Multimedia Exploration Journal: August 13, 2006

Time to start working through my ridiculous backlog of old games that just might have multimedia.

Sherman M-4 (MobyGames Entry)

The system requirements of this game (386, 640K RAM, VGA, DOS 5) coupled with a release date of 1989, as reported in MobyGames, leads me to think that this was a CD-ROM re-release of a game originally of floppy and that there will be a floppy disc worth of data on the CD. And sure enough-- there is about 640K of data on the disk (fit the whole game in memory!).

Clue Chronicles (MobyGames Entry)

The full title is Clue Chronicles: Fatal Illusion (Episode I), which is always an ambitious indicator. This title has the distinction of being the first game I ever contributed to MobyGames.

Quite lavishly produced, this 3-CD game is an FMV-driven interactive movie that relies on transparent Smacker files against static backgrounds for much of the game.

[MultimediaWiki page for Smacker]

Deathtrap Dungeon (MobyGames Entry)

"Organ Donors Have Not Always Been Volunteers"-- some tagline. Full name is Ian Livingstone's Deathtrap Dungeon. I always wonder if that kind of name qualifier is supposed to make the experience more special?

This is an Eidos game so I'm anticipating RPL/Escape media. The first thing I notice about the optical media is that, while it bears the familiar Compact Disc logo, the disc contains 4 large data files, labeled A..D, that are each ~650 MB large. 'du -h' reports the disc as being about 2.7 GB in size. Yet the disc claims to be a CD, and the box's requirements only list a CD-ROM drive. Further, my custom CD-querying tool reports that the disc has 18 tracks-- the first and last tracks are mode 1 data while the middle 16 tracks are reported as audio. Grepping for the string "ARMovie" turns up matches in all 4 data files. A representative sample appears to use codec variant 130 as well.

As a bonus, the game comes with a disc of Eidos game demos. Many of the games that included AVI files were ones I had seen previously on another Eidos demo disc. That same Daikatana trailer encoded in MS Video-1 was still present. There is also a Final Fantasy 7 demo that packages a few Duck TrueMotion 2 AVIs.

[MultimediaWiki page for ARMovie/RPL]

Fallen Haven (MobyGames Entry)

This game is published by a company called Interactive Magic. With a name like that, you would expect some cheesy FMV.

My CD utility lists 8 audio tracks after the data track for this CD-ROM. A quick browse reveals a bunch of demo directories, though none with FMV trailers. There are 3 videos for the game, encoded as AVI/Indeo 3/PCM.

Betrayal In Antara (MobyGames Entry)

Sierra game that lists Windows 3.1 and 95 as the system requirements. Maybe it will use VMD if it happens to have FMV. Probably not, though, since MobyGames lists its copyright date is 1996. Still, with 3 CDs, there is hope.

Let's check the first disk: demos directory-- check; AT&T Worldnet setup-- check; vfw directory-- check. That tells me there will be standard Cinepak or Indeo AVIs. A scan indicates that AVIs are present, but only in the demos directory (Cinepak and MS RLE). There are large files called resource.aud and resource.sfx which are just Sierra Online audio files crammed together. There is also a resource subdirectory on disc 1 that contains-- wait for it-- VMD files! This game continues the tradition of naming VMD files with an annoying numeric pattern, e.g., 10.vmd, 1000.vmd, 10841.vmd.

[MultimediaWiki page for VMD]
[MultimediaWiki page for Sierra Audio]

Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising (MobyGames Entry)

Interplay game, so there might be stock Interplay MVE files. However, the extensive feature list on the box copy does not indicate FMV. The game packages most data into large resource files with the extension MNG. There is a Movies.mng file. Fortunately, the Xentax crew has already figured out the format. It uses zlib compression (the resource format). I will need to revisit the format and take apart the files inside to see if they are recognizable. The filenames in the resource header don't give any useful data (lots of .pcx, .ppm, and .aim extensions).

Myst III: Exile (MobyGames Entry)

Ah, the direct descendent of the grand-daddy of FMV-heavy computer games. 4 CD-ROMs, and the first one bears the QuickTime logo. That doesn't seem too exciting. The first disc has lots of WAVs and MP3s for audio and sound effects. Much of the interesting data (in a Data/ directory) appears to be locked up in large resource formats. As this is part of a popular game series, some others have already looked into this resource format extensively. It looks like this is Bink all the way. Close examination of the copy does indicate a RAD Game Tools mention.

[MultimediaWiki page for Bink]

Goosebumps: Attack Of The Mutant (MobyGames Entry)

This box has a gaudy "Microsoft Special Value" sticker on it as well as a Microsoft Certificate of Authenticity on the side. The system requirements list video hardware capable of displaying 256 colors which tells me that it might use Smacker.

And... I called it! 68 Smacker files, along with 26 WAV files in the CD-ROM's DATA/ directory. Actually, I kind of dig the comically creepy soundtrack for this game.

[MultimediaWiki page for Smacker]

Burn: Cycle (MobyGames Entry)

This is the "Limited Edition", no less. And it's billed as working on Windows 3.1, Windows 95, and Macintosh. The box copy brags that it's "The original cinematic adventure game." Score!

2 discs-- 1 for game, 1 for music. On the game disc, all of the relevant data is packed in a 600 MB file called burncycl.av. I can see unsigned, 8-bit PCM in there! I can! No big surprise, given the vintage of the game. There's a video format in there and I have a weird feeling it's a vector quantizer but I have no way to be sure at this point.

The resource format appears pretty straightforward. It's a chunked FourCC format with a cursory chunk that contains a list of offsets to the rest of the chunks. The other chunks all seem to consist of a header chunk and a payload chunk. I have documented more details in the XentaxWiki.

Odium (MobyGames Entry)

"Hate coupled with disgust." Interplay-published. MVE files?

Surprisingly, there is an avi/ directory on the disc filled, not with AVI files, but with Microsoft ASF files. The ASF files are encoded with Windows Media Audio 1 and Microsoft MPEG-4v3 video.

by Mike Melanson (mike at

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