Dungeon Master - Clever Floppy Disk Anti-Piracy | MVG

  • Published on May 27, 2019
  • Dungeon Master - the classic 16 bit dungeon crawler that defined a genre was one of the best ever games for the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga. Released in 1987 by FTL (Faster than Light) it saw many ports to different systems including the Sharp X68000, MS-DOS, Apple IIgs, Super Nintendo and more.
    It also had one of the most devious floppy disk copy protection schemes ever created. In an age where most games were cracked in a matter of hours, FTL's clever protection took an entire year to crack with many attempts to defeat it, resulting in failure over and over again.
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    #DungeonMaster #AntiPiracy #FloppyDisk
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Comments • 1 783

  • Marc Smithsonian
    Marc Smithsonian 12 hours ago


  • Erik Breaman
    Erik Breaman 2 days ago

    Starforce Splinter Cell:Chaos Theory is a legend among crackers.. It was one of the first to have a VM like SafeDisk but had a virtual file system and a lot of layers.. Starforce was basically the Denuvo of the early two-thousand. Denuvo is the same tech they just added more layers and some hosted byte stuff

  • Daniel Karausch
    Daniel Karausch 2 days ago

    Whats the Intro Song?

  • denis milic
    denis milic 2 days ago +1

    The best thing is that hackers must play the game to detect the next level of protection.

  • ApplesnCastles
    ApplesnCastles 3 days ago

    Loved Dungeon Master, I still have my original Amiga FTL boxed version (& an 500+ & A1200) and am paranoid it'll fail given the disk is so old now being a magnetic 3.5" floppy and of course, I have no way of making a backup of the original disk owing to the clever protection utilised. You could blindfold & drop me anywhere in that game &within a few mouse clicks, could tell you where I was. Could lose days playing it even today.... they don't write them like the used to..

  • Magnus Olsen
    Magnus Olsen 4 days ago

    Hi, What I rember a copy protection that was worst that dungeon master, was robot cop, it use a dongle + floopy to play it. Elite, farlight and many more did gather in one place to figout how to break it. They did told on BBS it was forst proection they hade seen and harders one to break of them all.

  • GottliebPins
    GottliebPins 4 days ago

    There was no copy protection that me and my group couldn’t break on the Radio Shack Color Computer. We used to break tape copy protections, floppy disks, and dongles. Usually within hours. Then just for fun we invented our own copy protection schemes. I wrote a disk formatter that would write out the first sector of each track as 1024 bytes instead of the normal size. And insert code into that extra space. The 1024 byte block would overrun the IO buffer and overwrite a RAM vector. All you had to do was try to read the disk and it would boot. Do a DIR and it would boot. Another scheme was to punch a second timing hole in the disk and instead of 18 sectors per track format 1 through 9 twice. If you read a sector once and read it again you might get different data the second time. In order to load the application the loader would read each sector until it got different data then it would exclusive or the data to get the actual program block. It made loading very slow but there was no way you could copy the disk.

  • A daft punk
    A daft punk 4 days ago

    880k? I'm used to 1.4. And I always reformatted to a WhOpPinG 1.7 MB. Free storage!

  • Lorenzo Di Gaetano
    Lorenzo Di Gaetano 5 days ago

    I love your t-shirt!

  • memememe
    memememe 5 days ago

    1:43 i have no fucking manual - I know what you were writing...

  • turbotimthree
    turbotimthree 6 days ago

    I had the Adam computer

    ASARADEL 6 days ago


    ASARADEL 6 days ago +1

    i could fit runescape on that if you give me time.

    ASARADEL 6 days ago

    >being alive to see the first home computer
    >being just young enough to enjoy the video games that came out in 1995+
    >being just enough generation z to control the shift of entertainment for the next 20 years.
    >humans will only survive another 20 years.

  • c33733
    c33733 7 days ago

    A friend of mine wrote PowerCopy Professional back then. Software and a dongle to external floppy combination (you could also optionally add a pot to the floppy hardware to help control drive speed too). There was not a single title it couldn't clone no matter the type of disk protection. If something was particularly tough, he would just add a parameter file for that disk to make it easier for the user. Yeah plenty claimed that they would do this, but at the time, this was the only one that actually could. Funny thing was his levels of protections and unique track manipulation. It was 'cracked' a few times but funnily enough all of the cracked versions would end up showing copy errors at some point when using it. So no need to crack, just borrow an original. Well, except for PowerCopy itself. XD

  • itsGuy
    itsGuy 7 days ago

    I member when I played a "legit" commander keen, it said "don't be a software pirate" and then it says "if this software was legally purchased, press yes, if not, press no" lmfao of course I would press yes. We tried 1 time and said no, and it made the game close and it was wiped. Lol

  • MrDustpile
    MrDustpile 7 days ago

    However long it takes, it's nice to see the games copied and put online in the end as the retro scene's much poorer without them.

