Recently YouTube recommended a video to me, The Most Overused Game Graphic You Never Noticed, which introduced me to the world of Texture Archeology. This presented an incredibly interesting resource, the Render96 Wiki which set about the task of hunting down the original source texture images for games such as Super Mario 64. One texture in particular, cobble_stone.jpg has been used in a shocking number of games, from Mario Kart to Mortal Kombat 3.
In a nutshell, this texture was included with Alias/2 (Alias/2 being the progenitor of Power Animator, which in turn became Maya, read about Alias’s history here) and due to it’s ease of access to artists, it ended up being used in dozens of video games. Back in the early days of 3D graphics, there were no asset stores, the closest thing we had was texture CDs, a collection of images often used to create texture maps.
The Render96 Wiki has gathered many of these texture libraries together in one place and archived them to Archive.org. If you are looking at recreating the old school feel from the Nintendo 64/PS1 era, you can use the same actual textures the developers used. Now do keep in mind, while many/most of these assets are considered abandonware, meaning there is no obvious company owning the license that you can buy them from, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can use them in a commercial project, so be careful in this regard. The same link also contains dozens of other resources for hunting down retro texture maps.
If you want to learn more about the Render96 texture library, the process of texture archeology or a brief history lesson on Alias, be sure to check out the video below.