How a Laser-Shot Disk Defeats Hackers & Pirates (Coding Secrets)

Share this video on

What's Hot

What's New

Top Grossing

Top of the Chart

Recommend

RarefoilB : "Sonic 3D Backup" "There's nothing important on this disk" I have even more respect for Jon now.

Larry Bundy Jr : Amazing how incredibly stupid someone can be to phone in and complain that their pirated game doesn't work. Should have asked for their address. :D

Tony Lancer : Jon frustrated millions of pirates with 512KB of RAM. He can *PROTEC* us.

Question Block Gaming : That's a really, really impressive way of combating pirates! Lots of modern games do similar stuff, like Batman Arkham Asylum not letting you glide or Serious Sam 3 adding the invincible red scorpion; though those games were cracked very shortly after release. I think the most impressive thing to me is knowing exactly *where* on a floppy disk to burn the hole. That seems crazy, to know a floppy disk so well that you can burn a hole in a specific spot and then have data try to write in exactly that location. Wow!

Talon The Retro Gamer : Coding Secrets has become one of my favorite video series on YouTube.

Rodrigo Badin : I can't stand the audacity of people who pirate then call the developers complaing after.

Herring & Chips : I recall someone telling me about the hole trick when I was little and I checked all my discs and held them up to the light to find the holes. I thought they were lying.

Ninjastar Compass : Person: "Why can't I pass level 4" Publisher: *Shoots Laser*

1ucasvb : Haha! "obviously not being used for anything important"

Ichiki Hayaite : "Defeat hackers with a laser?" See, this is how it should work. See something bad happen? Fire a laser at 'em. Hackers stealing your games? Orbital laser their neighborhood down. Jon has the damn right idea.

thiefrules : Time to pirate Leander, thanks!

Lynn McGhee : After watching this a did a little search, and found someone who said, back in 2001, that they'd had the game for nine years and regretted never being able to complete it. Somebody else came along and said, 'That's weird, I've never had an issue jumping on that platform; here, I've taken screenshots'. He then mentions just how long he has had the game, having got the crack before it was even officially released! Isn't it a shame it took him ten years to learn he should have bought it? Very interesting, great work.

RealTheXev : I am TheXev, a member of mirrormoon translations (mirrormoon.org), a group that fan translated Melty Blood, Melty Blood ReACT, Melty Blood AC, into English on the PC. One of the funnier things that happened when we built our translated patch installer for Melty Blood ReACT (which required you to insert both CD's to install all of the files) was that we inadvertently exposed a counterfeit scheme that was going on at several anime conventions where sellers were selling a Melty Blood + ReACT "DVD" with both games on the same disc! The problem was there was never an official DVD release of the game and our patch installer wouldn't work with these DVDs! Complaints came flooding in after we released our patch with its included installer, asking us to include support for the DVD release of the game! We declined to add support after investigating and amended our patch's intro screen notes to let people know that if they paid money for the game in English or on DVD, that they had been scammed and to contact authorities. As far as I am aware our patches were never included in any counterfeit merchandise (which is actually quite surprising), however I could be wrong. In a similar situation with our release of Fate/Stay Night in English, we decided to include a feature in our installer where you could insert the PS2 version of Fate/Stay Night and the installer would rip the voice tracks off of the PS2 version, convert them to a useable PC format, and then include them as speech in the PC version. I think we even included an English version of the PS2 exclusive story arc, but I wasn't as involved in the group at the time so my memory on the matter is hazy. Turns out the voice ripping feature didn't work for a vast majority of people. After investigating, it turns out the PS2 version had a 2nd release with a modified ISO, but it was still a legitimate copy of the game. The group members worked, for I think, 2-3 months to add support for this 2nd version ISO. We were never aware of this 2nd version because all of the mirrormoon members had purchased the PS2 version upon its release!

DefinitelyRussian : You used a photo at the end of telephones from Argentina from the mythic now gone Entel company from the 80s. that's the more random stuff I've seen

EpicLPer : If only those pirates would've figured out where the hole would go, they would've had a crack all along haha

sonc- a-donc. eh : "Hold my beer"

Holammer : Classic! I ran into that one and years later when Amiga emulation started taking off, the poorly cracked version was the only one circulating on Rom sites.

Galahadfairlight : Bold claims Jon, alas your history needs correcting. Yes FFC of Skid Row did miss the level 4 protection, but it was spotted very quickly after Legend trained it and realised there was an issue and he released a fix soon after. The Company also cracked the game 100% first time, but because it was on four disks unlike the 3 disk Skid Row crack, it wasnt embraced as much. However, the reason the Skid Row crack was on the same amount of disks as the original is because they removed the box artwork picture and your Travellers Tales logo. What you havent pointed out is that the MFM format of the disk system Leander uses is a larger capacity than a standard AmigaDOS formatted disk, hence why The Company had to release with an extra disk, because unlike Skid Row, they didnt remove any of the pictures Skid Row removed. As for the 'shame' of cracking Leander and it only working on 1meg machines, not only did Leander take advantage of extra mem as you know, but 1meg was pretty much a defacto upgrade that most Amiga owners had, the same year Leander was released, Team 17 started up and they only catered for 1meg machines......hardly an issue really. Good work on the protection, but the ideas you used in Leander were in regular use by other programmers so it was nothing new, you were just lucky that FFC of Skid Row got his sticky paws on it and lets be polite and say that playtesting was an afterthought. But the myth that Leander was some sort of tour de force in protection is misleading. It was cracked 100% by The Company in the first week of the games release.

mcbpete : Jon: Apologies is this has already been asked loads, but what the music you use in the background to a lot of your videos (including this one). Is it from an old game/demo/.mod ? Absolutely love these videos by the way - Been a happy subscriber for many a month and delighted with all these awesome secrets !

