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Powerful and versatile game scraper written in c++
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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. 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. 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!

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


Yes, I have one. Absolutely NOT a requirement if you want to use Skyscraper! But there it is. And please understand that becoming a patron does in no way give you any special say in what features I work on or how I develop Skyscraper in the future. It will be seen as an appreciative gesture, nothing else. :)

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 it using the following commands:

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get 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.


Skyscraper works perfectly on OSX aswell 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.


Windows is not officially supported at this time! But I did compile Skyscraper 3.3.0 for Windows 64-bit, and it seemingly works just fine. Be sure to read the included README 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 it here.

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.

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 if it catches your interest check out the advanced options here. If you just want to scrape a platform and be done with it check Simple mode.

Simple mode

When you have completed the installation you can start Skyscraper in Simple mode by running Skyscraper with no command line options by typing:

$ Skyscraper

Skyscraper will then ask you a bunch of questions, create an optimized script based on your answers, and finally run the script which scrapes the chosen platform in an optimal way. This is very useful for first time scrapings, as it will give you the best possible initial result for any given platform. If you're curious you can check out the generated script afterwards. It's located in ~/.skyscraper/

Manual mode (for advanced users)

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

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>
  • --cache refresh
  • --videos
  • --unattend

If you have your roms in a non-default location (default 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 ~/.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.

Scraping and caching single roms or a subset of roms

Sometimes you'd want to update the cached data for a single or a subset of roms. Skyscraper allows this by letting you either provide one or more single rom filenames to be added to the end of a command line OR by using the --startat and --endat options (read more about those options here). For single roms here's an example: Skyscraper -p amiga -s openretro "/path/to/rom name.lha". Be aware that this only updates the resource cache for this particular rom. It DOES NOT update it in your game list. To do so you need to regenerate the game list by simply leaving out the -s option entirely like so Skyscraper -p <PLATFORM>.


A lesser known, but extremely useful, feature of Skyscraper is to add your desired config variables to ~/.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 import

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. Read more about how this works 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:
  • Implement a '--noconvert' option that forces source artwork to be kept "as is" when saved to the cache
  • 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

Version 3.3.1 (17th October 2019)

  • Added new '--cache edit:new=' option for efficient batch adding of a resource of a certain type
  • Improved ctrl+c handling
  • Protected cache write calls from ctrl+c obstruction

Version 3.3.0 (15th September 2019)

  • MAJOR: File identification now uses new quick id method for up to 75% faster processing (Thank you to 'langest' for finally making me look into this)
  • Added 'pc98' platform (Thank you to 'leosmeira' for suggesting it)
  • Added 'pokemini' platform (Thank you to 'leosmeira' for suggesting it)
  • Renamed all 'sha1' file id's to 'id' as sha1 was misleading
  • Changed relevant defines to constexpr
  • ScreenScraper now always prioritizes the 'video-normalized' above 'video' (Thank you to 'JuanVCS' for suggesting this)
  • Fixed bug in ScreenScraper retry code which made it retry more than necessary

Version 3.2.8 (31st August 2019)

  • --cache report now supports symlinks (Thank you to 'vanativo' for reporting this)

Version 3.2.7 (31st August 2019)

  • The '--cache report' option now adhere to the '--nosubdirs' option (Thank you to 'vanativo' for reporting this)

Version 3.2.6 (24th August 2019)

  • Fixed bug where entering a correct fronted in simple mode would loop the question (Thank you to 'thadboyd' for reporting this)

Version 3.2.5 (21st August 2019)

  • EmulationStation module now converts to '' entry for all supported platform suffixes (Thank you to 'kgonepostl' for reporting this)

Version 3.2.4 (19th August 2019)

  • Implemented JSON flaw workaround for the ScreenScraper module

Version 3.2.3 (13th August 2019)

  • MAJOR: Added support for the 'Pegasus' frontend (set with '-f pegasus')
  • Now checks for, and removes, double bracket notes in final game list title
  • Fixed minor bug in the 3D gamebox effect renderer
  • Completely transparent images are no longer saved when compositing (Thank you to metallkopf for getting me to finally fix this)
  • Optimized the final game list assembling code to use game entry references instead of copies
  • Optimized all cache resource iterations to use const references instead of copies
  • Optimized the entire codebase by removing all Qt-centric foreach iterate-by-copy to use references instead
  • Fixed bug where 'screenscraper' would only look for ESRB age classification
  • Potential faulty JSON replies from Screenscraper are now saved to '~/.skyscraper/screenscraper_error.json' for easier debugging

Version 3.2.2 (3rd August 2019)

