GameJackal: A First Look

vbimport

#1

GameJackal: A First Look
GameJackal Website

Overview
GameJackal is a product that has been designed to remove the need of having to always use your CD to play your games. I can here the cry going up “Have you never heard of Virtual Drives”. Well yes I have. The difference here though is about 700mb of disk space. GameJackal make a small profile, as small as 30kb up to 40mb which it uses to run the game instead of using the entire image like a virtual drive does.

That’s the theory at least. Let’s see how it performs.

Test PC
P3 450 MHz
384mb Ram
Windows Xp SP1
Everyday usage computer

The Software
This is the program setup. Looks nice and neat. Notice the “Show Tutorial” checkbox at the bottom. I ticked this hoping it would teach me how to use the software. Lets see.

A standard agreement. You need to tick the box to go any further.

Here you have to enter or generate a key. It says that this will be unique and each profile will be encoded with this key. Why exactly? To stop piracy? I don’t see how. I think this is one to ask the developers.

Thats it done and setup.

Now the tutorial kicks in. I worked through it and it gave me the basics of creating profiles. I won’t show it all here.

So then thats the program installed and the tutorial read through. You may now notice that you have a new icon in your task bar. This is the GameJackal program.

So now we get into the actually program. It looks good. Simle and easy to use. I though the best thing to do first was to update the software to the latest version.

This is the updating window. It ran through quite quickly here. In total two separate files seemed to be downloaded but only one got installed.

Now to crack on with the program. This is the first screen in the Create A Profile program. First off you have to have already installed the game. If you haven’t then this isn’t going to work. Luckily I have. The first thing I notice here is that the “Target CD-Rom Drive Letter” only displays the drive letter and not the drive name or any information. Personally I would like to see that here. As most people seem to have more than one drive the information DVD-Rom or CDRW would be a big help here. Even I had to check to see what my drive letters were assigned to.

My first mistake. I had left the game CD in the drive. Simply opening the drive and continuing though gets around this problem.

Step 2. There are some pre made profile in the program. Only 33 at the moment though. However luckily I found one that I had. So i decide to try Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 as my first challenge.

Because this is a pre made profile all of the basic information is already here.

Next I have to find the program that runs the game. Easily done. However if the game is installed anywhere else than the default directory the red warning message will be displayed.

Here you now have to insert you game CD again. This is so it can finish building the profile for the game.

The last window in the Wizard. Notice the step number.:slight_smile: By hitting the finish button this window will close down and your game will startup, hopefully. GameJackal needs to run the game once with the CD in the drive to collect all of the settings it needs.

This information will come up when GameJackal is running. Basically it is saying that nothing else will be able to access the drive while GameJackal has control over it.

So what happened I can hear you cry. Well nothing. It came up with the following message and then stopped. So I tried again but still nothing. This is VERY disappointing as it was a pre-built profile. I tried building a profile manually but still nothing.

This time I decided to try a game that wasn’t already in the program to see if it faired any better. For this I tried Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun. By selecting “No Profile Map Selected” and then hitting next you will get to create your own profile.

Here you get to name your profile.

Once again you have to find your game file and enter it into the box. Notice that the red writing hasn’t appeared because it has been installed into the default directory.

Finally you have to insert your game CD again to complete the profile.

Once again it didn’t work. The same message coming up about not finding the CD-Rom.

Very disappointing at this stage. 2 games tried 0 working. However not to be down hearted I thought I would try some more. As I have gone through the screens to get the program to work I will leave these out and move on to the results of the other games I tried out.

Results
Briefly the results are mixed. Out of the 7 games, 1 patch and 1 expansion pack I tried 5 worked but 4 didn’t. This included Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 which is part of their predefined profiles.

