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Real Time Strategy (Games) PC Games (Games)

Blizzard Patches No-CD Support Into Warcraft III 198

Posted by Zonk
from the zug-zug-indeed dept.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun notes that in Blizzard's never-ending quest for perfect balance, they've added a handy feature for still-dedicated Warcraft players. Players will no longer need to have the disc in the drive in order to conquer Azeroth. This kicks off a discussion by blogger Alec Meer about the role of copy protection and anti-piracy in PC gaming: "I don't need the Paint Shop Pro disc in my DVD drive whenever I want to butcher my holiday photos, after all. It was always doubly unnecessary for a game like W3, which also employs serial number checks if you want to play it online. Having the CD check as well seems like leaving a polite post-it note on the windscreen of a driver prone to double-parking. Don't bother. Just wheel-clamp the bastard. While there're still some reasons to be circumspect about online distribution systems, they do spell an end to miserably sorting through quivering towers of plastic discs or popup-heavy crack websites. This brave new world, in which the data already installed upon my hard drive is all that's required to play a game I've paid for, is one I know I want to live in."
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Blizzard Patches No-CD Support Into Warcraft III

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  • I just went to http://www.megagames.com/ [megagames.com] for the no cd patch. Oh this is the official no-cd patch. Well, that's a bit better. Kinda late though.
    • by Jugalator (259273)
      Almost! Over here it was GameCopyWorld [gamecopyworld.com].
  • by mrxak (727974) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @12:39PM (#22335078)
    I really hope this sort of thing happens more often. I remember some games I used to play only required the CD if you hadn't copied the CD onto your hard drive, and that was because the normal install didn't include all the data needed for the game to run. But now that hard drives are so much larger, it'd be nice for more games to do that, even if they are on DVD.
    • Epic has removed the CD check from the first updates for UT and UT2k3/4. Not sure about UTIII though.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by nexex (256614)
        UT III has never required it.
    • by morari (1080535)
      Quake III Arena and Unreal Tournament 2004 both removes there disc checks in a patch, shortly after release even.
    • by mike2R (721965)
      Couldn't agree more. Steam is getting all my business at the moment simply because I find online activation infinitely less annoying than playing hunt the CD.
  • StarCraft (Score:5, Informative)

    by owlman17 (871857) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @12:40PM (#22335080)
    Not just WarCraft, also SC1 (Original and BW) patch version 1.15.2

    - patch 1.15.2
        Feature Changes

    - StarCraft and StarCraft: BroodWar no longer require the CD while playing the game. To play without the CD, please follow the following instructions:

    Windows Users:
    - Make sure you have "Hide extensions for known types" unchecked under Explorer Folder Options.
    - If you own only StarCraft, copy "INSTALL.EXE" from the StarCraft CD to your StarCraft folder and rename it to "StarCraft.mpq".
    - If you own StarCraft: Brood War, copy "INSTALL.EXE" from the StarCraft:Brood War CD to your StarCraft folder and rename it to "BroodWar.mpq".
    • by kailoran (887304)
      I think I still prefer the 0.5MB "special" install.exe file (that I uhh... got from a friend), to the several hunderd MB original. Granted, this doesn't let you play the campaign, but this isn't what Starcraft is about anyway.
    • I posed this question [battle.net] when the Starcraft No-CD patch came out: What is Blizzard's motivation?

      My hypothesis was that it was going to be part of a promotion for Starcraft II. Make original Starcraft a download for cheap or free to bring back old players and introduce new ones. As a map maker, the influx of players would be exciting.

      But the more likely explanation is that the Mac Book Air was just released and has no CD drive. Blizzard is good at supporting Macs and keeping old games playable, so this i

  • Patch notes (Score:4, Funny)

    by Kenoli (934612) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @12:42PM (#22335130)
    The 1.21b patch notes can be read as:
    - The game no longer requires the CD to play.

