Multimedia Exploration Journal

by Mike Melanson


In the early 1990's the Compact Disc Read-Only Memory format, a.k.a. CD-ROM, came into prevalence. These magnificent discs offered a way to store up to 650 megabytes of computer data on a small, portable medium. The format quickly became the de facto distribution format for computer software.

For some reason, the first thing that computer game makers thought to do with the abundant space was pack loads on full motion video (FMV) with their computer games. They believed this would automatically enhance the game experience. Whether they succeeded is debatable and often requires proper historical context (i.e., "It was cool at the time").

Personally, I find it fascinating to study these vintage multimedia formats from the early age of CD-ROMs. I like to buy up lots of cheap, used multimedia from local used video game and PC software shops. Then I put them into my CD-ROM drive and see what I can figure out by examining the files on the discs. And then I post the results of those investigations here.

Some of the game entries have links to downloadable samples, in case you are interested in investigating the file formats. Sample archives are only presented for relatively uncommon file formats, such as custom FMV formats found in games. Formats such as AVI, MOV, and WAV with common Cinepak, Indeo, or ADPCM codecs are not specifically linked.

Update: New in 2007, I have actually started to play some of these games. Check out my Gaming Pathology blog for these exploits.

Journal Entries

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