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Valve Takes the Offensive on Warez Users?

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the burn-warez-monkeys-burn dept.

Security 1127

Drull writes "It's claimed by a poster on filefront.com that Valve might have released a "Warez" version of Half-Life 2 to monitor and ban those who attempt to use it. This is the news from some guy with a filefront account, so take it with a grain of salt.

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Take a lesson (1, Insightful)

Shihar (153932) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854268)

The RIAA and MPAA should take a lesson. Valve has done a pretty incredible thing. They have done a solid job and snuffing out pirating while managing to avoid pissing off their consumer base. They have offered a product that is not crippled and have managed to protect it without resorting to using the government in the form of the judicial system to act as their personal thugs. This is the way companies should protect their IP, not by using the government as their own private band of thugs.

Re:Take a lesson (5, Insightful)

Torgo's Pizza (547926) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854364)

What alternate reality do you live in? I've seen more complaints about Steam and Valve in the past week than ever before. Valve has pissed off plenty of people lately.

Hey, I too hate the RIAA and the MPAA for their jack-booted techniques, but I wouldn't exactly point to Valve as the gold standard.

Re:Take a lesson (4, Insightful)

fireduck (197000) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855228)

And in a month, none of those people who complained will care one bit.

Honestly, the brouhaha over Steam and validation on day 1 is ridiculous. Yes, if you bought the game on Tuesday you likely had problems for a few hours trying to validate. Yeah, that's a pisser. However, once you did get it validated you were able to play without any sort of online interaction (unless you were playing online, of course).

These same server problems affect every MMORPG on day 1. They affect every popular game that has online content (e.g., every Blizzard game). Its the nature of the beast. Sure, its a bitch, but a half day of inconvenience for 5 years of gameplay is something most people will overlook. Anyone who was faintly familiar with how HL2 validation was going to be done, especially the geeks at slashdot, should have known that day 1 was going to be validation hell. I knew it, and I'm waiting a few extra days before I buy the game, simply because I don't want that hassle.

Re:Take a lesson (5, Insightful)

Pluvius (734915) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855774)

These same server problems affect every MMORPG on day 1. They affect every popular game that has online content (e.g., every Blizzard game).

The difference, of course, being that in those cases you only have to validate games that are online.

I'm waiting a few extra days before I buy the game, simply because I don't want that hassle.

And you don't think that this is an unnecessary hassle? Why should you have to wait a few days (or any amount of time at all excluding the few minutes of installation) to play a $50 game offline?

Rob

Re:Take a lesson (2)

nomadic (141991) | more than 9 years ago | (#10857003)

Honestly, the brouhaha over Steam and validation on day 1 is ridiculous. Yes, if you bought the game on Tuesday you likely had problems for a few hours trying to validate. Yeah, that's a pisser. However, once you did get it validated you were able to play without any sort of online interaction (unless you were playing online, of course).

Oh come on, a few HOURS? That's agoniziingly painful. Hell, the first thing I do when I buy a game is walk back to my car, rip it open, and look at the manual for a minute. Then I rush home.

Re:Take a lesson (5, Informative)

Tobias Luetke (707936) | more than 9 years ago | (#10857068)

I knew it, and I'm waiting a few extra days before I buy the game, simply because I don't want that hassle.

Or better yet. did the right thing and bought the game in advance over steam
Buying over steam had many advantages:

  • You instantly got to play CS:S
  • You saved a buck or two in some cases
  • You money went to valve instead of Vivendi
  • You had HL2 preloaded on your harddrive (no cds)
  • You could start playing 10 minutes after the game was released
For me Steam was a huge success. Its just stupid to distribute digital data over physical mediums like CDS when there is a boardband internet connection available. After purchasing steam stays incredibly useful. You will never have to search for your f$%^& cds and put them in your drive. If you want to play hl2 online in two years all you need to do is double click the game. You deleted the game ? NO PROBLEM. Steam downloads it for you. You are not up to date ? NO PROBLEM. steam updates you. You don't have the map / mod / whatever ? NO PROBLEM. People need to get used to the idea of steam. yes it might have caused some problems but that was to be expected.

