I'm looking for a technique for storing my game resources - levels, object (effects,world info), items (price,effects,...), NPC (visual info, behavior), everything except graphics/audio stuff. I've seen lua used for Awesome WM configuration. protobuf looks good, but it seems to be designed for network communication. I've tried to write my own parser, but as the project grows it's more and more harder to manage it and catch all the bugs.

My requiremets:

  • stability
  • easy extension of data without need to convert older versions to newer
  • not much coding
  • not XML!
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ What do you mean by game resources? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kylotan
    Nov 25, 2012 at 13:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kylotan I've put it into question :) \$\endgroup\$
    – kravemir
    Nov 25, 2012 at 13:50

2 Answers 2


A less over-engineered alternative to XML is JSON (Javascript Object Notations). Parser and serializer libraries are available for most common programming languages.

When you have a lot of assets and you plan to manage them primarily with selfmade tools, then using an SQL database would be a good idea. SQLite would be good for this use-case, because it can be integrated in an application as a library and doesn't need a server. But unfortunately it's hard to come up with a database schema which is upward-compatible.


I'd recommend either string maps or basic serialization.

  • string maps - all data is converted to strings and stored into dictionaries. Pros: changes won't necessarily break old save files, can inspect with a text editor, can use JSON and similar formats to store the data. Cons: might be a bit slower with huge data sets.

  • basic serialization - byte buffer, read/write functions for elements of each type ([unsigned|signed] int[8|16|32|64], float[32|64], byte buffers). Pros: lightning-fast. Cons: changes will most likely break old save files, not even a hex editor would help much here.

Both methods will require writing manual load/save functions for each serialized object. All the usual rules of inheritance and composition apply here (can reuse functions to serialize included objects) so it won't seem that hard in the end.

To me, it would most certainly beat writing obscure wrappers and configuration files for a complex system. But I suppose you've got to try both things to see what you like more.


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