Run early Macromedia Director CDROM apps with ScummVM

I hadn’t heard of this software before but ScummVM is a program which allows you to run certain classic graphical adventure and role-playing games on modern hardware and operating systems. They just recently announced support for some early Director 2 and 3 CDROM software:

After 5 years of active development, we are glad to finally announce the first MacroMind/Macromedia Director-based games to be supported.

As someone who spent quite a bit of time developing CDROM software whilst studying and working at DJCAD in the 1990’s it’s great to see efforts like this. So much interesting software from that era is unavailable for people to try out unless you’ve got old hardware and OS to run it on.

The CDROM era boomed in the 1990’s, as the internet and world wide web was still it’s infancy bandwidth was a huge limitation for distributing multimedia content. So alongside more mainstream uses such as Microsoft Encarta the CDROM became a way to try more experimental output such as bands including additional interactive content on music CDs and publishers making CDROM magazines such as Blender.

Cover of Blender magazine (Photo via WikiCommons)

Ultimately a lot of these efforts were unsuccessfully financially, but there were so many great, experimental CDROM made by artists and musicians so it’s unfortunate that so much of it is inaccessible from a historical perspective.

For people studying interactive media today I think being able to use and try out some of the CDROMs from the 1990s / early 2000s would be really useful in regard to understanding trends and seeing what experiences did and didn’t work, as well as just what it was like to use interactive media back in those days.

I’ve often thought that the big rush to create interactive iPad apps to “save publishing” after the iPad came out in 2010 would have greatly benefited if more people were familiar with some of the failed experiments in the 1990s as I think they basically repeated some of the same mistakes with iPad apps as were made with CDROMs.

So any efforts like ScummVM are great to see, I’m hoping they will eventually be able to support later versions of Director so that I can try out some of the CDROMs I still have in my collection. In the meantime I can still run pretty much all of it on my tangerine iBook G3 :)

Update on the ‘Four Mysteries of the Universe…’

Back in April I wrote a post entitled "Four mysteries of the Universe…" where I pondered over a few unanswered questions:

  1. Adobe’s European pricing for the CS3 suite
  2. Availability of AVCHD capable video editing software
  3. When are Apple finally going to ditch the really old Mac OSX 10.2-ish looking aqua pin-stripe header / main navigation graphics from their website
  4. Will there ever be a new version of Director released by Adobe?

Well, interestingly 3 out of those 4 questions have been answered! The only one outstanding is #1 – Adobe’s European pricing for the CS3 suite. I’ve yet to hear a better answer than exchange rate differences or pricing structures in global locales. On the plus side though Adobe’s profits are up 24%! ;)

Strike 2: AVCHD editing software

#2 mystery was solved when Sony finally brought out a new version of their Sony Vegas video editing software to allow those who bought their HDR-SR1 six months to edit their HD video footage!

Strike 3: Updated website

#3 mystery was partially solved last week when Apple updated their website and got rid of the aqua pin-stripe navigation graphics. Although I have to say partially solved as the UK site has yet to be updated. I don’t really understand why the UK lags behind on offerings by Apple, when new products are announced they never appear until a few hours later than the US site. Don’t get me started on the unavailability of TV shows and Movies in iTunes, or maybe the iPhone but I’m not so bothered about that as it’s only just coming out in the US, but TV shows and movies have been available in the US for about 2 years now!

Strike 4: A new version of Director from Adobe

#4 mystery was solved after I’d been pestering a few people at Adobe for an answer to whether there would be a new version of Director coming anytime soon. I got an email reply from someone who pointed me to the Director FAQ page which states, albeit slightly uncommittedly:

Adobe has not published an official time frame for the next release of Director and generally does not disclose details of new releases more than 30 days before a product is expected to ship. However, our current planning assumption is that the next major release of Director will be in the second half of 2007.

Unfortunately I was too late to get on the Beta testing programme for Director, I would have loved to have had an opportunity to help test the next version of Director.

I’m glad it’s an app that’s going to continue to be developed although I do feel there is a big challenge being presented by the whole AIR (formerly Apollo) project and advances in Flash like PaperVision3D.

I’m a bit concerned that the lack of real announcements about this has caused many to consider Director dead in the water, I look forward to there being a public beta on Adobe Labs!

Other news…

Apple just announced updated information about the iPhone, namely that it will have longer than expected battery life and an ‘optical quality glass screen’ rather than plastic. The iPhone’s battery will provide:

  • 8 hours of talk time
  • 6 hours of Internet use
  • 7 hours of video playback
  • 24 hours of audio playback
  • 250 hours – more than 10 days of standby time.

Oh, and the Olympics 2012 logo still sucks! Also Hi to students from New College, Pontefract, thanks for your ‘insightful’ comments on my ‘Historical overview of Olympic logos’ article ;)