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Interesting way of evading piracy...

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I thought a cool way to virtually eliminate piracy would be to distribute the game freely, but you can only use it by going online to enter your username & password. These you would have to pay for, and while you could tell others your details, then they''d have access to your account and high scores, record of how good you are etc. I thought I might implement this by making the single user version just a kind of practice mode, and the main game online only, maybe even something you pay monthly for to keep your account open (some really low price like $3 a month), or a pay per use system where you pay per race (it''s a racing game). How viable does this sound, particularly for this type of game? How difficult would it be to get the web side stuff running, and secure (so you can''t steal all the passwords easily)? The biggest problem for me would be how to have a server hosting all these games, or keeping a list of them all. Comments?
Read about my game, project #1 NEW (9th September)diaries for week #5 Also I''m selling a few programming books very useful to games coders. Titles on my site.
John 3:16

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It''s already been done mate.
Some small games company in guildford did it..rocket something or other - their games suck mind you, I dont see any of the big boys ever doing it. What would games stores do - they''d all go completely out of business, they aint gonna let that happen.

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What''s to stop someone cracking the game so that it always thinks it got a "positive" response from the webserver? You''d just remove the bit which actually contacted the webserver and make the result look like a positive one.

Of course, then you can add things like every time you connect, you download part of the game, but the problem here is that you could just download the file yourself, then crack the game to use the already-download version.

Then the solution is to make the thing you download each time different, and if you don''t somehow use the correct version for this run, it doesn''t work.

This staying-one-step-ahead sort of thing can go on forever. It''s a compromise between how much you want to inconvenience your regular users and how determined the crackers are... In the end, if people are that determined to crack your game, maybe you''re just charging too much for it

If I had my way, I''d have all of you shot!


codeka.com - Just click it.

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quote:
Original post by d000hg
but you can only use it by going online to enter your username & password.

Hope you don''t mind eliminating millions of modem-only or offline users as possible buyers then, and alienating all your users when your server is offline for 30 minutes.

People will crack your stuff if they want to - focus on giving value for the money to those who buy it instead and I''m sure you''ll both earn more and have happier users - remember, goodwill isn''t worthless either.

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Hmm, if you''re going to be retailling your game, you could simply have some additional goodies packaged with it. People can pirate software (And hopefully will get cancer. In the head.) but they can''t really pirate a full-color map, guide to the world your game runs in, or whatnot.

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I meant the game would be primarily multiplayer-orientated like those massively unpopular games (Q3 & UT!). It wouldn''t ask necessarily for a positive response, but you couldn''t get info off the server (what games are going on, your saved character & stats etc) without a valid password. I wouldn''t plan to make you go online just to play single-player games.

I''d ideally make it free except a pay-as-you-play thing, or make you pay to enter a race and the winner gets a prize etc; but I don''t know to take money off you $0.20 at a time automatically, and sending a monthly bill leaves me open to people jus playing for a month then not paying and starting a new account, doesn''t it?

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But that seems a lot less likely a hack anyone would do than just bypassing security codes. You''d have to have your own server for a start which would be quite expensive!
Then you''d need to figure out how my game communicates with the server - ie you ask it for a list of games and it sends them all to you. So you could set up your own server, but the official games would then not be open to you.

The main question was not ''is this method unbreakable'' but ''is it reasonable both in ease of use for the users and in terms of security?'' Another question is ''how hard is it to crack this compared to traditional approaches such as keys etc?''

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I dont think you''ll beat piracy (only with those new cpu''s from M$ and intel and the rest of group) ever, this is always an elite part of society obsessed with giving nothing and taking all they can.

If someone copies a game, give a stuff, but I really irk when people sell copies. Thats so F^ckin rude.....

(if you know anyon doing this, dob them into the authorities, they are feeding off other peoples hard work, f^ckin scum)

but I m actually lol only answering to let you know. A server costs all of $1000 (australian) to setup.

I could simply use my red hat partition and presto here is my server, but thats not neccessarily a gaming server unless the game allows it (from what I know, never set up a game server).

I would presume you do something similar to what the (gee what a coincidence) MMORPG type creators are doing.

Check out those games and write to the authors.


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quote:
Original post by d000hg
But that seems a lot less likely a hack anyone would do than just bypassing security codes. You''d have to have your own server for a start which would be quite expensive!
Then you''d need to figure out how my game communicates with the server - ie you ask it for a list of games and it sends them all to you. So you could set up your own server, but the official games would then not be open to you.

