Multimedia Exploration Journal: March 24, 2003

Whatever would I do with out the various used video game shops, used software shops, pawn shops, and assorted other "spent" shops? I imagine that I would have to pay full price for new software or possibly hunt down titles on eBay.

At this point, I am beginning to refine my multimedia scavenger hunt somewhat. I have plenty of Microsoft AVI and Apple Quicktime samples. I have plenty of samples for other media formats commonly used in computer games such as Smacker, Bink, Interplay video, and Westwood Studios multimedia. Now I am trying to find sample material for formats I have not seen before.

Educational CD-ROMs

I discovered an interesting source for old CD-ROM/multimedia titles: My local public library. However, after scavenging through at least 10 different educational titles, I realized that there is little opportunity to uncover weird and wonderful multimedia formats. Many of these discs stick to standard AVI and Quicktime media with older codecs.


Legoland, a piece of Lego media, published by Lego Software. I guess these people do not outsource a single function. I was not sure if it contained multimedia but I thought it might be fun to play anyway (as if I would have time for that with my hectic multimedia hacking schedule).

Actually, the game CD-ROM does come come with several large AVI files, mostly Indeo 5/MS ADPCM. There are also several files of a promotional nature for Lego's geographically-disperse Legoland theme parks. The game-related media files showcase some rather competent computer animation. I had no idea that a Lego person's face could show so much emotion.

Additionally, the game also uses many, many MS ADPCM WAV files for audio samples. Further, the game also comes with another CD-ROM which ostensibly showcases more Lego Software products. No surprises here in the multimedia department: MS Wave files, Shockwave Flash, and even some MPEG movies. There is one MPEG movie called alpha.mpg. I am not exactly sure what the game is but it looks like Lego's answer to Konami's Metal Gear Solid and Ubi Soft's Splinter Cell. Check this little guy out. Manaical supervillians everywhere have a powerful new adversary.

Emergency Room: Disaster Strikes

This is another ER simulation game. It is published by Legacy Interactive and purportedly features "100 EXCITING Cases". It bears the Macromedia and Quicktime logos so there is probably nothing new in the multimedia department. Still, it was so much fun watch the Quicktime movies from Legacy's Code Blue that I wanted to check this out too.

Legacy follows the same technology pattern as Code Blue, employing Quicktime files with Sorenson SVQ1 video and Qualcomm Purevoice audio.

The multimedia contained has a bunch of people sitting in front of disaster-like backdrops (burning buildings, flashing emergency lights probably chroma-keyed on top of a blue screen). These people are doing their best to act hurt as a result of assorted emergency situations. It is usually hard enough for people in these multimedia computer games to act in the first place, but to act like they have a dislocated joint or a missing finger or are choking and turning blue, I think that's a little too much to ask. Further, according to the credits the game has 11 different actors and actresses at every accident scene. I know I am supposed to suspend disbelief for a little while but I just can not get past the idea that these are some very unlucky people living in a very dangerous city.

But if trying to act hurt isn't hard enough, imagine trying to get an infant to act. That's exactly what happened in this clip from the game. The dialog: "Oh my god, she's burnt bad!" That doesn't seem to bother the baby, who has found something more fascinating up in the sky

In Cold Blood (MobyGames entry)

This is another title from Dreamcatcher Interactive. These people are quickly becoming my favorite company for interactive movie gaming schlock. I can always count on their games to contain so much multimedia that they span multiple CD-ROMs and I never know what format they are going to use for the FMV. The game is copyright 2001 and caries a 'M' rating: For mature audiences only. The game spans 3 discs. All of the FMV appears to be in Bink format.

[Link: Bink samples]

Creature Shock (MobyGames entry)

I briefly mentioned the Sega Saturn version of this title in a previous journal entry. I wanted to compare and contrast the data files between the 2 games. Both games have similar data file names, although the Saturn version packaged them into a resource file. Because of this I cannot compare the file sizes. I still think that the .avs files sound suspiciously like FMV files.

The 11th Hour (MobyGames entry)

Here we have The 11th Hour, the sequel to 7th Guest which pioneered the whole FMV-driven interactive movie genre (so now you know who to blame).

