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PlayStation (Games) Hardware Hacking

PS2 Controller Hack Nets Codes for GTA 67

Posted by Zonk
from the imaginative-gaming dept.
glengineer writes "Gotta love edisoncarter for his cheesy, brute force, and effective hack of the PS2 controller to discover cheats for Grand Theft Auto - San Andreas. He used the parallel port of his PC connected to relays on the PS2 controller to step thru the combinations of button pushing needed to obtain cheats that were not released by Rockstar."
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PS2 Controller Hack Nets Codes for GTA

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  • Wow... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, 2005 @11:47AM (#11385588)
    By FAR, one of the best things to come about from A.D.D.
    • I think I must have some form of ADD, because at first I thought the initial missions in GTASA were very tedious, what with the difficulty of getting around fast in the starting area... too much urban clutter.

      Yea so I cheated to get the jetpack to get past the tediousness, but I stopped using it as soon as other flying vehicles became available.
      • It never ceases to amaze me how small a part the 'Autos' actually play in Grand Theft Auto. ;)
  • by eviltypeguy (521224) on Monday January 17, 2005 @11:48AM (#11385589)
    Apparently the webserver's connection is over a parallel port connection too.
    • Must be a new, faster parallel. In a second or two, I was sitting in front of some cool-sounding cheats.

      I'll certainly be trying the Mega Punch soon.

  • huh. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xerxesVII (707232) on Monday January 17, 2005 @11:48AM (#11385590)
    I remember being a little kid, looking at Nintendo Power's codes section and wondering where all those codes came from. Did kids like me just sit there all day punching random codes in and seeing what happened?

    Looks like someone figured out a way to do just that.

    • Re:huh. (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by LiENUS (207736)
      You do know Nintendo Power is basicly an advertisement for Nintendo that you pay for don't you? Those codes come straight from Nintendo.
      • Re:huh. (Score:4, Funny)

        by xerxesVII (707232) on Monday January 17, 2005 @11:56AM (#11385654)
        I remember being a little kid...
        Yes, I know that now. But thank you for your pedantry.
      • Re:huh. (Score:3, Informative)

        by daveo0331 (469843)
        Mod parent up! I'm surprised there's people that read (or used to read) Nintendo Power and don't realize Nintendo publishes it, or that can't figure out how a Nintendo publication would go about getting cheat codes for Nintendo games...

        Anyway, Nintendo Power also used to publish glitches, like World -1 in SMB1 or the jumping-over-the-top-of-the-screen-and-using-fair y -magic glitch in Zelda 2. Since these things wouldn't have been put in deliberately, I'm guessing these were sent in by readers. The maga
    • Re:huh. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by crow (16139) on Monday January 17, 2005 @12:02PM (#11385692) Homepage Journal
      There are several ways to acquire cheat codes:

      * Leak from an insider

      * Lucky guess or brute force

      * Analysis of the code

      This looks like a new method of brute force. However, it would be easy for the game to detect it and disable all cheat codes--all they would have to do is have a bunch of extra special codes that instead of giving you more power, silently disable cheat codes.
      • by Mooga (789849)
        If push comes to shove, you can always pray.
      • Analysis of the code was surprisingly simple on the SEGA Genesis (probably same system on the other consoles). Everyone was storing a byte per button press with a single bit set in each byte (with a bit representing the button) and all codes were usually bunched together, almost as if they wanted people to find the codes.
  • Why do they exist? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by crow (16139) on Monday January 17, 2005 @12:04PM (#11385716) Homepage Journal
    Why do these cheat codes exist in the final product? I can understand having them for development--they need to be able to test different parts of the game. Buy why would they still exist in the released version?
    • That is the best part of the game. I know so many folks who bought GTA san andreas just to blow shit up. While I really enjoy the missions and the plot, IMHO few people actually play the game straight.

      • Damn right. I never played VC or SA but in GTA 3 I eventually got bored of all the stupid missions and would see how long I could stay alive with the army hunting me down.
        • Hell, even in the first version, top down view, I would see how many cars I could pile up and then get the multiple explosion bonus(exponential too) when I took one out... Man I got some high scores from that.

          Anyway, I've not actually played any version since.

          JC
        • by milkman_matt (593465) on Monday January 17, 2005 @02:01PM (#11387065)
          Damn right. I never played VC or SA but in GTA 3 I eventually got bored of all the stupid missions and would see how long I could stay alive with the army hunting me down.

