Author Topic: Anti piracy techniques and similar kinds of stuff  (Read 1033 times)

Anti piracy techniques and similar kinds of stuff
« on: June 09, 2019, 12:45:45 PM »
Listening to the Aladdin episode of Cane and Rinse, they've mentioned these old Disney games deliberately included a big difficulty spike in the middle to fuck over renters a bit. Got me thinking about how Hercules on the PS1 made the save system really really awkward to access (I think you had to find a bunch of hidden shit in a level to be allowed to save) and how, in retrospect, that's probably so people couldn't easily continue directly from where they left off the last time they rented it.

I remember Spore had some kind of DRM thing built in that totally overshadowed the game, and a few Sony albums around 2003 came with spyware.



Any especially weird ones stand out?  I imagine the 80s PC scene had a lot of really quirky and dumb ones

Re: Anti piracy techniques and similar kinds of stuff
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2019, 02:11:54 PM »
There was the case of Metal Gear Solid.

Re: Anti piracy techniques and similar kinds of stuff
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2019, 05:32:44 PM »
Jet Set Willy on the ZX Spectrum used a colour grid card



The Spectrum version of Elite used the Lenslock system. A fiddly bit of plastic that you held over your TV and used it to reveal a code to type in. Just what you needed after you waited 20 minutes for the game to load.



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenslok

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Re: Anti piracy techniques and similar kinds of stuff
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2019, 05:49:26 PM »
One of The Monty Python games made you guess the correct cheese before you could play the game, The Cheese were on different pages in the manual.

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Re: Anti piracy techniques and similar kinds of stuff
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2019, 05:54:20 PM »
I remember on the Amiga I successfully hacked my copy of Pinball Dreams by going into the .exe file (or whatever it was called on the Amiga) and deleting all the words that you were meant to look up in the game manual, which were all handily in unencrypted text, then replacing them with blank spaces. Then I changed the prompt to say "Hacked by ESP. Press return to continue" or something, and it worked. I felt like I was in Paradox that day.

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Re: Anti piracy techniques and similar kinds of stuff
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2019, 07:34:25 PM »
The Secret of Monkey Island had a much fondly remembered form of anti-piracy; the DIAL-A-PIRATE wheel...


Re: Anti piracy techniques and similar kinds of stuff
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2019, 07:38:39 PM »
Zool had a black matte code book with the codes written in black gloss so you couldn't photocopy it.

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Re: Anti piracy techniques and similar kinds of stuff
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2019, 07:52:27 PM »
The only game which I grew up playing that had copy protection was the rather underappreciated Quarantine, which in some ways was like a precursor to Grand Theft Auto...


Elderly Sumo Prophecy

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Re: Anti piracy techniques and similar kinds of stuff
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2019, 07:55:49 PM »
The Secret of Monkey Island had a much fondly remembered form of anti-piracy; the DIAL-A-PIRATE wheel...


My uncle done a photocopy of that for me. He even printed it on cardboard and put a spindle in the middle and everything.

Re: Anti piracy techniques and similar kinds of stuff
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2019, 08:04:05 PM »
The only game which I grew up playing that had copy protection was the rather underappreciated Quarantine, which in some ways was like a precursor to Grand Theft Auto...


I seem to recall the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game for the Spectrum/C64/etc had a code table like this. I assume the red was to make it impossible to photocopy.

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Re: Anti piracy techniques and similar kinds of stuff
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2019, 11:01:32 PM »
I assume the red was to make it impossible to photocopy.

You assume correctly.

Re: Anti piracy techniques and similar kinds of stuff
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2019, 11:44:37 PM »
I think it was Aladdin and Lion King on PC that had some thing that was like "What's the first word on page 10, line 3 of the manual" which obviously wouldn't work today.

I remember "Game Dev Tycoon" had this idea

http://www.gamesreviews.com/news/04/best-anti-piracy-measure-ever-game-dev-tycoon-pirates-the-pirates/

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Re: Anti piracy techniques and similar kinds of stuff
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2019, 02:13:40 AM »
Jet Set Willy on the ZX Spectrum used a colour grid card



A friend at school copied that grid from mine onto a piece of paper.  Instead of using different coloured pens which would have been excessively fiddly he just wrote the initial letter of each colour.  He copied it over the course of a few days.  At the stage when he'd only copied half the grid he was still able to play the game but had to load it more than once until it asked him for a code from the first half of the grid.  A few weeks later someone worked out a few POKE's which made it so you could type in anything and it still worked.

Re: Anti piracy techniques and similar kinds of stuff
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2019, 02:51:27 PM »
A more subtle variation on this is games that would appear to be working OK when copied, but made very very subtle changes to one of the later levels, making it impossible to complete.

There's a video with an example of this here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qaq9vlfoGnA
(I don't believe the stuff about making parts of the disk unreadable with a laser, but the general principle is true I think)

The 2009 PC game Batman: Arkham Asylum used this trick too, prompting indignant complaints on their online forums that it wasn't working properly.  As one of the admins responded: "The problem you have encountered is a hook in the copy protection, to catch out people who try and download cracked versions of the game for free.  It's not a bug in the game's code, it's a bug in your moral code."

