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Playing Old Adventure Games:
Part 6 in a series of articles by SirDave
Featuring: 7th Guest


It is ironic that the adventure game that introduced the first multimedia adventure gaming experience, including the first 3D-simulated graphics and full motion video, not to mention the first release on cdrom, is also a game that appears to have been almost forgotten by many adventure gamers. It is a game that by itself was responsible for a marked increase in the sale of the first ‘multimedia’ computer systems equipped with cdroms in 1993, influenced the development of not only adventure games, but also action games that were to follow. By itself, it accounted for the dramatic rise of a company, and to some extent it’s downfall, no more than six years after the game’s release.

A Brief History of Trilobyte and the Development of The 7th Guest

It is not an understatement to say that the combination of the game designer/graphic artist, Rob Landeros and lead programmer, Graeme Devine resulted in the same synergy of genius that characterized Rand and Robyn Miller of Cyan (developer’s of the Myst series) and John Carmack and John Romero of id Software (developer’s of the Doom/Quake franchise). Landeros and Devine, both new employees for the also new company, Virgin Mastertronic (later Virgin Interactive), met in 1990 and were soon discussing the concept of a game using the new cdrom format when most other companies were more interested in introducing cdroms with encyclopedias and other text-oriented content. Virgin had purchased the rights to produce a version of the classic game Clue and proposed it to its development staff, but Landeros and Devine were not interested and instead developed the concept of a haunted house, puzzle-based game called Guest, apparently influenced by the then popular puzzle-based game, The Fool’s Errand by Cliff Johnson (released in 1988).

In late 1990, ‘Guest’ was presented to Martin Alper of Virgin who quickly saw the potential for the game, but also worried about a counterproductive effect on other developing projects if the game was produced in-house. Thus, Devine and Landeros were ‘fired’ from Virgin, but at the same time received go-ahead funding to set up a subsidiary of Virgin that would become Trilobyte. The foundation for what would become the 7th Guest was laid during 1991. The recent introduction of the graphics development tool, 3D Studio, gave rise to the idea for 3D-rendered visuals. At first, it appeared that there would only be room for advanced graphics in black and white, but clever programming eventually allowed for ‘256 colours’ graphics, though that would mean that the game couldn’t realistically be released on floppy disks (in addition to cdrom) which had been an original requirement of Virgin. A horror writer, Matt Costello, was hired to write the script and the popular game musician, The Fatman, was hired to produce the score. Considerable time was spent by Devine, Landeros and Costello designing the puzzles which had to work with the simple point & click interface. The main development of the game proceeded throughout 1992 with Graeme Devine fine-honing his new Groovie engine that, among other things, would pioneer the new concept of ‘streaming’ audio and video off the cdrom so that the large data files would not need to be stored on the still very limited hard disks.

The 7th Guest (T7G) was finally released in April 1993 with an initial production run of 60,000 copies; they were snapped up overnight! The sales of computer systems in general, and cdrom drives in particular, soared as a result. The initial and subsequent sales of T7G were beyond anything Trilobyte or Virgin had ever imagined. Sales eventually exceeded 2 million copies and provided a cash flow that would continue almost unabated for at least three years. Unfortunately, that created a scenario that would be repeated during the heyday of computer gaming software production during the 1990s: The sales and financial success of the flagship product would allow the unbridled expenditure of funds on projects that were poorly planned, in some cases ill-conceived, and often lacking realistic business plans.

A sequel to T7G, The 11th Hour was well in the planning stages even before T7G was released. Unfortunately, the introduction of the game was bogged down by delays, not the least of which was the need to rewrite the game engine (in order to handle innovations in, and requirements of the graphics) and to re-render every last graphic when it became evident that 256-colour-based graphics were not going to meet the demands of some of the video presentations. The intended March 1994 release date became November 1995. Adding insult on injury, The 11th Hour was released as a Dos game just after the release of Windows 95 with the result that the first buyers had all sorts of installation problems. A Windows version soon followed, but damage had already been done to the game’s reputation and contributed to a loss in some profits though the game did go on to sell 1.7 million copies; not an insignificant number even in the heady days of the mid 1990s!

