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Message started by musashi5150 on 25.02.07 at 22:01:44

Title: ST Cracking for newbies
Post by musashi5150 on 25.02.07 at 22:01:44
Hi all  :)

I'm an Amiga guy (no booing please ;) ) into coding/patching/cracking etc, but recently I've got myself a 1040STE and I've been starting to learn some stuff on that for a change.  And Showaddywaddy pointed me in this new forums direction for some info about the basics of ST cracking - most likely from CJ.

On the Amiga I'm pretty spoilt and I'm used to 'button pushing' with my ActionReplay cart, but it seems most ST guys just use MonST and trace everything through by hand.  I do have an Ultimate Ripper cart as well.

But being on a 'new' platform I'm really wondering where to start and thought I'd make this post and see what happens :) ....

Title: Re: ST Cracking for newbies
Post by CJ on 25.02.07 at 22:55:16
Hi,

Well, I'm not going to go into any great details here as this is probably the most asked question we get and www.google.com is a pretty good resource for answers :)

I'd get yourself a copy of HiSoft's Devpac or TurboAsm and Bugaboo and then go find some really old. old titles in pasti format (You know, easy ones.. like, eg, really old German Math games... hehehe) or even titles with the Symbol Table intact (Enduro Racer, anyone?)

Work out what you need to do to make those work, then find something slightly harder... wash, rinse, repeat and sooner or later you'll be cracking megademos :)

There is no rulebook, there's not really a "do this and its cracked" format to tell you.  Take a look at our Rick Dangerous II and then look at Zippy's Rick Dangerous II.... the bytes we changed are completely different, yet both work...

But more than anything, have fun :)

Title: Re: ST Cracking for newbies
Post by bodkinz on 26.02.07 at 01:42:29
Yup as has been said comparing stuff to begin with the uncracked and cracked versions helps a lot...

I only ever cracked stuff on the ZX Speccy... but that was just by seeing what others had done.. etc etc

I was way to impatient at the time...

as was said above just compare see what has been changed...

;D

good luck  :)

Title: Re: ST Cracking for newbies
Post by ggn on 26.02.07 at 07:54:10
Hi there,

Like CJ said, there is no definite guide to such a thing. However, here's a small guide to the things you need to do (and in what order, imo):

a) Learn 68000 assembly. CRUCIAL! I know lots of people will say 'well, duh!' reading this, but I happen to know a "cracker" (not active anymore) that hardly knew 68k asm!
b) Learn the system. Learn it good. Learn it as much as you can. System timers, OS calls, custom chips, critical memory addresses, interfaces. The works. This is crucial as well, otherwise you'll not know what you're doing! (the aforementioned "cracker" above hardly knew the ST!)
c) Code some stuff in asm. Get to grips with the system and how to access it. Floppy access, special tricks of the hardware, etc. Start analysing other people's code, either soruce code or disassembling stuff. Step through code in a debugger.

Once you practice the above enough, then you'll be doing more than cracking. Cracking will be a subset of your abilities. It will become second nature because a protection is a piece of code. Tricky, devious, yes, but a piece of code. And since a program (game, app, etc) runs in memory in whatever way, then it can be deprotected.

Another point: Get comfortable with your coding/debugging enviroment. The tools more used on the ST are: Devpac/MonST, Turboassembler/Bugaboo, Assemble/Adebug, and last but not least Steem Debug. The last is an awesome tool and helps getting results faster than conventional debuggers (because you can issue breakpoints and mem watches practically wherever you want). Personally I use Turboass/Bugaboo and Steem debug when I'm bored ;)

That's about it. Just remember that "coding" and "cracking/hacking" are not separate things. One cannot be a good hacker if one is not a good coder. It's taken us years to reach a point where we can patch a game for hdd and falcon etc. in 1/2 an hour.

Title: Re: ST Cracking for newbies
Post by CJ on 26.02.07 at 08:28:45

ggn wrote on 26.02.07 at 07:54:10:
One cannot be a good hacker if one is not a good coder.