ItHurtsWhenItHurts : YOU FOOL! I CAN NOW FINALLY HACK A COPY OF LEANDER AND RELEASE IT TO THE WORLD, MY LONG AWAITING EVIL PLAN HAS FINALLY PAID OFF AND THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO STOP ME NOW MUHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!

72speedway : Love the variable name!

Daniel Monteiro : Wasn't that too expensive to manufacture? Or was it worth the cost?

Angel Avila : he hac he protect but most importantly, he protec

MrAdminaras : Can you link to an original rom so that we can properly try to hack it ? :D

PikaPerfect : **sonic 3D backup disc**“Now this isn’t for anything important” Sweet mother of jesus what have you done

Miitanuk : I remember having a pirated copy of this bought for me back in the day (my dad used to bring back games from the market each week) and it working fine, still on 3 disks, and I was also able to complete it so someone must have managed to defeat the protection at some point. I'll check to see who the cracking group were if I can get my Amiga working on a modern TV...

ray wt : delightfully devilish

SpaD Overolls : he hac he protec but most importantly - he's smart as hec

Tails19935 : Genius! Both the first pirate check and the second! If I were a coder though... I would like to make ways to where the player thinks the pirated game is normal but instead have weird anomalies happen that make the game crash in crazy ways and have 4th wall breaks or even act as if it's haunted. It's as if the game is attacking the hacker back. Whether it be deleting save files or creating invincible glitchy looking enemies with ominous music. Something about this idea is really cool to me.

PR Fo : I was on browsing the Cutting Room Floor website the other day and saw that Puggsy for the Sega Genesis had an interesting anti-piracy scheme. From what I understand it would write onto the SRAM of third-party copying devices if they were detected. When playing this "modified' version of the game, which is essentially a demo, it ends abruptly after a few levels and displays a message from the TT Devs. You should make a video about how you came up with this idea and how you got the anti-piracy scheme to work.

Josh Sadoff : Could you argue, (not my opinion just playing devil's advocate) that your directors cut is a pirated game?

inrlyehheisdreaming : More of these, please!

Nixel : I've always found the war between pirates and developers fascinating. Both sides equally so. Personally, I buy whenever it's an option, but I can't help but be at least somewhat impressed by some of the things modern hackers and pirates manage to pull off.

Lev Zurcher : Incredible example of keeping pirates at bay! Awesome video

AmateurPanda92 : I love the irony that those wanting to run the pirated game probably had to pay more to buy the RAM expansions to run it than it would have cost to buy the game legitimately in the first place.

B0undarybreaker : How much impact on the game's performance did all this adding and subtracting have? I know that many modern DRM systems like Denuvo are actually classified as malware because of how much they impact performance, so I wonder what sort of performance hit an Amiga would take.

CodeNameZ : This is why we today have denuvo on PC because there are people who will pay for a top of a line PC but wants all games to be free. Do you think it is fair that we need to pay for stuff while pirates have it for free? That is why we have denuvo so developers get the money for they hard work

Squiggs 【Glitches - ROM Hacks - Speedruns】 : This is flippin brilliant. I’d heard of the laser thing but had no idea how it worked. The DreadPirateRoberts protection was pretty brilliant too. This has quickly become the channel that I’m most excited to see a new video from.

jse07 : The very first crack by "The Company" released in the same month as the game works fine with a loader disk, no need for extra ram.

TheMadScientistRael : The best part of this is that this is actually DRM that CAN'T his legal owners. It's physical DRM. Modern games can't do things like this, so there're always cases where the DRM flags someone falsely and you end up with things like legal Alan Wake owners ending up with the pirate eyepatch and such (before they made it possible for everyone to get).

Lutz Rosentreter : This was a great episode and I'm waiting eagerly for the next one!

sockatume : I recall that Codemasters later did something similar with CD games, including patterns of benign slightly bad data that they could identify if they explicitly looked for it, but which error correction would fix on an ordinary read. Therefore any simple copy would lack the iffy data, which the game noted. They pursued the fine tradition of making the game run while changing variables to make the player suck too.

Mu'izz Siddique : "So many publishers worked with developers to try and figure out ways of at least delaying the copying of a new game." Funny, that's Denuvo's selling point now, as if it was any different years before.

DaVince21 : How did you ensure with manufacturing that the hole was always burnt in the exact right location? Would you think there were any false positives in this?

Jeff Beresford : Sneaky von sneakhausen.

SullySadface : Bear in mind, I have a very basic idea of what I'm talking about, so forgive me if my usage of terminology is off. I just grew up playing a great many Psygnosis and TT games in the 90s. My question is, how exactly did Amiga disks end up with the NDOS flag? As a kid, it always bothered me that I couldn't launch some games from within Workbench itself such as Leander (obviously), Cytron, Shadow of the Beast II, and Worms (the 3 disk non-directors cut), to name a few. Was there a specialized Kickstart rom written on the disk as a sort of bootstrapper? I definitely recall Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego, Defender of the Crown, and I think Civilization all seemed to boot into (a very ugly) WB1.3 if DF0 and DF1 were swapped during bootup.

Toxic Atom : HE PROTEC

Gadget TheOne : The language you’re using is Assembler, correct?

Jeroen Knoester : That is a very clever trick! I do wonder though, what did you do when someone write protected the original?

BdR76 : Excellent video, reminds me of an old Gamasutra article about Spyro 3 on the PS1. That game was also littered with game-breaking anti-piracy code. For example eggs and gems are removed from levels so the player couldn't progress to later levels.