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Vampire: Revised CD-ROM... Any way to actually use this?

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Anonymous
April 10, 2004 11:04:39 AM

Archived from groups: alt.games.whitewolf (More info?)

So, I've tried and tried, and I can't find any way to make this program
useful. On both Mac and PC systems, it runs a tiny little 800x600 window
in the middle of a black screen. It displays everything at low rez with a
bad font renderer. You can only print one page at a time, but that's okay;
it doesn't use the same fonts for printing, and the text runs off the side
of the page. The on-screen display is fuzzy and hard to read.

So.

I have, in theory, the five core Vampire Revised books. But I can't read
them.

Has anyone found a way to extract the material? It was easy enough to get
the material out of the Vampire 2nd Edition CD-ROM, but I would rather use
these shiny Revised books which I spent so much money to buy a year or two
back. Given that most of them are out of print and out of stock everywhere,
it's going to be pretty hard to find them at this point.

A bit of poking suggests that these files were created with Macromedia
Director, which is a program I don't have.

I don't really care that much about fonts. I'd be happy to get just the
plain text so I could actually read the $#*!@# books.

-s
--
Copyright 2004, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach / seebs@plethora.net
http://www.seebs.net/log/ - YA blog. http://www.seebs.net/ - homepage.
C/Unix wizard, pro-commerce radical, spam fighter. Boycott Spamazon!
Consulting, computers, web hosting, and shell access: http://www.plethora.net/

More about : vampire revised rom

Anonymous
April 10, 2004 11:04:40 AM

Archived from groups: alt.games.whitewolf (More info?)

Sorry, man, I can't help you. Apparently it was put together
specifically to make it difficult to extract the data, to discourage piracy.

Dumb idea, which is why the discs sold badly and got marked down to $20.
--
Stephenls
Geek
"I'm as impure as the driven yellow snow." -Spike
Anonymous
April 10, 2004 9:53:29 PM

Archived from groups: alt.games.whitewolf (More info?)

In article <c5892r$2q0jvn$2@ID-117331.news.uni-berlin.de>,
Stephenls <stephenls@shaw.ca> wrote:
>Sorry, man, I can't help you. Apparently it was put together
>specifically to make it difficult to extract the data, to discourage piracy.

Yup. There's at least one program which may be able to "unprotect" the
Macromedia files, but since I don't have Director, I couldn't read 'em anyway.

>Dumb idea, which is why the discs sold badly and got marked down to $20.

Yeah. I actually wrote a column about how incredibly stupid this was, once.

-s
--
Copyright 2004, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach / seebs@plethora.net
http://www.seebs.net/log/ - YA blog. http://www.seebs.net/ - homepage.
C/Unix wizard, pro-commerce radical, spam fighter. Boycott Spamazon!
Consulting, computers, web hosting, and shell access: http://www.plethora.net/
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Anonymous
April 10, 2004 9:53:30 PM

Archived from groups: alt.games.whitewolf (More info?)

seebs@plethora.net (Seebs) wrote:
> Stephenls <stephenls@shaw.ca> wrote:

> >Sorry, man, I can't help you. Apparently it was put together
> >specifically to make it difficult to extract the data, to discourage piracy.
>
> Yup. There's at least one program which may be able to "unprotect" the
> Macromedia files, but since I don't have Director, I couldn't read 'em anyway.

Director can't unprotect files once they've been published. The
author has the original to edit, and being able to edit the
file in Director would allow anyone with the program to decompile
the end product and steal someone else's techniques, the non-text
content, etc. I believe Adobe's applications are often similar
in how they 'publish' files for distribution.


> >Dumb idea, which is why the discs sold badly and got marked down to $20.
>
> Yeah. I actually wrote a column about how incredibly stupid this was, once.

My main problem is that I wanted it to refer to when writing
articles for this newsgroup. The app takes over the entire
screen, however, even though it only uses a small portion of
it (I run my monitor at 1600x1200, so it only actually uses
a quarter of the screen). It's a reference book reader that
prevents me from even using Notepad to take notes - it's just
really, really poorly designed.


Anyway, the file is only superficially protected, intended to
keep you from hijacking someone's movie or application using a
full version of Director. The strings are not compressed or
encrypted, and a text reader (like WordPad) will reveal long
sections of text amidst the binary formatting. A one-page Perl
script should be able to strip away 90% or more of the garbage
and do a little formatting of its own.

