Twenty years ago, the distribution of video games was totally different from today: if the market was important, it did not have the current dimension, and the Mechanisms that tried to prevent blind copying of games they were particularly striking.

They were precisely because they were much more artisanal: instead of complex DRM mechanisms, manufacturers offered unique protection systems. based on “code discs” and coordinate maps that were “physically” associated with each video game. Games could be copied, but having to rely on these physical systems – which were almost like toys in themselves – blind copying became more complex.

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Even the protection systems were fun

Years ago, they reviewed these systems at VintageComputing, and there they reminded us that those campaigns didn’t even refer to CDs. The games are always available on diskette, and distributors and developers have joined forces to launch projects like ” Do not copy this floppy disk“Who were trying to fight against these first traces of piracy.

Code discs are particularly eye-catching. Normally, these systems composed of at least two concentric cardboard discs -a larger and a smaller- that had symbols, letters or numbers written on their surfaces.

In one of the discs there were cut holes, and at some point in the game we were asked for a code in a certain position that we had to look for to play with these concentric discs.

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One of the best-known “code discs” was that of the game “The Secret of Monkey Island”, which in the early floppy editions of the video game had a curious system called “Dial A Pirate” (something like “dial a pirate’s number”) which caused this when matching the two parts of the hackers face while the game asked us to generate a different numeric code.

Various websites try to offer players illegal copies of these codes, and this page where we can turn these dials on the album “Monkey Island” proves it. In fact, in Oldgames.sk there are a lot of other code discs, although there have been some well-known websites like Crackmanworld, now closed, that had fixes and are now showing up on others. websites which are also well known among these types of users.

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The intrograms used a similar system with some sort of coordinate cards in ‘Alone in the Dark 2’, which was actually an extension of the puzzles presented by this game, but there was also a special element in these cards: they were printed in color, which meant copying them in black and white didn’t do much because most users didn’t have access to a color copier.


Simcity large

Another of the most common techniques was to search the user manual revealed specific data that we had to introduce when the game demanded it.

Another of the most striking copy protection systems was Lenslok, a plastic device with a series of prisms that the user has placed on the TV screen (there is nothing) to know which code must enter to verify it.

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Lenslok 1

The code on the screen was distorted, but using this mechanism you could see the code well. Then came software decoders like Lenskey for Windows games, which once again showed that trying to discover these games was a very startling challenge for many users.


Camelot

Another striking system is the one that the famous Dinamic Multimedia has developed for some of its games such as the Camelot Warriors. In this title there was a hardware protection called SD1 that it was connected to the expansion bus and that this validated this copy as legitimate, as this user explained in detail.

An idea that maybe we should get back

In ‘Railroad Tycoon’ we had to identify trains, and in ‘Sim City’ they were using a matching card which was particularly difficult to read – and we talked about the original map – but much more difficult to photocopy because it was made with black letters on a red background.


Ultimamap Large

You don’t know which industry used these types of measures long after to avoid photocopies and leaks?

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There were other methods, of course: Physical maps included in games like those in the ‘Ultima’ saga would ask us to search for specific coordinates for a certain location, but the pattern was repeated over and over: the key was in something physical -not digital- which was included with the game and which made it difficult to reproduce.

Maybe the manufacturers they should take note and recover these curious techniques by adapting them to the present day. Ah, the good old days and the craftsman.

Source : Engadget