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Old 01 September 2005, 15:40   #20
Galahad/FLT
Going nowhere

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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: United Kingdom
Age: 46
Posts: 7,468
As Codetapper has already pointed out, some games were not hard because the programmer had made it difficult to crack, but as stated before, with a custom MFM system (i.e. not a standard AmigaDOS system) some games came on larger capacity disks. BC Kid for instance was impossible to put onto 1 disk, I know, because I cracked it for Dual Crew Shining. Factor 5's disk format was very accommodating. It saved the publishers money, because if they hadn't have used their own format, BC Kid would never have fitted on one disk. Also their custom packer was better than FImp or Propack. The only reason in the case of BC Kid that Disk 2 has duplicate files of Disk 1 is to save on disk swapping. The disk swapper routine was quite simple. If it couldn't find a file, it would simply request the other disk.

Randy Linden (He of Readysoft and Bleem! fame) realised that a custom MFM game over 5-6 disks is going to cause a cracker problems. I wouldn't say that Dragons Lair is a very hard protection to beat, but it is a very time consuming one to beat.

Same goes with Video Kid by Gremlin Graphics. The basic MFM system of the game is basic and as far as I can remember is the same MFM system as Shaun Southerns Magnetic Fields copy protection, but its purely because every loaded file in the game has a separate loader within it makes it time consuming.

Copy protections are best when they are one offs (i.e. its written specifically for a game and won't appear again). SWIV would have been a tricky one, by the very nature of the way the game loads. It could have been cracked to AmigaDOS files, and the programmer deliberately left all the filename information there to try and coax the cracker to do it that way, because it would have made the game totally unplayable as the fileloader searched all over a DOS disk to get the files. Thankfully, Phil Douglas was a particularly good cracker and didn't get caught out.

Hook to look at wasn't difficult. It used the same old RNC Copylock (Yawn!) as every other game, but with the added stuff hidden in the Copylock, the game remained not cracked properly since 1992. The only problem with the protection though, was that it was so subtle, that many people simply didn't notice it. So in the end, was it actually an effective copy protection?

Double Dragon 2 however had a hell of a lot of neat ideas. Richard Aplin had obviously spent long and hard on it, and as an introduction to cracking, its an excellent game to crack. It has every conceivable idea and trick in the book.

But ultimately, a game is only as hard to crack as someones skills allow. I have cracked/helped out on a number of titles for some WHDLoad authors, where they have almost been beating their brains out trying to crack. Without wanting to brag, I haven't found any of them overly difficult to crack, but then again, I've spent years doing it long before those guys.

So the hardest game to crack? Thats really more to do with the skills of the cracker/programmer than the copy protection itself.

Just my two pence worth
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