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icon5.gif  Should Stars! files structures be publically available? Sun, 03 July 2011 17:54 Go to next message
XyliGUN is currently offline XyliGUN

 
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Should Stars! files structures be publically available?[ 20 votes ]
1. Yes (all existing knowledge, except encryption, should be public) 15 / 75%
2. No (its' structure should be kept in secret) 5 / 25%

I've been asked several times to disclose/publish everything I found about Stars! files structures (somthing already published here on SAH, but this is just a tip of the iceberg) and to be fair I'm not sure if I should publish it or not. So far I know most (I'd say 93%: 41 of 44) of Stars! file blocks, except battle blocks (still have no time to reverse them), AI blocks and also there might be some extremly rare blocks that I didn't found at all. This knowledge isn't documented, it's part of code/comments, but it can be easily extracted. So, what do you think? Comments, suggestions, doubts, etc. are welcome. Cool

The only thing I have to mention: I beleive that without knowledge of encryption, these blocks structure is useless, at least it how it was for me. Rolling Eyes


[Updated on: Sat, 16 July 2011 21:45] by Moderator





"Progress isn't made by early risers. It's made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something."
Robert A. Heinlein, Time Enough For Love

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Re: Should Stars! files structures be publically available? Sun, 03 July 2011 22:01 Go to previous messageGo to next message
gible

 
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With all due respect to yourself, PaulCr and other's who've done the hard work to crack the encryption(even if it was just research) and following that, the structures, and much praise and fluffery thanx for the tools you have produced, I frankly believe that the closed-source mentality exhibited by yourselves has done more to hinder the development of Stars! utilities, clones and community than the good the tools had given.

CF the email I sent to m.a@stars, PaulCr, Wumpus, LEit and XyliGUN being people who I though had the Stars! knowledge and skills to help create a cross-language api and got only two replies:
From m.a who thought it was a great idea and was willing to help but didn't have the "hidden Stars! knowledge";
And from yourself who showed off how much you had done and could do(complete with pictures), but only towards making a C++ com library in C# (which is really only nicely accessible from MS languages - I work in java, javascript, perl and on linux) and you wouldn't share any of the actual secrets, just the finished product; (Still waiting for final+complete versions of PaulCr's apis)

No word from the others (I checked my spam folder).
Wall Bash Wall Bash Wall Bash Wall Bash Wall Bash Wall Bash Wall Bash Wall Bash Wall Bash Wall Bash


[Updated on: Sun, 03 July 2011 22:05]

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Re: Should Stars! files structures be publically available? Mon, 04 July 2011 06:58 Go to previous messageGo to next message
m.a@stars is currently offline m.a@stars

 
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XyliGUN wrote on Sun, 03 July 2011 23:54

I know most (I'd say 93%: 41 of 44) of Stars! file blocks, except battle blocks (still have no time to reverse them), AI blocks and also there might be some extremly rare blocks that I didn't found at all.

PaulCr reverse-engineered the battle blocks to the point he could build his own battle engine and make Stars! swallow it whole. Wumpus found a few extremely rare blocks, possibly some of those you still lack. Had they shared their knowledge (at least with trusted people like Ron) you (and others like you) wouldn't still be looking for the complete picture. We wouldn't still be waiting for things like the m- and x-files sanitizers, bug-stompers, data mergers, or a good all-in-one game/scenario creator. The day you get bored and leave we'll be again left with nothing in the way of progress, exactly as we were 10+ years ago. Confused

Also, all those fancy dlls and windows-oriented tools are hard to get running under Unix, Mac, or other platforms. That is very limiting. Sad

The fact that you don't see the usefulness of the structures themselves doesn't mean there is none. At the very least we should be able to ascertain whether a definitive bug-stomping cheat-squashing tool could be built (and thus do away with all decryption fears) or not. Sherlock


[Updated on: Mon, 04 July 2011 17:40]




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Re: Should Stars! files structures be publically available? Mon, 04 July 2011 11:46 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Void is currently offline Void

 
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m.a@stars wrote on Mon, 04 July 2011 03:58

The fact that you don't see the usefulness of the structures themselves doesn't men there is none.

