This message showed when I entered the serial specifically made for pirates. Right now feeling nothing but respect for plugin devs. Next month Imma buy this plugin 100% fixed, need it or don’t need it doesn’t matter anymore lol.

  • Yote.zip
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    2276 months ago

    I feel piracy for demo purposes is fully justified if you buy it after you like it. People always say vote with your wallet but it’s more like gambling with your wallet if you don’t get to see and touch the product before you make the purchase. Giving proper demos should be more common with digital media.

      • thanevim
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        196 months ago

        I’m thinking that I might buy it once we have creation kit access and mods that add story and flesh out the game a la Fusion City Rising and companion mods for Fallout 4

        • @7Sea_Sailor@lemmy.dbzer0.com
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          146 months ago

          At that point I’d rather pirate the game and donate to mod developers who are putting endless hours of unpaid time into free mods.

      • @ByteJunk@lemmy.world
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        66 months ago

        I played it as part of Xbox live, paid $20 for 2 months. Ended up playing a lot more of Senua Sacrifice than I did Starfield.

        That price is very acceptable, almost a convenience fee that I gladly pay so I don’t have to look for torrents and stuff.

        I would never pay the hyperinflated prices that are being asked for AAA nowadays, especially for digital copies that, as PlayStation is keen to teach us, are worthless.

    • Einar
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      436 months ago

      Demos used to be a lot more common. It used to be the norm for most games. Now it’s extraordinary.

        • Captain Aggravated
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          46 months ago

          Devolver Digital published a demo for Heave Ho!. Worked fine, demo was fun, decided to buy the full version. It didn’t work, none of the UI elements except the back button worked on the character selection screen. Fortunately Valve is good with refunds.

      • Robust Mirror
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        16 months ago

        PlayStation making you pay for their highest sub tier just to access demos.

      • @Jarix@lemmy.world
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        16 months ago

        Not entirely or at least in a different way. Steam still has free weekends occasionally on games. Or more likely some publishers still offer them sometimes probably

      • Ænima
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        76 months ago

        Old enough to remember the Ambrosia Software game, Escape Velocity? That game had a shareware setup involving a really powerful ship that would message you several times in a game and eventually get so annoying it was almost impossible to play. If you accidentally shot him, he’s ruin you. Oh, gone are the days of true “try before you buy.”

        • @davidturner@programming.dev
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          66 months ago

          I remember this game being one of the reasons I love Macs so much as a younger kid. Zooming around and then this guy showing up “remember to buy the game” and then, eventually, it becoming a game of seeing if I could leave a system before getting wrecked by him.

          Good times.

          If you happen to miss those days, check out Endless Sky. It’s a free remake of the game for more modern machines. Still under active development.

          • @DerMann@feddit.de
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            6 months ago

            Thanks for the nice anecdote and reccomendation Gonna see how it runs on my steam deck.

            • @LordTrychon@startrek.website
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              26 months ago

              On Android Space RPG3 (free) and Space RPG4 ($3?) are really good spiritual successors as well.

              Some of the original team are also working on a spiritual successor. Have been for a while. Don’t remember what it’s called though.

        • @kittyrunningnoise@lemm.ee
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          5 months ago

          lol, EV was special. It was also pretty easy to mod with plug-ins using macos resource fork hackery, even to a kid, and all of the original game data was replaceable just by creating something with the same ID in a plug-in. Cap’n Hector became an angry invincible shuttlecraft with a single laser cannon. now that I’m old enough to afford a license, the company is gone and there’s no way, so I guess I’m stuck with him like this forever.

          • Ænima
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            5 months ago

            I make no claim to this info, nor do I understand it, nor do I take responsibility for its use. As linked, I got this from a reddit post about the company and copy/pasted it into Obsidian so I’d have it. The code blocks are as close to the original as I cared to fiddle with. This is all greek to me but there are Python scripts linked, which may help you generate a key that works to register EV. Good luck!

            Note: I had to split this into multiple posts cause it was not wanting to post the entire thing in one reply.


