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For an upcoming sega genesis game I'm thinking of running some checks that will only work on boards from a trusted vendor I've known for years.

 

Has that been done for 2600 carts? 

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Copy protection and other measures have been discussed in the past. But until now, no one has seriously considered to use them.

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Research Risky Rick for a cautionary tale on DRM.  There's a lot we can learn from that event.

 

1.  Gamers got upset when the game didn't work on unicorn and modded consoles.  This was a legit complaint.  It's very difficult to clearly communicate that a game won't work on modded consoles.  The biggest problem was a few unmodded genuine ColecoVision machines had issues.  Unlike the 2600 Jr, there's no clear console branding to warn users about.  Hardware DRM is tricky because it's so difficult to debug all the edge cases--and a few outliers will blow up on the internet into a huge shit storm.

2.  The dev insisted there was no DRM.  Security by obscurity doesn't work and people also get self-righteous and uppity when they are lied to.  Developers have every right to not disclose all the details of their games, so this is a grey area.  If you ask me how my game engine works, I have every right to lie or dodge the question.  The big problem was that some users couldn't play the cart on real hardware and the dev didn't want to disclose the details of their DRM efforts (and I understand and sympathise).  It was a tough situation.

3.  Kevtris "helped" the community by cracking all the DRM efforts to get a warez rom version running on his FPGA console (that doesn't have a ColecoVision cart slot).  Why would that console need compatibility with a brand new cart that wasn't available as a download at the time?  You f****ing tell me and we'll both know.  He says the mystery was irresistible, but publishing the full details of his discoveries was unethical.  He could have verified that DRM was the issue without gifting pirates helpful information.  He also discovered why people were having trouble dumping the cart and demonstrated how to copy a cart.  (Why share that information?  If I posted a way to help the community and dump and reverse engineer the "unauthorized" firmwares for the Analogue machines (we don't know who wrote them, right?  wink wink, nudge nudge), would I get served with a lawsuit?  You betcha!)  That guy doesn't give a shit about IP unless it's his IP.  Rather or not someone else would have eventually figured it out is moot.  Hardware and emu devs have to agree to not help plebs steal new games.  If devs want unprotected roms available, they will publish unprotected roms.

4   Of course, the warez crowd will always howl and whine.  Maybe they don't believe people should have to pay for "shitty homebrews" (direct quote).  I assume users have gotten so comfortable with the idea of downloading free legacy software, they assume brand new software should also be free.  

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On 6/28/2021 at 10:08 AM, Thomas Jentzsch said:

Copy protection and other measures have been discussed in the past. But until now, no one has seriously considered to use them.

There have been 2600 games released with some sort of protection. There have been some that have some protection from casual dumping.

 

Also, games that use PLDs likely have the security bit set to protect against dumping the PLD and copying the hardware verbatim. Whether to set that bit or not is up to whoever is programming the PLD. This doesn't stop dumping the game but makes copying the hardware a little more difficult.

 

I don't see any issue in either. Even if a game has protection against dumping, I am sure someone can figure out a way around it, but hopefully it stops those looking to sell someone else's homebrew games without permission, at least for a while. Those sorts of people don't give a crap about the hobby and I see no issue with making things a little more difficult for them.


As for the hardware, I would much rather see someone learn how to create their own hardware rather than just cloning hardware that someone else created. Someone learning to create their own hardware adds to the hobby as a whole. Those just copying the work of others without learning how it works so they can make a buck? That only diminishes it.

 

On 6/28/2021 at 11:16 AM, orange808 said:

Research Risky Rick for a cautionary tale on DRM.  There's a lot we can learn from that event.

Is it really about the DRM itself or the manner in which it was used, and the dishonesty about its use?

 

I mean, back in the day, I don't recall any anger at game producers for adding copy protection to their software. We basically expected it and didn't have any ill will toward software publishers about it, or shouldn't have. It's only when the protection limited otherwise legitimate uses that it became a problem. Examples I can think of are the NES lockout chip limiting third party games, Macrovision on VCRs sometimes scrambling video signals when you are just trying to watch and are not copying. Or, as in the example of Risky Rick, preventing use on modified consoles.

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On 7/5/2021 at 2:02 AM, batari said:

There have been 2600 games released with some sort of protection. There have been some that have some protection from casual dumping.

True. But stopping Hozers is IMHO not a serious attempt. :) 

 

IMO watermarking is the best option we have to get after the pirates and their supporters.

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On 7/4/2021 at 7:02 PM, batari said:

Or, as in the example of Risky Rick, preventing use on modified consoles.

Modified consoles weren't really the problem for Risky Rick. The main hardware related issue, was with modded consoles that didn't have the bottom RF shield in place or like mine, I had that bottom RF shield to provide the needed ground to pin 13 of the cart slot, but the actual tab in the center was snapped off on my bottom RF shield so that ground wasn't present. Had something like that been told it would have been a much easier task to correct for this. All I did was add a jumper from another ground back to pin 13 and all is good. So yeah, blanket stating that the modded consoles were a problem was the real issue when it should have been revealed earlier why it might be an issue. Modified BIOS will cause problems with that game as well. Not sure about the newest lesser delay BIOS but the No delay BIOS for sure will trick the actual game cart to only run in demo mode as well.

 

BTW, I don't know if I ever updated anything in that original thread, but I was sent a replacement rom chip and label so I can replace the original in my cart with one that has the DRM checks removed. The replacement rom was sent from the original authors of the game. I chose to leave my cart as is for the time being.

 

 

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