Re:Take a lesson (1)

justforaday (560408) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854555)

you forgot the <sarcasm> tag...

Re:Take a lesson (0)

Otter (3800) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854628)

Because if the RIAA released malware disguised as MP3's, and users who ran them had their speakers blown out, MP3 player firmware blanked or something like that you'd support it?

(Yes, that's not a great analogy but the RIAA bsuiness model is completely different, with no central server to lock people out of. If anyone has a better analogy, I'd love to hear it.)

Re:Take a lesson (4, Interesting)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854647)

They have done a solid job and snuffing out pirating while managing to avoid pissing off their consumer base.

Many people are complaining because it took then close to 4 hours to get approval to play the game once they installed it.

Also the word on the street is that you can get the pirate crack for this, and be playing it in less time.

Re:Take a lesson (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10854736)

The RIAA and MPAA should take a lesson.

Actually, Valve are the ones taking a lesson from the RIAA and MPAA. [overpeer.com]

They have done a solid job and snuffing out pirating

Not that solid. The real HL2 was warezed and cracked on November 16.

while managing to avoid pissing off their consumer base.

You can't be talking about Steam, can you?

This is the way companies should protect their IP, not by using the government as their own private band of thugs.

I agree. But I see no evidence that Valve have accomplished anything extraordinary as far as combatting piracy goes. In fact, this sort of terroristic rumormongering probably indicates the opposite, assuming its ultimate source is Valve.

Re:Take a lesson (0, Flamebait)

Apreche (239272) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854951)

why is this modded funny? I think its quite true. The only people who have problems with steam are people with crummy net connections and people who try to use it when traffic is very high. If you use steam on a day that isn't close to a big release day, and your bandwith isn't poop it works just fine. In fact, I've never had a problem. The only thing I can say about about steam is that it is windows only. You can tell the last time I played steam by running the uptime command.

Re:Take a lesson (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10855316)

The only people who have problems with steam are people with crummy net connections and people who try to use it when traffic is very high

Not me. I have a problem with Steam because I don't think its raison d'etre (centralized online authentication) is novel - at all - and the remainder doesn't add value beyond current authentication systems as far as I'm concerned. (Perhaps to Valve it does, but to me it doesn't.)

If the future of game distribution and MP gaming is Steam or Steamlike I'll be very sad - not because Steam itself is terrible, but because to me its success can be seen as a big worrying step towards Our DRM Future. You can play offline after one authentication now... you have a time-unlimited license now... but you're building up a framework where that won't necessarily be taken for granted once built.

I won't suggest Boycotting Steam, it would be futile... gamers have demonstrated time and time again that they are willing to put up with any amount of annoyance or frustration so long as the game works and is good.

Re:Take a lesson (3, Insightful)

HFXPro (581079) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855862)

The only people who have problems with steam are people with crummy net connections and people who try to use it when traffic is very high.

I love comments like the parents. This reminds me why I stopped playing CS and DOD online. Some people cannot get good connections even when living in major cities. Also, when you buy the game you should be able to play it as soon as you install it. The whole activation method is useless, and is one reason I'm not buying HL2 right now (and I own a copy of Every Valve game except for Condition Zero) and HL2. As long as people with your sentiment are around though, I can see things will only get worse. The whole selfish, "I got mine. Anyone who doesn't is a dumbass" attitude just reminds me of why PC gaming has gone downhill

Re:Take a lesson (4, Insightful)

shepd (155729) | more than 9 years ago | (#10856202)

The only people who have problems with steam are people with crummy net connections and people who try to use it when traffic is very high. If you use steam on a day that isn't close to a big release day, and your bandwith isn't poop it works just fine.

Awesome. So, your "offline" experience should now be goverened by your online experience, according to you.

So what's next, you think that linux should load slower if you have a slow 'net connection, or windows should crash more if you have cheap internet?

Please, what you're saying is that only people "elite" enough in society to be lucky enough to have a top-grade internet connection deserve to enjoy things like this game.