    Or as:
    - The game no longer requires a no-CD crack to play.
  • by a whoabot (706122) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @12:43PM (#22335154)
    I never really understood the CD check. I mean, why can't the "signature" of a CD being present just be emulated? And that's indeed what all the pirated game downloads come with. I don't think I've seen a game where you actually have to have to actual game CD in order to play it: an image of the disc could be mounted using some program and the game played thinking that it is the actual CD.
    • I don't play many games, but straight-up emulation of the Diablo II and Starcraft discs were damn near impossible back when I played them. I tried, I had friends that tried. Blizzard and plenty of other companies do stuff to the disc that makes emulation difficult for the average gamer.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gEvil (beta) (945888)
        And yet simply making a disc image of the install discs with Disk Copy or Disk Utility always worked with no problems under OS9 and OSX.
        • Never had luck under Windows or linux (Slackware) ... never tried a Mac, I refuse to pay Steve Job's "vanity tax".
      • I've been playing both with Daemon tools. No CD ever required and haven't for a long time.
        • How'd your rip D2 or brood wars? I was using Daemon Tools as well for the imaging. I'd always get crap when I ripped.

          Not that it matters anymore ... I gave my CD's away a long time ago.
    • by gnick (1211984)

      I mean, why can't the "signature" of a CD being present just be emulated?

      Some games do check for stuff like that - And it's sometimes a real PITA. I bought the latest C&C game a while back. It not only checks for the original media, it scans to see if you have any disc emulation running on your computer. I run DaemonTools all the time and find it enormously useful. So, when I tried to run the game, it would detect DaemonTools and refuse to run - Even with the original media in the drive. Even exiting wasn't enough - it would detect the driver. It took hours of time an

    • In some cases it is simple, just checks for the CD and yes, you can copy the CD in any software and the copy will work. Not a lot of people that will weed out. Usually, it is a much more intense check. These days it is often a program like Safedisc 4 or Securerom 7. These check a lot of things to try and ensure it is the original disc. For example they'll ask the drive what kind of media it is (burners will report if something is pressed, burnable, or rewritable) and only run if it is pressed media. They al
      • by jandrese (485)
        Of course all of those checks are rendered useless on the same day the game is released by crack groups that put out the no-cd patch. Personally, I hate hunting down the disc when I want to play a game, especially on my laptop where I often want to play a game on the road (who wants to lug their CD library with them wherever they go?). The only people those checks do anything to are honest people with cheap burners that get messed up by SecurROM and its rootkit like properties.

        I'd argue that piracy is a
        • There are many, many cases where the copy protection schemes will cause legit copies of games to refuse to function. They are incompatible with a given drive, or a utility installed on the system and so on. Securerom in particular has a lot of problems with various hardware and software (including a number of version have Vista compatibility issues). So they are a hassle when they work, but when they don't they stop legitimate customers from using their software. This is more true these days since they are
  • I agree with the summary--CD checks for exclusively-online games are pointless. Epic did it with UT2003/4, but after just a few months removed the CD check in a patch. For single-player games, I can understand it better. For me, a CD-check is far more preferable to some of the other (almost always ineffective) copy-preventing schemes out there. For example, I find Steam overly heavy-handed. Not only must you have a internet connection just to play the single-player game, but you can't sell the game to
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nuzak (959558)
      > Not only must you have a internet connection just to play the single-player game

      You need the connection to activate it. Once that's done, you can play offline as much as you damn well please.

      Killing the resale market isn't so great though. But I'm still sick of having to keep track of a stack of lexan dongles.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by KDR_11k (778916)
      Steam allows you to unregister a key and sell it to someone else but you have to pay Valve to do that.
  • Great with WINE (Score:5, Informative)

    by ArcherB (796902) * on Thursday February 07, 2008 @12:46PM (#22335204) Journal
    The benefit to No-CD patches is that it makes it so much easier to play games under WINE on Linux. While I never had an issue with War3, other newer games give me grief such as Supreme Commander and C&C3. Both of these require a No-CD hack to run as neither will recognize the DVD sitting in the drive. (Yes, I do have the CD mapped to WINE D: drive) Removing the CD-In-The-Drive requirement would really take many of the barriers to playing these games under WINE and would open up that 1% of the market that are Linux users!

    • Any howto's on how you got these to work? They're pretty much the only games that I still reboot to windows for...
      • by ArcherB (796902) *

        Any howto's on how you got these to work? They're pretty much the only games that I still reboot to windows for...

        War3 just worked with the -opengl switch (wine war3.exe -opengl). I ran the installer and off it went...