  • Catnium
    Catnium 7 days ago

    Piracy is a just surprise free game

  • M3t4PhYzX
    M3t4PhYzX 7 days ago +1

    "FCK DRM"

    - CDPR

  • Norri Buvari
    Norri Buvari 7 days ago

    Great video!

  • Aftersun 20XD6
    Aftersun 20XD6 7 days ago

    I remember back in my C64 and Amiga 500 days where cracking groups were sometimes more popular than the game developers. I'm an American so it wasn't uncommon to have copies of games cracked by American and Canadian groups (Eagle Soft Inc. for example), but most were cracked in Europe and Australia, and we'd get a great many copies of those here. Which makes me wonder about C64 games. Was there a simple code to or a program that converted PAL games to NTSC? Or did that even matter? I'm ignorant and curious.

  • Rudolph Riedel
    Rudolph Riedel 8 days ago

    68k CPUs are 32 bit.

  • TheShow
    TheShow 8 days ago

    Please do Amiga, Dragons Lair too :)

  • CaptainZ
    CaptainZ 8 days ago

    At my job in the 80s they had some special software that turned the PC keyboard into a special format that emulated an old cardpunch machine they originally used to input timecard data to the old mainframe. 5-1/4" floppy that they couldn't copy. They had 3 temps that came in Friday night's to do the timecards, and only 3 purchased copies, one went bad and the original software vendor had gone belly up - even the original copyIIpc couldn't make a copy. I took it to my old TrS-80 with "supercopy" and copied it no problem. Turns out the whole disc was 512byte sectors (standard PC) except the last track had an 8KB sector the software validated.

  • texnikos1
    texnikos1 8 days ago

    Where can we find the music of these games?

    COB RCE 8 days ago

    A friend asked me to copy an old m27c512 EPROM (not EEPROM), I made a small circuit around a esp8266, so I could read it, but the problem is some parts are different each time, is it possible that it's a fuzzy bit? or just the EPROM is damaged?

  • Ms.Fixit
    Ms.Fixit 9 days ago

    Freaken Funky Fuzzballs... It had an eye chart with a special viewer XD

  • Velocinox
    Velocinox 9 days ago

    0:41 Desert Strike.... So. Many. Hours. Spent.

  • Dan barb
    Dan barb 9 days ago

    i remember dungeon master, speedball, Comando, Apidya and all those games, i loved Dune2 battle of arrakis and the settlers which were the first longplay hardcore games that could make you addicted. I also remember those Guru Meditation warnings popping up and i also had a virus scanner and it constantly said i had a lamer exterminator virus on nearly all my games which it was kind of unable to remove :) I was a kid back then, had no idea what to do.

  • Gregory Daerr
    Gregory Daerr 9 days ago

    Well done friend.
    But when I played Hunt The Wumpus on my Ti-99 4A I had to slide in a cartridge.
    No way to copy it - same today with many consoles.
    I miss my 1970-80 computers.

    Trivia question: Early apple ] [ e computers used these to query what is a PEEK or POKE?

  • Travis Worthington
    Travis Worthington 9 days ago

    My best friend had commodore 64 it was so cool he had like 100 games..... Was so much fun so many great memories.

  • covington race
    covington race 9 days ago

    Sony engineered a wobble into the disc on purpose so defeat the copies

  • Geo Pol
    Geo Pol 9 days ago

    "It kept the pirates at bay. No pun intended" Oh that pun was very well intended. Don't lie to us

  • Steve V
    Steve V 9 days ago

    It's unknown WHETHER. Not "if" - WHETHER.

  • Habi Aby
    Habi Aby 9 days ago

    DRM was broken a lot faster back then.

  • SuperVstech
    SuperVstech 9 days ago

    Your Amiga is so CLEAN! I’m jealous....

  • SirChristian100
    SirChristian100 9 days ago +1

    Dungeon Master....... the living legend!

    I wrote a little article in school about rpg games and Dungeon Master....later part of a book about roleplay and storrytelling in games....and so much startet with Dungeon Master!

  • The Reptilian Wizard Lizard

    I'm a performance artist.

  • Clairvoyant81
    Clairvoyant81 10 days ago

    That is one clever bit of copy protection for one awesome game.