I don't think I can post such a script, as it could be a tech-
nical violation of the DMCA. While WW and Macromedia may not
even care, I have to be very careful with regard to my current
and potential future employers. Let me think about it and get
back to you.


> -s

Vis Sierra
Anonymous
April 11, 2004 10:07:45 AM

Archived from groups: alt.games.whitewolf (More info?)

In article <88ig70tjb93cc7rglqms563o6ho1j71g1k@4ax.com>,
Vis Sierra <visitant@geocities.com> wrote:
>Director can't unprotect files once they've been published. The
>author has the original to edit, and being able to edit the
>file in Director would allow anyone with the program to decompile
>the end product and steal someone else's techniques, the non-text
>content, etc. I believe Adobe's applications are often similar
>in how they 'publish' files for distribution.

Right. But there's a program that apparently can take a "protected" output
and make it back into a Director file, as long as not too much effort has been
put into protecting it.

I actually found more than one:

http://www.j-roen.net/diropener/download/download.htm
http://www.mediamacros.com/item/item-986487615/

My guess is that someone with Director could actually get at the data
using this.

>prevents me from even using Notepad to take notes - it's just
>really, really poorly designed.

It's unbelievably awful.

>sections of text amidst the binary formatting. A one-page Perl
>script should be able to strip away 90% or more of the garbage
>and do a little formatting of its own.

Yup. I just wish I could get the "real" formatting, on the off chance that
there's tables or anything.

Still... An insultingly bad product, and especially offensive now that
the books are out of print, and most are permanently out of stock everywhere.
I can't find the 2nd Ed CD anywhere, although I wrote a script to extract
the HTML from its files... but without a legal way to get a copy, that doesn't
help much, and anyway, I'd rather play Revised.

Seems to me that maybe they ought to sell PDF versions through someplace like
svgames. I'd pay $ for PDFs of the books I can't buy anymore.

-s
--
Copyright 2004, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach / seebs@plethora.net
http://www.seebs.net/log/ - YA blog. http://www.seebs.net/ - homepage.
C/Unix wizard, pro-commerce radical, spam fighter. Boycott Spamazon!
Consulting, computers, web hosting, and shell access: http://www.plethora.net/
Anonymous
April 12, 2004 3:19:08 AM

Archived from groups: alt.games.whitewolf (More info?)

seebs@plethora.net (Seebs) wrote:
> Vis Sierra <visitant@geocities.com> wrote:

> >Director can't unprotect files once they've been published. The
> >author has the original to edit, and being able to edit the
> >file in Director would allow anyone with the program to decompile
> >the end product and steal someone else's techniques, the non-text
> >content, etc. I believe Adobe's applications are often similar
> >in how they 'publish' files for distribution.
>
> Right. But there's a program that apparently can take a "protected" output
> and make it back into a Director file, as long as not too much effort has been
> put into protecting it.
>
> I actually found more than one:
>
> http://www.j-roen.net/diropener/download/download.htm

DirOpener works, but only grabs the text - no formatting. It
essentially produces a repaired cast file, which doesn't look
a lot like the finished product. You have to view it through
Director.

> http://www.mediamacros.com/item/item-986487615/

I get an error whenever I try to use that one. There are two
versions (7 & 8; the Vampire files are in Director 7 format),
but neither works on my system. It could be an XP compatibility
issue.

> My guess is that someone with Director could actually get at the data
> using this.

I've downloaded a trial version of Director, and you can get at
the data, it's just there's little or nothing there beyond what
you can get from a Perl script. .cxt files don't seem to have
much data in them to begin with, so there's not much to recover.


> >sections of text amidst the binary formatting. A one-page Perl
> >script should be able to strip away 90% or more of the garbage
> >and do a little formatting of its own.
>
> Yup. I just wish I could get the "real" formatting, on the off chance that
> there's tables or anything.

Check out page 214 of the core book - that's what they did with
the real tables. They're basically in ASCII indented text with
asterisks as section separators. You should get that out using
Perl (not to mention be able to put it into something better if
you export the file to something more sophisticated than a plain
text file).

The way Director works in this case is you run the projector (on
Windows, Start.exe) against the projected movie (vampiremain.dxr
in this case) and the 'movie' calls up the cast files in the sub-
folder, WW_books (the book_*.cxt files). There's almost nothing
there in terms of formatting, so I don't think you're losing any-
thing to go with the Perl option.


