One of the great things about ScummVM is that it is cross-platform. Essentially, it’ll let you play the games that you bought for your PC 10 years ago on many different platforms. These include mobile platforms such as PocketPC.
However, the later Scumm games like Day of the Tentacle and Sam and Max Hit the Road come with ‘full voice talkie’ versions. While this means you’ll be able to hear the characters talking in the game, it meant that, in the case of Day of the Tentacle, the size of the game shot up from around 12 MB to 270 MB. For most mobile devices, that’s more memory than is available.
Thankfully ScummVM has a few tricks up its sleeve. As well as playing the original game files as distributed, it will also happily play files that have been converted to MP3, Ogg Vorbis or FLAC, which can result in a vast reduction in file size. I’m going to use this how-to to show you how you can do this. Read on…
First of all, you’re going to need a Scumm game. I’m using Day of the Tentacle here but you can use another if you wish, though remember this is only needed with ‘talkie’ games that have characters that talk – games like Maniac Mansion and the early Monkey Island titles won’t benefit from this. My instructions are aimed at Windows users but the procedure is broadly similar for other platforms like Mac OS X and Linux.
1. Download ScummVM Tools
Download ScummVM tools from here – select the file relevant to your platform. If you’ll be playing your games on a PocketPC device, you’ll still need to download the version of the tools that corresponds to your host machine, i.e. if you plug your PDA into your Windows PC you’ll need the Windows version. Put the files somewhere.
2. Download Lame
In this how-to we’re going to convert our files to MP3. You can also use Ogg Vorbis or FLAC, but we’ll stick with MP3 as it’s the easiest. Lame is an open source MP3 encoder, and arguably the best MP3 encoder around too. Go to Rarewares and download the Lame 3.97 Beta 2 bundle – at time of writing this version offered the best compromise between quality and stability, but feel free to go for a more recent stable version if one is available. Save the download somewhere and extract the Lame executable from the archive – on Windows this is called lame.exe. Put this in the same folder as the ScummVM tools.
3. Copy the files from your game CD
This page details which game files you need – you usually don’t need to copy all of the files across. In the case of Day of the Tentacle, you need tentacle.000, tentacle.001 and monster.sou. Save these on your hard disk somewhere.
4. Convert the sound file to MP3
Now, open a command prompt (go to Start, Run and type ‘cmd‘ in Windows 2000/XP or ‘command‘ in Windows 95/98/Me) and switch to the folder where you installed ScummVM Tools to – this will probably be C:\Program Files\ScummVM\ if you used the Windows Installer, so type ‘cd C:\Program Files\ScummVM\‘ to get to it. Now, run the following command:
Replace ‘c:\path\to\’ with the actual path to the monster.sou file that you copied from the game CD. You’ll now see lots of text flashing up on the screen.
You may now like to go and have a cup of coffee, as this took the best part of half an hour to work on my Pentium-4 based Intel Mobile Celeron 2.2Ghz machine. Once it’s done, you should have a new file called monster.so3 in your game folder, which should be much smaller than the monster.sou file. In my case, the new file was 80 MB, down from 256 MB – a 69% reduction in size. Overall, this meant the Day of the Tentacle post-compression only needed 92MB of space instead of nearly 270 MB and so was big enough to play on my PDA.
Using Ogg Vorbis instead of MP3, and playing around with the settings, may result in even smaller file sizes, but this will get you started. Unfortunately it’s not possible to compress the other game files – the developers specifically state that they will not add support for games in .zip files because it’s reckoned that it will encourage piracy. It would be nice if they did, though, as compressing the files in a zip file brought the file size down to 85 MB – a 7 MB saving.