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Old 08 January 2017, 21:50   #41
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Yes, it is. The games run under an emulator. But not real hardware. The software is executable. The hardware isn't running it. Therefore, the software being used needs more resources unavailable to the Classic machine, but available to the emulator.

As for the bit about copying and cracking disks as part of the PD scene, I had no snidey criticism to make at the time. If I'm critical now, about a currently released set of software based on those techniques of releasing software, it's just as valid as criticism of a commercial release that wasn't tested properly. Not totally valid, but partially so. The commercial and PD sets of people had the same set of problems, and it is a conventiently forgotton MYTH that the commercial route had more resources to support it.

Were I never to have released a working software set, carefully tested, for Public scrutiny, I would be firing blind. Well I did do such releases, Mr Fairlight. They weren't usually as sexy or appealing as the stuff you released, and I had no input into content quality, but I tried my damndest, with no tuition, almost zero support, to make sure the bloody things booted and loaded on a real Amiga. Compressing the content, I tried to avoid unless there was a good reason - it added resource requirements to the target machine. And it made it harder to virus scan the content. Those factors were usally ignored by the "gamecracker" scene as a "lamer problem". Some of the crackers knew about the issues. Most did not see them as issues. It was a crack, a disposable piece of fun worth a blank disk.
I would disagree with some of your sentiments.

Viruses never were a massive problem, mainly because of the disk formats employed.

Majority of games used custom disk formats as i'm sure you're aware, increased disk capacity, side effect of copy protection scheme and virtually no chance a virus gets to do anything, because the only place it could be executed from was the bootblock, which if the game had a custom bootblock, well then the game simply just didn't work which would alert the user to the problem.

As most Amiga viruses needed an AmigaDOS compliant filesystem to reside in, that pretty much knocked 99.99% of them out.

There are no "resource requirements" to compressing data on a disk either, either have more disk access, or slightly less disk access with the odd pause here and there as data depacks, without compression, the Amiga would have been a dead format years before, custom disk format for increased capacity and compressed data, Mortal Kombat would have been a 5 disk game otherwise.

Virus scanning also wasn't an issue, if its a custom MFM disk format, theres no virus in the first place.

I can see there being an issue with your role as creating the AF coverdisks, which you would primarily want as AmigaDOS disks with a proper file structure so you could stick more on there, but most virus scanners had brainfiles with most of the notable packers/crunchers of the day to precisely scan the disk, depack and scan any files they came across, and you also had software being sent from all over, unsure of the security of the disk collection of the person sending, thats a given.

My issue is specifically that somehow we as crackers gave no mind to memory requirements or hardware requirements.

If the game was 1meg as specified by Psygnosis, it was cracked with the same requirement. If a game was able to load on 512K machines with the option of extra fancy pants stuff on 1Meg machines, depending on the complexity of the copy protection, would decide if the crack retained the same requirements, or if it became 1Meg only.

As for it being a "lamer problem", if someone is content to let their disk collection be susceptible to viruses because they couldn't be arsed to apply the write protect tab, then that's not a "lamer problem" but a stupidity one.

The fact is, no cracker EVER cracked a game and then DELIBERATELY hid a virus to wreak havoc at the other end, it just didn't happen, people were more at risk from PD software because of the nature of how the data was stored on the disk and the "copy me with no legal worries" nature of it all.

Ironically, people were more likely to get a virus from the likes of a Coverdisk from a magazine than they were from the cracked version of Ocean's latest opus!
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Old 08 January 2017, 22:37   #42
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I would disagree with some of your sentiments.

Viruses never were a massive problem, mainly because of the disk formats employed.
You certainly could catch Lamer Exterminator from a certain rival publication, and it was a helluva problem for noobs. Having a custom boot track overwritten prevents the floppy from starting up. If designed to boot from a standard boot track and use the basic OS for loading, it could be fixed by copying a standard boot track back onto it. Otherwise, you had to make copies of your custom boot tracks, and keep them safe, to get corrupted software running again.

