Axel Gembe Interview

Interview with Axel Gembe, the originator of the Valve Software network breach and subsequent theft of Half-Life 2 in October 2003. Conducted over Steam chat on June 27 2016.

Jaycie: I've heard rumors that you had multiple builds of Half-Life 2 during the early days of the leak. Is that true?

Axel: I had access to their main Perforce repository where they had all the branches of the code. There were a lot of testing branches though. For the assets, they only had one repository in Visual Source Safe (VSS), which is what got released. I was actually in their internal network a long time,so I had a lot of different builds. Some were better than others. But none of them were anything close to finished.

Jaycie: So Valve was responsible for all the overwritten files, and the general messiness?

Axel: If you mean in the anon leak, then yes. Those files came directly from their VSS.

Jaycie: I've also heard that the anon leak was acquired by someone who hacked you. Is that true?

Axel: No, I shared too much information online and other people got into Valve's network.

Jaycie: Do you think those other builds would've been more complete for the time? More functional. Though, I don't expect that anyone has them anymore.

Axel: Yes, but still very buggy and WIP. Well, the German police might still have them, as well as the old Team-Fortress 2 assets, hehe.

Jaycie: More then just the 2 "Commando" models?

Axel: Yes, complete. Not everything was textured yet, but it was playable.

Jaycie: Who else had access to Valve's network?

Axel: myg0t. I've said this in interviews before. I shared the source code of Half-Life 2 with them, and some details of Valve's network. Stupid decision, I know.

Jaycie: You know, people are still very interested in this stuff, even after all these years.

Axel: Yea, there's a lot of info that hasn't been talked about before. I just wish there was more public old Team-Fortress 2 files, I really liked that game.

Jaycie: Did you see anything about earlier versions of Team-Fortress 2? Valve's Team Fortress, Brotherhood Of Arms, etc.

Axel: I didn't see anything, only the Source Engine version. I guess it must have been somewhere in there. or maybe the Half-Life version was just something they threw together for screenshots? Either way, it wasnt on the VSS, which is where all the in-development stuff was.

Jaycie: Did you see anything from the earlier versions of Half-Life 2? Like the Gasmask Citizen model, or the GYFTVs demo.

Axel: Well, its possible there were backups of that stuff, but I didn't see them. Valve seemed to be pretty incompetent regarding backups, SCM (VSS? WTF? That thing is ancient and known to eat data!) and security, so it wouldn't surprise me if they lost them.

Jaycie: So, it seems like all the other leakers involved don't have anything anymore?

Axel: I do know one person who still has the Half-Life 1 engine source code, but I haven't had contact with them in a long time. It had all the engine parts, VAC code, and some early prototype of Steam, called Gazelle. This was all still in the VSS.

Axel: Hey, I need to sleep a bit more. It's early in Thailand. I also got some work to get done first. Lots of pull request to make on Github.

Jaycie: Thank you for your time!

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