Copy Protection

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Introduction and Support Topics


The first time you run Stars!, you will be asked to enter your unique serial number. It is very important that you keep the serial number where you can find it later.

Stars! may ask for the number again if:

  • You re-install Stars!
  • You change your computer's configuration
  • You install a Stars! upgrade
  • You submit turns in any of the ways described below
  • You are running Stars! on Linux under Wine - it seems to very frequently think that the hardware has changed.

One Computer – One Serial Number

Each computer running Stars! must use a copy with a unique serial number. Given this, the copy protection activates ONLY in the following situations:

  • When you cancel the serial number dialog.
  • When players sharing the same serial number submit turns created on two different computers. This includes submitting turns from networked computers sharing a serial number. If you want to submit turns from different machines on a network, each of those machines must have a copy of Stars! installed with a unique serial number.
  • One person submits turns for two or more player positions from different computers that share the same Stars! serial number.

In any case, Stars! will give you a chance to enter a unique serial number and continue play normally.

How the Copy Protection Works

Stars! is played by submitting player log files to the host (either a human or the game itself). Each log file is tagged with the serial number for the copy of Stars! used to generate the file, and a fingerprint of the computer on which the game was installed. If the Stars! host receives two or more log files with different computer fingerprints and the same serial number it assumes that all the players associated with those log files are guilty of software piracy, and activates the copy protection for those players (honest players are unaffected). The copy protection makes the game unplayable for the guilty parties, until each player enters a unique serial number. As soon as each player submits turns with a unique serial number, the copy protection deactivates.

The Host Doesn't Need a Serial Number

A host using a retail copy can use the same serial number as one other player without affecting the host or the player. The person running the host session can also cancel the serial number dialog and set up the game without affecting play. This means that the game can be hosted equally from either the retail or the demo version without affecting play.

Computers Running More than One Version of Windows

If you are running some combination of Windows 95, NT or 3.x on a single computer you will be asked for a serial number the first time you run Stars! under each version of Windows. After that, you should only be bothered for the number if you change your system configuration or delete the stars.ini file from the "windows" directory. (Each version of Windows will have its own "windows" directory.)