You left your expensive game floppies write enabled, suddenly, they died. And were irreplaceable unless you paid up for a new set. Tough. You didn't even notice until you tried that game again. I'm sure that's what turned a lot of people into cracks in the first place. The cracks that also relied on a custom boot track were also vulnerable. So don't give me that crap. It isn't true.

The same is true of any Amiga floppy disk software. PD, commercial, whatever. An infected boot track could kill a commercial game disk, if you were careless.

OK, it wasn't a problem if you knew how to stop viruses spreading, TURN OFF BETWEEN DIFFERENT GAMES. Write Enable disks. A lot of people didn't, and still don't. Especially with material for Gotek, which is a floppy drive, from the Amigas point of view.

See what I mean about classifying the whole issue as a "lamer problem"? The real problem was the "Don't give a f!ck" attitude of some people who were more knowledable than others.

I'm not saying you personally, or your crew, or any individual. And I did post, "If it happens, fair enough". If some cracks really were released, with the same exacting testing and attention to malware checks, and compatibility checks fair enough. There's gooduns and baduns in any scene.

I can't remember one word in print from me, anywhere, commenting at the time on cracking, or PD demos. Outright piracy, cloning a disk, yes. PD demos and music were not my field except for music apps that were non-commercial, like Octamed, I was kept locked away from all that, Maff Evans was the dude who knew music. I led by example. I showed people how they could avoid these issues by using standard loaders, standard bootblocks, virus checker. If they could find reasons not to do that, that was up to them. I didn't force people. I showed them a viable alternative and let them choose for themselves.

Last edited by Pat the Cat; 08 January 2017 at 23:06.
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Old 08 January 2017, 22:53   #43
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You certainly could catch Lamer Exterminator from a certain rival publication, and it was a helluva problem for noobs. Having a custom boot track overwritten prevents the floppy from starting up. If it contained a standard boot track and would work from it, it could be fixed by copying a boot track back onto it.

You left your expensive game floppies unprotected, suddenly, they died. And were irreplaceable. Tough. I'm sure that's what turned a lot of people into cracks in the first place. The cracks that also relied on a custom boot track were also vulnerable. So don't give me that crap. It isn't true.

I think you misunderstand me. If the virus overwrites the custom boot block, the game simply doesn't work period, at all, the end.

Therefore, thats someones instant alert that all is not well. If it was an AmigaDOS loading disk, then thats entirely different, but I made a point of stating that the majority of Amiga games were on sector loading disks, not AmigaDOS filed disks.

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The same is true of any Amiga floppy disk software. PD, commercial, whatever. An infected boot track could kill a commercial game disk, if you were careless.

OK, it wasn't a problem if you knew how to stop viruses spreading, TURN OFF BETWEEN DIFFERENT SOFTWARE. Write Enable disks. A lot of people didn't, and still don't.
Then I have zero sympathy for them, and whilst that sounds harsh, how can you educate those that don't want to know?

Pretty much every Coverdisk in the summary in the magazine reinforced the notion of what you just said, countless games manuals in the "how to load" also said about write protect tabs and switching machines off.

I call it the Darwin effect, if there are people that simply don't want to know or listen to the advice, then perhaps they need a harsher lesson so perhaps they might feel a little more 'persuaded' to get informed?

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See what I mean about classifying the whole issue as a "lamer problem"? The real problem was the "Don't give a f!ck" attitude of some people who were more knowledable than others.
Pretty much summed up in previous paragraph.

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I'm not saying you personally, or your crew, or any individual. And I did post, "If it happens, fair enough". If some cracks really were released, with the same exacting testing and attention to malware checks, and compatibility checks fair enough.
Because of the nature of cracking and 'tagging' a game, a cracker was intimately involved in cracking it, putting the intro on it, and redoing the bootblock to load up the intro and any extra routines for cracking, so a virus sneaking in there was simply not likely, and there were some of us that tested our releases to make sure they worked, the release would last all of two seconds on a BBS if it didn't.

