There was once a time when the music in a game was almost non-existent, or cringe-worthy at best. Most of the time it was electronic muzak of some kind and either you tuned it out mentally or turned it off it was so monotonous. There have been a few games which did have nice tunes, but nothing you'd really want to burn to CD and play repeatedly.Nowadays computer games are getting more and more like Hollywood movies. Game developers are throwing large sums of money into making sure all aspects of a game, not just the graphics engine or the packaging and manual are highly professional. This translates into much better voice acting, better quality in-game videos, and of course much, much
better music. Some of it is so good now, it's released as a separate retail soundtrack on Audio CD.Some standout game music for me this past year includes the soundtracks from Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, Mafia, James Bond 007: Nightfire, Jedi Outcast, Battlefield 1942, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 and NBA Live 2003. No doubt you have your own personal favorites.I've written this guide to take you through the steps necessary to start extracting and converting great game tracks like these into a format which you can play on your favorite software audio player, or even burn to CD for playback away from your PC. You just have to use the right tools and experiment a little. I cover music extraction from the sample of games mentioned above in a tutorial style, but that should give you enough of an idea on how to extract and convert virtually any in-game music available in today's games.Note: This guide has been updated to include instructions on how to extract music from Need For Speed: UndergroundThe Essentials
I always begin my guides with a long boring rant about how you need to optimize your system in order to get the best out of it and resolve any problems which may come up. Well this time I'll replace it with this short boring rant, so here goes: Read my System Optimization Guide
for more information on exactly how to do just that. In particular if you run Windows XP (Home or Pro), read my WinXP Tweak Guide
to bring everything up to full speed.Optimizing and stabilizing your system will ensure that even in something like audio extraction, you get the fastest encoding/decoding speeds, but much more importantly that you minimize the likelihood of errors, crashes, conflicts and corrupted audio files. Also, if possible create a System Restore point before proceeding any further with the guide. That way if anything goes wrong you can simply restore your settings very quickly. None of the programs below are "dangerous", and I've made sure they're not too system intrusive or change settings by stealth, but better safe than sorry.Uninstalling Audio Programs
If you run into any problems or conflicts with any of the audio programs I use in this guide, it's most likely that you haven't completely optimized and cleaned your system. Shame on you. However if all else fails and you just want to be rid of any of these programs, follow these steps:1. Go to Control Panel>Add/Remove and try to find the program in the list. If it's there, select it and choose remove (if not go straight to step 2). Now reboot your PC to make sure any components are the program are not still in use by the system.2. Go to the directory where you installed/extracted the program. This is usually somewhere under C:\Program Files\
by default. Manually delete the program directory and all its subfolders and contents. Some may be in use by the system and unable to be deleted, so reboot if necessary and try deleting them again.3. Go to my WinXP Guide to get the download link and instructions for use of a utility called Regcleaner. Run Regcleaner as instructed to remove all the registry entries left by the program. This step is absolutely vital to a "clean" uninstall of any program.These steps ensure that if any program is giving you trouble it will be completely and cleanly removed from your system without a trace. If you choose to reinstall the program note that all your previous settings for it will be lost and any registration period or registration keys will also be reset.Audio Codec Settings
If you want to see which audio Codecs (see Audio Format section below for a definition) have been installed on your system, and have the option to change their settings, or disable or remove them, do the following:
1. Go to Control Panel>Sounds and Audio Devices>Hardware and double-click on the Audio Codecs device. This will bring up the Audio Codecs Properties box.2. Click on the Properties tab and highlight a Codec you want to examine, then click on the Properties button. The Codec Properties box should open.3. In the Properties for the particular codec you are looking at, you can choose to tell the system not to use the codec. This is useful if you believe it is the source of conflicts or problems. You may also have the option to change its settings, and by clicking the About button, you can learn more about what the codec does.4. If you have several codecs for a particular format, e.g. several ADPCM Codecs, you can change the priority of the codec so that it is preferred over others similar to it. Click OK when you're done.I don't recommend completely removing a codec as several programs may be dependent on it. Instead see if disabling it or altering its settings or priority as described above helps.Next up, we look a basic explanation of audio formats and codecs.Digital Audio 101
You could easily write several guides on the background, development and technical intricacies of digital audio and all the audio formats available. In this section however my aim is simply to provide you with a basic, non-technical introduction to the terminology used by the programs covered in this guide.Any form of audio can be captured and stored in a variety of digital formats on your computer, such as WAV, MP3 and OGG. The first question I hear you ask is "why isn't there just one digital format...why are there so many?" Well the main reason is compression, whereby the file size taken up by audio is dramatically reduced with varying levels of audio quality loss. This is exactly the same as with digital images and the quality and size of the various formats like BMP, JPEG and GIF. This choice of quality and compression gives you (and game developers) several options as to which to use for different purposes. Of course some of the formats are proprietary, which means they can't be used without a license - this explains why certain formats are preferred by game developers.The basic attributes for an audio file are typically presented like this:WAV PCM 44.1Khz 16 Bit StereoThis information is interpreted respectively as Audio format, Compression format, Sample Rate, Bit Rate and Channels. Each of these are described further below:Sample Rate
