What image software could have been used on a PC 3270?

Hi. On occasion I like to investigate DOS games, usually little known titles that might have escaped my attention. A week or so ago, I stumbled upon a game called Harp: A Fantasy Adventure Book, released in 1993 by the Korean studio Aduccini. It's an isometric, black and white adventure game that requires reading and exploring the game world to advance through its story.

Because I'm curious - but by no means an expert - about game formats, I decided to explore the game files. Even thought about translating the game into English, as the original DOS version only saw a Korean release. It turns out the text is actually easy to modify as all dialogue is stored inside simple text files. I also figured I might as well try to improve the graphics, which are... shall we say, perfunctory at best. You can see how it looks in this MobyGames gallery.

However, here's where it gets tricky. I cannot for the life of me figure out the image format. I expanded the executable with PKLITE to try and find at least some clue as to what might have gone into the game's creation (this is because there is absolutely no information whatsoever that I can find online on the studio). It seems it was built on a PC3270, running on an IBM 8514 display and a Hercules-based videocard: not only is HERC referenced in the executable, selecting any other non-Hercules card in DosBox will crash the game. And the HERC.BGI device driver file was a pretty good hint, too :) Other than this piece of info, all other files accompanying the game have the *.HRP extension, though this isn't very relevant - they're just different kinds of files with the extension tacked on.

However, the image files have the following header info: 2E 70 69 63, which reads ".pic" (w/o the quotes). They're often preceded by other info, such as ".book1", ".camp", etc., in reference to their ingame use.

So my question is, what image editing software could have been used at the time to create monochrome graphics on the aforementioned setup? Where would I begin searching for clues about this? To make matters trickier, I strongly believe these may be compressed: there are other image files in the directory which I can see (using an outdated but somewhat versatile image viewer) but no such luck with these.

For reference I'm including one of these image files, and one of the files inside it, in case anyone would be so kind as to take a look:

"STILLRES.HRP" is the container file for a number of images.
"nabi.pic" is one of the files extracted from it.

Thanks in advance for any help on this matter :)


  • From the sound of it, I suspect this is a crufty warez release that is missing VGA graphics resources.

    Chances are the images use structures that are fed directly in the Borland BGI drivers. So studying those might reveal some clue. But if there is compression, it could use any kind of compression library on top.

    Chances are this "pic" file format is proprietary. That is, something they developed themselves. That was quite common. But you could try various image editors here to see if any will open them. Paint Shop Pro, Deluxe Paint, and Dr. Halo come to mind as possibilities.
  • This PIC file does not look to have the header for PICTOR (PC Paint) or Lotus files or the later BGI format from Borland. Hey, if the header includes width and height values, that gives something easy to search for.

    Turbo Pascal Graphix Toolbox supports loading and saving bitmaps and SAVESCREEN suggests using a PIC format for saved files. Harp looks like it will be using LoadWindow to get the image in the correct place. I haven't gone through GWindow and GDriver to see if the PIC format used here matches what they want to load.

    There was a free Turbo Paint program written by Donald Pavia which included a conversion program that turns files from other paint programs into PIC files Turbo Pascal can use. Irritatingly, the website that offers it makes it very difficult to download. Other simple paint programs that would have defaulted to Turbo Pascal's format would have been relatively simple to create.
  • Game multimedia was often in custom file formats. There are groups who spent their time reverse engineering them:
  • @SomeGuy : Could it be? I never thought that could be the case, but who knows. I did find out the studio released a remake of sorts for DOS 2 years later. It has a couple of additional story scenarios and VGA support but also changes perspective and introduces ho-hum combat. So maybe this version was just this a project they got going, and not necessarily a warez release.

    @menage and @ctrlc: Thank you for the heads up! I suspect I will have to get down and dirty with code at some point. Not my forte, but I'll see what I can do, including tracking down Pavia's program.

    Thank you once again! :)
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