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    Protecting assets

    I have recently discovered the UDK (have I been living under a rock?) and are interested to use it in in our next indie project. Since we do not have the funds to hire a modeler/animator to do all of the work we will most likely have to resort to buying some assets from one of the many game asset websites. It is a great money saver as well as a time saver, and it allows us to gain access to more models/textures that we otherwise would have.

    However... all of the licenses that I have encountered so far requires us to protect the assets in some form of encrypted files. Now had we gone with our own developed game engine that wouldn't have been any problem, but since the UDK offers a wider range of tools (among other great features) I'm at a loss of what to do. Is there some sort of way to protect these specific assets? Perhaps a plug-in of some sort?

    #2
    You could compile the completed game into an encrypted installer with a CD Key or something. Not sure if that would require the source code or not though, but I'd imagine there would be a way to do it without it.

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      #3
      By cooking packages (which is a good idea if yu release stuff) you also disable the exporting functions of the editor. You really can't prevent people from applying brute force to extract your content, not even with a custom engine. The content can be used in the game, so all a determined person needs to do is grab the entire scene from memory and cut out the textures and meshes they want.

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        #4
        The cooking process may be considered sufficient, as it strips the raw model file.

        The whole thing strikes me as somewhat futile though - there are programs that hook directly into DirectX and allow every object in the current scene to be saved to disk after all.

        Edit: Oh snap, Wormbo combo.

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          #5
          You can rip with OpenGL too, DirectX is a lot easier to do though. I doubt that many people are really going to be doing that though, most of the places I've seen mostly just don't want you to release the models openly, like making it so that they can export them out.

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            #6
            Epic have just signed a deal with Valve, this may be what you're looking for:

            Steamworks is a complete suite of publishing and development tools that offers PC game developers and publishers access to the game features and services available through Steam. These include product key authentication, copy protection, auto-updating, social networking, matchmaking, anti-cheat technology and more. The features and services available in Steamworks are offered free of charge and may be used for both electronic and tangible versions of games.
            From: http://www.epicgames.com/press_releases/steamworks.html

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              #7
              Originally posted by UnspoiledWalnut View Post
              You can rip with OpenGL too, DirectX is a lot easier to do though. I doubt that many people are really going to be doing that though, most of the places I've seen mostly just don't want you to release the models openly, like making it so that they can export them out.
              It's at least as easy to rip assets from memory as export them directly though, given that there are programs that do it for you (that's just the first one I found by googling, so I don't know how good it is). People were doing this when UT3 first came out because you couldn't easily export from the cooked packages.

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                #8
                Yeah it's getting increasingly easier. I haven't used that one, but there are quite a few around. Obviously, the average person isn't going to have much use for it though, as most of the ones that I've played with just export the mesh basically in a frozen animation without the rigging or animations or anything, and it can be a huge annoyance to actually deal with something in an animation like that. The OpenGL ones are even worse, since they do a really poor job in coordinating the meshes and textures.

                But altogether it really isn't anything worth worrying about. The basic anti-piracy protections like key encryption and whatnot is really about all that's necessary. Nothing that is done is uncrackable, even TAGES isn't (albeit, it does an incredibility good job of it at the cost of being really really annoying), but it's not much to really worry about.

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                  #9
                  Originally posted by Piranhi View Post
                  Epic have just signed a deal with Valve, this may be what you're looking for:



                  From: http://www.epicgames.com/press_releases/steamworks.html
                  Epic may have signed a deal, but I'm pretty sure Steamworks would need source code access (I know I say that a lot, but this one I'm 100% certain on :P)

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                    #10
                    As far as I know, it's going to be integrated into UDK, or a side package to go along with UDK.

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                      #11
                      Originally posted by eTrust View Post
                      Epic may have signed a deal, but I'm pretty sure Steamworks would need source code access (I know I say that a lot, but this one I'm 100% certain on :P)
                      And more importantly, steamworks isn't going to "protect" your game assets.

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                        #12
                        Originally posted by elmuerte View Post
                        And more importantly, steamworks isn't going to "protect" your game assets.
                        Exactly, Steam is basically a way to distribute the game, and locking the executable (no other file as far as I know) with encryption, opened upon authentication.

                        I really don't worry about my own, self-made game assets at all. If someone wants to extract them and play around with them then that just feels like a compliment for me as an artist (though a really lousy one at that). What I need to do is to follow the following license agreement;

                        a) The products must be a part of the compiled program.
                        (files should not be accessible in their native formats (.3ds, .max, .X, .FBX, .dts etc. ) from your program folder)

                        b) Every possible attempt should be made to protect the products from theft by using resource encryption or some other form of concealment.
                        (basic archive encryption will suffice)

                        c) The products must exist only within the program code and may not be rebuilt on a user's computer hard drive from the compiled binary.

                        d) Every attempt should be made to protect the products from copyright infringement. This includes the methods mentioned in line 1-b but should also include any resources you have at your disposal.


                        If the user is simply able to open the file in the Unreal Editor and use an export feature, then I can get seriously sued. Wormbo said something about cooking packages, which seems to be the way to go. I'll have to do a bit more of researching in order to understand exactly what this means, as well as approach the 3d model seller(s) and make sure that I am following their rather strict, but understandable rules. There are too many cowboys in the indie business using X application/asset without proper license...

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                          #13
                          Yeah, that's just a game with a CD key or something.

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                            #14
                            Honestly, I don't see the point in protecting game assets.
                            People are going to get to them anyway, and the better your game is; the more tempting it'll be, the more people will want to do it.

                            If someone uses a BPS asset in a non-commercial way, I'd be more than happy to just shrug it off. If it's good, I might even link to it on the BPS site.
                            If they use it to make money, bring in the IP lawyers :P

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                              #15
                              You wouldn't use IP lawyers for assets.

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