Thank you

So here I am, watching in rapt astonishment as my page hits go through the roof.

Thanks to my playtesters and early players who suffered through bugs and imbalances to help make this thing a reality, and thanks to everyone who shared A Dark Room with their friends. Without all of you, I wouldn’t be pushing this humble EC2 server to its limits.

If any of you folks are ever in Ottawa, drop me a line and we’ll go drink some beers.

107 thoughts on “Thank you

  1. E

    dude, this was the best waste of a work day ever. defining moment was when i realized that the game was post-apocalyptic. congrats., and i hope you get a chance to make the game hella bigger.

  2. Martin Caine

    Great little game! Think I found a minor bug though, I was out adventuring, scavenged the star ship, then got killed by a soldier. I could see the starship in my list of places at the top of the screen and could repair it. Then later, when adventuring again it let me scavenge the starship a second place. Now I have two starships showing at the top of the screen though I can only select one.

      1. Martin Caine

        Cool :). Another small bit of feedback, later in the game when fighting soldiers I would be clicking all my weapons to attack them and when hovering over a weapon that had a little tooltip under it I’d often find myself unable to eat some meat due to the tooltip getting in the way. Made those fast frantic attempts at not-dying just that little bit tougher!

        1. Jarin

          I’ll second this one. Almost made me want to ditch the rifle entirely and just rely on melee. Sadly, I lost my bayonet and couldn’t get another one, so I needed the rifle…

          1. Pete

            Yep, I don’t need to know it will cost 1 bullet to shoot! πŸ™‚ This is the thing that finally made me stop playing…so maybe it’s a feature.

          2. Chris

            I also had this problem. Additionally, when you’re picking things up after a battle and you pick up everything of a type and it then reorganizes the “Leave …” button under you mouse for you to accidentally click on… I got caught by that a bunch of times leaving stuff I wanted to keep because of it.

            But it was a great game anyway. These minor problems aside.

            Thanks for making and sharing it.

          3. scienceguyz

            Sorry, I meant @Pete.
            Also, I feel for you Chris.
            Also, I misunderstood Pete. I thought he didn’t know, when really he knew and wanted the game to stop telling him. So really my post was pointless. sorry πŸ™

  3. Lucius A.O.

    This game was fantastic and I love the SFW UI πŸ˜‰ I hope you will make more of them in the future (especially expand on this IP in a sequel!) My only gripe is that I wish I could select quantities or select to make a maximum purchase when making trading rather than having to madly click the button to buy single quantities. You bet you’ll get some beer money on my next payday.

  4. Michael Cardinal

    So I’ve played this three times now. The first time really experiencing it and learning… the second time exploring the whole map and trying not to run out of materials… and the third time to see how quickly I could finish the game. It was a unique experience each time.

    I’m really curious… do you plan on expanding this game at all, or working on other projects like it?

  5. LorenzoCanuck


    Let me just say that I loved the Tomato Surprise near the very end. Clever! πŸ˜‰

  6. Tuto

    Wow, discovered your game a couple of days ago and I have been stuck since. There is something special about a game that can offer revelations like “Gymnasium? Is this post-apocalypse?” and of course “Holy crap, I think I’m an alien!”

    This game proves text and ASCII art can create experiences that easily rival or even outdo most AAA titles on the market today. I will definitely look out for whatever you do next.

  7. Steven

    Truly beautiful concept and marvelous execution. I am honestly so impressed – the little revelations allow the world and character to truly evolve without the hit-you-over-the-head approach that story telling in games usually involves. Not sure I’ll make it to ottawa, but if you’re in boston I’ll buy you a beer!

  8. Allen K.

    Beautiful so far (I’m about to get a steelworks). One thing that would be nice: if there were a gray partial bar on the things you want to buy (e.g. a hut) with width indicating what fraction you have of the necessary amount.

    Also, doesn’t somebody want to buy these extra swords I have? (Maybe that’ll come later.)