            Ambrosia and Registration (Site)

            Now that Ambrosia is gone, new registrations are no longer possible, and due to their expiring codes, using legitimate license keys has become difficult. We may hope to see a few of their games revived in the future but at present, only the original releases are available. Perhaps this case study on Ambrosia’s registration algorithms will be useful to some.

            The Old System

            In their earliest days, ASW didn’t require registration, but they eventually began locking core features away behind codes. All of their classic titles use the original algorithm by Andrew Welch.

            Given a licensee name, number of copies, and game name, the code generator runs through two loops. The first loop iterates over each letter of the capitalized licensee name, adding the ASCII representation of that letter with the number of copies and then rotating the resulting bits. The second loop repeats that operation, only using the game’s name instead of the license holder’s name.

            Beginning with Mars Rising, later games added a step to these loops: XOR the current code with the common hex string $DEADBEEF. However, the rest of the algorithm remained essentially unchanged.

            The resulting 32 bits are converted into a text registration code by adding the ASCII offset of $41 to each hex digit. This maps the 32-bit string into 8 characters, but due to the limit of a hex digit to only encode 16 values, codes only contain letters from the first 16 of the alphabet.

            The following chart shows an example using a well-known hacked code for Slithereens.

            			Iteration 1 ('A' in ANONYMOUS)
            Name: Anonymous             Code = $0 + $41
            Number: 100 (hex: $64)  ->        << 6             ... -> Code = $FD53 FFA0
            Game: Slithereens                 + $64
                                              ^ $DEAD BEEF
                                              >> 1
            
            Add $41 to each digit:                                      Registration
            -> $41 + $F = $50 = P    ->      Reverse string        ->   ------------
               $41 + $D = $4E = N                                       | AKPPDFNP |
               ...                                                      ------------
            

            Here is a Python implementation of the v1 system: aswreg_v1.py

            Once you have the bit-string module installed via sudo pip install bitstring, you can test the output yourself with python aswreg_v1.py "Anonymous" 100 "Slithereens".

            • Ænima
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              15 months ago

              The New System

              As Ambrosia’s Matt Slot explains, the old system continued to allow a lot of piracy, so in the early 2000’s they decided to switch to a more challenging registration system. This new method was based on polynomial hashing and included a timestamp so that codes could be expired and renewed. Ambrosia now had better control over code distribution, but they assumed their renewal server would never be shut down…

              They also took more aggressive steps to reduce key sharing. The registration app checks against a list of blacklisted codes, and if found to be using one, the number of licenses is internally perturbed so that subsequent calculations fail. To combat tampering, your own information can get locally blacklisted in a similar manner if too many failed attempts occur, at least until the license file is deleted. Furthermore, the app attempts to verify the system time via a remote time server to minimize registration by changing the computer’s clock.

              You can disable the internet connection, set the clock back, and enter codes. There’s also a renewal bot for EV: Nova. But let us look at the algorithm more closely.

              64-bit Codes

              The first noticeable difference is that registration codes in v2 are now 12 digits, containing both letters and numbers. This is due to a move from a 32-bit internal code to a 64-bit one. Rather than add an ASCII offset to hex digits, every letter or number in a new registration code has a direct mapping to a chunk of 5 bits. Using 5 bits per digit supports up to 32 values, or almost all letters of the alphabet and digits up to 9 (O, I, 0, and 1 were excluded given their visual similarities).

              The resulting 64 bits (really only 60 because the upper 4 are unused: 12 digits * 5 bits each = 60) are a combination of two other hashes XOR’d together. This is a notable change from v1 because it only used the registration code to verify against the hashing algorithm. Only the licensee name, number of copies, and game name were really used. In v2, the registration code is itself a hash which contains important information like a code’s timestamp.

              Two Hashes

              To extract such information from the registration code, we must reverse the XOR operation and split out the two hashes which were combined. Fortunately, XOR is reversible, and we can compute one of the hashes. The first hash, which I’ll call the userkey, is actually quite similar to v1’s algorithm. It loops through the licensee name, adding the ASCII value, number of copies, and shifting bits. This is repeated with the game name. An important change is including multiplication by a factor based on the string size.