The discs have media/ subdirectories which contain .gjd files just like in 7th Guest. I believe these to be resource files packaging multiple FMV files.

Interesting note: This game also comes with Doom WAD files which recreate the mansion in the original 7th Guest game.

Followup: It seems that this game uses the RoQ format. In fact, according to this old Wired article, the RoQ format was designed specifically for The 11th Hour. It would later be used in Quake III and games based on the Q3 engine.

Outlaws (MobyGames entry)

2-CD game from LucasArts. 1997. Hopefully, it contains some of that special animation that LA games like to use. Sure enough-- plenty of .SAN files.

[Link: LucasArts SAN samples]

Daikatana (MobyGames entry)

This game received such horrifying reviews when it was finally released that I was afraid someone might see me purchasing a used copy for $2. I remember seeing the trailer on an Eidos trailer CD-ROM. I was stunned that it used Microsoft Video-1 and I was curious if the game did the same.

As promised on the jewel case copy, the game packages "18 ear-numbing songs in MP3 format." I suppose this game was released back when MP3 was an awe-inspiring technical hallmark. The game also has 2 .pak resource files. No indication of FMV.

Interstate '76 Nitro Pack (MobyGames entry)

I read an interesting article about FMV in video games that credited this Activision game with making great use of FMV. However, there are only 2 Smacker files in a CUTSCENE/ directory: CREDF01.SMK and INTROF01.SMK.

[Link: Smacker samples]

Evil Islands: Curse of the Lost Soul (MobyGames entry)

2001 title by Nival Interactive and Fishtank. The website is still active. The game uses Bink movies all the way.

[Link: Bink samples]

Professor Peskin Unleashed

Copyright 1999, Maximum Efficiency Products. That, and URL, is the only thing the CD surface indicated. But my curiousity got the better of me.

No data on this CD. Rather, the disc contains 3 audio tracks which are just recordings of some kind of personal health seminar. The third audio track states, "That's the end of CD #1, please put in CD #2 to continue."

Followup: Hmm...according to Google's translation of this page: "Perkins Management/Maximum Efficiency Products ( - the General Solicitor established a legal agreement and a permanent judicial order with this company based on Houston, which elaborates dietetic supplements promoted by Internet and television. The demanded one, Brian S. Peskin, made assertions without scientific base on the benefits that would be obtained when consuming their herbarios products. Between such declarations, the demanded one informed that its tea could help to cure cancer and the syndrome of the attention deficit (attention deficit to disorder, ADD). Peskin also falsely appeared like a medical doctor."

Computer Gaming World Demo Disc, No. 163, February 1998

A handful of wav and Smacker files, but nothing else in the multimedia department. I guess they actually went for playable demos instead of FMV trailers.

Zork Nemesis (MobyGames entry)

3-CD game published by Activision. Certainly a far cry away from Zork's origin as a text-based adventure game that could fit on a single floppy disc.

The game contains many, many AVI files. Nothing so unusual about that. However, the files use the video fourcc 'DUCK'. Could it be? A PC game that uses the original Duck Truemotion video codec? Sure enough. They play under a Duck/AVI player. The audio is reported as MS IMA ADPCM (format 0x11) but it does not sound correct at all. It is reasonable that they are using one of Duck's own ADPCM variants.

[Link: AVI samples compressed with DUCK]

Tex Murphy Games

I decided to investigate some of the old Tex Murphy detective adventure games by Access Software. I still have Under A Killing Moon (MobyGames entry) and The Pandora Directive (MobyGames entry).

Under A Killing Moon is a 4-disc game. Only the first game contains any program files. All 4 discs contain a mastertx/chap01/ directory with a series of *.ap files. These files contain all of the data-- audio, video, and textual-- for the game. It is difficult to find any patterns in these resource files. However, some of them do have plain WAV files inside. When extracted, they do not sound normal, but in a strange way-- the audio is mostly static but sometimes there is coherent audio.

The Pandora Directive has a similar arrangement with each of 6 CD-ROMs having a data01/ directory that contains many .ap resource files. It is beginning to look like these resource files are simply concatenation of data files. In other words, the resource files have no headers, though the data files inside often to.

by Mike Melanson (mike at

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