There was a time when a video game Easter Egg was some strange, hidden reference that you wouldn’t be able to find without either a great deal of luck or the knowledge of where it is. A classic example is the Gabe Newell room in Half-Life, and who can forget Guybrush Threepwood (of Monkey Island fame) showing up in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2? Oh. Just me? Okay, well I still maintain that the game is worth playing to see Guybrush and Darth Vader go at it. (Actually, having watched that video… maybe not.)
The point is that we still have this classic form of the video game Easter Egg and I doubt it’s going anywhere in the foreseeable future. It has been supplanted, however, by a new form of Easter Egg: the lore object. These are diaries, codex entries, in-world books, and so on. Typically, they’re just as unnecessary to the game’s enjoyment as their older brethren, but they offer the developer an easy way to further engage the portion of their audience that needs to know more about the game and its world without boring the rest of the audience to tears. A nice little combination, right? In the right hands, these lore objects transcend their status as Easter Eggs and become fully realized tools.
Anyone who remembers back to the original cRPG days can tell you that these have been around longer than many gamers today have even been alive. And yet, I’d wager that most people first experienced lore objects in an Elder Scrolls game or perhaps one of the modern Fallout games. The thought that went into these brief texts is truly impressive. If you play Skyrim, it is very possible that you’ll read from multiple different genres! Comedies, textbooks, academic papers, epistolary works, and, quite famously, erotica (to name a few). It even goes beyond that though! Not only are there multiple genres to read from, there are multiple authors to read by! One series of textbooks reads completely different from another, and the same can be said any of the other genres.
As a writer, this is… fascinating. Tantalizing! But also, terrifying. As much as I love the Mass Effect franchise, I will forever see the codex system they have as a red flag. Certainly, this codex contains a huge amount of cool information about the game universe, but it’s just so tiring to read. In an effort to realistically capture the feel of an encyclopedia, they succeeded so well as to turn the writing dry and lifeless. And though this is more realistic, it’s hard to ask a player to care about your plethora of made up information if it isn’t even pleasant to read.
We are really excited that we are going to hit one of our stretch goals with Alpha 2, and that is the inclusion of lore items! These lore objects are something we want to use in Gears of Eden, but we want to do it right. It isn’t our goal to convince you that our world is real, but instead to convince you that it is thought provoking. We want you to care, and we want you to have fun! So here’s our plan. When you start up the Alpha 2 release and you start rolling around, you’ll find lore objects around the place. Diaries and the such. These aren’t going to be crazy, just little bits of text where we do not describe the world… we’ll demonstrate it through the eyes of those who have to live in it. If reading lore text isn’t your thing, we totally understand. But for those of you who do enjoy that sort of thing, we hope you’ll enjoy this first taste.
That’s it for this week’s Dev Update! I wish I could delve further into this topic, but it’s better to leave off wanting more than less, right? If you’d like to talk more about any of this (or even just talk about your favorite Easter Eggs), pop on by our Discord channel! Maybe hang out a bit. And if you want to see the latest and great Gears of Eden news, consider following us on Twitter and Facebook. Those are definitely the places to be if you’re interested in game art. We’ll also be streaming more Alpha 2 testing over on Twitch this week and weekend, and would love to have you join us in chat! We’ll be back next week with another Dev Update, and we hope to see you then. Until then, have a great rest of your week.