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Old 24 October 2018, 01:06   #1
amgam
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Amiga security and original game files

Hello I have a number of Amiga emulation questions I’m hoping to get some advice on.

We’re looking to release some old Amiga titles in their original form. The games have been available online for a long time with crack intros / loaders etc. Obviously we can’t use these versions because they contain code, music and animations we technically don’t have the right to use. We’re going to make our own files but concerned about the Amiga’s copy protection.

Is it possible to make versions of these games, without modifying the game code, that will work easily on emulators such as winuae? It seems ADF format is the most commonly used, but we’re wondering why non-cracked versions don’t seem to exist in this format? If we need to use something other than ADF, what’s the simplest solution?

Also are there ways to play without kickstart rom? We don’t have the rights to this software (if it’s even possible to license) but would rather find a way not to use it. A simple emulator with game disk file is what we’re looking for.

Thanks for any help.
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Old 24 October 2018, 01:17   #2
desiv
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Not totally sure what you are asking for, but some thoughts...

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Originally Posted by amgam View Post
Is it possible to make versions of these games, without modifying the game code, that will work easily on emulators such as winuae? It seems ADF format is the most commonly used, but we’re wondering why non-cracked versions don’t seem to exist in this format? If we need to use something other than ADF, what’s the simplest solution?
ADF doesn't really support any significant copy protection. So you won't find copy protected games in ADF format.
For that you need IPF and/or CTRaw formats.
You can find IPF files on the internet, but you'll have to go thru them to find protected versions. A lot of the IPF versions are cracked also.

You can create them yourself, but you'll need Kryoflux...

You might be able to do something similar with Jim Drew's Supercard, but it came out after I bought my Kryoflux, so I'm not familiar with it...

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Also are there ways to play without kickstart rom? We don’t have the rights to this software (if it’s even possible to license) but would rather find a way not to use it. A simple emulator with game disk file is what we’re looking for.
Again, tricky. There was work on a free kickstart (AROS based) file, but for games, I'd think it probably isn't going to be very compatible???
A lot of games hit the hardware and probably expect the original kickstart.
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Old 24 October 2018, 01:35   #3
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Thanks for the response, it’s the original copy protection we’re having a little trouble grasping. How did it originally work? If we have original game disks that work on the Amiga, then what is stopping a copy of those files working via an Amiga emulator? Is there any way for the emulator to bypass this protection rather than cracking the game? We’re doing this for both preservation and accessibility, so basically the easiest solution to make playable Amiga games using only the original code (if possible).

As for Kickstart, any idea who the gatekeeper is for Amiga gaming? Our searches bring up Amiga Forever, do they share and license out the kickstart rom? Could an easier solution be to produce an Amiga emulator that bypasses all this? We’re just trying to get an idea before we start contacting directly. Thanks again.
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Old 24 October 2018, 01:59   #4
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Maybe you should begin your reading here : Emulator

This one for the Amiga Disk File

The SPS faq

And Cloanto : Distribution of CBM/Amiga ROM and OS Files
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Old 24 October 2018, 02:02   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amgam View Post
Thanks for the response, it’s the original copy protection we’re having a little trouble grasping. How did it originally work? If we have original game disks that work on the Amiga, then what is stopping a copy of those files working via an Amiga emulator? Is there any way for the emulator to bypass this protection rather than cracking the game? We’re doing this for both preservation and accessibility, so basically the easiest solution to make playable Amiga games using only the original code (if possible).

As for Kickstart, any idea who the gatekeeper is for Amiga gaming? Our searches bring up Amiga Forever, do they share and license out the kickstart rom? Could an easier solution be to produce an Amiga emulator that bypasses all this? We’re just trying to get an idea before we start contacting directly. Thanks again.
ADF files can't carry copy protection data, hence the need to use cracked versions, as they readily read into ADF files with no problems.

ADF files are basically disk images from standard AmigaDOS format disks, the decoding nature of a standard AmigaDOS format disk is known, so they are automatically imaged from a disk into the ADF format which all emulators can run.

The problem with an original disk with an on disk copy protection is it cannot be imaged into an ADF file because typically the copy protection isn't designed to follow the standard AmigaDOS format for obvious reasons.

There might only be one track on the disk that is custom, or as in a lot of cases, the disk format is custom and every single track will show up as an error to a piece of imaging software that is expecting a standard disk format.


There is the IPF format which does preserve the copy protection data without needing to crack the on disk copy protection, but that won't help in the cases of games that refer to needing to looking up a word or symbol from the manual.

With regards to using ADF files from cracked versions, well its quite simple. If you don't want to use the cracked version because of cracktros and other additions, no-one is going to exercise their "copyright" over these cracktros as the original cracks were obviously illegal.

If it really bugged you, its not so difficult to stop these cracktros from appearing in the first place.