And in some cases, certainly later in the Amiga's life, we did make improvements to compatibility to some titles.

Some of my AGA fixes ended up on the coverdisks of.......Amiga Format
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Old 08 January 2017, 23:17   #44
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Then I have zero sympathy for them, and whilst that sounds harsh, how can you educate those that don't want to know?
Cuts both ways. How can you educate crackers about malware that only affects people that don't know about them? They are not part of your "knowledgable" tribe and their feelings are expendable. Likewise, distro techniques. They had their ways and were too stuck with using these more "efficient" methods to understand how that affected the end user. If the end user was a "lamer noob", then they weren't a human being and didn't count. Not everybody was like that, but you had to be both very tough and yet compassionate for those attitudes not to creep into your own behaviour.

I'm not even going to begin how we scanned for non-BB virii. It's a thankless, boring, and horrible job, and I doubt any crack release ever checked. Sure, Virus Checkers should pick up KNOWN executable file virii. They won't pick up UNKNOWN ones. That has to be done by hand. Sometimes, I had to neuter ("cut the balls off") embedded virii within executables. Rarely but it happened, and I'm not saying who or what handed me such a file. It was a human mistake, not a deliberate attempt at sabotage.

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Some of my AGA fixes ended up on the coverdisks of.......Amiga Format
Way after my time. But I'm glad you got your "day in the sun" - I always thought the reader content was much more important than the demo content. A demo is a demo, readers came up with some REALLY useful stuff. Needless to say, everybody else thought I was just a "comms weirdie" who didn't understand commercial reality, "Chatting online all day Pat? That's never going to catch on with the general public".

I comprehended "commercial reality" all right, I just didn't accept it as the "only" model.

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Old 08 January 2017, 23:41   #45
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Cuts both ways. How can you educate crackers about malware that only affects people that don't know about them? They are not part of your "knowledgable" tribe and their feelings are expendable. Likewise, distro techniques. They had their ways and were too stuck with using these more "efficient" methods to understand how that affected the end user. If the end user was a "lamer noob", then they weren't a human being and didn't count. Not everybody was like that, but you had to be both very tough and yet compassionate for those attitudes not to creep into your own behaviour.
I'm not sure how what you said follows.

By definition what we were doing was illegal, it wasn't our job to educate anyone on anything, because obviously the Software companies and associated industries would rather we didn't exist.

There was no compunction on anyone to accept anything we did, but I would say that the likes of Commodore, the media and software companies had a duty to inform the end user, after all, the end user was certainly a customer of Commodore, was a potential customer of a software company and the media.

I would argue that the media and software companies did precisely what they should have done, and the end result is, virus outbreaks on Amiga were pretty contained.

But this goes back to the mentality of some owners, all they are interested is getting an Amiga, copying everything in sight, and when they get bored, they'll sell the lot/store it and move on to the next big thing. The sum total of their skills is to insert disks at the correct time, would have no clue or inclination to understand how to make their own disks, or do anything other than playing games, their Amiga might as well be a console.

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Way after my time. But I'm glad you got your "day in the sun" - I always thought the reader content was much more important than the demo content.
I went on to work for two famous software companies afterwards, so I got a tan at least

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A demo is a demo, readers came up with some REALLY useful stuff. Needless to say, everybody else thought I was just a "comms weirdie" who didn't understand commercial reality, "Chatting online all day Pat? That's never going to catch on with the general public".
I never understood Amiga Format pushing for game demos when others in the Future stable already had that covered.

Unfortunately for my AGA fixes, The Bitmap Brothers put the kybosh on that, as they were rather aggrieved that i'd fixed Speedball 2 to work on AGA Amiga's, when they planned to re-release it minus the copy protection and sell it again to A1200 owners.

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I comprehended "commercial reality" all right, I just didn't accept it as the "only" model.
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Old 09 January 2017, 01:11   #46
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I'm not sure how what you said follows.

