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Old 19 February 2005, 14:48   #1
dlfrsilver
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News and infos from Parasol Stars Programmer

hi, i have mailed Mick West, the parasol stars programmeur about

An existing Arcade version of parasol stars and about the protection scheme

so here's what he mailed me back:

Hi Denis,

The Amiga version was made by copying the PC Engine version which was commercially available, at least in Japan. Taito gave us some original artwork, which we had to convert for a per-sprite 16 color palette to a global 16 color palette. They did not give us any code or other information, so I just had to play the game over and over to figure out how everything worked. I don't know anything about an arcade version.

The protection scheme was twofold. The main thing was an un-copyable track on the disk. This did not contain any data, but you would call a routine that told you if it was there or not. I did not write that part.

It would be east to make the routine return "true" all the time, so I added another layer of protection consisting of various layers of checksums of the code generated in the most obscure way possible, including one generated using an interpreted language made just for this purpose. This would ensure if the cracker modified the code, it would indirectly cause the game to fail I spent a long time on these protections as I had asked for a bonus if I could make the game uncrackable. Unfortunately I underestimated the skill of the crackers and it was cracked within a week. I never really bothered much with copy protection after that.

Regards,

Mick.

So the mystery about this game is now solved ^^

see ya

Denis
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Old 19 February 2005, 15:16   #2
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Dunno what you meant with all this but i moved it to this forum since it has nothing to do with game problems...
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Old 20 February 2005, 00:43   #3
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Hi Akira, ^^

People have always asked if parasol stars has a coinop for a start...Infact there is
not any, so now it's useless to try to find a jamma board for it.
And about this game, even if it has been 'cracked' in a week, it has the most complex
protection ever made for an amiga game as Mick West has asked for a money bonus
if if he could make the game uncrackable......

that's an info !

see ya !!
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Old 20 February 2005, 07:29   #4
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As for most complex protection: what he thinks and what is reality are two different things.
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Old 20 February 2005, 18:17   #5
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This protection is the most complex in how it works, not the way it can be cracked,
as we now that the game took 1 full week to be cracked.

The way protection operates means that you really need strong, very strong skills
to just only "patch" it, really cracking it and removing the encryption layers, and particularly the one created with the interpreted language is fucking difficult to do....
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Old 20 February 2005, 19:03   #6
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Actually there are many games using interpreted p-code to run protection checks, like many Titus titles.

It is not a matter of skill really, just a matter of being bored enough to do it or not
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Old 20 February 2005, 19:16   #7
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If you want to see protection that is sort of good, see Unreal, Dragon's Lair, Shinobi, Double Dragon, Arkanoid, Zoom etc.

Alternatively ask around the guys here which one they think to be a bitch to crack.

A lone developer's opinion who never cracked a game just protected it means he has not encountered other's protections in his life, hence he can only just guess that it should be good - that's why many of them fails to do it right no matter how hard they try since they do not know how their protection measures are countered by the crackers.

A protection method that always works 100%: put a decoy in the game, let the cracker be happy.
Put another one somehwere in the middle/end of the game and make sure it is not related to the original decoy protection in any way.
Also make aware the user that it is a protection, not a defect in the game code.
Many people will be pissed off to see the crack does not work and will get the original to get past through the protection.
The crackers won't be bothered to crack it properly since by the time users find out about this, it will be considered old warez and won't earn any respect to re-crack or fix it.

It worked great for Flashback or in fact our games.
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Old 20 February 2005, 21:55   #8
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Ah Shinobi really ?

What kind of protection is on that one ?
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Old 20 February 2005, 21:59   #9
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I'm not sure Flashback is a good example to be honest. The French version was leaked around Xmas 1992, some guy translated all the text to English and it was spread around all the BBS' at the time. The game worked perfectly and all the level codes were sent into the magazines.

The official game then came out about October 1993 and although I've never played that version, I can't imagine it would be much/any different from the Xmas version. All the screenshots and solutions seem to match up. So I wouldn't say Flashback was anything special in terms of being tough to crack!

Many games with decoy protections were re-cracked. Angels/Genesis released Robocop 2 fixes twice due to finding problems with the original release and the first fix. Arabian Nights had a fix aswell after the hidden password part was discovered later in the game etc...

