Flutterby™! : CD Copy Protection

Next unread comment / Catchup all unread comments User Account Info | Logout | XML/Pilot/etc versions | Long version (with comments) | Weblog archives | Site Map | | Browse Topics

CD Copy Protection

2003-10-27 20:40:26.361817+00 by ebradway 3 comments

Back in the day we used to have more fun figuring out the latest copy protection scheme on the Apple II and Comodore 64. The games were boring by comparison...

I guess modern gaming is going the same way, or at least the game creators are think so. I was helping my neighbor straightent out her computers. She's a lawyer and has two computers downstairs in her office for work and the kids have separate computers upstairs. Of course, mom's computers are faster and they used the better machines to play The Sims and all kinds of other games. As many of you know, letting your child go crazy installing games on your computer is a good way to get to see the BSOD more reliably. So I spent an afternoon wiping the machines and installing from scratch - with the advice of keeping the kids off the downstairs computers and buy them a big new one for Xmas (for a law office, the two machines downstairs were plenty fast enough).

So I start helping the girls get The Sims installed and offer to make a copy of their disc because it was very scratchy and hard to read (or so I thought). So I try to show the girls how easy it is to make a copy of those precious original CDs that have to be used to play the game. After a few hours, I was steaming. And did some research. Evidently the game industry has forgotten the lessons of the 80s and have started making out-of-spec CDs to flaunt copying the games (even for legitimate resons). A little bit of searching turned up Alcohol 120%. It figures out the copy protection scheme used and makes a copy with the appropriate problems. Of course, it took a little over eight hours to copy one CD... But that's beside the point!

[ related topics: Apple Computer Children and growing up Music Games Coyote Grits Invention and Design Software Engineering Law Work, productivity and environment ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: CD Copy Protection made: 2003-10-28 00:48:32.669765+00 by: canis

I guess modern gaming is going the same way, or at least the game creators are think so

I doubt it; certainly I don't. In the majority of cases we have nothing to do with the copy protection system; we send an unprotected master off to the publisher, conforming to whatever standard they've specified in terms of stuff like leaving disk space free and layout of executables [otherwise they just reject the disk]. Then they put whatever lame-ass protection system they want on it and leave us to sort out the mess when it turns out their protection has broken a bunch of stuff (oh, and isn't really protection anyway because the 'cracks' are available the same day the game hits the stores. Earlier, sometimes).

In fact, more than one game developer has released a 'bugfix patch' that, in actuality, is just a copy of the game executable from before it was sent off to the publisher -- ie without the 'protection' added -- because the game runs faster and more reliably as a result.

#Comment Re: CD Copy Protection made: 2003-10-28 16:26:55.361068+00 by: ebradway

Canis: That makes alot of sense. I was working in the game industry when the shift changed from indendent developers/publishers to the developers living at the mercy of a few major publishers (EA, Microsoft, Sony, etc.). Publishers, or rather anyone who are oriented more towards making money than creating new things, tend to have a much shorter memory and an overly strong desire to control their product.

When I was lead programmer at MicroLeague, I personally made the decision to allow two people to play the game over a modem or the internet with only one licensed copy. In order to play against the computer, you had to have the CD and the player without the CD didn't get the play-by-play announcing and used a lower resolution, but the idea was to let people enjoy the creative work and not beat them over the head with licensing to generate a few more sales.

My experience is that that is the general attitude of game developers (although some of the earliest Apple II copy protection schemes came from a particular programmer who didn't like people copying his games).

#Comment Re: CD Copy Protection made: 2003-10-29 02:34:05.940394+00 by: ghasty

Yes, but at Micro Sports we just scratched up the buggy gold disc before sending to the publisher...a very good copy protection scheme and we met our deadlines <grin>