That's a pretty strong inference. I see it as more of asking the community whether we want this information to be shared with the masses, even though that information could be used for evil as well as good. Of course, that's my inference. Smile

Considering it's impossible to unring this bell, being cautious seems prudent in this situation.

Before I vote, I'd like a better understanding of the capabilities that would be made possible with this information sharing; especially the more nefarious ones.

Cheers,
Void

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Re: Should Stars! files structures be publically available? Mon, 04 July 2011 16:09 Go to previous messageGo to next message
XyliGUN is currently offline XyliGUN

 
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Gentelmens, just for the record I personally voted as "Yes...". Cool


"Progress isn't made by early risers. It's made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something."
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Re: Should Stars! files structures be publically available? Mon, 04 July 2011 17:38 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Coyote is currently offline Coyote

 
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Yes, because developing the next phase in the Stars! saga is more important than preventing (vanishingly rare) cheats in what we have now.

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Re: Should Stars! files structures be publically available? Mon, 04 July 2011 17:42 Go to previous messageGo to next message
m.a@stars is currently offline m.a@stars

 
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Coyote wrote on Mon, 04 July 2011 23:38

(vanishingly rare) cheats in what we have now.

Or so we hope... We don't even know all the bugs or cheats that are actually possible, or even if they are being (ab)used at all. Confused


[Updated on: Mon, 04 July 2011 17:44]




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Re: Should Stars! files structures be publically available? Mon, 04 July 2011 17:43 Go to previous messageGo to next message
m.a@stars is currently offline m.a@stars

 
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XyliGUN wrote on Mon, 04 July 2011 22:09

just for the record I personally voted as "Yes...". Cool

Well, then I hope you have them all documented just in case. Very Happy



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Re: Should Stars! files structures be publically available? Mon, 04 July 2011 20:28 Go to previous messageGo to next message
gible

 
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XyliGUN wrote on Tue, 05 July 2011 08:09

Gentelmens, just for the record I personally voted as "Yes...". Cool

and explicitly excluded the encryption.

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Re: Should Stars! files structures be publically available? Wed, 06 July 2011 18:38 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Daniel is currently offline Daniel

 
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I vote yes because those structures would give some good insights to help with the development we are doing. As I am building a Stars! clone/replacement and not actively playing Stars! the risk of exposing ways to cheat is not a concern to me.


Have fun.

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Re: Should Stars! files structures be publically available? Wed, 06 July 2011 23:06 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Aeglos is currently offline Aeglos

 
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It would indeed be a good insight. In fact, Nova is just going through some restructurings on those file equivalents.

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Re: Should Stars! files structures be publically available? Wed, 06 July 2011 23:29 Go to previous messageGo to next message
m.a@stars is currently offline m.a@stars

 
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Aeglos wrote on Thu, 07 July 2011 05:06

It would indeed be a good insight. In fact, Nova is just going through some restructurings on those file equivalents.

From what I've been reading in your Dev Forums, you seem to be finding some trouble managing all these flat tables with an object-oriented framework. Deal



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Re: Should Stars! files structures be publically available? Wed, 06 July 2011 23:52 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Aeglos is currently offline Aeglos

 
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m.a@stars wrote on Wed, 06 July 2011 23:29

From what I've been reading in your Dev Forums, you seem to be finding some trouble managing all these flat tables with an object-oriented framework. Deal


Hahah yes, I'm pretty confused about it right now Hit over head

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Re: Should Stars! files structures be publically available? Thu, 07 July 2011 07:11 Go to previous messageGo to next message
m.a@stars is currently offline m.a@stars

 
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Aeglos wrote on Thu, 07 July 2011 05:52

