Daggerfall Cache

Anyone that has written mods for Daggerfall, or even peeked at the file formats, will notice just how unusual these formats are. There are five different bitmap formats, each with their own specification, three 3D model versions, two major block formats and, thankfully, only a single map format.

Looking deeper things get even stranger. The 3D models aren’t stored as triangles – a single face primitive might have upwards of 12 vertices. Considering modern gaming cards generally feed off triangles, these models have to be converted before they can be rendered properly. Loading a city or dungeon into memory can take several seconds of processing on a fast computer just to load a small map.

My solution was to pre-convert Daggerfall’s files into something manageable, rather than convert everything at runtime as I have in my previous tools. Daggerfall Scout has a feature called the Cache Manager which builds a personal cache from your Daggerfall CD containing pre-converted textures, 3D objects, blocks, and maps. The following table shows the process in a little more detail.

No Cache

Fresh Install

The first time you open Daggerfall Scout, there’s nothing much to look at. I don’t distribute any copyrighted content with my programs, and I don’t plan on starting. Even the world map image is Bethesda’s property. By itself, Daggerfall Scout is useless.

Before you can do anything with Daggerfall Scout, you have to build your personal cache. If you open the screenshot to the left, you will see a message on the status panel guiding you to the Cache Manager.

Cache Manager Start

Cache Manager

Opening the Cache Manager shows that you need an update. This only needs to be done once, but you may also need to update your cache after downloading a new version of Daggerfall Scout.

Clicking the Update button starts the process.

Select CD

Select Your CD

The next step is to insert your Daggerfall CD. You must tick the box confirming this is an original and legally purchased CD before the program will allow you to continue.

After clicking OK, the update process begins. This can take several minutes based on the speed of your PC. Once the cache has been built, you can put away your Daggerfall CD.

Cache Complete

Cache Complete

The cache has been built, and all groups show they are updated and ready. Clicking Close will take you back to the main program.

Scout Ready

Scout Ready

After closing the Cache Manager, Daggerfall Scout detects the cache is now up-to-date and initialises the exploring components. The world map and location explorer come online, and the 3D engine is prepared to render.

From this point you can start using Daggerfall Scout to explore.

The contents of the cache are easy to work with. Bitmaps are saved to standard PNG files, and constructs like blocks and maps are written out as XML documents. This makes exploring Daggerfall a faster, cleaner, and more stable process.

Posted in Daggerfall Scout.