- Also referred to as Sampling Frequency or just Frequency. To create a digital equivalent of a sound, a computer has to take samples of the audio source every second. The more samples it takes of the audio, the more faithful the digital sound is to the original source. Sample Rate is shown in thousands of cycles per second (KHz). As a benchmark, CD Audio has a sample rate of 44.1 KHz.Bit Rate
- Just like every other piece of information on a computer, digital audio is made up of Binary Digits (or Bits for short), where 8 bits makes one Byte, and 1024 Bytes are known as a Kilobyte (Kb), and so forth. The bit rate may be represented as either bits per cycle per channel per second (e.g. 16 bit) or as an overall data transfer rate in Kilobits per second (e.g. 128kbps). The higher the bitrate of the audio, the better the quality. As a benchmark, 128kbps is extremely close to CD Audio.Channels
- Channels are the distinctly separate sources of sound which form the final audio when played together. Stereo is two distinct channels played together, Mono is one channel and Joint Stereo is a compromise between the two. Most audio is Stereo because human ears usually need two distinct sources of sound to correctly perceive "3D" audio.Compression
- To work out how large an audio file would be without compression (e.g. when in WAV PCM format) multiply the length of the audio in seconds by the Sample Rate, Bit Rate and Number of Channels. For example 44.1Khz 16 Bit Stereo audio when uncompressed is 44100 x 16 x 2 = 1411200 bits per second. Divide by 8 to get bytes per second, and by 1024 again to get Kilobytes (not kilobits) per second and you have 172Kb for each second of audio. Based on this, a 3 minute track in WAV format will be 180s x 172Kb/s = approximately 30MB. If however this file had the same attributes but was only 3MB, we could determine that the compression used to encode it was 10:1 (e.g. MP3 compression).Codec
- This term is often confused with audio format. A CODEC (COmpressor DECompressor) is a program which allows audio to be compressed and decompressed to/from the audio format for which it is designed. Audio files achieve compression by using special algorithms, and it's the codec which can encode/decode these algorithms. If you can play or record in a particular audio format, you have a codec for that format already installed on your system (see Essentials section for details on how to view/remove codecs).Audio Formats
As mentioned previously, the proliferation of audio formats is primarily due to the need to reduce the size of audio files so that it's practical to fit large amounts of sound/music onto a typical data CD or hard drive for use in games and the like. The most common digital formats in use today are:WAV
- The Wave file format developed by Microsoft is the industry standard on PCs. It is a high quality format, particularly when uncompressed, but consequently it is also quite large in size. This is the format ultimately used by CD burning software for burning onto Audio CDs. Compression for WAV files is available, such as MS ADPCM, but it only provides around 4:1 compression at best. MP3
- (MPEG Level 1, Audio Layer 3) This format is extremely popular because it provides a good balance of size, quality and compatibility. An MP3 file is typically 1/10th of the size of the equivalent WAV file with minimal noticeable quality loss (as long as the overall bitrate is 128kbps or higher). It achieves this compression level by cutting out many frequencies the human ear can't detect. Most every software audio player can play MP3.WMA
- Microsoft being Microsoft, they developed a format which has excellent quality and compression levels even better than MP3 (WMA version 8 and above). Technically speaking, WMA audio is great, but it has much less compatibility: Windows Media Player is the main tool used to play WMA. There are also protection aspects to WMA, as MS tries to enforce digital copyright by making WMA protected files difficult to copy and burn. OGG
- This format is non-proprietary and hence can be used by anyone without a license required. Much of recent game music is in OGG Vorbis format because of this factor combined with the fact that it provides great compression and quality which is even better than MP3. Compatibility is still not across the board for OGG, however many audio players have plugins (Codecs which are supported by the player) you can download to use OGG, and others are now supporting OGG "out of the box" - such as Winamp 3.CDA
- This is the file type which shows up when you explore the contents of an audio CD in Windows. Most players can play it back, but CDA files are not actual audio files themselves. CD Audio is actually in WAV file format, and the CDA files are more like "shortcuts" to these WAV files. Use an audio CD extraction program like Easy CD-DA Extractor
to copy ("rip") the WAV tracks from an Audio CD.RM
- Real Media format, which is usually only playable on RealPlayer or RealOne Player (see Tools section below). Not a particularly great format due to the high compression it uses to allow internet streaming of audio. Commonly found in video files, much more rare for audio.ASF
- This is the Microsoft Advanced Streaming Format, and as the name implies, it's a proprietary format for streaming internet audio/video (similar to RM). Compatibility is usually fine through players such as Windows Media Player, however since this format is often used by Electronic Arts to protect the commercial music they include as part of their games' soundtracks, playback may be unsupported even on WMP. In that case a special decoder such as Game Audio Player (with the right plugin) may be able to play back and convert these modified ASF files.BIK
