Ancient knowledge for free! (sort of)

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By Manuel

Ascended (18374)

Manuel's picture

13-07-2010, 21:07

parallax: see my post on the previous page for some more questions Tongue

By parallax

Expert (85)

parallax's picture

13-07-2010, 22:13


He did find interesting stuff in the 32kB EPROM the cartridge contains, quoting "some checksum stuff and the replayer code... and, strange enough, part of the NMS8250 BIOS"...

Do you remember what was going on there, Cas?

Honestly, I have no idea. Maybe it was just a red herring. (Actually I think it's technically illegal to do that.)


I was 15/16 when we did all that, and now I would have done a much better job...
So, how would you make such a copy protection today?

I wouldn't radically change things; the basic idea was good enough for that time. I would use slightly more complicated hardware and spread different tests for different aspects of the hardware throughout the code. Also I would separate the 'detection points' much further from the 'decision points', i.e. detect wrong hardware at point X, but only react to it somewhere else, in a different level start, or even more subtly: energy restore items stop working after level X, or 'continue' stops working, or some door doesn't open anymore. That makes it just annoying to test (as a hacker) whether you have successfully removed all the stuff; you would need a full playthrough. That would probably delay the (full) hacks quite a bit.

But theoretically it's just a bad idea and maybe you should just have no copy protection at all (it's just wasted energy nowadays). Then I was just 'fighting' static disassembly (which is easier), but nowadays with emulators/VM's etc. debugging/cracking has become much easier.

By robertwilting

Champion (467)

robertwilting's picture

13-07-2010, 22:42


I was 15/16 when we did all that, and now I would have done a much better job...
So, how would you make such a copy protection today?

I wouldn't radically change things; the basic idea was good enough for that time. I would use slightly more complicated hardware and spread different tests for different aspects of the hardware throughout the code. Also I would separate the 'detection points' much further from the 'decision points', i.e. detect wrong hardware at point X, but only react to it somewhere else, in a different level start, or even more subtly: energy restore items stop working after level X, or 'continue' stops working, or some door doesn't open anymore. That makes it just annoying to test (as a hacker) whether you have successfully removed all the stuff; you would need a full playthrough. That would probably delay the (full) hacks quite a bit.

But theoretically it's just a bad idea and maybe you should just have no copy protection at all (it's just wasted energy nowadays). Then I was just 'fighting' static disassembly (which is easier), but nowadays with emulators/VM's etc. debugging/cracking has become much easier.

Sounds like what X-tal soft did with Crimson 2. After hours of playing you were not able to pass at some point if you didn't copy it correctly. Currently there exists no good diskimages of this game on the net. Thanks to this trick.
People assumed it was right because it started. Very poor copies won't even start.

But maybe a different question.

Black Cyclon uses the auto save option. Which was a terrible decision. If you enter with the wrong weapons in the later levels or didn't do some things right earlier then your screwed with a save which doesn't let you through.

Any way to clear the save data in a save way. So I can restart over ?

By parallax

Expert (85)

parallax's picture

13-07-2010, 23:36


Black Cyclon uses the auto save option. Which was a terrible decision. If you enter with the wrong weapons in the later levels or didn't do some things right earlier then your screwed with a save which doesn't let you through.

I vaguely recall that you might end up with an undesirable weapon, but I'm quite sure it should be possible to continue in any case. Is it just that the weapon is weak or can't you pass some specific point? (I don't recall the details, it's a long time ago)


Any way to clear the save data in a save way. So I can restart over ?

It was not built in and I'm afraid I don't recall exactly how you would do it. Probably there was some checksum over the save data so I guess it's not trivial to change.

Hmm, I now read on my own pages Wink the following:

www.shape9.nl/parallax/Black_Cyclon/black_cyclon_cheat.html

Crazy stuff. I've no clue how you could get at that. But I'm quite sure some of the people here can fairly quickly locate the passwords/cheats for Black Cyclon; that would help I think.

By JohnHassink

Ambassador (5595)

JohnHassink's picture

14-07-2010, 03:20

Hi Cas, first off, I love your work and I respect it very much. I got just 2 questions (with some sub-questions);

(1) Is Akin ever going to be available to be bought again, if yes, via what channel?
(a) are you planning on re-releasing it in the future?
(b) are you abandoning it as in: you don't care if people copy/download/play it?

