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MarthKoopa

What are some simple ways to protect my game's assets? (Sprites, sound, music, etc)

15 posts in this topic

My game is progressing along smoothly, using C++ and SFML, but I've realized that my game's assets are sitting out in the open, ready to be modified/stolen/etc. I'm very new to game development, so I have absolutely no idea how to go about doing this or what to search for to get ideas.

So, very simple question, what's a simple and/or effective way of protecting game assets?
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I'll be blunt here; there's absolutely no point in protecting your assets like that. Yes, there's a chance people will steal your work, but quite frankly the people that are going to do that aren't worth worrying about. Normally any 'stolen' assets are just used for placeholders or prototyping, or for terrible games/mods that will probably get called out anyway.

Not even the big companies protect their assets like some people seem to think they do. Binary files aren't 'protected', they're just optimised for space/loading time. It's still perfectly possible to reverse-engineer the formats and get usable data out of it.

Besides, if a dedicated person wanted to nick your hard work, they could still capture it directly from D3D/OpenGL, so there's no point doing what you want to do, here.
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Yeah what puppy said (:

I was on a team that shipped a PC game that did absolutely nothing to protect the assets, you could go in and drop in your own art and it would show up in game :P

Like puppy said / implied you could do something like zip (compress) all your files up which saves disk space and also makes it that little bit harder for people to alter or take your assets.

another thing you can do is look at file encryption.

But in the end, whatever you do to protect your data, your program will have the instructions to UNPROTECT the data (and people can look at your exe and figure out how), and also, whatever you do, the data will need to be unprotected in memory at some point (ie when its on screen etc), and people can steal it right out of there when its unprotected.

Security isnt about being 100% secure, it's about being secure enough where it isn't likely that your stuff will be cracked, or not make it worthwhile (dont be the low hanging fruit!)

HTH!
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But the current directory structure is so... unprofessional.

A player could easily open up Graphics/Characters/MainDude.png and doodle all over it, or switch out Music/Battle/Boss1.mp3 for something else... I just want to neatly tuck everything out of reach of children in a simple way.

I don't care if people do end up "stealing" my assets, I just don't want them all out in the open like they are now.
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Quote:
Original post by MarthKoopa
I just want to neatly tuck everything out of reach of children in a simple way.

I don't care if people do end up "stealing" my assets, I just don't want them all out in the open like they are now.

Consider something like physfs, which lets you bundle your existing assets into a single zip archive.
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Quote:
Original post by MarthKoopa
But the current directory structure is so... unprofessional.

A player could easily open up Graphics/Characters/MainDude.png and doodle all over it, or switch out Music/Battle/Boss1.mp3 for something else...


And why do you think that is "unprofessional"?

Quote:
I just want to neatly tuck everything out of reach of children in a simple way.

I don't care if people do end up "stealing" my assets, I just don't want them all out in the open like they are now.


Well, that's different, then.
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Quote:
Original post by MarthKoopa
I don't care if people do end up "stealing" my assets, I just don't want them all out in the open like they are now.

The final builds of most major games will pre-process their assets to reduce loading time. It is faster to just dump the contents directly into memory than to spend time decoding and processing the data every time.

Besides reducing load time, a side benefit is that the assets aren't "out in the open".

Note that during development it is often better to have the files in their original state to make it easier to debug.
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i remember reading a tutorial somewhere on OgreWiki that explains how you can combine your main EXE file with the resource ZIP files in a way that your EXE will contain the resources but still think they are out in the open. you don't even need to change one line of code to do that.

i am pretty sure it was not an ogre specific tutorial so i guess you could use it :
http://www.ogre3d.org/tikiwiki/Merge+exe+with+a+media+zip&structure=Cookbook

the bad thing about it is that since the EXE file gets pretty heavy,it gets problematic to make updates overtime after you release your program.
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Quote:
Original post by Hodgman
Put your assets into an archive (e.g. uncompressed ZIP).

Put a copyright notice on the splash/intro screen and in the installer.

I've never found any easy resource explaining Copyrights; is it true that just stating "Copyright (c) 2010 My Name\Company name" protects that original work you just did?

Is this internationally accepted (in the majority of nations, at least)?
Do you need to pay anything to the government of your country to make it oficial, or just by placing that copyright line you are protected?
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Quote:
Original post by Kryzon
I've never found any easy resource explaining Copyrights; is it true that just stating "Copyright (c) 2010 My Name\Company name" protects that original work you just did?


Pretty much, yes.

Quote:
Is this internationally accepted (in the majority of nations, at least)?


Yes; please google "Berne convention".

Quote:
Do you need to pay anything to the government of your country to make it oficial, or just by placing that copyright line you are protected?


You never need to pay anything for a copyright. There is no process for "registering a copyright". It is different from trademarking or patenting.
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Quote:
Original post by MarthKoopa
A player could easily open up Graphics/Characters/MainDude.png and doodle all over it, or switch out Music/Battle/Boss1.mp3 for something else... I just want to neatly tuck everything out of reach of children in a simple way.
If that's your whole concern, encrypt your data (does not really matter how, the poorest encryption will do), or save a CRC for every asset, preferrably in a not immediately obvious place (could even download these from the internet each time). If the CRC does not match, refuse to load the asset.

That won't stop someone from cracking your software if there is enough "interest" to do so (unless a few ten thousand people play your game, nobody will probably bother to put so much work into cracking your protection), but it's enough to keep it out of the reach of children, and from a technical point of view, it is about as much protection as you can get, anyway (for the reasons stated by the previous posters).
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Quote:
Original post by Kryzon
I've never found any easy resource explaining Copyrights; is it true that just stating "Copyright (c) 2010 My Name\Company name" protects that original work you just did?


It depends on what country you're in. Some countries (the U.S. for example) don't even require a copyright notice as all works are automatically under copyright protection (although you should probably still use one just to remove any doubt as to authorship), some countries require a copyright notice which puts the work under copyright protection, and some countries may require some sort of registration process for copyright protection. Generally the last case can be ignored unless you have reason to suspect otherwise, as very few countries are not signatory to the treaty that makes copyright automatic.

In general, just paste a copyright notice on anything you think might need it. It certainly can't hurt, and will take care of everything for the vast majority of countries. If you're really concerned about the details, you need to consult with a lawyer (which I am not, just passing on the information as my lawyer has explained to me).
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If it's data, just make an encryptor, also, hide and lock all the files by right clicking, then go to properties -> atributes -> hide. You can also select read only for files that wont be written to. These files can't be viewed unlesss someone has show hidden files enabled on their computer, which most people don't, and encrypted files, of done properly, are hard to edit, because you would most likely fail, unless you knew the algorithm it was encrypted with.
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You could go extremely simple and put your assets into uncompressed zip folders and rename the file extensions to .hiy or some random extension. Then use standard methods to get them out of a zip.

At least I think that works.
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Quote:
Original post by The Communist Duck
You could go extremely simple and put your assets into uncompressed zip folders and rename the file extensions to .hiy or some random extension. Then use standard methods to get them out of a zip. At least I think that works.
Many games used this method in the past, particularly Quake and Half Life with their .pak files.

I would say that these days, resources have grown large enough that there is a significant benefit to storing them in a format which can be loaded directly into memory, so a custom 'blob' might be preferable.
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