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Take On Helicopters' anti-piracy tech defended by devs

Unsuspecting pirates playing Take On Helicopters have found their vision turned watery, and not with tears of shame. Bohemia has explained its anti-piracy scheme, saying developers have a responsibility to "try to protect their company's future."

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Unsuspecting pirates playing Arma developer Bohemia's new chopper sim Take On Helicopters have found their vision turned watery, and not with tears of shame. Bohemia has explained it's all part of its anti-piracy scheme, saying developers have a responsibility "to the community that supports them" and to "try to protect their company's future." Copies of Take On Helicopters detected as counterfeit by the FADE technology will only give "a small taste" of the game before it begins to "degrade" in ways including developing a water-distorted view. Bohemia draws attention to one such player on its forums, whose request for help was answered by company CEO Marek Spanel, requesting the player's proof-of-purchase and CD key and kindly offering to "personally look at your problem."

One pirate's problem in Take On Helicopters

Bohemia has since released an official statement explaining its stance on "antipiracy countermeasures."
One of the aspects of developing any game in this modern age is how to protect it, it's widely known that as soon as any game is released there are those who are looking to download it for free, who for whatever reason feel that their right is to not pay for something despite all the thousands of hours that have gone into its development. Obviously game developers have a responsibility to themselves to try to protect their company's future, but also a responsibility to the community that supports them by buying their titles, no gamer who has spent their hard earned money to buy a game wants to be playing MP against others who didn't buy their game, no addon maker wants to have things they created over countless hours downloaded and used by people who didn't buy the game it's intended for. That is why we try to come up with unique and irrefutable ways to stop people from playing our games without paying for them, that's why Take On Helicopters shipped with our unique antipiracy countermeasures.
Bohemia has tinkered with cunningly degrading copied copies since 2001's Operation Flashpoint, powered by the FADE copy protection scheme, where weapons would become less accurate and powerful, and performance would decrease. Batman: Arkham Asylum famously had similar ideas, rendering the Dark Knight unable to glide across a room filled with poison gas if the game was pirated. "It's not a bug in the game's code, it's a bug in your moral code," community manager Keir Edmonds quipped. However, Bohemia does quietly acknowledge some pirates' justification that they want "to test it before buying," saying that a Take On Helicopters demo is "in the development pipeline." As ever, the dance between developers and crackers goes on, with some claiming to have already bypassed the FADE in Take On Helicopters.
From The Chatty
  • reply
    November 9, 2011 7:30 AM

    Alice O'Connor posted a new article, Take On Helicopters' anti-piracy tech defended by devs.

    Unsuspecting pirates playing Take On Helicopters have found their vision turned watery, and not with tears of shame. Bohemia has explained its anti-piracy scheme, saying developers have a responsibility to "try to protect their company's future."

    • reply
      November 9, 2011 7:37 AM

      who the hell would pirate THIS?

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      November 9, 2011 7:43 AM

      ROFL I love when pirates want tech support for their pirated game!

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        November 9, 2011 7:47 AM

        Yeah that shit cracks me up.

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        November 9, 2011 8:05 AM

        I love reading the threads about this, so I'd love to see more developers take this approach.

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        November 9, 2011 8:16 AM

        I used to be gently amused by it, but the cascading clusterfuck kept getting worse...

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          November 9, 2011 8:17 AM

          I think a big problem is that a lot of people for some reason find nothing wrong with pirating. Even at work people lollygag about what they bittorrented, and its greatly annoying to me. Its part of the reason why PC is getting less love as a gaming platform these days, fuck pirates.

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            November 10, 2011 6:11 AM

            So your morals should apply to everyone huh? God forbid we deviate from you as the de facto model of perfection!

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              November 10, 2011 8:42 PM

              Ah so from this viewpoint it wouldn't be morally wrong to kill you since I don't prescribe to the de facto model of moral values.

              Of course lawfully I'd still be in the shit.

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          November 9, 2011 8:52 AM

          riiiiight, didnt you end up having a giant headache with the pirates flooding your tech support with their issues?

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            November 9, 2011 8:55 AM

            Yes.

            The initial trickle was cute. It was like we had a special needs kid trying to get away with a bald-faced lie.

            Once the patch was released and the dam broke, the flood was devastating to my productivity and my sense of humor.

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              November 9, 2011 9:18 AM

              Yeah, you might see that 10s of thousands of people a day are downloading your game, but having them actually talk to you about why it won't work must really bring it home.

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              November 9, 2011 9:21 AM

              How do they react when you try to delicately tell them, you don't get support with a fucking pirated game?

