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Piracy Games Your Rights Online

The Awful Anti-Pirate System That Will Probably Work 1027

Posted by Soulskill
from the an-opposing-arrrrrgument dept.
spidweb writes "Much virtual ink has been spilled over Ubisoft's new, harsh DRM system for Assassin's Creed 2. You must have a constant internet connection, and, if your connection breaks, the game exits. While this has angered many (and justifiably so), most writers on the topic have made an error. They think that this system, like all DRM systems in the past, will be easily broken. This article explains why, as dreadful as the system is, it does have a chance of holding hackers off long enough for the game to make its money. As such it is, if nothing else, a fascinating experiment. From the article: 'Assassin's Creed 2 is different in a key way. Remember, all of its code for saving and loading games (a significant feature, I'm sure you would agree) is tied into logging into a distant server and sending data back and forth. This vital and complex bit of code has been written from the ground up to require having the saved games live on a machine far away, with said machine being programmed to accept, save, and return the game data. This is a far more difficult problem for a hacker to circumvent.'"
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The Awful Anti-Pirate System That Will Probably Work

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  • by Spaseboy (185521) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:30PM (#31297600)

    The point the author of the article is trying to make is that by the time the crack or circumvention comes out, Ubisoft will have made the vast majority of the money they planned to make on the title. Strange enough, they aren't requiring an Xbox Live connection for the 360 version. I guess they only think Windows users are dirty thieves.

  • Re:-1 flamebait (Score:5, Informative)

    by Endo13 (1000782) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:31PM (#31297624)

    His whole argument is predicated on his incorrect assumption that the game saves are solely online, and that the game is constantly using those saves. In fact, the game itself uses only your local saves, and the online saves are merely a backup.

    The DRM will be broken, and just as quickly as ever.

  • Re:Sweet spot (Score:3, Informative)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:33PM (#31297652) Journal

    This whole story is about how and why the DRM will work. It's kind of funny someone always comes along with "it will be cracked" without understanding any of the fundamentals behind how the game copy protections work.

    I'm just waiting them to take this one little step further - stream parts of the game code, textures or other data from server (something not used often). Spread it randomly around the game and it becomes almost impossible to build a working crack.

  • Re:Sweet spot (Score:5, Informative)

    by Endo13 (1000782) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:33PM (#31297664)

    I have never yet found a torrent on any torrent site that had a virus or trojan.

  • Re:Sweet spot (Score:3, Informative)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:46PM (#31297824) Journal

    You can always make a fake local server.

    Did you read at all what I said? Sure, local server is probably trivial to make given enough time. But if the game streams content, code or other data from the server when it needs to in the game, or implements some functions only server-side (is the player at end of the level, spawn enemies when player opens a door and so on), all of that would have to be fetched and reimplemented. With large, open games theres a really good change you need to play hundreds of thousands of games to get all the content from the server, and then you also have to implement the server-side functions.

  • Re:Down (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:53PM (#31297888)

    If it goes down just for a minute or two, you won't have problems.

    Quoting PC Gamer:

    I tried a different test: start the game while online, play a little, then unplug my net cable. This is the same as what happens if your net connection drops momentarily, your router is rebooted, or the game loses its connection to Ubisoft's 'Master servers'. The game stopped, and I was dumped back to a menu screen - all my progress since it last autosaved was lost.
    [Emphasis added.]

    Rob

  • Re:-1 flamebait (Score:5, Informative)

    by canajin56 (660655) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:59PM (#31297954)
    Every SINGLE article detailing it specifically says that online saves are optional. It's an on by default option in the configs. You can turn it off. Even when it's on, all saves are still saved locally, and your local, offline, saved game directory is synced with their servers when you quit the game. So maybe instead of spreading FUD, you could read ANYTHING other than this particular TFA, where he even acknowledges at the bottom "OK it doesn't save online, but my point still stands, they COULD have online saves only making their NEXT game uncrackable!!!! I WASN'T WRONG I WAS LOOKING TO THE FUTAR!!!!"
  • by spydabyte (1032538) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @03:02PM (#31298616)
    Requirements:
    1 teenager with time to waste and $60 to buy the game and the brains of a monkey.

    Steps:
    1. Install and run the game.
    2. Run wireshark to capture all the game traffic.
    3. Repeat and do some application layer traffic analysis
    4. Mimic
    5. Profit

    Other solutions? don't buy it.
  • Re:Sweet spot (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kral_Blbec (1201285) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @03:23PM (#31298812)
    Witcher: Enhanced Edition. It's a Polish game that was released in the US first in a censored version and in Europe uncensored. Then they released a "Director's Cut" patch for the US version that uncensored it.
    I looked for any sort of way to roll it back on my own, but didn't find squat. In updating they removed the textures and meshes for the uncensored version. I'd love to know a way to roll back to the original, but I haven't found anything. They claim that it was an opt-in update, but that is complete hogwash. There is no way I would have ever approved it.
  • Re:Sweet spot (Score:2, Informative)

    by Spety (1269166) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @03:24PM (#31298822)
    It would not necessarily require modifying the binary, just opening it up in a debugger and viewing the encryption process. The binary could be left completely untouched and a server created to pass the clients authentication.
  • Re:Sweet spot (Score:3, Informative)

    by RobVB (1566105) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @03:54PM (#31299100)

    Valve games are the one kind of games I won't buy on Steam until something changes. Take L4D2: €50 on Steam, €40 retail which means you get a shiny box with a DVD, and you get to activate it on Steam anyway so you can enjoy all the Steam benefits (such as downloading it on any PC you might have access to).

