TechSpot

Half-Life 2 source leaked

By Julio Franco
Oct 3, 2003
  1. It's been made official, Valve's own Gabe Newell has confirmed the bad news which could lead to a longer launch date delay among several other things such as security and cheating concerns for multiplayer, etc. Here is Newell's complete post, an interesting read:

    Ever have one of those weeks? This has just not been the best couple of days for me or for Valve. Yes, the source code that has been posted is the HL-2 source code.

    Here is what we know:

    1) Starting around 9/11 of this year, someone other than me was accessing my email account. This has been determined by looking at traffic on our email server versus my travel schedule.

    2) Shortly afterwards my machine started acting weird (right-clicking on executables would crash explorer). I was unable to find a virus or trojan on my machine, I reformatted my hard drive, and reinstalled.

    3) For the next week, there appears to have been suspicious activity on my webmail account.

    4) Around 9/19 someone made a copy of the HL-2 source tree.

    5) At some point, keystroke recorders got installed on several machines at Valve. Our speculation is that these were done via a buffer overflow in Outlook's preview pane. This recorder is apparently a customized version of RemoteAnywhere created to infect Valve (at least it hasn't been seen anywhere else, and isn't detected by normal virus scanning tools).

    6) Periodically for the last year we've been the subject of a variety of denial of service attacks targetted at our webservers and at Steam. We don't know if these are related or independent.

    Well, this sucks.

    What I'd appreciate is the assistance of the community in tracking this down. I have a special email address for people to send information to, helpvalve@valvesoftware.com. If you have information about the denial of service attacks or the infiltration of our network, please send the details. There are some pretty obvious places to start with the posts and records in IRC, so if you can point us in the right direction, that would be great. We at Valve have always thought of ourselves as being part of a community, and I can't imagine a better group of people to help us take care of these problems than this community.
     
  2. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,933   +126 Staff Member

    Aww crap this just plain sucks!

    I hope Valve finds out what individual or group did this and put them to jail for a real long time!

    Something not mentioned though is if it has been leaked to the web also, i.e. did someone simply steal it to have a look at it themselves or has it already been posted and available for download for anyone?
     
  3. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,933   +126 Staff Member

    Answering my own Q by a post on Hardocp here:

     
  4. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 6,504   +6

    No one goes through all of that bother just to get a copy of a game for free in advance, Per.

    No one runs the risk of being caught and going to jail, just to brag on IRC that they got a copy of a new game before everyone else....

    At least, no one with a brain. And its someone WITH a brain that has managed to do what's described in the guy's post about this data being stolen.

    I'd be very suprised, also, if someone went to all that bother just to work out a few cheats, or something. That might be the story being offered now, but I doubt its true.


    Its corporate espionage. Right now, a rival company is going through that code and trying to figure out exactly how this game was programmed.
     
  5. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,933   +126 Staff Member

    My thought was also that this is prolly no 13 year old kid...

    More likley just like you said it's the work of an organization... Just like the latest viruses have been the works of large organizations with lotsa money to spend on this... (and make of course)

    However what speaks against this is the fact that it was leaked onto the net... No organization would have done that...
    That is the part that confuses me....
     
  6. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 6,504   +6

    Say, for example - purely hypothetically - that the company behind this is also releasing a game at the same time, say QUAKE IV....

    Probably HL2 has been leaked onto the net by the rival company to hurt sales of HL2, so that QUAKE IV or something gets to the top of the sales lists (because of the lack of competition from HL2) and therefore gets even more publicity, etc. You know lots of consumers, when wanting to decide what game to buy, if they don't know any better, look at the list of top sales and see what's the most popular. These kinds of lists are also often displayed in stores, at least as regards the stats for sales in their own stores, so that HMV, Virgin and so forth have posters with the lists of top 10 best selling movies, games, DVDs, etc. People use these lists when deciding on things to buy quite often.

    And, of course, less sales of HL2 leading to more sales of QUAKE IV means, pure and simple, more revenue for the attacking company. People spend the money they might have spent on HL2 on QUAKE IV, because they already have HL2 because they downloading it from Kazaa or something... Therefore, attacking company gets richer!

    Releasing HL2 onto the internet greatly lessens the impact of its release on the game playing public - helping QUAKE IV to get all of the glory!

    Also, by damaging sales of HL2, the lack of return on the great investments made by Value into development of this game will cripple Value financially, perhaps thusly eliminating more of the competition. AND, when Value goes bust because of lack of HL2 sales, the good programmers from Value look for jobs again and can be poached by the attacking company.