(2) Will CoreDump ever see the light of day?
(a) would you finish it yourself?
(b) will some kind of reverse-engineering be allowed by you or even aided so other programmers can have a go at it?

Greetings, John

By parallax

Expert (85)

parallax's picture

14-07-2010, 09:52

Hi John,

Thanks for the kind words.


(1) Is Akin ever going to be available to be bought again, if yes, via what channel?
(a) are you planning on re-releasing it in the future?
(b) are you abandoning it as in: you don't care if people copy/download/play it?

(1) Sunrise can sell Akin as long as they stick to the royalties issue; it is their decision to (apparently) stop selling it. I was never notified of this nor is the situation completely clear; two friends of mine tried to order Akin at Sunrise 1/2 years ago but they didn't get any reply.
(1a) At the moment I have no such plans and it seems unlikely, but I don't want to exclude the possibility.
(1b) I'm not abandoning it. Too much of my soul is in there Smile -- I hope that people (especially those who created games once) can understand that.


(2) Will CoreDump ever see the light of day?
(a) would you finish it yourself?
(b) will some kind of reverse-engineering be allowed by you or even aided so other programmers can have a go at it?

(2) "Highly unlikely" is an understatement.
(2a) No, I lost too much code/data, and by now, getting back into it would be a crazy effort.
(2b) I have very little time left at the moment (wife, kids, job) so I couldn't be aiding in any case. The main data is on an old non-starting harddisk that is at my parents' place; but I couldn't just give it away even if I wanted to, because it also contains personal stuff - It's not just Core Dump data.

The Core Dump demo (especially the Japanese one, which I made later and it contains some additional features) contains most of the technical code for scrolling with all the fancy stuff, but all other map/level/enemy data is of course not in there. Feel free to grab it to make your own stuff.

By sunrise

Paragon (1091)

sunrise's picture

14-07-2010, 10:36

Hi cas,

Well I donot know where those people have sent their email to, since switched provide etc. Second reason is and I may have told it to you that the Akins have a pixel disturbance.
So my originals were that bad quality that I shouldnot sell that. Third reason is that we are gonna be out of 3.5 disks.
I was now thinking of making a compilation of all your work on cartridge ( 1 or max 3 carts) and make it together with a great package , like manbow2,mp3 orso
The pixel issue is solved now and also ARC can be re-issued again
Please feel free to contact me so that we can make an arrangement about the fee. My new emailadress you find into the profile overhere

By parallax

Expert (85)

parallax's picture

14-07-2010, 12:28

@sunrise: you've got mail.

By Sander

Founder (1867)

Sander's picture

14-07-2010, 23:45

Yeah put those on cartridges! BTW: Cas old friend, you still own me a hamburger Smile

By robertwilting

Champion (467)

robertwilting's picture

15-07-2010, 11:55

on black cyclon

Black Cyclon uses the auto save option. Which was a terrible decision. If you enter with the wrong weapons in the later levels or didn't do some things right earlier then your screwed with a save which doesn't let you through.

I vaguely recall that you might end up with an undesirable weapon, but I'm quite sure it should be possible to continue in any case. Is it just that the weapon is weak or can't you pass some specific point? (I don't recall the details, it's a long time ago)


Any way to clear the save data in a save way. So I can restart over ?

It was not built in and I'm afraid I don't recall exactly how you would do it. Probably there was some checksum over the save data so I guess it's not trivial to change.

Hmm, I now read on my own pages Wink the following:

www.shape9.nl/parallax/Black_Cyclon/black_cyclon_cheat.html

Crazy stuff. I've no clue how you could get at that. But I'm quite sure some of the people here can fairly quickly locate the passwords/cheats for Black Cyclon; that would help I think.

In short - unfavoured weapon. Bomb gun not needle gun.(If I'm right.)

http://www.shape9.nl/parallax/Black_Cyclon/black_cyclon_tips.html
As you say there allready you need a full powered needle gun. Additionally I didn't got the crystal in level 2. So as you can see the autosave is giving me problems.

on reissues and stuff

So my originals were that bad quality that I shouldnot sell that. Third reason is that we are gonna be out of 3.5 disks.
I was now thinking of making a compilation of all your work on cartridge ( 1 or max 3 carts) and make it together with a great package , like manbow2,mp3 orso
The pixel issue is solved now and also ARC can be re-issued again

Sounds nice a reissue of ARC. It's the one I'm still missing.

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