So back in the day the people who had loads of programming experience and knowledge would have been very clever in running battles with Rob Northen and others who were profesionally charging for proteciton software and routines. For a young teenager like me, that was all way above my head. But I figured there must be an easier way to get around this stuff.
So I remember taking a few novel approaches to effectively remove the effect of copy protection without necessarily actaully cracking the game. This was surprisingly simple. Now these weren't copied or circulated at all at the time as far as I am aware, it was mainly me showing off with a local few mates who had sts that I could "crack" when I wasn;t really. But looking back I'm quite proud of myself - so I thought I'd set up this thread as a homage to anyone else who managed to do stuff like this.
For those of you (most of you?) who can programme, this probablt sounds very basic and sad, but I think it's quite cool - in retrospect though it is very disturbing that a 13/14 year old with no programming experience could bypass protection routines that presumably cost the publishing company a lot of money to implement using some lateral thinking.
If any of you ever did anything similar feel free to give some examples! Here's the ones I did off the top of my head, and how I did it. This is over 20 years ago now so my memory is not 100% but I think these are right.Zool
When I bought Zool it came with a code wheel - you know where 2 parts of the wheel would match the image on the screen and then you would put in the number / letter from one wheel and the number/leeter from the other wheel on a specified box. So the code may be, say, 54, beside box 21 when you match the top and bottom half of the graphics around the wheel. This essentially represented a complex algorythm with lots of variables. So I thought, can we just equalise the amswers and bypass the variables? So I copied disk 1 using A copy, and, guessing that the ultimate answer was an entry on some master code matrix file hidden on the disk, using the backup I searched through the raw data using Diskdoctor for the text "2154" - sure enough I found it along with a load of other 4 digit numbers. Guessing these were the final answers, I changed them all to "9999". I also searched for the text that was the entry prompt for the code and changed that from "please enter the code at xx" to please type "xx" (as the first part and second part were now both 99, the prompt would therefore also give the correct 2 digit answer, 99!). Sure enough this worked. Then I thought, alctually why even prompt a number, so I changed all the "9999"s to " " and just change the text prompt to "press return". As the answer would always be " " pressing return as a blank entry worked, and the whole complex algorythm was practically bypassed without any cracking, being able to see the files, or putting in some code to bypass the protection.Premier Manager[b]
This was a nifty football manager game by Gremlin graphics. If I remeber correctly, simialr to zool (also produced by gremlin graphics) it used a code wheel, and the exact same approach as zool also worked. In addition, for this (and for other games) if found a few hidden cheat modes simply by searching for the ascii term "cheat" anywhere on the disk using diskdoctor. Surprisingly, for a lot of games this actually revealed cheat modes built in the game. I assume they were left as easter eggs for proper hackers, but again I did it without any real hacking and I sent the cheat into zero magazine - it was published - and I got a "zero hero" badge (long since lost unfortunately). I obviously didn't tell them how I'd found the cheat but I earned that badge
[b]Championship Manager '94[b]
Amazingly this verison I did seemed to be the "official" cracked version circulating for years on the internet after the st scene died off and went into abandonware / world wide web. Again there was a complex code entry system where you had to match scores from game number x on page y of the manual, Not knowing how to hack this, and not wanting to dig out my manual every time I played the game, I just use Degas or Deluxe Paint or Crack Art (can't remember which but it probably doesn't matter) to cereate a graphic file (to replace the really shitty background graphic that was there anyway) with all the scores form all the pages on it. That way you could just read the answer off the screen when you logged in. Now I vaguely recall some smart arses talking on soe forum (possibly this one) about this "crappy" crack being the one everyone had and having "fixed" it "properly" - I guess in criticising what I had done they were missing the beauty of it - I had come up with a really simple approach to bypass a protection which probably took less time and work than actually hacking it but was equally effective - in that way I think my way was superior. Plus I was only around 15 at the time and couldn't programme! I also added a nicer loading screen than that which came with the original game (it's actually supposed to be goodison park, in case you ever wondered) and the original background screen was so bad I still maintain my list of numbers was an improvement, and I am a bit sad that someone eventually just hacked the game and lopped off the protection
[b]Create your own menu disks using crack art and diskdoctor
I also discovered that even if you couldn't code, you coyuld always piggy back a menu. I would create my own menus to show my mates simply by using crack art to find the picture in the programme and then copy and paste my own pic in, maping the colours to the original, and changing the scorll text using discdoctor and changign the load files on pressing 1 or 2 byt just looking for the original names of the prg files and chanmging them to whatever other programme I wanted. Now the purists will say I was ripping off good coders dressing up their work as my work. And yes, obviously as a 13-15 year old kid I was. but I don't think any of the original coders can complain as they were probably the ones who spent a huge amount of time slagging off the games publishers / programmers for crappy protection routines in their scrollers. And like I said earlier, none of these discs ever got circulated, so no-one was ever really ripped off
Anywway there's some examples. I did do some other similar common sense stuff but I can't think of it off hand. I hope it wasn't too boring for you!!! If anyone else did similar "shamateur" hacking this is the thread for it! I guess it's a different angle to the ST scene that's possibly not been discussed before, and after 20 years of everything and anything being discussed, bringing some new angle to the board is probably nice.