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 10 Early Automation Releases - Custom Packer? (Read 1407 times)
Heavy Stylus
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Early Automation Releases - Custom Packer?
29.04.08 at 09:17:31
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Hi there,

I've been going through some of the early Automation menus to see if I can find filed games that I can install on HD, and have noticed that although they say they are packed with the Automation Packer, no depacker I have (New Depack, Mega Depacker, Naughty Depacker) can unpack the files.

Do these use some sort of customised packer?  I only want to unpack them to remove the flashing (and repack with UPX).
  

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ggn
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Re: Early Automation Releases - Custom Packer?
Reply #1 - 29.04.08 at 10:55:28
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Well, you're opening up a big can o' worms there Wink

IIRC first 50 menus were packed with the LSD packer - there ain't anything that can unpack those because it's a very special packer - as in "it's not a .prg pacler" special. Lots of early LSD/WNW games were done like this: a) Let the game load in memory (most of those games laoded all data in a single go), b) Dump the chunk of memory that contains game code/data, c) Remove any references regarding the protection (if neccesary), d) Pack the data with LSD packer, e) Make a program that displays the header text, unpacks the data into a specific mem area, then run the game (or ask for trainers etc). But: these games have a high percentage of working on a simple (m)ste with a hard drive with small disk caches (can't vouch for TOS 2.06 though). You just copy the (usually) single parted file, rename it to .TOS, and run it. So that leaves us with the tricky part of removing the flashing.

Later games required more data than memory could hold, so they were forced to load data from disk. Can't say for sure that Automation pioneered this, but the solution was simple: Firstly, the main .prg was packed with the automation packer as a .prg (this can be unpacked with naughty depacker or new depack for example). As for the rest of the files, a stub loader was written that intercepts any file that's being loaded, and if it detects that it's packed, it then proceeds with unpacking the file and then passing control over the main program.




Anyone awake? Smiley



So, to (finally!) get to the second question: flashing. With fairly basic assembler knowledge and a bit of hex editing, it's possible to kill all flashing in a game. If there's interest in that I might write some hints on how to perform this (it's not exactly rocket science!). Maybe when someone did this 2-3 times, he/she could write a small program that does that automatically! (Not me though, I quite like the flashing of the unpackers Wink)
  
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Re: Early Automation Releases - Custom Packer?
Reply #2 - 29.04.08 at 11:31:37
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Early Automation / LSD / WNW menus used the LSD/JEK packer but had custom headers which printed crack text, trainer stuff etc....

You have two options, remove the flashing instruction, you need to NOP out the reference to $ffff8240 or $ff88240. Usually it's a move.b d0,$ffff8240. 

Or alternatively look for the second instance of "LSD!" and save the file from there, it should then depack as an LSD data file.

Shw
  
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Re: Early Automation Releases - Custom Packer?
Reply #3 - 29.04.08 at 14:01:00
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Thanks for the answers - didn't mean to open a can o' worms at all - I just like UPX because:

A) I have limited storage space for my files and UPX always saves me a few precious Kb
B) I really don't like flashing.  Just a personal thing.  I've nothing against cracktros/intro text, just the flashing.

To be honest, I didn't used to be fussy - it's the standard of the recent D-Bug cracks/patches with the ace intros and no flashing that made me realise how good cracked games can look...

Anyway, a guide would be great - will probably discuss further via MSN.
  

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Re: Early Automation Releases - Custom Packer?
Reply #4 - 29.04.08 at 19:02:04
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No reason for dorky MSN, I'll write some general instructions after I get back from Outline Smiley

(unless someone else volunteers? CJ? Shw? Smiley)
  
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Re: Early Automation Releases - Custom Packer?
Reply #5 - 30.04.08 at 05:18:26
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I think I asked this ages ago and it may have been Ozzwald who replied that they were indeed packed with the standard LSD packer but as SHW points out the header had been changed to something other than the usual LSD! or whatever so depack programs don't recognise the header and can't depack.

So with a bit of hunting around and a hex editor you should be able to depack them using your depack proggies but then you get stuck into the myriad of mess like ggn stated.  However I think I was also told that the single parted proggies should work, it was when I was trying to get them to work on the Falcon, where code that ran nicely on the 68000 would fail on a 68030 and hence the need to depack the proggies and either run them uncompressed or repacked with something like Ice or Atomik? or the speedhawks packer ....

I think we should motivate AXE/Delight to write a new 680x0 firendly packer ... or maybe even Ray/TSSC?  Shocked

cheers

karlm.
  
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Re: Early Automation Releases - Custom Packer?
Reply #6 - 28.07.08 at 09:34:09
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Isn't UPX Falcon friendly?
  

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Re: Early Automation Releases - Custom Packer?
Reply #7 - 28.07.08 at 11:29:51
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Quote:
Isn't UPX Falcon friendly?


It is, 060 firendly too (flushes caches after depacking)
  
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Re: Early Automation Releases - Custom Packer?
Reply #8 - 29.07.08 at 17:38:41
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The UPX packer for packing data itself is quite memory hungry. Ona 4MB falcon you run out of RAM quickly - e.q. only good to pack very small files. Either get a CT60 with RAM boost or pack on PC Cheesy

  

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Re: Early Automation Releases - Custom Packer?
Reply #9 - 29.07.08 at 19:23:20
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The good thing is that the PC version of UPX also packs Atari executables. It's also possible to pack data files with a bit of 'faffing'.

Shw
  
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Re: Early Automation Releases - Custom Packer?
Reply #10 - 29.07.08 at 19:24:50
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Yep - I always pack my atari prgs on my pc, then copy over Smiley
  

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Re: Early Automation Releases - Custom Packer?
Reply #11 - 29.07.08 at 19:37:48
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upx --ultra-brute on the pc works fine for me Smiley
  
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