    You see... there's an explanation for it all!


    NOW, if Value have a brain in their heads (which I am sure that they do) then what's best is to hold back on releasing HL2 for even longer, and keep it under wraps when this will happen. In the mean time, they keep on developing the game to make it even better, so that what it turns out that has been stolen is a kind of alpha release or something perhaps even MUCH more primitive and unfinished than that.
     
  7. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 5,899

    Well they've made it clear that it was the Source Code that was "stolen". That most likely means thousands of C/C++ lines. It doesn't mean maps, textures, models & everything else that a game is made of. You can't download it off KaZaa & start playing it.

    It can have serious consequences as far as people allready working on cheats for it, since they know exactly how the engine works. Valve will definitly change the code but at this point in time, they cannot completely rewrite the whole thing.

    Please do not shoot me for this, but I was thinking ( & I'm not the only one ) that this could also be a twisted PR stunt. Think about it. A lot of people were mad at Valve for some bad performance on nVidia cards. Now this happens & I think there's a general simpathy for Valve right now ( could it even be pitty ?? ). It's the sort of thing that could really boost sales when the game comes out.

    The way they described the hacking process would make sense for a small company, but not one as big/important as Valve. I mean how could you let your development server so accessible ??? It should be offline, period.

    I feel bad when someone's work goes unrewarded but you can't do a painting in the street ( as nice as it might be ) & get mad when cars drive over it.
     
  8. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 6,504   +6

    I'd never shoot you for what is a very astute and interesting observation.

    Indeed, if its not corporate espionage, then it most certainly must be something like you have described. Maybe this never even happened at all.

    Does it actually say that? Yes, if its just a bunch of .cpp and .h files, its only of interest or use really to a games developer. But if its a Visual C++ project folder, surely it does contain graphics and all sorts of other things used to compile and run a working application.
     
  9. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 5,899

    They weren't very specific as to what was leaked other then saying the source code.

    I believe they would've said a build of the game was leaked if it happened to be "playable".

    & I'm sure all the Valve employees are currently running Pine now instead of Outlook.:D
     
  10. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 6,504   +6

    Hahah Pine, yes! I bet some of them have switched to Linux for good after that.

    Mind you, games developers probably only run Windows for testing and playing games - they will all be super-geeky enough to already be running Linux, or rather worryingly perhaps something even geekier like FreeBSD.


    As far as the actual semantics goes, I think that "source code" could easily be referring to a Visual C++ project folder with everything needed to build the whole app....

    ...OR, it could easily just mean the .cpp and .h files, which are basically just ascii text - small and easy to copy over the internet quickly. Even better if zipped (ascii gets a LOT smaller when zipped).

    It could be called "source code" for the sake of the article - basically just to get across the general idea of what was taken, probably. Remember, in news, you always get the watered down version.

    Does anyone actually know if what was taken CAN be compiled into an application?
     
  11. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 5,899

    Last update before I go to sleep.;)

    taken from the BBC WEBSITE

    Full Article
     
     
  12. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 6,504   +6

    I haven't read the article yet, but basically that means just .cpp and .h files and so forth, basically just as you said, source code.

    Its only of interest to developers, and can't be used to actually build a working game without LOTS of other stuff being added.

    However, IT IS THE MOST INTERESTING BIT BY FAR!

    A games company will have access to artists and so forth for graphics, etc. They will also have people who probably can't program for squat, but can design a totally kick-*** level.

    If I wanted to know how to build a game just as smart at the competition, I would steal exactly what was stolen in this story. You get the game's engine and then worry about characters, story, level etc later. They are not as important, because you will have people who are working on these things all the time anyway if you are a games company.

    Certainly as regards the storyline, anyway, who gives a stuff! I will spoil that for you right now:

    Its a story about killing monsters with big guns.

    End of story. The tale isn't going to be any more inventive than anything you've ever got on Star Trek, Doctor Who, Babylon 5, Andromedia, Farscape, Xena Warrior Princess.... In fact, that's kind of wishful thinking anyway.

    But the source code to the game's engine reveals all sorts of wonderful secrets about the game's use of physics and all sort of other important things in games programming.

    This sounds like a rival games company has found out that HL2 contains such brilliant programming that its a wonderful, new generation of game, the secrets to which MUST be stolen!

    ...Or, its that that's EXACTLY WHAT VALUE WANT YOU TO BELIEVE....and that NONE of this ever happened!

    One thing is certain, there's always more than meets the eye, and we will doubtlessly never know the real truth.
     
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