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Security of .pak files

Hi,

my question is about the security of content provided within .pak files.
Background of my question is: I’m planning to use 3rd party content and their license requests that original content can not be obtained from the game files.

So I tried to “hack” my own game package. I did use UnrealPak.exe to extract the contents of the .pak file and got the directory structure of my actual UE4 project.
Though, I couldn’t use or load the .uasset files in any way.

Maybe someone who knows more about the packaging process can help me. Can assets from .pak files be loaded into UE4 Editor again?

Does anybody else has to deal with such a license issue?

Thanks,

Ben

It’s pretty much impossible to prevent assets from being extracted from any game - the package format is irrelevant since the data is raw once in the graphics card.

Either way, it should be possible to prevent your content packages being opened in other versions of the editor.

Given that Unreal is a very popular engine, it attracts enough attention to where tools are created to rip assets out of games that use it, there were several for UE3 so it wouldn’t be surprising if there are for UE4. Even then, there’s tools that can connect to DirectX or OpenGL that can get assets out that way as well. This is an issue for any game on PC because it’s easy to access the files and to create tools to extract them.

Thanks for you thoughts.

I know that everything has to end up “open” somewhere between hard disk and monitor and could be grabbed.

Since the packaging process does seem to modify the asset files so that they can not be simply re-loaded into another Unreal project, I guess I’m ok.

To be honest, such licensing is plainly stupid.
Any game which sparks a minimal level of interest from the community will get reverse engineered. Either for the sake of just looking under the hood or modding.

Especially if somebody who doesn’t want their content to be obtainable uses a popular engine without any modifications.
Unless you make serious changes to how .pak files are made (given you know what you’re doing), somebody will just decompile your stuff with an uniform tool which will work for any UE4 .pak file.

I’d say it’s just how it is and people should just stop being stuck up about licensing, especially since it just impacts on the player community members, like modders.
It used to happen and it will keep happening no matter what you try. Such licensing just puts a restraint on developers and players.

TL;DR.
For now i guess you’re safe, but on the moment first big UE4 game drops, people will have a set of tools to decompile UE4 assets and there’s not much you can do about it, unless you rework the packaging by yourself.

We can only rely on legal advices for those extracting content from our games. Nothing more than that.

Coming from Unity3D, over there people had concerns regarding their C# scripts being decompiled and what not. Some of them have gone to great lengths to prevent this by obfuscating the code and what not. Sadly they should’ve focused on polishing their game and their code rather than wasting time on silly protection schemes. Alas, it’s still going on.

And that’s my advice - don’t waste time on protecting anything. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” the saying goes and, someone will always find a way to get to it. For as long as we use binary computing, it will always sum down to a choice somewhere between a 0 and a 1.

Abandon using content from third parties that have unreasonable licenses, as it will cost you more money at the end to comply than to just make your own or, pay someone else to make it for you.