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Software Copy Protection Questions

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I am currently talking with a company that has a popular comic book and may be working with them on a PC game. I will have to use DRM to protect the art assets, etc. that are used in the game. I am just starting to explore this area as it is something I have yet to require. Any hints and tips from  DCers experienced in this area would be appreciated.

There's nothing you can do that can't be broken, even trying is a moot point - art assets obviously have to be shown on screen (otherwise the game would be pretty boring ;)), so even if you employ encryption and whatnot, it has to be decrypted at some point.

Tell the company that "protection" of that sort is futile, and that they should instead rely on copyright and the legal system to settle potential problems...

while f0dder's main points may be right, if you do this:

Tell the company that "protection" of that sort is futile, and that they should instead rely on copyright and the legal system to settle potential problems...
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if you do that they are likely to fire you and hire someone who tells them they know magical tricks that will keep everything safe until the end of time.

i might suggest a more middle of the road approach.  find a suitable protection that doesn't inconvenience the user, and don't expect miracles from it.

I'll try to clarify a bit what I am looking for, but it is a little difficult to do because part of what I am doing is researching what I need in the first place. I completely understand the whole issue of copy protection not working, blah, blah, blah, but if I am going to do licensing deals with companies that require I use copy protection to protect their IP, I need a solution.

In this particular case, I am building a game using Garage Games' Torque Game Builder, but that won't always be the case. I am looking for a single solution that I can use across the board for all the software I sell. I want to do mainly two things. 1) The standard license key required protection for installation and execution of the software and 2) protection of generic media assets like BMPs, PNGs, etc. that are used by the game and not stored in the EXE itself.

This is all new to me, so I can't be more specific because I don't know what is available for this type of thing. I am also looking for pointers to information that will educate me on this whole area.

And today I plan on searching through the Garage Game forums to see what is mentioned there. I'll probably also search through the IndieGamer and GameDev forums as well.

I'm afraid mouser is right.

Okay, first off: use a "wad"/"pack"/"bigfile" approach, instead of individual files... (ie., like ID software have been doing since doom and earlier). This will keep regular users from messing around, but will be "no match for batman". You can add encryption on top of that to prevent hexeditor-capable users from identifying file signatures, but obviously this won't stop reverse engineers.

For some additional ideas on how to protect those WADs, check out starforce RE tools that the RELOADED group released... this also shows that even relatively sophisticated schemes are futile. (Sorry if that link isn't appropriate here, mouser).


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