  9. sophie

    i love this game! i just can’t really explore the map because i always run out of water after 2 centimeters (if no scavenger kills me, which they do sooooooo often). because of that i can’t get enough steel or iron. i have huge amounts of everything except scales and fur, which take a long time to get. what am i doing wrong? thanks

    1. Michael Post author

      Plan your expedition in advance, and make sure to keep enough supplies to return to the village.
      Explore your surroundings.

  10. T

    Is there a way to save this and load it on another machine? Really don’t want to have to start over once I get home…

  11. Piam

    I’m in awe of the simply beauty and pacing of this game. Well done.

    I’ve never had a game where I can give it to someone and have nothing else to say.
    On a sadder not you have robbed the world of untold work hours πŸ˜›


  12. abliss

    I also love the game. I will confess that the secret reveal about the protagonist, mentioned elsewhere, totally eluded me on my first playthrough.

    I’ll be sending you a beer’s worth of BTC, but I also have a complaint. When running a mult-stage cave/city/whatever, it often happens that after winning a battle, the ‘continue / leave’ buttons are right where the ‘attack / eat’ buttons were a moment ago, and I accidentally click them and forfeit my loot. A simple fix would be to disable the continue/leave buttons for half a second after they pop up (or don’t shrink the window right away).

      1. Jeremiah

        Also, just a thought, not being able to eat some meat after/between battles makes it rather hard to finish multistage areas. It makes sense to do after all, to eat and rest before you look for more trouble.

        Just me though.

  13. Kelsey

    I found this in the wild on the internet, I can’t stop playing, and I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. My coworkers are making fun of me. I’d love to get a drink with you all to discuss how/why/what happened to me but distance won’t allow it so I’ll just say thank you I guess?

  14. Rachel

    When my husband sent this to me, I thought it was going to be a 5 minute, artsy game. Uh, day two of solid playing and I’m addicted.

    The way the player discovers mechanics and the setting is so compelling. The showing instead of telling, teaching instead of lecturing, layering element upon element, is better than many, many bigger budget games I’ve played recently.

    So cool, congrats dude.

  15. Jason

    Perhaps this is a penalty for needing to close the page due to bosses coming in to the cube to discuss things, but I have noticed that once I start the page back up I have *half* of what I had 5 minutes ago for inventory and population! Is this truly a penalty, or is this a whoops?

    Great game btw.

    1. Jason

      Actually, I just went to the map and 80% of what I had explored is now unexplored, and looking at the numbers I went from 72 total population down to 56. o.0 looks like I get to go back to work.

      I had waited until the page said saved before I closed it for what it is worth.

  16. Qualgar

    Loved this game! Instantly addicting, mysterious gameplay without the need of a gaming PC. The small revelations built a story in my mind like only a solidly written novel could. Superb.

    Thank you for this journey. The next round of Beer is on me.

    1. Michael Post author

      HTML, CSS, and Javascript with jQuery. The source code is %100 visible, if you want to take a look.

  17. Joe

    This game is great – I’m blown away by how good a text adventure can be, and how impossibly addicting it is. I liked Candy Box, but this game is so, soo sweet.

    Anyway… you know when you’re adventuring and you fight some monsters and you’re just clicking away and then you accidentally click the “Leave” button and all your loot disappears or you didn’t continue when you could have or whatever? You should just lock the “Leave” button to the bottom-right of the window instead of in the stack with the rest.

    But seriously. Bravo, bro.

  18. Jarin

    Love the game. Absolutely brilliant slow-reveal of the setting and key facts. Only complaint… “You want HOW MANY damn scales?!”

    1. shadowmaat

      Ugh. Yes. I wish I could trade wood for scales instead of fur. I have something over 35K wood and no real use for any of it. I also kinda wish there was a way to re-find the caches you lose when you fade out so I could get all my alloys and my laser rifle back. Minor quibbles, though. Still loving the heck out of this.

      Heard about the game via @geekgirlcon and have gotten all my friends hooked, too.

  19. Zarkonnen

    This has been one of the best games I’ve played all year. Seriously: make another one, or put up a tip jar, or something, and I’ll happily give you $10 for this. I’ll probably write a frothingly positive game design / review blog post for this soon.