  • PStuff
    PStuff 10 days ago +2

    Nice video. The random bit is a development of fuzzy sectors. That was where the header of the sector was written but no data. By reading the same sector twice you then had a copy check as the unformatted data should read differently on each occasion.
    The protection check in a lot of the games were of a similar ilk, read sector, read same sector. If a==b then set pirate flag.
    It was interesting you mentioned the Rob northern methodology, there were a few niceties in the way the suite ran. Decrypting and executing from the stack iirc, but it had a fatal flaw.
    As it was sold to companies as a ready made solution it tended to be added as an afterthought, unlike the built in from the ground up, with gradual degradation (like dungeon master). The RNC file consisted of an encrypted wrapper around the original code. Sometimes the game would check if the code returned by the disc was valid, but that was a rare occurrence at the start.
    To break all RNC protected software came down to figuring out where the game content ended in the file, loading it up from an original disc and attaching to the horizontal line interrupt. RN protection disables all interrupts but has to re-enable before game starts. At this point your interrupt would trigger and you had an unencrypted exe in memory. It was possible that you would catch it as it had started running and all the jump offsets then had to be recalculated. Stunt car racer was the first to fall using the hack tool IIRC. Run auto hack software, insert protected disc, wait for screen to stop flashing, insert formatted floppy, press space bar to save. You could then manually go through the saved file checking for the standard disc number check code.

    • PStuff
      PStuff 8 days ago

      I'd also add that a similar protection was included in the firmware of pioneer 939 high end dvd players. If you dumped the firmware and made the player multiregional then you got a nice surprise after 15 minutes or so - it would lock up with an error. It caught a few of the multiregional DVD player companies a bit by surprise.
      On top of the usual firmware CRC check there was another embedded in one of the other processors iirc, this was for ensuring the DVD audio firmware component had not been altered I believe.

  • amer m
    amer m 10 days ago

    What game at 0:45

  • B Mcginnis
    B Mcginnis 10 days ago

    Wow! That was such an awesome story!

  • Emmanuel Arroyo
    Emmanuel Arroyo 11 days ago

    Excelent job dude !

  • mspider12
    mspider12 11 days ago +1

    Our school had apple 2,2+,2gs systems and 5 1/4 drives. Once someone got a copy of copy 2+ we all had the same software the school did.

  • DarkStride
    DarkStride 11 days ago

    Hey? Where do you get your music from? I would love to know the intro song and also a few others.

  • Cody Konior
    Cody Konior 11 days ago

    My feedback on why this is the second video of yours I thumbs down on:
    I feel there’s way too much filler at the front. It’s a 14 minute video that meanders and could be compressed to just a few minutes.
    I appreciate the effort and it looks like more people may enjoy that than me, and that’s okay 😇

  • Mike
    Mike 11 days ago

    Quantum protection.

  • Samael Merihem
    Samael Merihem 12 days ago

    "What is the 75th word on the 30th page of the Game Manual" was beaten? IMPOSSIBRU

  • John Michael Stock
    John Michael Stock 12 days ago

    The Amiga was much better than the ST

  • 50k3r2
    50k3r2 12 days ago

    So cracking Dungeon Master required Dungeoneering Mastery.

  • Farid Rudiansyah
    Farid Rudiansyah 12 days ago

    The old Floppy disk thing is cool. About 1,3 MB you got full cool game.

  • StandAloneAoi
    StandAloneAoi 13 days ago

    I've always wondered how that worked. Figured it was something like that.

  • TnA Plastic
    TnA Plastic 13 days ago

    I really like your 'copy-protections and how they were defeated' a.k.a. 'Mistakes were made' series! :)

  • Homer Slated
    Homer Slated 14 days ago

    I knew about Rob Northern but not fuzzy bit protection. I'd love to know how a bit can be written so that it alternately reads as 1 or 0. I assume it has something to do with reducing the voltage on the write head.

    • Homer Slated
      Homer Slated 14 days ago

      OK so I just found the answer. Warning, this is a highly technical document that requires reading in full to understand the following snippet:
      "When the PLL is synchronized, if a flux reversal is not correctly placed and occurs at the very border of the inspection window (1µs sooner or later than the 'perfect' expected timing), then the PLL gets confused and outputs a random value:
      . If the flux reversal is detected right before the end of the inspection window, then the output bit will be '1'. The next bit will be '0' because there cannot be two consecutive '1' bits.
      . If the flux reversal is not detected before the end of the inspection window, then the output bit will be '0'. The flux reversal will be detected at the very beginning of the next inspection window, so that the next output bit will be '1'.
      Note that the misplaced flux reversal is never missed: the FDC just cannot reliably determine which bit cell it is part of, hence the random result.
      In order to create this fuzzy bit effect, one way is to put flux reversals right on the edge of the PLL's inspection window. For example instead of the standard timings of 4µs or 6µs between two flux reversals, an uncertain flux reversal could be written exactly 5µs after the previous flux reversal. The PLL compensates for variations in the disk rotation speed (it may be different from one drive to another or from one rotation to the next), however smaller instantaneous variations can occur during one rotation of the disk. These small variations are responsible for the appearance of the fuzzy bits: the uncertain flux reversals will not always be detected in the same bit cell.
      In order to maximize the probability of having fuzzy bits detected, the copy protection relies on the very special timing pattern as seen on figure 4. The pattern used in Dungeon Master and Chaos Strikes Back has timings between transition pairs that are slowly increasing from 4µs to 5.5µs and decreasing from 6µs to 4.5µs in small 0.1µs increments so that there will always be some ambiguous transitions right on the edge of inspection windows. Note that the total time for two consecutive transitions is always around 10µs, just as it would have been if normal timings were used (with pairs of 4µs and 6µs transitions)."

