It's not often the head of one of the most powerful gaming companies in the world pops over to Reddit to speak with the masses, so today was a bit of a treat. If you weren't following the AMA featuring Valve boss Gabe Newell (and some other Valve guys like Erik Wolpaw and Greg Coomer), then, here's all the good stuff you missed.
Newell was answering a lot of questions, and did well to stick around for so long because, well, things got creepy in parts. The "Cult of GabeN" isn't the healthiest thing on the internet, but to his credit Newell didn't just answer business questions, he replied to some of the more personal inquiries as well.
Here are the highlights, beginning with something really good: an insight into the Great Half-Life 2 Robbery:
Q: Mr. Newell,
During the leak of the Half Life 2 Source Code in the fall of 2003, a group of vigilante gamers banded together with the hope of catching the hackers. This was because we were told by Valve (and you specifically) on the Valve Forums that there would be major game delays due to the leak. We were FURIOUS. The original Half-Life was my favorite game and I was very much anticipating the release of Half Life 2.
There were two of us who were leading the "investigation," TheAmazingXemo and myself, Gtwy. I was still in high school and had no formal background in any kind of investigative work, but I knew basic HTML and so we did what we could. We started a website known as the "Half Life 2 Source Code Resource Page." At the time, Usenet was a hugely popular file sharing utility and we traced the source code files back to a user who had posted them there. We were able to google his Usenet username and find that he was a member of a clan in some MMORPG and got his full name and contact info from their clan site. He gave up his source as soon as we contacted him as someone from IRC.
At its peak, our website was receiving between half a million and a million hits per day. It was amazing going through all of the anonymous tips and messages from people that came pouring in from all across the globe. And it felt like we were doing something to help.
I know that your company was aware of our website because we were contacted by the FBI and even accused of committing the hack ourselves. I don't blame you for this course of action, it probably was very suspicious from your vantage point. I was contacted and told to redact the file count and file tree listing that proved the hack was real, which we did.
However, we did successfully identify the hacker, Ago, in our final post, dated October 13, 2003. I don't know if this was before or after the FBI had already privately figured it out, but I would like to think that somehow we helped the investigation. I know that if they had figured it out, it wasn't public knowledge yet. (Evidence we released can be found archived here.)
Now that it's been over a decade since the investigation, I was hoping you could shed some light on what happened behind the scenes. I have always wanted to reach out to you about this but I never knew how. Mainly, I just want you to know that our intentions were benevolent and that we were and still are loyal Valve fans. Really hoping you respond to this and even if you cannot, thanks for doing the AMA!
Additional info: http://jameswatt.me/2012/04/23/ram…
A: Thanks, presidentjim/Gtwy for all of your help. We still remember your site about the leak as an invaluable resource. Weren't we directly in touch with you, back then? Obviously we were working closely with the FBI during that time, but they could not share with us which sources led to the arrest, and which ones didn't. From what we could tell, though, you guys were doing far more to uncover Ago than anything the Feds could do. We think it was one of the first cases in which the authorities were humbled by what a community of motivated people on the Internet can do. Edit: Thanks to Xemo, too.
Q: Hey Gabe and friends! Thanks for doing this AMA!
If Valve could borrow an IP from another company to make a game for it, what would you guys choose?
A: Gabe: The Warriors Coomer: Groundhog Day, Heathers Wolpaw: God Hand, Saints Row Ido: Casablanca
Q: Is it possible for some sort of integration with services like Pandora and Spotify, in the future? I don't have a music library, per se, and mostly just use internet radio, so it'd be great if I didn't have to alt tab to change stations or skip songs. Could this happen?
A: Yes, we've got some things in the works that we think you'll like.
Q: Hi Gabe, first of all many thanks for all the work with valve and the steam software
With the success of Dota2, and then with CS:GO, what do you think is the future for esports on the PC?
Also, with micro transactions in the games helping fund prize pots for tournaments, when do you think we will see a tournament fully funded by micro-transactions?
A: We still think we have a long way to go to get to the point where all of the different people that are contributing value to competitive play get everything out of it that they should. Feels like we are making pretty good progress though.
Giving the consumers of content a direct relationship with the creators of content is something we think about a lot. That is what drove our thinking about how the community could be more involved in the tournaments that mattered to them.
Q: How do you feel about the Internet's obsession with you?
A: It's entertaining for my friends.
Q: What is your favorite non-Valve video game?
A: Mario 64.
Q: GabeN, what are your specs?
A: Well, I'm a handsome man with a charming personality.
Q: Did you intentionally give 3:30 minutes notice of your canceled AMA on 3/3 just to torture us?
And then there's...this...