The game in question is SpellForce, which is a few years old, but this might apply to any PC game. I want to play that game on a rather clean Win-XP laptop (no emulation software or other stuff that likes to mess with CD-checks) that's a few years old itself.

After installing the main game and both add-ons as well as the most recent patch, I tried running the game but the Original CD was not recognized. Hitting the "Retry" option a few times issued warnings such as "The Original CD could not be recognized within the maximum time" or "Please use the Original CD rather than a backup". I am using the original CD which I bought back then from a retail store.

The problem is, my time at home is rather limited and I was really glad I found the 3 hours to install it in the first place. Most "solutions" I found online involved reinstalling, which I can't afford time-wise. Also I litterally just installed it from scratch and the issue was there from the very start, I don't see how reinstalling would change anything. So I was hoping someone here could help with such problems.

  • Could the CD have gotten invisible damage because of the long storage without ever using it? This damage (if it exists) did not affect the data since it installed without any problems, it only fails the Originality check. The CD in question also finished copying its installation data faster than the other CDs.
  • Is there a way to revert the install to before the patch (which I installed last) without installing all 3 again? I did all installations in one go, so there are no Windows backup points I can use.
  • Is this possibly even a known issue for CDs stored a prolonged time, maybe related to SecuROM (the DRM/anti-copy system these CDs use)? If so, is there a workaround?
  • Do you happen to know a quick fix to this issue that doesn't involve reinstalling everything or contacting support for lengthy discussions that end up in "try reinstalling"? Since I do own a legitimate copy of the game and all expansions, I'm totally fine with shady methods that circumvent the Originality check somehow.

I've checked Arqade Meta as well as Arqade and SuperUser's on-topic help topics and determined this is the right place to ask, but the question is a lucky shot. Better than nothing. I'd really love if I could avoid contacting their support as I've had really bad experiences with tech support and the time they take to effectively determine your problem is legitimate in the first place.

I just discovered there is an officially released No-CD-patch (in the form of an alternate game.exe) for the Platinum Edition (the game and all expansions combined and sold as one unit). Unfortunately, it's not compatible to my version (all bought as seperate copies). Is there a way to apply such patches to other versions with some tricky back-and-forth patching and file replacing?

  • Where did the other answer go? – scenia Mar 12 '14 at 12:58
  • Got deleted because of promoting piracy (...). Would be probably better idea to moderate/remove some of its fragments rather than deleting it completely, but yeah welcome to gaming.stackexchange.com :). – acalypso Mar 12 '14 at 14:22
  • @acalypso how did it promote piracy? It just pointed to a way to do it and called it "crack"... Is just using the word promoting piracy? Really? Also, it's not piracy if I want to play the game i bought. Not my fault the companies use "protection" methods that basically stop honest customers from using the products they bought. How can I vote for undeletion? – scenia Mar 12 '14 at 14:37
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    One thing which messes with cd checks is "PIO fallback mode". Basically, WinXP keeps a counter running for transfer errors and has some {magic} to decide when to alter the transfer method. This makes sense, but the counter is never reset and for an optical drive, the errors can pile up and yet have little to do with the hardware itself. Since copy protection schemes are carefully balanced error schemes that are too cozy with the workings of the hardware and drivers, they can break easily in older compatibility modes. See: support.microsoft.com/kb/817472 for more information. – horatio Mar 12 '14 at 15:28
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    Despite what @fredley said in his comment to one of the deleted answers, in the US at least, breaking a EULA is not against the law, and using a NO-CD patch is questionable (to my knowledge it's never been contested in court). – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Mar 12 '14 at 15:44

Are you sure the CD is even checked, i.e. it starts spinning? Some games are sensitive to presence of multiple drives (especially virtual drives, which are often used to play pirated images of games) and require the CD to be included in the first letter drive (e.g. D:).

If SpellForce employs StarForce, an OS restart is needed after the game (and StarForce along) is installed, to have the copy protection check work properly.

[wildly illegal and unacceptable "promoting piracy and offering solutions to circumvent piracy a violation of your EULA" stuff was here, removed so answer won't get pummeled again]

  • Great! Can you also include what we discussed in the comments? That was the most interesting part :P – scenia Mar 12 '14 at 16:09
  • I tried and it just worked. Must have been the StarForce issue, apparently some localized versions use it. Or it's part of the last patch, I am kinda sure i started playing right away when i first got it 9 years ago... Oh well, it works, that's what counts. Thanks for your help! – scenia Mar 13 '14 at 7:53
  • There is only one drive (d:). And it does start spinning, pretty loudly actually, for around 2 minutes, then the message appears. The CD also has an Autoplay that does appear and lets me select "Play", but then the CD checking disaster starts. – acalypso Mar 13 '14 at 10:54
  • Are you sure you installed the latest patch? Sometimes latest version patches remove checks for original CD. – acalypso Mar 13 '14 at 10:54
  • Yep. There were actually 2 (1.52 and 1.52a) and I chose the one that is suggested for my setup of game +2 expansions (the other one is for owners of the gold edition that packages the first expansion with the game as one and doesn't have a CD key). Supposedly, their only difference is the check for a CD key, which happens in game though, so I don't even get to the point where the difference should matter. I'm not sure I restarted after installing the patch though (and I haven't tried running the game before installing it), will try that tonight. – acalypso Mar 13 '14 at 10:55

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