Tools that tear up a vintage computer game with love

The structure of computer game resources can be somewhat mysterious, even as old as a game, and some amount of reverse-engineering can be expected when separating a game like the 1995 Night Light.

[voussoir] The game was reminiscent of GTE Entertainment, which had an interesting “flashlight” mechanic to serve the exploration theme. Spooky shapes in a dark room will be revealed as quite common (and not so scary) when illuminated by a mouse-directed flashlight.

Gaining game resources was partially easy, thanks to which many of them are housed in a simple folder structure, with .bmp File for each level in a modest resolution. But there were also some unusual ones .mov Files that were less than a second long and worked a little harder to extract

It turns out that these unusual movie files were 80 frames in length, and each frame was a tile of a larger image. [voussoir] Used ffmpeg To find out each frame, then write a Python script to sew the tiles together. Look! The results are high-resolution versions of each level of artwork. Sewing the first 16 frames on a 4 × 4 grid gives a 1024 × 768 image and the remaining 64 frames can be placed on an 8 × 8 grid for a fantastic 2048 × 1376 version. The last piece was audio extraction, but sadly ISO [voussoir] There seems to be an error using it, and not all audio survives.

With intact assets in hand, [voussoir] The game was able to recreate the original, which can be seen in about half of the text below. Audio clues are simply played while recreating the flashlight effect in the browser with the game’s core artwork, and that’s enough to ring that nostalgia bell. This is a very successful project, although not all assets have been tracked and not all audio has been released due to corruption If you have insights on that front, don’t keep them to yourself! Send [voussoir] Chim in an email, or comment here.

The game has a strong history of reverse engineering and has sometimes manifested itself in unusual ways, such as when cracking the Atari NES. If the next legal challenge had gone otherwise, the game landscape would have looked very different today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.