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About Rainier

PC gamer, WorthPlaying EIC, globe-trotting couch potato, patriot, '80s headbanger, movie watcher, music lover, foodie and man in black -- squirrel!

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Brand New Game Copy Protection System

by Rainier on Aug. 5, 2002 @ 7:17 p.m. PDT

Ever wondered how to achieve the maximum level of game protection against cracking and pirate copying without studying a thick manual and even without the source code? StarForce Technologies™ reveals StarForce Professional 3.0, the feature-rich protection system, to combat illegal copying of software distributed on CD-ROM. Exhibitors and visitors of the international game exhibition ECTS, which takes place on August 29 - 31 in London, will be introduced to a beta version of StarForce Professional 3.0. Don't miss it; come to StarForce Technologies' stand #1414.
StarForce developers integrated their cutting-edge technology of StarForce Professional 2.0, the CD-authentication process that doesn't require any 'fingerprints' on a disc's surface, into their much-anticipated version 3.0. StarForce Professional 3.0 is over ten times superior to the well-respected version 2.0 in protection against cracking and illegal copying. It incorporates the unique ability to control a disc’s physical parameters, which allows distinguishing not only the licensed discs from illegal copies that are manufactured at a replication facility, but also the discs with the same title made from different glass masters. This distinctive feature tremendously simplifies publishers' control over licensed CD manufacturing.

StarForce Professional 3.0 expands the protection options by introducing a brand new feature, File Protection, which is designed to protect data files that are used by the program. It offers an opportunity for publishers of multi-level games, educational software, and encyclopedias to hide various resources, which are used at a certain level of a game, a specific volume of an encyclopedia, or an educational application’s lesson. This kind of copy protection is impossible to neutralize without an in-depth examination of all sections of an application in order to make sure that there are no ‘hidden sections’ with the protected files left; otherwise, even after breaking the protection, which requires considerable time and effort, the application will still fail to run where the protected files are loaded.

Customization is also one of the key features of StarForce Professional 3.0. Depending on the developer’s skills and preferences, he or she can select the most optimal level of copy protection. Presetting the protection parameters allows a busy publisher to spend the minimum time on StarForce implementation. Various options are available for those, who want to apply an advanced protection of executable files and dynamic-link libraries. As a part of the customization options, StarForce Professional 3.0 offers several graphical interfaces and tools to create them. This opportunity allows building up StarForce pop-up dialogue windows, taking into account the design of a developer’s software.

Additionally, StarForce Professional 3.0 offers maximum effective protection of selected functions included in the executable files by utilizing a totally new approach. Typically, protection of this kind can be done only by 'hand' modification of the source code and incorporation of protection library elements such as functions, structures, and others in this source code.

Statistics gathered by StarForce Technologies demonstrates that 97% of the game publishers do not want to deal with any source code modification to achieve the strongest level of protection for several reasons:

  • 30% are afraid that the source code modification may spawn new bugs in the software.
  • 40% do not want to or cannot learn the complicated documentation that describes how to work with the SDK (Software Development Kit) because of lack of time.
  • 10% do not have the appropriate skills in or sufficient knowledge about programming.
  • 30% do not have the source code.

As a result, the majority of protection cases are limited to the encryption of executable files, which alone may not be able to stop professional software crackers who can easily neutralize the protection and make the software available over the Internet.

StarForce Professional 3.0 allows for implementing robust protection of selected functions of the finished executable and dynamic-link library files utilizing the user-friendly StarForce Protection Wizard. After the developer chooses the executable and dynamic-link library files, which he or she wants to protect, the Protection Wizard automatically displays the file structure tree, including the complete list of all import and export functions used. The only thing left is to select some functions for additional protection if so desired. Protected functions will not contain direct references to the standard Windows API functions. This prevents a cracker from reconstructing the import address table and making a working copy of the application through memory dump recovery.

Therefore, by implementing StarForce Professional 3.0, a software publisher can reach the ultimate level of protection against cracking and illegal copying without having the source code handy, without thinking about what language it's written in, and what environment it was developed in. Usually it takes a long time to study an SDK for any protection but in this case it's insignificant and the efforts can be re-assigned to testing and changing the protection parameters to gain the optimal proportion: program protection/running speed.

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