          You know it's funny, when I BOUGHT VC I played it for about 25 minutes, other than that, my old roomie and I were just plugging in cheat codes and seeing who could last longest. The funny part is, I eventually got sucked into the plot (I -love- Scarface). Went and started playing the game, realized once I took over half the game, that I had so much damned money that the cheat codes couldn't compete with my arsenal :) But yeah, playing for survival is fun.

          You know what I miss though? Is that in GTA1 it gave you a REPORT once you finally got hospitalized or arrested. How many misdemeanors, felonies, cops you killed, civilians you killed, etc... Made it a hell of a lot more fun for going on rampages ;)
          • You know what I miss though? Is that in GTA1 it gave you a REPORT once you finally got hospitalized or arrested.

            You can still get that info in the 'stats' menu. How far you've biked, driven, flown, swam, tons of stuff. How many people/cops/gangsters you've killed too.

            With the new skills system in the game some of them rampage things are actually beneficial. Shooting at the range is rather boring IMHO once you've done it a couple of times, so, to increase my pistol skills I'd just ran into the street, b

          • VC was the best =)

    • by chudgoo (812186) on Monday January 17, 2005 @12:14PM (#11385829) Homepage
      Is the art of the Easter Egg lost on you or what?

      It's a long standing tradition among game makers to leave little presentsin the final build of the game,
      and much like real presents it's up to you whether or not to open them when you should (after you've beaten the game)
      or to completely destroy the experience by using them early on.

      In this age of big business and artificial limitations I find it very refreshing that developers remember where they came from.
      • by captnitro (160231) on Monday January 17, 2005 @12:33PM (#11386047)
        Even better, it's the presentation. You play a game once without them, and you play it with cheats the second or third time around -- it's an entirely different game.

        Last year when bored I became a fan of turning my UT2003 single-player speed ('slomo') down to something far below normal, like 0.001, 1.0 being normal. At that speed it became more like an elaborate chess game, where you had minutes to decide where to go or who to shoot first. While it's not for everyone, it made for some very interesting matches -- you savor the triumph of a frag a little more, and then kick your own ass for not noticing the guy behind you for four minutes.

        There's something that we like in games that's more about situations than strictly playing. Cheat codes allow us to get to the parts we really liked about the game.
        • back in high-school I enjoyed playing Doom and Doom2 all the way through using only the bazooka. I played everything else straight, no cheating on health or keys, just infinite ammo, used only for the bazooka.

          I tell you -- it's HARD that way, since shooting somebody too close would hurt you too. Long hallways became dangerous territory.

          Plus, I got to hear the sickening gib noise *constantly*.
        • Last year when bored I became a fan of turning my UT2003 single-player speed ('slomo') down to something far below normal, like 0.001, 1.0 being normal. At that speed it became more like an elaborate chess game, where you had minutes to decide where to go or who to shoot first. While it's not for everyone, it made for some very interesting matches -- you savor the triumph of a frag a little more, and then kick your own ass for not noticing the guy behind you for four minutes.

          So you were basically playin
      • In this age of big business and artificial limitations I find it very refreshing that developers remember where they came from.

        Mod that up, please. It's often fun to program a little trickery into these games, and far more fun to play a long, great-looking for a long time and find out you can play around with these hidden tricks.

        I played SA and loved it, but hardly expected all those cheats. [gtasanandreas.net] I think only the Genesis Sonic games have had better cheats [sonicunited.com]--where else can you add hundreds of robots all arou

      • Of course, the art is not lost on Codemasters who wants you to pay for codes in their Colin McRae titles. Ugh.
    • Maybe I'm too old and lame to be playing it, but there were a couple of missiong on GTA: VC which were just too hard for me to complete without using the 'slow motion' cheat codes.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I can understand having them for development--they need to be able to test different parts of the game. Buy why would they still exist in the released version?
      There's a non-zero chance that the two executables could behave in different ways. Since that's the case, it's easier to leave cheats in the game than re-test the entire release version of the game (which can take a few days).
      • It's worse than that - they *couldn't* retest the entire game without the cheat codes, because that would require super-players as testers who could reliably get to the end of the game in good time every time.

        The cheat codes are there to enable testing. So you can't launch without them...
    • "Why do these cheat codes exist in the final product?"

