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Descent Developer Network
Descent 1/2

*.DET specs


What is a DET file? Well, DET files contain advanced information about the levels to make advanced search queries in DETLEF32 possible. Like searching for levels that have at least 4 afterburners and no earthshakers, plus support 8 players and capture the flag. So they are an important information source for the powerful DETLEF32 functionality.

What means this for DETLEF server admins? You need to offer DET files for each of your level, if you want to support DETLEF32's Advanced Search Query functionality. This is however an option, you don't need to support it (the program will not crash), however then only standard queries will work of course. However making DET files is quite easy: a special utility makes all the work automatically, you just need to upload the files then. Here is the exact information, WHAT a DET file contains, how it is made and what the idea is of this all...

These specifications were defined and written by Heiko Herrmann. Thanks a lot to Jeff "ZappaFan" Guynn for the great support.

Get Descent Manager DETLEF32 client software
Go to DETLEF server specs
Support for DETLEF servers


Infromation available in a DET file

The following informations are saved in a DET file for one mission:

  • Number of each available powerup
  • Number of cubes, items, robots, bosses, hostages, walls, doors, energy stations etc.
  • Number of custom textures
  • Whether or not at least one guide-bot and a thief-bot is available
  • Whether or not an exit and a reactor is available
  • Keys, key-locked doors, flags and stations
  • Number of anarchy/coop start places
  • Exact list of levels in the mission
  • Comments of a mission
  • Homepage and eMail adress of the author

The DET file itself is a ASCII text file with a size of about 500 bytes, if no comments are available.


The DETLEF32 client

It downloads the files whenever a) the user asks for details of a level or b) it needs them for an advanced search query. There are three basic rules:

  • Only the files that are needed are downloaded. For example if you make an advanced search query about all Luke Schneider D2 levels that have more than 4 afterburners, then only the DET files for the levels are downloaded, that are by Luke Schneider and for Descent 2.
  • DET files are cached. Only those files that are not yet downloaded once are downloaded.
  • Before DETLEF32 tries to download DET files, it displays the status: how many DET files need to be downloaded and how many DET files are already downloaded, that fit the standard query setting. You can then choose whether you want to download the rest of the DET files or only perform the query on the levels you already have the DET files.

If you display the details of a mission, it needs the DET file of course, too. The same rules with caching etc. apply as above...

If you want to delete certain or all files of the DET file cache, go to the SITES\xxx\CACHE subdirectory of DETLEF32, where "xxx" is the short name of the site (as specified in the Site-Manager).


How to create DET files using the LVLREP tool

You need to use LVLREP V1.0 Alpha 01 Build 03 or higher. This module is integrated in the DETLEF server tools, but can also be downloaded seperately. Now to create DET files of missions, enter the following:

lvlrep /det [dirname]\*.mn2 This creates the DET files for all MN2 missions in the directory [dirname]. You can of course also make DET file of single missions, by not using the joker "*".
lvlrep /det /n [dirname]\*.mn2 creates only DET files for missions that don’t already have DET files.
lvlrep /det [/n] This is the simplest version of the command. If you specify no filename, LVLREP will process all missions in the "[ToProcess]" caption of DETLEFST.INI in the StIf directory. Of course the "/n" switch works here too. Most likely this is the command you usually use, as you might have already created this section for the MAKELIST utility of the DETLEF server tool.

The DET files are put into the same directory if you didn’t specify a target directory in the DETLEFST.INI file in the StIf directory, using the "DETDirectory" keyword within the "[Destination]" caption.


Where does LVLREP get the information from?

The powerup, wall etc. information of course out of the RDL/RL2 files. The comments are taken from the MISSION.AUT file, if existing. To import comments to a MISSION.AUT file of a mission, use Descent Manager Beta 06f or the Descent Manager DESCMAN module and use the "Comments [F7]" block of the "Details" layer of the Mission Manager. The homepage and eMail-adress are either taken from the MN2 file (MNX extensions) or if the information does not exist there, LVLREP also tries if its available in the MISSION.AUT file. The number of custom textures are automatically determined by reading all POG files that are used by the mission. The level names are taken from the RL2 files (the name that is displayed in Descent's automap).

You can add comments etc. if you want manually AFTER you used LVLREP for the rest. Simply open the DET file in a text editor and enter whatever you like. (Note that blank lines need to start with a "%"). But pay attention when doing the next DET file creation to specify the "/n" switch so that your manual edit isn’t overwritten...


Location of DET files

DET files must be in the same directory as the level file. E.g. if you have a level file in the DET file must be placed as

However there is no force to have a DET file for each mission. If you don’t have a DET file available for a mission, this mission will simply be not listed at all, if an advanced search query is made.


DET file for missions with multiple levels

This is a good and important question. Of course these must be handled seperately, as a mission with 10 levels that has 5 earthshakers is defintely not comparable to a 1-level-mission with 5 earthshakers. And of course if you want to know if 8 players are supported in a multi-level-mission you want to know if ALL levels of this mission support it.

There are 5 different formulas, how multi-level missions are handled for each category. Here is a description of the 5 formulars and a list, what category uses these:

1) Average
The average is made by dividing the number of a certain thing by the number of levels and rounding to an integer number. However if e.g. a 6 level mission has 1 earthshaker, rounding would result in 0 (as 1/6 is nearer to 0 as to 1), so if at least 1 of a thing is available, then the result is made to show at least 1, independant of how many levels there are.
The Average formula is used for:

  • List of primary weapons
  • List of secondary weapons
  • List of prox. Bombs/smart mines
  • List of powerups
  • List of accessoires
  • Number of cubes, walls and things

2) Sum
The sum of the numbers of a certain thing in each mission is made by just adding the number of this thing available in level 1, plus the number of this thing in level 2, etc.
The Sum formula is used for:

  • List of walls
  • Number of energy stations
  • Number of custom textures
  • Number of robots
  • Number of bosses
  • Number of hostages
  • Number of mines

3) OR
A boolean value of a requirement is TRUE if at least one level meets the requirement. For example a mission is stated to have yellow keys, if at least one level has one.
The OR formula is used for:

  • List of keys and key-locked doors
  • Availability of a Guide-Bot
  • Availability of a Thief-Bot

4) AND
A boolean value of a requirement is only TRUE if all levels meets this requirement. For example a mission is only then supporting Capture the Flag if all levels have flags+goals.
The AND formula is used for:

  • Availability of reactor
  • Availability of exit
  • List of flags and stations

5) Min
The level with the minimum number of start places states the supported number of players.
The Min formula is used for:

  • Number of anarchy starts
  • Number of coop starts



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