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 The Game Files 
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I've thought I check what files are needed minimum to run the game to maybe found out what is storing what! So for test purposes I've removed all files except the start.exe

Test 1: Running only the start exe sent me to the setup screen after exiting it it required the blancpc.io (red letter screen saying it is missing) and did not went further.
Test 2: putting back the above mentioned files and the game now required the main.io but instead of hanging up it returned to dos prompt
Test 3: with main.io the game initiated (the biiping sound before loading the logo) but required the logo.io
Test 4: with the logo.io the game loaded the logo animation and the 2nd sound effect but after hitting ok it crashed and for a split second it showed what is missing and by luck I was able to make a screenshot that it requires the present.io file
Test 5: with present and present2.io the actual intro animation with sound loaded but after it required the bopres.io
Test 6: with bopres.io the intro music started playing but then souris.io, yoda.io, traduc.io are required
Test 7: with souris.io, yoda.io, traduc.io files the language selection screen came up, for English texteK and texte2K.io, for French texte and texte2.io and for German texteD and texte2D.io are required
Test 8: with the language files fixed now the game requires the ville.fic, carte.fic, hima.fic, trans.fic oasis.fic, table.io and option.io files
Test 9: after returning these files the main menu loaded hitting the start button or loading a save game, the game required to put diskette B in drive B.
Test 10: Putting back ville.io makes the game continue but requiring these files: son.io, carte.io, time.io, train.io
Test 11: With all the above files the game starts, map elements and names correctly shown, clicking on the captain's wagon requiring the room.io file, locomotive and commander wagons working fine. Visiting any town requires the glieu.io file, saving the game still requires to put back the B Diskette.
Test 12: Testing each town type, I've figured out which town data stored in which file
Test 13: Testing the events to see which one is stored in which file



Conclusions:
Startup files:
start.stp - saves the setup options
blancpc.io - required to continue the loadup, maybe for system requirement checking?
main.io - needs the game to start, high chance it contains the main functions and processes to run
logo.io - contains the Silmarils logo animation sequence, should contain graphical information so extraction is possible?
present.io together with present2.io - contains the intro sequence, maybe graphical extraction is possible?
bopres.io - contains the intro music, maybe all other music as well?
souris.io, yoda.io, traduc.io - unknown, needed for language selection
texte and texte2.io - French language files, text information extraction is possible?
texteK and texte2K.io - English language files, text information extraction is possible?
texteD and texte2D.io - German language files, text information extraction is possible?
Main menu files:
The 5 .fic files are probably the main menu icons (START, difficulty settings, load, auto battle and sound/music) or maybe these store the graphic elements of the map as well.
ville.fic, carte.fic, hima.fic, trans.fic oasis.fic
apparently ville.io and carte.io not yet required
table.io together with option.io - Main menu files
Main game files:
ville.io - includes information from the 2nd diskette and maybe town information
son.io - unknown but needed for the game to start correctly
carte.io, probably contains information on the commander wagon screen and maybe associated data
time.io - probably contains information on the date and time and maybe related events.
train.io - probably contains information on the Locomotive screen and maybe associated data
room.io - probably contains information on the captain's wagon (Boudoir wagon) screen and maybe associated data
mort.io - contains data for your death event probably the cloudy planet screen (text loaded nicely)
Town files:
glieu.io - contains information on the towns and probably associated data and/or graphics
usine.io - contains data and/or screen graphics for industry towns
abolieu.io - contains data and/or screen graphics for commercial towns and information towns
mamesc.io - contains data and/or screen graphics for mammoth markets and slave markets
soleil.io - contains data and/or screen graphics for military/garrison towns
mine.io - contains data and/or screen graphics for service stations and coal mines
Events:
scene1.io - Contains data and/or screen graphics on the Mammoth Cemetery so far
scene2.io - Contains data and/or screen graphics on the Bridge buildings so far
scene3.io - Contains data and/or screen graphics on the Loch Ness Monster and Urga's Oasis so far
scene4.io - Contains data and/or screen graphics on the Mole Men attack and Oslo event town so far
Will continue testing!


Mon 7. Dec 2015, 11:46
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Pleasant reverse-engineering!

