It all started when Stuart asked me if I had come up with any good ideas for the big day, the short answer of which was "No", and the longer adding, "because what hasn't been done already?"
We are a site of limited actions and activities, and that in turn limits our ability to prank ourselves with any effectiveness. We've covered the basics, really: created alias accounts, been bought by Google, turned Cream of Cool into an Ode to Awful, and generally futzed around with the chatterbox, Other Users, and what have you.
One thing we hadn't done that I thought might be interesting was to somehow "swap" usernames for a day. This, however, seemed not only difficult to administer, but impossible to execute. So in limited scope I tried the simple act of replacing people's usernames in the catbox with "moloch" + a random number. A slight homage to moloch36 and the catbox's hivemind mystique.
Well, random numbers proved to be a little too chaotic, so it was quickly revised to the user's node_id (sans the first three digits.) This was the only joke planned for the day. But then ...
Then came the eggs.
I decided it might be fun to award people easter eggs at the Wheel of Surprise instead of "nothing." The eggs would still be "nothing", of course, but an egg's an egg, right? One more tiny gag. I even had the idea that I could keep track of eggs collected and award the persons with the most eggs at the end of the day with some XP.
It was somewhere about this time that OMNIBUNNY also came into existence. I had actually sent my mom an e-mail containing OMNIBUNNY and the message "BUNNY SEES ALL, BUNNY KNOWS ALL" the night before (a kind of clandestine preemptive AFD strke, as she was to be out of town all day Sunday.) Porting it to homenodes seemed to be easy enough, and provide a nice bit of whimsy on the day.
How did it all come together then? In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't think things out too clearly beforehand. The sheer spontaneity and cohesion of all of these disparate ideas into the Easter Egg Hunt came like a fever dream. I scribbled this down on a piece of paper in front of me:
find the eggs, escape the molochs
And so it came to pass.
OMNIBUNNY began handing out eggs. I added code so that giving or spending a C! gave you an egg ("Weird.") I added a cryptic poem to moloch36's homenode about "giving" in order to receive (a triple entendre - give a C! to someone else, "give" a C! through spending it, or give a nickel at the Wheel) and then set up the code so that if a user collected 12 eggs, their name would appear as it always had.
I began dropping hints about this soon after, trying to be vague and mysterious (about the third time I used the line "Well, I heard ..." I realized how hard subtlety can be.) It seemed to be all for naught: people were ignoring what I was saying, caught up in the "moloch" joke (and the unpredictable appearance of OMNIBUNNY) to really catch on to what was going on. It was late, I was tired, I had plans in the morning ...
I visited Everything2 Easter Eggs as a possible seeding ground for more hints, and I spotted the very last link in yclept's writeup there: The E2 Sperm Counter. I figured that that would be the best place to ingrain the fact that the easter eggs you were collecting were actually being recorded for posterity. Rechristened the "E2 Egg Counter", it served its post admirably.
And then, just before I went to bed that night, I watched (with the self-satisfied look of a man who hears a joke he wrote go over big with the crowd) as C-Dawg "escaped" his moloch and posted as himself in the catbox. It was then that I knew that everything would be alright, and I slept very soundly.
The most gratifying moment of all was waking up the next day, logging into the chatbox, and seeing that almost everybody had "escaped". The singular effect of the community coming together to not only collect eggs but to tell others how to escape was indescribable. The unintended consequences, too: Meezzio and Acropolis began a race to collect the most eggs (an original plot point I had more or less abandoned), while others wondered what 24 or 144 eggs would bring. It was a fairly succsessful venture, insofar as it gave the site a collective mystery to solve, and a tangible goal for doing so.
I had briefly considered what to do with the eggs at the conclusion of the day. One thought was to let people simply convert them all into XP via a superdoc on a 1:1 ratio. I also had thought of people being able to play a game with them (something akin to the card game War), or to be able to "throw" them at people via private message. Finally I settled on an /egg command, to award 1 XP (later revised at Excalibre's behest to 3 XP) to the recipient of l'oeuf surprise.
This led to a great frenzy of egg-throwing, which made the catbox 100% unreadable for 24 hours (a slight uptick from its standard 99.2% Unreadability Index.) I removed all the code I added the night before except for the ability to win eggs at the Wheel of Surprise.
I don't think I could've managed to conceive this idea with any actual forethought. It took the random attempts at sabotage and subterfuge coming together into a hastily-scrawled note; in that regard, the genesis and execution of the prank reminds me of E2 itself: unpredictable, frustrating, curious, rewarding, and (to me, anyway) a whole lot of fun.