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Darklands (1992 game from Microprose) file reading utils and preserved file format docs

Based heavily upon work of Merle ( and Joel "Quadko" McIntyre. IMC decoding done with help of arcane remarks of Olemars from bay12forums. PIC reader/writer based od darkapandaman's JCivED PIC codecs finally.

Probably not suitable for Windows because of lazy filepaths handling.

Some outputs and file format docs online

Latest News

  • Given up resolving MSG dialogs logic (it seems impossible - hidden in executable completely)
  • PIC reader rewritten, writing added
  • FNT reader - writting added
  • IMC mostly resolved
  • Enemy palette done
  • MSG reader done
  • FNT reader done
  • FNT file format blurry contures
  • IMC inner format partly dissected and documented
  • IMC compression resolved.
  • Up-to-date file format docs using updated Merle's XML files.

TODO (Short term goals)

  • replace dicts by classes & clean up the code a lot (replace reader_* with format_* gradually)
  • systemize readers/scripts interface/flow
  • Fixing up-to-date XSLT

Repository contents


  • DL/ - put your Darklands installed files here

  • game_patches/ - essential patches to upgrade Darklands to the latest version (.7)

  • file_formats/ - gathered docs on DL file formats (up-to-date/ contains updated Merle's docs)

  • tmp/ - you may direct output there



  • - file bits to ASCII

  • - file bytes to ASCII

  • - file byte histogram counter

  • - find bytes in file, limited by max distance from first found to last

  • - very simple HTML map with cities and locations

  • - some PIC files scanning

  • - renders system fonts usable by Pygame

  • - first N chars of hexdump of all files in directory

  • - convert all DL/pics/.pic to tmp/pics/.pic.png


  • - extracts catalogue (.CAT) files


  • - blits font archive to image
  • - outputs map JS data struct
  • - outputs HUGE image of DL landscape with city and village names
  • - outputs HUGE webpage of simplified DL map with city info


  • - cities
  • - "DarklandsRLE" decompression (used for .IMC, in, bc) (can decompress file if run directly)
  • - Enemy palettes
  • - Enemy types & enemies defs
  • - strings extraction - WIP (aux maybe?)
  • - fonts reader
  • - battle sprites - WIP
  • - map locations (cities, villages, castles...)
  • - item types & attrs, saints and formula names
  • - tile map
  • - dialogs
  • - image format (can convert .PIC to .PNG if run directly)
  • - mysterious file loaded before battle

Common libs



  • dosbox.conf - to ease running of the game


  • Pygame lib for imagery


Darklands (1992 game from Microprose) python file reading utils and file format docs




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