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 :)