Looking at Infogrames video format

Since I still have nothing better to do I keep looking at various formats in adventure games. And it turned out Prisoner of Ice has cutscenes in MUX format (that’s a stupid name in my opinion but what you can do now). IIRC there’s a newer version of Time Game that uses Smacker, maybe this game got a new release too but my interest was not in playing cutscenes but rather see how they’re packed. And the scheme turned out to be rather interesting.

Originally The Wiki said about it that it’s similar to HNM version 1 from Cryo (subtype 173 after investigating more thoroughly) and that’s all. As it turned out the ideas are very similar but the implementation details are sufficiently different (were they all inspired by the same book or code?).

So it turned out you have a format with 8-bit PCM audio and video that optionally employs simple LZ77-based scheme and small-codebook RLE. The main problem during REing was the way the code was written: where it reads nibbles it conditionally jumps into the middle of NOP instruction (that does a different thing then, isn’t x86 fun?); in other place you have self-modifying code, functions modifying three or four registers for return value and opcode tables. Still after figuring out some of those I’ve managed to decode all cutscenes from Prisoner of Ice, Time Gate and half of those from Chaos Control. The rest of the files in that game use a completely different method that I’ve not seen elsewhere.

This method 8 (I called it that because it’s signalled by frame flags defining compression method are set to 8 in this case) uses RLE over several line with opcodes by adding several pixels at the end of decoded part of some image row and some rows below. You can imagine it as each row being a piece of string or wire and commands are like “take box with red beads, put three of them on this row, two of them on next row and one of them on the following row” and you repeat that until all rows are filled. Since this method has too confusing implementation and I don’t care much about it to figure out exact details, feel free to document it yourself.

Overall, this was still an interesting experience.

2 Responses to “Looking at Infogrames video format”

  1. Paul says:

    I do not have homework to do today.

  2. Kostya says:

    Good thing I never had school on Saturdays.

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