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              November 9, 2011 9:38 AM

              You know what would be an interesting DRM scheme? A one time use code on the box or whatever that lets you get to technical support and patch downloads.

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                November 9, 2011 2:20 PM

                Until a keygen is figured out and people who buy the game legitly find that their code is already in use by a pirate

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                  November 9, 2011 3:07 PM

                  keygen isn't an issue really (if you know what you're doing) so much as hacking/theft of key databases

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                    November 9, 2011 3:08 PM

                    (e.g. Dirt 3 promo keys for retailers to give out with stuff)

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        November 9, 2011 8:22 AM

        Somewhat relevant...

        The comments on Demonoid/TPB torrents often have much more helpful tech support than the official channels. Regardless of your opinions of piracy, they often expose a lot of the shortcomings of developers in this regard.

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      November 9, 2011 7:45 AM

      Developers should try this approach, only more extreme. Release several (5-10) "full versions" of the game to different torrent sites, each with unique problems that start to manifest after 30-60 minutes, and quickly erode to being unplayable. If they can initially flood torrent sites with "broken" copies, and those copies that seem to work at first glance, then leechers will seed them, thus continuing the cycle and making functional copies a hassle to obtain. It might get cleaned up after a few weeks, but if this a normal occurence, then piracy may become inconvenient to quite a few people.

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        November 9, 2011 7:51 AM

        thats gonna backfire, cuz then they will get bashed for releasing a crappy game.

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          November 9, 2011 8:36 AM

          This backfired with Titan Quest, pirated copies of the game would crash at certain points. Their forums were flooded with complaints and it killed their sales.

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            November 9, 2011 9:41 AM

            Jesus fuck, my retail copy of the game crashed the fuck out too. I had to e-mail Securom to send me an un-Securom'd version of the EXE every time there was a new patch.

            Eventually, they stopped answering my e-mails.

            Thankfully, the no-CD cracks actually worked, and eventually I re-bought the game on Steam and that seemed to have solved the issues too.

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            November 9, 2011 10:15 AM

            Assassin's Creed 1 on the PC had that issue also. It got horrible feed back as being buggy because of its anti-piracy protection.

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        November 9, 2011 8:25 AM

        How about instead of this retarded bullshit, focus on making a working game that people will actually want to pay for, price it intelligently, etc. etc.

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          November 9, 2011 9:35 AM

          Yeah ok, cause they should lower the cost down to the cheapest someone is willing to pay.? I would like a new corvette for five grand or else i'll just steal one....

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            November 9, 2011 9:41 AM

            Refer to Steam to get some kind of an idea of how lowering price points drive up sales.

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          November 9, 2011 10:06 AM

          I believe you could argue that they already do that. And people pirate it anyway. Because they want to.

          Now the real debate would be whether or not this is worthwhile or worth the risk. It could be that some of the pirates might buy the game to get it unbroken. It could be that some of the pirates just forget the game which only accomplishes the goal of pissing them off since you were never going to see money from them anyway. And it runs a significant risk of having an issue or a bug which could cause it to show up for people with legitimate copies - look at how no one can know if you're having issues with Titan Quest because it has a bug or because you pirated it.

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          November 9, 2011 4:00 PM

          Guess what Einstein, pirates love well made games even more than shittier ones.

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        November 9, 2011 10:36 AM

        This always backfires. I remember C&C Generals anti piracy was to blow up your buildings after 30 seconds. Friend who actually purchased the game kept having this happen to him. He had to reinstall the game like three times before it fixed it.

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      November 9, 2011 7:49 AM

      Ok bring on the demo then.

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        November 9, 2011 10:38 AM

        good ol' pirates. defining everything and anything as a demo as they see fit, for whatever time table they see fit.

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          May 9, 2014 4:44 PM

          I have pirated some games, i admit this. But the only reason i do it, is because i'm stuck on shitty government welfare payments that are getting shittier by the day. I can barely survive with rent and food letalone buy games. If i were getting enough money to actually buy these games, i would happily go back and buy every single game i have ever pirated, but i just can't and that is the sad truth of it.

    • reply
      November 9, 2011 7:54 AM

      [deleted]

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        November 9, 2011 7:56 AM

        People not reading shacknews articles, shocker.

        Bohemia has tinkered with cunningly degrading copied copies since 2001's Operation Flashpoint, powered by the FADE copy protection scheme, where weapons would become less accurate and powerful, and performance would decrease.

      • Ebu legacy 10 years
        reply
        November 9, 2011 8:26 AM

        ORIGINAL GAMES NEVER FADE

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        November 9, 2011 3:23 PM

        you'd turn into a bird eventually :p

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      November 9, 2011 8:00 AM

      I like bohemia's take on this, a little humour. It seems far more human.