If a game is worth playing, someone will recrack it properly...
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Old 20 February 2005, 23:19   #10
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As I remember the story, The TRSI Red Sector Megademo had reasonable protection, aimed not at being "uncrackable", but merely to deter lamers spreading it, at the time it was released. Some time later, TRSI released an unprotected version for general consumption; apparently the first contained some sort of invite to join TRSI if you cracked the protection.

How true that is I do not know, but I do remember the first time I saw it, and watching a few people fail to copy it with X-Copy et al.
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Old 21 February 2005, 00:02   #11
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Flashback protection is a decoy.
You'll fidn the second, real protection entering the last level - so it is a very good example
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Old 21 February 2005, 00:36   #12
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Yes, I think Flashback is a good example indeed. The 1st version of Flashback that appeared here in Brazil was French, and while the 1st protection was cracked, when you use the teleporter for the 1st time in level 5, it asks a code again, and THAT part wasn't cracked.

It took longer than a year 'til we could get a versione that worked.


Regarding Parasol Stars, it's already known that a coin-op game was developed, I have even seen screenshots of it, but for some reason it was never distributed.
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Old 21 February 2005, 06:34   #13
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Are you sure of this ? Mick West is the best guy to know if a Coin-op of Parasol Stars really existed as he create the amiga version, and he's answer is NO ! Taito just gave them artwork to work on the game, but if Taito themselves didn't gave them the jamma board, even a prototype, and they were obliged to do a PC-engine conversion, just guess it DOESN'T EXIST... It's an affair of common sense, Even Taito themselves never confirm anything about it....And i saw myself the picture you're talking about, they are really hardly distinguishable

The PC-engine version is THE native version....So it a rare case where a console version was took to be converted on computers because the coin-op is non existant

Or Must i ask him again ? Really ?

Last edited by dlfrsilver; 21 February 2005 at 06:41.
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Old 21 February 2005, 06:43   #14
Sune Salminen
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MAMEDev comments here:

http://www.mame.net/cgi-bin/wwwthrea...sb=7#Post32400
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Old 21 February 2005, 14:24   #15
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Unfortunately yes, i don't see why Mick just can't convert the coin-op if one exist,
as ocean always convert arcade games from coin-op.......
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Old 21 February 2005, 22:48   #16
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Arrow Flashback

Quote:
Originally Posted by IFW
Flashback protection is a decoy.
You'll fidn the second, real protection entering the last level - so it is a very good example
Personally I think a second protection that is that far into the game is a stupid idea. A lot of people wouldn't ever get that far and if you've played the game for ages then that pops up, the game has probably been on-sale for ages so Delphine/US Gold aren't going to get a full priced sale out of it. Later protection checks are smart, but if it's too far into the game it's pointless! It'd be like putting a nasty protection check on level 6 of Project X - and 99% of people can only get to level 2 so it's not going to affect them!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shatterhand
Yes, I think Flashback is a good example indeed. The 1st version of Flashback that appeared here in Brazil was French, and while the 1st protection was cracked, when you use the teleporter for the 1st time in level 5, it asks a code again, and THAT part wasn't cracked.

It took longer than a year 'til we could get a versione that worked.
Well you guys must not have had the same version we got in NZ before Xmas - the commonly spread one here was the Interpol crack but converted to English by somebody. The later protection check might not have even existed in this version - I was certainly able to complete the game and was never asked for a code from the manual apart from having to hit Space to skip that one right at the start...
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Old 22 February 2005, 01:30   #17
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It is a very good idea. But you are just not a casual user.
An addict player who gets far in the game but can't finish it - what do you think he'll do...?
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Old 22 February 2005, 11:17   #18
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He'll load up the next game in his cracked disks collection!

If the game was copied to start with (the only way you wouldn't be able to answer the word-from-the-manual protection) then I doubt you would buy the full game just to get past a chunk of the game.
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Old 22 February 2005, 12:02   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IFW
Actually there are many games using interpreted p-code to run protection checks, like many Titus titles.
They could invest more time in do a proper scroll instead of that protections.

what a bunch of lamers.
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Old 22 February 2005, 12:11   #20
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You see that's what I meant when saying that you are not a gamer.
A real addict gamer would buy the damn thing just to be able to finish it.
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