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Offline Cero
DRM
« Posted 2012-07-10 00:31:27 »

Lets talk about DRM again. I'm just interested in the technical aspect - how its done and works, not whether or not to use it and stuff. I just want to have a basic copy protection. Because I figure if someone is going to crack it, its already popular enough probably. But having none at all - I would like to avoid that.

In traditional DRM (back then it was of course just called copy protection - because there was also no limit on how many times you could activate a product), you had to input a serial key, which in old times came in the box with your game or other software.
Lets assume in this case, that the activation itself is safe, using an online connection, checking the key and all...
Once its activated, what stops a user from THEN copying the whole folder and distribute/share the application ?
My experience is that a registry entry would be missing and thats all... but of course, such a thing is easily added with a .reg file on windows and stuff.

Offline lhkbob

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Medals: 32



« Reply #1 - Posted 2012-07-10 00:37:04 »

Just have them create accounts so they have to log in before they play. Then it doesn't matter how many times they copy it since you can just allow one authentication at a time.

If you're worried about people wanting to play offline, just keep them "logged in" for an hour if they disconnect without going through the proper protocols.  That way that can't just unplug their comp and let someone else log in.

Offline Cero
« Reply #2 - Posted 2012-07-10 00:45:35 »

Just have them create accounts so they have to log in before they play. Then it doesn't matter how many times they copy it since you can just allow one authentication at a time.

If you're worried about people wanting to play offline, just keep them "logged in" for an hour if they disconnect without going through the proper protocols.  That way that can't just unplug their comp and let someone else log in.

Oh yeah sure, but apar from server costs - thats Diablo 3 Blizzard style and will people piss off to no end. Having to log in every time...

I mean, how did this work back then, when you bought Half life 1, which came on 3 discs with a serial key ?

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Offline Riven
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« Reply #3 - Posted 2012-07-10 00:46:48 »

Lot's of additional work for a crappy user experience. Cranky


So, what stops them from copying an activated acount? Probably a DRM solution that pretty much resembles a rootkit.

Keep in mind that the 'big companies' can't manage to get their act together, with faulty activation servers and unreachable/unstable monitoring servers. So, try to learn from the mistakes of others, and don't come up with a scheme that involves a network connection.

Ofcourse you can raise the bar, a bit, but in the end, clientside security is plain stupid (again, unless you infiltrate and takeover a system).

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Offline Danny02
« Reply #4 - Posted 2012-07-10 00:51:05 »

In the time, before one could easily create images of CDs(I know very long time ago). One type of copy protection was that they destroyed some sectors of the CD and then checked if the CD from which one tryed to play the game from had the same bad sectors. This was some quite good copy protection, because one could not reproduce these bad sectors easily.

Offline lhkbob

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« Reply #5 - Posted 2012-07-10 01:05:54 »

I mean, how did this work back then, when you bought Half life 1, which came on 3 discs with a serial key ?

I think it was a key that got linked to your steam account, and then the DRM was tied to logging in with steam, and that is basically like how I described above.  It auto-logs in and remembers credentials locally, which is convenient, and is fine for DRM purposes since it really only needs to stop multi-comp logins.

Offline Cero
« Reply #6 - Posted 2012-07-10 01:08:49 »

I mean, how did this work back then, when you bought Half life 1, which came on 3 discs with a serial key ?

I think it was a key that got linked to your steam account, and then the DRM was tied to logging in with steam, and that is basically like how I described above.  It auto-logs in and remembers credentials locally, which is convenient, and is fine for DRM purposes since it really only needs to stop multi-comp logins.

When there was no steam yet, I mean =P


In the time, before one could easily create images of CDs(I know very long time ago). One type of copy protection was that they destroyed some sectors of the CD and then checked if the CD from which one tryed to play the game from had the same bad sectors. This was some quite good copy protection, because one could not reproduce these bad sectors easily.

Yeah I know that one SafeDisc / CLOKSPL.EXE, right ? well today with the internet being as it is, its a non issue of course...