By definition what we were doing was illegal, it wasn't our job to educate anyone on anything, because obviously the Software companies and associated industries would rather we didn't exist.
Hmmm... I don't honestly know about every individual at every company, and every CBM employee. Some hated and loathed crackers, that's true. Generally the people who couldn't use technology, who just didn't like technology. Alien ground, shun, hate... there was a lot of that from some people. On both sides of the divide. Some of us were stuck in the middle just trying to put the flames out.

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There was no compunction on anyone to accept anything we did, but I would say that the likes of Commodore, the media and software companies had a duty to inform the end user, after all, the end user was certainly a customer of Commodore, was a potential customer of a software company and the media.
This is true from a US perspective, and completely false from a UK perspective. In the UK, there is Caveat Emptor - "Let the buyer beware". You can sell pretty much any hitech in the UK, without comebacks, even if it doesn't work, or using it is unlawful. I'm not saying either system is the correct one, just that they are vastly different.

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I would argue that the media and software companies did precisely what they should have done, and the end result is, virus outbreaks on Amiga were pretty contained.
I don't know how well they were contained at the time, and even less now. Pre-internet it was all a different ball game. Our lot, AF, just tried to address a crappy situation. With mixed results, but we tried, Galahad.

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But this goes back to the mentality of some owners, all they are interested is getting an Amiga, copying everything in sight, and when they get bored, they'll sell the lot/store it and move on to the next big thing. The sum total of their skills is to insert disks at the correct time, would have no clue or inclination to understand how to make their own disks, or do anything other than playing games, their Amiga might as well be a console.
OK, if ignorant people got comebacks, maybe they earned them. The trouble is, with a malware release, it's like a bomb with a random timer. You don't know who is going to get hurt with, or what it destroys. I tried not to judge. If you wanted to play games only, that was just as valid as if you never touched them.

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I went on to work for two famous software companies afterwards, so I got a tan at least
Nice work if you can get it.

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I never understood Amiga Format pushing for game demos when others in the Future stable already had that covered.
Good point. For the record, we never knew what we were getting, or who from, until about 3 or less days from when we got a game demo. Editors could hustle for them, mostly they came through the people who sold advertising. The game demo was the central feature, and built around accordingly. There was only so much space on a floppy. The first covermount ever was AA4. So became a kind of Gospel, if you wanted bigger sales, you had to have a game on the front.

The answer, of course, was CD, which took years longer to happen than I expected. But you couldn't compile and test a CD, yet still write 20 pages or so as well as month, bearing in mind that one day a week was devoted to reader phonecalls too.

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Unfortunately for my AGA fixes, The Bitmap Brothers put the kybosh on that, as they were rather aggrieved that i'd fixed Speedball 2 to work on AGA Amiga's, when they planned to re-release it minus the copy protection and sell it again to A1200 owners.
Spoilsports. My fave Amiga arcade game ever. I never saw the AGA/CD32 version. Not sure what happened to it, but it was a real project. Not just some lawyer getting hot under the collar.

Last edited by Pat the Cat; 09 January 2017 at 01:17.
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Old 09 January 2017, 15:34   #47
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update time:

even more testing done - all adf files are confirmed virus free and the selector adf has the exact same crc-checksum on my thumbstick than on the cortex-fw homepage. i am coming to the conclusion, that there is a hardware or a software defect with my gotek-drive. hopfully the ttl-usb-adapter will arrive on wednesday, so i can reflash the cortex-fw onto the drive. (unfortunately i have no usb-A<->usb-A cable around if that does not work, i will flash the HxC fw onto the drive and see what happens. if that doesn't work either, i will purchase a new gotek drive. and if even that does not work, i will get some gasoline and burn the whole thing.