- The Bink format is commonly used for the introductory and in-game movies in several popular games. It is, strictly speaking, a video format. However, since this guide includes at least one game with BIK format audio, I'll include it here. You can play BIK files only with the appropriate codec which comes with RAD Tools (see Tools section). As you can see there are many formats available, with only a few of them listed above. There are many articles comparing the quality and compression of the popular formats, such as this one
. In terms of game music, you'll only really run into MP3, WAV and OGG most commonly. The ASF and BIK audio formats are also used, but mainly in EA Games. The important thing to remember is that while there are software audio players which play the above file formats - even though you may need to download the appropriate codec as a plugin - the bottom line is if you want to burn any audio to CD, you'll need to convert it to WAV. Some burning programs such as Nero can convert MP3 to WAV automatically before burning, however usually your best bet is to manually convert a file to WAV before attempting to burn. The next section covers the tools I'll be using in this guide to extract, convert and play the above file formats from games.The Tools
This guide makes use of a great many audio programs and utilities which do everything from extracting audio through to recording it, editing it, converting it, playing it in various audio formats and even burning it to CD. All of the programs I use in this guide are free to download, but in some cases may have a limited period of use before registration is required. I have carefully selected the audio tools so that you need not purchase them to undertake the tweaks in this guide. It is ultimately up to you whether you purchase the full version of any of these programs after their trial period has expired, or whether you seek out better or cheaper versions of this type of software. Please however don't email me asking where you can get serial numbers or cracks as I won't provide that sort of information. I'm not really in the mood for an FBI pre-dawn raid.Download and Installation
Below is a list of each program used in the guide, where you can download it, and installation and setup tips. Note the version number of each program, as you'll need to have at least the version number listed to ensure the program will work as described in the guide:Winamp 3.0
- This free audio player will play all the popular music formats such as MP3, WAV, WMA and even OGG. Provides many customization tools, a graphic equalizer and so on. Installation is straightforward, however pay attention during the install screens to make sure that if you don't want Winamp to be your default player for some audio types it doesn't automatically take over them. Full version is 3.2MB [Download Here
- This audio player is similar to Winamp and will play all the popular music formats. It is one of the only players to play RM (Real Media) format, however it won't play OGG files, and requires purchase to enable a graphic equalizer and other touches. RealPlayer 8 is not the latest version, which is now called RealOne Player. I personally dislike RealOne as it doesn't seem any better than RealPlayer 8 yet is a lot more intrusive. The following link is to a site called OldVersion.com
which has older versions of popular software before they became bloated. Once again, pay attention while installing as you may want to disable a lot of the functions/settings. Full version is 4.9MB [Download Here
]Audio Conversion Wizard 1.4
- Handles conversion of file formats between WMA 8, MP3, OGG and WAV PCM. It has a simple to follow wizard interface with full functionality, however it is limited to a 14 day trial period. Full version is 3.9MB [Download Here
- A great program for extracting audio files embedded within larger files. While it is free and fully functional, the unregistered version is limited to extracting 30 files at a time. Note that when you extract the contents of the downloaded .zip file, create a new folder for it first (e.g. C:\Program Files\Extractor
). Next extract the contents into this empty folder, make sure you tick "Use folder names" in the WinZip Extract options. This is because the program doesn't "install" as such, it simply decompresses all its files and folders into wherever you choose to extract it. Full version is 0.6MB [Download Here
]Creative Recorder 2, Creative WaveStudio 4
- These tools are extremely handy, but only work if you have a Creative SoundBlaster Live or Audigy series soundcard. Creative Recorder is especially useful because it lets your record sound from any source in the "What U Hear" mode. Creative WaveStudio is a useful WAV file editing tool, similar to the one which comes with Nero. Both these highly useful tools and several others come as part of the Creative LiveWare package, which you should have on a CD which came with your Creative soundcard. If you don't have it, or you have an older version, download and install the latest one for free. Full version is 377MB [Download Here
]Game Audio Player 1.32
- This program handles conversion of EA Games format audio the best, especially their special ASF format, however it can convert music from a range of other games also. It's completely free and fully functional. Installation is similar to Extractor (see above) in that it requires the creation of a new folder for the program, and extraction of files to this folder. Full version is 1.6MB (including plugins and playlists) [Download Here
- A program which allows extraction of files from the Mafia .dta resource files. This is one of the only programs to allow extraction of music from Mafia. Full version is 26KB [Download Here
- Nero is an excellent CD burning program which makes burning audio CDs extremely easy. For example you can drag and drop MP3 files into a new Audio CD compilation and it will automatically convert them into the correct CD Audio format, ready for burning. Nero Wave Editor is also a useful part of the package, as it lets you edit WAV files. If you didn't get Nero with your CD burner I recommend you try the demo version as it is fully functional for a limited trial period. Full version is 12.3MB [Download Here
- Provides playback and conversion tools for BIK format video/audio files. Many modern games have their introductory and in-game movies encoded in BIK format, and this completely free and fully functional toolset allows you to view them and convert the video and/or audio from them. Full version is 1.2MB [Download Here
