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Author Topic: Can anyone help me with this 7+ year old mystery?  (Read 4861 times)

saturated_fat_mastah

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Can anyone help me with this 7+ year old mystery?
« on: November 30, 2016, 05:22:54 pm »
There is a mystery I have been searching for the answer to since 2009. It has kept me up at nights and I was hoping any of you could help me with it. It has to do with the 2009 DS game MySims Agents. Got it shortly after it came out for Christmas, played the heck out of it, it is one of my favorite games of all time. I am pretty sure I have done literally everything you could possibly do in that game, story completed, all items purchased, gold on all minigames, etc. But there is one thing I don't think anyone has figured out. One of the items you can buy from the game's curio shop is a computer, desktop or laptop. When placed in your house, all the computers do the same thing when interacted with. A password prompt appears saying, "Enter the password. You can get an item that's not in the shop", or something very similar. My initial reaction was to try the puzzle password that a character gives you earlier in the game. Didn't work. Then I tried anything that even remotely seemed like it could be a password. None of them worked. Then I checked nearly every forum post I could find about this password dating back from 2009-2012 when the game was still popular. Not a single suggestion from there worked. Then I tried contacting EA themselves, but their support turned up nothing. Twice. Then I found out which branch of EA made the game, but they merged into Visceral Games and they don't seem to have any sort of website anymore. THEN I tried watching let's-plays on Youtube of previous Sims games for ANY sort of easter egg or clue. Nothing at all. Finally, I thought to myself, "I'm smart, I'll just take a peek at the game's code and see what this darn password is." Using a guide I found I downloaded a ROM file of the game and a viewer program that would hopefully let me look inside. It didn't work, so I tried several other programs but the more things I tried I just ended up messing it up more. Then I came across this website and thought you guys could help me. If the password was found I would probably die of happiness right now. I don't even care what the item is at this point I just want to know why it's so dang hard to crack. Thanks if you can help!
(if needed I can attach pictures of the password screen or any other information)

BlackDog61

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Re: Can anyone help me with this 7+ year old mystery?
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2016, 04:13:05 am »
I'm not specialized into DS nor likely to answer, but a save state just before trying to enter the password (and instructions to do so) is probably what would help investigate here.

releasethedogs

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Re: Can anyone help me with this 7+ year old mystery?
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2016, 05:25:09 am »
try "HFqALaRdQG" exactly like that

thats what the interwebs says

saturated_fat_mastah

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Re: Can anyone help me with this 7+ year old mystery?
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2016, 04:28:59 pm »
try "HFqALaRdQG" exactly like that

thats what the interwebs says
Already tried that more than enough times, this was that puzzle password I talked about in the original post.

FAST6191

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Re: Can anyone help me with this 7+ year old mystery?
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2016, 04:30:01 pm »
Though I would not be surprised to see a simple text list of passwords somewhere (it is not like this is a thing needing security) I would not expect it. To that end you get to hack it, if you see other guides out there in the world then those concerned with finding cheats in menus and cheat codes where you have entry screens are closest to what you want.

Anyway assuming it does anything at all (it could well have been used for the testers and then removed partially from the final build) then the game will take the code you entered and check it against a list of things. If it was a secure database/website type thing said code would be hashed first and then compared against a list of them, not impossible that something in this world could be done here. Lesser versions of this like a sum of all the bytes are seen all over older games so be on the lookout for it.
Fancier things could be the need for an unlock code first (practically speaking it will be the same to debug as it is still looking for that one thing or a flag in memory), not premade cheats but debug options (give me 1000 money, give me 10000 money, give me some arbitrary amount of money...) or some combo of both where the first part (or last or overall length or something similar) is checked and if it is something it deems good/useful it will try to decode the rest.
Anyway the debug emulator of choice for most people is no$gba
http://problemkaputt.de/gba.htm
Afraid I have not got any especially cute ways to help this like I might have if you were making an infinite lives cheat or something. You might try watching the area of memory that your key entries go into and seeing what happens with it but either way it is going to involve an awful lot of stepping through code.

If releasethedogs's code works then that could be useful as part of this.

This is not a trivial project but it would be a nice introduction to assembly hacking for one that has already grasped the basics like being able to hardcode cheats and do tracing. I might do this for my hacking docs one day but I can't commit to any kind of timeframe right now. I realise I might well have just spewed an awful lot of info and/or assumed an awful lot, don't worry if a lot of it went over your head.

saturated_fat_mastah

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Re: Can anyone help me with this 7+ year old mystery?
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2016, 05:49:29 pm »
Though I would not be surprised to see a simple text list of passwords somewhere (it is not like this is a thing needing security) I would not expect it. To that end you get to hack it, if you see other guides out there in the world then those concerned with finding cheats in menus and cheat codes where you have entry screens are closest to what you want.

Anyway assuming it does anything at all (it could well have been used for the testers and then removed partially from the final build) then the game will take the code you entered and check it against a list of things. If it was a secure database/website type thing said code would be hashed first and then compared against a list of them, not impossible that something in this world could be done here. Lesser versions of this like a sum of all the bytes are seen all over older games so be on the lookout for it.
Fancier things could be the need for an unlock code first (practically speaking it will be the same to debug as it is still looking for that one thing or a flag in memory), not premade cheats but debug options (give me 1000 money, give me 10000 money, give me some arbitrary amount of money...) or some combo of both where the first part (or last or overall length or something similar) is checked and if it is something it deems good/useful it will try to decode the rest.
Anyway the debug emulator of choice for most people is no$gba
http://problemkaputt.de/gba.htm
Afraid I have not got any especially cute ways to help this like I might have if you were making an infinite lives cheat or something. You might try watching the area of memory that your key entries go into and seeing what happens with it but either way it is going to involve an awful lot of stepping through code.