> Still... An insultingly bad product, and especially offensive now that
> the books are out of print, and most are permanently out of stock everywhere.
> I can't find the 2nd Ed CD anywhere, although I wrote a script to extract
> the HTML from its files... but without a legal way to get a copy, that doesn't
> help much, and anyway, I'd rather play Revised.
>
> Seems to me that maybe they ought to sell PDF versions through someplace like
> svgames. I'd pay $ for PDFs of the books I can't buy anymore.

I think all of the recovery utilities you're going to find focus
on recovering the file back to Director and narrow that focus to
recovering raw data, to avoid allegations of supporting reverse-
engineering.

The best case for using a recovery utility would be to get you
the equivalent of the source files. Since that would only get
you the original product in an editable form (under Director)
and we agree that the original product is terrible, I think you
are better off with the data in a data structure you've created,
unless you are looking to export this to another Director movie.

If you do try the Perl route, the next big step is extracting the
page numbers. That will let you create a hypertext link when you
export the file to XHTML. You'll not only be able to build a TOC
for the book, but make all the page XX references into links and
- since you have the whole text at your disposal - create a truly
comprehensive index.

Sounds like fun.


> -s

Vis Sierra
Anonymous
April 12, 2004 8:06:46 PM

Archived from groups: alt.games.whitewolf (More info?)

In article <qlck70h7l51k5obeg2922qp36qui2513ue@4ax.com>,
Vis Sierra <visitant@geocities.com> wrote:
>> http://www.j-roen.net/diropener/download/download.htm

>DirOpener works, but only grabs the text - no formatting. It
>essentially produces a repaired cast file, which doesn't look
>a lot like the finished product. You have to view it through
>Director.

Interesting. I wonder where the formatting is. Reading the actual file,
there's font names in it, so that's probably the "real" formatting data...
Although there's obviously not much.

>I've downloaded a trial version of Director, and you can get at
>the data, it's just there's little or nothing there beyond what
>you can get from a Perl script. .cxt files don't seem to have
>much data in them to begin with, so there's not much to recover.

Well, they must, in principle, have the data identifying which fonts to
use and justification (center vs. left, at least). Somewhere.

>Check out page 214 of the core book - that's what they did with
>the real tables. They're basically in ASCII indented text with
>asterisks as section separators. You should get that out using
>Perl (not to mention be able to put it into something better if
>you export the file to something more sophisticated than a plain
>text file).

Good point.

>The way Director works in this case is you run the projector (on
>Windows, Start.exe) against the projected movie (vampiremain.dxr
>in this case) and the 'movie' calls up the cast files in the sub-
>folder, WW_books (the book_*.cxt files). There's almost nothing
>there in terms of formatting, so I don't think you're losing any-
>thing to go with the Perl option.

Good point.

>I think all of the recovery utilities you're going to find focus
>on recovering the file back to Director and narrow that focus to
>recovering raw data, to avoid allegations of supporting reverse-
>engineering.

Makes sense.

>If you do try the Perl route, the next big step is extracting the
>page numbers. That will let you create a hypertext link when you
>export the file to XHTML. You'll not only be able to build a TOC
>for the book, but make all the page XX references into links and
>- since you have the whole text at your disposal - create a truly
>comprehensive index.

Yeah.

The raw data appears to come in a format that has 4-byte type codes (XFIR,
*YEK) followed by data, but I can't figure out how to predict how much data;
some types are very consistent, some aren't. If I could figure out a few
more of them, I could probably reliably extract the text blobs. I haven't
figured out where it encodes length, though. If I could get the text
out, I could indeed format it into nearly anything and have it be better
than the original product.

I wish I'd made this additional look into it before writing an article
where I used this as an example. Ah, well. My condemnation stands,
certainly:

http://www.seebs.net/ops/ibm/cranky19.html

Except that it's probably 800x600, not 640x480. I can't tell; I just know
it's INCREDIBLY SMALL.

-s
--
Copyright 2004, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach / seebs@plethora.net
http://www.seebs.net/log/ - YA blog. http://www.seebs.net/ - homepage.
C/Unix wizard, pro-commerce radical, spam fighter. Boycott Spamazon!
Consulting, computers, web hosting, and shell access: http://www.plethora.net/
!