Thursday, 6 January 2011

On Terrible Copy Protection

Not being British, I missed out on some "great ideas" like this: the Lenslok.

The two most irritating copy-protection schemes I encountered back in the old days (both from Sierra games)had different flaws. One had the flaw of completely interrupting your game. As I recall it, in QFG4, there was a puzzle that required you to reply to randomly coded questions. The codes were stored on the game disks, and given computer limitations at the time, required me to write down the question, quit the game, load up the code info, look up the answer, write that down, and then start up the game again in order to enter it. More than once. Urgh. (My memory may be failing slightly, but that's how I remember it - the file was on the CD because they couldn't bother printing a manual. Admittedly, this meant you couldn't LOSE it, see below)

The other was a good idea poorly executed. It was a mystery game and the copy protection required identifying a fingerprint, which you could look at on a codesheet with a special red-filter magnifying glass. Unfortunately, both the sheet and the 'magnifying glass' were as flimy as possible, and very soon LOST, making the game rather problematic to play. If they'd made decent feelies out of the copy protection it would have worked a lot better IMO.


David said...

That mystery game sounds like The Colonel's Bequest. I've still got the fingerprint sheet around somewhere. I also have QFG4 but I don't think mine had that type of protection - mine had you input alchemist formulae from the manual whenever you needed a new type of potion. Now Conquest of the Longbow, there was a Sierra game that required extensive use of the manual. Sign language, meaning of the stones, names of the trees, heraldry... so many questions.

The worst manual protection I've seen a few times is when it's the standard "enter in the word from page X" one, but because it's a reprint or collection the page numbers no longer match up. So annoying...

Whiner said...

Yes, the Colonel's Bequest. The sequel, if I recall, only asked questions that most adventure gamers could answer without NEEDING the documents. (Mythology-based.)

With QFG4, as best as I can tell from looking around, the original release had a proper manual, but they also released a version that was sold jewelbox-only, and therefore no room for a manual, so all the data had to be on the CD. That's the one I had.

David said...

That makes sense - QFG4 was around the birth of the CD-ROM era. I didn't have a CD-ROM drive at the time so I had the original diskette version. I thought they would have stripped the protection from the CD-ROM edition like Lucasfilm did with their games at the time, but I guess I thought wrong.

My main issue with QFG4 was an annoying bug that made loading save games take progressively longer the further you were in the game, so by the end it took up to five minutes to restore your game. And since the end of the game was a standard Sierra adventure game deathtrap, I'm not entirely sure how I managed to finish it. Sheer bloody-mindedness, I guess.

Whiner said...

It was a terribly buggy game. Which is a pity because it was my favorite in the series, when it worked.