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“Nosy aren’t you?”
January 15, 2013 3:13 PM   Subscribe

It’s 20 or 30 years ago. You’re working on a videogame. You don’t get any credit for your work, blogs don’t exist, there’s no internet and no fanboys. It’s just you, a crusty old terminal, and got a few spare bytes left in the ROM. What now?
posted by Chrysostom (28 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite

 
Good stuff in the comments, too.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:13 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine told me that there is an easter egg in some ports of dig-dug that has yet to be found by the internets at large.
posted by Phredward at 3:16 PM on January 15, 2013


"I am leaving H2O after this project to work at 3DO. I hope this will be a good
move for me."

oh jeez.
posted by boo_radley at 3:29 PM on January 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Man, this is great.
posted by cortex at 3:34 PM on January 15, 2013


Great post! I love that he was able to track down some of the people involved.
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:40 PM on January 15, 2013


Whoa, a computer built into a desk?
posted by glhaynes at 3:43 PM on January 15, 2013


Cabel's blog just keeps delivering.. there was a fantastic FPP just in December about a basement he stumbled across.

Then there's his musical of bugs in Saints Row (also on youtube)

Ladies and gentleman, fire up your RSS readers!
posted by channey at 3:50 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is the perfect tonic for the newer video game post I just read. So wonderful.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:10 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ya know, a lot of this stuff is already known to those of us who obsessively read The Cutting Room Floor.
posted by JHarris at 4:27 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Brings back fond memories of the Easter Egg for Adventure for the Atari 2600. I don't think we called them "Easter eggs" then, though. I think we called them "The Secret Thing on Page x of the Gamer Guide."
posted by Dr. Zira at 4:31 PM on January 15, 2013


It’s 20 or 30 years ago. You’re working on a videogame. You don’t get any credit for your work, blogs don’t exist, there’s no internet and no fanboys. It’s just you, a crusty old terminal, and got a few spare bytes left in the ROM. What now?

> Go North.

There's no exit to the north.

> Look

You're in a room with no internet or fanboys. It's just you, a crusty old terminal, and a few spare bytes left in ROM.

> Look ROM

I don't understand how to look at ROM.

> Peek ROM $FC00

You see a sequence of hexidecimal numbers : 6F AB FE 4D B1 DA 1E 54 FF F3 20

> Poke ROM $FC00 0x8111

It's ROM.

> Wait a minute. "Spare bytes?"

Gotcha.

posted by weston at 4:35 PM on January 15, 2013 [15 favorites]


These are great. (Though this remains my favourite easter egg)
posted by liquidindian at 4:42 PM on January 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


From Modem Wars by the late Dani Bunten:
"IF I STILL HAVEN'T CONVINCED YOU NOT
TO PIRATE THIS GAME, THEN DO ME THE FAVOR OF
SENDING ME A LETTER TO TELL ME YOU LIKED THE
GAME EVEN THOUGH YOU DIDN'T FEEL LIKE YOU
OUGHT TO PAY FOR IT. (YOU MIGHT SEND A COPY
TO EA TOO). I REALLY DO CARE MORE ABOUT
WHETHER PEOPLE LIKE MY STUFF THAN WHETHER I
MAKE MONEY. WE'LL GET BY SOMEHOW."
posted by Asimo at 4:44 PM on January 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


a crusty old terminal

Worth pointing out that these terminals, in most cases, were shiny and fresh at the time.

Even flickery 12" green screens were new, once.
posted by Malor at 4:48 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whoa, a computer built into a desk?

Those were in the days when they didn't have to think about readjusting every possible thing for proper ergonomic posture so that someone wouldn't file a worker's compensation claim. You sat at that desk, and you liked it.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:56 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


The best consoles have built-in ashtrays.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:05 PM on January 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


I've done this (buried easter eggs in code that only crackers/hexers would see) a few times, but the stupid thing is that I can't remember what titles or what messages I put them in. It was a LONG time ago. Except one.

