Copy protection in SCI/Sierra games

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lwc
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Copy protection in SCI/Sierra games

Post by lwc » Sat Oct 16, 2010 1:50 pm

Now that SCI/Sierra games are supported, how did you deal with their (usually in-game) copy protections?

They're not currently listed in README.txt's "3.1) Copy Protection" section.

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sev
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Post by sev » Sat Oct 16, 2010 1:55 pm

As usually, for the games where exes were not patched by the IP owners, we left them intact. Moreover, widely known cracked versions are not supported.


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MusicallyInspired
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Post by MusicallyInspired » Sat Oct 16, 2010 3:24 pm

The only two games I can think of that have the copy protection removed officially are the CD versions of Space Quest IV and King's Quest V. They were actually removed from the script files.

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Post by lwc » Sat Oct 16, 2010 5:32 pm

MusicallyInspired wrote:The only two games I can think of that have the copy protection removed officially are the CD versions of Space Quest IV and...
This one has multiple copy protections. They are (by order of appearance - but correct me if I left anything out):
  1. The requested code when entering a timepod for the first time.
  2. The code needed to adjust a laser beam.
  3. The code needed to adjust a second laser beam.
  4. The code needed to adjust a third laser beam.
Are you saying all of them were removed? Or were they made to accept any code? The first code has a standalone screen that affects nothing but itself. But the rest trigger other actions (i.e. they adjust laser beams).

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Post by m_kiewitz » Sat Oct 16, 2010 6:02 pm

lwc wrote:
MusicallyInspired wrote:The only two games I can think of that have the copy protection removed officially are the CD versions of Space Quest IV and...
This one has multiple copy protections. They are (by order of appearance - but correct me if I left anything out):
  1. The requested code when entering a timepod for the first time.
  2. The code needed to adjust a laser beam.
  3. The code needed to adjust a second laser beam.
  4. The code needed to adjust a third laser beam.
Are you saying all of them were removed? Or were they made to accept any code? The first code has a standalone screen that affects nothing but itself. But the rest trigger other actions (i.e. they adjust laser beams).
Afaik the only copy protection was actually in the timepod. And that timepod code screen got removed in Space Quest 4 CD. At least in sq4cd, you had to turn the lasers till you were able to get through. Havent played through floppy version for ages, so I'm not 100% sure.

The copy protections, that Sierra disabled, were all disabled inside the scripts. So those protections are disabled in sierra sci and in ScummVM.

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Post by KuroShiro » Sun Oct 17, 2010 1:02 am

lwc wrote:
MusicallyInspired wrote:The only two games I can think of that have the copy protection removed officially are the CD versions of Space Quest IV and...
This one has multiple copy protections. They are (by order of appearance - but correct me if I left anything out):
  1. The requested code when entering a timepod for the first time.
  2. The code needed to adjust a laser beam.
  3. The code needed to adjust a second laser beam.
  4. The code needed to adjust a third laser beam.
Are you saying all of them were removed? Or were they made to accept any code? The first code has a standalone screen that affects nothing but itself. But the rest trigger other actions (i.e. they adjust laser beams).
The lasers were never a copy protection. You just had to rotate them by the correct angles until they were all standing straight.

The first code was copy protection in the floppy version, but was removed in the CD version.

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Post by MusicallyInspired » Sun Oct 17, 2010 1:24 am

M_kiewitz and KuroShiro are correct. The laser beams were never copy protection. It was just best guess. There is some form of math to it in degrees, I believe. But it's difficult. Anyway, and the first time you use the time pod part was only in the floppy version.

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Post by BobbinT » Mon Nov 01, 2010 7:55 pm

I have to find another time to replay this game. But AFAIK, the laser beam are not that hard. I've been playing this game like ten times until now, at least before using ScummVM... :lol:

As for the copy protection, it will be a great pleasure if some of it can be removed, that is, the ones that were not tied with storylines.

A few examples:
- King's Quest 4 (there's actualy a debug mode that can bypass this. Too bad it cannot be activated in ScummVM)
- Colonel's Bequest; the fingerprints. Back in DOS days (in 90's), I had a patch that can bypass this.
- Island of Dr Brain. There's also a crack-patch that makes the landing always correct. (also in 90's)
- LSL5; I'm considering this because the flight codes are too weird for my taste. And there's already a crack that makes the game always accept the code. again, in 90's.

Some of examples which is recomended to stay intact:
- Space Quest 4 (and SQ1 VGA remake I think).
- ICEMAN.
- Freddy Pharkas: it was actually some recipes and lab tests.
- King's Quest 5 & 6.
- Conquest series.

As always, Ken & Roberta were kind enough to host manuals & hint books from all Sierra games at their site: www.sierragamers.com

Al Lowe, the creator of LSL series, Freddy Pharkas, & Torin's Passage; has also kind enough to host every manual and even a free CD talkie version of Freddy Pharkas ready for download: www.allowe.com

I still kept most of the manual books, although some of them are in bad shapes and must be handle with extra care. :P

BTW, do you know the weird thing is? Some of my Sierra backups from floppy days were actually already crack-applied, as several of it were actually impossible to back-up. KQ1-3 & Black Cauldron are one of the examples. I still kept the diskettes, but I doubt my old disk drives can still actually read it. :P

Anyway, those titles like KQ4,LSL5,ColBequest, etc are also cracked and protection bypassed. But when I'm playing these using emulators (Dosbox & ScummVM), they're all back! Weird huh... :?
at least I still had my old manual books and William's website for digital copy. :)

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Post by m_kiewitz » Tue Nov 02, 2010 7:54 am

BobbinT wrote:As for the copy protection, it will be a great pleasure if some of it can be removed, that is, the ones that were not tied with storylines.

