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Skyscraper by Lars Muldjord

A powerful and versatile yet easy to use game scraper written in C++ for use with multiple frontends running on a Linux system (macOS and Windows too, but not officially supported). It scrapes and caches various game resources from various scraping sources, including media such as screenshot, cover and video. It then gives you the option to generate a game list and artwork for the chosen frontend by combining all of the cached resources.

All Skyscraper features are well-documented and there's also a F.A.Q. If you still have questions after reading the documentation, please consider asking them on the RetroPie subreddit or in the official RetroPie forums. The Issues page here on Github is for bug reports and feature requests only. Thanks!

Code contributions

Pull Requests are not currently accepted. Due to wanting to pursue other projects after having worked on Skyscraper for 3 years, I am currently only fixing scraper-breaking bugs in Skyscraper. For any functionality beyond what is already in place, feel free to fork Skyscraper and fit it to your needs. I am no longer actively considering or commenting user feature requests or pull requests. When / if this changes, this text will be updated.

Supported platforms (set with '-p'):

Check the full list of platforms here.

Supported scraping modules (set with '-s')

Skyscraper supports a variety of different scraping sources called scraping modules. Use these to gather game data into the Skyscraper resource cache. Check the full list of scraping modules here and read more about the resource cache here.

Supported frontends (set with '-f'):

  • EmulationStation
  • AttractMode
  • Pegasus

How to install Skyscraper

Follow the steps below to install the latest version of Skyscraper. Lines beginning with $ signifies a command you need run in a terminal on the machine you wish to install it on.

NOTE! If you are using the RetroPie distribution, you have the option to install Skyscraper directly from the RetroPie-Setup script (you need to update the script before installing it!). Read more about all of that here. If not, read on.

Install prerequisites


Skyscraper needs Qt5.3 or later to compile. For a Retropie, Ubuntu or other Debian derived distro, you can install Qt5 using the following commands:

$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install build-essential qt5-default

You might be asked for your sudo password. On RetroPie the default password is raspberry. To install Qt5 on other Linux distributions, please refer to their documentation.

NOTE! From Ubuntu 21.04 and forward the qt5-default metapackage no longer exists. You will instead have to do sudo apt install build-essential qtbase5-dev qt5-qmake qtbase5-dev-tools which installs the same as the above command.


Skyscraper works perfectly on macOS as well but is not officially supported as I don't own a Mac. But with the help of HoraceAndTheSpider and abritinthebay here's the commands needed to install the Qt5 and other prerequisites:

$ /usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"
$ brew install gnu-tar --with-default-names
$ brew install wget
$ brew install qt5
$ brew link qt5 --force

If that went well, proceed to the default installation instructions below. It should work and give you a working installation of Skyscraper.

NOTE 1! User 'davidmgrantham' reports that the --with-default-names above might be deprecated for some macOS installations. If you remove it, you also need to download the and edit the tar commands to be gtar before running it.

NOTE 2! User 'trvrplk' reports numerous issues on MacOS 11.2+. Check here for potential fixes.

Download, compile and install

When you've installed the prerequisites as described above, you can install Skyscraper by typing in the following commands:

$ cd
$ mkdir skysource
$ cd skysource
$ wget -q -O - | bash

The last command will download and run the latest update script from Github. During the installation you might be asked for your sudo password. On RetroPie the default password is raspberry.

When the script has completed you are ready to run Skyscraper!

Updating Skyscraper

From Skyscraper 2.3.2 and newer you can update to the latest version simply by running the following commands:

$ cd
$ cd skysource
$ ./

You might be asked for your sudo password during the update. On RetroPie the default password is raspberry. If your version is older than 2.3.2 (check with --help) you need to follow the installation instructions instead.

How to uninstall Skyscraper

If you've installed Skyscraper using the instructions in this readme, you can uninstall it using the following commands:

$ cd
$ cd skysource
$ sudo make uninstall
$ cd
$ rm -Rf skysource
$ rm -Rf .skyscraper

You might be asked for your sudo password during the processs. On RetroPie the default password is raspberry.


Windows is not officially supported at this time! But I do semi-regularly compile and release an unsupported Windows 64-bit version that works just fine. Be sure to read the included README from the downloaded file before using it! And just to be clear: You are on your own if you use this version - please don't ask me questions about it. Get the Windows version here.

How to use Skyscraper

IMPORTANT!!! In order for Skyscraper to work properly, it is necessary to quit your frontend before running it! If you're running EmulationStation, you can quit it by pressing F4.

Remember, you can completely customize the artwork Skyscraper exports. Check out the documentation here. If you just want to use the default (pretty cool looking) artwork Skyscraper provides, read on.

A simple use case

For first-time users I recommend reading the short and to-the-point use case. Please read it and get back here when you got the gist of it.

A quick run-down of Skyscraper

Skyscraper is a command line tool, and has many, many options for you to fiddle around with. I recommend taking a look at all of them to familiarize yourself with the possibilites:

$ Skyscraper --help
$ Skyscraper --flags help
$ Skyscraper --cache help

This will give you a description of everything Skyscraper can do if you feel adventurous! For a thorough description of all available options, check here.

