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Old 19 August 2008, 17:25   #1
RedskullDC
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Best Copy Protection?

Hi All,

Since there is a "Worst Copy Protection" thread, it only seems fair to have a "Best Copy Protection" thread.

I'll put MakeCD forward (before they made it freeware)

1. Checks creation date of the install volume/directory to see if it gets moved.
1. Has encoded (admitted very lame encoding) library modules.
2. Key file encryption.
3. Library modules check the serial no. at the end of a disc burn to see if it falls within certain bounds, if not : coaster.

Any other nominees?

Red
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Old 19 August 2008, 17:33   #2
TCD
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A very 'friendly' copy protection was used in Simon the Sorcerer. For every question there were only 8 possible answers (directions) and with a bit patience you could figure them out quite easily That was a very 'good' copy protection
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Old 19 August 2008, 17:48   #3
alexh
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I did hear that the copy protection in Dragonflight by Thalion was pretty good. It might have been just the AtariST version but it took longer to hack than any other game (reportadly) and the hacker who eventually did it (or was it the Thalion Sound demo which used the same protection) was nicknamed "Lord Hackbear" from then on.
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Old 19 August 2008, 20:53   #4
heavy
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I like the "Pierre Adane" protection (Toki, SnowBros...) ^^
insane checksums! (+ Mfm, others crypted code...)
(good explanation by CFou in its whdload source code)

Else perhaps Maupiti Island protection, or Dungeon Master ?

Last edited by heavy; 19 August 2008 at 21:15.
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Old 19 August 2008, 22:53   #5
CFou!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heavy View Post
I like the "Pierre Adane" protection (Toki, SnowBros...) ^^
insane checksums! (+ Mfm, others crypted code...)
(good explanation by CFou in its whdload source code)

Else perhaps Maupiti Island protection, or Dungeon Master ?
indeed the Checksums of a part of code is a good protection used in Toki/SnowBros/Maupiti island and some others games...

it can be difficult to locate (except with mmu support ) when game not crashes but if some faitures are missing or corrupted...

in my memory for Toki each instructions of checksum code was dispersed in main code and it used a specifical cpu register to calculate checksum......

For SnowBros some checksum codes was crypted.... they were decrypted and were executed and were finally crypted again.....
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Old 27 August 2008, 01:36   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CFOU! View Post
indeed the Checksums of a part of code is a good protection used in Toki/SnowBros/Maupiti island and some others games...

it can be difficult to locate (except with mmu support ) when game not crashes but if some faitures are missing or corrupted...

in my memory for Toki each instructions of checksum code was dispersed in main code and it used a specifical cpu register to calculate checksum......

For SnowBros some checksum codes was crypted.... they were decrypted and were executed and were finally crypted again.....
Now here's the strange thing, I'm pretty 'puter savvy (having had a computer for the last 20+ years), I can happily install a linux distro, write a site with raw php, manage a CMS system, etc. etc. . However when I read the above I simply go:

My brain simply cannot handle the unique world of assembly/decompiling and I've tried many a time (ever since that Bullfrog tutorial thing on Amiga Format when I was about 10).
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Old 27 August 2008, 03:53   #7
Minuous
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Eh, Amiga Format ran an article on decompilation? I'm interested in decompilation, esp. on the Amiga. Do you know which issue it was?
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Old 27 August 2008, 08:52   #8
musashi5150
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Eh, Amiga Format ran an article on decompilation?
I don't think they did. I think mcbpete meant the Bullfrog assembler tutorial series.
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Old 27 August 2008, 17:49   #9
gimbal
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assembler is not that difficult, it is only difficult if you think it is. It is just how you look at it; either as streams of cryptic and seemingly meaningless garbage (the easiest way out), or as just a collection of abbreviations that have only one meaning to them so they are actually quite easy to learn, all you need is a good reference to look them up in if you forget one.

The trick of course is to actually write a program with these very simple instructions and that is where the complications enter your life; it is very easy to lose the overhead of it all, which instruction is poking into what memory and what hardware is being invoked, etc.

The language is very simple, just the application of it can be daunting. If you ever want to learn assembly, I suggest you start with this:

http://webster.cs.ucr.edu/AoA/index.html

"the art of assembly" free e-book, either win32 or linux edition. If you can get your way around this relatively easy assembly environment than the step to the Amiga is an easier one.
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Old 28 August 2008, 16:16   #10
Angus
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Originally Posted by RedskullDC View Post
Any other nominees?

Red
I remember thinking that the copy protection on Dungeon Master must be pretty good, as it was a game lots of people wanted, and (as far as I know) it was ages before it was successfully cracked.
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Old 28 August 2008, 16:55   #11
alexh
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I think that was more testament to the lack of gaming skills and the laziness of the hackers right?

The game had copy checks in many, many parts of the code and they just never played it through and found them all?
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Old 28 August 2008, 17:55   #12
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I think that was more testament to the lack of gaming skills and the laziness of the hackers right?

The game had copy checks in many, many parts of the code and they just never played it through and found them all?
Its not exactly the type of game that can be properly playtested in an hour though is it?

And, considering the age of the game, FTL were quite inventive as to how they implemented the protection.
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Old 29 August 2008, 02:27   #13
gimbal
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in what way was DM protected? I never saw an uncracked version on either the Amiga or the PC.
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Old 29 August 2008, 08:59   #14
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Probably some other tricks were used but I think 'flaky bits' protection was there?
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Old 29 August 2008, 09:54   #15
Galahad/FLT
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Quote:
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Probably some other tricks were used but I think 'flaky bits' protection was there?
That wasn't the tricky bit. The tricky bit was hiding additional disk checks in other files not just the main .exe
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Old 29 August 2008, 10:09   #16
Angus
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in what way was DM protected? I never saw an uncracked version on either the Amiga or the PC.

Some time after its release, I bought the game from one of those mail order companies in the mags (the first version I got was French!). I wanted to get a cracked version as a back-up but when that didn't appear, and I asked around a lot, I remember trying to copy the disk myself (with zero hacking skills). I used some version of nibble copy, and it copied the disk apparently okay.

But on playing it, it came up with an error message "Trap 11!" or something like that pretty close to the start.

Now that I think about it, I think a copier called just "Nib" (version 3?) eventually appeared that purported to be able to copy the game.....

Wow, I'm remembering dynamicallly now..... I think it did actually copy it, and as I recall when you loaded up the game, there was a blue "flash" on the screen just before the game started that wasn't there on the original.
I think it had a special setting for copying Dungeon Master.

These are memories I haven't visited in probably 15 years or more, so they may be a bit flawed.

Anyway, I stand by what I said, despite the best efforts of the local "network" which was usually very successful - months (maybe more) after Dungeon Master's release, the only option which eventually surfaced was using a specialist copier on the original.
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