Oh wow, I just spent half an hour building physfs with cmake and visual studio and now I realize that the binaries are included with the allegro 5.0.3 distribution
I can initialize physfs and it can open files just fine, but when I call
al_set_physfs_file_interface(); it grayscreens and the program goes unresponsive
EDIT: Nevermind, the problem occurs after I set the file interface. I'll find it and fix it.
EDIT: So it wasn't working because it was actually working correctly, odd as it seems.
I assumed that the compile directory stayed on the filesystem but you have to explicitly add it to the search path with PHYSFS_mount(). So everything works fine and dandy now, I can read files from a virtual filesystem handled by PhysicsFS that is created from a .zip of my resources.
Everything is so complicated. >___________< it all works, but it feels like if I sneeze on the damn thing everything will explode and I'll have to spend an hour trying to tape it back together again. thank you all for you help, though I warn you this is probably not the last time I'll need it.
If anyone needs some 2D graphics, I'd be glad to give something back instead of just being an information leech.