        C&C3 took a little finagling. First, I needed the NoCD hack. That allowed the game to run, but the cursor would never change. You would mouse over an enemy for example, but the cursor would stay an arrow rather than changing to the "attack" cursor. I found a wine patch that fixed that issue, but it required to me to recompile it into a folder in my home directory and then run it from there:

        env WINEPREFIX="/home/archerb/.wine" $HOME/wine-cnc3/bin/wine "C:\Program Files\Electronic Arts\Command & Conquer 3\CNC3.exe"

        Tha

    • by Fweeky (41046)

      other newer games give me grief such as Supreme Commander and C&C3. Both of these require a No-CD hack to run as neither will recognize the DVD sitting in the drive
      Dunno about C&C3, but SupCom's CD check was removed in a patch 11 months ago [supremecommanderhq.com], only a couple of weeks after it was released.
  • Good (Score:5, Informative)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Thursday February 07, 2008 @12:47PM (#22335210) Homepage

    They annoy me to no end. It was one thing to keep the disc in the drive back when the data had to be pulled off (I wouldn't want to install Wing Commander 4 and it's 6+ CDs on my hard drive back then). Recently, this has been driving me nuts though. Valve has done such a good job with Steam, that it makes the problem even more obvious.

    I bought Sam & Max Season One in the retail box, and it uses copy protection. I use a Mac and the game isn't available for my platform, so I have to play the episodes in Windows. I can't use Parallels because the copy protection thinks I'm using a copied disc. I can't use a disc image for the same reason. I can't play it under OS X. I have to boot into Windows. That takes a long time to shutdown OS X, start Windows, start the game, check the CD, then get into it. It's an amazing pain.

    Sam & Max is not an intensive game at all. Even with the lowered performance of 3D stuff in Parallels, it should work fine. I understand Half-Life 2 not running well (it likes a beefy system), but there is no good reason I shouldn't be able to play Sam & Max that way.

    But I paid for the physical media, because I prefer that. And because of that, I get copy protection. I'm seriously considering not playing Season Two at this point.

  • if only (Score:2, Insightful)

    If only other developers would spend about 10% of Blizzards amount of support to their games I'd be spending a shitload more money on purchasing new games.

    WCIII is almost 6 years old now, and still Blizzard looks for ways to improve the experience.

    This dedication to strive for perfection is the sole reason I have every single game they released sitting on my shelf.
    Alternatively, this is also the reason I have only one EA game sitting on that same shelf. I got fooled once, won't happen twice.

    You c
  • Give me a no-CD patch for Diablo II that doesn't lock into some weird windows API so that I can finally run it on wine without a headache.
  • The article says this is a "brave new world" to not need the CD... How old is this guy? Does he not remember the days before they required the CD to play? This isn't a brave new world, it's a return to the way things used to be. Funny, wasn't it Blizzard that started the "Disc Required" movement? I may be wrong, but I think it was Warcraft 2 or Starcraft.
    • by IdeaMan (216340)
      I remember that. Wait were you talking about when they had laser cut holes in the floppy disk? Or maybe you're talking about when they printed a bunch of little images/words on different pages in the manual that you had to answer questions about?

      Hang on, gotta chase those pesky kids off my lawn again...
      • by Don853 (978535)
        I remember that... from Lemmings on a Mac LC. The words were light yellow too so you couldn't photocopy the manual. I don't think I ever beat that game.
  • Last year, I moved to Ubuntu as my primary OS. I would still boot into Windows XP to play BF2 online. I bought a legit copy, and had registerd the serial, all that goodness. I bought and downloaded several expansion packs online. My DVD Drive died in my desktop. I couldn't play anymore. Didn't replace the drive, because I use USB pen drives for everything now. So now, EA won't get anymore money from me, because I can't play that game. (and I haven't booted into Windows XP More than 3 times since Sept
  • what really annoys me is that you have to leave the DVD in the drive, but the game insists on installing everything to the hard drive and doesn't actually pull any content of the DVD for no reason what so ever.

    I don't care if it take 15% of the load time I don't want my disk space wasted and have been able to setup games under Linux+wine with links so that the games pull the data of the CD instead and they work perfectly fine.
  • Steam/Battle.net (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SB5 (165464) <freebirdpat.hotmail@com> on Thursday February 07, 2008 @12:57PM (#22335410)
    I remember the old days when the games asked you to find the 23rd word in the 7th paragraph on page 18 in the game manual.