And no, an emulator can't simply "bypass a copy protection" system except in some special cases (like dongles), the amount of games the Amiga had, and the protections were varied to say the least.

Copylock was on over 400 games, the emulator cannot "guess" the correct serial key for each game.

However, your questions don't suggest this is a level of expertise you possess to physically do what you want.
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Old 24 October 2018, 12:07   #6
amgam
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Thanks so it seems like IPF format is the way to go. Are there any known issues with the format? For example an IPF title can be loaded and played in an emulator such as winuae with no issues?

Yes we’re sure there’d be no copyright claims with cracktro games but would be a bit unprofessional to release those versions. There’s also issues with additional button presses, cheats that ruin the spirit of the game and in some cases masses of text that don’t reflect the views of the original developers.

Sounds like the kickstart rom will be a real problem. Will contact the copyright holder but seems like they wouldn’t be willing to make it available for free. We’ll look for a way around this but we’d rather not have to redirect the user to search for copyrighted files, which defeats the point a bit.
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Old 24 October 2018, 14:36   #7
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If I were you I'd just remove the crack intro and put any text back to how it should be. Problem essentially solved? Much easier than trying to crack a 30 year old game you have no idea of the protection on?

You may as well utilise the efforts of the crackers all this time later
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Old 24 October 2018, 14:53   #8
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Quote:
If I were you I'd just remove the crack intro and put any text back to how it should be. Problem essentially solved?
Not necessarily as there are also non-working/buggy cracks of certain games.
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Old 24 October 2018, 15:51   #9
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Yeah if we go the ADF route we’ll use masters or original files and crack them ourselves. Discovered that an advantage of ADF is they can work on original hardware. That doesn’t seem to be the case with IPF, correct? We could always make two versions available, one slightly modified for easy play and the other for archive purposes. The easiest way to play is the current priority as there’s a few preservation projects that seem to have archiving covered.
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Old 24 October 2018, 16:44   #10
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Originally Posted by amgam View Post
Thanks so it seems like IPF format is the way to go. Are there any known issues with the format? For example an IPF title can be loaded and played in an emulator such as winuae with no issues?
Yes, WinUAE will work fine with IPF files if you provide it with the DLL from http://www.softpres.org/download.
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Old 24 October 2018, 17:24   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amgam View Post
Is it possible to make versions of these games, without modifying the game code, that will work easily on emulators such as winuae? It seems ADF format is the most commonly used, but we’re wondering why non-cracked versions don’t seem to exist in this format? If we need to use something other than ADF, what’s the simplest solution?
*Some* non-cracked versions can use ADF, if they simply ask for some word in the manual.
Else you can use IPF (and maybe also RAW images, which can be produced with just an A1200).

However some games will work with neither because they need to be HD installed. In this case you have to provide a hard disk file (HDF).
Then perhaps it may be a better idea to only do HD installs (like with the use of Whdload). This way the game is patched to work ok and thus a single Amiga config can play many, if not all, games (else you'll also have config problems !).


Quote:
Originally Posted by amgam View Post
Also are there ways to play without kickstart rom? We don’t have the rights to this software (if it’s even possible to license) but would rather find a way not to use it. A simple emulator with game disk file is what we’re looking for.
This is not really possible, and, worse, a single kickstart rom will not be enough. Some games will refuse to work on >1.3 systems, while others (mostly AGA games) will need 3.x...
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Old 24 October 2018, 19:23   #12
amgam
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Thanks that’s interesting. So the HDF file would contain the whole game then I take it? This would probably get past the need to supply multiple disc files and could all be loaded at once. I’ll try a bit of experimenting with loading the different formats.

Do a lot of people in the Amiga community use emulation mostly for gaming? How do you think it could be improved? What are the main issues most people have with Amiga game emulation?
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Old 24 October 2018, 19:51   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amgam View Post
So the HDF file would contain the whole game then I take it?
The HDF file would contain the whole game and whatever system components needed to run it (except the rom obviously).


Quote:
Originally Posted by amgam View Post
Do a lot of people in the Amiga community use emulation mostly for gaming?
It appears so, even though it's not my case.


Quote:
Originally Posted by amgam View Post
How do you think it could be improved?
No idea. There's quite a lot of work already done.


Quote:
Originally Posted by amgam View Post
What are the main issues most people have with Amiga game emulation?
Configuration issues, games not working as expected. Probably
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Old 24 October 2018, 22:56   #14
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Another issue with non-cracked IPF games is that if the game has -added- a code/manual protection, you're stuck.

So I guess IPF for non-imageable disks, and .adf/cracks for the ones which have manual protection.

And WinUAE provides minimal ROM emulation that may be able to start a lot of trackloading games (but not games which heavily use the OS). This won't require kickstart.

Noone has made a list of games which work with Winuae built-in ROM replacement, though.

(I have heard/seen a simlar project more than 10 years ago, it was called Amiga Caveman)
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