Unles your name is Rob.C  ;)

...and I doubt the world could handle 2 Rob.C's without going nova :)

Title: Re: ST Cracking for newbies
Post by ggn on 26.02.07 at 10:15:37

CJ wrote on 26.02.07 at 08:28:45:

ggn wrote on 26.02.07 at 07:54:10:
One cannot be a good hacker if one is not a good coder.


Unles your name is Rob.C  ;)

...and I doubt the world could handle 2 Rob.C's without going nova :)


Too true! I just insisted on pushing these points because there aren't that many talented people like Rob. The rest of us have to do it the orthological way!

Title: Re: ST Cracking for newbies
Post by Shw on 26.02.07 at 10:16:49
I've got a few docs from Hank/Diskmap Crew (later Automation) and from Andy Arfling, I'll see about putting them online. I guess we need a new section on the web-site.

Showaddywaddy

Title: Re: ST Cracking for newbies
Post by CJ on 26.02.07 at 14:11:47
See? I knew this forum was a good idea, it gets Shw to do some work.  ;)

Title: Re: ST Cracking for newbies
Post by musashi5150 on 26.02.07 at 20:31:40
Thanks for the input guys.  It's pretty much what I suspected - 68K is no problem for me, it's just learning the STs ins and outs - which I guess will take some time - it certainly did on the Amiga  :)  I'm in no rush anyhow, it's not like these games 'need' to get cracked again  ;D

And any docs you could find Shw would be greatly appreciated by me and probably a good few others as well though :)

Title: Re: ST Cracking for newbies
Post by musashi5150 on 01.03.07 at 06:08:58
Thanks for the docs Shw, there's certainly some nice material to read through there  :)

Title: Re: ST Cracking for newbies
Post by StingRay on 05.03.07 at 18:57:04

musashi5150 wrote on 25.02.07 at 22:01:44:


On the Amiga I'm pretty spoilt and I'm used to 'button pushing' with my ActionReplay cart, but it seems most ST guys just use MonST and trace everything through by hand.  I do have an Ultimate Ripper cart as well.


Not everyone on Amiga uses AR you know. :) I for myself always hated using "magic buttons" for cracking, I consider it cheating. :-)

Title: Re: ST Cracking for newbies
Post by ggn on 05.03.07 at 20:19:00

StingRay_ wrote on 05.03.07 at 18:57:04:
[quote author=musashi5150 link=1172440904/0#0 date=1172440904]Not everyone on Amiga uses AR you know. :) I for myself always hated using "magic buttons" for cracking, I consider it cheating. :-)


Hmm, I guess that there must have been anti-AR checks in amiga games. After all if you could (for example) save a memory snapshot after the protection was passed, then you could have a cracked game :)

Title: Re: ST Cracking for newbies
Post by StingRay on 06.03.07 at 12:23:20

ggn wrote on 05.03.07 at 20:19:00:

Hmm, I guess that there must have been anti-AR checks in amiga games. After all if you could (for example) save a memory snapshot after the protection was passed, then you could have a cracked game :)


Yes, that would of course be possible but only for games that use absolute addresses and simple memory layout. For "normal" dos files it wouldn't be that simple due to needed relocations and stuff.  It's very lame approach anyway. As lame as reset cracking on C64. :) But yes, there were ppl using it. ;) And yes, there were also AR protections used in some games, the best protection against AR was to point the stackptr to an odd address and once you press the magic button an IRQ would be generated, supervisor mode entered and the return address pushed on the stack which would generate another exception due to the odd address etc. Dead end. :D Tearaway Thomas used that kind of protection (together with a nifty encryption :D). Other approaches were to fool the cartridge by using fake copperlists and stuff or using CIA timers etc. There are many ways to protect against AR. :) Still the best one is the one that f*cks up the cart once you press the button. :)

Title: Re: ST Cracking for newbies
Post by musashi5150 on 06.03.07 at 18:53:22
Hehe... you get everywhere don't you StingRay  :)  Yes, I played with Tearaway Thomas and found it's anti-AR trick - haven't really found any other games that use AR protection yet though.

But as this is an Atari forum we better be quiet ;)

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