At the same time, flush with cash and T7G-based success, Trilobyte took on questionable projects such as the purchase of a software project, Dog Eat Dog, from Disney and the development of an interactive movie, Tender Loving Care, starring John Hurt. Disagreements developed between Landeros and Devine and increasingly, projects were not meeting deadlines or staying within their budgets. All the while, money was flowing in from sales of The 7th Guest which from 1993 to 1995 continued to reap software awards! A planned third game in the T7G series never came to fruition, though a distantly-related game, Clandestiny, did. A humorous take on puzzles from T7G, The 11th Hour and Clandestiny was also released under the name, Uncle Henry’s Playhouse, now somewhat of a collector’s item because of its very limited release. Though several attempts were made to keep things going, the company that had started with so much promise in 1991 quietly turn off the lights February 2nd, 1999. Interestingly, Graeme Devine joined id Software to work on the development of Quake 3, Arena.

The 7th Guest, The Game

If you love puzzle-based adventure games and have not played The 7th Guest, then you are in for a special experience. While the initial sales of T7G were likely based more on its then advanced multimedia experience, the continued sales over several years were due to the fact that it is a cleverly constructed game and fun to play. While it is true that the core of the game are the many puzzles of all various types, the game does have both a back story told in an opening video, and also an on-going story with periodic full-motion video sequences that further the plot and add interest to the puzzle-solving. For instance, when playing the game for the first time and finding yourself facing the staircase, turn around to face the coloured-glass door (with the octagon) and go towards it until the cursor changes to the joker-mask. Click on it to find out more about what you are supposed to do and why. Not only the storyline, but the funny and mildly adult-themed comments strewn throughout the game add to the enjoyment of it all; for instance, one woman’s comment at the cake puzzle, ‘I’ll show you mine if you show me yours’ and the scream ‘Come Ba-a-ack!’ that occurs when you click on the menu’s Farewell selection.

The main character is the madman Henry Stauf (anagram of Faust) who down on his luck murders a woman for her purse and then after a vision in a dream takes to building dolls and toys which he sells for a profit. He then goes on to build a mansion to which he invites 6 guests who must solve various puzzles in order to make their dreams come true. There is, however, one more guest, the 7th guest, who Stauf says hasn’t arrived while being elusive about who it is or what it all means. It is your job (as the character Ego) to solve the puzzles and figure it all out. There are various themes in the game that people have hypothesized about, not the least of which being the reason for the name Stauf (ie. the Faust connection). This has served to make the game all the more interesting. Like most puzzle-based games, some of the puzzles are fairly easy while others are very difficult. However, if you get stumped, Henry has left a Book of Clues in the Library for you!

At any given time, anywhere from a few to several copies of T7G are usually available on Ebay and can be had for often under $10 USD and sometimes under $5 so there is no excuse to not get and play the game. Check some of the information that follows before making your purchase.

The 7th Guest Release History (including the various patches)

There has been considerable confusion over the various versions of The 7th Guest, mainly due to several available patches and the release in April 1997 of a Windows version. In fact, the situation is not really that complicated. The first release (March 1993) appears to be version 1.22 and can be distinguished by the purple Disk One. Several patches were released between March and August of 1993: tgpatch.zip which updated v1.22 to v1.24, t7gfix3.zip which appears to be a combination of t7gf3a.zip and t7gf3b.zip which update several files and T7G_130.zip which updates to v1.30 and not only appears to include all of the previous patches, but also was the last update to the Dos version. Published version 1.30 releases have a blue Disk One (a ‘White Label’ release is an example). In 1996, Trilobyte released ‘beta’ versions of a Windows 95 player in the form of t7gwin.zip and t7gwinnv.zip (the latter does not include an opening video) that allows the Dos version to work respectably well under Windows 95/98 (and, to some extent, Windows XP). In 1997 a Windows 95 version of T7G was released that apparently included the release version of the Windows player. However, the best news for Windows XP users is that in 2005 a clever T7G fan created a T7G installer, T7Gsetup.exe, that appears to have fixed most, if not all, glitches that occurred with some WinXP installations using the previous ‘beta’ windows player.