The full list of games that worked for me are,
Total Club Manager 2003 - SafeDisc 2.80.010
Desperados - LaserLock
Championship Manager 03/04 - SecuROM 4.87.02.0017
The Sims - SafeDisc V1
The Sims Patched To 1.1
The Sims: Livin It Up - SafeDisc V1.50.020

The games that didn’t work for me are,
Space Colony - SecuROM v4.85.00.0005
Beach Life - SecuRom 4.82.01.0005
Command And Conquer: Tiberian Sun - SafeDisc V1.11.000
Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 - SecuROM 4.83.11.0048

Problems
After I install GameJackal my optical drives stopped refreshing. This meant that when I put a new CD into the drive I could only see the contents of the last CD. This meant I had to keep on restarting the computer to see the new CD’s. I am not saying this was directly due to GameJackal but since it happened at the same time I installed it I am suspicious. I don’t have a second computer to try it on so I can’t say if it was the program or not.

The other problem is that not all of the games would work with GameJackal. A number would simply not create a profile and simply come up with the message “No Disc Found” or something similar. The most annoying one was Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 which it has built-in support for.

Conclusions
What can I say about this program? I love the idea because it doesn’t need the massive amounts of disk space that virtual drive requires. Also being able to open up the taskbar and select what game you want to play without having to load up the image is nice and quick and simple.

The positives first.
It ran half of the games I tried and since the first release was in November 2003 I think this is good going for six months work. I did also try a number of different copy protections to see if that would stop it and in some cases it still worked.

With the program coping with a patch update to a game without needing to make a new profile is great. I did have to make a new profile for the expansion pack but this was due to the fact that a different CD was needed to run the game. It still ran though.

Now the negatives.
As I previously stated the drive refresh problem was the biggest problem for me. Having to reset the computer every time was a pain in the you know where.

The next problem was the inconsistency in what games would work with this program. Having got The Sims to work I thought a game with a similar copy protection version on it (Command And Conquer: Tiberian Sun) would also work but it didn’t. This obviously means other things are going on when making and using the profile which also means there don’t seem to be a way of working out witch games are going to work and which are not.

Why is there a unique code that must be used? Why is this random number? If you format you hard drive and forget to keep it then you are going to have to rebuild all of your profiles. Granted since this process is quite quick it’s not a massive worry. I just don’t understand at present why it is there.

A final negative was the lack of options to play with. I can see that the developers have tried to make it nice and simply to all users but this then limits what a person can fiddle with to get a game profile to work. Some kind of expert mode is required here if possible.

Overall as previously stated I like the program. Hopefully after a few more updates more and more programs will work with it making it a must have program for laptops, families with small children and people who don’t like to use the original CD’s.

Well there you have it. Possibly great piece of software in the future. At present it just seems too hit and miss. If they get the bugs sorted and get more games to work with it then it is certainly a program I would buy. All I can say is keep on updating it.

Womble

All opinions expressed in this article are mine and no-one else’s.


#2

Cheers Womble. I am amazed how it couldn’t run Tiberian Sun, an old SafeDisc 1 protected game, but be able to run The Sims. My personal opinion with this software is in order to get it to a point of making it justifiable to buying, they must learn how to “Imitate” some protections better. For example my computer woudn’t run from my profile of GTA : Vice City, SecuROM 4.8x protected.


#3

Excellent stuff Womble :slight_smile:

Its strange that Game Jackal will not run Tiberian Sun for you, it works fine here. Did you update Tiberian Sun to 2.03?

Many others have succeded in running Vice City, along with many other SecuRom 4.8+ protected games. It will even run my Silent Hill 3 which is SecuRom 4.8+ on DVD.


#4

Gamejackal should be able to run titles with securom 4.8x and safedisc 1/2.x, so i dont know why it didnt work for you.


#5

Yeh many people have had success running SecuROM 4.8x/5 with Game Jackal. But for some reason whatever I do it won’t run.


#6

@Portmac
Thanks for the praise Portmac.
Nope, I didn’t have any patches for it handy. I take it it has to be updated to work then. This is why feedback is great. If I can fine the time I may do a short “update” if I find new things out like this.

@merther02
I did the tests and posted the results. That is basically as much as I can do. See $CyBeRwIz$ as an example as well. Some it works for some it doesn’t.

@All
Cheers for the feedback. Keep it coming.

@Mods
Thanks to whoever stickied it.


#7

Hello Womble and thank you for taking the time the test out Game Jackel. Let me introduce myself, i am a representative for this software so please feel free to ask me any questions about it, either on the forum or through a pm.

I read with eager your review as this is a big step to promoting Game Jackel. Your results are very disappointing and so would like to take this opportunity to amend any problems.

For the record Game Jackel can run both the games you tried to backup and so i am a little bemused why it didn’t work.

So far Game Jackel is capable of running any game protected with Safedisc up to version 2.9 and securom up to version 4.8+. It falls however at securom 5 and safedisc 3+. This is being worked on as i type and will be available shortly. Other protections like laserlok and other minor protections can also be used.

Running through your review let me try and answer some of your questions:

Here you have to enter or generate a key. It says that this will be unique and each profile will be encoded with this key. Why exactly? To stop piracy? I don’t see how. I think this is one to ask the developers.

Every time you install Game Jackel it will ask for your unique key. If you have installed it in the past, then for some reason re-formatted or change drives etc, you may want to keep all the profiles you made earlier. Some can take a while to build, so for the users convenience they are stored in a folder where for future reference you can transfer them back over to the new installation. Now for them to work, you will need to use the same unique key you used the first time, otherwise the profiles will not work.

The first thing I notice here is that the “Target CD-Rom Drive Letter” only displays the drive letter and not the drive name or any information. Personally I would like to see that here

Thank you for your comment, i will pass this on to the development team.

The last window in the Wizard. Notice the step number

Oops, er… i’ll look into that one. Deliberate mistake i think :wink:

So what happened I can hear you cry. Well nothing. It came up with the following message and then stopped. So I tried again but still nothing. This is VERY disappointing as it was a pre-built profile. I tried building a profile manually but still nothing.

Did you use the original disc and what other software do you have installed on your computer, ie emulation software? Please don’t take this as an insult but you are sure you had the original disc in the correct cd-rom drive? If you followed all steps correctly then i will again pass this on to development

After I install GameJackal my optical drives stopped refreshing. This meant that when I put a new CD into the drive I could only see the contents of the last CD. This meant I had to keep on restarting the computer to see the new CD’s. I am not saying this was directly due to GameJackal but since it happened at the same time I installed it I am suspicious

I do not have a problem with this but i will get the team to look at it

The other problem is that not all of the games would work with GameJackal. A number would simply not create a profile and simply come up with the message “No Disc Found” or something similar. The most annoying one was Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 which it has built-in support for

Again i’m not sure why this is. All the pre-profiled games have been tested by numerous members. I will get them to check again and see if they can find a solution.

I can see that the developers have tried to make it nice and simply to all users but this then limits what a person can fiddle with to get a game profile to work. Some kind of expert mode is required here if possible.

Game jackel is generic that doesn’t rely on pre-defined rules when creating the profiles. Each game is individually profiled, making it very difficult to give user control. However i note that not having some tinkering ability is frustration, so i will pass this comment on.

Hopefully after a few more updates more and more programs will work with it making it a must have program for laptops, families with small children and people who don’t like to use the original CD’s

Thank you for your kind words and i would like to add to the part about laptop usage. Using Game Jackel greatly increases the length of your battery charge as you are using the hard drive to run the game and not the cd-rom, which uses a lot of power. The cd-rom can also get very hot over prolonged amounts of time. Another reason to use Game Jackel.


#8

Wow wasn’t expecting this. Great though cheers.

For the record Game Jackel can run both the games you tried to backup and so i am a little bemused why it didn’t work.

You have said “both” games. I posted four I couldn’t get working.

So far Game Jackel is capable of running any game protected with Safedisc up to version 2.9 and securom up to version 4.8+. It falls however at securom 5 and safedisc 3+. This is being worked on as i type and will be available shortly. Other protections like laserlok and other minor protections can also be used.

Thats good to know. I got Desperados to work with is is LaserLock game. I did forget to post the Copy Protections which would have shown that.

Every time you install Game Jackel it will ask for your unique key. If you have installed it in the past, then for some reason re-formatted or change drives etc, you may want to keep all the profiles you made earlier. Some can take a while to build, so for the users convenience they are stored in a folder where for future reference you can transfer them back over to the new installation. Now for them to work, you will need to use the same unique key you used the first time, otherwise the profiles will not work.

Sorry I still don’t understand the need for it. If they were not encoded you could do this as well.

Did you use the original disc and what other software do you have installed on your computer, ie emulation software? Please don’t take this as an insult but you are sure you had the original disc in the correct cd-rom drive? If you followed all steps correctly then i will again pass this on to development.

Yes I used the original disc in the correct drive. I did get some of them to work remember. :stuck_out_tongue: As it was my home coputer there is a number of things running on the computer. I didn’t use a fresh install of Windows as that is not a true representative of a home computer.

I do not have a problem with this but i will get the team to look at it

I did post that I couldn’t say this was GameJackal. It just happened at the same time as I installed it.

Again i’m not sure why this is. All the pre-profiled games have been tested by numerous members. I will get them to check again and see if they can find a solution.

Fantastic. I did try it a number of times to see if I could get it working.

Game jackel is generic that doesn’t rely on pre-defined rules when creating the profiles. Each game is individually profiled, making it very difficult to give user control. However i note that not having some tinkering ability is frustration, so i will pass this comment on.

Obviously I don’t know what is happening under the hood but I love to think I can do better or at least guess :stuck_out_tongue: better than a computer could.

[uote]Thank you for your kind words.[/quote]
When I like a program I have no worries saying that. I do think this can be a fantastic program. Unfortunatly for me it seemed there were a few bugs/ problems.

I am quite prepared to retest a few things at some future date. I noticed Portmac said the patch needed to be applied to get C&C: Tiberian Sun to work. This is something that I would incoperate. I did run a test with a patch installed (Sims 1.1)in my results and it worked. I simply didn’t have the patch for this game handy. Maybe some notice saying “If you can’t get it to work first time remember to patch it” would be in order here.

Thansk for the reply to the post. And I look forward to future versions.

W

PS. What is the correct spelling of the program title. I see in your sig you have called it Gamejackel. Same as your homepage. :rolleyes:


#9

Tiberian Sun will not run on my computer (WinXP+SP1) unless it is patched to 2.03, so possibly that is your problem also.

Well it deserved it :slight_smile:


#10

You have said “both” games. I posted four I couldn’t get working.

My mistake, from what i gather Space Colony is SecuROM v4.85.00.0005 and Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 is SecuROM 4.83.11.0048 and i presume Beach Life is also securom 4.8+, so i will get the team to look into this protection further and see if they can find any bugs as there seems to be a pattern.

Tiberium sun is a wierd one, so i’ll go test it myself now, both with and without the patch.

Sorry I still don’t understand the need for it. If they were not encoded you could do this as well.

No becasue each profile is given the same unique key to work with. Only your key will work with that profile. If you try it again and re-generate a new key the profiles won’t work.

Yes I used the original disc in the correct drive. I did get some of them to work remember. As it was my home coputer there is a number of things running on the computer. I didn’t use a fresh install of Windows as that is not a true representative of a home computer.

A fair point, i will get them to look into it.

PS. What is the correct spelling of the program title. I see in your sig you have called it Gamejackel. Same as your homepage

It should be Game Jackal, i have amended myself :wink:


#11

I understand that the profile needs the key to work. And I also understand that only my key will work with that profile. What I am not getting is why. What is the reason for the unique key. Why can’t everyone use the same key number.

Sorry to bang on about this one point I am not getting at you or the software I am simply trying to understand the logic of it.


#12

Sorry to bang on about this one point I am not getting at you or the software I am simply trying to understand the logic of it.

Not a problem, that is why i am here. Please feel free to keep asking.

The reason it is done this way is to slow (not stop as this as in any situation is impossible) piracy. If everyone had the same key and could use any profile then all people would need to do is download a game from anywhere, get the right profile for it and play the game for free. Protection guard modules only kick in when you try to play the game, so if a pesron gets a profile it would be the equivalent of a no-cd crack. By doing it the way we have each person has to create a profile using the original disc first before they get the right not to use the disc. Now if for some reason the user has to reformat etc, it would be a real pain to recreate all the profiles again. They are then given the benfit of the doubt and allowed to use the profiles created earlier. As long as the same unique key is used.

The moral of this story to anyone is “Don’t give out your unique key” If the key does become public and we find it, then actions might have to be taken to blacklist it.


#13

Thanks for clearing that up.

I thought it may have been to do with the piracy issues here.

The moral of this story to anyone is “Don’t give out your unique key” If the key does become public and we find it, then actions might have to be taken to blacklist it.

A fair and valuble point I think.


#14

I’m really interested in this discussion so i’ll kick up an idea

I don’t know the methods under GameJackal but couldn’t some problems be caused by capabilities of CD-ROM hardware? (often I heard about problems with original copy protections too)

bye and keep up the good work


#15

Yes, certainly people who are having trouble with originals may have trouble with creating profiles. Things that can possibly get in the way of an otherwise perfect profile are:

Blacklisted emulation like alcohol’s ignore media type or clonecd’s hide cd-r media
An old/damaged/notoriously bad at reading cd/dvd-rom that has trouble reading the disc’s characteristics properly.

Game Jackal relies on the ability of the drive to report back everything it needs to know to create a profile, so this might need to be beared in mind.


#16

Yes. Some Drive that may have trouble reading SafeDisc can be found reported by me here :slight_smile:


#17

Ockingshay- Hey, just wanted to say thanks for your input here. This program is a great idea! This is really an interesting thread and I am learning a lot! :cool:


#18

Update on Tibeirum Sun

I installed it on my windows xp sp1 computer. Using just the original disc i can only play the game in my first cd-rom drive. i.e i have four drives in my computer and they all fail except the first one (ide0 primary, master d:). It says “Tiberium Sun is unable to detect the cd-rom device” This is v1.0

After updating with the first patch to 1.08 i still can only use the first drive. I then installed a third patch that took it up to version 2.03 and i can play the original disc in any drive.

As far a Game Jackal goes i can create a profile for each version, but for the first two versions to work i needed to use d: however with the 2.03 patch i could make a profile with any drive.

This is an old game and perhaps when it was written there were a few anomolies. To get around this you will need to update to the latest patch for it to work properly under modern conditions or try and see if it works in your first cd/dvd-rom drive.

To help me out Womble can you please chack to verify if my problem is universal. Can you play the game by just inserting the original disc and clicking play on v1.0 (ie a clean install)? Hopefully you will get the same error message as me.

Try updating it and then see if you can get it to work. Thanks for your help


#19

Thank you Crabbyappleton, it is i who should be thanking you and this wonderful site. It is a great resource to everyone at any level., and i look forward to spending my time here.


#20

I have just finished reimaging my machine with a clean install of WinXP.

Command And Conquer: Tiberian Sun Update
I can confirm that I now get the same error message as Ockingshay pre 2.03 patch and a fully working game after the patch has been installed.

I think we can put this one down as a Windows/ Other installed software problem.

Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 Update
Still same problem I am afraid.

BeachLife Update
Still same problem I am afraid.

Space Colony Update
Still same problem I am afraid.