  • ChrisRoxxx
    ChrisRoxxx 14 days ago +1

    I knew a little bit of ASM and would look for I think "JMP" or "NOP" registers where I thought the copy protecting was asking for a word from the manual. I would hack a byte which I guess said "Go here if you get it right" and changed it to "Go here if you get it wrong" so my hacks only worked if you used an incorrect word and would fail on the correct one. Lame!

  • Paul Mallon
    Paul Mallon 16 days ago

    i total agree Dungeon Master was the best and love this vid

  • Yossi Rachman
    Yossi Rachman 16 days ago

    Awesome video!
    Please make more about copy protection AND game hacks (game wizard pro and similar)

  • pcfan1986
    pcfan1986 16 days ago +4

    On a CD or DVD pits and lands are NOT directly representing ones and zeros, but the CHANGE from pt to land or land to pit would be a one and NO CHANGE would be teh zero.
    Just FYI ;)

  • Mike Wazowski
    Mike Wazowski 17 days ago

    Another World was an awesome game. I still have a copy of it for an emulator.
    Wizardy was the first

  • Crescendo
    Crescendo 18 days ago

    13:42 "Before this, this game was not playable on any Super NES system".
    That's the only part I can't follow. Don't you mean "Before this, no pirate copies were available on any Super NES system?". You've already said the game was playable from an original cartridge with a working DSP2 chip. It sounds like a contradiction. You mean the original was playable, but there were no working pirate copies until DSP2 emulation became available for SNES emulators?"

  • Tenno Recluse
    Tenno Recluse 19 days ago

    the ultimate evolution of dungeon master for me was Hired Guns.

  • Paul Woelke
    Paul Woelke 19 days ago

    My dad bought an Amiga 600 from a friend of his and it came with about a hundred games. ALL of them were copies. As a young kid I honestly thought that's just what Amiga games were like, a regular floppy with the title scribbled with a marker on the front. XD I still remember that I had disk 1 of some The Dark Eye game, that asked for disk 2 after the character creation. I spent a lot of time in that character creator alone.

    This game was not part of the collection. Anyway, super interesting deep dive. Sorry for my nostalgia taking over there for a second.

  • Damien H
    Damien H 19 days ago +1

    Wow. Watching this brought back so many memories. I think i played every game you used footage of. Some i thought i forgot. Watching the X Copy Pro footage brought a tear to me eye. Me and my best mate Chris would sit down for hours after school swapping and copying games. 12 years old. Thank you for this. I remembered things I had forgotten.

  • R H
    R H 19 days ago

    ex-Alpha Flight ;) *Cracker Journal* rulez/d

  • Martin Kilpert
    Martin Kilpert 19 days ago +1

    Truth! I lived this and it's all true. Geez, I miss Marble Madness. Good thing now-a-days I don't need to worry about buying a scam version when Steam Summer Sale has vendors bringing their prices down for the masses.

  • Aggravator Sunrunner
    Aggravator Sunrunner 19 days ago

    Meh this game was copied like all other drm back then. We just didn't advertise it like they do today.

  • kaw203
    kaw203 19 days ago

    I've always found copy protection videos fascinating as it's so original how they came up with some of the copy protection methods

  • Jose’s Gaming Channel

    Dungeon Master was my favorite Atari ST game. I. bought the game after my Atari 520ST was upgraded to 1MB of game. I managed to beat the game over the summer.
    Thanks for the video on the various methods that was used as copy protection. It was interesting.

  • Wayne Rowe
    Wayne Rowe 20 days ago

    Back then it was crazy overpriced for computers and most cases only library computer rooms had pcs.

  • ToolofSociety
    ToolofSociety 20 days ago

    Holy crap I had that indy 500 game. I'm pretty sure it came with the 8 bit mono soundblaster card I bought as a kid. As soon as the picture of the old car popped up the memories started flowing.