There is no practical difference between cracked and keygenned. If a game is keygenned it's as good as cracked. There is no reason to "crack further" although at this point it would be quite trivial.
The difference is a crack is copied over and works, usually just like that, copy over and it works. A keygen you have to go look for again and again if the developer is evil.. You don't seem to remember what I said on page 1 ;p Hassle for pirates EACH PATCH, reward for customers with EACH PATCH
You keep saying "they". Who? The crackers or the game designers? What point where they proving? Sorry, the meaning of the quote above remained a mystery to me.
The crackers, obviously. I was talking about the releases I linked to. Prime example on why you shouldn't quote like you did ;p (and why keith even had to laugh at that ;p)
And this is just pure fiction. Serials are done by simply having a DB of all sold units. They are not generated off of an algo. Adding new check every release does not strike me as a good or workable idea either, effectively you are releasing a game with less protection that you could have otherwise. Also all these extra check has to be designed before the first release anyway, which means that there will be a limited amount of them.
If you are a Indy developer who has no real thought put into serials, then yes. But let me just for giggles, tell you how I'd do serials. And believe me, a cracker would keygen my serial within minutes, that's the point. I want that, free PR.
Firstly, on release there would be only the basic algo check for the serial at game start.
Secondly, bought serials would pass this check, and about 20 other checks I would have planned beforehand that further weed out serials out of that algo. The serial to valid serial rate should be 2500k to 1 or better.
I generate valid serials and those go in a DB I give out to customers.
Thirdly, about 2 weeks after release I would implement the first of those 20 extra checks randomly in a patch, I would also have the patch do a 2nd check for the serial, so only a valid serial would pass the patch installation and even if the patch is keygenned the game would be have to keygenned a-new. That way, a legit serial would install the patch, but a cracker would never know the patch adds a different check than the game. Double protection
means both patch and game have to be distributed = Hassle for pirates.
That means patch gets 1 of those 20 new checks, and game gets 1. Now 18 checks are left. Keygenners think there are only 2 extra checks. But if someone has the game and cracks the serial based on his legit patched copy he will not generate valid serials for the patch, only for the game.
I do this little game until its about a year after release, at which point I'd stop messing around with that
Repeat for each expansion, of course.
That is the VERY most BASIC serial protection mechanism. And it works. It delays pirates sufficiently. And a "working keygen" would not be working for long.
If you think my method is pure fiction you would be surprised that I am not the first to think of this. But maybe to first to mention it here specifically.
Edit: By the way, my serials would not
activate on steam. I am not insane
For steam you can do steamworks ownership check, without serial.
Edit 2: By the way.. hehe ^^ There is no huge cost, if you develop a way to generate your serials it takes a good coder maybe an hour to come up with these extra checks, he would just need a proper database with generated serials based on algo without checks stored, and then adds rules that weed out enough serials so that you have about 50k or 100k serials that are valid, it takes longer to compute than to code that.
Edit 3: And by the way, obviously I would not tell that the serial is invalid when it's entered. Even the patch would just patch 1 bit different somehow and create a fatal crash situation with an obscure misleading error message. And this is fool proof, it can *not* fail for legitimate customers, ever