      To sell hint books.
  • by blueZhift (652272) on Monday January 17, 2005 @12:07PM (#11385746) Homepage Journal
    Heh heh heh! I love these kinds of hacks because they cut to the reason that PCs are both so useful and at the same time the bane of the movie, recording, and to some extent, the gaming industry. As far as I know, this hack to get the cheat codes doesn't violate any current laws (maybe the EULA for the game), but I can imagine the legal types at Rockstar not being too happy, especially if Rockstar planned to profit by publishing the codes later. In their zeal to protect IP like cheat codes, I'm sure that some would love to be able to ban PCs altogether or at least control access to various ports with DRM schemes. There's already at least one DRM enabled BIOS [extremetech.com] shipping.
    • Is any little paranoid rant containing the words "DRM" automatically modded up on /.?
      I don't know what your experience with programming is, but Rockstar BUILT IN these cheats, they didn't just materialize. If Rockstar didn't want the cheats in, all they would of had to of done is change a bit of code. In all honesty, they really don't care if you cheat or not, you already bought the game, they got their profit. It's not like a cheat code will somehow allow you to copy the game and distribute it on the i
      • Hmm, who's ranting? I'm well aware of why the cheat codes are in there, but in case you had not noticed, there are plenty of publications that later publish the cheats. My guess is that in some cases they pay the game publisher for the privilege of publishing the cheats. Given that, it is not a long stretch to imagine a company not being happy that someone publishes these cheats without paying them to do so.

        Yes I know, you already bought the game, yadda yadda, but in fact you bought a license to play the g
        • My guess is that in some cases they pay the game publisher for the privilege of publishing the cheats.

          No, but that's a good idea. People do sometimes hold cheats back for sake of a little visibility bump later, but I've never heard of "pay us X and we'll give you the cheats." Quite frankly you're far better off getting the promotion in the largest mag you can find (or all the mags at once) than the however many dollars you could get squeezing some desperate smaller publication. But heck, they got on S
      • I don't know what your experience with programming is, but Rockstar BUILT IN these cheats, they didn't just materialize.

        "Bob, one of our playtesters just discovered that if you hit Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right A B Start, you'll get 30 lives"

        "Woah, that's strange. I'll classify it as a showstopper bug. I mean that's just eerie.. what are the odds?"
  • Sounds fishy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, 2005 @12:17PM (#11385854)
    He used the parallel port of his PC connected to relays on the PS2 controller to step thru the combinations of button pushing needed to obtain cheats that were not released by Rockstar

    So, how did the "relays" know when he'd actually found one? I'd read the article, if it was actually available.

    SUre, it's easy to program some i/o lines to just twiddle all combinations of the buttons, but you have to have something that confirms that you actually hit something interesting.

    • Re:Sounds fishy (Score:2, Insightful)

      by KDR_11k (778916)
      He could watch the screen and tell the computer something happened and then slowly replay the last few seconds of key presses and do some further experimentation to narrow down which keys were involved in the cheat.
    • Re:Sounds fishy (Score:4, Informative)

      by pluke (801200) on Monday January 17, 2005 @12:33PM (#11386037) Homepage
      Not having read the article either or even played the game, i can only go on my prior knowledge of such games, which cause the controller to vibrate when you have correctly input a code. So if that was the case it would make automating the process very quick indeed.
    • by burns210 (572621) <maburns@gmail.com> on Monday January 17, 2005 @05:14PM (#11388920) Homepage Journal
      A large tank falling from the sky is a good indicator.
    • Some people say the controller vibrates when a cheat is entered, so the wires that make it vibrate could be hooked up to the parrallel port as well. I think a sound playes and text is displayed on the screen when a cheat is activated as well. He could just be sitting reading a book while the program is running and stop it when he sees a cheat. Then his program could step back through the last however many codes were tried to find the one that was the cheat.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      From what I can tell, he leaves it on all day. He's using cheats and convienent locations to muffle or get rid of all the other sounds, and when the Cheat Confirmed box pops up and blips, Cool Edit catches it. Then, he just looks for the spikes in the otherwise flat sound wave, and cross-references to the program to see what code was entered at that time.
  • by drxray (839725) on Monday January 17, 2005 @12:50PM (#11386246) Homepage
    I bet his system also plays a mean game of Tekken!

    (joking, I love tekken...)
  • * Cheats were not officially released by Rockstar Games. They were discovered by edisoncarter from GTA Forums by wiring the PS2 controller up to the PC's parallel port and trying numerous combinations at high speed. Needless to say, this is not recommended for people to try at home, since it also requires special software to make this work.

