Build Your Own AdventurOS

By Ben Barrett on August 27th, 2013 at 12:00 pm.

The basic concept behind AdventurOS is one that has fascinated me for years: build a game that interprets a computer’s file structure as level code, thus creating a unique but repeatable and controllable experience for everyone. Evelend Games have taken this and fitted it naturally within a fantasy metroidvania mold. Each room is built from a folder with doors used to go deeper into sub-folders, while monsters, chests and other oddities are spawned from the files within. Trailer with a more intricate explanation past the jump.

It’s intriguing, but I do wonder exactly how well it can operate when there are such a huge number of file types available. Will it distinguish between various image formats, or spawn a single entity for all of them? How about proprietary formats that are used only by specific software? In an age of easily purchasable terabyte drives, what will the game do with my flatmate’s several-gig wallpaper folder? Or my downloads folder when I haven’t cleaned it for six months, install exes and cat pictures strewn about the place?

How the developers choose to tackle these challenges, and many more besides, will be very interesting. They’re about a third of the way there to a $10,000 goal on Indiegogo with a decent amount of leeway, time-wise. Check it out for more details.

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56 Comments »

  1. Anthile says:

    Finally a use for all those .bat files.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Wait, we can’t stop here… this is .bat country.

    • AyeBraine says:

      …suddenly, they felt a quickly-rising rumble. The party never had a chance: ghostly spikes impaled them on the spot, and the formless, milky, translucent mass that was a .bak file quickly carried their bloody forms several fathoms high and slowly apart, tearing limb from limb and flesh from bone.

      - Fokkin’ Makrosoft Werd… – uttered the Gnome with his dying breath.

      The Mage lived long enough to feel the impact when .bak disappeared and his bloody carcass slumped to the ground. The wrecked bodies of other adventurers lay about in the gore, lifeless and mangled beyond recognition.

      Such was the price of obscure naming of Word documents, forcing the Grand Master’s hand to open them one by one, forever searching for the secret of the Lost Scroll of Final Thesis.

    • MaXimillion says:

      Just remember to hide all your .ass subtitles before playing.

    • sabasNL says:

      This concept looks like an .exe cellent idea

    • DavidCasteel says:

      my buddy’s aunt makes $82 an hour on the computer. She has been out of work for 8 months but last month her pay was $12605 just working on the computer for a few hours. Go to this web site and read more… http://www.Day37.com

  2. citiral says:

    I wonder what my downloads folder would look like in this game. I presume an “out of memory” crash report :D

  3. Arkanos says:

    As interesting as it sounds, the developers clearly has a non-existent track record when it comes to finishing games. Considering they have 2 or 3 games that they’re asking for alpha-money for on top of that… even if it got funded, I wouldn’t expect it to ever get finished. Clearly they’re using IndieGoGo so they can get the money regardless of whether it hits the goal or not, but in either case I wouldn’t expect a finished project.

    • Arkanos says:

      And as much as I’m being negative on the dev’s, I really REALLY want this project to be completed because I love metroidvania-type games, and the concept looks interesting as hell.

    • Rikard Peterson says:

      Well it uses the fixed funding option, so, like Kickstarter, they won’t get anything if they don’t reach their goal.

      • RvLeshrac says:

        Doesn’t mean anything if they meet their goal but fail to finish.

  4. byteCrunch says:

    Hmm, doesn’t Windows have a maximum limit on the depth of a file directory. Limited by the number of characters a single path can have.

    • Malcolm says:

      Yes, 260 characters which can get spectacularly frustrating. The file system and some API functions support up to 32,767 characters but not enough functions to actually rely on (so you’ll merrily get most of the way through your file operation and then crap out when you try to use an API call that’s still stuck in the 90s. Grr.)

  5. InternetBatman says:

    I really do not want to explore my porn collection. It sits there, like a dark tome of eldritch secrets about my past.

    • frightlever says:

      We’re not calling them porn collections any more, we’re calling them “wallpaper” collections.

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      xXx_Pamela072_xXx.jpg is an overpowered end of level boss.

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        How many times do you have to defeat her? In my game she just keeps coming.

        • methodology says:

          wait until she looks at the camera then thrust with your sword

    • dagudman says:

      I would imagine they would use the images as paintings in the backgrounds. A porn image should give your sword a 2x boost in attack.

    • mouton says:

      That is why catastrophic hard drive failures are sent by God so that we can purify ourselves and start anew.

  6. GamesInquirer says:

    I don’t really see the point. Why not random generation with a seed that can be recreated by using that seed? What if my computer file and folder structure somehow result in something, not great? There are plenty potential generation methods, I just don’t get why use that one (or why people rave about the possibilities of this). The game itself looks good though, so I don’t really care of how it’s generated!

    • AyeBraine says:

      I’ve thought about it and it now sounds less gimmicky than at first. Think about it: people can compare their performance through differen programs. Different types of disk content will produce vaguely familiar patterns (if only the game could change the type of terrain and gameplay based on folder content… also size and number are not meaningfully covered I think). Anyway I could TRY to storm the WINDOWS castle and get through to the monstrous, almost impossible System32 throne room. And it’s a) logical, I actually defeat the heart of Windows and b) I can talk about it with friends. Or I can try to navigate the endless Babylonian Library of ebooks collection, thinking of Jorge Luis Borges.

