One Of The Wing Commander Games Had A Hidden Text Adventure

Developers go to all sorts of lengths to hide easter eggs these days. Sometimes it goes to extreme lengths. But occasionally it’s nice to wind back the clock and see the kinds of tricks devs used to hide goodies inside their games, back before ubiquitous broadband connections and social media.

Especially when the hidden surprise is a whole other game.

Most people will have forgotten, but in a couple of weeks it will be the 23th birthday for Wing Commander: Privateer, a spin-off from the space saga that focused on the trials and tribulations of a merchant.

To discover the hidden game, you had to navigate to the installation folder. Given that Privateer was a DOS game, that part wasn’t too difficult for people. Inside, you’d be able to find a small file called “tabtne.vda”.

Which is backwards for “ADVENT.BAT” — the extension given to batch files.

According to the Easter Egg archive, you then had to move ADVENT.BAT to an empty directory. But you couldn’t just run the batch file, because you had to adjust the system environment to make sure there was enough memory first.

Once that’s done, Advent creates some more batch files to make it all function properly. After all, it’s a batch file, so you’re not actually playing within a game, but from the DOS command prompt itself — so you couldn’t get away with, say, typing “dir”.

The last text adventure I remember being buried inside a game was Call of Duty: Black Ops, which let you break out of the torture chair to go play Zork on a nearby computer. There was also the text adventure hidden within the Emacs text editor on Mac, although for most that probably doesn’t count.

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