- This utility which needs to run from a DOS command prompt is tiny and free, and can convert EA Games music formats into WAV files. It's handy to have in case Game Audio Player fails. As with Extractor, you'll need to extract the contents of the downloaded .zip file into an empty directory to "install" Sndview. Full version is 0.1MB [Download Here
]Super Audio Converter 3.3
- Handles conversion of file formats between WMA 8, MP3, OGG, VQF and WAV PCM similar to Audio Conversion Wizard. It has a straightforward user interface with full functionality, but is limited to a trial period. Full version is 2.7MB [Download Here
]I recommend you download as many of these tools as possible as we will be using each and every one of them in this guide.Game Music Extraction - Examples
Ok let's get down to the business end of the guide. Here is where I go through the steps necessary to extract music from several recent games which are known for their excellent soundtracks. Even if the game you want to extract music from is not below, you should be able to see which game has a similar file structure and therefore the tools and methods required for the job. This is particularly true if the game is made by the same company, as most game developers stick to particular audio formats and file structures where possible.Hitman 2: Silent Assassin
Hitman 2 is a great game for action and stealth fans combined. One of the magic ingredients of the game is the music, which always seems to change to suit the location and mood perfectly. The main menu music in particular is my favorite. At first glance through the Hitman 2 directories, you will see several WAV files, which seems hopeful. Once you click on them you'll find they can't be played because the format is unsupported. Have no fear - the game's 22 music tracks are actually embedded in the Streams.wav file in the base Hitman 2 directory. While you can't play Streams.wav, you can extract each of the music files from it by using Extractor 2.34. Run Extractor and follow these steps:1. Click the top Select button to browse to the directory where Streams.wav is located. This should typically be in C:\Program Files\Eidos Interactive\Hitman 2 Silent Assassin\
. Highlight Streams.wav and click Open.2. Click the second Select button to point Extractor to the directory where you want the music files to be extracted and click OK. Ideally this should be an empty directory.
3. Under the Formats box, click the "-" button first to unselect all file formats. Now select only the OGG Vorbis File format, as that is the format Hitman 2's music is in. For other games where you're unsure of the music file format used, leave as many audio file formats as possible selected. Also note that the trial version of Extractor only allows 30 files to be extracted at a time, so narrow your search down to particular files/subdirectories, and unselect non-audio file formats such as TXT.4. Click the Start button and you'll see Extractor searching through the Streams.wav file for any OGG files. It will eventually come up with 22 files of streams 000xx.ogg
, all in good quality 44.1Khz Stereo.
5. If the files are not selected, select the files you want to extract (or press the "+" button to select all of them) and then press the Extract button - you may have to confirm the directory where they are to be saved. Once done they should end up in the directory you chose to extract them to.You can now play back these files using an OGG-compatible player like Winamp 3. If you want to convert them to another format like MP3 or WAV, you can use either Audio Conversion Wizard or Super Audio Converter. I'll cover use of Audio Conversion Wizard in this case, but see the James Bond 007: Nightfire example below for instructions on conversion using Super Audio Converter.Open the Audio Conversion Wizard and click I Agree to get past the registration nag screen, then follow these steps to convert an OGG file into another format:1. Select Batch or Single mode - batch being for conversion of multiple files at once, single for one file. Click Next.
2. Go to the directory where you extracted the OGG files previously, and if you chose Batch, highlight the files you want to add. You can select multiple files by holding down the SHIFT key while selecting them. Click the Add File(s) button, and the selected files will appear in the box below. If you chose Single, browse to the directory where the file sits and highlight it, then skip to step 4 below. Click Next.3. If in Batch mode, you can now convert the files to the same format (e.g. all to MP3) by selecting the first option shown, or you can choose to select a different output format for each file separately by selecting the second option. Click Next.4. You now have the option of WMA, MP3, OGG or WAV PCM as the output type to convert the file(s) to. If you choose the WAV format, skip to step 6, otherwise for the other compressed formats see step 5. Click Next.
5. Because WMA, OGG and MP3 are audio formats which undergo compression, if you choose to convert a file to these formats you'll have to choose the Bitrate, Sample Rate and Channels (see Audio Formats section above for more information on these) for the output. If you choose settings which are lower than the source audio's settings, you are automatically reducing the audio quality of the output. However if you choose settings which are higher than the source audio, you will only expand the output file size without increasing audio quality, as the output quality is always restricted to the quality of the input. Click Next.6. On the next screens you can select any particular filename(s) you want to give the output, or set the ID3 Tag information (not available for WAV), and finally select the output folder for the converted file(s). Click Next and you'll be given a summary of the file(s) to be converted and the quality with which the conversion will occur. If you're happy with these press Next, otherwise select Back and change your settings.You should now see the converted files in the directory you chose earlier. Note that if you convert OGG files directly into WAV format using Audio Conversion Wizard you may have problems. Try converting first to MP3, then WAV if necessary. Also try the Super Audio Converter instead if you want to convert OGG directly to WAV. As you're beginning to see, several tools might be necessary for one job, and sometimes specific tools are better suited to specific tasks.Now let's move on to extracting more game music.
