Hiding Images folder from players.

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Hiding Images folder from players.

Postby sylakone2 » Sun, 16Jun05 05:22

Hi Guys

This is kind of a feedback and suggestions section.

So I am making 2 games at the moment.
Model Friends and Envying Celina with Super.

Now I was wondering what people thought of hiding the image folders in these games.
I have spoiled some games I've played in the past by peaking at the pictures before seeing them in game.
So I want to be able to hide the images in my games so they can only be seen by playing it.

Do people like this idea and if so what would be the best way to do it?
I noticed that BEW Team did it for the reward pictures.
They did it by encrypting the images so they were not visible unless you have completed certain achievements.

I use Soulmates WBA engine which I really like but I don't think it has an option to do this.

Any Ideas

Cheers

Sy
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Re: Hiding Images folder from players.

Postby Mortze » Sun, 16Jun05 13:13

Hello,

My opinion is that I don't feel there is a need to paternalize the players. There are basically 2 types of gamers. Those wo like to try every option, try and fail, no matter how many times they have to play the game over and over until success, and the others that will prefer to have exterior help, by looking at the whole game pictures, asking for tips, or following a walkthrough. (of course, this is an extreme representation, but it sumarises it)

By hiding the pictures you will not change that reality. Those wo can't see the pictures will have to wait for a walkthrough or ask for tips anyway.

In the end is a matter of choice of each player to enjoy your game the way he wants. If you cut some of the players the ability to look at the pictures you may frustrate them, by denying them that choice.

My most humble opinion would be do not advise that path.
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Re: Hiding Images folder from players.

Postby tlaero » Sun, 16Jun05 19:17

There are a number of things you can do, with various pros and cons, but this is an arms race that's ultimately bad for your players.

The only way you can really stop users from looking ahead at pictures is to disallow downloading the game and lock the images folder on the server. But that's bad for users on slow internet connections or who want to play offline.

The next best thing is to use a game engine that compiles the images into an exe. This can still be hacked and the images extracted, but few people would be able to do that. On the other hand, you'd severely limit the number of people who play your games. I won't play games from the internet that make me run an exe. And you'd have to either make separate versions for Windows/Mac/Android or cut out the players on the OSes you don't cover. HTML/JS runs on everything.

If you're going to stick with downloadable HTML/JS games, you've got options, but you can't stop people from "cheating." All you can do is make it an intelligence test. And, any time you spend trying to stop them is time you could have spent making the game better.

The first thing you can do is mark the images folder as "Hidden" in the file system. Then it won't show up in user's directories so they won't know to click on it. But this is a pretty low bar. I run my os with "Show Hidden files" enabled, so it wouldn't even slow me down. And, anyone who looked at the code at all would see where the files are.

Encrypting the files raises the bar a bit, but not much. Anyone who knows any JavaScript can look at the code and figure out what needs to happen to get to those pages. They'll modify the check functions to make the game easier or modify the parameters the code check against. You could make the code really complicated to make it harder to find what to change, but that'll just result in bugs in your code that make your game less good.

And, even if the player has no technical ability at all and only knows how to click the "start" icon, he can get a walkthrough from the internet and blindly follow it to see the pictures. Stopping walkthroughs would be really hard, if not impossible.

Another thing that makes seeing the pictures easier is a save/restore and a visible score. Some people will save before every option, try both, then restore and do the better one. I think it's clear, though, that players are better served by a save option than not having one in some sort of attempt to protect them from themselves.

If this were a multiplayer game where balance mattered, you'd need to do things to stop "cheaters." But these are single player games where "cheaters" only hurt themselves. You can't stop them, so it's debatable that you should even try.

Personally, in my games there's one character in one file you can turn on to allow debug mode. I don't do anything to stop people from changing it because, if they're going to cheat, I'd rather them do it in a non-invasive manner that doesn't result in them introducing bugs that might break the game. I don't really care if they cheat. If they're playing the game for my story, great. If they just want to see Mortze's images, that's fine too. If they want the combination of both, they won't change anything and will just play.

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Re: Hiding Images folder from players.

Postby muttdoggy » Mon, 16Jun06 01:14

I'll put in my 2 cents as a player who loves the games you make. This is the perspective of one player and is my own. I do not claim to reflect the opinions of many - just my own.
I'm very impressed that you work hard on the production of high quality photos and games. You hold yourselves to the fire and your team won't stop until "It's just right". Games like that are few and far between even counting big-name studios. When I played "Inspiring Celina" I found it to be a bug-free experience. Because I was able to get through the game without encountering any bugs, it helped to draw me more into the immersion of the game. For me it's the immersion into the character, the story, and the event as it plays out that aids in the "X" factor. It isn't just the wonderful images, it's also drawing us in and taking us there. And I do immensely appreciate the images are that are awarded for achievements, finishing certain story lines, etc. You don't necessarily need to hide them. Many of us still enjoy the challenge of obtaining it "legitimately" even if it's already our wallpaper. :D
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Re: Hiding Images folder from players.