              The second hash, which I’ll call the basekey, is the secret sauce of v2; it’s what you pay Ambrosia to generate when registering a product. It is not computed by the registration app, but there are several properties by which it must be validated.

              The chart below visualizes the relationships among the various hashes, using the well-known “Barbara Kloeppel” code for EV: Nova.

              TEXTCODE:
              ------------------
              | L4B5-9HJ5-P3NB |
              ------------------                    HASH1 (userkey):
              	|                             calculated from licensee name,
                      |                             copies, and game name
              BINCODE:                              ----------------------
              5 bits per character,             /-> | 0x0902f8932acce305 |
              plus factors & rotations         /    ----------------------
              ----------------------          /
              | 0x0008ecc1c2ee5e00 |   <-- XOR
              ----------------------          \
              	                         \    ----------------------
              	                          \-> | 0x090a1452e822bd05 |
              	                              ----------------------
              	                              HASH2 (basekey):
              	                              generated by Ambrosia,
              	                              extracted via XOR
              
              • Ænima
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                15 months ago

                The Basekey

                The basekey is where we must handle timestamps and several validation checks. Consider the binary representation of the sample 0x090a1452e822bd05:

                binary basekey (above) and indices for reference (below):
                0000 1001 0000 1010 0001 0100 0101 0010 1110 1000 0010 0010 1011 1101 0000 0101
                b0   b3   b7   b11  b15  b19  b23  b27  b31  b35  b39  b43  b47  b51  b55  b59  b63
                

                Timestamps

                Timestamp are encoded as a single byte comprised of bits indexed at b56,51,42,37,28,23,14,9 from the basekey. In this example, the timestamp is 01100010 or 0x62 or 98.

                The timestamp represents the number of fortnights that have passed since Christmas Day, 2000 Eastern time, modulo 256 to fit in one byte. For example, 98 fortnights places the code at approximately October 2004.

                Stored as a single byte, there are 256 unique timestamps. This is 512 weeks or about 10 years. Yes, this means that a code’s validity rotates approximately once every decade.

                After the code’s timestamp is read, it is subtracted from the current timestamp (generated from the system clock or network time server if available). The difference must be less than 2, so codes are valid for 4 weeks or about a month at a time.

                Of note, Pillars of Garendall has a bug in which the modulo is not taken correctly, so the timestamp corresponding to 0xFF is valid without expiry.

                Validity Check

                The last three bits, b60-63, contain the sum of all other 3-bit chunks in the basekey, modulo 7. Without the correct number in these bits, the result will be considered invalid.

                To this point, we have covered sufficient material to renew licenses. The timestamp can be changed, the last three bits updated, the result XOR’d with the userkey, and finally, the code converted from binary to text.

                Factors for Basekey Generation

                I was next curious about code generation. For the purposes of this write-up, I have not fully reverse engineered the basekey, only duplicated the aspects which are used for validation. This yields functional keys, just not genuine ones. If the authors of the EV: Nova renewal bot have fully reversed the algorithm, perhaps they will one day share the steps to genuine basekey creation.

                One aspect validated by the registration app is that the licensee name, number, and game name can be modified to yield a set of base factors. These are then multiplied by some number and written into the basekey. We do not need the whole algorithm; we simply must check that the corresponding regions in the basekey are multiples of the appropriate factors.

                The regions of note in the basekey are f1 = b5-9,47-51,33-37,19-23, f2 = b43-47,29-33,15-19,57-61, and f3 = b24-28,10-14,52-56,38-42. The top 5 bits and f3 are never actually checked, so they can be ignored.

                Considering f1 and f2, the values in the sample basekey are 0x25DA and 0x1500, respectively. The base factors are 0x26 and 0x1C, which are multiples by 0xFF and 0xC0, respectively.