    The fact that Valve games - at least all Valve games I've checked, and I've checked most that I know of - are cheaper in some retail stores here (large electronics stores in Belgium) really blows my mind.

  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @03:56PM (#31299112)

    No not experienced at all, hasn't written any games for macs or pcs ever in his life.

    Oh wait, it's Jeff Vogel. Um maybe you are the one with relatively little experience in the domain of game development?

    Sure ubisoft may be moron and make it that easy to do, or they might have the save game network protocol only send and receive the needed parts of the save. So unless you play the game all the way though you won't see the format of the save game data for later game areas, etc.

    But yes he is mistaken in the idea that the crackers would bother with a remote save game server and not just hack a local copy save only variant into the crack.

    Which isn't surprising since he is in fact an experienced game programmer, who has likely never cracked a game in his life.

  • Re:Sweet spot (Score:3, Informative)

    by jimicus (737525) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @04:27PM (#31299352)

    Which of course forces one to ask: if there was an analog to this in the PC world - some hardware DRM you could put on your machine and be done with the various software based disc checked and network activated schemes once and for all - would you install it?

    Such items have existed for years - they're normally called dongles or hardware keys, and they still exist [deskey.co.uk] for some very niche applications.

    Of course, the problem is that you're still running the application on a general-purpose computer so it's usually quite possible to defeat them - AIUI very few applications take the next step and actually have some vital bit of code executed on the dongle.

  • Re:Sweet spot (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 27, 2010 @06:08PM (#31300026)

    The first sentence of Section 2A of the Steam Subscriber agreement:

    Steam and your Subscription(s) require the automatic download and installation of software and other content and updates onto your computer

    You most certainly did give permission for them to automatically update your software. If you don't like that then it's a simple matter to turn off updates on a game by game basis in each games properties.

    You seem to be angry at Steam when it is in fact the game developer/publisher that pushed these updates, you should contact them to try and remedy the situation. Steam are only distributing the game to you and have no more power over third parties than say physical distributors like EB Games etc do.

  • Re:Sweet spot (Score:2, Informative)

    by aka1nas (607950) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @06:38PM (#31300200)
    You opted in because you left the game on "Always Keep This Game Up-To-Date". Of course, if you re-downloaded the game from scratch I'd imagine you wouldn't have a choice as it would install the newest update. Ultimately, this is the game developer's fault, not Steam. They chose to patch their game with that content and make that the default patch level on Steam. Steam is just the distribution platform, they don't have any creative or content control regarding the games.
  • Re:Sweet spot (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 27, 2010 @09:06PM (#31301114)

    First time I've ever heard someone complain about how they intentionally bought a CENSORED version of a product and then the censorhip was removed.

    If I'm getting this right, you complain that they removed artificial suppression of content from being visible??? I mean, perhaps you have a legitimate reason (As in, you don't like them changing data without your approval), but it sounds to me like you specifically want the 'lesser' (Censored) version of a product. In which case... Intentionally desiring a censored product for a Mature rated game? Utterly bizarre and alien.

  • Re:Sweet spot (Score:3, Informative)

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @09:33PM (#31301346) Journal

    Windows security model has not been fundamentally different from Unix one from user's perspective since WinNT. It's certainly not any weaker as such. The default settings (default user created during installation is admin) were weak up until Vista, but even that is not true now.

    If you have any specific arguments about how Unix security model is "more proper" than modern Windows one, please go ahead and state the specifics.

  • Re:Sweet spot (Score:3, Informative)

    by Chowderbags (847952) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @11:09PM (#31302024)
    3 seconds on google found me this forum post on The Witcher's official forum: http://www.thewitcher.com/forum/index.php?topic=25939.0 [thewitcher.com] . One poster uploaded the uncensored texture files:http://www.mediafire.com/?jyyjnmozmyv . (Disclaimer, I have not downloaded/tested the files, nor do I own or play the game. Use at your own risk, etc, etc.)
  • Re:Sweet spot (Score:3, Informative)

    by LoverOfJoy (820058) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @12:12AM (#31302476) Homepage
    He just misspoke. The link he gave provided the censored textures.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 28, 2010 @01:47AM (#31303110)

    If enough computation is done on the server-side it's good game pirates.

    I've been arguing about that ten years ago with a someone very smart who refused to believe it. Yet it has *already* happened: nobody is playing WOW in the real-world economies (ie one of the real Blizzard servers, with all the legit players) with a generated serial key of WOW.

    Done correctly a client/server scheme is impossible to defeat.

    The author of TFA is of course completely pointless when it comes to cryptography, from TFA (yup I read it, I'm new here ;) :

    " 2. Trick the Ubisoft servers into believing you have a legit copy,
    " so that they will let you save your game.
    "
    " OK, the hackers will probably eventually come up with a keygen program.
    " This is tricky, because the software that generates the keys will be in Ubisoft's
    " hands, far from prying eyes. But they could possible do it, given a bit of time.

    Oh really? The NSA may want to hire such crackers and possibly try to create clones
    of such pirates: random Joe cracker, no matter if he's from Razor 1911 or any lesser
    group is *not* going to crack public/private key crypto.

    A private key has been used to generate all these serials and unless you get hold
    of that private key there's no way you're generating a valid serial.

    Unless of course the Assassin's Creed 2 coders are total moron that overlooked
    something trivial, but cryptography is here and well known, and, no, "given enough
    time", you aren't going to crack it in your lifetime.

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