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Descent is the first First Person Shooter with 3D gameplay. For space partitioning it uses a portal engine ([1]), a technique that is different from the BSP engine used by Quake, and its descendants. The polygon objects however use BSP-trees. For outdoor scenes during the famous exit sequences, it uses a terrain engine, that uses different file formats (BBM and PCX instead of the PIG-File). The combination of a portal engine and a terrain engine was later continued with Descent 3 there you actually can play outdoors.
In a dystopian future, there humanity has colonized other planets, but most labour is done by robots, a computer virus (rumored to be written by aliens) causes the mining robots of the PTMC (Post Terran Mining/Mineral Corporation) to attack their human masters. You play as Material Defender 1032, a PTMC Mercenary in a heavily armed spaceship, who has to fly into the mines that were taken over by the robots, and destroy them by blowing up the reactor or boss robot. To reach the reactor, you have to get several keys, and you also can rescue the hostages.
The gameplay of Descent happens in zero gravity and has 6 Degrees of freedom to move. You can go everythere, shoot everythere and get attacked from everythere. Also notable for FPS is the lack of hitscan weapons. All weapons fore at a finite velocity - even the Vulcan Canon. Descent supports IPX Multiplayer, and its fans were the driving force behind IPX over Internet drivers, like KALI or KAHN.


! There are quite a few Descent tools, add them here

The following tools are able to work with this game.

Name PlatformGroup/archives Levels Graphics Music Sounds Text Saves .exe patch Notes
Camoto Linux/WindowsEdit (HOG only)NoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Camoto/gamearchive.js AnyEdit (HOG only)NoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Devil (Fanmade editor) DOS (32bit)?EditNoNoNoNoNoNo
DMB2 Descent Mission Builder II Windows (16bit)Edit (HOG only)EditNoNoNoEdit (MSN only)NoNo
DTX Windows (???bit)EditNoEdit (2D)EditEditNoNoNo
Miner DOS (32bit)?EditNoNoNoNo?No

File formats

The following file formats are used by this game.

Filename Format Details
*.cfg Descent CFG Format Game configuration
*.dem Decent Demo Format Demo macro?
*.hmp Human Machine Interfaces MIDI Format Game music
*.hog HOG Format Archive file storing much of the game data
*.pig PIG Format Additional archive storing the rest of the game data - textures, sounds (not in Descent 2) and in some versions game data and polygon models (*.ham);
*.plr Descent PLR Format Player data
*.rdl Descent registered Level Level for full version of Descent
*.sdl Descent shareware Level Level for demo version of Descent
*.lvl Descent Level (Miner project) uncompiled level saved in Miner (the original editor)
*.msn Descent MSN Format - ASCII-Text (CRLF) Mission (List of Levels for Mods) - must be outside of the HOG-file.
*.pof Descent POF Format Polygon Object File - Definition of polygon-models and possibly game data, reqired for Miner, and possibly for alpha versions.
*.256 VGA Palette (6-Bit), and fading table. Palettes regular vision, and fading table for damage (red) fusion charge (pink) and nuke (white).
... Descent 2 HAM Format Definition for polygon objects, and game data (Dameg of Weapons,...). Must be extracted from some file (PIG,HOG,...), depending on the Version.
*.pcx PCX Format Sky for outdoor scenes (sun/planet in BBM format) or full screen images during intro.
*.bbm LBM Format Textures, sun/planet and elevation map for outdoor scenes, and some images for briefings (like Dravis' face).
<misson>.txb Descent Briefing - Encrypted ASCII-Text (LF) configuration for briefings and ending. Also used for credits
<mission>.tex Descent Briefing - ASCII-Text (CRLF) alternative configuration for briefings and ending (unused in the original files)
<level>.txb Descent Exit Cutscene Definition Encrypted ASCII-Text (LF) configuration for exit cutscenes. Names of Textures, sky, planet and some numbers (angle of exit ?)
<level>.tex Descent Exit Cutscene Definition ASCII-Text (CRLF) alternative configuration for exit cutscene (unused in the original files)

All the Descent file formats are documented on the Descent Developer Network. The source code for Descent 1 and 2 are also available. There is a project called D1X-Rebirth which has ported Descent to modern operating systems.