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Hello folks, most wont know me, especially if you're not around piracy/hacking/modding forums; but I'd like to talk about a piece of software I've been working on for the past year and get the 'no-DRM' crowds opinion on it as well as suggesting similar systems for GoG in general.

So this project came about when I wanted to mod Call of Duty a while ago. Naturally Steams VAC system got a little upset and I didn't want to make a new bypass for it every update so I went ahead and created my own steam_api. The problem with that however was that the game has its own middleware that acts like a DRM. DemonWare. So their servers would verify that the game was started via Steam and Steam could not verify that since I had another API.

So how do we get an always online game to work? Well, emulating the whole middleware system of course. Every server and every micro-service. Not only did this offer a lot more control over how the game worked, it allowed me to unlock a lot of unreleased content. In CoD:AWs case, two new DLC packs. Naturally Activision DMCAd all images and videos but that's a story for another time.

There's two branches of my system for emulation. One using a traditional server approach with plugins for each middleware network and a simple dll that hooks winsock functionallity and passes interesting data to the plugins rather than the internet. Both have their upsides. Replacing the original gameservers with my server is just a simple edit to your systems hostsfile. No changes to the game or anything like that is required. So when Activision shuts down their servers, it takes 30 sec to switch to whomever is hosting my version.

The dll however allows you to play always online games; offline. Maybe it's easier to imagine it as the server being moved into the dll. Thus no network connection is required and each request is serviced in <1ms. Another advantage of that system is that it allowed me to add features such as LAN play and dedicated servers to CoD.

That's enough rambling for now. What I'd like to know is how this community feel about DRM/servers being emulated as opposed to completely removed and if yous think that GoG would ever consider having a similar system for games where the publisher/studio have lost the source code or simply don't care enough to recompile it.

Thank you for reading ^^
Post edited July 02, 2015 by Convery
This is a bit sophisticated for me. So a couple of questions:
1) Does your system allow one to play Steam games without the Steam client?
2) If so, I assume it requires your client, right?
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mrkgnao: This is a bit sophisticated for me. So a couple of questions:
1) Does your system allow one to play Steam games without the Steam client?
2) If so, I assume it requires your client, right?
1. Technically yes. It does however query steam for account info to verify that the user have bought the game. Steams DRM (CEG) is left (mostly) intact which encrypts part of the game with keys based on your computers hardware. So you can't copy the game to your laptop/friend. I didn't want to remove Steams DRM as I didn't want to open a can of worms.

2. My client would replace Steam and the games servers, yes. The post was more about systems like it in general though. Not to promote my own client/privateserver/whatever. It's more of a sample implementation and show off the advantages of such a system. Incase GoG considers making their own.
Post edited July 02, 2015 by Convery
You're hired. Just fill out this form https://www.gog.com/work wherever that position is and start working tomorrow.
I feel that while technically interesting and morally laudible, DRM-circumvention is not really the same in any way as DRM-Free.

In short, I find the idea of anti-online-only game engineering becoming a mastered art very appealing, so that our digital (entertainment) heritage is not lost. However, I still view such games, even when defeated by a third party, as DRM-laden, and do not want to see such things on GOG.com, nor would I buy them elsewhere.

On a practical level, though I don't see this as leading to an end state that you will appreciate. I believe by undertaking this work, you will simply raise the bar of obscuration and complexity of communication with the server logic. Essentially I would expect a process of escalation that leads to more secure online-only games.

Of course there's undeniable hack-value.
I do think your solution is very interesting, but it also seems a bit of a wasted effort for me.

Here's why: you're basically cracking the game and then you apply your own DRM/Verification. Now, GOG users (not all of them, but a lot) don't want their games to do anything with the internet (unless they want online multiplayer, of course).

So in the end, if I bought a game from GOG that uses your solution, the first thing I'd do is to download a crack for it that gets rid of your online verification :)

Note that this is from my perspective as a GOG user. I think Steam users who don't mind DRM, but don't want always online DRM, would be a lot more interested in your solution ;)
As long as your service/idea doesn't require any form of actual network connectivity, then yes, I would be seriously interested.
Post edited July 02, 2015 by ReynardFox
@jsjrodman
I was more thinking of it as a feature for publishers that don't have access to the original work anymore. Or, an option for the publisher to hand out the relevant parts of their servercode and have it made into a DLL so the game will always work offline / over LAN even when their servers are dead. Without having to modify their game in any way.

@popperik
My system actually doesn't connect to the internet at all (for the DLL version). The only network functionality is optional, such as looking for other clients on your LAN or downloading a list of servers. The verification mentioned for Steam was a response to Activisions lawyers getting upset. The system works perfectly fine without it =P
Post edited July 02, 2015 by Convery
I think that it may be useful in situation you've described (no source code/original files). Contact GOG and ask them.
Disabling the alarm on a jewelry store means all the jewels inside are free right?
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Smannesman: Disabling the alarm on a jewelry store means all the jewels inside are free right?
As long as nobody sees you.
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Smannesman: Disabling the alarm on a jewelry store means all the jewels inside are free right?
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classicgogger: As long as nobody sees you.
Now I wish I knew how to do it.
I would suspect your actually in breach of the agreement with the software for such a thing. Personally I wouldn't want any DRM, emulated or not on the software I purchase, so this would be a no from my side. So whilst its a good learning experience, I would be careful.

Also, the makers of these games which obviously don't want to sell them, otherwise they wouldn't insist their valued customers are all thieves, hence don't hand over money in the first place. COD for instance, I would never consider playing anything above 1 and 2 (and not just as they became progressively worse after that).
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nightcraw1er.488: I would suspect your actually in breach of the agreement with the software for such a thing.
Probably... Most EULA's include specific words/phrases like no reverse engineering, no bypassing security features, and not responsible for damages caused by the software/product including the event of your computer catching on fire and exploding [tiny](among other things)[/tiny].
Well, replacing a DRM with an emulated DRM sounds to me as if there is still DRM involved, coz the game won`t run without it.
So I think it`s not the very best idea if one wants a DRM free version. It also looks a bit like cracking a game, at least to me!
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nightcraw1er.488: I would suspect your actually in breach of the agreement with the software for such a thing.
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rtcvb32: Probably... Most EULA's include specific words/phrases like no reverse engineering, no bypassing security features, and not responsible for damages caused by the software/product including the event of your computer catching on fire and exploding [tiny](among other things)[/tiny].
Ah, yes. There are some phrases in the EULAs that sound nearly criminal for me.
Post edited July 02, 2015 by Maxvorstadt