Valve Software's Gabe Newell has confirmed this evening what many in the gaming community had already feared since earlier today - Half-Life 2's source code has been leaked onto the internet. Actually, to put it more accurately, the Source source [Yes, very good -Ed] was stolen during a series of events that started on or around September 11th this year.
It began with the unauthorised use of Newell's e-mail account, which was determined when the traffic on Valve's mail server did not match up with his own travel schedule. This was followed by erratic behaviour on his own PC despite being unable to locate a virus, and further suspicious activity on his webmail account. Then, at an undeterminable point, keystroke recorders were installed on several of Valve's machines (possibly thanks to a buffer overflow exploit in Microsoft's Outlook - Gabe's ex-employer comes back to haunt him), which would have gathered usernames and passwords as well as other confidential typed information for the culprit. This all culminated around September 19th with the remote copying of Half-Life 2's source.
Newell further pointed out the several Denial of Service attacks that have been levelled at the company's web and Steam servers during the last year, but the company doesn't know whether these actions were related to the Source theft.
So what does this "source tree" contain? Not being programmers ourselves it's hard to determine exactly what, but through some scratching about on the web it apparently contains pretty much every aspect of the Source engine required to run the game. Now this doesn't mean it's possible for any old Joe to come along, download the source, compile it and start playing Half-Life 2 because there are no maps, textures, models, videos or even interface graphics for the engine to load. The compiled engine does seem to start up, though, and there are plenty of directories containing character and weapons code which give away some spoilers that we weren't previously aware of, plus materials, physics and shader code that could well give away a few of Valve's trade secrets.
What's more, the archive contains (some) code for Team Fortress 2, the Hammer level editor, the face posing/lip-synching software, a texture conversion tool, and heck knows what else. There are even references to Counter-Strike. The possibility for creating cheats and hacks for HL2 alone makes this a serious blow for Valve and indeed the community as a whole. In fact, it's fair to say that it's not been a great month for Valve, what with the troubled Steam launch, the 11th hour slippage of Half-Life 2 and now their very source code swiped from under their noses - you have to feel a bit sorry for them, really. Well we do anyway. Poor Valve.
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