A few examples:
- King's Quest 4 (there's actualy a debug mode that can bypass this. Too bad it cannot be activated in ScummVM)
- Colonel's Bequest; the fingerprints. Back in DOS days (in 90's), I had a patch that can bypass this.
- Island of Dr Brain. There's also a crack-patch that makes the landing always correct. (also in 90's)
- LSL5; I'm considering this because the flight codes are too weird for my taste. And there's already a crack that makes the game always accept the code. again, in 90's.
Those copy protections were not officially removed, only using actual cracks. Because of that, we can't and won't disable them.

All those sierra people do not own the rights to the games anymore, Activision does. I guess noone will sue them, but they would sue us - especially because they still sell most of the games.

Anyway for some games you may just load a saved game from after the copy protection, so you won't have to answer it on every startup.

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Post by BobbinT » Tue Nov 02, 2010 9:00 am

well.... what do u know... it actually works. I kinda forgot, although I've been using that while playing ICEMAN. :P

But at least for the case of KQ4 & ColBequest, veteran Sierra gamers already know how to bypass the copy protection without resorting to cracks, as long as we (me) can access to SCI debug module/menu. Right now, I cannot access that using ScummVM, it still works fine with DosBox though.

Do ScummVM actually disable the SCI debug because it might interfere with ScummVM's own debug? :?

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Post by lwc » Tue Nov 02, 2010 9:10 am

BobbinT wrote:Al Lowe, the creator of LSL series, Freddy Pharkas, & Torin's Passage; has also kind enough to host...even a free CD talkie version of Freddy Pharkas ready for download: www.allowe.com
Wait, what? I've looked everywhere there and found no such thing. Do you really think it's likely he not only hosts something illegal but hosts like 700M of it?
m_kiewitz wrote:All those sierra people do not own the rights to the games anymore.
You do realize "those Sierra people" never owned rights in the first place, right? Only Sierra as a company owned rights, not its individual employees (especially as we're talking about personal websites).
BobbinT wrote:I cannot access that using ScummVM, it still works fine with DosBox though. Do ScummVM actually disable the SCI debug because it might interfere with ScummVM's own debug? :?
Well, DOSBox just plays the original game without any modification. That is, it runs the original EXE files. As for ScummVM, it runs its own EXE file. I bet they didn't "disable" SCI debug mode as much as never invested human hours to re-invent it in the first place.
Last edited by lwc on Tue Nov 02, 2010 9:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by md5 » Tue Nov 02, 2010 9:20 am

BobbinT wrote:But at least for the case of KQ4 & ColBequest, veteran Sierra gamers already know how to bypass the copy protection without resorting to cracks, as long as we (me) can access to SCI debug module/menu. Right now, I cannot access that using ScummVM, it still works fine with DosBox though.

Do ScummVM actually disable the SCI debug because it might interfere with ScummVM's own debug? :?
Yes, plus ScummVM's console is superior to what SCI had, thus we see no real reason to implement the original debugger fully

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Post by KuroShiro » Tue Nov 02, 2010 9:29 am

lwc wrote:
BobbinT wrote:Al Lowe, the creator of LSL series, Freddy Pharkas, & Torin's Passage; has also kind enough to host...even a free CD talkie version of Freddy Pharkas ready for download: www.allowe.com
Wait, what? I've looked everywhere there and found no such thing. Do you really think it's likely he not only hosts something illegal but hosts like 700M of it?
No, he only hosts very old games of his, not FPFP. They are still illegal and discussing them here is probably violating forum rule #0. There *is* a lot of cool legal stuff there such as sound tracks and design documents though.

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Post by BobbinT » Tue Nov 02, 2010 10:53 am

I guess I can't really proved it, since back then (I think it's around 2005 or before) he (Al Lowe) did offer exclusive download link to FPFP CD Talkie version (not the floppy ones) which was really a big joy to me since I only got the floppy version. And it was download resumable too.

Well anyway, I guess I had to be more careful for posting this kind of statement which I don't hold any kind of proof. I also check the "What's new" section on his page and didn't find it. Either my memory tricks me or that information was removed for legal issues. One thing I can assure is that I got my digital copy NOT from abandonware or pirated websites, the big man did somehow inform this on his website. Again, can't prove it. :?

Well... FPFP aside, regarding the SCI debug: It's not that ScummVM debugging are inferior or anything. It's just that veteran Sierra gamers already getting used with original SCI debug, plus there's already documentation available on websites. I'm talking about habits here, not the technology.

Still, this is only related to the copy-protection issue and my concern are only on this part, although there's a lot more to it.

And about that Sierra legal mumbo-jumbo, I already know those things, back then when Vivendi still own the "brand" and "axed" through that "Black-Chainsaw Monday" until it shifted to Activision. Still, it didn't stop the creative persons themselves to post their products, although it's limited to documentation. Al Lowe are even more darer. Not only he post working games that clearly had ties with another big company (Disney) no matter how old that is, but he also expresses his grief & sadness of how his LSLs has involved into including his effort so far.

Still, we-people who are really not related to those important guys are threading in dangerous waters. And I glad so far Activision (plus other holding companies) didn't axed this project yet (and hopefully never). I'm just glad that SCI are finally supported through ScummVM. :D

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Post by MusicallyInspired » Tue Nov 02, 2010 11:11 pm

There used to be a website dedicated to providing a free download to Freddy Pharkas because it claimed that the rights to the game had reverted back to Al Lowe, who allegedly gave his blessing for it to be released. I've since revisited that website a few months ago out of curiosity and it is no longer available there.

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