Installing The 7th Guest under Windows XP

Installing T7G under WinXP is not difficult and is remarkably reliable considering that the game was designed at least 8 years before the release of WinXP. It doesn’t matter whether you have the original version or a later release; however, these instructions do not apply to the Windows 1997 version. Regarding versions available on places such as Ebay: Although, the good news is that T7G is very easy to find and purchase on Ebay, it can be very difficult to determine which version you are getting. For the most part, it doesn’t really matter, except that you should know whether you’re getting the 1997 Windows 95 version or not because it was not released for, or tested under WinXP and the instructions below will likely not work with it.

The Windows version does not come up for sale very often and, sometimes, what is described as being the Windows version, isn’t! If the information given for the game is unclear, the best way to make sure is to email and ask the seller before the sale whether it specifically says Windows 95 on the front of the box or on the jewel case insert. It is important to note that the Windows version may not work as well on WinXP systems as installations using the fan-based T7Gsetup.exe specifically created for WinXP. I have not been able to determine whether the Windows version can be updated using T7Gsetup.exe and there is some doubt that it can since, apparently, other changes to T7G (such as changes to some of the puzzles) were also made for the Windows edition. So, in summary, when it comes to getting T7G from Ebay or elsewhere, installation on a WinXP system should work using the instructions below whether the version is the initial 1.22 or the final 1.30. If it’s the Windows 95 version, you’re on your own! {Symbol}. Be aware that on Ebay, the release date of T7G for sale is often given as being 1997 which may or may not be accurate. If it is accurate, the version is likely v1.30.

For those who have any of the versions of T7G other than the 1997 Windows 95 version, all you need to be up and running T7G in minutes under WinXP, are the patch T7G_130.zip (if your version is earlier than v1.30) and the T7Gsetup.exe installer. (Incidentally, one way of confirming which version you already have is to click on the file, V.exe, in the T7G game directory. A Dos-style window will open and the version number will be given at the top.) Do not use the Install instructions that come with T7G. Instead, use T7Gsetup to do the install for you. T7G comes on 2 disks, Disk One is for playing the game; Disk Two is for installation only. To install, simply place Disk Two in your cdrom drive and run T7Gsetup.exe which will allow you to select a hard drive and directory for installation. The benefit of not using the original T7G Install is that you avoid having to go through the, now primitive, testing of things like cdrom drive speed and video board speed.

Having completed the main installation, now extract T7G-130.exe from the T7G_130.zip file (do not bother with the Install.bat in the zip file). T7G-130.exe is a self-extracting file that, on clicking on it, expands to several files in the same immediate directory. The easiest way to use it is to place T7G-130.exe in a temporary directory and click on it there, then copy all the resulting files to the T7G game directory on your hard disk. Alternatively, you can simply copy T7G-130.exe to the T7G directory and expand it within that directory. However, be aware that the automatic file extraction is done through a temporary ‘command/pseudo-dos’ window and you will have to respond ‘y’ (for yes) to overwrite every file being replaced before exiting the window.

Note that you do not need to use T7G-130.exe if you are sure that you already have version 1.30. Also, be aware that T7Gsetup.exe at some points gives the impression that it is a full updater in addition to being an installer. However, it isn’t as it doesn’t add the files that T7G-130.exe updates. If you try to run the original version 1.22 without the T7G-130 update (after installing with T7Gsetup), it will run, but the graphics will, from the get-go, be obviously distorted. For those interested in such things, T7Gsetup.exe appears to work its magic partly by bypassing the use of the Dos-based file, Groovie.ini, that contained information such as the sound board IRQ (interrupt) value and Port Address and instead, uses information provided by WinXP itself. This should prevent problems related to audio and video that did occur using WinXP with the Windows 95 ‘beta’ player which tried to apply the use of the Dos- based Groovie.ini, sometimes unsuccessfully.

T7Gsetup.exe does not place an icon on the desktop so you will need to go into the T7G directory, find the file, v32tng (will likely have a joker-mask icon), rt-click on it and choose Send-to -> Desktop (create shortcut). It is not necessary to customize the shortcut for further compatibility with Windows. That is all there is to it; you are ready to run The 7th Guest in all its glory!