The main question was not ''is this method unbreakable'' but ''is it reasonable both in ease of use for the users and in terms of security?'' Another question is ''how hard is it to crack this compared to traditional approaches such as keys etc?''



it was done.. remember blizzard battle.net? there where tons of hacked battlenets around.. where you could play with hacket cd''s.. they where even legal.. but money judges in this case.. it was a fun story.. (/me hating blizzard for this, they killed starcraft3d with it..)

"take a look around" - limp bizkit
www.google.com

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quote:
Original post by d000hg
But that seems a lot less likely a hack anyone would do than just bypassing security codes. You''d have to have your own server for a start which would be quite expensive!


You could run it on an old 486. Not expensive at all.

quote:
Original post by d000hg
Then you''d need to figure out how my game communicates with the server - ie you ask it for a list of games and it sends them all to you.


Sniff some network packets, and figure out the packets being sent. Not too difficult, and far less difficult than most of the hacks being done these days.

quote:
Original post by d000hg
So you could set up your own server, but the official games would then not be open to you.


Wouldn''t matter ... you''d have a whole group of people playing for free.

quote:
Original post by d000hg
Another question is ''how hard is it to crack this compared to traditional approaches such as keys etc?''



Probably not that hard. Unless you provide a substantial amount of value through your servers, users will go elsewhere. For your pricing scheme, you''d need to automate it with credit-cards, and most parents wouldn''t want their kids to have free reign on their credit cards based on how many times they play a game.

Telstar

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Ultima Online, the classic online game, can be played for free by people who have created their own "shards" using Sphere or UOX, ultima online server emulators.
People who pay money to play on the original Origin servers (pun intended) don''t pay to just play the game- they can do that on one of the countless free shards- they pay for the service they get there. Professional maintenance, support, game management (quests, events, etc...).
Even online games can be "cracked". In my opinion, there are two basic ways of getting people to buy your game:
1. Make a good game
2. Point 1. is more important

I don''t believe in all the whining about how much money is lost by piracy. If someone really likes a game and has the money to afford it, he will appreciate the original, flashy CD, the manual and the technical support and go buy it. People copying games doesn''t mean that all those people would actually have bought all those games. It just means that they buy the games they really like and copy the rest. If copying games where impossible, they would only buy the games they like and not copy the rest. They wouldn''t buy the rest as well. As you see, there is no financial loss here.

Copy protection is pointless.

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I think that copy protection is much like locking your car. It keeps "honest" people honest.

Note the quotes, truly honest people, upon finding your car unlocked, turn off the headlights for you, leave your cd player and parking meter change untouched, then lock the doors so that other "honest" people can''t do you an even bigger favor.

If a game requires an "illegal" patch to make it work properly, there are a small percentage of people who are willing to do something intentionally wrong. On the other hand, if no copy protection exists, or is on an honor basis only, it''s much easier to ignore.

That said, a username and password registration scheme with rotating keys has been shown to be fairly effective. Just using a password and username would not be very effective at all, it would be trivially simple to re-direct traffic to your own machine and record the session.

-- Aaron

| HollowWorks.com | Rhott.com |

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Well, I''m in agreement with the earlier post...not everyone is hooked up to the net for online gaming AND how do you think people are going to react when they paid all this money for a cool new multiplayer game and they can''t connect because of server problems?

I don''t think there is a solution out there for game cracking and copying. However, here''s an interesting thought that I think all game developers should really pay attention to...

...has anyone ever heard of Croteam and one of the coolest fps ever made built with one of the best engines ever written? I''m talking about Serious Sam. That game has some of the best visuals and gameplay I''ve ever encountered, yet both the first game and the sequel were sold for $20. $20!!! Then we have these companies that like to sell half-assed games for $60 or more. It''s no wonder people are cracking and copying games. I bought Serious Sam First Encounter and SE, and I got my friends to buy it also. $20 for a game like that IS practically stealing. We gamers need to support developers like that.

Anyway, my point is - there probably isn''t a full-proof solution to eliminating piracy. But don''t you think that people would be more inclined to BUY a game at a reasonable price than go through the hassle of cracking/copying? Do you think your company would lose more money selling at a high price and having people rip you off, or selling at a lower price and getting more people to not only buy the game, but to remember your company''s name in the future?

Moral of the the story: Don''t smoke crack.

Good luck bro. Hope this gives you some insight.

-Q

"Dude, how long have you guys been playing Nark of the Garfunk?"
-J

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quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
But don''t you think that people would be more inclined to BUY a game at a reasonable price than go through the hassle of cracking/copying? Do you think your company would lose more money selling at a high price and having people rip you off, or selling at a lower price and getting more people to not only buy the game, but to remember your company''s name in the future?



