Wasteland PIC Format

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Wasteland PIC Format
Wasteland PIC Format.png
Format typeImage
Colour depth4-bit (EGA)
Minimum size (pixels)2×1
Maximum size (pixels)Unlimited
PaletteDefault EGA
Plane count1
Transparent pixels?No
Hitmap pixels?No

All images in the game Wasteland are stored in this format, though some are stored within blocks of many images and/or Huffman encoded.

The image format does not store any transparency. Instead, masks are used to draw transparencies like the character on the world map or the mouse cursor.

Pixels are encoded with the below Vertical XOR scheme.

Storing images with Vertical XOR does not take up any additional data compared to storing raw EGA color values. It is theorised this was done as a form of obfuscation to prevent game file ripping or editing.


The Wasteland title.pic file is 288×128 pixels with no additional header, tail, or metadata.

Vertical XOR Encoding

The image is decoded by organizing bytes into a 2-dimensional array, then applying Exclusive OR (XOR) of a byte with the byte above it.

Because the first row does not have any row above it, the first row is XOR'ed with zero (which produces the same value).

A single byte is used to store two pixels next to each other, where each pixel is a color index into the EGA Palette.

An example of decoding a 2×4 image, 2 pixels wide by 4 pixels tall:

line value in file binary XOR Operation Result Binary The final pixel value [and corresponding EGA colours]
1 0x32 0011 0010 0x32 ^ 0x00 0011 0010 0x32 [0x3 cyan, 0x2 green]
2 0x55 0101 0101 0x55 ^ 0x32 0110 0111 0x67 [0x6 orange, 0x7 grey]
3 0x00 0000 0000 0x00 ^ 0x67 0110 0111 0x67 [0x6 orange, 0x7 grey]
4 0x60 0110 0000 0x60 ^ 0x67 0000 0111 0x07 [0x0 black, 0x7 grey]

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