Programming

Origin Update For Mass Effect and Dead Space Mouse Fixes

I recently started to have a little bit more free time at my disposal again and used it to tackle an annoying problem that plagued the mouse fixes for both Dead Space and Mass Effect. The change logs for both games are as follows:

Beta 0.5:

  • The fix should now correctly work with Origin versions from any region

This might not look very impressive, but fixing this issue involved tackling a more severe underlying problem with Origin. Although the fixes were advertised to work with Origin, they would show an unsupported version pop-up for some users, while working fine for others.

Games are often available on a variety of distribution platforms, which usually all come with their own executable file of the game. This means that even if the versions are practically the same, the executables of say the Steam version most likely will have a different layout compared to the Origin or GOG version. A game can also have multiple versions on the same platform. This is most often the case for games that are distributed with certain languages that are only available in some regions.

While other game fixes work on a more abstract level, fixes like the ones for Dead Space of Mass Effect hook into the game and need to know the specific locations (i.e. memory addresses) of functions or data to hook into. If the addresses are wrong, the game usually just crashes. For this reason, every version has to be supported separately by a fix. This is often not trivial, because a fix might rely on several addresses which all have to be determined individually for every version. This also presupposes that I have access to every version in the first place, which is often not the case. Additionally, this process usually has to be repeated every time a game is patched.

Fortunately, the number of different official versions is often rather small and the chances that an older game gets patched are often pretty slim. By restricting a fix to only support the latest, fully patched version it is usually feasible to cover most — if not all — official distribution sources.

However, as it turned out, Origin does not like to play ball with this approach. While Steam usually only provides multiple versions if they actually differ from a content point of view (e.g. languages or censoring), Origin seems to always distribute technically different version for every region, even if they are practically identical. It is hard to tell how many regions Origin uses, but I saw different versions for Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Northern Europe, North America, Russia and more.

Because it is not feasible to support all of them, the updated versions of the mouse fixes now use a pattern matcher to handle Origin versions. Because they are usually very similar, it is possible to search for certain memory patterns in the executable, instead of specifying the addresses directly.

This should hopefully be sufficient to properly handle Origin versions for all fixes in the future.