      Another interesting idea would be to just enforce the lowest graphics settings.

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        November 9, 2011 8:02 AM

        [deleted]

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        November 9, 2011 1:36 PM

        640 x 480 only

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        November 9, 2011 2:22 PM

        No, because then you get a flood of people saying "graphics SUCK in this game!" and that creates negative pub. Similar thing happened to Titan Quest - the pirated version crashed when you entered the first underground area and it got a reputation of being buggy + crashy.

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          November 9, 2011 2:25 PM

          those should be deleted outright though. those opinions are not valid whatsoever.

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            November 9, 2011 2:45 PM

            The people going on Internet forums saying that the game is buggy and crashy are not disclosing that they're playing a pirated version. To the general forum-going public, it just looks like they're legitimately complaining about a shitty game.

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              November 9, 2011 3:18 PM

              The way to solve this is to do somethign that breaks the game but explicitly in a way so you know the game is breaking cause you didn't pay as opposed to looking like a malfunction.

              Big Mortal Kombat babality letters in the middle of the screen that read "YOU ARE A PIRATE :D" and a sample of the LazyTown song on loop ought to do it.

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                November 9, 2011 3:24 PM

                the hard part is that pirates want offline play so the game can't call home. then of course they come raging out of the woodworks demanding patches and explanations why their torrented hacked cracked shit doesn't work.

                so we don't have good metrics on the piracy stuff, and that bothers me. the pirates' computers are connected constantly, but demand offline play to pirate shit and evade detection.

                so we are stuck shipping the game WITH the localized crap that penalizes everyone when it misfires. if everything required more persistent online authentication we're all going in the right direction.

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                November 9, 2011 3:32 PM

                Arkham Asylum disabled the ability to glide, iirc, causing pirates to splatter the first time it was required.

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              November 9, 2011 3:19 PM

              of course not. that's the trick though, the devs know it. like with mass effect, all those posts should have been purged.

              they hold no value and are not based on the shipped game code whatsoever.

              those comments need to be reserved for the torrent sites where the code came from, not on dev or pub forums and then regurgitated on gamer forums.

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          November 9, 2011 3:07 PM

          a crash is not a good method, but spawning an invincible titan that promptly rapes you repeatedly is excellent.

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      November 9, 2011 8:06 AM

      I like this idea, pretty hilarious. I've heard of capcom getting tech support calls from pirates too.

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      November 9, 2011 8:18 AM

      This is a great idea, and to be fair you get a chance to see if the game runs OK like some pirates are demanding before it degrades.

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      November 9, 2011 9:51 AM

      I remember EA did this with Command & Conquer, they let you play for like 5 minutes then all of your buildings exploded.

      It's harder to fix rather then just not having the game start.

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        November 9, 2011 10:10 AM

        Yeah I heard about this from a friend. Too funny.

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        November 9, 2011 10:18 AM

        Pretty ingenious. I think more devs should do this, create "dummy" versions of games that are purposely broken and then let them proliferate on torrent sites. They would go viral pretty quickly, and would easily discourage would-be piraters.

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      November 9, 2011 10:12 AM

      Whatever happened to CD-Keys?

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        November 9, 2011 10:33 AM

        or better yet, Whatever happened to code wheels?

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      November 9, 2011 10:18 AM

      Spyro: Year of the Dragon did this pretty well:
      - http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/3030/keeping_the_pirates_at_bay.php

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      November 9, 2011 1:46 PM

      Didn't Earthbound crash and delete the save at the final boss? :)

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      November 9, 2011 1:53 PM

      This is a problem that free games don't suffer from. Can't pirate a free game, bitch.

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        November 9, 2011 2:02 PM

        hell yeah, the whole games industry should just be a hobbyist volunteer indie non-profit circle jerk

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      November 9, 2011 2:58 PM

      Didn't they want to do this with the original Op Flashpoint back in the day?

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      November 9, 2011 3:15 PM

      Guide to preventing piracy:

      Step 1. Make game not suck.
      Step 2. Use Steamworks. People like it, respect it, and its known to increase length and girth by at least 5%.
      Step 3. Accept piracy will always happen. You wont stop it, your crazy schemes are not going to increase sales enough to offset the bad vibes it will generate towards your company.
      Step 4. Stop letting the Securom salesmen into your publishers office. If you see him coming, kill him. At least knock him down hard. He is like the vaccuum cleaner salesman coming to visit the 1950's housewife door to door. Dont let him in, or your gonna lose a weeks pay to a giant sucking machine thats no better than the one you already had.

    • reply
      November 14, 2011 9:05 AM

      Piracy = Testing before buying

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