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Mon 7. Dec 2015, 12:55
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Awesome! I wonder what city and map related data could be present in ville.io and carte.io that are not loaded to memory at start.


Mon 7. Dec 2015, 15:29
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Check now, discovered more information!


Mon 7. Dec 2015, 16:21
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Hats of to you, TZoli! :) Great work!
It would be useful to upload it to the wiki sometime later.


Mon 7. Dec 2015, 18:37
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The FIC files (fichiers) contain information on the game map. CARTE.FIC has the game map as 160x73 tile map, stored column-wise. Low tile ids are the tracks, after that come the tunnels and then the landscape.

The files OASIS.FIC, HIMA.FIC and TRANS.FIC contain additional tracks that are unlocked by game enevts, namely the tracks to Urga's oasis, to the mammoth cemetry of Yoursk and to the Gycode base in the Himalaya. (In that order; HIMA.FIC really contains the path to Yoursk.) The file format is triplets of bytes denoting x and y positions and the track tile id.

VILLE.FIC contains the locations and types of towns as byte triplets of x and y positions and town type. The x position is obfuscated: If the value is less than 160, the real value is x + 39; otherwise, it is x - 217. (The file does not contain the names of the towns, which must be translated for the English and German versions.)

A quick visualisation of the file contents yields:

Image

The file TEXTE2.IO contains some texts verbatim: The town informations and the game-over texts can be extracted easily. The texts have some additional binary data stored with them, such as length and which line of a multi-line text it is. I guess that TEXTE.IO contains the rest of the texts with the same data format, but encrypted in some way.

Further, I guess that many of the larger files are image files. They have their file size stored as the first two bytes. There must be some compression, because their file lengths differ.


Mon 7. Dec 2015, 20:27
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Uhm guys - you are ripping apart the data files - great work!

:shock: :shock: :shock:

I'm in awe... and in shock... and I guess a little bit in love! :D

Also this is some serious engineering for a software which is this old I have to say...

Quote:
Further, I guess that many of the larger files are image files. They have their file size stored as the first two bytes. There must be some compression, because their file lengths differ.


Hmmm... could it be some kind of 8-16bit bitmap .bmp with some easy compression like Lempel-Ziv?
IFF/LBM is also possible.

GIF/IMG/TGA and TIF could also have been used...

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Mon 7. Dec 2015, 20:43
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I don't think that existing image-file formats were used. It was very common for games of this era to roll their own formats. I can imagine that the file format is similar to the one used in other Silmarils games.

Many of the IO files have a common header:

----XX XX YY a1 01 00 0b 09 0a 0b 07 05 06 07 ...

The XX are different for each file and seem to indicate some information on the file structure, but not its length, as I first thought. The YY can be 0, 1 or 2 and probably indicates some file type. The file BLANCPC.IO doesn't follow this pattern and MAIN.IO doesn't have 07 at the end of the header.

I said the the file TEXTE2.IO contains plain texts, but I found out that this is only true for a French-language only version I had. The trilingual version that TZoli works from has more files. Here, TEXTE2.IO is a binary file that follows the above pattern and whose contents are encoded. That means we have a two variants of a file: A plain-text one and an encoded one. That's a bit like capturing a set of Enigma discs. (I guess that the garbled texts in some of the town informations are caused by "transmission errors" or by glitches in the decoding.)

A histogram of the plain-text text file shows the expected distribution of letters, but it doesn't yield anything useful on the encoded text file. In fact the char codes are quite evenly distributed and all 256 values are used.


Tue 8. Dec 2015, 08:01
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The font type had to be saved as well if I'm not mistaken. Do you think it is possible they created their own font type for their games?

Also you seem quite advanced in decoding these files, did you tried the same with the savegames as well?


Tue 8. Dec 2015, 09:13
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TZoli wrote:
Do you think it is possible they created their own font type for their games?


Ruuzo wrote on youtube once:
Quote:
I almost forgot about Storm Master! It uses the same text font as Transarctica. I never played Storm Master and Ishar but I always read about them in Amiga magazines.

So I guess its their own font but they use it throughout the game so it wouldn't make sense to specify which font to use...

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Tue 8. Dec 2015, 10:08
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