Throw your detective hat into a pile of rotting fish after that whole Steam winter sale sorta-kinda-not-really alternate reality game? Well, snatch it out. Intrepid sleuths have uncovered evidence of something much larger: a series of symbols and puzzle pieces that span multiple seemingly unrelated games. People are only just now beginning to piece together the larger meaning behind these symbols, but apparently they were popping up in games as early as 2014. So far, puzzle pieces and symbols have been found in five games, all except one of which are major Steam indies. To quote MachMatic's summary:
-Crypt of the NecroDancer - Around May 29th 2015 a file called eye.jpg was added to Crypt of the NecroDancer directory. Using a hex-editing application Puzzle Piece #1 was found inside of eye.jpg. This image seems to be a circular puzzle piece.
-The Magic Circle - I'm unsure when this "eye" was added. /u/Tambox discovered a "eye" in The Magic Circle and provided this image and video. In July 15th Puzzle Piece #4 was found and discussed here, but was only connected to this ARG now.
-Mini Metro - Around February 13th 2015 a secret map was added, and could be accessed by following these instructions to find and click a "eye". An email sent to the developer confirms that there is a puzzle, a solution, and that it is solvable. The secret map has stations shaped like the "eye", and the puzzle seems to revolve around recreating the "eye"'s shape by drawing lines. My progress for the puzzle is here, but was solved to reveal Puzzle Piece #2.
-Kingdom of Loathing - A non-Steam webgame. The eye-sigil was found looking like this, and dates back to October 2014.
As of now, nobody's quite sure where this is headed, nor why some of the pieces have been around for so long. Strangely, one of the strongest leads so far is that the assembled puzzle pieces seem to align with a map of Canberra. This theory also seems to suggest that there are still puzzle pieces left to find.
Frustrated, MachMatic claims to have emailed one of Mini Metro's developers, who apparently replied, "There is a solution — you'll know when you find it. You have all the information you need." So maybe there aren't more pieces to be uncovered after all?
As per usual, people are speculating that this is a lead up to all sorts of things. Half-Life 3 and Frog Fractions 2 are, of course, in the running. Given how long this breadcrumb trail has been growing stale in the shadows, I'm not sure if I buy either of those explanations. The distinguishing factor here is definitely the amount of time this chain has been waiting for someone to give it a good tug.
In lieu of getting their hopes up after the Steam winter sale ARRRRRRG (insert Charlie Brown here), some people are speculating that this is just a fun little thing a bunch of indie developers put together to mess with people. Maybe the puzzle pieces are just part of... a puzzle. Maybe the eye sigil is just meant to link everything together, or to present the goofy illusion of an indie Illuminati.
Or maybe not. Thousands of players have already banded together to get to the bottom of this thing, so one way or another, this mystery — long overdue for a severe cracking — is about to get interesting. Here's hoping it concludes in a slightly, er, grander fashion than the Internet's last video game ARG obsession.