Hahah yes, I'm pretty confused about it right now Hit over head

I know the feeling, as it happens often too in the exciting world of database design (and play). Deal

But some things should be pretty easy, like the master table of ship designs. Rolling Eyes

Others shouldn't be too hard, like the fleet or planet table(s). Twisted Evil



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Re: Should Stars! files structures be publically available? Fri, 15 July 2011 19:25 Go to previous messageGo to next message
XyliGUN is currently offline XyliGUN

 
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OK, so far 75% says yes, so I'm going to open them. Just in case, let me check with Admiral.
Ron, would you mind if I publish these structures here on SAH forum?

PS: Seems like I did a mistake to not set a timeframe for this pooling, and I cannot edit it now - pressing poll EDIT link says: Fatal error: Cannot unset string offsets in /var/www/autohost.cathey.us/htdocs/sahforum/index.php on line 333

So, if admins can fix... that would be great!



"Progress isn't made by early risers. It's made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something."
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Re: Should Stars! files structures be publically available? Sat, 16 July 2011 21:49 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Ron is currently offline Ron

 
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XyliGUN wrote on Fri, 15 July 2011 19:25

OK, so far 75% says yes, so I'm going to open them. Just in case, let me check with Admiral.
Ron, would you mind if I publish these structures here on SAH forum?

PS: Seems like I did a mistake to not set a timeframe for this pooling, and I cannot edit it now - pressing poll EDIT link says: Fatal error: Cannot unset string offsets in /var/www/autohost.cathey.us/htdocs/sahforum/index.php on line 333

So, if admins can fix... that would be great!

I've fixed the code to prevent that error from that place in the code, and edited the poll to close it.

Yes, go ahead and publish the structures, but not the decryption code.



Ron Miller
Stars! AutoHost

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Re: Should Stars! files structures be publically available? Wed, 08 February 2012 15:41 Go to previous messageGo to next message
ricks03 is currently offline ricks03

 
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I can see several uses for the decryption code.

First, it would let me, as a general host, be able to readily generate a game history I could publish by being able to go back through the turn files and code-wise extract and generate videos of the game history based on the game data.

Second, it would solve the problem of someone dropping from a game without revealing their password, so I could (in theory) be able to turn that player position over to another player.

You could also decode and validate turn files against the serial # to make sure the turn wouldn't violate copy protection.

I'm working on some hosting tools (the reason I rewrote the starstat app in perl) but I'm really limited by the amount of information I can find about the file structure.

If someone has the decryption code, I'd really appreciate it.

rick


[Updated on: Wed, 08 February 2012 15:50]




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Re: Should Stars! files structures be publically available? Thu, 09 February 2012 14:08 Go to previous messageGo to next message
m.a@stars is currently offline m.a@stars

 
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ricks03 wrote on Wed, 08 February 2012 21:41

First, it would let me, as a general host, be able to readily generate a game history I could publish by being able to go back through the turn files and code-wise extract and generate videos of the game history based on the game data.

You can already extract plenty of game data/reports with simple batch files and the player's password. Cool


Quote:

Second, it would solve the problem of someone dropping from a game without revealing their password, so I could (in theory) be able to turn that player position over to another player.

That is to some extent already solved, since there's tools for guessing/changing passwords. Sherlock

Perhaps these tools should be stored somewhere safe and available for use by game Hosts.


Quote:

You could also decode and validate turn files against the serial # to make sure the turn wouldn't violate copy protection.

That would be neat, as would cheat- and bug-stomping tools. Whip


Quote:

I'm working on some hosting tools (the reason I rewrote the starstat app in perl) but I'm really limited by the amount of information I can find about the file structure.

