Graphics Protecting sprite assets?

Hello GMC,

I recently found out that there are tools out there that can be used to extract sprites resources from the data.win file that GMS produces upon building the exe (something called "undertale mod" for example). Is Yoyo Games aware of this? If so, have they taken any steps with GM Studio to prevent this?

I'd like to know if the sprite assets I'm putting in a great deal of time and effort into producing aren't just open to resource jacking by anyone who does a little bit of research.

Thanks in advance!
 

Nocturne

Friendly Tyrant
Forum Staff
Admin
Moderator
data.win is the least of your concerns. You can rip graphics straight from video memory. Don't bother trying to protect against this, as it's not feasible and you're wasting your time trying to fortify a house with no doors and no locks.
I'd like to add that this goes for ANY game, not just those made with GameMaker. You just have to look at sites like The Spriters Resource. ;)
 

Liquid

Member
TsukaYuriko is totally right, dont waste your time with that.

[12345
12345
12345]
scramble shift right by 2,-1,1
will make
[45123
23451
51234]
unscramble it with shift right by -2,1,-1

well.. if you really want to "protect" than change your sprites, scramble them, shift lines to a pattern only your program code can easily reprodce, use xor to join other gfx to it (can be undone on load with another xor of same gfx). compress it with password .. alot of possabilities but all very useless if soemone wants to steal, they can always from screen (graphics card memory while running)!

[123
456
789]
shift right 1,0,-1
[312
456
897]
shift up 2,0,-1
[817
352
496]
very screwed image, massive work to fix that without knowing the right shifting numbers
unscramble with first shift up -2,0,1 than shift right -1,0,1

funny ,,, you could do a simple scramble unscramble with a custom vertex shader
 
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Nocturne

Friendly Tyrant
Forum Staff
Admin
Moderator
Sprites are stored on textures, and these are essentially big bitmaps that are in texture memory. There are a number of programs that you can find that will enable you to view and copy these textures. If you look around you can find tools for just about every piece of hardware ever created.
1622617027366.png
 

Liquid

Member
world is not black white though.... see:
"because there are picklock tools we dont use any locks at all. all doors stay open alltime."
question is : who owns picklock tools ? Everyone ? Or do you need a thiefs mindset to have one ? Are there more thiefs when we all leave our doors open ? But than a thiefs mindset would not stop with picklock tools, in extreme he would use an axe...
 

TsukaYuriko

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Forum Staff
Moderator
There's a world of a difference between that example and this situation.

Spending time to protect something that will almost inevitably be stolen anyway (due to lack of effective preventative measures and consequences if caught, in substantial part due to low chance of being caught) is wasted time and therefore wasted money that could've been spent on making a better game (or less time you have to pay developers for). You can encrypt your graphics all you want, be it XOR or some fancy bit shifting... the end result is that nobody who halfway knows what they're doing will sit there and get stuck trying to reverse the encryption because there is another way that is not only far easier but also universally applicable.

The most you'll achieve is wasting a bit of someone's time while they look up how to grab textures from video memory, and then any encryption you implemented is instantly void. No matter from which angle I look at this, it has a negative business value because you're essentially spending money on delaying the inevitable.

If it makes you feel anyhow better to "protect" your graphics in whatever way, by all means, go for it. Just know that you won't achieve the goal of actually protecting them.
 
Just one more item; the reason I'm bringing this up is because someone told me that game maker's default protection is inferior to what they're using to "encrypt" their assets - an application called Molebox.

Paraphrasing, said person claimed that with the game maker undertale mod, all it would take is one click and the sprite assets from a game maker exe would populate, everything is cleanly organized like it was packaged up. In the case here, it is simpler in 1 click to get the content than someone having to rip from video memory and be at least a bit knowledgeable. In molebox's case, if someone wants them, there is no stopping them, but at the same time they'd have to jump through some hoops than be able to just rip it with a click that one doesn't have to be too knowledgeable to do.

I'd be somewhat shocked if a licensed software like game maker developed by a company has seemingly less protection for sprite assets than a virtually free tool developed by I think one developer only. How would I respond to this?

Thanks.
 

rIKmAN

Member
Not if you also continuously set the player's clipboard text to "SWIPER, NO SWIPING!"... :)

If we're gonna implement ineffective asset protection mechanisms that can easily be circumvented, might as well go all the way. *shrug*
That doesn't affect the Windows 10 Snip tool (SHIFT+WIN+S) - grabs a screenshot perfectly fine.
Probably the same for other screengrab software too (NVidia, Xbox Game Capture etc)
 

TsukaYuriko

☄️
Forum Staff
Moderator
Paraphrasing, said person claimed that with the game maker undertale mod, all it would take is one click and the sprite assets from a game maker exe would populate, everything is cleanly organized like it was packaged up. In the case here, it is simpler in 1 click to get the content than someone having to rip from video memory and be at least a bit knowledgeable. In molebox's case, if someone wants them, there is no stopping them, but at the same time they'd have to jump through some hoops than be able to just rip it with a click that one doesn't have to be too knowledgeable to do.
As I said before, it only takes one person to spend some of their time to either extract the files manually or reverse-engineer whatever mechanism there is to prevent theft. Wouldn't be very surprising to me.

I'd be somewhat shocked if a licensed software like game maker developed by a company has seemingly less protection for sprite assets than a virtually free tool developed by I think one developer only. How would I respond to this?
With common sense. A free tool having a feature doesn't mean that a comparable commercial tool must have that feature as well. It actually makes more sense for a free tool to have features with negative business value, as the focus of a free tool probably is not to make money - unlike the commercial tool that has to focus on delivering features that are marketable and thus can generate profit. Putting the mind of a small minority of developers who are paranoid about their graphics being stolen more easily (arguable) than usual doesn't sound very marketable to me.

That doesn't affect the Windows 10 Snip tool (SHIFT+WIN+S) - grabs a screenshot perfectly fine.
Probably the same for other screengrab software too (NVidia, Xbox Game Capture etc)
That's the joke... :)
 

curato

Member
You will never best a determined hacker. I just use YYC to compile the game and some basic encryption on the save files. No point to kill yourself with. If you game doesn't hit it big no one will care and if it does then people will be willing to spend whatever time required to crack your game. Worst case just be happy your game was popular enough to get cracked.
 

vdweller

Member
Boy I am sure Undertale's developer had such a rough time post-release with all those game assets exposed for them pesky asset hackers. Must have been financially rui-oh wait.
 

Yal

🐧 *penguin noises*
GMC Elder
You could always do the I'm Scared / Doki Doki Literature Club thing and turn file tampering into an ARG, thereby scaring the hackers away and/or getting the attention of every youtuber on the planet?

It's also possible to digitally sign assets (y'know, that newfangled NFT thing) so that even if people extract them, you can prove you own the images if you track down the perpetrators. Happy hunting!
 
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