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Old 10 August 2018, 20:45   #1
anotheramigafan
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Different types of copy protection used in games?

Is there any threads on here that cover the different types of copy protection used by games and details on how they were actually cracked?

Ive had a bit of a search and read a couple of interesting bits, just wondering have I missed something.
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Old 10 August 2018, 21:55   #2
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most of disk/password protections are custom (even RN copylock has some custom bits), so each game needs a special processing. There aren't any "generic" cracks.
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Old 10 August 2018, 22:37   #3
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There's hardware protection too! Like the dongles for Robocop 3, Leaderboard, B.A.T II, Cricket Captain etc!!

Also Physical damage to the disk as seen on the C64 version of FLAK (AKA Syncr0l0k). A small indent has been pressed into the disk (away from the disk head so it doesn't damage it) so the game checks if writes to the damaged areas fail and passes the protection check if they do.

So a few more ways to copy protect a game!
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Old 10 August 2018, 22:58   #4
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agreed, but the protection check is in no way generic. Else, if crackers could crack one game, they could crack all the others (that's almost what happened with the first Rob Northen copylocks when some idiots forgot to remove the dev files on Xenon 2 disk)

Even dongles have specific hardware and specific code check. The protections were tailored on each game, either in-house (manual protection) or hardware, sometimes with the help of specialized companies (Rob Northen, Ben Herdnon) for the most efficient ones.

If you want an interesting read, there's "games that were tough to crack": http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=18974
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Old 11 August 2018, 20:38   #5
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Thats a great thread linked above. Thanks. Ive also been reading some interesting MFM stuff on flashtro.com
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Old 11 August 2018, 23:38   #6
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Many physical types :

Amigados long track / Short tracks
MFM long tracks
Weak bit / Flakey bit

Software types :

Encryption, virtual machine, manual codes/password protection, burried checksums in code or data files tied to a physical protection : ex : RN Copylock + checksums (Jurassic Park, Parasol Stars)

Mostly used on Amiga.
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Old 12 August 2018, 01:33   #7
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In the simplest terms it boils down to 3 things.

1) things you can check to prevent piracy. Manual protection, various bad tracks on the disk, dongle etc
2) non standard disk format to store game data
3) anti temper mechanisms, checksums, encryption, blocking monitors/debuggers/action replay

Usually the best protections combine these in subtle ways that prevent the game from being played but without being obvious to the cracker

Any of these can be poorly implemented or well implemented so the quality of the protection is all in the implementation. The best are heavily interwoven into the game and not just a single check during the game load sequence. A poorly implemented protection can often be removed by changing a single byte of code to bypass it.
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Old 12 August 2018, 02:08   #8
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For instance, even coin-op machines use copy protections.

I remember patching 3 wonders CPS1 from Capcom, it has more than 350 protection routines lol
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Old 12 August 2018, 02:12   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dlfrsilver View Post
For instance, even coin-op machines use copy protections.
...or the encryption with the Raiden series that took people involved with MAME many, many years of hard work to decrypt / figure out.
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Old 12 August 2018, 10:32   #10
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...or the encryption with the Raiden series that took people involved with MAME many, many years of hard work to decrypt / figure out.
Hardware encryption, tied to the sprite chip, and the whole thing maintained alive by battery LOL.

Yes, raiden, raiden II or Zero Team are those Seibu games with sprites encrypted.......
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Old 12 August 2018, 10:38   #11
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Here https://aarongiles.com/old/slapstic/, Aaron Giles is talking about making some games like Pit Fighter work on MAME. It involved trying to figure out how the "slapstick" chip worked. It's a chip that gives outputs with given inputs, but without any visible logic, which avoids board cloning.

You have to debug the game to see how it reacts.

Now VERY safe because
Quote:
the original masks for the slapstic had been lost by the company that manufactured them


On the other hand, the WORST protection I ever saw was Nightshift. Executable was packed, and the disk-based protection was in the (modified) unpacking routine. Problem is: if you use XFDDecrunch on it, it detects the format (despite the hacked unpack routine) & decrunches the executable without issue, and the protection is gone: dead without a fight.

(Imagine my surprise after a mandatory step of "try to decrunch", it worked right away)

Last edited by jotd; 12 August 2018 at 10:49.
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Old 12 August 2018, 12:44   #12
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And then there protections which don't need to be cracked at all because the coder added a backdoor to pass the protection. Recent example I found: Mean Streets, typing "NATALIE" at the manual protection will always let you pass the check.
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Old 12 August 2018, 13:09   #13
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Probably coder girlfriend... Girlfriends are BAD for protections.
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Old 12 August 2018, 17:19   #14
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Probably coder girlfriend... Girlfriends are BAD for protections.
LOL
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Old 13 August 2018, 19:33   #15
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LOL

Bad for crackers too... that and beer.. how many scener's quit when they discovered girls and beer lol
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Old 13 August 2018, 20:46   #16
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Quote:
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Probably coder girlfriend... Girlfriends are BAD for protections.

Depends. Mr. Antiaction used the name of his (wanted? secret? ) girlfriends as encryption keys (HELENA, ULRIKA, ANETTE, LINDA K.) so in that case the girlfriends weren't that bad for the protection. :P
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Old 13 August 2018, 21:40   #17
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There is this, has anyone got an original that they can confirm this is REAL and not school playground legend....

[ Show youtube player ]
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Old 13 August 2018, 21:47   #18
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This is plain WRONG. Leander was using a custom MFM disk format, plus the usual PROTEC $924a long track protection.
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Old 13 August 2018, 22:01   #19
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I confirm that Leander used Psygnosis format #2 (same as Lemmings, Red Zone, SOTB 3, ...) plus a long track protection. But yes, if Leander was badly cracked, some platform was missing in a cave somewhere, making the game impossible to complete. Nice.
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Old 14 August 2018, 01:29   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jotd View Post
I confirm that Leander used Psygnosis format #2 (same as Lemmings, Red Zone, SOTB 3, ...) plus a long track protection. But yes, if Leander was badly cracked, some platform was missing in a cave somewhere, making the game impossible to complete. Nice.
the format name is DMA DOS, it's a 6 sectors per track format.
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