  20. Hewitter

    Excuse me sir, but I can’t seem to progress. Every time I embark on the Dusty Trail, my figure just sorts of sits there and nothing happens. Nothing I click makes me go back to any screen and I end up reloading your page with all the gear I spend on the expedition wasted.

    Is this a known bug?

      1. Hewitter

        Yes. All I see is the screen here:

        I have about 10 huts, and all the buildings. I’ve crafted everything that’s to be crafted in that moment (which you can see on the top of my screenshot). And nothing I click works except reset and share. When I reload the URL it just sends me back to the gather screen with the crafted stuff I made gone and spent. I don’t see what else I’m missing it has to be a bug.

    1. Jarin

      The game’s been entirely mouse-driven up until that point, but it doesn’t stay that way. Try the arrow keys to move on the map

  21. justin

    It seems like you should be able to enter places like the damp cave on the map but I can’t figure out how. I think I’ve pressed every key on the keyboard once the wanderer is over top of them (like over the V for instance).

  22. Cody

    I don’t usually find text-based games to be very interesting, but this was a major exception. I’ve been totally engaged for the past hour with aspirations to transform my “Modest Village” into a metropolis. You should be really proud of yourself; this game is fun and addictive.

  23. Mel

    I love so many things about this game! The pacing, the setting, the sense of discovery as more and more options open up, the way the game doesn’t spoon feed me the entire backstory or hold my hand through every little thing (dammit facebook games, I can click a freaking button all by myself thank you very much), for me the difficulty level was just right (challenging but not ragequit), and I really enjoy seeing just how far a game can be stripped down in terms of graphics and controls while still being so engaging that I stayed up well past my bedtime playing.

    Thank you!

  24. Michael Chui

    Given that the code is already accessible, maybe consider putting it up on Github? I don’t know what your intended business model is, but letting people contribute bug fixes or forking their own mods might be something you’re interested in allowing.

  25. Caleb Hess

    I started playing this an hour or two ago… I really want to sleep but I cant stop. Thank you, and also you’re destroying me. I love this game

  26. Jeremiah

    Not sure if you know it or not, but you’ve been featured on the PC Gamer website, in their ‘Free Webgame roundup’.

    I just have to say this has been a awesome game, still playing it. I’d love it if you expanded on it more, and if you ever do you might want to think about polishing it up and putting it up on Steam Greenlight, this game would sell man, I’d preorder it for sure for 5-15 bucks.

  27. Zorg the Undignified

    No, thank _you_. As far as I’m concerned, you’ve beaten Bethesda to the mark and released Fallout 4. Cheers!

    1. Trae

      This is exactly what I thought.
      I got that same feeling, and it’s so immersive and clean that I could feel the Wasteland.

      Wouldn’t be surprised if Bethesda picks up the wonderful author for storyboard purposes.

  28. Rasmus

    Greetings from Amsterdam! Good, very good cosy setting in this game! Thank you for making it!
    Hit me up if you want recomendation on cheap reliable cloud hosts to run this on πŸ™‚

  29. Zorg the Undignified

    PS – Small thing but the Laser Rifle shows up under ‘Stores’ in the main screen; it should probably be under ‘Weapons’.

    Thanks again!

  30. Cindy Dalfovo

    Heh, I love this kind of game… just one thing, I’m going to install my OS again, any way I can get a ‘save file’ or something?

    1. Michael Post author

      You can copy the contents of the localStorage variable, then paste it on the new OS. Kinda clunky, I know, but it’s the best I can do without building out a database infrastructure.

  31. kevin

    Truly, my only real response is: “No, thank YOU!”

    Superb on so many levels: gradual reveal, puzzling out the worker balance (distinct phases over time), inculcating a sense of responsibility for the town, shocker (but not overly final) death sequences only after the exploration phase starts (exactly the kind that make me want to play MORE, not quit in disgust)…. a game that demonstrates a wealth of *thought* from details great and small.

    Hats off!

