Ha ha ha, you thought I was done planning the speedrun for Nancy Drew: Secret of the Old Clock? You are mistaken! I went back to the game for a bit, to see if I could learn anything new. I don't have access to the game's programming, so I could be 100% wrong about these things. In fact, I probably am. But hey, I spent a half hour wasting my time on this, might as well get a blog post out of it!
Richard Topham doesn't appear, until you talk to Emily and exit through the front door of the Lilac Inn. If there was a way to glitch the game into thinking you've talked to Emily, you could get to Richard Topham earlier. Like...I dunno. Click on Emily to start the conversation with her, then immediately click the menu button to save your game? That way, the game thinks you've started the conversation, but doesn't think you're still in the conversation?
There's also a brief moment in the opening scenes where you have access to the cursor. That's right after Jane leaves the podium, and when Emily discovers the missing jewels. If there was a way to turn around or move places during that brief moment, you'd skip the rest of the opening scene. You could leave the Lilac Inn immediately and talk to Richard Topham; the game would proceed as normal. You'd have to go back to the Lilac Inn to ask Emily about Jim Archer, but you have to go back and ask her about her mother's middle name anyway, so that's not TOO bad.
Any suggestions or ideas as to how to get this to work? It'd be a neat timesaver.
I also discovered that all the people in the trivet fetch quest don't show up, until they have to. That is, if you visit someone early, they won't be there. You have to meet Mrs. Sheldon to make the phone operator appear, you have to meet the operator to make Mrs. O'Shea appear, she has to tell you about printing the tickets before the tickets appear. Too bad there's no sneaky way to cut out most of the trivet quest by fishing early, or something like that.