Postby Greyelf » Mon, 16Jun06 01:20

my two cents:

The only thing that I would add to Mortze and tlaero's advice is that if there is any chance that whatever technique you use to hide the images from "cheaters" could also cause the images to not appear correctly in the game for a general user, then the only thing you have really achieved is problems for those general users and extra support/debugging headaches for yourself. This is the same issue a number of game protection systems have had in the past, that they effected general users in negative ways and did not actually stop "cheating".

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Re: Hiding Images folder from players.

Postby sylakone2 » Mon, 16Jun06 08:01

Greyelf wrote:my two cents:

The only thing that I would add to Mortze and tlaero's advice is that if there is any chance that whatever technique you use to hide the images from "cheaters" could also cause the images to not appear correctly in the game for a general user, then the only thing you have really achieved is problems for those general users and extra support/debugging headaches for yourself. This is the same issue a number of game protection systems have had in the past, that they effected general users in negative ways and did not actually stop "cheating".

regards GE


Thanks for your tips and suggestion.

I think at this stage I am fine with not hiding them.
For me images are just images unless they have a character attached to them.
That always makes a massive difference to me between porn and our games.
Honestly porn bores me but these games I have always enjoyed.

thanks all for your support and creativity in your own games.

Cheers

Sy
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Re: Hiding Images folder from players.

Postby yahoo » Tue, 16Jun21 23:24

It's a lot like the problem with DRM (Digital Rights Management which is a very controversial topic with a lot of arguments -- good and bad -- for or against). It can either be trivial or it can be complex to crack, but it will eventually be cracked. At the same time, it will inconvenience legitimate users and sometimes will break the game for them since support for it will depend on many variables.

In my opinion it's not worth it. You won't be able to test it on every possible platform and you will end up having to fix bugs from trying to hide images, and some fixes will be incompatible with the platforms you did test on. You'll end up chasing your own tail by developing workarounds just to make images viewable.

Besides, once an image is displayed in the browser, it's there to be freely copied from the cache. So even trying to protect IP doesn't work as well as you expect.

Mortze put it quite correctly: There's no need to patronize the players. Put simply, trying to hide images to prevent spoiling the players doesn't follow. If you don't want to be spoiled, you don't go into the images directory, start browsing and then complain, do you? If you want to be spoiled, you're going to work out how the images are stored and browse them anyway.

If you do want to protect the images, there are a couple of routes you can follow:
1. A lot of binary formats can protect JPEG content by storing a thumbnail with the file, which throws off most rippers which then only extract the thumbnail, not the full size image. However, using HTML with binary files is not easy to do (possible using javascript), but easy to break. And even then the limitation can be overcome -- if you expect image files to make up the bulk of the binary blob, you simply cut between magic number boundaries (JFIF for JPEG files) and then clean up with an image editor. School Dreams 3 gave me a lot of headaches when trying to rip the images using the usual methods (to see what I missed, so I didn't need to go deeper).
2. Arizona made his Chapters in Love series with a brilliant way of storing images in a javascript file (one image per line, the format of each line is var name of file="binary image content, base64-encoded";). It can still be easily decoded (at the time Carla was released I was refreshing my skills with text parsing in GNU/bash, which made it a nice challenge).
3. You already mentioned Wolfschadowe with regards to encoding images. I didn't bother with them since I didn't feel like it, but if they're meant to be displayed, all the information needed to decode them must be already present in the source files themselves.

I have an idea how you can achieve a good way to store images to make them difficult to rip. You can split images to several layers with transparency, each showing gibberish when viewed normally. GIF is supported in every browser (but limited to 256 colors, indexed) and PNG is supported in every browser that matters. If you break the image into a checkerboard that's reassembled on each page load, the resulting image is not cached, but it can be reassembled, even with batch jobs (you can break this by naming the images randomly and breaking each of them into a random number of jigsaws between three and six.
It then becomes rather unwieldy to reassemble the images, especially when there's hundreds of them (with thousands of fragments).
Make sure to remember to sort the directory by names afterwards and to zero the creation, modification and access times before zipping up the directory.
One caveat: the resulting files are going to be huge. 1280×960 px JPEG (and JNG) files tend to be 100-500 kB in size. PNG files can be anywhere between 500-5000 kB, but will tend to gravitate towards the lower number if compressed as a full image (due to image similarity). However, if you break them up into the jigsaw, each element has to be compressed separately, there's no image similarity to take advantage of. If you split the image in five parts, you will have ca. 25 MB per image, very hard to compress -- if you include 1000 images, it would end up as a 25 GB download. Unwieldy to say the least...
Last edited by yahoo on Sun, 16Jul17 21:21, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hiding Images folder from players.

Postby Germaniac » Thu, 16Jun30 22:22

Instead of investing time to hide images from the player I would use the time to improve the game or to programm a new one, because, if someone wants to get spoiled or to see the images only, he either finds a way to see them or if not, he gets frustrated and does not play your game either.

Instead of hiding the images I would go the other way round. I would make two files. One file is the normal full game. The other file to download are only the images of the game. The images in the image download file have all the signature of the artist and the name of the game, in which they are used, on the image. Now you can see how many persons downloaded only the image download. Perhaps some of the persons who looked at the images later will play your game.
I am not an native English speaker, so if you find some mistakes in my English, inform me, so I can correct them and improve my English.
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