  32. Zach

    This is amazingly cool, the one thing that kinda puzzles me is why teeth are more expensive than scales in the trading post when those are much easier to come by. I find it very slow going collecting scales and I kinda wish the drop rate for those would go up. Keep up the good work, I’ll probably be finished with this in a day or two and I’ll be watching this site to see if you do anything else cool. I would get a beer with you but Ottawa is hella far away

  33. tamat

    Congratulations. The game is awesome. I love the progression.
    My only suggestion is to change the theme so it is dark background and white text, it is hard for my eyes!

    Cheers from Spain πŸ™‚

  34. Steven Harms

    Thank you so much for creating this. I’ve tried several times to explain the joy i had graphing out mazes while playing Zork (with Rush on in the background) when I was an early teen back in the late eighties. You’ve really caught what was great and simple about this. I loved the touches of Nethack and the Tomato Surprise as well. Thanks!

  35. Haley Bourke

    That game was GREAT! I played it twice. I introduced my friend to it and now she’s hooked too, about halfway through.
    I love how minimalistic it was, it was a real stress-reliever. So simple, yet so addictive.

  36. Ghoulapool

    Loved the game. Major props to the simplicity design approach. So rare to get a worker-placement game these days – something I badly miss. I liked balancing the scales to try and keep them all ‘in the black’.

    Anyone know more games like this?

  37. ben q

    Great game, love the mystery and how much it leaves to the imagination. I think I might have a glitch though, that or I’ve just done something wrong, I have 20 huts, and tannery, a lodge, a smokehouse, a trading post, a cart, and 10 traps, 80 gatherers but no tanners, hunters, charcutiers or trappers, is this a glitch or have I done something wrong?

  38. dudemanmcgee

    Cool little game. Charcuterie’s are pretty expensive resource wise. I just found an easier way to make cured meat without having to spend the wood. Find a couple of P’s near your base (hopefully you get some 4 – 5 spaces away) and go loot the cured meats then head back to your base A. Dump them and go back out. I had 2 within 4 spaces and another 4 within 7 spaces. I was able to profit 15 – 20 cured meats every few seconds. Then I just wrote a java script to do it for me after that.

    1. scienceguyz

      That’s worse than using an auto-clicker to click the “check traps” button.
      Although, with the demand for scales and teeth, I won’t deny doing it.

  39. Shakvaal

    A really neat little game. It took quite a long time to finish though.
    All I wanna say is, could you _PLEASE_ move all non-functional literal strings out of js files to one txt or json file? It would make translation way much easier.
    Thank you!

  40. juniper

    Please either (a) commit to github or (b) get to work!!! This needs to be expanded. It ended waaaaay to soon. Was totally addicted and wanted to play much more! Well done! Totally immersing.

  41. Josh

    Thanks so much for making this game, I’ve sunk a good few days into it and the revelations are genuinely shocking – e.g. is it an escape the room? is it a town management sim? is it a rogue-like? and then holy crap it’s set in the future?!

    Also it takes balls to allow your source code to be available non-obfuscated. It’s nice, it’s clean and it’s pretty helpful for people interested in HTML5 game design. I’ll try to sling a few coins your way!

    My only criticism is that some of the barter items are just pointless in single quantities, sure you can get fur quite easily, but even at ~+500 a minute, it would take hours (over 100,000 fur) to get enough scales and teeth to get a bayonet and I’m too scared to risk the one I own. If you dropped it to maybe 5 scales/teeth per barter I think it would make trading potentially more lucrative.

    I agree with people above, sling this baby on GitHub and watch the pull requests roll in!

  42. Christopher Stumph

    Argh, that ending!! Hahah. I feel trolled.
    Great work though! I really enjoyed the gradual expansion of scope.
    Looking forward to more from you guys!

  43. Fursnake

    I am not much of a browser gamer fan, but this browser adventure is something special. I’m really enjoying the sense of building and the feel of risk vs. reward involved.