Game Music Extraction - Mafia & NightfireMafia: City of Lost Heaven
This is one of my all-time favorite games, and part of my love for it is the music. The whole game is cinematic in scope, and the music is a vital part of the experience. I was initially disappointed to see that Mafia doesn't have any obvious sound files to work with. Almost all the program's resources are packed into the 12 .dta files found typically in the C:\Program Files\Mafia
directory. I tried using Extractor 2.34 to search for various audio formats in the .dta files, but without any luck. Then I lucked onto a foolproof method for extracting the music from Mafia. It involves a small custom-made utility called MafiaXTractor (see Tools section for download information). Here's how you use it:1. Run the MafiaDataXTractor.exe file and as the warning screen will tell you, it first backs up your rw_data.dll file in the base Mafia directory to rw_data.bak and replaces it with a modified rw_data.dll which forces the game to use the extracted files as its reference.
2. Select the items you want to extract from the Mafia .dta files. The second last item is the obvious choice - Music. Highlight this item and click Extract. A new directory called \Sounds\Music
will be created under the Mafia directory, and will now have 37 music files in OGG format. The files have varying quality, but all are well above CD quality - some as high as 220kbps or more.3. Follow the instructions under the Hitman 2 section above for converting OGG files to other formats such as MP3. 4. To undo the changes to Mafia which MafiaXTractor makes, go to your Mafia base directory and delete the existing rw_data.dll file, then rename rw_data.bak to rw_data.dll. You can now safely delete the Sounds\Music folder and its contents. Note however that if you don't revert back to the original rw_data.dll you will need to keep the new folder(s) and the contents or Mafia won't start. Also remember that at no point should you delete any of the .dta files, even if you extract all of Mafia's contents. See the MafiaXTractor readme.txt file for more information on what the utility does.There you have it - 36 cinematic and 1930's style mafia tracks to enjoy, and one modern track called "Lake of Fire" lamenting the gangster's plight. Surely one of the best soundtracks for any game anywhere.James Bond 007: Nightfire
I'm a big Bond fan, so I was hoping to see Nightfire would live up to the standards which the hit Nintendo 64 game Goldeneye set years ago. I have to say it isn't as good as I expected in the gameplay department, but the music is pure Bond, and the intro song in particular is much better than the Madonna song used for Die Another Day in my opinion.I found that the audio and music files for Nightfire are not encrypted or embedded, and can be found quite easily in several directories under the C:\Program Files\EA GAMES\Nightfire\bond\sound\music\mission\
directory. In particular the title song, a track called "Nearly Civilized" by a young lady named Esthero, is under the \gui
directory. There are two versions of it: frontend_ectest.ogg is the short version which is played during the game's intro sequence. It's a high quality (426kbps) audio file, but is only 1 minute long. The longer, full version of the song is the frontend_full.ogg file in the same directory, however it is a lower quality mono (100kbps) file.Other than the intro song, I found in particular that the "drama" themes in each of the mission folders are great spins on the Bond theme, but in general almost all the mission music is worth having as one long Bond soundtrack and all of it is in sufficiently high enough format.Note that all the music files are in OGG format, so you can simply use Winamp 3 to listen to them. If you want to convert them to another format such as WAV you can use Audio Conversion Wizard as detailed in the Hitman 2 section above, or you can try the Super Audio Converter method below:
1. Start Super Audio Converter, and click on the Option button first. Under the Generic options you can leave the temp directory to its default, but set the result directory to where you want the converted file(s) to end up. You can also choose the version of ID3 tag information used. Under the Encoder options you can either use the source file settings, or manually set the Sample Rate, Bit Rate, Channels (and if using MP3, the version of MP3 encoding). I recommend 128kbps, Stereo, 44100Khz at the very least. Click the Close button when done.2. Click the "From" button which corresponds to the file format you're trying to convert. In this case, select "From OGG". A drop box will appear below the button, allowing you to choose the format you want to convert the file to. As with the Audio Conversion Wizard, the various file formats will increase/decrease the output file's size, and the resulting quality will be based on the Sample Rate, Bit Rate and Channels you chose in the Options screen.
3. When you've selected the output format a browser box appears allowing you to select the file you want to convert. Select the appropriate file and click OK. The name of the selected file and its path should appear in the main dialog box.4. If you highlight the selected file, you can use the player controls at the bottom to play the track should you so wish, or just go straight to conversion by pressing the Start Convert button. The file will be converted and the output file should appear in the output directory you chose in the Options screen.I'm not sure if it's just me, but every time I use Super Audio Converter I get a program crash straight after the conversion and it closes itself. The output file comes out perfectly fine, but ends up in the same directory as the source file. So it works but it's annoying...maybe it's just my hardware/software combination. I've included this program for people who can't or won't use the Audio Conversion Wizard, or want to use this program to convert OGG to WAV which is something that seems to be flawed in Audio Conversion Wizard.
