Gears of War grind to halt
Expired digital cert kills PC play
A digital certificate that expired Wednesday ground Gears of War to a halt last week, leaving many unable to launch the original PC-version of the first person shooter until Epic Games works out a fix.
The online cheat detection used in Gears relies on a Windows digital certificate that expired January 28, 2009. Gamers attempting to launch Gears since Wednesday have been blocked with an error saying the game can't run "with modified executable code."
"Well, we made an embarrassing mistake: we signed the executable with a certificate that expired in a way that broke the game," said an Epic Games spokesperson posting on the official Gears forum.
"We're working with Microsoft to re-sign the binaries properly, and hope to have this fixed very soon. We know how much this situation sucks, and we apologize for the inconvenience."
In the mean time, gamers can work-around the problem by setting the computer's clock to a date before January 28. Of course, that's far from an ideal solution.
As of this publication Monday, Epic still hasn't released a patch fixing the error.
We should note that the spokesman made a point of claiming the error is not related to DRM, but the term still has been thrown around quite a bit for the screwup. This seems to be more of an argument about semantics. It is in fact code that breaks an application based on unauthorized use. On the other hand, the lockout is local and doesn't phone home to an Epic Games server.
Tough call; we'll just call it really $*@%ing annoying. ®
It's a third person perspective game, not first person.
re: Code signing != timebomb (if done properly)
Well, there's no benefit for the company to DO it properly. By the time the custard finds out, the company has been bought sold, gone bankrupt and bought again. Several times. And it costs them more.
So the "if done properly" is WHY "PANIC" is right.
Lets role play this 50 years into the future and some nerdy teens want to play super old game and they find gears of war on their Holographic pirate CD that holds 5 terabytes of data.
They try to play this game and can't because of the wrong time?
But I am sure in the future game hacing will be fully automatic and there will be a hack database to have what ever game you have installed to make it playable.
So when games reach END OF LIFE and no more support is given and the game company folds or is bought out then will these game companys install a kill bit in the games?
This would be bad and set a bad precident on how the future judges past software or something similar. Maybe one day there will be an PC gaming meuseum.
Games like GEARS OF WAR and World of Warcraft. To have these games live on would be a good thing.
DON'T PANIC -- Code signing != timebomb (if done properly)
DON'T PANIC! :-)
As Harri Koppel says, the problem is that they forgot to (or didn't realise the had to) timestamp the signing/certificate.
Timestamped certificates do not expire. If you want an example, bring up the Properties dialog on comctl32.ocx on a Vista machine and you'll see it was signed with a cert that expired many years ago but is still considered valid:
See here for more detail on timestamping:
The real problem here is how long it's taking a simple re-signed exe release to reach customers. I presume Microsoft are applying their ridiculous testing/certification requirements just in case the replacement exe somehow... what, is more buggy than an executable that cannot actually be run? I suppose it could delete files or something but surely there's no risk of that if they just re-sign the existing, pre-tested code??
You do know by resetting the time clock that if you use some Virrus protection they will view this as time hacking to get more antivirus protection and many will void their virus protection.
I am not sure though if this affects the current version of Norton 2008-2009
But Norton Antivirus had a very bad history by users messing with their time clocks.
Also not only norton but some software also uses the time clock for protection.
It would be best advised to hold off on changing your clock and make sure your software is safe by doing this.
But please go ahead if you just have bare windows and World of Warcraft,Age of empires and GEARS OF WAR then yeah you are most likely safe and can change your clock.