I agree. Although some people are more noble than others, I think that dropping the average price of games (by 50%) would greatly lower the threshold for people to buy more games. Same with the music industry: an average CD costs about €20/€25 here. Not only is that a tremendous ripoff, it would make people think a lot longer about wether to buy or download a CD. €25 is a lot of money. Will I spend that, get the original CD and booklet and such, and support the artist, or shall I download it for free? Is the booklet and supporting the artist really worth €25 to me? Now, were the CD €10, which is a lot more reasonable, then I''d ponder the possibilities a lot longer. Perhaps the booklet and the artist''s support -is- worth €10.

The problem with the game/music industry is that they''re too thick to recognise this. The trouble is that they lash back with a response along the line of "Well, if you people didn''t pirate so much, CD''s -would- be €10. You''re the ones that are driving up the price!" This gets you nowhere, since both parties end up shouting "Is!" "Isn''t!" at each other...

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I think pay per play is the worst idea ever. Thats probably why online services like TEN, Mplayer, HEAT.NET went down. I like the way it is right now. Copy protection is unattainable unless it''s built into hardware, of which I''m not proponent of. Create good games and be good to your customers. Now that computer gaming is more mainsteam than 6 years ago, some developers and publishers think that they have right to populate market with garbage products. There''s so much lack of innovation in recent games. Wtf up with UT2003? I was shocked with epic, the last thing we need is standard old gameplay. I say that cause for piracy is bad games.

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yeah, that and improvements in technology.

It almost seems as if the gaming industry is starting to have the same problem that the music industry has had for the past couple years. Nobody has anything original anymore, although I have to applaud DICE for Battlefield 1942. That game brought tears to my eyes I laughed so hard at some of the stuff people did. Definetly a worthwhile game to look into, although it has some engine problems. Be prepared for some erradic framerates if your machine is not extremely high end.

BTW, I was also very disappointed in UT2K3. I played the demo for about 2 days and deleted it off my computer. I mean, replacing the classic ''Assault'' mode for ''Bombing Run''??? WTF is up with that? The original UT may not have all the bells and whistles, but it''s still more fun that 2k3.

*sigh* yet another great human endeavor that started out as a fun new idea and ended up getting exploited by greedy game corporations. Everyone wants to be Microsoft. Bah!

Nuff said from the guru for one day.

-Q

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Your points are all interesting and useful. I''m thinking about maybe a standard key based thing after all, though do have other ideas too which are secret.

I like the idea of paying for use, but at a very low rate. Think if the game cost $20, instead I charge you just $2-4 a month, or you buy like $10 of credit which gives you 20hours / 50 races or whatever. When you get bored you stop paying - this way you can try the whole game for a very low price.

The problem with piracy is, I want to sell by download. There is no flashy box etc.
Can I put a compiler on my server so when you pay, it compiles you an individual version of the .exe and brings up a download dialog for you? Is that possible with current web technology? So it generates different .exes depending on say your password/email/mothers favourite colour etc, when you install it checks if that version is already registered...



Read about my game, project #1
NEW (9th September)diaries for week #5

Also I''m selling a few programming books very useful to games coders. Titles on my site.


John 3:16

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games that have some difficulty to get cracked and hacked to get played without paying are _the_ sort of games that get illegal shared the most. why? because you feel "cool, like a hacker" if you get the game running. while it only means downloading a setup for you you have one of those great games that is nearly uncrackable..
every security of an interesting game or software _GETS_HACKED_ one time from one person to be playable without paying. just because he wants to be 1337.. and then the standard sharing procedure starts.. everyone gets it.
i download mp3, i download games, i download movies. if i like the music, the game, the movie, i''ll buy. else, i''ll delete again. it just uses hd for nothing (just moved over to 60giga after the hd crash of the 13giga.. so now they can stay unused longer..).
thats what happened with ut2003.. it''s a fun game.. for minutes. it was great to see my radeon9700 perform awesome good. for this i can download 3dmark as well.. the game sucks. i will not pay epic any cent for that.
doom3 on the other hand looks promising, from what i''ve seen. i''ll buy that, it looks like some cool stuff.
spiderman i never wanted to see, scared to hate the movie as i loved the cartoons and comics.. so i downloaded. was twice in the cinema afterwards. would never have been else.
and i have much music here at home _NO_ONE_ around knows.. stuff like e-type, eels, and more.. vanilla ice i hope i get the cd soon.. (got rare, it''s so old..:D).

