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A parser for Freelancer and its formats

Project description


flint (Freelancer Intel) is a platform-independent parser and API for the data files of Freelancer, a 2003 space sim for Windows developed by Digital Anvil.

Freelancer is interesting in that the game world can be entirely defined in INI files, a format more usually used to hold simple configuration data. Additional content (e.g. text, icons and models) are stored in a variety of binary formats.

flint implements a parser for Freelancer-style INIs, as well as platform-independent reader implementations for every binary file format used by Freelancer - BINI, resource DLL, and UTF. All these implementations can be found in flint/formats. Additionally, resource string handling incorporates RDL (Freelancer's markup language) to HTML translation and some of the maths surrounding Freelancer's navmap has been implemented.

Taken together, this yields a simple yet powerful API that can be used to explore the game world, dump data or act as a foundation for Freelancer-related applications.

flint specifically supports vanilla Freelancer and Discovery Freelancer, but in theory should work with any mod.


flint is on PyPI:

python -m pip install fl-flint

Alternatively you can install straight from this repository:

python3 -m pip install

Built wheels are also available under Releases, as is a changelog.

flint requires Python >= 3.6 because it uses the dataclasses module which was added in that release.

Interactive shell

flint incorporates an interactive mode that can be used for testing or exploration. It provides a Python interpreter where flint is imported as fl and ready to use. To use it, run python -m flint.interactive <path_to_freelancer>. This mode will be used in the following examples.

API description

The API is unstable until v1.0. Minor details may change.


Before doing anything you will want to set the path to the Freelancer directory to be inspected. This is accomplished with flint.set_install_path() or automatically with the interactive shell as shown above.

Core functions

flint defines several "core functions":

Name Type Notes
flint.get_bases() EntitySet[Base] All bases defined in the game files
flint.get_systems() EntitySet[System] All systems defined in the game files
flint.get_commodities() EntitySet[Commodity] All commodities defined in the game files
flint.get_ships() EntitySet[Ship] All ships defined in the game files
flint.get_groups() EntitySet[Group] All groups defined in the game files

(If you are on Python 3.7 or above, these have handy shorthands of the form flint.bases,, flint.commodities etc.)

Functions in flint often return an entity, represented by the Entity data class, or sets of entities, represented by the EntitySet container. An Entity represents a unique entity in Freelancer, distinguished by a unique nickname. Entities are constructed from the game's INI files and contain methods to calculate derived attributes. For example:

(flint as fl) >>> fl.get_systems()
{'li01': System(nickname='li01', ids_name=196609, ids_info=66106, file='systems\\li01\\li01.ini', navmapscale=1.0),
 'li02': System(nickname='li02', ids_name=196610, ids_info=66084, file='systems\\li02\\li02.ini', navmapscale=1.0),
 'li03': System(nickname='li03', ids_name=196611, ids_info=66087, file='systems\\li03\\li03.ini', navmapscale=1.0),
(flint as fl) >>> [ for s in fl.get_systems()]
['New York', 'California', 'Colorado', 'Texas', 'Alaska', 'New London', ...]

Entity types are described in detail in the next section.


Base classes


The base data class for any entity defined within Freelancer, distinguished by a nickname.

Attributes Type Notes
nickname str A unique string identifier for this entity
ids_name int Resource id for name
ids_info int resource id for infocard.
name() str The display name of this entity.
infocard(plain=False) str The infocard for this entity, formatted in HTML unless plain is specified

An entity's nickname uniquely identifies it - this means it is hashable.

Some Entities are abstract, because flint never returns them, but they are used for inheritance and grouping.

Obviously the usual rules of object inheritance apply, i.e. inherited classes retain all their previous methods and attributes, So System(Entity) listed below has all the fields and methods of Entity above. Similarly, PlanetaryBase(BaseSolar, Planet) has all the attributes and methods of BaseSolar and Planet.


An EntitySet is a set of entities of a particular type. An EntitySet is constructed from an iterator of entities by flint, and it stores these in a hash table based on the nicknames of the entities it contains. An EntitySet is therefore indexable by nickname, for example fl.get_systems()['br01'] returns the Entity for New London.

For arbitrarily complex filtering, Python's excellent conditional generator expressions are recommended, for example EntitySet(s for s in fl.get_systems() if s.nickname.startswith('br)) returns an EntitySet containing all the houses in Bretonia.



A star system, containing Solars.