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Old 09 January 2017, 17:27   #48
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i will get some gasoline and burn the whole thing.
hehe - utterly frustrating - i can imagine this. just report back, how it's going
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Old 09 January 2017, 17:31   #49
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thanks, mate
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Old 09 January 2017, 21:28   #50
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update time:

even more testing done - all adf files are confirmed virus free and the selector adf has the exact same crc-checksum on my thumbstick than on the cortex-fw homepage. i am coming to the conclusion, that there is a hardware or a software defect with my gotek-drive. hopfully the ttl-usb-adapter will arrive on wednesday, so i can reflash the cortex-fw onto the drive. (unfortunately i have no usb-A<->usb-A cable around if that does not work, i will flash the HxC fw onto the drive and see what happens. if that doesn't work either, i will purchase a new gotek drive. and if even that does not work, i will get some gasoline and burn the whole thing.
Have you checked the USB socket for a cold solder? Also, the jumper is set to S0 right?

My Cortex firmware Gotek almost always gets stuck at a certain slot when you change the contents of the USB after setting the tracklist in selector. The only way to fix is to clear the USB and copy a fresh SELECTOR.ADF. Incidentally, this tells me the Gotek remembers which slot it was using last, what file was there, and what the contents (crc? something.) were. As a result, that tells me yours has something in memory that's not going away with a soft reset. Try booting it with the Reset jumper shorted. If all else fails, flash the firmware onto it one more time. [ Show youtube player ].

Last edited by appiah4; 09 January 2017 at 21:34.
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Old 09 January 2017, 22:22   #51
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Alright, interesting thought. What is the drive supposed to do when you start it with reset jumpered?

I will do so and report back (probably) on wednesday
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Old 10 January 2017, 13:04   #52
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Yes, it is. The games run under an emulator. But not real hardware. The software is executable. The hardware isn't running it. Therefore, the software being used needs more resources unavailable to the Classic machine, but available to the emulator.
What are you talking about?
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Old 11 January 2017, 12:49   #53
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The USB-TTL Adapter didn't arrive today :/
I guess the whole thing will have to wait another day

edit: i did a brief reset of the drive by jumper, now it does not even load adf's anymore. guess i reseted the firmware completely. will flash again (hopefully) tomorrow and report here....

edit2: i built a USB a<-> USB a cable myself. unfortunately my PC did mit recognize the gotek drive (unknown device). all jumpers set like in the video posted above

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Old 11 January 2017, 19:58   #54
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another update:
i tried it via the com-port of my PC (Rx/Tx), while the +5V and GND came from the USB port. I also tried to switch Rx/Tx to ensure they are crossed. i was not able to connect to the device.
i guess i killed it... hopefully it responds to the USB adapter.
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Old 11 January 2017, 23:27   #55
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Did try to ground the reset pin shortly before trying to connect to it? It can be a little tricky to make it work and may require several tries..
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Old 12 January 2017, 06:33   #56
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Hmm...i thought by making a connection between the rst pin and the one below, you would pull the rst-pin to ground? you suggest first gnd->rst and then rst->pin below?
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Old 12 January 2017, 07:27   #57
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The pin next to the reset pin is Gnd, so that is indeed the case. I wasn't sure if you had tried resetting it before trying to connect to the device again.
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Old 12 January 2017, 10:18   #58
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yeah, i did so. the flash program asked for resetting the device, but that did not work. so it asked again and again...

edit: we are talking about those two, right?

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Old 12 January 2017, 12:57   #59
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yeah, i did so. the flash program asked for resetting the device, but that did not work. so it asked again and again...

edit: we are talking about those two, right?

Yeah those two are reset. You are shorting those pins while in developer mode and while turned on, right? It has to be connected to the USB TTL adaptor, in developer mode (shorted as you posted in the pic) and you need an additional jumper to short reset and ground.
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Old 12 January 2017, 13:17   #60
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right, i jumpered the first and second pins in the first row (as shown in the picture), the next two are Rx/Tx and then rst, correct? i will reply if this works with the USB adapter later (IF it finally arrived...)
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