Game Music Extraction - Jedi Outcast & BF1942Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
Jedi Outcast was a fun game in single player, and of course the multiplayer mode is still popular with many. As for the music, none of it is new, but...well who can resist the Star Wars classics, right? The soundtrack from the game is excellent and can be had quite easily too.Go to the game's base directory, typically C:\Program Files\LucasArts\Star Wars JK II Jedi Outcast\GameData\base
, and look for the asset.pk3 files. As with other games based on the Quake III engine (like Return to Castle Wolfenstein), Outcast stores all of the game data in these compressed .pk3 files. What is very fortunate is that WinZip
can open and extract from .pk3 files without any modifications whatsoever.
To find Jedi Outcast's game music, go to the Assets0.pk3 file and open it with WinZip. All the game's music will be in MP3 format. To extract the files, you can manually select and extract individual MP3 files. The best method however is to extract the entire package to an empty folder, making sure when you select Extract in WinZip that you have the "Use Folder Names" option ticked. That way all the files will be extracted into their appropriate folders, and all the music will end up, surprisingly enough, in a folder called Music. If you then look under the extracted Music folder you'll see that the music has been arranged in subfolders based on the game levels. My personal favorites are Yavtrial_explore.mp3 Yavfinal_explore.mp3. A couple of things to note about playback of the MP3 files - I've noticed if they're played in RealPlayer you get a lot more hiss out of them, and the tracks end abruptly well before the end of the actual music. Use Windows Media Player or even Winamp to play back these tracks for a much better result. Alternatively, convert them to MP3 again using a tool like Audio Conversion Wizard and the resulting re-encoded MP3 files should now play fine on any player. They're obviously slightly a modified MP3 format used by Lucasarts.If you want to burn these tracks to CD, using a program like Nero means you won't need to convert the MP3 files before burning - Nero will automatically convert them to WAV. Otherwise use a program like Audio Conversion Wizard to convert them to WAV first.Battlefield 1942
Arguably the most popular action game of 2002, Battlefield 1942 has some stirring, if a tad electronic, music. You'll be happy to know that with the right tool you can easily play and convert this music.To access BF1942's music, the first thing you need to do is start RAD Tools. Then follow these steps:1. If you like the game's introductory movie music, use the file browser at the top of RAD Tools to go to the Intro.bik file, typically in the C:\Program Files\EA GAMES\Battlefield 1942\Movies
directory. If you like the other music in the game, try looking in the C:\Program Files\EA GAMES\Battlefield 1942\Mods\bf1942\Music
directory, where there will be 6 audio-only BIK files.
2. Highlight the file you want to convert and if you press the Play button, RAD Tools will play the file. If it's a movie file, it will play video and audio in a small screen, otherwise audio files will play without any video displayed. If you want to convert the audio from any of these files into another format, highlight the file and select the Convert a File button.3. Note that if you've selected either the Vehicle3.bik or Vehicle4.bik audio files for conversion, you'll get a prompt telling you they are "part of a sequence of files" and "do you want to treat the sequence as a single animation?". If you select Yes, the resulting output will be a combination of both Vehicle3.bik and Vehicle4.bik. If you select No, only the file you've selected will be converted.4. On the next screen, select the output format you want by clicking the Output Type button. There are many choices, but the only viable audio choice is WAV - the others are video or image formats. Click the Browse button and select where you want the output to end up. Make sure only the Convert Audio option is ticked (and Convert Video is unselected). You can also manually enter the Sample rate (e.g. 44100) and Bitrate/Channels (e.g. 16 bit Stereo). Leaving the Sample Rate and Bitrate/Channel boxes blank will convert the file according to the input's quality, and this is recommended.5. When you're happy with the conversion settings, click the convert button, and the resulting WAV file will end up in the folder you specified. This file can now be played with any player, and burnt straight to CD without any manipulation. If you want, you can use one of the conversion tools to convert it to MP3 should you want a smaller file size for play back on your PC.There you go, you now have some great BF1942 music to listen to whenever you're away from the game and suffering withdrawal symptoms!
Game Music Extraction - NFSHP2 & NBA Live 2003Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 has some great driving action, and a nice selection of tunes to drive fast to. As with most Electronic Arts (EA) Games, the music in the game is encoded so that it cannot be played without being converted to a recognised format. This is quite obviously to protect the songs, most of which are commercial-quality tracks.Luckily we can use Game Audio Player, a useful tool in converting almost all EA Games music formats, to convert the 23 modified ASF music tracks found in NFSHP2 into something you can listen to on your favorite software audio player or CD player.
