The 2003 Leak

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On October 7th 2003, a twenty-one year old German computer hacker named Axel Gembe exploited vulnerabilities within Valve's internal network to gain access to servers hosting in-development game files for several noteworthy upcoming Valve projects. Amongst these were Half-Life 2, which was scheduled for release in the next year, and early builds of Counter-Strike Source and Team Fortress 2, amongst others.

The Half-Life 2 leaked files are often referred to by 'anon-hl2'. This refers to the name of the first .zip archives that contained the Leak, and the 'anon' refers to Axel Gembe's 'anon' pseudonym.

The 2003 Leak gives a unique insight into the development process of Half-Life 2, as the files that were leaked span several development periods. Many of these periods contained recycled concepts, but several of them such as the Air Exchange had no direct influence on the final version of Half-Life 2.


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FBI Logs
A transcription of the FBI logs associated with this event.

October 2[1] - Half-Life 2 Source Code Leak

The Source Engine's source code was the first of the Valve development files to leak, and it was arguably the most influential of them all. The files were not leaked by Gembe - instead, and individual associated the hacking group myg0t was given the files by Gembe. The individual stated that he had no intentions of sharing them, but the source code was quickly leaked onto torrent sites and on P2P download websites. As a result of the myg0t member leaking the files, Gembe decided to begin releasing the remainder of the Valve Software leaked files onto the Internet. It is theorised that if the myg0t team had not leaked the source code, Gembe would not have leaked the remainder of the files.

The source code that was leaked is highly unfinished, and is an earlier build of the Source Engine than exists on the compiled Half-Life 2 build from 2003. The source code requires -Visual Studio 6.0 from 1998, Service Pack 5 for VS6.0 and the Processor Pack 5 for VS6.0 to compile correctly. The Source Code also only support v35/36 models instead of the newer v37 model format found in the compiled Leak.



(NFO) October 8 - Half-Life 2: Axel's first Patch

This patch is the only known patch released for the Half-Life 2 leak from Valve's internal servers. It is included within the anon-hl2 files, making downloading it unnecessary for modern Half-Life 2 Leak fans. It should only be downloaded as a curiosity, as installing it over the anon-hl2 files is redundant. The files range in date from the 24th of September 2003 at 12:45 AM to the 27th of September 2003 at 8:46 AM.

The files are also useful to infer what Valve added to Half-Life 2 during this period, such as the new 'Art' facemap, a texture for the Jeep's ammo box, and some citizen lines from the Coast gunship battle.



(NFO) October 8 - NVidia Drivers 52.13

Anon releases the Detonater 52.13 drivers from Valve, ones claimed to increase performance. Not much else to discuss here. Gembe also released leaked drivers from Nvidia, name the Detonator 52.13 drivers. These drivers were designed to improve performance in 3D games, including Half-Life 2. Evidence exists across the Internet of individuals on forums such as attempting to install these drivers onto their own Nvidia cards, to mixed results - some reported graphical glitches and card failures, and others reported moderate performance boosts.



(NFO) October 9 - HL1Ports - Early CS and HL: Source

HL1ports is a noteworthy leak that contained an unfinished but quite complete build of Half-Life Source, and a highly unfinished build of Counter-Strike Source. Both builds suffer from fairly severe glitches, and the Counter-Strike Source build includes mostly temporary and unfinished textures, in addition to very early models, sounds and maps.

"Temp" TF2 Player Models

The hl1ports leak also includes two player models from the "Invasion" stage of TF2 as placeholders. It can be assumed that the later "temp" CS player models contained within hl1ports had replaced the older TF2 models for a lengthy period of time, as the TF2 models used an obsolete model version.


Other TF2 Content

In addition to the playermodels, the materials folder contains a large number of unused TF2 textures. They vary, ranging from earlier versions of the Alien Commando texture, to separated versions of the current Human Commando texture, to 2 separate sets of textures that were used on a playermodel that is currently not publicly available. It gives a good - albeit small - insight into the development process of Team Fortress 2.

  • Old Alien Commando Textures
  • "Generation 1" Lost TF2 Player Textures

It should be noted that the "generation" divides are only based on their texture resolution. These are 512x, and the others are 1024x.

  • "Generation 2" Lost TF2 Player Textures


[Valve Archive]

(NFO) October 9 - The WC Mappack

The WC Mappack is one of the most noteworthy portions of Gembe's leaks. Over a thousand map sources in .vmf format were leaked and made available for download, ranging from tiny maps that were used to demonstrate features of bugs, all the way to complete storyline maps and fragments of maps that would eventually be discarded or make their way into the retail Half-Life 2 storyline. The .vmf files can be opened in the Half-Life 2 map editor Hammer and explored or fixed as necessary. Contrary to The WC Mappack does not contain every map from Half-Life 2's development, instead it only reportedly contains roughly a quarter of every .vmf source file that Valve made during Half-Life 2's development. Many of the maps rely on obsolete scripting or removed models and textures as these assets were removed as Half-Life 2 evolved, requiring fans to fix them to make them playable or aesthetically correct.

The 'wc' refers to Worldcraft, the name given to the GoldSrc and 2003-era Source Engine map editor before it was renamed to Hammer with the release of Half-Life 2 in 2004.

The maps vary in date from the 18th of December 2000 to the 26th of September 2003.



(NFO) October 9 - The HL1 WC Mappack

Gembe also released a pack of Worldcraft source files for three of Valve's other projects. A small amount of ported Half-Life, Deathmatch Classic and Counter-Strike maps were contained in this archive, all of which had been ported to the updated .vmf format. Gembe also included a map of his own, named 'bounce-by-anon.vmf'. It is possible that he used this map to test out the builds of Counter-Strike or Team Fortress 2, though this is impossible to know with any degree of certainty.

The pack also included several beta Xen maps from Half-Life 1's development. These maps show that the Xen chapter was originally intended to be longer, and none of the maps include Alien Controllers, providing an insight into Xen's development in 1998.



(NFO) October 9 - Wmods

Gembe also released a Valve employee's copy of Half-Life, containing two versions of the yet-to-be-released Counter-Strike: Condition Zero amongst other miscellaneous files.



October 7[2][3] - Half-Life 2: "Chosen 9" Release

The 'anon-hl2' leak is the most iconic of the files that Gembe released from Valve's archives. The files included span roughly three years of Half-Life 2's development cycle, and show that the game's storyline was ever-changing; entire chapters and concepts such as the toxic air in City 17 were removed, and it also shows that the art style of Half-Life 2 was in flux as well. The anon-hl2 Leak also includes a quite playable build of the final storyline that closely resembles the 2004 retail storyline, albeit with several missing or unfinished areas in addition to some minor areas that were cut.

Chosen-9 refers to Gembe and others that he entrusted to leak the files.


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