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Who doesn’t like a good Easter Egg – dieticians, diabetics and dentists aside. All that chocolatey goodness moulded into a thin and overpriced shell, but hiding inside such riches as you can barely imagine. Mostly more chocolate riches – and it doesn’t require much imagination, given that it already tells you on the box what’s inside the egg.

Okay, so the reality of Easter Eggs is probably a little bit of a let down, as it’s clearly just a ploy to sell cheap chocolate at inflated prices. In principle, however, an Easter Egg contains some hidden and unknown surprise, placed there by the chocolatier to delight and amuse his patrons. Think “Kinder Egg” rather than “Cadbury’s Creme Egg”, and you might start to get the idea.

All of which is a long-winded way to explain why the phrase “Easter Egg” means something different in the computer world. An Easter Egg, to your average tech-head, is a hidden or surprise bit of code which can be triggered in a game or application. It might just be a list of the development team’s names; it might be a whole sub-game hidden within the main game; it might be a fancy animation or video. All you need to do is sacrifice a Gnu over a burning copy of the Emacs source code while chanting the Konami code – although other means of accessing Easter Eggs are often made available.

Enough blurb already – what’s all that got to do with The Greys?

Glad you asked. You see, much like the Easter Eggs hidden in computer games and applications, we’ve hidden Easter Eggs in our comics. Think of it as a little gift – a free puzzle that comes with each comic (well, most of them, anyway).

An Easter Egg in our world could be just about anything. It might be an animation; it could be a nod or a wink to some classic or obscure sci-fi programme; it might be an extra bonus joke or two; it could be a code, hidden in plain sight for those who can spot and decipher it; it might just be a little “Hello” from us to the egg hunters of the world.

So how do I find them?

We’re not just going to tell you that. That would sort of defeat the point of hiding them in the first place. But we will give you some hints:

  • Most of them require you to have the SVG source code for the comic, which you can download from each comic’s page
  • In some cases just loading the SVG file directly into an appropriate program will reveal the Easter Egg – the Opera web browser is a good starting point, as it has strong SVG support, including SMIL animation
  • Try loading the SVG file into Inkscape – it’s the program we use to create the comics in the first place, so we’ll often hide Easter Eggs in extra layers, below other parts of the image, or in small elements that you’ll have to zoom right in to see. The “View > Display mode > Outline” wireframe view is a good starting point, as is the Layers dialogue
  • Sometimes you might have to load the SVG file into a text editor and wade through it looking for comments or hints (if you downloaded an SVGZ file you’ll need to extract it first – it’s a GZip archive)
  • They are occasionally hidden in plain sight. You should keep an eye out for patterns and numbers in the images – they might not be there by accident. A knowledge of hexadecimal, binary, ASCII and musical notation might be useful – plus any other odd languages or number systems that take our fancy
  • There’s no guarantee that every comic has an Easter Egg… sorry if you’ve just spent three hours looking for one

I found one! I found one! Do I get a prize?

No, sorry, no prizes (unless a comic specifically states otherwise). Our Easter Eggs are just a bit of value-added fun. If you do find one, please observe the following Easter Egg etiquette:

  • By all means post a comment saying that you’ve found it
  • Please don’t reveal what the Easter Egg is in your comment. Other people might find the comic months or years after it’s first posted, so don’t spoil their right to also go egg hunting
  • If you really want to prove to the world that you found it, feel free to post on your own site or web page, then put a link into your comment. You should make it clear in your comment that following the link will lead to spoiled eggs
  • We reserve the right to edit or remove any comments which try to spoil the fun for everyone else

Have fun egg hunting. And remember, our Easter Eggs won’t cause weight gain, when used as part of a calorie-controlled diet.