    That really sucked when you didn't actually buy the game. Because it didn't come with a manual, you just copied a floppy.
  • Having the CD check as well seems like leaving a polite post-it note on the windscreen of a driver prone to double-parking. Don't bother. Just wheel-clamp the bastard.

    This car analogy is about as effective as show chains strapped onto a steering wheel. A CD check (even with stored images & Daemon Tools) is a major PITA because it happens all the time during a normal operation, unlike the boot which happens only once in a while and only after a major screw up on your part.

  • All maphacking programs are currently fataling the game after the patch. This most likely has to do with the version number and not the programs itself, but it does kill off a few of the older MH programs that are no longer updated. I've used my lovely 32kb no-cd image for WC3 for a while, and it will be a chance to not have to have daemon tools running in the background all the time! (I have several legit CDs, I just don't like popping them in and out).
  • I still play fairly often -- it's one of the few multidimensional RTS playable in under 15 minutes on average. I've tried newer games (the new C&C/AoE. Supreme Commander, World in Conflict, Warhammer, Total War), but none of them seem to have the balance of playing both a quick and varied game -- with the exception of WiC.

    Maybe I'm just old school, but I keep coming back to it (and Starcraft to a lesser extent) even though I played since the beta program.

    This certainly is going to do nothing but encour
    • I've tried newer games (the new C&C/AoE. Supreme Commander, World in Conflict, Warhammer, Total War)
      I agree, most of the RTS are 1-2h slog fests with little resembling play balance. Either all sides are the same, the sides are different but 1 is clearly superior, or only 3 units are useful and it's a rush to get these. Sup Com is probably the closest to War 3 or Sc level of balance but it's still a 1h-2h slog involving a lot of massing.
      • by Kelz (611260)
        Most people employ rush tactics in WC3, but then say that it takes 1-2h to do a good game of supcom. Early harassment while you consolidate control of the map in SC can very much win you a game in the first 20 minutes.
        • Online on US west I noticed only lower level people employ rushes. Hero Harassing is a common alternative to creeping. But "rush" is not as frequent at higher levels because the chance of winning is mitigated by lower hero levels and delay of teching. It's somewhat map and player number specific, on 3v3 a rush is rare, 1v1 it's a quarter of the games. Hero harass is almost a given in 1v1 and many new players mistaken this for a "rush".
      • by BeeRockxs (782462)
        Try Company of Heroes.
      • so a strategy game rather than a tactical game then? You are aware that such a game was Chris Taylor's stated intention with supcomm, right?
        • so a strategy game rather than a tactical game then? You are aware that such a game was Chris Taylor's stated intention with supcomm, right?

          I am, and i bought it. But it gets less play then war 3 (by a huge margin). TA had the similar thing. Neat but not my style. In the community i play those two with it degenerates into massing. Just trying to hold the map and pumping out the same unit mix. Slight variation of air vs ground vs sea. But always 1-2h slogs which are fun for the first 30 min then not so much for us.

    • by Hatta (162192)
      I do, though Company of Heroes is taking more and more of my time.
  • there had been a suddenoutbreakofcommonsense, but you have to ask yourself, whatcouldpossiblygowrong?
  • Stardock (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hemogoblin (982564) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @01:31PM (#22335986)
    All of the Stardock [stardock.com] games have had this for awhile. Galatic Civilizations II was awesome, and apparently the new Sins of a Solar Empire [sinsofasolarempire.com] is awesome too. It's nice to not be treated like a criminal.
    • by Spikeles (972972)
      Yeah there is a really good post here [ign.com] by the developers of Sins explaining their take on Copy Protection.
  • What a wordy way to say, "cool"....
  • Well they were hinting at this in the forums last week after they did the same for Starcraft. Sadly, there's no mention of doing this for Diablo II. They're also planning another balance patch for release at some point, which might add some features to Battle.net for the game as well.

    This isn't exactly uncommon though. Epic Games usually disables the cd-check very early on in their patch cycle. I believe the DRM is mandated by publishers, while the developers seem to be more sympathetic to gamer's wants
  • Nah.

    Try using a "no cd crack" instead. They've existed for nearly a decade and I've used them on every single one of my games that try to force you to put (and keep!) the disc in even though it's not accessing anything off of it. Copy protection via a present disc is not only a complete hassle, it's also dangerous. The more you move a disc around (from case to tray and back again), the more likely it is to acquire scratches and become unplayable in the future.

