Game design tips you can steal to make a brilliant Easter egg hunt

Need help with your Easter egg hunt clues? Let the game designers of the world save you the trouble of thinking.

Easter egg hunts, a time-honored tradition, but often not quite living up to the hype bestowed upon a once-a-year event. If you're looking to spice up your Easter egg hunt this year, for big kids or little, then you can easily knock together a quest worthy of any big-budget RPG. Here's just a few ideas you can steal from the egg hunt experts: game designers.

Get visual

Most egg hunts are thrown together with scribbled notes packed with hints to the effect of "under plant pot". But it's the 21st century and the Easter Bunny has access to a wealth of technology now. If you've got a printer, why not take a photo and leave it in place of a note? This opens up a whole slew of puzzle design options for you. Games like Elden Ring's painting puzzles ask you not to find the subject of the image, but where it was taken from. You could also leave hints in the form of extreme close ups of an area around your home, asking the hunters to dig through their everyday recollection of their surroundings, which can be delightfully infuriating when you know you've seen that exact image hundreds of times.

Other visual hints can use perspective, such as Deathloop's puzzles – which you can use in combination with our next big hint, just as Arkane did there. Leave hints for a specific location that you can place parts of a solution on different surfaces, such that when standing in the right spot, they line up to provide the final answer. You can use foreground and background separations, such as bannisters on stairs, to place numbers of a code sequence so that they line up when your hunters find the right step to view it from.

Stick to your code

Nothing makes you feel like a real detective like cracking a safe. Not all of us have safes lying around to use as a prop in an Easter egg hunt, but simple locks like combination luggage or bike locks can be used in the same way. The best way to make use of code-breaking in your well-designed hunt is to avoid outright stashing the code somewhere, let the hunters derive it from clues you leave. Whether that's leaving conspicuous notes by the imagined owner of the lock (you) in the vein of immersive sims like Deus Ex or Bioshock, or hinting to a logical sequence in the code's structure, like a family member's birth date.

You could even break the code up into smaller clues hidden alongside other eggs, like the Bomber's Code in Majora's Mask. The beauty of the numbers in a code is you can assign whatever meaning you want to its derivation, making it easily adaptable to any level of difficulty, from little kids to those who are maybe getting a bit too old to think it's much fun anymore (mid 40s).

There and back again

As Easter egg hunts can be a linear progression, you have tons of opportunities to re-use locations (especially if your home has limited space). Many game designers will make use of existing locations to squeeze out every bit of use they can and help a world feel more rich in detail. Perhaps you can leave a clue in the fridge, but another in the freezer, giving the hunters a sense that if only they'd been looking a little closer they might have been able to find two clues in the same trip, thereby making every location feel brimming with undiscovered secrets.

You can even use an old game designer's trick of having a clue next to a very conspicuously locked area, building anticipation that at some point on their journey the hunters will eventually be able to unlock that tantalizing door. You can see this littered all over Metroidvania-style games. If it's a screen door, you could even leave an entire cache of eggs on the other side, taunting them, and have the final clue let them through to the motherlode. The same way in 2D games you can just about get a peek at something interesting through the walls.

Tell me a story

Many game designers use puzzle clues to leave more than just hints about how to get more sweet resources for the player. Often these little puzzles serve as environmental storytelling, letting you in on a tiny sub-story happening in the wider world you're exploring, helping it feel a little larger than its technological constraints allow. Immersive sims like Prey or Deus Ex have almost made a trope out of this with the email conversations you pick up safe codes in, but for the more attentive egg hunters you can even have parts of the story reveal key clues to locations to find more eggs in.

These are just a few tips you can learn from the art of game design to help make your Easter egg hunts a bit more fun. What sneaky hiding spots and clues have you used to spice up your hunts this year?

Editor-in-Chief

Chris is the captain of the good ship AllGamers, which would explain everything you're seeing here. Get in touch to talk about work or the $6 million Echo Slam by emailing chris.higgins@allgamers.com or finding him on Twitter. 

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