Get real.

Re:Take a lesson (1)

Verteiron (224042) | more than 9 years ago | (#10857066)

Right. Sure. Now as soon as Steam can successfully host an internet game without resorting to editing config files in 3 different places, I'll be happier with it.

Re:Take a lesson (3, Insightful)

White-out_On_Screen (766364) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855188)

It's modded funny because it's funny in the same way that the guy on the corner saying that the government is controlling his mind with a satellite is funny. I went through 2 retail copies that didn't work, then bought through Steam. Took hours to download, decrypt, and get vaguely playable, and I'm going to have to bang on it when I get home tonight to iron out bugs. The game phones home to make sure I'm legal, it demands I be on-line and run Steam to play. I'm a legal user. I jumped through hoops to get this game. And I'm being treated like some JeffK wannabe passing out copies in a shady newsgroup. After HL1, I loved Valve. They took care of their community, supported mods, and only asked for a CD Key. I'm playing HL2 despite Valve. They made a great game, but they're acting like the paranoid shits in the game industry they fought against years ago with their community-building and implicit trust in the users. It's sad, really. Microsoft roots showing, you think?

Re:Take a lesson (3, Insightful)

TellarHK (159748) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855492)

How did your 2 retail copies "not work"? Were they just suffering the Steam overload problem that was affecting -everyone- or were they actually defective media? You can't fault Valve if it's the media, and if it's the Steam activation why on Earth would you return it and try another copy? Sounds like you bit your own ass with that one.

The game doesn't demand you be on-line after activation. It does require Steam, but Steam is a PART of Half-Life 2. It's the foundation the game is built upon. That's almost like bitching about having to install libraries on a Linux machine, pointless. And what bugs have you run into? There're damn few bugs for a game with Microsoft developer heritage. ;)

Re:Take a lesson (3, Interesting)

White-out_On_Screen (766364) | more than 9 years ago | (#10856159)

Both were issues with the retail distribution cab files. From what I've been able to read on message boards, this is a common problem; the installer basically fails to unpack them properly. That I do blame Valve for-either they failed to correctly develop or correctly test their installer, or they contracted it out to someone who wasn't trustworthy. My problem with Steam? You have to work around an antipiraccy system in order to run a single-player game offline. The irony of having a game where one theme is the oppression and monitoring of a populace by a big-brother type organization phone home to make sure you're following rules is incredible. Bugs? Audio skipping, draw errors, ridiculous load times, and instability. My system is well above minimum spec. (2.8GP4, 1G RAM, 9800Pro, etc). Problems like this shouldn't occur with a flagship product.

Re:Take a lesson (2, Interesting)

Kenja (541830) | more than 9 years ago | (#10857014)

Check me on this. Did you try to install without selecting Counter Strike? With the retail CDs you HAVE to install Counter Strike or the intaller will look for the hl2.ico1 file in the fourth CAB file rather then the fifth. That was a fun thing for me to figure out. Took all night.

bummer... (1, Funny)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855740)

there goes another keyboard... coffee all over it and the monitor as well.... please warn people by wrapping your posts in sarcasm tags in future... ;)

Re:Take a lesson (2, Interesting)

nvrrobx (71970) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855797)

Wait. They've managed to not piss off their customers? I don't think you've talked to enough of their customers.

I bought it to play against my coworkers. I can't install it and use it. It _requires_ an outbound UDP connection on a wierd port. Before anyone makes a comment about playing it at work, we're _allowed_ to where I work. Our corporate security policy has rules about it (after 5 pm, only legal software, yadda yadda yadda), but our bosses will play Warcraft III and such with us. It makes for a great stress reliever or team building exercise.

So, I did it at home instead. Install took 45 minutes (5 CDs?! Gimme a damned DVD!) then Steam took 20 minutes to get "registered" then another 25 minutes to "unlock" the binaries.

Everyone I work with is pissed off about how Steam works.