    Online distribution (such as Steam) is just

  • I can finally unmount the virtual CD drive and free up the 600 megs that the ISO was occupying on my hard drive. :D
  • by garylian (870843) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @02:45PM (#22337368)
    I can't tell you the number of games I've lost over the years due to damaged CDs. Yeah, you try to protect them, but when you end up switching CDs every few days because you wish to play a different game for a bit, sometimes the CD sits on your desk for a few minutes.

    My copy of Temple of Elemental Evil worked fine for the orignal release, and the first patch. The second patch to come out wasn't compatable with DirectX 9.0c, so it was pointless. Applying the third patch to fix the second patch made my CD fail its check. So, the game worked out of the box, and through the first patch, but the 2nd/3rd patch broke my CD? You've got to be kidding me! And SecureROM analyzed my data, and said that it was because I had Daemon Tools installed. So, I uninstalled that, re-ran their program, and they said I must have a copy of an orignal CD. Since it's an Atari game that isn't being supported any longer, I can't get a new CD from the company.

    Heck, my current copy of Hellgate: London acts up in single player mode (which requires the DVD to be in the drive. Multiplayer does not, as it should be.) Half the time I have to reboot my system, because SafeDisc doesn't recognize the DVD being in the drive. It spins, then stops and hangs. It's even told me that my OS isn't high enough, and I need to upgrade to Windows 98SE or 2000. I have XP installed. Some of that was the multi-language support, which can be clicked off, but the bottom line is, the copy protection makes the game sometimes unplayable without a reboot.

    With the way today's games are, with the zero-day release always having a fatal bug (I believe intentionally) that requires a patch to be downloaded, there is no real need for this. Very few if any gamer systems aren't internet connected, so just make a simple verification check go out on the serial number, and let them play. No connection or a failure of that check, and no game.

    It's one of the reasons I play MMOs so much, even though it is often solo. No copy protection to annoy me, no CD/DVD to keep track of, and less clutter in/on my desk.
  • by 6350' (936630) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @03:22PM (#22338028)
    CD-check is just a really basic, broad-spectrum, anti-casual-pirating deal in most cases. It's become increasingly common to patch it out at some point in a game's lifecycle. You want to have it present during the bulk of your sales (ie, early on) but particularly with a game that has a significant online component (that is, vocal users), you also want to get rid of it sooner than later (of course, Blizzard is a special case, and mmo's are a different story).

    Last game I worked on, we had the CD-check already removed for the 1.1 patch (which itself was completed before the game even hit the shelves), and we released it in less than two weeks from the date the game appeared on the shelves.

    The easy to circumvent things like this really are just there to discourage casual copying amongst average Joe's. While of course this and pretty much anything else can be gotten around, the people who do, know how to do, or would make the effort to do, these kinds of things are a subset of the larger market. So, studios/publishers will add in some of the basic old school protections as a kind of first order protection.

    These kinds of things are kind of annoying, but the idea is to not have a Tribes 1 experience (zero, and I mean *zero*, copy protection of any kind: you could literally drag-and-drop the install folder into ICQ, so to speak, and send the whole thing to your buddy). It was sad to see the sales-vs-players numbers for Tribes 1: seventy thousand copies sold with 350,000 players online has got to bring a tear to the eye.
  • We've had to use daemon tools for years, why they didn't do this sooner is beyond me because we need a GENUINE CD KEY.
    Ugh.
  • The trade-off of course is having to submit to a serial number inspection upon every loading of the game.
  • by DrVomact (726065) on Friday February 08, 2008 @01:17PM (#22350614) Journal

    Back when I played a bunch of games that had the "CD in the drive" requirement, I got a product called Virtual CD. It allows you to create a set of virtual CD drives on your system, and mount images of the CDs you need on those drives. (You have to create the images by copying the CDs or DVDs first, of course, and store them on your hard drive.) This meant I could take my laptop anywhere without lugging around a bunch of discs and fiddling with them every time I wanted to run one of these programs that insisted on seeing its installation CD before it started. It was a bit of a hassle to configure Virtual CD so that it would automatically mount the appropriate CD when you double clicked on an application, but once I set it up, it worked flawlessly.

    These days, I don't run much software that has this requirement, so I haven't used Virtual CD (http://www.virtualcd-online.com/ [virtualcd-online.com]) for a couple of years. But I'd highly recommend it if you do have this need.

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