Thoughts on the iOS ‘Compiler’ and Response at YoYo Games
January 6, 2011
It’s not a decompiler
Firstly I’ll start with a definition. I wanted to address this issue earlier but misjudged the pace at which the story would develop. Game Maker code is not compiled it is interpreted. Every time a distributed Game Maker game is played the interpreter (runner) does as instructed by in-game GML. Therefore this ‘decompiler’ is not in fact a decompiler and any subsequent ‘compiler’ is not that either. These phrases are just used for convenience. Wikipedia: Differences between compiled and interpreted languages
I also don’t believe that it is a decompiler that worries YoYo Games. Executable files created with all versions of Game Maker from 6.1 right up to the latest release, Game Maker 8, can currently be decompiled using tools which have been online for months (years in the case of earlier versions). An unauthorised method of enabling Game Maker games to be played on iOS is what YoYo Games are concerned about as publishing games to this platform is a key part of their business model.
Amazed at Lack of anonymity
People often come to me with stories, sometimes on condition of anonymity, so I was very surprised that the authors of the iOS Decompiler were perfectly happy for their identities to be known. When I first saw the decompiler which had the creators names written in it I was shocked.
Whilst it is true that authors of earlier Game Maker decompilers have been known the situation is now quite different in the fact that YoYo Games are actively monetizing their runner on iPhone, iPod and iPad and had not been doing so with PC games (game creators are free to distribute their creations as they choose).
Surprised by the reaction to Sandy’s blog post
I had presumed that initial reaction on the YoYo Games blog would be of shock to the announcement that such a program existed. We know how vocal the community can be when they don’t like something, just look at the initial response to the announcement of the Game Maker 8 logo, and it appears I underestimated some of the sentiments running amongst the community.
A high proportion of replies were critical of YoYo Games’ stance with some Game Maker users questioning why additional security had not been added to the game development software in the long period since PC decompilers were released. Others users responded by stating that any protection measures introduced would surely be circumvented so YoYo Games were right not to spend time on trying to encrypt the file format.
The project is wrong
Since I imagine many people have seen the video of the compiler progress on this website (or one of the sites that syndicates or translates our content) I feel I should also clarify my position on this. This blog is not involved in the project and is attempting to report the facts neutrally but my personal view is that there are no two ways about it – the project is wrong. As were the earlier decompilers which nothing was done about.
Zach and Brad
I understand that Cease and Desist letters have been sent via e-mail to the two individuals who are working on the compilation project. They have also been banned from the Game Maker Community.
On a now closed GMC topic Zach had earlier written “If YYG asks us to remove it, we (at least I) will” (referring to any as yet unreleased iOS Compiler). Since Sandy’s message there has not been any public response from Zach (though some moron attempted to imitate him on the glog), but Brad has responded to the glog post with the following.
Me and Zach have done nothing illegal.
Should you end up hiring a real lawyer and sending a valid, formal cease and desist, you will eventually lose in court.
We have not distributed any of your property. Please provide some proof of an instance where we have distributed your property.
So until a formal cease and desist is written to me personally via email or mail, the SOURCE to the decompiler/compiler will be released.
Thanks and have a good day.”
Brad (I verified it was actually him) on YYG Blog
What happens next?
As I see it there are three ways forward from here:
- A compiler is widely released to the public which will almost inevitably mean that YoYo Games will take some form of action against its creators
- The compiler is shared between a select few people and no-one knows quite who has it, how good it is and if any games make it in to the App Store (I have no idea as to whether the signature of the runner could be detected by Apple thereby preventing unauthorised use of it).
- The compiler is not released
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.