so, instead of thinking of complex security, just make a username and password to make it able for the user to store its userdata on the server, and thats it. make the connection save, so that no other can attack the user, or take control over the user, _THAT_ is important (if you have a security hole wich can get used against your players.. uh.. danger).
let the user update it''s exe from time to time, thats okay, and prevents a lot of hacking. do that automagically in the background.. (but inform that you do it..)

and only let the game get payed, not the server connection time or such crap (else they pay the first month, and thats it..).

remember you''re not yet a wellknown gigacoder.. if blizzard brings out a new strategygame for online multiplayer, _they_have_to_care_ about hacking, as their wellknown yet. but i dont think there will be much hacking on your small game yet. it could come, with time.. who knows? if it gets big. but if it does, you got enough money yet anyways (as you should not believe it does, just wish, but not believe:D)

be nice to your players, else they will not be nice to you.

"take a look around" - limp bizkit
www.google.com

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quote:
Original post by d000hg
Can I put a compiler on my server so when you pay, it compiles you an individual version of the .exe and brings up a download dialog for you? Is that possible with current web technology? So it generates different .exes depending on say your password/email/mothers favourite colour etc, when you install it checks if that version is already registered...



Yes, that is possible, but I''m not sure in what way that would be useful. Why recompile the whole thing if only a minor part of it is going to be different between each copy (for example a small key field)? And consider what will happen when 100 people simultaneously are downloading your game, keeping in mind that compiling a project of that size just once takes perhaps a half hour.

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quote:
Original post by d000hg
I like the idea of paying for use, but at a very low rate. Think if the game cost $20, instead I charge you just $2-4 a month, or you buy like $10 of credit which gives you 20hours / 50 races or whatever.


Yes, great. Remember the old days of Amiga games and arcades? There were virtually the same games on the arcades that there were for the home box. People bought the home version. Guess why? Because people HATE to pay-per-use for something which they love. Would you rather buy the CD or have to pay $1 or whatever every time you listen to the song you love?

You're not trying to prevent piracy, you're going for a totally different sales model - one that people in general will not enjoy very much at all. $10 for 20 hours is NOT cheap.

quote:
When you get bored you stop paying - this way you can try the whole game for a very low price.


Ah, yes. But it's only cheap if you don't like the game / it gets boring quickly.

[edited by - Stary on November 20, 2002 8:38:33 AM]

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quote:
When you get bored you stop paying - this way you can try the whole game for a very low price

Well you should probably spend enough time on development and testing the game to see if you have a game that people will like playing. If you release a game that you already know people are going to get bored with, and therefore save money, then don''t bother releasing it at all. I''d rather pay a higher price for a game worth playing longer than 2 weeks.

No doubt the ideas you have are all seemingly good ideas, but in the real world professional marketing people have designed the whole game selling system. I''d have a talk with one of those people and get there opinion on how successful they think you would be if you used the ''pay per play'' method...

Good luck.

-Q

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quote:
Original post by aleph
[quote]Original post by d000hg
Can I put a compiler on my server so when you pay, it compiles you an individual version of the .exe and brings up a download dialog for you? Is that possible with current web technology? So it generates different .exes depending on say your password/email/mothers favourite colour etc, when you install it checks if that version is already registered...



Yes, that is possible, but I''m not sure in what way that would be useful. Why recompile the whole thing if only a minor part of it is going to be different between each copy (for example a small key field)? And consider what will happen when 100 people simultaneously are downloading your game, keeping in mind that compiling a project of that size just once takes perhaps a half hour.

Well I''d like to have every .exe different. For one thing I don''t know how to find where in the .exe a certain variable is stored (not into hacking at all ) but also this would be so easy to find by comparing two copies. You could maybe not easily make new keys but you would know where to look.
Instead, I could in theory write a program that takes my source code and screws slightly with it in some prescibed way, e.g changes order of function bodies being declared in the code, adds random variables and ''pointless'' code in places etc etc. The idea being that I run this program with a key and the original source and get out very different looking .exe''s. I could then make the exe examine some aspect of itself at runtime, even how this is done could vary from version to version.
You could still copy someone else''s version at the cost of sharing their online account, but I''m also working on how to make the game only work if you actually install it and do some funky stuff there also.
In practice I''ll probably use lots of different simple techniques rather than spend months developing some huge idea that''ll have a loophole or something. Or I may just trust people - like someone said, a small indie game like mine isn''t going to attract lots of attention from hackers unless I boast about it being really hard to crack!

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