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SimCity 2000 Sprite Extraction

In preparation for an AfterEffects project, I set out to free the SimCity 2000 building tiles from their binary confines. I wanted every building in the game on a transparent background. Here's the final working set I ended up with:

Getting all of the assets in shape for AfterEffects turned out to be a bit of an ordeal. My initial plan was to do something clever, like writing a parser for the mysterious ".mif" file format in which Maxis embedded their tile data. A thorough Googling turned up no documentation or existing hacks for the file type. Poking through the bytes with my trusty hex editor also failed to bring enlightenment. Since MIF is ostensibly a graphics format, in a final act of desperation I attempted to interpret the bytes as pixels via Photoshop, again with no success. It's not even an autostereogram:

Failed processing of SimCity 2000 MIF tileset file

(This dead-end detour did bring to mind the need for a tool that can take the friction out of rapidly reinterpreting large binary files as pixel data... being able to "tune" the dimensions / header length / byte order of the image parser in real-time whilst looking for the emergence of some kind of pattern or representational content in the pixels could be useful, or at least of conceptual interest. I'll add it to the project queue.)

In the end I resorted to a mandraulic approach: selecting each building in the Urban Renewal Kit, exporting a BMP for each, and sending the results through a number of Photoshop batches to place them on transparency, resize, etc.

Not exactly clever, but it worked.

December 3 2009 at 10 PM

Holy god!
Exactly what i was looking for, i am glad you took all the effort to make this .gif file :)

April 5 2010 at 10 AM

Hello! What project did you end up using this for? I'd love to see the final results. --gcp

June 30 2011 at 11 PM

Wouter:

This would be very usefull for my project too. The only problem is, and I hope you cab help me, I can't save al those images on my computer, I only get the first frame of 'the movie' when I try to save it. I know there has to be a way to get al the pictures displayed in 'the movie'. I hope you understand me.

August 12 2011 at 2 PM

Eric Mika:

Wouter,

On the Mac — in Safari, at least — I can right-click on the image, select “Save Image to Downloads” and it shows up in my downloads folder as a functional gif (should weigh about 600k).

Maybe try a different browser.

August 12 2011 at 2 PM

Erik:

Wow, thank you so much for doing this. Exactly what I was looking for. Weird!

January 18 2012 at 2 AM

Erik Lundmark:

Wow, thank you so much for your work, I almost did the same the same thing after having giving up on finding any bitmaps; I'm doing a browser js/html5 port of SC2 (for myself, any publishing would be illegal I guess), this just saved my ass, thanks a bunch!!

March 21 2013 at 8 AM

I'm writing an article on the libraries in videogames : http://arsene-de-la-manigance.blogspot.fr/2013/04/les-bibliotheques-et-l... . That's why, I was looking for the picture of the library in Sim City 2000. Thanks to you, I've got it !
Arsène

April 20 2013 at 3 PM

PooglyTheGroumph:

Hi,

Have a look on my SCURK Online converter:
http://simville.fr/scurk/scurk_converter.php

October 17 2013 at 12 PM

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