Start up Game Audio Player (GAP) and you'll see a somewhat simple interface. This belies the tricky task of getting the music files recognised and eventually converted. Follow the steps below to do just that:1. First thing we need to do is set up some key GAP Options. Click the Options button (next to the button with the "i" on it). Click on the Playlist tab and under Playlist type, select the first option "Fixed-size dialog" to make things easier to follow. Next click on the Saving tab and select the Custom option. Click the Browse button and select the directory where you want the output files to be saved. Under the Multiconverting WAV Format, select PCM. This format will only be used if you "multiconvert" (i.e. convert 2 or more files together). Click OK when done.2. On the main GAP screen, click the red document icon - this will bring up the Playlist dialog box. Click the Scan Directory button, and point GAP to the music directory for NFSHP2 - typically C:\Program Files\EA GAMES\NFSHP2\audio\music
3. Once GAP has scanned in the 23 music tracks (with titles shown as "unknown") you can play a file by highlighting it and pressing Play. Click the Save List button and save this playlist as NFSHP2, that way you can load it up anytime you start up GAP again without having to rescan the files. 4. To convert a file, in the Playlist window select the file by highlighting it and press the Convert File(s) button. Note if you try to convert multiple files at once, you may get an error. Select the directory where you want the output saved, and select the output format and compression type. Note again that for WAV output, I recommend PCM (not MP3 or other) compression for best quality results, especially for burning to CD later on. The MP3 compression offered by GAP does not seem to be of a sufficiently good quality, so if you wish, convert the WAV output file to MP3 later using one of the other audio conversion programs in this guide.You now have all the NFSHP2 tracks ready for enjoyment away from the game.NBA Live 2003
Just like NFSHP2, NBA Live 2003 has a selection of great tracks which suit the game down to the ground. It turns out that it's actually very tricky if you want to extract these tracks and listen to them away from the game. I go through two methods below with differing results.NBA Live 2003 has 32 music files found in the music directory of the game. There are several intro, tunnel and victory tracks, but the actual game music is in two sets of 12 xmsong and xsong files. As usual, these files cannot be played using a normal software audio player because they're encoded in the proprietary EA Games format.I tried using the Game Audio Player method detailed in the NFSHP2 example above, but nothing seemed to work. GAP always crashed when I either tried to listen to or convert the song files. It seems the af_eacs.dll (EA Audio) plugin for GAP is not new enough to deal with this most recent of EA games.So I looked around and eventually discovered a small DOS-based utility called Sndview 0.42 (see Tools section for download link) originally designed for the EA Games NHL series, which will extract the music from NBA Live 2003. The procedure to do so is detailed below:1. First you need to copy the Sndview.exe file into the same directory as the music files we're going to convert (typically C:\Program Files\EA SPORTS\NBA Live 2003\audio\music
). This makes things a lot easier.2. Now open up an MS-DOS Prompt, as sndview.exe will not run outside of a DOS prompt. Isn't nostalgia wonderful? I bet the younger ones among you don't even know all the DOS commands. DOS is making a comeback baby! Ahem...anyway, to open up a DOS prompt, go to Start>Run and type "CMD" without the quotes.
3. Use the CD command to change directories to where Sndview and the music files reside. For example, type the following (including the quotes):CD "C:\Program Files\EA SPORTS\NBA Live 2003\audio\music"If your directory path to the music files is different, substitute it in place of what's in the quotes above.4. Now, the xsong.asf files will not convert into anything but static, so you can only convert the xmsong.asf files, of which there are 12. For example, to convert xmsong3.asf into a WAV file, type:sndview xmsong3.asfat the prompt, and xmsong3.wav will be created in the same directory. Repeat the procedure for the other xmsong.asf tracks as desired.You can now play these converted WAV files using a normal software audio player like Winamp or Windows Media Player. Note unfortunately that they are converted as mono, not stereo tracks. This is one of the problems with the newest EA Games music formats. Quite obviously the xsong.asf files provide additional information for the corresponding xmsong.asf files to be played in stereo, but as yet I haven't found a decoder/converter which can read them and hence create the right output.There is one more way in which you can get high quality stereo music from NBA Live 2003. Sadly it is only possible for those with Creative SoundBlaster Live and Audigy series cards, as it uses the Creative Recorder utility which only works with these cards. If you have one of these soundcards but can't find Creative Recorder, firstly look for it on your system using the Windows Search function. The file you're looking to run is CTRec.exe. If you still can't find it, install it from the software CD you received with your sound card. If you can't find your CD, or you have an older version, the link to download the latest Liveware package which includes Creative Recorder is in the Tools section above.Now to record the music from NBA Live 2003 in all its glory, follow these steps:1. Start Creative Recorder, and set the Record From field to "What U Hear". When you press the record button the recorder will now record any sounds or music on your system. This may be from any source, such as a DVD, CD, game music, sound effects etc. Literally whatever you hear from your PC speakers will also be recorded by Recorder.
