Multimedia Exploration Journal: June 25, 2006

Pursuant to the release of an Opera filesystem module for Linux, it's finally time to dig into the various 3DO titles I have accumulated over the years of multimedia hacking. I have long suspected 3DO games of containing interesting custom multimedia formats due to the fact that the system was one of the earlier CD-based video game consoles.

Wing Commander III (MobyGames entry)

This game made me most curious since the PC version uses a highly customized multimedia format (WC3 MVE) that Origin obviously spent a lot of time to develop. I wanted to know if the same format was used for the 3DO or if they converted it to a custom format.

It turns out that the 3DO version does, in fact, use MVE files, however with a few variations. Some of the files even appear to use a different video codec, though not all. I have documented observed differences in the MultimediaWiki page. Further, the files are packaged in a format called BUN, in contrast to the PC version which used TRE files.

[MultimediaWiki page for Wing Commander III MVE]

Kingdom: The Far Reaches (MobyGames entry)

This is the first 3DO title that I procured and I recall that it was supposed to be some kind of interactive narrated storybook. Much of the disc's capacity is devoted to a directory called MOVIES/. The files contained therein contain .MVE extensions (along with a straggler that ends in .mve2). I just remembered that this is an Interplay-published title. So would you believe that they're just regular Interplay MVE files? Actually, they may or may not be regular MVE files since I can't get xine or FFmpeg to play them properly. But then, proper Interplay MVE support has always eluded me.

[MultimediaWiki page for Interplay MVE]

Demolition Man (MobyGames entry)

I remember the box copy for this title being extremely proud of its digitized actors. Let's hope they managed to digitize a lot of movie clips as well. Regrettably, all of the game's data is stored in a 400MB+ file named DmanData/dmfc.bin. It looks like paradise for someone who likes to ferret through FourCC-tagged resource files. At the very least, I see signed, 8-bit PCM data in the file.

Stellar 7: Draxon's Revenge

290 MB-- that's promising. I hope it's not all used for uncompressed PCM audio. Alas, the bulk of the data resides in a sx/ directory which consists of large .aiff files.

[MultimediaWiki page for AIFF]


And we're back in the video! This disc has a videos/ directory with 12 .stream files. And what is inside the stream files? None other than a new bastardized variant of the Sega FILM file! That may not be entirely accurate on second look. The files contain the identifier 'FILM' but not at the very front. In fact, the only other characteristic the format has in common with FILM is a 'cvid' tag indicating Cinepak data. So I think I can safely declare this to be a unique format.

[MultimediaWiki page for Shockwave Stream]

Supreme Warrior (MobyGames entry)

Oh goodie-- a "Digital Pictures Presents" production. These are the people who wholeheartedly embraced the CD-ROM-based multimedia revolution, for better or worse. I may never know more because the data for the 2-CD game is packed in gargantuan monolithic resource files, one per disc.

Out Of This World (MobyGames entry)

I remember in the early 1990s when this game was something revolutionary due to its 3D effect. How about linear multimedia? It turns out to have 3 files with the extension .cine. They appear to have some structure in common with the stream files found on Shockwave. Further, there are a bunch of files labeled song1..song30 that are AIFC files that contain this information text:
  SDX22:1 Squareroot-Delta-Exact compression
I wonder if this is similar to the RoQ DPCM scheme?

The Lost Files Of Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Serrated Scalpel (MobyGames entry)

This is the 3DO port of a famous early multimedia title. The box copy boasts of over 3 hours of video and speech (remember that this used to be considered a selling point).

The game appears to use more files with the extension stream, like Shockwave. It really frustrates me that EA likes to mix and match different types of chunks amongst its various formats. It makes nailing down documentation and samples difficult. Not that they would care, or anything. Pure audio files are AIFF files.

Escape From Monster Manor: A Terrifying Hunt For The Undead (MobyGames entry)

Finally, the last of this set. Another game from Electronic Arts (I'm beginning to suspect they were big backers of the 3DO console). I wonder if I'll find more of that custom media used in previous titles? Sure enough. 4 stream files (extensionless, but in a Streams/ directory) and numerous aiff files for audio.

by Mike Melanson (mike at

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