The History of Easter Eggs

The History of Easter Eggs

Easter Eggs: they make you feel like a child again. Hunting through the grass, climbing under tables, peering around corners where dust gathers and people don't usually go.

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Interesting article. Have Easter eggs in games ever been used for copyright protection, in the same way that trap streets and circuit design has?

I hate to say it: But after reading halfway, I couldn't help but think: "Apparently, drawing dicks for the hell of it is hardly something new."

It's actually very interesting the kind of historical 'Easter Eggs' there have bee, like the complaints written in the margins of texts. Though, since they had to copy it by hand, "Now I've written the whole thing: For Christ's sake, can I have a drink?" might be appropriate.

Robert, that's just not right. Adventure was not the first easter egg, just the first well known one.

Several cartridges for the Fairchild Channel F (1976) had easter eggs, including the store demo cart, and Video Whizball. Likewise there were earlier east eggs than Adventure at Atari itself in their coin-ops. Owen Rubin hid his initials in his 1978 coin-op games Orbit and Skydiver.

Edith The Hutt:
Interesting article. Have Easter eggs in games ever been used for copyright protection, in the same way that trap streets and circuit design has?

Well, a number of NES-era games ran checksum routines against strings such as programmers' names, some of which never actually appear in the game, to activate copy protection routines, which is a little bit like that. One example would be http://tcrf.net/Gimmick! whose copy-protection routine even references a different game.

As far as trap-street style "I'll know if you steal this from me" copyright protection, I'm sure it's been done, but given the nature of the business it'd probably be hard to actually find verified examples of it happening.

Sabrestar:

Edith The Hutt:
Interesting article. Have Easter eggs in games ever been used for copyright protection, in the same way that trap streets and circuit design has?

Well, a number of NES-era games ran checksum routines against strings such as programmers' names, some of which never actually appear in the game, to activate copy protection routines, which is a little bit like that. One example would be http://tcrf.net/Gimmick! whose copy-protection routine even references a different game.

As far as trap-street style "I'll know if you steal this from me" copyright protection, I'm sure it's been done, but given the nature of the business it'd probably be hard to actually find verified examples of it happening.

The Centipede and Asteroids coin-ops also had some hidden "easter egg" code in the form of embedded morse code to thwart other companies releasing knockoffs of the those arcade games. Basically whenever a company was taken to court, all Atari (and the original coder Ed Logg) had to do was show how that morse code was still embedded in the code base.

Always really enjoyed Easter Eggs. Just those little, silly additions that you might stumble upon or hear about and hunt for yourself.

Personally speaking, I think my first Easter Egg that I ever found was the Scarab Gun in Halo 2. Nothing like a developer giving the Finger of God to the player as an Easter Egg. :P Though I blew myself up promptly afterward...

A great game for easter eggs is Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Listen to the commentary in the Director's Cut and you'll know what I mean.
There are a lot of secret references to the original Deus Ex, but also hundreds of little names and design choices that are callouts to various works of sci-fi literature. And of course, the dev team themselves have their own easter eggs.

 

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