LFS Programming

From LFS Manual
Revision as of 19:51, 21 October 2010 by Dygear (talk | contribs) (→‎Data-Types)
Jump to navigationJump to search


By its nature LFS is a very programmer friendly game and, while customisation of the game engine itself is frowned upon, there are many other avenues available for budding addon writers to explore. Whether it's parsing some esoteric file format, writing your own server system, or just grabbing your friends hotlaps from LFSWorld, LFS has something to keep even the most adventurous hackers busy!

The following category attempts to explain and document the many various programmer topics related to LFS, in hopefully a clear and useful way. Our job of course is not to teach you how to program, there are many, many books about that, but to show you the myriad possibilities for customising LFS which are right at your fingertips.

Programming Categories


InSim is a protocol which allows an external program to communicate with Live for Speed. It allows you to create a socket connection with the game and to send and receive packets of data. The InSim protocol describes how each of these packets is formatted, and any programming language which can create a network connection and send and receive strings of binary data can interface with it.

OutSim / OutGauge

Similar to InSim, OutSim and OutGauge also allow you to create a socket connection from an external program, but specifically for the support of motion simulators and external dashboards.

LFSWorld stats

Through the use of LFSWorld stats, addon programmers are able to query the LFSWorld Web site for a whole host of information about the racers who play the game and the servers they play on.

File Formats

Many of LFS's unique file formats have been documented, both officially by the development team, and unofficially by enthusiastic hackers with hex-editors.

General Programming Information


The LFS game client itself is written in C++ and many of data-types referenced throughout the documentation are named in accordance with that language. The following table represents a breakdown of what each data-type means and what sort of value it holds.

LFS Data Type PHP Pack Type Description
char 1 byte unsigned character a or C A character from the alphabet
byte 1 byte unsigned integer C A number between 0 and 255
word 2 byte unsigned integer v A number between 0 and 65,535
short 2 byte signed integer s A number between -32,768 and +32,767
unsigned 4 byte unsigned integer V A number between 0 and +4,294,967,295
int 4 byte signed integer l A number between -2,147,483,648 and +2,147,483,647
float 4 byte floating point number f A number with a decimal point

In C strings are not first-class data-types, merely arrays of characters, so you will often see strings denoted using the following syntax.

char[16] <variable>

This indicates that the variable is a string of 16 characters in length, but in reality as the last character in a C-style string is always NULL, it would only be able to hold a value of 15 characters. For php in this case, you would use the [i]'a'[/i] as the pack format code, with a 16 following after it's declaration.

For example:

pack('a16', $variable);

LFS Strings and Escape Codes

Strings in LFS are C-style strings, meaning that they end with a NULL character, or are often padded with NULL characters. Most other high-level languages have done away with this limitation, so it's important to strip any NULL characters from the end of a string before using it.

LFS uses it's own custom text-rendering engine (hey, it's a videogame!) which raises some interesting issues when dealing with strings. Most importantly LFS does not support unicode, and in fact uses ASCII strings combined with various custom character codes which denote changes in the codepage. The following table represents an attempt to document each of these escape codes and their corresponding codepage, but in reality it's not 100% accurate. In practice however it should give you reasonable results for most purposes.

Code Name Codepage
^L Latin 1 CP1252
^G Greek ISO-8859-7
^C Cyrillic CP1251
^J Japanese Shift-JIS
^E Central Europe ISO-8859-2
^T Turkish ISO-8859-9
^B Baltic ISO-8859-13
^H Traditional Chinese CP936
^S Simpified Chinese CP949
^K Korean CP950

In addition there are several other escape codes which denote special characters in text.

Escape Codes
Code Character
^a *
^c :
^d \
^s /
^q ?
^t "
^l <
^r >

And finally the colour of text is also denoted using escape codes, a table of which can be found below.

Code Colour
^0 Black
^1 Red
^2 Light green
^3 Yellow
^4 Blue
^5 Purple
^6 Light blue
^7 White
^8 Dark green (default)
^9 Original text colour and codepage.