The most important ones are probably:

  • -p <PLATFORM>
  • -u <USER:PASS> or -u <KEY>
  • --cache refresh
  • --flags videos

If you have your roms in a non-default location (default for RetroPie users is /home/<USER>/RetroPie/roms/<PLATFORM>) or wish to export the game list or artwork to non-default locations, you will also need these:

  • -i <PATH>
  • -g <PATH>
  • -o <PATH>

For almost any command line option, consider setting them in the /home/USER/.skyscraper/config.ini file as described here. This will make the options permanent so you don't need to type them in all the time.

Gathering data for a subset of roms

Skyscraper offers several ways of gathering data for a subset of roms. If you just want to scrape the roms that have no data in the cache whatsoever, you can do so with the --onlymissing command-line option. You can also check out the --startat FILENAME and --endat FILENAME options. If you just want to gather data for a couple of roms you can simply add the filename(s) to the end of the command-line (eg. Skyscraper -p amiga -s openretro "/path/to/rom name 1.lha" "/path/to/rom name 2.lha"). And probably the most advanced (and quite handy) way to gather data for a subset of roms is to make use of the --cache report:missing=RESOURCE option. This can generate a report containing the filenames that are missing a certain resource. You can then feed the report back into Skyscraper with the --fromfile REPORTFILE afterwards. Skyscraper will then only scrape the files contained in the report.


A lesser known, but extremely useful, feature of Skyscraper is to add your desired config variables to /home/USER/.skyscraper/config.ini. Any options set in this file will be used by default by Skyscraper. So if you always use, for example, -i <SOME FOLDER> on command line, you can set the matching option inputFolder="<SOME FOLDER>" in the config.

For a full description of all availabe config options, check here.

Resource cache

One of Skyscraper's most powerful features is the resource cache. It's important to understand how this works in order to use Skyscraper to its full potential. Read more about it here.

Custom data

I addition to allowing scraping from locally cached resources, Skyscraper also allows you to import your own data into the resource cache with the -s import scraping module. You can also edit existing resources in the cache or add individual user resources with the --cache edit command. Lastly, you also have the option of importing existing EmulationStation game list data into the Skyscraper resource cache if you need it. You can do this with the -s esgamelist scraping module.

To read more about any of the features described above, please check out all of the documentation here.

Artwork look and effects

Check the full artwork documentation here

Release notes

Version x.x.x (Features under consideration, all unimplemented)

  • Add the option to scrape from cached data purely originating from certain scraping modules
  • Consider making aliasMap the global baseName instead of just the search term base name. This will fix missing brackets in alias names being ignored later on
  • Make all artwork types custom meaning that their type can be whatever the user wants. The sources will create ones with known types such as 'screenshot' and 'cover', but the user can import other types they define themselves, such as 'cabinet' or whatever else. Internally artwork is then handled by a list of artwork instead of 4 hardcoded types in GameEntry
  • Introduce the ability to use in the 'file="somefolder/.png"' in artwork.xml which would then look for a file in 'resources' with the game basename.png allowing users to use their own custom artwork data as a workaround to adding new types to import (Thank you to 'jueank' for suggesting this)
  • Add the option of scraping custom platforms by configuring them in the config with an alias to an already existing platform. Example: scrape 'pcenginecd' could be scraped as 'pcengine' in case you have those files in a 'roms/pcenginecd' folder instead of the pcengine folder. Check here:
  • Create a testmode for the artwork compositor that let's you quickly render an example to see if you got everything set up right in the artwork xml
  • Allow 'region' to be a list similar to 'regionPrios'. When using 'region' it should simply keep the default priority list and add those from 'region' to the top. 'regionPrios' should still overwrite it entirely. Naming change probably a good idea, for instance rename 'region' to 'regionsPrefer' or something. 'regionPrios' should probably also be changed to 'regionsOverride'. (Thank you to 'corezon' for suggesting this).
  • Implement a less rigid filename match for the 'import' module to allow for close match filenames
  • Add support for grouping multi-disk games so they only have one entry in the gamelists. See issues/232 (Thank you to 'igno2k' for suggesting this)

Version 3.7.4 (23rd January 2022)

  • '--includefrom' and '--excludefrom' now works with relative paths (Thank you to use 'sleve_mcdichael' for reporting this
  • Skipped file entries now conforms to same format as report files to allow using them with '--excludefrom' and '--includefrom' (Thank you to user 'TomFury' for suggesting this)

Version 3.7.3 (23rd January 2022)

  • Added 'switch' platform (Thank you to user 'Redemp' for providing info)

Version 3.7.2 (20th January 2022)

  • Skyscraper now only ignore files when using the '.skyscraperignore[tree]' files when scraping for new data. They will NOT be ignored when generating game lists

Version 3.7.1 (19th January 2022)

  • Skyscraper will now ignore an entire tree of subfolders where a file called '.skyscraperignoretree' is found (Thank you to user 'sromeroi' for suggesting this)

Version 3.7.0 (17th January 2022)