                Rather than analyze the code in detail, I wrote a small script to translate over the disassembled PPC to Python wholesale. It is sufficient for generating keys to EV: Nova, using the perfectly-valid multiple of 1x, but I have found it fails for other v2 products.

                • Ænima
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                  15 months ago

                  Scripts

                  Here is a Python implementation for v2: aswreg_v2.py and aswreg_v2core.py

                  With bitstring installed, you can renew codes like python aswreg_v2.py renew "L4B5-9HJ5-P3NB" "Barbara Kloeppel" 1 "EV Nova" (just sample syntax, blacklisted codes will still fail in the app). There’s also a function to check a code’s timestamp with date or create a new license with generate.

                  As earlier cautioned, generating basekeys relies on code copied from disassembled PPC and will likely not work outside EV: Nova. In my tests with other v2 products, all essential parts of the algorithm remain the same, even the regions of the basekey which are checked as multiples of the factors. What differs is the actual calculation of base factors. Recall that these keys were created by Ambrosia outside the local registration system, so the only options are to copy the necessary chunks of code to make passable factors for each product or to fully reverse engineer the basekey algorithm. I’ve no doubt the factors are an easy computation once you know the algorithm, but code generation becomes less critical when renewal is an option for other games. I leave it to the authors of the Zeus renewal bot if they know how to find these factors more generally.

                  To renew codes for other games, keep in mind the name must be correct. For instance, Pillars of Garendall is called “Garendall” internally. You can find a game’s name by typing a gibberish license in the registration app and seeing what file is created in Preferences. It should be of the form License.

                  Finally, a couple disclaimers: I have only tested with a handful of keys, so my interpretations and implementations may not be completely correct. YMMV. Furthermore, these code snippets are posted as an interesting case study about how a defunct company once chose to combat software piracy, not to promote piracy. Had Ambrosia remained operational, I’m sure we would have seen a v3 registration system or a move to online-based play as so many other games are doing today, but I hope this has been helpful for those who still wish to revisit their favorite Ambrosia classics.

          • Ænima
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            15 months ago

            I have a link to how to take an old serial for the game and generate a new serial based on the algorithm. When I get back to my computer I’ll send it along.

          • Ænima
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            26 months ago

            Usually, not intentionally. More, I was defending myself and he was buzzing around me like a moth on a summer porch light when a stray laser beam hit his ship. :(

        • @Jarix@lemmy.world
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          26 months ago

          I remember the name ambrosia software but dont recall that game. Sounds like a good experience to remember!

    • @Syrc@lemmy.world
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      136 months ago

      Imo “vote with your wallet” is more about companies/brands that have proven to do shitty games, as in “don’t buy any more games/dlcs/microtransactions from them”.

      • Yote.zip
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        216 months ago

        Vote with your wallet regards any sort of purchase. By giving money to someone you are giving them the most encouragement possible to continue doing what they’re doing. If you purchase something that you end up not liking, they will still receive your initial vote loud and clear. The gaming industry especially has shown us that companies will happily take both the money and the negative review and say ‘thank you’.

        • Zoolander
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          36 months ago

          You’re the first person in this community that gets it. The people here that bloviate about their moral justifications are so tiresome. It’s really as simple as “if you want more of something, you have to pay for it”.

        • @Syrc@lemmy.world
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          16 months ago

          Yes, but as you said, you can’t know if you’ll like the game or not until you try it. It works with standalone games as well if you pirate before buying, but it’s usually not aimed at pirates: no one sane will pirate a game, find out they dislike it, and buy it anyway. It goes without saying.

          It’s more the people who already bought games that need to hear that “so you bought the last two mainline Pokémon games and they both sucked ass? Don’t fall for it again, vote with your wallet and stay away from the next one”.

    • KptnAutismus
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      35 months ago

      exactly, had a pirated version of frostpunk. but when i played through it the first time i immediately wanted to play the DLC.

      so i went on epic games and bought it for full price.

      good job devs, that game is a masterpiece and you deserve my money.