Reverse Engineering Pangya - File Formats #1: .dat

Published on , 349 words, 2 minutes to read

Welcome to the first post in my series of reverse engineering Pangya, a MMO golf game that ceased active development in 2016.

As I pretty much started out with barely any knowledge in reverse engineering in mid-2018, when this whole endeavor started, I also picked one of the simpler formats of Pangya to write a tool for first.


From the naming already, one of the probably most used file extensions for "data" generally. The data in Pangya's case is translations.

For every distribution of the game, there are several .dat files, at least 2. One of the files always is korea.dat. As the game is Korean and so the origin language, this makes sense. The other file(s) depend on the released region, so there are files like english.dat, thailand.dat or more.

So, how does the format inside .dat files look like?

It's pretty simple. It's basically just a list of strings separated by null (0x00) bytes. To get all the strings, simply skim through it and split at null, tada. One thing to note however is, that you should respect the origin language encoding, otherwise you might get into issues with saving the data.

Okay, so that was pretty straight-forward, but how about we now take a look how translations with those files actually work?

Considering we have no indices or keys with which translations can be identified with, general i18n solutions from nowadays can be ruled out. But...hey, we have multiple files, and the origin language is always supplied as well, so if we take a string from korea.dat and take the same index from english.dat we should get the same text, right?

And we do! So, the .dat backed translation system is gettext-alike, where the game searches for the index of a korean string inside the korea.dat file and then takes the index to read a translation from english.dat!

One format and it's functionality down, many more to go! I think, next time we will handle all the game data that is there!