  • Added 'bat' scripts to sha1 special handling list (please purge platforms using 'bat' files and rescrape)
  • Now discards 'ZZZ(notgame)' results from ScreenScraper
  • Fixed double-quote issue when reading titles from scummvm.ini
  • Made location of scummvm.ini configurable in config.ini
  • Fixed bug in roman and integer numeral conversion functions
  • Rewrote the entire 'screenscraper' module to use JSON instead of XML

Version 3.2.1 (15th July 2019)

  • Fixed bug in 'mobygames' module that could cause an endless loop while getting cover

Version 3.2.0 (8th July 2019)

  • Improved output of edit mode to show queue size and initial prioritized resources
  • Now clearly shows missing resources when adding resources in editing mode
  • Made '--cache vacuum' more verbose at verbosity level 2 or higher
  • Removed platform check for screenscraper module as it wasn't really necessary
  • Added 'videoSizeLimit' config variable (Thank you to 'silverfr0st' for suggesting this)
  • Now also processes brackets for skipped games (Thanks to 'hexive' for pointing this out)
  • Added 'arcadia' and 'astrocde' MESS platforms (Thank you to 'raphkoster' for suggesting these)
  • Added '--cache report:missing=<GROUP or RESOURCE1,2,...>' option (Thank you to JaymesRS for suggesting this)
  • Added '--fromfile' option allowing you to work on a subset of files taken from a file. Compatible with files created using the '--cache report' option
  • MobyGames module now includes 'platform' id query when relevant. Should improve result accuracy
  • Added region support for MobyGames cover artwork
  • Added A LOT of regions to region autodetection in general
  • Now no longer creates media folders when in resource gathering mode
  • Moved help texts for '--cache' options to '--cache help'

Version 3.1.4 (23rd March 2019)

  • Refactored network communication class
  • Added request download size limit to work around possible bug in ScreenScraper API

Version 3.1.3 (12th March 2019)

  • Improved 'screenscraper' error handling

Version 3.1.2 (10th March 2019)

  • Added support for Moonlight '*.ml' extension for all platforms
  • Added 'ps2' platform for use with Moonlight and all other supported Ps2 extensions
  • Added 'steam' platform for use with Moonlight '*.ml' files
  • Fixed minor bug in CRC checksum calculator for 'screenscraper'
  • Improved workarounds for ScreenScraper XML errors

Version 3.1.1 (8th March 2019)

  • Worked around a bug in the 'screenscraper' xml output improving stability
  • Added limiter to media getter functions for 'screenscraper' which should improve stability

Version 3.1.0 (2th March 2019)

  • MAJOR: Added '--cache edit' command line option which allows viewing, editing and deleting cached resources for the roms in the queue. Narrow the queue down by providing file names on command line or by using '--startat ' and '--endat '
  • Added 'zx81' platform. Note! The only module that supports it is the 'screenscraper' module

Version 3.0.5 (26th February 2019)

  • Fixed and improved ES metadata preservation code

Version 3.0.4 (18th February 2019)

  • Improved Amiga CD32 disc image support to prep for the upcoming support in Amiberry (Thank you to 'HoraceAndTheSpider' for the heads up)
  • Added check for Qt5.4.0 and ignores QStorageInfo include if requirement not met (Thank you to 'ByteThis' for reporting this issue)
  • Improved work around to fix invalid XML returned by ScreenScraper

Version 3.0.3 (16th February 2019)

  • Worked around a flaw in the returned screenscraper xml results which caused many games to not be recognized due to invalid xml being returned (Thank you to 'Brunnis' for reporting this)
  • Improved SIGINT handler to now allow unclean exit if user is VERY adament about it

Version 3.0.2 (14th February 2019)

  • Upped the rom limit from 5 to 35 for the "igdb" module
  • Upped the rom limit from 25 to 35 for the "mobygames" module
  • Added media cache config options to module section
  • Add Sharp X1 platform as "x1"
  • Now exits nicely when running low on disk space
  • Added 'spaceCheck=' to config.ini
  • Fixed crash when using '--startat' and '--endat' where the '--endat' file name came before the '--startat' file name. Note! What 'ls' reports in alphabetical order is not always what Skyscraper see as it it locale specific. So be aware of this. A huge thanks to 'Gemba' for taking the time to investigate this bug thoroughly.
  • Fixed bug in game list metadata preservation when using relativePaths and '' entries (thank you to 'HumanRob' for reporting this)
  • Fixed game list entries skipping for 'relativePaths' and '' instances
  • Skyscraper now saves the cache and exits nicely on ctrl+c (SIGINT) (thanks to 'krcroft' for pointing this out)
  • The 'screenscraper' module now includes 'systemeid' in the query for better results
  • Now skips the game list assembling when in gathering mode
  • Now skips cache saving when in game list generation mode
  • Output now says whether it was a gathering run or a game list generation run

