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.
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
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]
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]
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]
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.
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
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
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 multimedia.cx).
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