I bet either their build system fell apart from disuse, or the one person who understood it left, or it wasn't documented and people just forgot over the years. It was all too time-consuming, manual, and complex compared to using the cracked executable.
A friend of mine called me over to show me his codebase, which is diligently maintained over 12 years using MS Visual Studio 6. As he booted the machine, a .NET update dialog popped up and he clicked "OK". .NET was updated, along with some important VS6 components, and when he fired up the IDE it told him it need to upgrade VS. After upgrading VS, reluctantly, he was no longer able to build the project.
My lesson from this comment and the story is that configuration management is more important than I thought.
(Not that this avoids this problem, it's just - in my experience - it makes it easier to pinpoint and fix.)
Which implies that Rockstar not only used the crack, they didn't even verify what the crack changed in their binary (otherwise I assume they would seen the logo and at least blanked it out.)
This, in my opinion, crosses the line from "inventive, unethical and lazy" to "extremely reckless, unethical and lazy."
If I recall correctly Myth was not just a cracking group (as in ISO release), they did ripping as well. This basically means that you remove some content from the game (or by other means making the game smaller) in order to fit it into whatever space is the current standard.
Unfortunately I can't find a .NFO regarding the release that lists Myth as the cracker... But it makes me wonder if something was ripped here. :)
NB: Only searched here: http://www.nfohump.com/index.php?menu=quicknav&item=sear... -- enter Myth into "Group" field if you are curious about what else they were up to.
Edit This was Myth's farewell note: http://www.defacto2.net/groups/myth/mythbye.nfo which states that they did ripping:
We believe that the rip scene is one of incredible skill. Not only
is there the cracking talent needed to be successful like that of ISO,
you must have dedicated coders and rippers to fully complete the task.
Much time is needed to perfect a rip like that of Neverwinter Nights.
(We'll never forget you old friend)
That said, I am not 100% convinced that this was actually a stolen crack. I'll wait for Rockstar to confirm or deny this (or if someone actually has the original release and does a full diff). I base this mainly on three things:
1) I could not find any release information stating Myth as the release group of MP2. This does not mean much, however. And it was just a quick search.
2) It could actually be a joke by Rockstar. I mean, imagine you sit there with the task to remove the copy protection of the game, you bounce it with your boss he laughs and nods and you throw in that Myth logo.
3) It's also not completely unlikely that the guy recompiling the game had some connection with Myth once upon a time. Back in the day (teenager, very long ago <sigh>) we were a bunch of people cracking games for the fun and the race and the majority of them actually went on to work in the gaming industry.
So, can anyone do a diff of the binaries? :)
Probably not easily. SecureROM and similar do full file encryption, so you'd have to crack it yourself and then diff.
I'd like to believe #3, but I'm guessing someone needed to "get it done today", googled up a nocd, and went home early.
Number 3 is at least plausible, but anyone who could do this would have to also know that he'd be caught if someone read the binary. Now, if someone wanted to play a real practical joke, it would be to patch the compiler binary so that the compiler automatically inserts this binary watermark in whatever is compiled.
No brainer if you ask me. He just forgot to remove the credits.
Plus, restitution of copyright infringement is usually based on damages done. Considering Myth's 'product' was free, there are no sales damages.
(I suspect it is, but how do I know?)
and perhaps stuffed with a trojan or two for good measure
It is beyond their control if some hackers in Russia downloads the original, stuffs a trojan, and then passes it off as a copy.
So this is could be bad, real bad, since it's a executable that was basically rebuilt from a memory dump, not by a compiler.
See, EA is not all bad. :-)
(fc.exe = filecompare)
Cracking a game like that involves running it getting the image of it from memory (perhaps multiple times) and then reconstructing important loader structures (library imports, sections, resources). And only after that can you actually concern yourself with removing or overcoming the actual software protection
But you're wrong about game exes being packed by release groups. There is nothing to "hide" from other groups. Once you remove the commercial protector (SecureROM, etc.) the rest of the patches are pretty trivial.