Breaking Eggs And Making Omelettes

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The 11th Hour RoQ Variation

April 11th, 2012 by Multimedia Mike

I have been looking at the RoQ file format almost as long as I have been doing practical multimedia hacking. However, I have never figured out how the RoQ format works on The 11th Hour, which was the game for which the RoQ format was initially developed. When I procured the game years ago, I remember finding what appeared to be RoQ files and shoving them through the open source decoders but not getting the right images out.

I decided to dust off that old copy of The 11th Hour and have another go at it.



Baseline
The game consists of 4 CD-ROMs. Each disc has a media/ directory that has a series of files bearing the extension .gjd, likely the initials of one Graeme J. Devine. These are resource files which are merely headerless concatenations of other files. Thus, at first glance, one file might appear to be a single RoQ file. So that’s the source of some of the difficulty: Sending an apparent RoQ .gjd file through a RoQ player will often cause the program to complain when it encounters the header of another RoQ file.

I have uploaded some samples to the usual place.

However, even the frames that a player can decode (before encountering a file boundary within the resource file) look wrong.

Investigating Codebooks Using dreamroq
I wrote dreamroq last year– an independent RoQ playback library targeted towards embedded systems. I aimed it at a gjd file and quickly hit a codebook error.

RoQ is a vector quantizer video codec that maintains a codebook of 256 2×2 pixel vectors. In the Quake III and later RoQ files, these are transported using a YUV 4:2:0 colorspace– 4 Y samples, a U sample, and a V sample to represent 4 pixels. This totals 6 bytes per vector. A RoQ codebook chunk contains a field that indicates the number of 2×2 vectors as well as the number of 4×4 vectors. The latter vectors are each comprised of 4 2×2 vectors.

Thus, the total size of a codebook chunk ought to be (# of 2×2 vectors) * 6 + (# of 4×4 vectors) * 4.

However, this is not the case with The 11th Hour RoQ files.

Longer Codebooks And Mystery Colorspace
Juggling the numbers for a few of the codebook chunks, I empirically determined that the 2×2 vectors are represented by 10 bytes instead of 6. Now I need to determine what exactly these 10 bytes represent.

I should note that I suspect that everything else about these files lines up with successive generations of the format. For example if a file has 640×320 resolution, that amounts to 40×20 macroblocks. dreamroq iterates through 40×20 8×8 blocks and precisely exhausts the VQ bitstream. So that all looks valid. I’m just puzzled on the codebook format.

Here is an example codebook dump:
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Game Hacking | 5 Comments »

Pushing Projects to Github

February 16th, 2012 by Multimedia Mike

I finally got around to importing some old projects into my Github account. I guess it’s good to have a backup out there in the cloud.

GhettoRSS
https://github.com/multimediamike/GhettoRSS
I describe this as a true offline RSS reader. Technically, it’s arguably not a true offline RSS reader. Rather, it does what most people actually want an offline RSS reader to do.

I wrote this about 2 years ago when I had a long daily train ride with a disconnected netbook. I quickly learned that I couldn’t count on offline RSS readers simply because most RSS feeds to not contain much meat. Thus, I created a program that follows URLs in RSS feeds, downloads web pages and supporting images and CSS files, and caches them in an offline database which can be read via a local web browser.

I wrote more information about this little project 2 years ago (here is part 1 and here is part 2). I fixed a few bugs in preparation for posting it but I probably won’t work on this anymore since I don’t have any use for it (the commute is long gone, but I didn’t even use it when I was commuting because I decided I just didn’t care enough to read the feeds on the train).

xbfuse
https://github.com/multimediamike/xbfuse
This is a FUSE module for mounting Xbox/360 optical disc filesystems. Here is when I first discussed it. The tool has had its own little homepage for a long time. This tool has seen some development, as I learned from Googling for “xbfuse”. Regrettably, no one who has modified the tool has ever contacted me about it (at least, not that I can recall). This is unfortunate because the patches I have seen floating around which fix my xbfuse for various installations usually boil down replacing many occurrences of an include path in the autotool-generated build system. There is probably a simpler, cleaner fix.

gcfuse
https://github.com/multimediamike/gcfuse
Written prior to xbfuse, this is a FUSE module for mounting GameCube optical disc filesystems. I first discussed this here and here. This tool has not seen too much direct development although someone eventually used it as the basis for WiiFuse which, as you can predict, mounts optical disc filesystems from Nintendo Wii games.

Posted in Game Hacking, Python | Comments Off on Pushing Projects to Github

Origin Crusader Media

February 13th, 2012 by Multimedia Mike

A gleaming copy of the old Origin game Crusader: No Remorse showed up today:



Immediately, I delved in expecting to find Xan-encoded AVI files that would play perfectly using FFmpeg/Libav. Instead, I found a directory labeled flics/ that indeed has a lot of AVI files, but not in Xan. The programs attempt to interpret them as raw RGB. The strangest thing is the first frame often looks correct, if upside down:



The first file I peered inside had the video FourCC ‘RRV1’. Searching for this led me to this discussion forum where people have already been hacking on this very format (Origin games invariably get a heap of lasting love). The forum participants have observed that 3 codecs are in play in this flics/ directory, including ‘RRV1’, ‘RRV2’, and ‘JYV1’, which apparently correspond to the initials of certain developers. The reason that the programs identify the files as raw RGB is because the FourCCs don’t appear everywhere that they’re supposed to. Additionally, there are several trailers for other Origin/EA games stored in Cinepak format elsewhere on the disc.

It seems that I’m the person who added this title to the Xan wiki page, obviously with no first-hand evidence to back it up. Meanwhile, the forum participants speculate that the files are descended from the old Autodesk FLIC format (which would explain why they live in a directory called flics/). Corroborating strings extracted from the CRUSADER.EXE file include “FlicWait”, “FlicPlayer”, “Flic %s not found.”, “flicpath”, and “FLICPLAY.C”.

The disc also features a sound/ directory which contains AMF files. Suxen Drol already documented these on the wiki as Asylum Media Format files. The disc contains an ASYLUM.DLL file as well as a utility called MOD2AMF.EXE. The latter works beautifully on a random MOD file I had laying around. The AMF file is a bit larger.

See Also:

Posted in Game Hacking | 4 Comments »

Samples RSS And Flashback Samples

December 21st, 2011 by Multimedia Mike

I made good on my claim that I would create an RSS feed for the samples repository.

Here is the link to the samples RSS feed [ http://samples.mplayerhq.hu/samples-rss.xml ]. Also, here is the Python source code I threw together for the task.

I just want to check: I’m not the only person who still relies on RSS these days, right? The tech press has been cheerfully proclaiming its demise for some time now. But then, they have been proclaiming the same for Adobe Flash as well.

I’m no expert in RSS. If you have any suggestions for how to improve the features presented in the feed, please let me know. And, of course, keep the samples coming. This script should help provide more visibility for a broader audience.

Mario and Flashback Samples
Thanks to LuigiBlood who sent in some samples that allowed me to test out my new script for automatically syncing the repositories and updating the samples RSS feed. First, there are CPC multimedia files from the Japanese 3DO port of Flashback: The Quest for Identity. Then, there is an Interplay MVE file on the CD version of Mario Teaches Typing in which the video doesn’t decode correctly.

LuigiBlood also sent in another file from the latter game. It’s big and has the extension .AV. It could be a multimedia file as it appears to have a palette and PCM audio inside. But there’s no header and I’m a bit unsure about how to catalog it.

Posted in Game Hacking, Python | 14 Comments »

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