    -------------
    but i'm more interested in the actual hardware. anyone find something about the hardware used?

    it definitely looks like a db-25 parallel port; from the 'bit
  • Source code? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cgenman (325138) on Monday January 17, 2005 @02:40PM (#11387488) Homepage
    I've been looking for a way for a long time to record inputs to a PC and play them back directly over a controller line according to a script, but I don't have the experience necessary with parallel ports to do such a thing. It would make QA much easier.

    Did he post the source code somewhere? I'd love to have working base from which to, well, work.

    - Chris
  • by LordOfYourPants (145342) on Monday January 17, 2005 @03:53PM (#11388171)
    Since all I see is a pic of the joystick on the main page, I wonder if he's trying out all the buttons (L3, R3, and the directions on the analog sticks as well as select and start)

    Even with the 12 "buttons" he's pressing and an assumed maximum code length of 12 presses, he's got 12^12 possibilities -- 8916100448256. Testing that number of possibilities (with 12 button presses per possibility) means that if he can spit out something like 48 button presses a second that leaves him with 2,150,000 days to find all the combinations.

    If the game has been out for 120 days (I don't know the real amount of time, I'm estimating), that joystick would have to be sending 1 million plus button presses a second to have a complete code list as of today? Anyone know how often the PS2 probes the joystick for button presses?

    There is one key error in my math that might shrink the figure by a bit: if you have a range of 24 button presses that the joystick is sending, that could actually be a test of 12 different 12-lengthed codes. My *guess* (I can't prove it mathematically -- maybe someone else can) is that it would shrink times/sizes by a factor of 10. Meaning at 48 button presses a second you need 215,000 days or to have found every code as of today you would have need to be sending input at ~100,000 button presses a second. Even then, assuming the analog state of the joystick can be packed into a byte somehow, that exceeds parallel port speeds.

    Add *ALL* the buttons into the mix, R3, L3, Select, Start, and the directions on the analog sticks and the problem just gets a whole lot harder.

    Someone please correct me if my math is off. I really am curious to know how the guy discovered so many codes so quickly.
    • The directions on the analog sticks are the same as the D-pad when entering cheats in GTA, so it would not be necessary to test both the D-pad and the analog stick. Select and start are not used for cheats because they pause the game, so it would not work.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      If you actually read the article, he says at the bottom that there are some cheats that have not been unlocked yet and still require the use of a cheat device. So he *hasnt* checked ALL the different combinations possible, only a number of them.

      Plus, if you compile a list of cheats from the previous GTA games, and look closely at them all, you will actually start to see a pattern with the cheat codes. Theyre not just *random* button presses, theyre put in there by a developer who has just thought one up in
      • I'll be honest with you, I didn't read the entire "article." I went to the one page that had a picture of the joystick, saw nothing was clickable and saw no text, closed it. I opened up the other page, read the opening paragraphs, scrolled down 5 pages of cheat codes, expected that the remainder of the doc would be more of the same and then closed it. I didn't see the section with the asterisk at the very end explaining the state of the cheats.

        Whether or not the author of the parallel port program did some
  • The hell with free ammo, where's the code to get past that damned Supply Lines mission? Or a code to make any airplane-based activity in the game not suck?
    • I did it on my ~20th attempt. Hang in there!
    • The strategy is to avoid flying as much as possible, since your plane doesn't use fuel while stopped.. Kill the first 3, stop on a rooftop and wait for the others to get close (1 block away should do it) Land the plane while attacking (you're pretty much screwed if you have to do more than one pass)
  • I was hoping some of the codes would be a little more interesting. These are pretty much typical codes (minus a few) and nothing that actually seems cool enough to have wasted as much time as this guy did setting it up to get them. They say that these codes were already available when using a cheat device (game genie) so I have to ask, what are the chances of this guy finding some "very special code" that was only intended for the developers/testers and would have never been released to the public otherwi
  • man, I wish that rumored "mission select" cheat would show up though I wouldn't be shocked if they remove it before release...but that's one thing this game really lacks. I love playing through all the missions, but if I want to come back to an especially fun one I have to either play thorugh everything before it or do a lot of fiddling with my save games (which is extra confusing because the game will be saved with the name of the mission I just beat, not the one I want to play...)

  • Since sequences of buttons can be arbitrarily long, has he actually found all the possible cheats? Isn't he still working on that part?

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