If releasethedogs's code works then that could be useful as part of this.

This is not a trivial project but it would be a nice introduction to assembly hacking for one that has already grasped the basics like being able to hardcode cheats and do tracing. I might do this for my hacking docs one day but I can't commit to any kind of timeframe right now. I realise I might well have just spewed an awful lot of info and/or assumed an awful lot, don't worry if a lot of it went over your head.
Would you happen to know of or have any guides on how to use the emulator to do this?

FAST6191

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Re: Can anyone help me with this 7+ year old mystery?
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2016, 06:21:31 pm »
As in something you can follow like a guide to making cheats where are told to repeatedly search? Not especially.

The help files that come with it cover things ( http://problemkaputt.de/gba-dev.htm has a few) and there are all sorts of little guides for all sorts of systems that if you know what you are doing already might point you in the right direction. Once it is done you could probably have something reasonably short which you could follow along with at home but the trick is getting to that point. Such things are plenty learnable, and it sounds like you have some motivation there, but a bit beyond the scope of a simple forum post.

saturated_fat_mastah

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Re: Can anyone help me with this 7+ year old mystery?
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2016, 06:30:21 pm »
As in something you can follow like a guide to making cheats where are told to repeatedly search? Not especially.

The help files that come with it cover things ( http://problemkaputt.de/gba-dev.htm has a few) and there are all sorts of little guides for all sorts of systems that if you know what you are doing already might point you in the right direction. Once it is done you could probably have something reasonably short which you could follow along with at home but the trick is getting to that point. Such things are plenty learnable, and it sounds like you have some motivation there, but a bit beyond the scope of a simple forum post.
Alrighty then, I'll download that and try to poke around. Just one more question, what would this password most likely look like while searching through the code? I don't want to search around COMPLETELY aimlessly.  :P

Jorpho

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Re: Can anyone help me with this 7+ year old mystery?
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2016, 08:34:53 pm »
I'm not sure what sort of answer you're expecting?  It would look like bytes, just like everything else.

You say you already tried looking through the ROM; if you didn't see anything that looked like text, then either the data is compressed or it uses a non-standard character table.  You can probably decipher the character table (i.e. which bytes correspond to which letters of the alphabet) using standard techniques (see below).  If the data is compressed, then trying to look at the ROM directly is hopeless, but using the debugger you might be able to see the decompressed data loaded in RAM (though you might still need to decipher the character table).

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Then I tried contacting EA themselves, but their support turned up nothing. Twice. Then I found out which branch of EA made the game, but they merged into Visceral Games and they don't seem to have any sort of website anymore.
Does the game include developer credits?  If you're really that desperate, you can try tracking down one of the original programmers by name – though make sure you are polite in your queries.  (No walls of text!)
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reyvgm

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Re: Can anyone help me with this 7+ year old mystery?
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2016, 10:24:00 pm »
If the password is static, meaning, that it's the same every time you turn on the game or the same across all releases of the game, then you might find it searching inside the ROM.

But if the password is randomized, you won't find it.

NoOneee

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Re: Can anyone help me with this 7+ year old mystery?
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2016, 09:54:00 am »
Do you have a save file at that point of the game? If you do post it, maybe I can check it out when I have time. And even if I don't, maybe someone else will.

Edit:
I've managed to bypass the password. You get a:
Spoiler:
Tiger Costume
.

I'll try to figure out the correct password instead of just bypassing the check...

Edit:
The password is:
Spoiler:
76TC5

There may be more.

Edit: Here's everything:
Spoiler:
76TC5   Tiger Costume
88TH3   Tiger Headgear
K3T9N   Western Armor
1MSQ7   Iron Mask
R3DTC   Red Tailcoat
HT438   Red Silk Hat

The codes work on both the desktop and the laptop. It seems I'm really the first to find them  :woot!:

The game uses a simple substitution cipher to "encrypt" the passwords. After you type the password it applies the same substitution cipher to it and them compares it to the already encrypted correct passwords. Fun stuff.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2016, 06:40:25 pm by NoOneee »

assassin

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Re: Can anyone help me with this 7+ year old mystery?
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2016, 02:40:46 am »
that's nuts.. a 7-year-old mystery dismantled in under 48 hours!  congratulations are in order. :beer:

it might be worth posting this on GameFAQs (though avoid linking here, as they like to delete hacking-related stuff), NeoSeeker, and on this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/My-Sims-Agents-DS-help-154220434619475/ .

saturated_fat_mastah

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Re: Can anyone help me with this 7+ year old mystery?
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2016, 06:14:27 pm »
Do you have a save file at that point of the game? If you do post it, maybe I can check it out when I have time. And even if I don't, maybe someone else will.

Edit:
I've managed to bypass the password. You get a:
Spoiler:
Tiger Costume
.

I'll try to figure out the correct password instead of just bypassing the check...

Edit:
The password is:
Spoiler:
76TC5

There may be more.

Edit: Here's everything:
Spoiler:
76TC5   Tiger Costume
88TH3   Tiger Headgear
K3T9N   Western Armor
1MSQ7   Iron Mask
R3DTC   Red Tailcoat
HT438   Red Silk Hat

The codes work on both the desktop and the laptop. It seems I'm really the first to find them  :woot!:

The game uses a simple substitution cipher to "encrypt" the passwords. After you type the password it applies the same substitution cipher to it and them compares it to the already encrypted correct passwords. Fun stuff.
Holy crap dude! Thanks so much! You deserve a medal! I'll try to post it on cheat websites if it's not done already! Thanks again!