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3.3 Version 3 Resource Storage

by Lance Ewing
Last updated: 27 January 1998
Retrived from the Internet Archive

AGIv3 stores resources in a slightly different way from AGIv2. The first significant difference is in the length of the resource header which is now seven bytes.

      ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________
     |        |        |        |        |        |        |        |
     |  0x12  |  0x34  | VOLNum |    UncompSize   |     CompSize    |

VOLNum: Bits 0-3 = VOL file number. Bit 7 = this resource is a PICTURE
UncompSize: Uncompressed resource size [LO-HI]
CompSize: Compressed resource size [LO-HI]

Instead of one resource size as in AGIv2, there are now two sizes. Most of the resources in AGIv3 games are compressed with a form of LZW. Some of them are not though. The interpreter determines whether the resource is compressed by comparing the values of the two sizes given in the header information. If they are equal, then it knows that the resource is stored uncompressed. However, if the sizes do not match, this does not mean that the file is compressed with LZW. If the file is a PICTURE file, then it is stored with its own limited form of compression. This is why the top bit of the third byte in the header is used to tell the interpreter that the resource is a PICTURE file, otherwise it would think that the resource was compressed with LZW.

As far as I can tell, none of the PICTUREs are compressed with LZW. This may well be possible though. It could also be possible for the PICTURE to be totally uncompressed (i.e. it wouldn't use the PICTURE compression method), but I havn't seen any examples of either of the above two cases.


The compression used with version 3 games is an adaptive form of LZW. The LZW algorithm is not explained here, but it basically compresses data by representing previous strings by single codes. When these strings are encountered again, the code can be stored instead. The following information states how the AGIv3 algorithm differs from the standard LZW algorithm. There are plenty of places on the net where you can find a description of the LZW algorithm if you are not familiar with it.

AGIv3 uses an adaptive form of LZW that starts by using 9 bit codes and when the code space is full, it progresses on to 10 bits and so on. As with normal LZW, codes 0-255 represent the standard ASCII characters. The next two codes have a special meaning:

- 256 is used as a start over code. The table is cleared, the number of bits set back to 9, and the process begins again with the next code being 258.

- 257 tells the interpreter that it has reached the end of the resource.

Code 256 seems to be the first code stored in all compressed resources. This is probably just to make sure everything is initialized for beginning the compression process. As was mentioned above, the first code used for the LZW table itself is code 258. From there it stores pairs of prefix codes and appended characters for each table entry until it reaches code 512 at which stage it switches to storing the codes using 10 bits and then 11 and so on. It appears that it will never get to 12 bits because code 256 always seems to turn up just before it needs to switch up to 12 bits, i.e. when code 2048 is required. Carl Muckenhoupts decrypt routine for SCI games specifically prevents it from switching to 12 bits anyway. Whether there is ever a case where code 256 does not intervene, it has not yet been determined.

Note: I should point out that Carl and myself both arrived at the above algorithm independently which confirms that the compression used in the early SCI games was identical to that used in AGIv3.


Pictures in AGI version 3 use a simple form of compression to shrink their size my a tiny amount. It was obviously recognised by the interpreter coders that four bits were being wasted for picture codes 0xF0 and 0xF2. These are the two codes that change the visual and the priority colour respectively. Since there are only 16 colours, there need not be a whole byte set aside for storing the colour. All the picture compression does is store these colours in 4 bits rather than 8.


Original picture codes: F0 06 F8 12 45 F0 07 F2 05 F8 14 67 ...
Compressed picture code: F0 6F 81 24 5F 07 F2 5F 81 46 7 ...

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