Alone in the Dark - Skip Copy Protection

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marti4d
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Alone in the Dark - Skip Copy Protection

Post by marti4d »

I know it's a really old game now, and it's kind of a "who cares" situation probably, but I was doing a little bit of reverse engineering on Alone in the Dark, and found out there is a cheat code to skip the copy protection at the beginning of the game that the creators must've built in for debugging purposes.

Simply type "benjaminyaelfred" on the copy protection screen, and it will skip right past. Note that this doesn't always work in DosBox because of the weird keymapping it does, but it works in Bochs and would work on an actual DOS PC if any of those existed anymore.

My guess would be the code is "Frederick Raynal" (fred) and "Yael Barroz" (yael). I don't really know who Benjamin is, though...

*Edit* I just tested and it does work in DosBox as long as you have the game properly configured to use a QWERTY keyboard. It's a French game and I guess that wasn't always the default.
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sev
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Post by sev »

Wouldn't it be easier to study source code of Free in the Dark project instead? The engine has been fully reversed.


Eugene
Robot_Maker20
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Post by Robot_Maker20 »

I wonder if that's for the CD version - it's noteworthy if AITD is ever added to ScummVM or ResidualVM, as there are specific rules about bypassing copy protection in a ScummVM title - I believe it's only done if at least one original commercial release did it (e.g. just about every LucasArts Scumm CD talkie version, plus the CD dual release of Monkey Island 2)
Wesker
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Post by Wesker »

sev wrote:Wouldn't it be easier to study source code of Free in the Dark project instead? The engine has been fully reversed.


Eugene
Unfortunately that project is pretty much in an early state and it has been abandoned since long ago.

I would love having Alone in the Dark support completed (it's far from that), together with added support for Alone in the Dark 2, Alone in the Dark 3 and Time Gate. But it's not very likely that will ever happen with Free in the Dark, given the circumstances.
Robot_Maker20 wrote:I wonder if that's for the CD version - it's noteworthy if AITD is ever added to ScummVM or ResidualVM, as there are specific rules about bypassing copy protection in a ScummVM title - I believe it's only done if at least one original commercial release did it (e.g. just about every LucasArts Scumm CD talkie version, plus the CD dual release of Monkey Island 2)
Almost all CD-ROM releases of LucasArts and Sierra games had their copy protection removed, no matter if its a talkie version or not. And the same can be said with most games from other companies which had an original floppy version at first and then a CD-ROM release.
marti4d
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Post by marti4d »

sev wrote:Wouldn't it be easier to study source code of Free in the Dark project instead? The engine has been fully reversed.


Eugene
Not that I don't appreciate all the work Yazoo put into it, but one major problem with Free in the Dark is that he reversed engineered the engine a little too well. If you look at the source code, it's basically the C-ified version of the game's actual disassembled code. In a lot of countries (US and Canada for sure), that's totally illegal, even if you're giving it away for free.

The legal way to do it is to reverse-engineer the data format used for the resources for the game, and write a completely different codebase that uses that same resources without copying code.

This is the approach that projects like ReactOS took, because if they had reused disassembled Windows code you can bet Microsoft would be on them like flies-on-a-pile-of-you-know-what.

Still, hopefully somebody steps up to the plate and gets AITD game added to ResidualVM. It's an amazing piece of work and deserves to be preserved.

I don't know many people that thought the other two were very good though, so maybe skip them, haha.

I have a certain amount of documentation from the data reverse engineering I've done so far. When I am further along I'll publish it on here and maybe it'll motivate someone else to use it to rewrite the engine.

I have the format for itd_ress.pak, priority.itd, some of defines.itd, present.pak, cameraxx.pak, francais.pak, listsamp.pak.

I want to at least figure out the format for the meshes and animations from listbody.pak and listanim.pak before I post everything about the game's data on here or ResidVm's site.

Cheers,
Chris
Wesker
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Post by Wesker »

marti4d wrote:I don't know many people that thought the other two were very good though, so maybe skip them, haha.
Well, you know what they say. If you are able to have a working engine supporting all the Alone in the Dark games which ran in the original engine you are aiming to, why dismiss Alone in the Dark 2 and Alone in the Dark 3 rather than supporting them? There's also Time Gate, which used a enhanced version of the engine supporting texture mapping (like the console versions of Alone in the Dark 2 did).

Besides, there's too much bad press regarding Alone in the Dark 3 for some reason. True, it's not as good as Alone in the Dark, but it's not as action-oriented as Alone in the Dark 2 either. It's still a good adventure themed survival horror in my eyes.
Liguria
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Post by Liguria »

Man, I'm really glad I stumbled upon this thread.

Let me tell you a little bit about my history with Alone in the Dark (might explain why I'm so happy; skip to the bottom of the post if you're not interested in a rather long story):

Years ago, when I was still a kid (and didn't have a lot of experience with computers yet) I got an original, second hand copy of Alone in the Dark (box and everything), but the little booklet with the copy protection combinations was missing.

I really wanted to play the game though (screenshots on the back of the box looked awesome!), so instead of giving up and forgetting about it, I spent many an hour to find valid combinations and writing down the ones I found, as well as all the failed tries (only possible to try 'random' combinations 3 times; after that I needed to quit to DOS and restart the game for the next 3 tries. Oh, the memories :)).
At least my efforts resulted in being able to play the game every now and then, if I was lucky enough for the game to ask me for a combination I had already 'discovered'.

Many years later I finally got access to the internet from home and I can tell you that searching for that copy protection booklet was one of the first things I tried. Without success. At least for the first few years. But I never gave up...
Be it my improved search behavior, or improved search engines (or a combination of the two) but one day I found a .txt file on some forum with all the combinations listed! I don't know how and I don't know where (I did try to re-find it in the following years; last try was yesterday actually, after stumbling upon this thread; never found it again), but I was so happy!! After all those years of stubborn searching I finally found what I was after (felt like I had found a pirate's treasure, to be honest :))!!

So you can probably imagine how psyched I was to find this 'benjaminyaelfred' cheat code to get past the copy protection. Tried it immediately on the original copy of the game and it just works. Wow...

Anyway, eventually I started hobbying with software development (games mostly; never released anything) and a few years later got into professional software development. But something that has always been in the back of my mind was to do a remake of Alone in the Dark.
Of course I also found the Free in the Dark source a long time ago and great as it is, I never quite got around to actually dedicate a lot of time studying it, or feeling like improving it.

So, now to hear that someone else is reverse engineering the AITD data formats (in 2013!) is something that I think it absolutely great! I certainly hope you will continue your efforts and publish what you'll find (maybe even already publish what you found so far? I'd be very interested)

In short: Thanks for posting this 'cheat'. Keep up the good work with the reverse engineering and I hope to see a publication of the data formats rather soon!! :)
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