Multimedia Exploration Journal: December 26, 2002
Post-Christmas shopping spree. I picked up 15 individual titles at the used
software shop. Discovering what multimedia content lies on the shiny surfaces
of these CD-ROMs is like Christmas morning all over again.
This DVD-ROM contains the complete Baldur's Gate CD-ROM collection. Baldur's
Gate is an Interplay title that used the Interplay MVE format. The main
reason I bought it (besides its cheap price tag) is that I am currently
trying to implement the Interplay MVE format for xine.
But I am having some trouble with the video decoder.
The Interplay MVE document was primarily
targeted towards Baldur's Gate. I want to see if the BG movies use a slightly
different format than some of the other Interplay titles I have.
Interplay MVE sample files]
2: The Curse of Monkey Island (MobyGames entry)
A LucasArts game. 2 CD-ROMs. Many resource files, including cutscene
animations, as detailed on this page.
LucasArts SAN samples]
"An Epic Tale of Crime and Corruption in the Land of the Dead." Another
LucasArts title. 2 CD-ROMs. Lots of .lab resource files including some with
the word "movie" in the title.
It also seems that this game, as well as a few other LucasArts titles, were
developed with the free Lua language.
LucasArts SAN samples]
Sierra title from 1995. The box copy touts "sizzling space combat action" as
well as "compelling role-playing adventure". It does not specifically mention
any full motion video. However, the first CD-ROM contains a directory called
"vfw" which contains rather old versions of Windows VFW codecs (like Indeo
2 and 3). The first CD-ROM also has a directory called "avi" which contains
an Indeo3/PCM AVI trailer/making-of video for Phantasmagoria.
Both CD-ROMs contain several large .itk and .stk files which are simple
resource files. The filenames in the resource files typically
bear extentions such as SND, WAV, and VMD. According to
VMD stands for Video and Music data and is a custom Sierra movie format.
Another game media format to go after.
My first guess, based on the vfw directory, was that this used a vfw codec
binary. Now I tend to think that the video format in the VMD files is
a custom Sierra creation and that the VFW install was included for that
one game trailer.
Followup: The VMD multimedia system has been reverse engineered.
multimedia formats page for more information.
Sierra VMD samples]
5: Millenia: Altered Destinies (MobyGames entry)
Game by Take 2 Interactive Software from 1995. Rated 1 (on a scale of 1-4)
for violence due to "Damage to realistic objects". The box mentioned "lavish
animation, video, and 3D-rendered graphics", so there will hopefully me
some multimedia formats.
The CD-ROM has a directory called cuts/ that has a number of .CIN files.
Could it be? The same animation format used in Quake II? No, not even
close. It is a resource format that contains a bunch of WAV files.
According to the comments at the end of each WAV file, the authors used
SoundForge to create the audio.
There is a directory called graphics/ which GLB, RAW, and ABM files. The
ABM files tend to be larger than a megabyte so I looked closer. Definitely
a tagged animation format. This
site has a utility that claims to be able to play the ABM animations in
There is also an intro/ directory which contains 2 large (5MB and 16MB)
TSH files. The file begins with the tag 'IAVF'. I would like to think that
this is some kind of movie format but I don't see anything that looks like
video parameters in the header. There are audio parameters, though (11025 Hz,
1 channel, 8 bits). And the data in the file looks like raw, unsigned PCM.
Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire-- Search For The Journal. It is pretty
typical for Disney video games to have FMV, so I picked this game up. And
it uses...lots of Bink (BIK) files. But it also has a bunch of WAV and SWF
files in a Windows/Media/ directory. These are likely unrelated to the
primary game; probably some bundled internet extras.
Copyright 1994 by HyperBole Studios. No box. No manual. Cost 1 dollar. Hope
it has media. The disc seems to have installations for both an early version
of Quicktime and an early version of Windows Media Player.
The game is definitely a member of the "interactive movie" genre. Only
they prefer to call it "Virtual Cinema". Anyway, the CD-ROM has 667 Quicktime
files. It looks like they are all Cinepak/PCM. I am not going to look through
1995 Sierra Online game. Unfortunately, my CD-ROM drive refuses to read the
disc (or maybe it just knows something that I do not). I just can not seem
to mount the disc under Linux (2.4.18 kernel) but Windows reads it just
fine. The media is contained in AVI and WAV files. Strange that it does not
use the VMD format seen earlier today.
The AVI files are all Indeo 3/PCM files with one stray Indeo 4 file.
9: CD-R Demo
CD-R demo. Really. "The CD-Recording Alliance presents: Behind the Scenes
With Warren Miller. A Demonstration of Compact Disc Recordable Technology."
Multimedia files are MPEG files which is quite a pleasant change, even though
the quality is not that high. The CD also has some audio tracks to show off
the full flexibility of CD-R.
1997 game from Dreamcatcher Interactive. 2 CD-ROMs. Able to run on Windows
3.1 with a 66 MHz 486. The Quicktime logo is featured prominently. The game's
media files consist of Indeo3-encoded QT files along with a trailer of
another game in Cinepak format.
2001 game also published by Dreamcatcher Interactive. This game has 2 CD-ROMs
and both have a data/
directory with a very large number of data files. Quite a few WAV and PCX
files. But there are also files with the extension 4xm. This is apparently
the file format used by 4X
Technologies. I have seen this format used in Alone In The Dark: The
New Nightmare for the Sega Dreamcast. According to their homepage, the
codec was also used to compress the video for Britney's Dance Beat
on the Game Boy Advance. For some reason, I tend to think that if their
codec was being used for absolutely any other game in current release, that game would
have merited mention over Ms. Spears.
Anyway, this is the first PC game that I have seen which uses 4X Movie.
Followup: All of the components of the 4X multimedia system (file
format, video codec, and audio codec) have been reverse engineered.
See the multimedia research
page for more information.
4xm samples from The Messenger and other games]
PC fighting game from 1995. The jewel case copy did not specifically mention
FMV but it did mention "SGI rendered animations and backgrounds". The CD-ROM
does contain a video directory with a number of BRP files. This is certainly
a tagged animation format. Among the files, there is a file called
credits.brp (credits animation), a file called gte.brp (this game is published
by GTE Entertainment so this is probably a logo animation), and then there
is a file called pxan.brp. This makes me wonder if the file is related to
the video codecs used in Wing Commander III and IV.
More information on the BRP format can be found in
"1-Hit Wonder" Formats.
13: Compton's Concise Encyclopedia
CD-ROM Encyclopedia. Hopefully, it will be good for some multimedia files.
Sure enough: Cinepak and Indeo3 AVI files with PCM, and MS ADPCM-encoded
14: Frankenstein: Through The Eyes of the Monster (MobyGames entry)
This is an Interplay-published title from 1996. Interplay titles usually
use the custom Interplay MVE format. Yet this CD-ROM prominently displays
the Quicktime logo. Then again, Interplay is simply the publisher. The
game was developed by Amazing Media Inc. and I imagine that individual
game developers are given freedom to use whichever formats they choose.
343 Quicktime files. 939 AIFF files. Apparently, all of the Quicktime files
are Cinepak-encoded, many at a rather painfully low resolution.
I just remembered that this is the interactive movie video game starring
Here is the brief
15: James Cameron's Titanic Explorer
3-disc set from Fox Interactive. Runs on Windows and Macintosh. Quicktime-based.
It uses a range of QT codecs including a little Cinepak and QT Graphics (SMC).
But most of it uses Sorenson. This was a big surprise to me since I imagine
this software must have been available in early 1998. It was apparently
QTv3-based and it uses SVQ1.
by Mike Melanson (mike at multimedia.cx).
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