Re:Take a lesson... From Microsoft? (5, Insightful)

xplenumx (703804) | more than 9 years ago | (#10856369)

Clue me in - When Microsoft used a similar form of copy protection for Windows XP, Slashdot couldn't have disagreed more. Yet when Valve takes a similar approach, they're applauded.

At least Microsoft provided the option of activating the product over the phone.

Re:Take a lesson (5, Interesting)

aonifer (64619) | more than 9 years ago | (#10857047)

The RIAA and MPAA should take a lesson. Valve has done a pretty incredible thing.

They reinvented Divx for games. I can still play System Shock 2, despite the fact that Looking Glass Studios shut down years ago. Prove to me that I can legally play HL2 five years from now.

Just asking for trouble (3, Interesting)

Torgo's Pizza (547926) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854287)

If this pans out to be true, Valve could be in serious legal trouble. I totally sympathize with Valve in their efforts to combat piracy, but the moment they toy with other people's computers is when class action lawsuits occur. There are times that you just *can't* take the law into your own hands.

I'll really feel sorry for those people who perhaps used this (if real) file to "no cd" their legitimate versions thinking that they were trying to save themselves some Steam hassle only to hose their system/accounts.

Re:Just asking for trouble (1, Informative)

Random Guru 42 (687672) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854370)

They aren't toying with anyone's computer. Apparently, they check to see when it's run if it's the "warez" version and then ban the person's Steam account(s). It's up the the pirate to install and try to play the game, first of all, and if he's found to be naughty, well, he gets what he deserves.

Though any false positives that may occur do suck.

Re:Just asking for trouble (2, Interesting)

Torgo's Pizza (547926) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854396)

Doesn't that fit into the spyware catagory then? Keep in mind, I agree with you that the pirate has that Karma wheel spinning back at him to hit him in the face, but I worry that from a *legal* standpoint that Valve hasn't fully thought this through.

Re:Just asking for trouble (5, Insightful)

jessecurry (820286) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854467)

there's nothing illegal about banning users from your private system for what ever reason that you choose as long as you stop billing them. Also, it is probably written into the TOS that the users of this software must not modify it.

Re:Just asking for trouble (3, Insightful)

shaitand (626655) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855499)

If the TOS isn't printed on the OUTSIDE of the box then that is shakey and not truely proven ground AFAIK.

Although not illegal, they could have civil suits on their hands if they ban accounts on the first which are paid through the 30th and do for illegit reasons.

Re:Just asking for trouble (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 9 years ago | (#10856355)

It's not perfect, but it's pretty solid. They've frequently been upheld in court.

Re:Just asking for trouble (2, Insightful)

Phisbut (761268) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855580)

There's no spyware involved here. When you launch the game, you expect it to go online and connect to a server. It's only through this connection that the (in)validation is made.

The software doesn't look for anything else on the computer, it doesn't monitor anything, etc. All it does is call home, which is perfectly legal for a game where you knew right from the start that you would need it to call home to activate.

Re:Just asking for trouble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10854405)

once again.... you have no need for a cd to play half life 2 in the first place. So pretty much, if this is true, it will only be those who try to steal the the game that get burned...

Re:Just asking for trouble (1)

Scorchio (177053) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854424)

I don't see how they're toying with other people's computers. Valve would be simply closing accounts on the Steam service - the download isn't frying hard drives or anything. Or have I missed something?

Re:Just asking for trouble (1)

octaene (171858) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854433)

I disagree; not if their EULA states exactly what data is being collected and returned to Valve. As we've learned from spyware and ad-ware, nobody reads those damn things anyway. It would be trivial for Valve to release a version of Half-Life 2 with this functionality to track illegal downloaders!

Re:Just asking for trouble (2, Insightful)

TellarHK (159748) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854676)

And let's not forget, if you install a pirated version of the software, the EULA has no binding on the developer. You violated it from moment one, you could be considered to have no rights whatsoever and may only have recourse if the software causes problems in a fashion that's criminally damaging. Like, say, deleting any file with a .doc or .exe extension on your machine. (And .c for the linux-only nazis that'll show up.)

