Gabriel Knight 1 – Easter Eggs

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Father has some good easter eggs. How long can the undiscovered ones survive The Sixth Extinction?

Oh I dunno... let's say about... five minutes??

Thank you for playing Gabriel Knight. Now go to bed.
Get murked in the bayou and quit to DOS

A subtle admonishment awaits those who quit the game, but only at one unlikely time. On the sixth day there's a conclave in the bayou at night. If it goes poorly then you're brutally murdered and presented with the somber game-over screen. Unlike most Sierra games, the death penalty is used sparingly in GK1. This is only your second opportunity to perish. You'll probably restore and try again, but if you really are so beaten that you quit right there, then something different happens. Instead of staring into the usual DOS void... the void stares back at you, thanks you for playing, and then coldly orders you to bed. In the 90s I only played this game in the dark of night — this one would have got me good!

Click Operate below the eraser... after creating a file named BUSTER

At the end of the game there are two office rooms in the Voodoo cartel's twelve-room honfour. One looks interesting and has stuff you need. The other appears empty with no purpose beyond filling out the underground lair. In fact, the seemingly useless fifth room hosts one of Sierra's most well hidden easter eggs.

Gabriel draws a whiteboard doodle of the game's creator if you click Operate just below the board's eraser. The clickable area is small but that's not why it hasn't been found. To unlock the click, you first have to create a file named BUSTER in the game's directory. That sure explains the twenty-eight year shelf live! This egg has it all: secret art, a secret file, a secret hotspot, and a room that in hindsight was conspicuously boring. But best of all, it's a Jane Jensen tribute.

Jane Jensen's Sierra games are widely regarded as the best. Evidence suggests that she was their hardest working designer. In 2012 she offered copies of her Gabriel Knight game bibles as rewards in a Kickstarter campaign for her new game company. The campaign and company are long gone, but thanks to an unsecured server, the first half of the GK1 game bible has been preserved for us all to enjoy. A game bible is the design document that the creator drafts at the start to lay out everything so that a small army of others can build the right game. Book One is one hundred pages and tremendously thorough. Practically every detail made it into the final product as specified. It's the work of a real writer. Speaking of which, Madame Jensen is in the news! She's thriving in her new career as Eli Easton, prolific author of homoerotic literature. In retrospect, that makes a lot of sense. Just imagine the adventure game that Chuck Tingle could come up with...

A nice thing about these easter eggs is that they both have distinctive text that makes them easy to search the web for. Two years ago my silly script tools detected these within a few minutes but I'm still not seeing any references online. The JANE picture would have been a giveaway if someone had "just" seen it in a resource browser, but as we discussed last time, there are hard practical limits to resource browsing. This game has a lot of art for one frame to hide in. Gabriel's animations are cleverly repurposed from sneaking around the police station and scrawling on the cemetery tomb so they don't reveal anything. The script is even obfuscated with names like wb, sWB, and j to avoid code-level detection — that's a detail I that certainly appreciate. Well done, everyone!

Now that the groundwork is laid, these easter egg articles are pretty easy to knock out. They kinda write themselves? I feel like there's a lesson here that's just out of reach. Oh well, maybe next time!