendly puzzle game. It sold only 2500 copies in the United States, bringing in a profit of just US$500,000.

Uncle Henry's Playhouse — a compilation of all the puzzles from The 7th Guest, The 11th Hour, and Clandestiny. It sold less than 25 copies in the United States, and under 500 worldwide.

Unreleased games

Cybernet — Little is known about this game, but The Fat Man has listed on his website that he composed the music for this game.

Dog Eat Dog — an office politics simulator. At a cost of over US$800,000, it was scrapped halfway through production.

Tender Loving Care — Rob Landeros' explicit R-Rated psychological thriller interactive movie. It cost over US$2.4 million to make and brought Trilobyte close to bankruptcy. It would later be produced by Rob Landeros' new company, Aftermath Media.

The 7th Guest III — a highly rendered and media-rich game where the house would be back to its original form and all forms of media were to be controlled by Satan. US$500,000 went into production. Only a few highly rendered screen shots were created before Landeros canceled the project.

Extreme Warfare — Greame Devine's online top-down perspective 3D tank game, originally named Assault. Red Orb Entertainment was sold to The Learning Company, who had no interest in the project and canceled development funding.

Baja Racing — originally called Extreme Racing. It was shelved due to the lack of development personnel, as already meager resources were assigned to Extreme Warfare.

The 13th Soul — a 3rd-person real time game inside the Stauf mansion. A few rendered rooms were all that were made. The sale of Virgin Interactive killed the project.

Trojan Planet — a role-playing game set in a parallel universe where all the world is Trojans. The company went under shortly after the concept arose.

The 7th Guest III (3rd Version) — Another version where the town was abandoned and Tad (the young boy from the 7th Guest) was grown up and a writer, coming back to stop Stauf. The company went under shortly after the concept arose.

The 7th Guest III: The Collector — A completely new version of 7th Guest III where the events took place in a German museum rather than the house. Lack of funding and interest by the producer Lunny Interactive caused it to be shelved.

References

External links

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