Half-Life 2 build -4
Half-Life 2 build -4 is a build of Half-Life 2. It was compiled on 26 September 2003, and was later leaked on 7 October 2003. This was a few months after the demonstration at E3 2003, and a few of the E3 2003 demonstration's maps were left over in the files of this build. The build is named after the amount of days until the original launch date, 30 September 2003.
Leak[edit | edit source]
A man by the name of Axel Gembe was a big fan of Valve, and was curious about learning what plans they had for the next Half-Life game that he had an idea to hack into Valve's internal network to learn more about its development. He scanned Valve's network to check for accessible web servers to see where information about the game would be held. While the network was secured from the outside, their name server allowed anonymous AXFRs (Asynchronous Full Zone Transfer - used to synchronize servers), which allowed Gembe to use this information to his advantage. He was then able to discover all the names for the companies' sub-domains within their web directory.
In the port scan logs, he found a server which was in Valve's network range from another company named Tangis, which specialized in wearable technology and was managed by Gabe Newell's brother, Dan. Since Valve didn't firewall this site server from their network, Gembe had found this security hole on his first try and began uploading ASP scripts on their writable web root, then executing them. Their primary domain controller had the username "build" with a blank password, and he was easily able to crack it - retrieving usernames and hash passwords in the process. He then had full access to all of Valve's assets, including those for Half-Life 2.
As Gembe began searching for anything related to the game, he came across various design documents and notes about its creation. Weeks passed by, and no one at Valve had yet realized that they were compromised, as Gembe used proxy servers to hide his location. Eventually, he came across the source code for the main development "trunk" version of the game on their network, and proceeded to download it on 19 September 2003. There were also other development branches that he couldn't even begin to take a look at. The game initially didn't run on his computer, so he made changes to the code to get it to run with his machine. Thanks to a friend of Gembe, the source code was later leaked on 2 October 2003, as well as a playable build of the game on 7 October 2003. Gabe Newell was quick to put out a statement to the community regarding the leak over on the Halflife2.net forums (now known as ValveTime), which received a massive response from fans.
Back then, this leak was a major blow to morale at Valve not only for allowing themselves to be compromised in such a way, but also publicly demonstrating that the game wouldn't meet its initial release date as shown by its unfinished state.