Re: Anti piracy techniques and similar kinds of stuff
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2019, 03:02:23 PM »
The only game which I grew up playing that had copy protection was the rather underappreciated Quarantine, which in some ways was like a precursor to Grand Theft Auto...
I remember it also came with an album of (I think) Australian grunge bands to soundtrack it.

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Re: Anti piracy techniques and similar kinds of stuff
« Reply #15 on: June 10, 2019, 04:32:12 PM »
Jet Set Willy on the ZX Spectrum used a colour grid card



Ha, good luck with that if you're colourblind.

The biggest problem with pirated Spectrum games was that even a 2nd-gen copy was often of unusable quality.

Re: Anti piracy techniques and similar kinds of stuff
« Reply #16 on: June 10, 2019, 04:43:38 PM »
Surely that depends on whether you copied the tape using a twin deck or by reading it into the spectrum and writing it out again?

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Re: Anti piracy techniques and similar kinds of stuff
« Reply #17 on: June 10, 2019, 04:51:20 PM »
Wasn't the argument that it was the people flogging copies down the market stalls (slightly more professional operations) rather than home tapers causing the most loss? David Ward of Ocean said some reasonable stuff about this in the Commercial Breaks doc.

https://youtu.be/ZoDh61sgCOg?t=954

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Re: Anti piracy techniques and similar kinds of stuff
« Reply #18 on: June 10, 2019, 05:12:49 PM »
I remember it also came with an album of (I think) Australian grunge bands to soundtrack it.

Aye, Quarantine has a great soundtrack.  I love the cheesy 90's FMV intro too.

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Re: Anti piracy techniques and similar kinds of stuff
« Reply #19 on: June 11, 2019, 02:03:20 AM »
Surely that depends on whether you copied the tape using a twin deck or by reading it into the spectrum and writing it out again?

Most tapes I copied with a twin tape deck would load back ok.  Then later there were those with a weird clicking loader that was made specifically to defeat tape copying, as a copy was quite unlikely not to work. Can't remember what those loaders were doing that defeated copying.

Then there were those copyers where you loaded it in and saved it back.  One way those were defeated were when a program was saved as one large file starting with the screen display and going right through to the very last byte of ram.  Obviously the copier has to fit in memory as well as the program that it's copying, so if the program takes up ALL memory there's no room for the copyer as well.  The way the copyers tried to defeat this was that the copyer would reside in the last 100-or-so bytes of memory, then it loaded the program in at a lower address (somewhere near the end of the rom) which meant that the copy had a little bit of the screen picture garbled when it was loaded back.  This was all well and good and the copy worked... until they made the program check the screen to see if it was intact, and if it wasn't the game wouldn't work.  Monty Mole on the Spectrum was one of those.  If you find a copy that's been re-made to load in more than one part, with a message saying it's been cracked by "the master cracksman", that was me.

Then there was that Spectrum with extra memory and a built-in tape deck.  The tape deck had no volume control and was rigged so it was set to a really quiet level, I assume so that copied games wouldn't load.  Trouble is some originals wouldn't load either.  I had one for about a week then realised I'd grown out of it and got a refund and bought a hifi instead.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2019, 02:53:06 AM by JesusAndYourBush »

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Re: Anti piracy techniques and similar kinds of stuff
« Reply #20 on: June 12, 2019, 04:14:56 PM »
There was a war simulator game I can't remember the name of that had loads of subtle anti-piracy hacks in it. So a particular machine gun would jam really quickly, or certain enemies would be a lot better shots for example. So it took over a year for the crackers to find them all and release a completable game.

Of course, I can't remember the name of the bloody thing, so I just post this to get past the edit glitch. Which will backfire when I remember the name and edit it into this post.

EDIT - prophecy fulfilled - it was Operation Flashpoint.

Re: Anti piracy techniques and similar kinds of stuff
« Reply #21 on: June 14, 2019, 09:37:47 AM »
Ah, I remember that one, the infamous FADE system.

Quote
FADE introduces deliberate errors in some of the sectors of the disc (which resemble the errors a scratched CD-ROM/DVD-ROM has). When the disc is copied, the error-correction mechanism (both CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs employ error-correction techniques) will notice the errors and automatically correct them. When the game is launched, the game's executable looks for these errors, and if they are present then it is an original. If they are not available, then it knows it is a fake. There is no notification or error message that tells the player that a fake disk image has been detected, which makes it very difficult for software crackers to determine if their crack has succeeded in defeating FADE. FADE will introduce many issues in the game, rendering it unplayable, giving the impression that the game is simply "buggy". For example, in ARMA 2, FADE will begin by gradually decreasing the accuracy of the player's weapons, making it very difficult to hit a target. FADE might reverse the left/right controls of vehicles, or make them randomly start and stop moving. Eventually it will turn the player into a bird and display a message saying "Good birds do not fly away from this game, you have only yourself to blame".

Bohemia Interactive are very fond of it and it's still used in the ARMA series to this day.