  44. Anon

    Honestly, I have no words for this game. It’s simple, creative, adventurous, exciting, boring (watching that ‘gather wood’ button at the beginning…), interesting, annoying (at the end) and fun, all in one strange mix. Thank you so much for making this game!

    If you don’t make a sequel, at least make something similar. I’m yet to find another ASCII text-based browser game that’s as good as this and Candy Box.

  45. huskie69

    Wow! Just WOW! I’ve ‘wasted’ (not in a negative connotation!) 2 work days immersed in an ascii based text game that has had me more engaged than anything else I’ve ever played! It reminds me of Sid Meier’s Civilisation (the first DOS version) crossed with a real life story adventure (one of those ‘You have been ambushed by some barbarians, turn to 433’ !).

    Absolutely enthralling. It’s inspired me to think about writing my own – or building a sequel. I’m a big fan of Stephen King’s ‘Dark Tower’ series and it had me imagining how your concept could be expanded to that epic scale. I’d love to know how you first went about designing this, how you got round the logistics of the game, how long it took you and have you had any previous experience in this field? I honestly reckon you should get yourself on kickstarter and get some revenue to help you expand on this amazing game – people will pay!!!

    If you’re ever in Wales. UK, you’re more than welcome to haul up in one of my huts for the night on the condition you keep the fire stoked and make sure the storeroom is secure!

    1. Michael Post author

      Thanks! I’m glad it resonated with you like that. You should definitely make your own! Feel free to use ADR’s code base as a starting point, if you like. The design of the game mostly just came together as I built it. This isn’t the best way to design a game, but I am very bad at pre-production. I just threw together a bunch of ideas that I found compelling and fiddled with them until they fit. I’ve got lots of experience, but not professionally. When you learn to program at a young age and immerse yourself in games, stuff like this comes pretty naturally. Kickstarter is an idea I’ve toyed with, but I don’t think I’m ready for the commitment that taking investor’s money entails. Perhaps sometime down the line, though…


  46. Egreham

    I finished the game. Let’s just say the experience was amazing, and my ultimate conclusion was: “this is what Dwarf Fortress should BE. Unencumbered, adventurous fun.”. I got addicted to it immediately (played from 11pm to 4 am, then the next day). I will say some parts are lacking and some potentials not used fully, but I understand it’s still development. If I may, I’ll put some comments here.

    1. Do you think it would be possible for it to be keyboard based, not only mouse-click based?
    2. One-time-buy items took up unnecessary space after I bought them. Perhaps reduce in space and/or relocation to a list?
    3. Do you think there’s a possibility for any other special character other than the Builder?

    Other than that, encounters were pretty great for its well-balanced rarity, simplicity, and reward. Combat’s a bit lackluster, being a bit repetitive and simple, which leaves room for improvements.

    As a note for everyone, I RECOMMEND listening to all the songs by the band “Message to Bears”, which I found extremely fitting to the whole mood of the game.

  47. Peter

    So much atmosphere in such a basic UI really is an achievement – well played Michael. Just finished my second mammoth play through and set off with 120 alloy upgrades…. and I found… but of course you know what I found.

    Thanks for making the effort – if you are ever in London UK you are welcome to use my spare room. (10 Alien Alloy a night)

  48. Kwyjor


    Am I the only one here who is actually in Ottawa already? Because that was totally worth the price of a beer.

  49. tgkjh

    Great game. One thing though, you should send a message of thanks to the youtuber: Officialnerdcubed, he put your game at the end of his “three free games friday” which is where i, and a lot of others, came from. so, just make sure you send him a message of thanks. also, if i didn’t say, awesome game! started yesterday, and finished up today, and i officially love it.

  50. Zack

    OMG. I saw this linked on Cracked, and it sounded like a survival horror game, so I tried it out. I have never gotten addicted to a game quite so fast. I think this is really going to be something. It’s unique, like Minecraft was when it first came out, but it won’t be for long. I LOVE the revelation of the world. It’s like, Riddley Walker, but as a the resource building/text adventure/roguelike game. Actually there is some horror. The real time combat scares the carp outta me, in a good way.


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