Alex’s Analysis – The Hidden Update

posted by on 16th April 2013, at 1:43am

Appropriately enough, for my April article, I’m going to talk a little about easter eggs. No, not those colourful chocolate goodies produced from a chicken/rabbit hybrid which I would imagine might taste pretty strange. I mean little hidden extras in games and movies that a devoted audience keeps an eye out for.

I want to talk about a certain kind of easter egg. A hidden game update, if you will. Lots of games have them. A little something that is not advertised in the patch notes archive that is left for the players to find.

They are not necessarily references or strange things, but instead may be beneficial in a minor, though unique way.

In Runescape’s case, the most famous of hidden updates is the Curse of Zaros mini-quest. Players wearing the ring of visibility may find mysterious ghosts wandering around the world, and after completing a hidden mini-quest, will be rewarded with some very unique cosmetic gear; robes that make your body see-through and a transparent sword.

I speculate it came out at the same time Desert Treasure was released, or if not, some time later. There was no mention of it in the game, nor were there any hints posted on the site. After a while, a curious player wandered around Glarial’s tomb with the Ring of Visibility on and the mysterious ghost caught his eye. He rushed to his bank for a ghostspeak amulet, and was immediately cast upon a mysterious journey across the Runescape world, speaking with NPCs that the entire player-base didn’t even know existed, and was rewarded with a full set of robes that, upon wandering into a crowded area, was immediately surrounded by players going “WTF” and “How you get those”. Awesome.

Since then, players could wear the ring of visibility to find additional little hidden extras here and there. General Khazard in the Relekka forest. A ghost goblin priest in the Goblin Clans quest. A ghost penguin after that.

What’s the big deal, you may ask? Discovery, my friends. To discover a whole new hidden revelation that nobody knows about, and the feeling behind spreading that information to the public and filling them with wonder and awe (and maybe taking credit for the find). That’s what spurs many people to become scientists, archeologists, astronomers, and even chefs.

As I’m writing this, there is currently another hidden update in Runescape. To those who have done the Brink of Extinction quest, you will know that in the vicinity of the Fight Cauldron, there is a bookcase there that you cannot read, and the TzHaar-Mej you communicated with via orb is out of range. When the FAQ of the quest asked if you would ever be able to read the bookcase, a Jagex Mod hinted “who says you can’t?”.

Thus began an epic journey for the eager-minded to seek out the contents this bookcase holds. Immediately, there were rumours and assumptions regarding an NPC that you could bring back to the bookcase. Maybe you could trigger the TzHaar-Mej to enter the cauldron after sacrificing so much Tokkul to the coffers. Maybe wearing a combination of obsidian and onyx everything would let you enter the TzHaar city. Maybe Ga’al-Xox didn’t really return to lava.

After a few months, Mod Stu decided to come onto the forums and, after looking through some speculations, provided us with a few hints to the hidden update. This not only helped confirm that the bookcase is, in fact, readable and there is a solution, but he also gave us a set path to follow. You can find his posts on the forum simply by searching his name (he’s only posted in 5 topics).

In a nutshell, he has confirmed that there is a Ga’al (not necessarily Ga’al-Xox) wandering the Runescape world somewhere “where you could find other TzHaar or other creatures of the volcano”. The trick is that “it moves around”, and it can only be seen under “special conditions” that will take “much more than a ring of visibility”.

When this Ga’al is found, he will follow the player back to the bookcase, where he will translate its contents. In doing so… well, your guess is mine. Read a bit of lore? Unlock a new piece of gear? Discover a hint to another hidden update? Maybe the bookcase even gives you a level 5 clue scroll. I don’t know. But darn it, that’s how we like it!

You can join the clan chat “Mob Stu” (get it?) to chat with fellow hidden update seekers, whom have all tried almost everything imaginable and more. It was even once speculated that Mod Stu was messing with our heads the whole time as a long-term April Fool’s joke, but we’re not giving up.

Mod Stu has even agreed to play 20 questions with us over the course of 20 weeks, or until somebody reports a confirmed find. He’s already answered a couple of questions that really helped narrow down the search, but I think there’s still a ways to go. He really doesn’t want to give us the answer, trying his best to keep the hints as subtle as possible, and I respect him for that. Search out Hankmeister’s post on the Mystery Ga’al, which has been pinned in Existing Game Content to follow along with the clue fest. Pitch in your thoughts, try out some ideas, and, who knows, you might be the one to find it.

Until then, we’ll always be looking.

Cheers, cannoneers!

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