Version 3.0.1 (27th January 2019)

  • Added note for '--query' option when user forgets to add a file name on command line
  • Fixed minor bugs in aliasMap, mameMap and whdLoad map lookups

Version 3.0.0 (23rd January 2019)

  • Game list creation and media compositing now only processed when leaving out the "-s" option
  • Now converts textual "\n" in descriptions to newlines. Useful when importing textual data (Thank you to "scthirouin" for requesting it)
  • Added disk space check. Now aborts if disk has less than 200 megs left
  • Updated "igdb" API til APIv3000. Key now global for all users
  • Fixed ES game list release dates by adding "T000000" (Thank you to "michaelbaudino" for noticing)
  • Added "subdirs" to config.ini (Thank you to "otherguy" for noticing it was missing)
  • "--startat" and "--endat" now supports current workdir file paths
  • Changed "allowExtension" config variable to "addExtensions"
  • Changed "noHints" config variable to "hints"
  • Changed "noBrackets" config variable to "brackets"
  • Changed "noResize" config variable to "resize"
  • Removed "--updatedb" cli option as it was deprecated (use "--cache refresh" instead)
  • Removed "--nolocaldb" cli option as it is irrelevant after 3.0.0 usage changes
  • Changed "--allowext" cli option to "--addext"
  • Removed "localDb"/"cache" config sections and moved options to "main"
  • Removed "userCreds" option from main and platform sections in config.ini. They should be set in scraping module section instead
  • Removed "scraper" config.ini variable as it made no sense to ever set it like that
  • Changed "startat" config.ini option to "startAt" to conform with style of other variables
  • Changed "endat" config.ini option to "endAt" to conform with style of other variables
  • Fixed "--relative" option when combined with roms in subdirs
  • "--unattend" options now answers "y" to all "--cache purge:" prompts automatically
  • Added "regionPrios" and "langPrios" variables to config.ini for main and platform sections
  • Added auto-migration from old config.ini format to v3.0.0 format
  • Added auto-migration from "dbs" folder to "cache" folder
  • Optimized "--cache validate" A LOT
  • Now converts ES game list entries to entries if a .cue or .m3u file is found in a subfolder. This causes the information and artwork to be shown when selecting the folder in ES rather than the .cue or .m3u file inside the subfolder. This is very useful for psx scraping

Version 2.9.5 (22nd December 2018)

  • MAJOR: Added option "--purgedb vacuum" which vacuums all resources not related to your current romset. Remember to make backups of your cache before using this
  • MAJOR: Added option "--purgedb all" that purges all resources for the selected platform. Remember to make backups of your cache before using this
  • MAJOR: Added "--symlink" option which forces cached videos to be symlinked to destination instead of being copied when scraping with the "localdb" scraping module
  • MAJOR: Added "esgamelist" emulationstation gamelist.xml scraping module. Contributed by "mgerhardy". Rewritten by me to better conform to Skyscraper design
  • MAJOR: Added aliasMap.csv that forces the use of a title alias when searching for specific filenames
  • Removed version bracket tag for Amiga lha files
  • Improved getCompareTitle for mame games and lha files
  • Code cleanup for sqrNotes
  • Added the "ti99" platform. (Thank you to "jhbeskow" for suggesting it)

Version 2.9.1 (15th December 2018)

  • Fixed bug in "screenscraper" module when using --unpack where files exceeding limits would get checksummed as the "Point Blank" game. (Thank you to CookiePLMonster for reporting this issue)
  • Raised --unpack size limit to 8 megs

Version 2.9.0 (13th December 2018)

  • MAJOR: Now looks up Amiga lha files in the Amiberry "whdload_db.xml" and retrieves data from "" based on the uuid from the xml
  • Added search based fallback pass for Amiga when game isn't found via uuid
  • Added "" effect to compositor. Check here for more info (Thank you to "jakejm79" for suggesting this)
  • "mobygames" module now uses https
  • Fixed bug in "openretro" module where "developer" would potentially scrape wrong under certain circumstances
  • Improved "description" scraping for "openretro" module
  • Improved bracket tag handling for Amiga lha files A LOT
  • Fixed minor pass 2 bug when using search based sources
  • Added a pass for integer to roman conversion for search based sources (eg. "4" converts to "IV")
  • "the" matching now uses regular expression for better precision
  • Added "mame-*" platforms to "mameMap" name load list

Older releases

Release notes for older releases can be found here.

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