Age of Empires .drs format

.drs message board

This page is about the .drs file format. There are totally five such files in AoE, containing the graphics and sounds resources. I have found out pretty much about the header, together with Steve. Stoyan has completed the description.

I have also set up a message board so people can share their knowledge about the .drs file format.

Hex dump of interfac.drs (important part)

This information is from Stoyan Ratchev (

Age of Empires is a game by Microsoft & Ensemble Studios.
All trademarks are property of their respective owners.

The DRS resource files contain the resources (graphics, sounds, other binary info) used by MS AoE. They are large files that contain other smaller files (embedded files). Several people worked on discovering the format of the DRS files, so that compiler/extractor utilities (like my DRSBUILD) or resource editors (like the AoE sound editor available on the Empire of Ages site) can be written. I'm the last in this line. This description is based on the marvelous work done by Cyrille Artho ( and Steve Chen ( Their description was available on the Cyrille's Empire of Ages site by 9 Nov 1997. After downloading it, I found it was somewhat incomplete and slightly incorrect. I discovered the rest of it, and now I can claim that this is the full description (except for one single mysterious byte, see below). Still there was not much left to discover - Cyrille & Steve, thanks!

Please note that this description comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY of any kind, so use it at your own risk.

Microsoft (MS) and Age of Empires (AoE) are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.

To illustrate the DRS file format I've chosen the file INTERFAC.DRS from the DATA folder (trial version). This is the most complicated one, in fact the only one to contain several tables of different types. All other DRS files contain a single table.

1. Header

The DRS header contains a copyright info string, a version string, a file type string ("tribe"), the number of tables in the DRS file and the offset of the first embedded file. INTERFAC.DRS hex dump - header: ----------------------------------------------------------------- 00000000 436F 7079 7269 6768 7420 2863 2920 3139 Copyright (c) 19 00000010 3937 2045 6E73 656D 626C 6520 5374 7564 97 Ensemble Stud 00000020 696F 732E 1A00 0000 312E 3030 7472 6962 ios.....1.00trib 00000030 6500 0000 0000 0000 0400 0000 8C08 0000 e............... ----------------------------------------------------------------- Header Format: ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Length Type Description INTERFAC.DRS ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 40 bytes string Copyright info Copyright (c) 1997 Ensemble Studios\032. 4 bytes string File version 1.00 12 bytes string File type tribe 4 bytes long Number of tables 4, 0x00000004 4 bytes long Offset of 1st file 2188, 0x0000088C ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 64 bytes total

2. Table infos

The information about all files of equal type is contained in a table with one entry for each embedded file. The number of such tables is determined from the DRS header. Before the tables there goes an array of table infos with information for each table. Each table info contains: the extension of the files in the table, the offset of the table in the "tables" section and the number of files in the table. INTERFAC.DRS hex dump - table infos (4 tables): ----------------------------------------------------------------- 00000040 616E 6962 7000 0000 4700 0000 2070 6873 anibp...G... phs 00000050 C403 0000 1300 0000 2070 6C73 A804 0000 ........ pls.... 00000060 4500 0000 2076 6177 E407 0000 0E00 0000 E... vaw........ ----------------------------------------------------------------- Table Info Format: ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Length Type Description INTERFAC.DRS (1st table info) ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 1 byte byte related with file type a, 0x61 3 bytes string Reversed extension nib (stays for 'bin') 4 bytes long Table offset 112, 0x00000070 4 bytes long Number of files 71, 0x00000047 ----------------------------------------------------------------------- The first four bytes determine the resource type for which this record contains information about. 12 bytes total

3. Tables

Each table contains entries for the files in it. The table entry consists of: the unique integer identifier of the embedded file, the offset of the embedded file and the size of the embedded file. INTERFAC.DRS hex dump - tables (4 tables, 173 files): ----------------------------------------------------------------- 00000070 51C3 0000 8C08 0000 7102 0000 52C3 0000 Q.......q...R... 00000080 FD0A 0000 7B02 0000 53C3 0000 780D 0000 ....{...S...x... .... 00000870 3CBB 0000 90C4 0000 3367 D500 6027 0300 <.......3g..`'.. 00000880 91C4 0000 938E D800 C693 0300 ............ ----------------------------------------------------------------- Table Entry Format: ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Length Type Description INTERFAC.DRS (1st table, 1st entry) ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 4 bytes long File id 50001, 0x0000C351 4 bytes long File offset 2188, 0x0000088C 4 bytes long File size 625, 0x00000271 ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 12 bytes total

4. Embedded Files

The embedded files follow in the order they appear in the tables. In INTERFAC,DRS, there are 4 tables - the 1st contains 71 various binary (.BIN) files (some of them are actually text files - no, I don't know their purpose!), the 2nd one contains 19 shape (?) files (.SHP), the 3rd one contains 69 RLE shape files (.SLP), and the 4th one contains 14 wave files (.WAV). The .SHP and the .SLP files should be graphics or animations (does anybody know more about them ???). INTERFAC.DRS hex dump - embedded files: ----------------------------------------------------------------- 00000880 6261 636B ............back 00000890 6772 6F75 6E64 315F 6669 6C65 7320 2020 ground1_files 000008A0 2020 646C 6731 6E20 2020 6E6F 6E65 2020 dlg1n none 000008B0 3530 3230 3020 202D 310D 0A62 6163 6B67 50200 -1..backg .... 00DC21E0 0004 0004 0003 0003 0003 0002 0003 0003 ................ 00DC21F0 0003 0002 0002 0003 0003 0003 004C 4953 .............LIS 00DC2200 5454 0000 0049 4E46 4F49 5346 5434 0000 TT...INFOISFT4.. 00DC2210 0043 6F6F 6C20 4564 6974 2076 2E39 3620 .Cool Edit v.96 00DC2220 6279 2053 796E 7472 696C 6C69 756D 2053 by Syntrillium S 00DC2230 6F66 7477 6172 6520 436F 7270 6F72 6174 oftware Corporat 00DC2240 696F 6E00 0049 4352 440C 0000 0031 3939 ion..ICRD....199 00DC2250 372D 3032 2D31 3900 0000 7-02-19.. -----------------------------------------------------------------
As you can see from this description, the format is fairly clear. The single mysterious byte is the first byte of the table info. It is 'a' or 0x61 when the file extension is 'bin' and ' ' or 0x20 when the file extension is 'shp', 'slp' or 'wav'. This is true not only for INTERFAC.DRS, but for all other .DRS files (BORDER.DRS, TERRAIN.DRS, GRAPHICS.DRS, SOUNDS.DRS). However I don't know if another extension appears in the resource files of the future releases of the game, how this byte will be. Maybe it's a kind of a checksum for the extension? Anyway, it's important! I tried to change it to ' ' when it's normally 'a' (offset 0x40) and crashed the game. If anybody has any suggestions, please email me.

Copyright (C) 1997 Stoyan Ratchev. All rights reserved.
Last updated on 15 Nov 1997.

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