Incidentally, for those who would like to run T7G under Windows 95/98, install the game as per the game instructions (using the T7G native Install), update to version 1.30 (if necessary) using the files from the self-extractor (T7G-130.exe), then update with the Windows 95 ‘beta’ player t7gwin patch that you can download from the site given below. Interestingly enough, this worked well for me on two laptops running under WinXP before T7Gsetup became available. However, it did not work on my WinXP desktop computer which kept giving an ‘unknown asset type-please restart’ error message as reported by others on the internet. Luckily, the WinXP update in T7Gsetup cleared that up!

Troubleshooting and Other Information

Remember that Disk One must be in the drive before running T7G. Occasionally, on startup, the game may repeatedly ask for Disk One even though you have already placed it in the drive. I found that opening the disk-drive drawer and closing it once or twice did the trick. One would think that this is more likely due to a worn disk, but it happened with both my 13 year old original version and my newer version 1.30 (though always on my desktop computers and not my laptops).

After installing using T7Gsetup, if you don’t change the video resolution, the game will play in a relatively small window (which may work just fine depending on the size of your screen). Alternatively, you can press ALT-ENTER to toggle between the window and full-screen mode. On the other hand, you can set your screen resolution to T7G’s native 800x600 SVGA in which case ALT-ENTER does nothing. Be aware though that with the higher resolutions people tend to use these days, setting your resolution to 800x600 sometimes has a way of displaying your desktop icons in interesting configurations {Symbol}.

T7G runs remarkably well under WinXP, but there may be occasional hiccups in the audio and/or video. These are usually brief and don’t interfere with the enjoyment of the game. Some of these glitches may be helped by adjusting the audio or video acceleration. I haven’t been able to confirm that since I haven’t had any significant problems so far. Also, some people have reported that the game runs somewhat fast on their computers. I haven’t run into this on 3 different computers, although all them do run at or under 2.2gHz.

The game opens with a rather extensive full-motion video to set up the T7G storyline afterwhich you are presented with the Main Menu. Until you get used to it, the menu can be a little tricky. Just remember that the placement of the cursor on the menu is not correct until the ‘skeleton hand’ has changed to the ‘Sphinx Pointer’ which is the ‘eye on the pyramid’ cursor. So, for instance, say you are planning to quit the game and want to save-game: You must move the skeleton hand over a number (to select the save-game number) until it changes to the Sphinx Pointer, then click the left mouse button to make your selection. Next, you will enter a sequence of up to 13 letters to name your SaveGame. When you have completed the name, move the skeleton hand over to ‘OK’ in the upper left-hand corner until it turns into the Sphinx Pointer, then click.

WARNING: If you press the ESC key at any time during the game, no matter where you are or what you are doing, the game will unceremoniously dump you to your Desktop. You must correctly save your game and exit the game using the ‘Farewell’ option to make sure that your efforts have been saved and the game has not been corrupted. If you forget and press ESC, you will probably be okay though your game won’t have been saved and if you do so before having saved at least once since you first installed the game, you will have to sit through the entire opening video again. Some people have reported minor problems after having exited the game by pressing ESC. Whether the problems actually were due to the abrupt exit is hard to confirm. Also, be aware that while many games now allow you to press ESC to bypass some or all full-motion video sequences; T7G is not one of them. You will skip the FMV alright except that it will be in the form of a skip right back to your Desktop!


I hope you will give The 7th Guest a try. In spite of its age, it holds up remarkably well by today’s adventure game standards and if you are a true adventure gamer you will want to see the game that introduced us into the ‘modern’ adventure gaming age!


Some of the history of Trilobyte came from the excellent article by Geoff Keighley: Haunted Glory, The Rise and Fall of Trilobyte at: http://www.gamespot.com/features/btg-tri/

T7G was tested for this article using the Sony Vaio PCG-U1 (700mHz-5inch screen) mini-notebook, the more recent laptop, Sony’s Vaio VGN-S460 (1.8gHz-13 inch screen) and a regular desktop computer (2.2gHz) using a Sony 19inch CRT monitor.

T7G_130.zip is available at:



T7Gsetup is available at:


t7gwin.zip is available at: