Okay, so Starforce is evil... but, kill the OS completely?!

Hello there.

That’s right, Starforce killing an OS installation completely (at least until registry recovery). I want to know if it’s a first, since I can’t find any trace of anything like this happening (though I can find my share of computer slowdowns and other nasty side effects).

This happened to my friend. He called me (the computer techie of the group) because a game he just bought wouldn’t run on his PC (a laptop), rather it would make it reboot. So I went to see since he might be the best person around when it comes to other things, but I really couldn’t extract much information about what really happened with his PC on the phone. :slight_smile:

I went to his place and, since I wanted to see how it went, tried uninstalling and reinstalling the game (1944: Battle of the Bulge). It installs fine, really. Smooth installation process until you get the choice of seeing the readme and the installer closes properly. But the first time you run the game you get a message that the copy protection is now installed and it prompts you to restart your computer. If you say ‘no’ the game won’t start. If you say ‘yes’ the computer starts rebooting, and…

Now for the bad part: windows xp boot up process goes on for a ~20 seconds, shows the logo, goes to blank screen… then a dreaded BSOD appears for a small fraction of second! :eek: Then the PC reboots again, giving you the choice of booting normally, in safe mode, or using the last known working configuration.

We didn’t manage to see what the error message said… :a we even started joking on how it would be stamped in our brains like a subliminal message and if we ever got hypno therapy we would start mumbling the hexadecimal numbers in it… :bigsmile: anyway…

Best I could think of was that maybe we needed a patch from the game developer, so we went online to check. But of course there is none at their site, nor is there any mention of such a problem as being common. Since he has dial-up access I didn’t want this to take too long and we stopped there. I said I’d look for more info from my place and relay any useful information to him.

A lot of googling revealed that this game apparently uses Starforce. Nice, I thought. So it’s the dreaded copy protection scheme that installs components on your system at the driver level… which means these drivers somehow break my friend’s laptop.

Some petty info about this laptop: an HP-brand, Celeron 2.8 GHz, 256 MB RAM, ATI mobility radeon 9000 IGP, a NEC DVD+RW ND5100-A, OS is WinXP Home Edition with SP1.

I suppose I could tell him he’s lucky it’s not working because otherwise his computer would grow a will of its own… :slight_smile: But, do you think there’s anything he could try?

…At least to manage to read the BSOD screen? :confused:

Before you ask, yes, all of this is happening with a legit copy of the game - but then again, even if it was pirated, it would be supposed to just prevent you from playing and not break your OS. :rolleyes:

This have been discussed long ago. There is still people who doesnt want to admit SF is a potential virus for some PCs, and this laptop had faced its fate.

Even considering most games doesnt launchs on laptop, it should not break ur system,but it does.

SF is well known for its incompatible hardware devices list on standart PC, so in laptop it could be worst.

Finally, no matter if such game is original or a pirated copy, SF drivers will install anyway and will crash ur system if it find any hardware incompatibility (nforce based chipset for example). Try to download Starforce remover, and execute it under safe mode. Then reboot. if it doesnt go as expected, then a complete install is required.

Forget such game for ur friend, and if original, retrieve money from ur shop aducing it was due copy-protection. Thats very important, once at shop, say ur game hang up ur laptop due copy-protection: Starforce. If they refuses to do so, ask for a reclamation sheet.

well, i think this does not work, as every game (i know) has a note on it’s package, saying that it’s not tested on laptops, and caused by this the compatibility with laptops can not be guaranteed.
of course, the CP is not meant with this, but the dealer won’t take it back anyway, if you say it does not run on your laptop…

The game BROKE his PC!:a

A game that is incompatible is one thing. A game that renders a system completely useless deserves a refund without question.

If the dealer says no, make sure to hassle them about it until they give in.

Mind you, the “last working configuration” restored the laptop’s functionality (sorry if it wasn’t clear, I thought it was obvious), but of course the game is inaccessible because the copy protection isn’t installed (lucky him). :slight_smile:

He can’t play; he should be refunded, alright. Unfortunately he bought it in a chain store are those are invariably anal in Italy when it comes to giving refunds or replacing items - once a clerk had given me the wrong kind of DIMM for my computer (his mistake, not mine) and I only noticed that when I tried it at home. I had to go back to the store three times and yell like crazy before they even listened to me.

with the new Windows Vista , starforce is not able to installl these kind of drivers ,the os simple will prevent it…so will be interesting to see how they will try to solve it and if the starforce protection will still be as strong .

I don’t see any trouble for SF developers.
Of couse, now SF use few dirty tricks… but why it will not work in Vista?
Why many people think that daemon will more powerfull then SF in new win?

it should not be possilbe to install an driver at ring0 level with that new windows Vista… maybe only possible if starforce guys would patch bytes of windows DLL files hehe but thats realy very illigal so starforce guys will get suied in court . with current windows starforce uses workarounds to get ring0 acces (i quess) cause if they realy patch windows files then i would assumed that they would have been suied by Microsoft .

SF team have been always using “unknown” API, and, the same way XP/2k must have a kernell update to be debugged, windows vista could do the same.
Considering SF guys knows a lot about VM, i will not be so impressed if they make vista to allow such. Remember SF drivers modifies some kernell entries, and therefore, they could do the same in Windows vista. SF comes from crackers, keep in mind, and therefore, knows a bit about OS backdoors.

“Legal”?, well, not really, but customers just want a copy protection, and dont care about what it contains. Money to “save” possible “lost money” ( only for distributors of course)


Thanks Morglum007 for clearing this up… to bad Microsoft is not suing them…

Just submit a trouble ticket to MS, tell them that the driver signing for Windows XP is broken. I have made sure that “Prompt for unsigned drivers” is ticked. Now the way XP is built any application that tries to install unsigned drivers you are supposed to be prompted to allow the installation, SF does no such thing, it installs it’s own drivers without prompting for installation, this can be considered a security flaw by MS. I have started a trouble ticket with them and they are researching the problem, they too would like to know why you are not prompted to install unsigned and potentially unsafe drivers, they are working on it. Now if everyone would follow suite and inform MS of this security flaw then maybe they would be quicker to look at it.

This link will show you how to search for unsigned drivers:

That happened to me too recently for comfort…the root of the error was to do with the CD/DVD roms deep in the bios and registry and STAFORCE.

I had real problems reformatting and reloading windows too …eventually a complete strip down and step by step rebuild with a cleared CMOS worked i think i was lucky!

The only way to hurt STARFORCE is buy the game…

Return the game to the store…

Tell the store you are returning the software because you do not agree with the EULA in so much as installing STARFORCE on your machine…

demand your money back…they are then legally obliged to refund under UK law.

They will also be pissed at the amount of returns due to a thing called STARFORCE…

Happy Gaming Community!!! :slight_smile:

The Rebellion