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Like visiting an old friend

They’ve released the 7th Guest as a VR game. And actually, no – it’s not like visiting an old friend. It’s a completely different game. They’re both haunted house puzzle games, and there the similarity seems to end.

The original 7th Guest was released in 1993 and even my non-game-playing readers might remember it. It was a literal game changer.

It was one of the first games to be released entirely on CD at a time when not many people had a CD player. Adding one was hundreds of bucks. The game itself was a Benjamin. Remember when anything to do with computers was stupid money? There must have been significant buzz about the game because, according to this short video about it, CD player manufacturers said sales went up 300%.

It was one of the first first-person games and one of the first to use Super VGA 640×320 graphics with 256 colors. It was stunning at the time, which is hilarious when you see it now.

Doom came out the same year and was amazing because you could move freely in a 3D world. The world of 7th Guest was in a much higher resolution than Doom and you thought you were moving freely in it, but it employed a very clever trick: the motion was accomplished with hundreds of pre-rendered video clips. CD made this approach possible.

So for any given spot in the game, you had stand on A and look left, stand on A and look right, move from A to B then repeat with B until you’d built all the possible paths.

I thought that was a wonderfully clever idea, so I stole it. I built a simulation for work where you’re an engineer moving through a warehouse. And because my simulation could live on the hard drive, it was in much, MUCH higher resolution. Like, damn near photo-realistic. Nobody had seen anything like it.

In the end, the idea came to nothing, but I got to spend several years working on it and everyone thought I was a sooper genius.

Dark, dimly lit warehouse. All linear paths. It was actually very easy to make it look amazing. This must have been after 1995, because that’s when we first got 3D modeling. Also, I would never have spent a hundred bucks on a game.

You can watch a full playthrough here of the original game. The comments are hilarious. I was a grown-ass woman when this came out and it was camp and stupid and fun. A lot of the commenters were little kids and it scared the shit out of them.

June 6, 2024 — 7:45 pm
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