If you pirate it, Valve pretty much has the greenlight to fuck you in any way they want within the bounds of their own software and services.

Re:Just asking for trouble (2, Insightful)

Coltman (623132) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855822)

Isn't that kinda like sayin that if I stole your watch (Not that piracy is property theft), you get the right to ransack my house looking for the watch. And somehow that ties to an agreement between you and someone else on how to use said watch.

Re:Just asking for trouble (2, Insightful)

flonker (526111) | more than 9 years ago | (#10856135)

I can't recall any EULAs that have a binding on the developer anyway. They all seem to say that the developer has no responsibilities whatsoever, and the right to do anything they want.

Re:Just asking for trouble (4, Insightful)

TellarHK (159748) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854758)

There's no real point to cracking it if you have a legal version. You'd risk running some hacker's code on your machine just to save -maybe- 10 or 15 seconds when you loaded up a game? That's foolish. So far most crack authors have been very good about being minimalist and unintrusive, but someday, with some crack, they're going to fuck you.

And when it happens, what then? You'll have less than zero recourse. "Yes, I want to sue this guy because the illegal program he wrote to crack the protection on this software nuked my email."

I hate software licensing as much as anyone on /., but when a company like Valve goes out of their way to offer something in exchange for the authentication hassle - they deserve a fair shake.

Re:Just asking for trouble (4, Funny)

recursiv (324497) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855753)

So far most crack authors have been very good about being minimalist and unintrusive, but someday, with some crack, they're going to fuck you.

As early as 3 years ago, I had seen warez installers that came bundled with stealth ftp servers and backdoor zombie agents.

Did I say I saw? I mean, it was... a good friend of mine... I tried telling him to use legitimate software, but you know how those warez monkeys are.

Re:Just asking for trouble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10856108)

Its not true.

First off, if it was, would you really tell anyone? Wouldn't that defeat the purpose of banning those who did?

This sounds like the warnings about hairy palms, pot addiction, and WMD's in Iraq. Scare the crap out of people, then hope they believe you.

FUD

Maybe (1)

Re-Pawn (764948) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854347)

I think the idea has merit - unleash a "modified" version via warez or bittorrent that could track the people using illegal copies of the game. Though I find it hard to believe a forum post about it. I ran a quick check on a few bittorrent sites and the only HL2 files I have seen are from the leaked source months back.

Avoiding to piss off their consumer base? (5, Insightful)

dougmc (70836) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854377)

while managing to avoid pissing off their consumer base.
Really? I bought HL2 (and HL1, and the expansions, and ...) and I'm pretty pissed off by Steam.

It took two hours to get HL2 actually up and ready to play on tuesday, even though the installer actually put the bits onto the disk from the CD in under 15 minutes. And now, to actually play the game, in single player mode, it still takes several minutes from the time I click on the icon to start the game before I can even choose to load a saved game -- this time is spent starting Steam, then verifying that my copy is legit.

And then, even when I'm not playing, Steam pops up and sends messages to my screen. So far, they've been related to HL2 and Steam, but how long will it be before Valve is advertising their new game? Or somebody else's new game, available through Steam? Or how about some new energy drink to drink while playing their game?

Don't pretend that everybody likes Steam. It seems clever enough, but really what it is is an advertising, piracy prevention and sales portal. And if you want HL2, to actually *buy* HL2 rather than pirate it, it's forced on you.

Re:Avoiding to piss off their consumer base? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10854427)

Look, Steam is new. Steam is still a baby. Give it time. Valve is the first company to really do something like this and they did it with one of the most anticipated releases in the world. I'd say they did pretty well. They'll learn from this experience to make the next big Steam-based release much smoother.

You can't expect perfection right off the bat. It would be nice, but it isn't realistic.

Re:Avoiding to piss off their consumer base? (0, Troll)

loadedgeek (344328) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854637)

Give it time my ass.

It was just plain stupid. Will continue to be stupid and should be turned off.