Attributes Type Notes
file str
navmapscale float
definition_path() str The absolute path to the file that defines this system's contents.
contents() EntitySet[Solar] The contents of this system.
bases() EntitySet[BaseSolar] The bases in this system.
connections() Dict[Jump, str] The systems this system has jumps to.


A space station or colonised planet, operated by a Group.

Attributes Type Notes
system str
_market Dict
solar() BaseSolar Confusingly, Freelancer defines bases separately to their physical representation.
buys() Dict[str, int] The goods this base buys, of the form {good -> price}.
sells() Dict[str, int] The goods this base sells, of the form {good -> price}.


A Group, also known as a faction, is an organisation in the Freelancer universe.

Attributes Type Notes
rep List[str]
bases() EntitySet[BaseSolar] Bases owned by this group.
rep_sheet() Dict[str, float] The goods this base buys, of the form {good -> price}.



A Good is anything that can be bought or sold. Commodities, equipment and ships are all examples of goods. (Abstract.)

Attributes Type Notes
item_icon Optional[str] Path to icon, relative to DATA
price int The default price for this good, pre market multiplier
_market Dict[bool, Tuple]
icon_path() str The absolute path to the .3db file containing this item's icon.
icon() bytes This good's icon in TGA format.
sold_at() Dict[str, int] A dict of bases that sell this good of the form {base_nickname: price}.
bought_at() Dict[str, int] A dict of bases that buy this good of the form {base_nickname: price}.


A star ship with a cargo bay and possibly hardpoints for weapons.

Attributes Type Notes
ids_info1 int Ship infocards are in four parts.
ids_info2 int
ids_info3 int
ship_class int
hit_pts int
hold_size int
nanobot_limit int
shield_battery_limit int
steering_torque float
angular_drag float
_hull Dict[str, Any]
_package Dict[str, Any]
type() str The name of the type (class) of this ship.
turn_rate() EntitySet[Solar] Turn rate in degrees per second.


A Commodity is the representation of a good in tradeable/transportable form.

Attributes Type Notes
volume float Volume of one unit in ship's cargo bay.



A solar is something fixed in space (this name comes from the DATA/SOLAR directory). (Abstract.)

Attributes Type Notes
pos Tuple[float] Position vector.
_system System The system this solar resides in.
sector() str The human-readable navmap coordinate (the centre of) this solar resides in.


Generic class for a celestial body - a solid object in space.

Attributes Type Notes
archetype str



A jump conduit is a wormhole - natural or artificial - between Systems.

Attributes Type Notes
goto str
origin_system() System The system this wormhole starts in.
destination_system() str The system this wormhole ends in.


A star or planet. (Abstract.)

Attributes Type Notes
atmosphere_range int
burn_color Tuple[int, int, int]


A star in a System.

Attributes Type Notes
star int
ambient_color Tuple[int, int, int]


A planet in a System.

Attributes Type Notes
spin Tuple[float, float, float]

PlanetaryBase(BaseSolar, Planet)

A base on the surface of a planet, typically accessible via a docking ring.


Common interface


INI files are traditionally used to store brief configuration or initialisation files for programs, as the name suggests. However, Freelancer uses them essentially as crude relational databases. The simplicity of the format may be a factor in the growth of Freelancer's vibrant modding community. In the vanilla game, INI files are shipped in the compressed BINI format described below.

Python's standard library contains the module configparser which provides built-in INI file parsing. However, the INI files used by Freelancer do not conform to the standard it expects.


BINI (Binary INI) is the compressed format INIs are stored in in the vanilla game. Typically these are distributed in decompressed form by mods to enable the contents to be edited with a text editor. Technically, BINI is an elegant and simple format.


Windows resource DLLs are used to store names and infocards. DLLs are a subset of the PE format. Rich text is formatted in an XML-based markup language unique to Freelancer called RDL. flint's DLL implementation handles conversion of this to HTML.


Another of Digital Anvil's formats, UTF (Universal Tree Format), is used as a catch-all container for binary files (blobs), with the exception of audio files which use the WAV container. UTF files can have the file extensions .3db (icons and textures), .txm (effects and some textures) and .cmp (models)

To do

  • Parsing zones and every object type
  • Parsing equipment
  • Route planning


  • Bas Westerbaan for documenting the BINI format
  • Treewyrm for documenting UTF
  • adoxa and cshake for deciphering RDL
  • cshake and Alex for providing a cross-platform DLL parser, which facilitated early development
  • Syrus for advice in the early stages of development

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