  • Moved '--fromfile' option to '--includefrom'. '--fromfile' still works, but is considered deprecated
  • Moved '--includefiles' option to '--includepattern'. '--includefiles' still works, but is considered deprecated
  • Moved '--excludefiles' option to '--excludepattern'. '--excludefiles' still works, but is considered deprecated
  • Added '--excludefrom' option similar to '--includefrom' only the opposite (Thank you to user 'TomFury' for suggesting this)
  • Skyscraper will now ignore any subfolders within the input folder where a file called '.skyscraperignore' is found (Thank you to user 'sromeroi' for suggesting this)
  • Added platform 'easyrpg', only usable using the 'screenscraper' scraping module (Thank you to user 'zerojay' for suggesting this)

Version 3.6.16 (9th November 2021)

  • Added platform 'moto' (Thank you to user 'Yserra' for suggesting it)

Version 3.6.15 (25th August 2021)

  • Added 'chd' extension to 'atomiswave' platform (Thank you to user 'smeegoan' for reporting this)
  • Fixed bug that caused 'T000000' to be added multiple times when skipping entries in ES gamelists (Thank you to user 'sleve_mcdichael' for reporting this)

Version 3.6.14 (5th August 2021)

  • Added 'windows 3.x' as alias to Mobygames scraping module (Thank you to user 'ecto' for reporting this)

Version 3.6.13 (2nd June 2021)

  • Added 'mediaFolderHidden' EmulationStation specific config option that will set the media folder to 'PLATFORM/.media' when set to true. This can speed up EmulationStation initial loading when using slow storage such as a network file system (Thank you to user 'XenuIsWatching' for suggesting this)

Version 3.6.12 (15th May 2021)

  • Removed 'Simple Mode' as it was broken and deprecated. Use RetroPie script instead
  • Removed A LOT of deprecated (and hidden) CLI options

Version 3.6.11 (6th May 2021)

  • '--fromfile' now accepts both relative and absolute path to filename (Thank you to user 'sleve_mcdichael' for reporting this)
  • Added platforms 'atarijaguarcd', 'pcenginecd' and 'channelf' (Thank you to user 'XenuIsWatching' for providing info)

Version 3.6.10 (12th April 2021)

  • Added 'naomi' as platform
  • Added 'msx2' as platform
  • Added 'atomiswave' as platform

Version 3.6.9 (1st April 2021)

  • Probably fixed --flags unpack which broke with 3.6.8 due to deprecated Qt function calls
  • Probably fixed video conversion which broke with 3.6.8 due to deprecated Qt function calls

Version 3.6.8 (31st March 2021)

  • Added 'cacheRefresh' config.ini option and added it to default config.ini for 'esgamelist' module (Thank you to user 'penx' for suggesting this)
  • 'ScreenScraper APIv2 returned invalid / empty Json' message now no longer includes message to attach the error json file unless it's more than 64 bytes long
  • Added 'ca' to region priority list (Thank you to user 'joaoluizcarvalho' for pointing this out)
  • Added 'de', 'fr' and 'es' to default language priority list
  • Added 'players' resource to '--cache report:missing' CLI option (Thank you to user 'peligwe' for reporting this)
  • Added 'theInFront' config.ini option and 'theinfront' CLI flag (Thank you to user 'sleve_mcdichael' for suggesting this)
  • 'unattend' and 'unattendSkip' can now be used in a scraping module section in config.ini (Thank you to user 'sleve_mcdichael' for reporting this)
  • Added Qt version pre-processor checks for deprecated Qt methods to avoid compilation warning on newer Qt installations

Version 3.6.7 (27th January 2021)

  • Added '*.rvz' extension for 'wii' and 'gc' platforms (Thank you to user 'tcamargo' for reporting this)
  • Added '*.chd' extension for '3do' platform (Thank you to user 'Roudaku' for reporting this)
  • Added 'openbor' platform. Exists in RetroPie as experimental platform (as requested by user 'hahnmt')
  • 'neogeo' platform now uses 'box-2D' as cover instead of 'flyer' when scraping with the ScreenScraper module (Thank you to user 'retro81' for suggesting this)

Version 3.6.6 (21st December 2020)

  • The 'esgamelist' module now looks for the 'gamelist.xml' file in the path set with '-g' instead of the path set with '-i' (Thank you to user 'c0d3h4x0r' for reporting this and helping me debug it)

Version 3.6.5 (18th December 2020)

  • Now uses one shared networking instance, instead of one per thread
  • 'daphne' platform entries now added as '' entries instead of '' entries (Thank you to user 'clyde' for helping figure this out)
  • Added 'nocropblack' cli flag and 'cropBlack="BOOL"' config.ini option that allows user to disable cropping of black borders around screenshots when compositing the final gamelist artwork (Thank you to user 'WindyWinston' for suggesting this)

Version 3.6.1 (27th October 2020)

  • Added 'amigacd32' as a separate platform just because (Thank you to user 'HoraceAndTheSpider' for resetting The Matrix)

Version 3.6.0 (25th October 2020)

  • Changed 'SecsSinceEpich' to 'MSecsSinceEpich' to support pre-5.8 Qt versions (Thank you to user 'Hazza4569' for reporting this)

Older releases

Release notes for older releases can be found here.