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In memoriam: James Kim, CNET senior editor, 1971 - 2006
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     Haunted Glory


Part 1: Recruiting the Guests
Part 2: Clock Strikes Eleven
Part 3: A Year of Waiting
Part 4: A Tender Moment
Part 5: A New Ascension
Part 6: The Bitter End
Table of Contents
Behind The Games
Page 22: Shades of Perspective

Since the dissolution of Trilobyte, Wheeler and Landeros' appropriately named Aftermath Media has adapted Tender Loving Care to DVD technology and has just recently released a critically acclaimed DVD-Video version of TLC. Although critics have praised the product on CD-ROM - The London Times gave it a 9/10 score - blockbuster success has not yet befallen Aftermath. Its next product, a game show for the future based on the classic '80s game Lexi Cross, moves away from the controversial content of Tender Loving Care, and is currently in production. Landeros and Wheeler work together in a small Ashland, Ore., office, and from time to time they both see former Trilobyte employees around town.

screenshot
Aftermath Media Logo
After leaving the Trilobyte office for the last time, Graeme Devine moved to Texas to take a position with id Software, where he is currently working on Quake 3: Arena, due for release later this year.

The other employees who remained with Trilobyte through the bitter end are still trying to recover from its downfall. Devine hopes to sell off The 7th Guest intellectual-property rights and distribute any revenue from that sale to the employees who went off salary.

Devine and Landeros haven't spoken to each other since that ill-fated board meeting in November of 1996, and they have no immediate plans to get back in touch. "I hope we have both learned from the situation," explains Landeros. "I really don't think Graeme did anything with malice toward me, and I wish him the best of luck in the future." "I've never had a problem with Rob personally," says Devine, "and I don't have any venom toward him at all." At the end of the day, the two founders remain the most objective of all about what led to the rise and fall of their dream.

To some, it may be hard to understand how a company that had once been valued at more than $50 million could end up annihilating its worth in a matter of a few short years. "At the end of the day, there were no Ferraris to sell, or lives of rock n' roll and drugs," admits Devine. Because he and Landeros rolled all their royalties back into the company, at the end of the day, "I was just a guy with a mortgage like everyone else," he says.


"At the end of the day, I was a guy with a mortgage, just like everyone else."

- Graeme Devine
Yet with the story of Trilobyte, "there is nobility in the failure," according to Red Orb's Ken Goldstein. In early June, after an extensive five-hour interview for the article, Devine sent an e-mail to make sure the tale of Trilobyte was cast in the right light. "The story of Trilobyte isn't one of failure," he began, "but it's one of human spirit and success." Despite the differences among the personalities and the antagonism that developed, Devine says he still has positive memories of the fossil that is now Trilobyte. "The results of the last nine years have given me some lifelong friends, a daughter, and in the end, made me a better man," he says. If Devine has a regret, it's that "I should have quit when I wanted to and not tried to play for the team."

Landeros has positive memories of his time at Trilobyte, but he remains hurt by the way things ended. "[The story of Trilobyte] does make you ponder when you are friends with someone, what is that contingent upon?" One night, during a phone interview, with a Top-40s radio station gently filtering into the conversation, Landeros recalled the lyrics to an old Billy Holiday song to express his sentiment:

And when you got money,
You got a lots of friends
Crowdin 'round your door
When the money's gone
And all you're spendin' ends
They won't be 'round any more
No, no, no more
-- God Bless The Child (Arthur Herzog Jr., Billie Holiday)

In the end, the story of Trilobyte may be one of human spirit, sorrow, and ephemeral success, but it is also one that illustrates the cutthroat world of business. "The days of the garage operations and the emergence of creative forces are quickly coming to a close," says Virgin's Martin Alper. "When you have those breakthrough hits, you have to know how to follow them up. With Trilobyte, they wouldn't let the business people run the company, and when that happens you're always in trouble."

In the end, Devine and Landeros were set on determining their own destinies. "They wanted to be Van Gogh time and again," explains Costello, "And that's great, but you can't always do that in a corporate setup." There is a time to innovate, and there is a time to exploit. Trilobyte, in many cases, shunned the latter in the hopes of always championing the former. And more often than not, such a decision can be the kiss of death.

The dark clouds of failure may still circumscribe the story of Trilobyte for years to come, but in the end, like the Beatles, the company will be remembered for its successes, not its failures. In the annals of history, The 7th Guest will go down as a game that revolutionized the PC CD-ROM market, and Trilobyte will be known as the company that made possible the game everyone thought was impossible.

Next: Timeline of the ages of Trilobyte