Hear, hear! Yes


[Updated on: Thu, 09 February 2012 14:09]




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Re: Should Stars! files structures be publically available? Thu, 16 February 2012 14:55 Go to previous messageGo to next message
ricks03 is currently offline ricks03

 
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m.a@stars wrote on Thu, 09 February 2012 14:08


You can already extract plenty of game data/reports with simple batch files and the player's password. Cool


Yes I know and have used those tools to generate reports. But there are lots of reasons you end up without the player password by the end of a game, and it's a REAL pain to have someone drop or not have that access. For an elite few to have that access is even more frustrating.

m.a@stars wrote on Thu, 09 February 2012 14:08


That is to some extent already solved, since there's tools for guessing/changing passwords.


Pointing me to those applications would help me out a lot if you know where they are. . .

m.a@stars wrote on Thu, 09 February 2012 14:08

That would be neat, as would cheat- and bug-stomping tools.


THAT is a bit beyond what I at least am trying to do. But just the ability to better validate files to avoid issues would be better.




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Re: Should Stars! files structures be publically available? Fri, 17 February 2012 11:17 Go to previous messageGo to next message
m.a@stars is currently offline m.a@stars

 
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ricks03 wrote on Thu, 16 February 2012 20:55

Pointing me to those applications would help me out a lot if you know where they are. . .

There's an "alternate" Stars! exe with the password logic reversed so it opens anything *unless* you supply the right password. Hit over head



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Re: Should Stars! files structures be publically available? Fri, 17 February 2012 18:56 Go to previous messageGo to next message
nmid

 
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m.a@stars wrote on Fri, 17 February 2012 21:47

ricks03 wrote on Thu, 16 February 2012 20:55

Pointing me to those applications would help me out a lot if you know where they are. . .

There's an "alternate" Stars! exe with the password logic reversed so it opens anything *unless* you supply the right password. Hit over head


Wth, rofl !!
Good to know though, as I thought password protected Dropbox duels were semi-secure, unless someone really knew a lot about cracking and hacking...
If all that is read is a modified stars.exe file, it's much more easier.



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I used to curse when I got stuck in traffic... till I realised I AM traffic.

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Re: Should Stars! files structures be publically available? Mon, 05 March 2012 00:25 Go to previous messageGo to next message
ricks03 is currently offline ricks03

 
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References to files that I don't know where they are doesn't help much!


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Re: Should Stars! files structures be publically available? Mon, 09 April 2012 08:47 Go to previous messageGo to next message
scottrick49 is currently offline scottrick49

 
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I vote YES!! I couple years ago I had tried to start working on a tool to merge .h files but I ran into some issues and I didn't have enough time to sort through the problems reconstructing .h files so I eventually gave up... OPEN is GOOD! Let the source be known...


scottrick

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Re: Should Stars! files structures be publically available? Fri, 18 May 2012 16:30 Go to previous messageGo to next message
GarganRoo is currently offline GarganRoo

 
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Hi all, I've been lurking the autohost community for several years, but I'd like to throw in my full support for helping any Stars!-related projects to come alive.

I am willing to donate space and bandwidth on my Linode VPS, any coding or development, and ultimately my time to the project(s).

I came here looking for a dissemination of the file structure so as to interface with a true web application that would allow autohost games to operate seperately from any particular admin's attention (e.g. w/o sending emails to Ron Miller and eliminating tedious steps when starting and joining games).

Here's a web application I'm just now designing for Dwarf Fortress using the exact same concept:

http://dfb.smagno.com/ - (HTML5/JavaScript required)

(The game: http://www.bay12games.com/dwarves/)

Is there a coherent effort at this point? I think we should get a simple project management system / GitHub set up and move from there. Unless something like that is already in order.


[Updated on: Fri, 18 May 2012 16:34]




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Re: Should Stars! files structures be publically available? Tue, 12 June 2012 23:47 Go to previous messageGo to previous message
ricks03 is currently offline ricks03

 
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I've got a site like that up and running (well, very very close). It plays and generates the game like Autohost.

The game building code is effectively complete but untested.


[Updated on: Tue, 12 June 2012 23:47]




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