the game DOES read and use txt files, it just does load the files a bit quicker when that in BIN.
the reference files on the downloads page ARE FOR sins 1.15/entrenchment 1.01 ONLY and will BREAK(usually causing minidumps) mods based upon them when the mods are loaded into sins 1.181/entrenchment 1.041
to make your OWN reference set these are the steps
1 copy your sins of a solar empire folder out of the \program files\ path. I would suggest creating a folder in the root of a hard drive called 'sins reference' and pasteing the sins folder into it
2 move the entrenchment folder from inside the 'sins reference\sins of a solaer empire' to the 'sins reference' folder
3 in the sins reference folder add the sins version to the end of the 'sins of a solar empire' folder name eg 'sins of a solar empire 1.181'
4 in the sins reference folder add the entrenchment version to the end of the 'entrenchment' folder name eg 'entrenchment 1.041'
5 in the location you extracted the modding utilities to run the 'sinstextbinner.exe' (this is the text to/from bin gui for the convertdata_*.exe's that ironclad have provided
now we get to the point of using one of my utilities
6 assuming you want to convert the files in the new reference area from bin to text click on the txt radio button at the top
7 in the next control which is a drive list box choose the drive that your 'sins reference' folder is on
8 in the third control which is a folder tree view doubleclick on you 'sins reference' folder( the view should change to show you the folders in the folder you clicked on. keep clicking on the folders in you path to the 'sins of a solar empire 1.181' folder and double click on it so that you can see the folders in it eg Gameinfo,mesh,string etc
9 click on the button labeled '3 convert this folder'. this tells the utility that you want to work in this folder that is OPEN in the folder view above
10 click on the button labeled '4 convert the folder NOW'. this will now get the list of ALL files in the folder AND ALL SUBFOLDERS under the folder, and using the correct convertdata attempt to convert all the files to wanted file type ie txt or bin. it lists the files it successfully converts, the files that convertdata fails on and the files already in the wanted file type as it processes them. when it has processed all the files it then creates four report files summary.txt, success.txt, fails.txt and skipped.txt that lists the files that were converted, failed to convert and were skipped and a overall summary of the file counts and converter used.
11 if there is more areas to convert eg the entrenchment folder then go to step 6
and the text bin gui can process an individual folder with the same method, you just have to navigate down to the folder in step 8
hope this helps