Re: [stella] Perfect BIN copy protection

Subject: Re: [stella] Perfect BIN copy protection
From: "Eckhard Stolberg" <Eckhard_Stolberg@xxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 3 Feb 2002 16:08:25 +0100
> Yes, we would have to rely on certain values of some 2600 registers
> after the game starts. Sure that could be changed by clever people too.

As Chad has already hinted, there is a rather simple (well, simple
for the people on this list, that is ;-) ) way to put the Cuttle
Cart in any state you want before you hand over control to the game.
(OK, not any state, but more different states than you would want
to check for in your game. ;-) ) All you have to do is to chose a
contol byte value that leaves the Cuttle Cart in Cuttle Cart mode,
and to add some code to the game that sets the VCS in the correct
state and then locks-in the right bankswitching type.

> Nobody called the CC a pirate device. I like the CC (and SuperCharger)
> very much and I wish I would own one (or both!) of them too.

I think Manuel once used the words "pirate scum", but that was
just a friendly joke, and he used it in regard to the CC owners
and not the CC itself, so I guess you are right. ;-)

> So, I DON'T want to offend you with my next question: Do you own a
> copy of Thrust? (That would somehow prove your statement above)

I'm not offended by your question, but I don't own a Thrust
cartridge either. But that's because I really stink at that
game and not because I can play it for free on my Cuttle Cart.
In fact I usually only load it into my Cuttle Cart, when you
ask me to. ;-)

> I know you where very interested in that game during developing and
> wanted to test it on your 7800 cart. And I made some changes to the code
> that you could do so (and to be honest, also (mainly?) because you could
> help ME testing it on real hardware :-).

And I'm always glad to help you (or anyone else) to make your
games play properly on MY real hardware. ;-)

But I must shamefully admit, that ever since I started programming
for the VCS and VCS emulators, most of my interest in (homebrew) VCS
games is in the technigal aspects rather than the gameplay. For most
games I just want to know how it was done and if the emulator supports
is properly. One game I was seriously interested in buying was Jammed.
But I decided that I liked my multi-colour version of the game better,
and as long as I'm still not finished playing the original board game
levels on that one, I'm probably going to wait before I'll order Jammed. ;-)

> As I said, for me it's more or less a competitive question. And to
> protect lamers from hacking my own games to those IMO disgusting
> Kabul/Bin Laden stuff. That's what started me thinking about that, the
> CC protection idea came later (have to check my mails to find out who
> had that idea).

I think the CC lock out was just a side effect of the hacking
protection code that Manuel added to Gunfight. When people
reported to him that the game wouldn't work on the CC and
I explained to him why that was, he thought that limiting
the freely available binary to the emulators was a good idea.
So I guess it's partly my own fault. ;-)

I think that a simple hack protection, like th one in Gunfight
are a reasonable idea, even if only to force the hackers to
learn VCS programming. ;-) But I think once someone knows how
to program the VCS, he will appreciate the work that went into
the game and most probably will respect the wishes of the author.
So I don't think you should scramble your code too much. After
all Manuel and you have disassebled many VCS games yourself and
learned quite alot through it. Therefore it would be nice, if
you'd give the chance to learn from your code to new generations
of VCS homebrew programmers as well.

> With an existing, working protection, we would perhaps also be able to
> play e.g. the EbiVision games or Mental Combat on the emulators (which
> are doing a nearly perfect job for me already).

I think Simon's plan is to release the binary after the first
linited edition run of cartridges has sold out. He just wants
those customers to be the first to play the game (execept for
him and his beta testers of course).

As for the EbiVision games, I'm sure once the games were
released in cartridge form, the ROM completists already had
them in their collection. After all they are even trading
every buggy little test program from this list. ;-) So the
only disadvanteged people are the honest ones, as they can't
try out the games to help them with their ordering decission.

Ciao, Eckhard Stolberg

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