      Actually, if the developers take the hard road (really take all file parameters and patterns into account and make them into actual gameplay mechanics), this could be a really virulent game. Imagine if a gigantic folder with raw 10GB footage files and a folder with a 100 subfolders each containing hundreds of small ebook files could translate into a dark cave with shifting-reality (video) rainbow-colored giants, and a dried-up hedge maze under the blazing sun, each nook and “room” containing dangerous swarms of venomous insects.

      • GamesInquirer says:

        They’re not doing any of that though as I understand it, they have a preset story, puzzles and overall progression, they just vaguely shape it by your files and folders, though likely not base its length and difficulty on that…

  7. Hanban says:

    Sort of like Operation: Inner Space! (Thanks Harlander!)

    • Harlander says:

      No, thank you.

      (Telling people about Operation: Inner Space is a joy that I’d forgotten about for too long)

    • The First Door says:

      Operation: Inner Space was quite the game! It is one of the early games I sunk huge amounts of time into.

    • Funster says:

      Holy cow…. I’ve been trying to remember the name of this game for YEARS. AdventurOS immediately brought Inner Space back to memory… fond, fond memories…

    • TheBuff1 says:

      Tell me that’s the game where I piloted my ship, cruising through my hard drive avoiding inter-galactic cops and pirates??? I loved that game, although I believe I only had the 14 day shareware version….ahhhh Windows 95 era!!

    • jimangi says:

      Hooray for people acknowledging Inner Space!
      There’s a generous demo people can play. It holds up surprisingly well.
      http://www.sdispace.com/inspace.htm

    • TheBuff1 says:

      I believe I have a weakness for any game/fiction whereby there’s an ‘adventure within the machine’!! I think it all stems back to a weird game on my trusty old Toshiba MSX where you were the Toshiba man stuck inside your computer!!! And don’t even mention Superman III where the woman got ‘sucked in’ by the super computer!! Freaked me out for ages as a child…….

    • Lemming says:

      We need another Inner Space. I loved that game.

    • waaaaaaaals says:

      Operation : Inner Space was a stunning game that remarkably still works (albeit on non-64bit machines) and is actually more of a challenge because of the increase in storage since the windows 3.1 days.

      I’ve even got an extremely underpowered netbook I keep around mostly just because it runs that game without me having to resort to populating a VM with stuff to keep the game interesting.

  8. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    If the game’s too hard, delete your Windows folder!

    • Prime says:

      Good God, man! Have a care! Dashed irresponsible to bandy such advice around will you nill you!

      • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        And if you lose at Chess, cut off your hands! BWU-HAHAHAHA!!! I, Count Von Evilton, have struck ag…

        Blast, forgot my identification-confounding mask. I’ll be right back.

  9. Maritz says:

    I’m sure there was another game that did something similar to this, but can’t dredge up the name.

    Great, that’s going to annoy me for the rest of the day now.

  10. vedder says:

    Can you make shortcuts between levels with mklinks?

  11. jonahcutter says:

    Fun idea. But honestly I wouldn’t know if it was actually mimicking my file structure or if it was completely random.

    • Baines says:

      The way it is described, you might know the moment you hit your documents area.

      I would, at least, because suddenly all the rooms I found would only have one or two types of objects. Just by nature, I tend to keep my files sorted by type. (Music in one folder, ebooks in another, etc.)

      If you find your game completely lacks certain creatures/objects, then that too might be a hint. I don’t believe that I’ve ever made an XLS file on the machine that I’m currently using. There are plenty of other file types that I either never use or hardly ever use.

  12. Everyone says:

    This idea is useless without adding functionality to administer the file system. They need to think big: replace Windows Explorer!

  13. Skabooga says:

    Grarrr, my streamlined, well organized folder collection will result in the most boring, repetitive dungeons.

    • RedViv says:

      Hah, my desktop is like glimpsing into the eyes of Chaos Itself. So I’ll be having a plenty good show!

  14. dagudman says:

    If the game comes out I will be tempted to reinstall windows and delete all my files just to see how the game will be like without any folders besides the windows ones.

  15. strangeloup says:

    Much as I don’t generally like the way IndieGoGo works (take your money now! but give it back later if they don’t meet their target! or sometimes, take the money regardless!) when compared to Kickstarter’s “pledge money now, forget about it, and then swear when you remember 3 days before the deadline that you promised to give them $50″, I am prepared to give them $5 for this.

  16. DantronLesotho says:

    I really like the idea of this game but I don’t know how they could do this and have it not be repetitive and get boring. There will have to be a LOT of content to make this interesting. It might work if there’s a good loot or enemy generation engine, but not much otherwise. I’ll still back it though.

  17. Text_Fish says:

    But what happens if you find your way in to your games directory and come up against AdventureOS.exe!?

  18. Sh0dan says:

    I’ve seen this idea of using a filesystem as a “seed” for procedural content creation before, in some shareware top-down space shooter game that I can’t remember the name of, back in the Windows 95 days. Your files would get “infected” and you had to warp through your folder structure to shoot down those files.

    It’s cool to see the idea revisited in a more modern form.