Who DAT Tapes? (August 11, 2012)


Mission programmer
Uncompressed video in what I think the WC3 movie resolution is (320 x 165) should be around 179Mb /minute according to a quick calculator I found on the net. Those DDS2 tapes can hold between 4 and 8 Gb of data depending on the tape's compression. According to your chart, you have two tapes, so between 8 to 16Gb of data. It'd mean they could hold between 46 and 92 minutes of uncompressed movies, so we might be a bit short, unless there's some compression in the movies on tape or there's other tapes containing movies. One thing's sure, if these tapes contains movies, they must be the "cutted" version that went into the games, because it'd take much more tapes to hold all the shots taken and render versions etc.


Rear Admiral
This is a Unix system! I know this!

Googling "/vol/abyss/" finds these two sites:


Now I don't know WHY they're there, but the first one mentions origin.ea.com specifically... and look at the file name on the second one!

So I'm thinking the Prophecy backups, at the very least, are from a Unix system. What does that mean for us, people who know what they're doing?

Wow, LOAF. That's an interesting find. It looks like you've stumbled onto a web server owned by a (the only) Unix administrator at Origin, circa 1994-1997! :)
It looks like he's a bit of a hoarder and he has instructions and Unix user guides (what you found) going back to his Origin days that he has taken with him when he left and copied onto the server that they're now sitting on. Some other notable finds on the site:

The name extension applied to all hosts within a given DNS (Domain Name Service) hierarchy of Internet hosts. For example, the full hostname www.origin.ea.com refers to a machine named www within the domain origin.ea.com, which is itself within the domain ea.com, and is considered a subdomain thereof.

From his CV, on his personal page that is hosted on the same server:
Unix Systems Analyst (June 1994 - April 1997) Origin Systems Sole (until mid 1996) Unix systems administrator for a medium-sized network of Silicon Graphics machines at Origin Systems, ranging from desktop workstations to a half-million dollar SGI Onyx RE2, working tangent to the PC/Macintosh technical staff. Involved in or responsible for all Origin Internet services. My game credits include:e domain origin.ea.com, which is itself within the domain ea.com, and is considered a subdomain thereof.

Some cool pricing guides from Silicon Graphics, who build the extremely powerful servers and workstations used by Origin in those days:
There's a 128 MB RAM upgrade there for $10,000! Or how about a 12" 1024x768 LCD screen for $14,000. Amazing. :)

And crusing through this directory brings back some fond memories. Some examples include:




That's about all of note that I can find, but the real find here is that you have tape backups of unix directory structures and now you also have the name and contact details of Origin's only Unix admin at the time. It's highly probable he wrote the data to those tapes and reasonably probable that he'd remember what format / application he used to create the backups. Being that they're from Unix, it's quite possible they're written directly to tape in their original format, but he'd probably be able to shed some light on things for you. Might also have some other juicy Wing Commander / Origin related files on a hard drive somewhere if you ask him nicely. :)

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Success! He is, indeed, the person who built Origin's network. Hopefully he won't be too frustrated that I have no idea what I'm doing. :)


Rear Admiral
I am an audio technician assistant at UC Santa Barbara. One of my jobs is to convert DAT tapes into digital format, and we have the machinery and software to do it. If all your other options fail I can give it a try with your audio-only tapes.