2. Go to the Settings menu (press ALT-SPACEBAR and select Settings). For the Playback and Recording devices select your primary sound card. For the Quality setting pick something suitable, again I recommend 44100Hz 16 Bit Stereo as a minimum.3. Close any desktop items which may make a background noise, then when you're ready press the Rec button on Recorder. It will now begin recording all sounds.4. Start NBA Live 2003, and when you get to the main menu screen, click one of the buttons (such as Options or Game Modes). This will stop the game from going into "Demo" mode. Now leave your computer for a good hour or more and the game will play through all the music tracks, and they'll all be captured by Recorder in CD quality WAV format. When you finally exit NBA Live 2003, click on Recorder's Stop button and enter a filename for the new WAV file. The file will now be saved in the Recordings directory under where Recorder sits (e.g. C:\Program Files\Creative\SBAudigy\Recorder\Recordings
)5. To extract the individual tracks manually from this large WAV file, you'll need to open the file in a utility like Creative WaveStudio or Nero Wave Editor. Then patiently cut and paste each individual track to a separate file, saving each as WAV PCM 44.1Khz 16 bit Stereo to ensure good quality audio.Ok so the above method is a lot more time-consuming, but it's absolutely guaranteed to work, and not just with NBA Live 2003, but with any game. Hey, if it works don't knock it...nobody said this would be easy!At the moment I'm not aware of any other utilities which record every sound like Creative Recorder does in "What U Hear" mode. If anyone knows of one, let me know and I'll include it here for those without Creative sound cards.Note:
A reader has informed me of a program called Total Recorder
which seems to be able to do what Creative Recorder can do for all sound cards. Total Recorder is 1.0MB, however it is not free and the evaluation version will only record 40 seconds of audio. Further feedback from readers has also led me to this page of Sound Recording Software
links. There are various types here, and although I haven't tried them personally, give them a try if you don't have a Creative sound card (or don't want to use Creative Recorder). Thanks again to those who've emailed me with about this, in particular Pipi Filipi and Brian Luttrull.Need for Speed: Underground
The latest installment of the Need for Speed series focuses on street racing, and the music takes the same flavour. There are 26 great tracks in this game, and I thought I'd update this guide with the quick and easy method for extracting them all.
You will need a small tool called NFS Music Extractor
. Once you've downloaded the utility, you will need to copy the file STRM_Music_UGO_MB.ast
(Typically found under C:\Program Files\EA Games\Need For Speed Underground\SNDSTREAMS
) into the same directory where you extracted the Music Extractor Utility. Then just run the .exe file and it will steadily extract all the music files to WAV format. You can then burn them straight to CD, or encode them as another format (e.g. MP3) to add to your music library.If on the other hand you want to import different music into your NFS Underground, you can use this NFS Music Importer
to import your music files into NFS:U's native .AST format.
Game Music Extraction - General Tips and ConclusionGeneral Tips
As I've demonstrated from the examples provided in this guide, it's possible to extract music from any game - you just need the right tools and some time and effort. I've gone through the selection of games above not just so you know how to extract music from these particular games (as good as their soundtracks may be), but so you can see how to do it for any game you like. Some games have music files which are up-front and apparent. Morrowind for example has all of its music under the C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Morrowind\Data Files\Music\
directory in high quality MP3 format. No extraction or conversion is necessary to enjoy beautiful tracks like Morrowind_Title.mp3, especially if you use Nero to burn directly to CD from MP3.Other games are the exact opposite. As we saw with Mafia for example, it required a custom-made tool (MafiaXTractor) to extract the game music from the .dta files. Even the use of Extractor 2.34 did not pull out the music files. In between there are a range of scenarios, such as Jedi Outcast's MP3 files simply compressed in WinZip-compatible .pk3 files, or Nightfire's OGG files which only require the use of a player with an OGG plugin like Winamp 3 to play. The important thing is to examine the file structure of a game. Aside from the obvious search for audio and music directories and their WAV, MP3 or OGG files, check for .dll files which hint at the audio format the game uses. For example Mafia has the files ogg.dll and vorbis.dll in its base directory. This tells us instantly that even though the music/audio files are not visible, the game uses OGG encoded audio. This can help narrow down the search when attempting to extract the files using a tool like Extractor.Also, remember that some formats may appear playable, like the WAV files in Hitman 2 or the ASF files in EA Games like NFSHP2 and NBA Live 2003, but in truth these files cannot be played as they are with a software player. Attempt to use Extractor on the file first, and use GAP or Sndview in particular on EA Games.Finally, if everything fails, the foolproof method for Creative sound card owners is always the Creative Recorder. It has never failed me in recording high quality music from any game. Creative Recorder is also useful if you want to record portions of DVD audio, or streaming audio from any source. As I said, it is totally foolproof in that regard.
There you have it, I think I've covered all the bases when it comes to extracting game music. The sample of games I run through in this guide are particularly well-endowed in the audio department, and I believe it's only a sign of more good things to come in the world of game music. If you're like me, music is a very important part of your life, and what better way to add enjoyment to your purchase of a game by being able to enjoy its soundtrack separately as well. For all you audiophiles out there, if you spot any errors in this guide or if you have any tools or game music extraction/conversion methods you want to let me know about, drop me a line. I'll update the guide accordingly. I'll also consider a second part to this guide later in 2003 when more great games hit the shelves bursting with musical goodness.In the meanwhile I hope you've enjoyed this guide and found something useful in it. I want to thank all the authors of the utilities and programs I link to in this guide, and in particular I want to warmly thank the game music composers out there who are giving us all a gift with their wonderful music.Till the next time take care and as always, I would love to hear your thoughts about this or any other of my guides.