Offline sproingie

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« Reply #7 - Posted 2012-07-10 03:51:37 »

Steam was created for Half Life 2.  HL1 used pretty much standard CD key systems without any internet activation IIRC.
Offline endolf

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« Reply #8 - Posted 2012-07-10 07:38:21 »

So, just entering a serial in the old days was only enough because most people didn't know what it was doing with the thing. As copy protection became more common, and hacking groups sprung up, a simple serial wasn't enough, that's why there were so many pirate sites and CDs full of cracked games, also keygens were popular.

What you *could* do, would be to combine the serial with a machine id before storing it, that way, it would only work on that machine. Of course, this would probably be mac address or ram or disk based (they were in the old days on CAD systems for example), this then leads to fun issues when people upgrade their hardware. Some games would need the key re-entering or reinstalling though.

There are lots of ways to screw up the user experience that won't stop pirates/cracked copies, even small games get cracked these days.

I *think* the way Cas does it for puppygames games might be a good compromise.

Endolf

Offline lhkbob

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« Reply #9 - Posted 2012-07-10 07:40:03 »

Steam was created for Half Life 2.  HL1 used pretty much standard CD key systems without any internet activation IIRC.


I read Half life and instantly thought Steam :/ didn't stop to think about the timeline.

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Offline princec

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« Reply #10 - Posted 2012-07-10 09:00:31 »

The coolest DRM ever (seriously, google it Cheesy)

Cas Smiley

Offline Cero
« Reply #11 - Posted 2012-07-10 13:20:14 »

The coolest DRM ever (seriously, google it Cheesy)

What I dont get about it is: How do you "bake" personal data into the game ? Not technically, but, I mean that would imply that you cannot ship the same game just like that to everybody, but everytime a part of it is customized. How does that work ?

Offline princec

« JGO Spiffy Duke »


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« Reply #12 - Posted 2012-07-10 14:14:33 »

Registered owner's name and email address is encoded by the private key. If you're fine with giving out those two bits of information to a warez board that's fine by me.

In any case we still use server validation and can permanently disable a key should the games be allowed to connect to the internet. In practise it's just way too much bother to disconnect from the internet just to play it, versus the actual amount of money we ask for our games.

Cas Smiley

Offline Cero
« Reply #13 - Posted 2012-07-10 14:27:59 »

Registered owner's name and email address is encoded by the private key.

But how does the name and email get into the game. Since, when you sell it using BMT Micro for instance, its already a big .exe installer for example. How do you then inject those informations ?

Or do you do it later when the person starts the game for the first time ? / In your case tries to activate it from demo to full version

Offline princec

« JGO Spiffy Duke »


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« Reply #14 - Posted 2012-07-10 15:12:19 »

Well, try one and see. You register the demo version by popping in your email address; we send back the key, and stash that using Java Preferences APIs. All detailed in the blog post.

Cas Smiley

Offline Oskuro

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Coding in Style


« Reply #15 - Posted 2012-08-01 20:14:58 »

Actually, the best DRM out there is quite simple: Just make sure no one has any interest in your game [/sarcasm]

Now, seriously, not even online activations are safe (Steam gets pirated quite easily, for example, and there are plenty of WoW "private servers" out there).

In my opinion, apart from doing like PuppyGames and implementing a user-friendly DRM that doesn't punish legitimate players (And them being unable to activate their game when you eventually pull the plug on the validation server is a punishment), the best bet is to protect the online components of your game, if there are any.

Say, require registration for multiplayer, to download patches, to access the support forums... Or, if you have the infrastructure, stream content from the server upon connection.

Just don't be obnoxious, unless you turn out a megahit, intrusive DRM will do you more harm than good.