Late 80s I was on a team that made some Sesame Street Learning titles through Hi-Tech Expressions, and as part of the INSTALL.BAT on-a-floppy process that was fairly standard at the time there was a couple of conditional statements in the batch file that would copy things to the user's hard drive at C or D depending on their choice, and then offer to launch the program. BAT files were fairly reliable, but it was the case that there were some OEM versions of DOS or DOS-like operating systems that wouldn't interpret the BAT file correctly and would start executing code directly following a hard GOTO.

You can imagine what is coming next, I'm sure.

I don't know what possessed me to put this line of code in the batch file after a GOTO
    ECHO MS-DOS SUCKS
So... of course... it fucked up, and we got a letter. I got an official reprimand in my personnel file. And an unofficial laugh out of the company president.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:56 PM on January 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


I remember poking through the files for Grand Theft Auto III and finding a string reading "AARON IS TOO CHICKEN TO EAT MEAT!".
posted by dunkadunc at 7:25 PM on January 15, 2013


I don't think we called them "Easter eggs" then, though.

The providence of the term "easter egg," as I remember it, originates from the Katz/Kunkel/Worley series of gaming publications, and I think goes all the way back to the first one, Electronic Games itself, which would make it quite old, preceding the NES by several years. I seem to remember its successor, VG&CE, picking it up from there.
posted by JHarris at 9:41 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Does anyone know if Dave Staugas still loves Bea Hablig?
posted by doop at 11:46 PM on January 15, 2013


> Whoa, a computer built into a desk?

When minicomputers got single-chip CPUs, they became small enough to fit in a rack, but still pretty massive. And you needed a massive CRT, a keyboard, and a storage device in addition. The most effective way to package all that up for sales to small business that couldn't afford server rooms was to build the whole assembly into a desk. That way the customer got some furniture out of the deal too, and it looked like The! Future!

There was a fun but awkward time in the late 70s through the 80s where that form factor continued, even though PCs were technically small enough by this point that they didn't have to be built into a console any more. Doing so still made the whole setup feel like good, professional serious iron -- and even better, there were no cables in the way.
posted by ardgedee at 4:14 AM on January 16, 2013


Back in the day I found a secret conspiracy theory in the game Starflight 2. I've never seen anyone else mention it; am I the only one who dug through it with a hex editor?
posted by Legomancer at 5:03 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of one time about holy CHRIST twenty years ago, when I was very, very bored at a job and was going through a program--possibly Procomm, or an early PKZIP--with a hex editor. Buried at the end was one readable string:

FRED GARVIN MP
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:49 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's a certain desktop copier printer made by a large US company that has my name and the names of my software development team in the ROM. There's no easy way to display it but it's there.
posted by tommasz at 6:18 AM on January 16, 2013


Looking through PC Rogue with a text editor was interesting. All its strings are stored in plaintext, which is interesting considering the whole COM file is only around 50K.
posted by JHarris at 7:05 AM on January 16, 2013


These are great. (Though this remains my favourite easter egg)
The modified Sims, however, haven't been noticed by players since the game's 20 November release, not even by hard-core devotees like 12th-grader Matt Barbato, who maintains a SimCopter fan page - including an archive of performance-enhancing cheat codes - on the Web.
WIRED | 12.03.96

Wow, that's an article from the end of WIRED's third year. At first I laughed that the article had to mention that the fan page was on the Web, but it was 1996 after all.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:39 AM on January 16, 2013


These are great. (Though this remains my favourite easter egg)

Fun fact: The programmer who was fired for that went on to co-found The Yes Men.
posted by atrazine at 8:38 AM on January 16, 2013


Maybe it's just Wired CMS, but I found it striking that the article described the Simcopter hack so floridly it suggest the article never had pictures to back it up. Nowadays you'd expect nicely edited video of all the described states of gameplay.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 6:41 AM on January 17, 2013


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