Offline Oskuro

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Coding in Style


« Reply #16 - Posted 2012-08-02 09:12:20 »

Also, these are interesting ways to handle DRM that can be fun to implement:

6 Hilarious Ways Game Designers are Screwing With Pirates

(Yes, I know this thread is more about the technical aspects of DRM, but the other thread on copy-protection is almost a year old  Cry)

Offline princec

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« Reply #17 - Posted 2012-08-02 09:18:05 »

As a small bombshell we are actually probably going to completely ditch our DRM, and even our direct sales, and sell exclusively on Steam in the not too distant future. Direct sales are now so pitifully low it's almost pointless maintaining the infrastructure for it any more. All we're waiting for is the Steam Linux launch, honestly, and that's a wrap.

Cas Smiley

Offline UprightPath
« Reply #18 - Posted 2012-08-02 09:24:00 »

Dear lord. That's... The Earthbound one... That's... Wow... Ow.

I mean, I applaud them (They did think of everything, even sound effects that you can only hear during the ending) but that hurts.

Offline theagentd

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« Reply #19 - Posted 2012-08-02 13:18:44 »

I thought number 3 was a lot more hilarious... xDDDD

Myomyomyo.
Offline Oskuro

JGO Knight


Medals: 41
Exp: 6 years


Coding in Style


« Reply #20 - Posted 2012-08-02 13:33:43 »

As a small bombshell we are actually probably going to completely ditch our DRM, and even our direct sales, and sell exclusively on Steam in the not too distant future.

If you have the clout to make it worthwhile, and the opportunity to sell on Steam, it's a good choice.

I think the important bit about Direct sales is that there is not barrier to entry, and thus anyone can have a stab at it. Marketplaces like Steam (or other gated/closed platforms) can turn an actual loss if your product is not up to the challenge, so it's unreasonable to expect new developers with untested products to jump into said markets straight away (not to mention they probably won't be able to do so anyway).

The greatest problem for... Well, for any industry, has always been distribution. Publishers/Distributors have had an iron grip on their respective markets for a long time, and, driven by profitability, have steered said markets in specific directions, to the detriment of newcomers with new fresh ideas.

Direct sales might not be the most lucrative option, but they give the chance for a newcomer to try their new idea unimpeded, and, in case they succeed, carve their own niche (Like, you know, Minecraft did).

No one said it is easy, but having a bad option beats having no option at all.  Smiley


Edit:
I thought number 3 was a lot more hilarious... xDDDD

Sounds hilarious, but that one crosses the line, as you can pretty much have your life ruined by the exposure of said details. It's one thing to berate the pirate, or take the game they haven't payed for away. But exposing them to, for example, becoming unemployable, is way too much.

Not to mention that the "screenshot of the desktop" thing probably infringes on privacy rights big time.


And the Earthbound thing is indeed cruel, but the Vuvuzelas (#2) have me shivering.

Offline sproingie

JGO Kernel


Medals: 202



« Reply #21 - Posted 2012-08-02 17:11:10 »

These are people who pirated a hentai game.  How much shame could they possibly have?  Still, seems incredibly illegal, considering how strong privacy laws are in Japan.

Oh yeah, and copy protection misfires all the goddam time, so basically it's a great way to to destroy customer relationships or worse.
Offline Oskuro

JGO Knight


Medals: 41
Exp: 6 years


Coding in Style


« Reply #22 - Posted 2012-08-02 19:33:24 »

Using porn might be shameful, but is not illegal. The problem is that going public with what porn you like can result in prejudice from others, for example employers (I mean, there was a trend a time back for employers to ignore people who played World of Warcraft on grounds of it being potentially distracting... Yes, it's a cruel and unfair world).



Offline ra4king

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« Reply #23 - Posted 2012-08-02 19:59:50 »

Wait....how exactly did they detect that they were using pirated copies?

Offline Oskuro

JGO Knight


Medals: 41
Exp: 6 years


Coding in Style


« Reply #24 - Posted 2012-08-02 20:10:13 »

They released a "cracked" version on purpose, which asked for personal information (and some apparently were stupid enough to give it) and took a screenshot of the user's desktop.

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