$3000 to build a computer to play this damn game when it came out. $80 for this damn game. And it sucks. Color me pissed

Re:Avoiding to piss off their consumer base? (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855195)

And who forced this on you?

I'm crying a river, really, I am.

Re:Avoiding to piss off their consumer base? (3, Insightful)

EvilJohn (17821) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854878)

Steam is NOT NEW. Steam has been around for over two years. These problems have been around for quite awhile. Steam becomes unuseable anytime they release a CounterStrike update. I don't know how they thought they were going to handle a full release of HalfLife2.

Re:Avoiding to piss off their consumer base? (2, Insightful)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 9 years ago | (#10857004)

> Valve is the first company to really do something like this and they did it with one of the most anticipated releases in the world.

Because if it weren't the most anticipated release of 2002, 2003, and 2004 combined, none of us would put up with this bullshit to play a single-player game offline, and sales would be zero.

Re:Avoiding to piss off their consumer base? (5, Informative)

Nos. (179609) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854717)

to actually play the game, in single player mode, it still takes several minutes from the time I click on the icon to start the game before I can even choose to load a saved game -- this time is spent starting Steam, then verifying that my copy is legit
Sorry, but you're wrong here. That time is spent loading the game. Want proof? Exit Steam. Disconnect from the internet, and restart Steam. This will start steam in offline mode (it can't talk to Valve - you have no internet connection). Now launch HL2. I bet you won't notice a difference in load times. Why? Logging into steam authenticates you. It may check for updates when you first try to start HL2 (I'm not sure if it does this when you launch Steam, or at regular intervals whenever Steam is running), but there is very little network activity from Steam when launching the game.

Re:Avoiding to piss off their consumer base? (0, Offtopic)

dougmc (70836) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855007)

Sorry, but you're wrong here. That time is spent loading the game. Want proof? Exit Steam. Disconnect from the internet, and restart Steam. This will start steam in offline mode (it can't talk to Valve - you have no internet connection).
Maybe you count time differently than I do. I don't want to play Steam -- I want to play HL2. So I consider the time spent starting Steam as part of the time spent starting HL2. And I don't want to spend time unplugging my computer from the network just so HL2/Steam will start faster.

Also, this is my `game' computer (I do most of my work and other stuff on a Linux box that's up 24/7.) So it's not left on all the time. If it were, and I left myself logged in all the time, it might be a lot faster, as Steam would have started at login and would be ready to go. But that's not how I do things on that computer, and I don't plan on changing, in spite of how slow it makes HL2 start up.

This will start steam in offline mode (it can't talk to Valve - you have no internet connection).
I suspect that this would make things even *slower* for me. After all, the connection to the Steam servers will probably have to time out, which is generally even slower than making the connection in the first place.

I suspect that this Steam requirement was made with the assumption that people turn on their computer, log in and leave themselves logged in and don't turn the computer off. That's fine, but in my case, I turn the computer on, log in, click on my application to run (in this case HL2), wait several minutes for all the crap to start, then play my game, then shut down the computer. (My computer room gets very hot with two computers on all the time ...)

All this, so that Valve can watch me, and serve up advertisements to me, and know when I play their fine game. Thanks guys. Really.

Re:Avoiding to piss off their consumer base? (3, Informative)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855167)

You didn't read the post you just responded to.
He wasn't suggesting that you turn steam off, disconnect from the internet, and start up again to save time.

What he said was: Do that and the time to load will BE THE SAME.

His point being, quite obviously stated as well, that it is NOT steam that is slowing you down. His point is that it is the game itself that is taking time to load.

that doesn't prove anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10856090)

If the time is spent trying to connect to one of Valve's broken servers, then it will still take time to timeout when not connected to the internet. So it isn't a good test as to what is happening during that period.

I downloaded Steam yesterday, and registered. I didn't download any games (yet), but it's a real piece of crap. Awful UI, confusing as heck, and it takes up a slot in my system tray. Sorry Valve, I don't like reserving a portion of my screen so you can put an icon (ad) in the corner of it full time.

I may still by HL2, but there is a good chance I will not. If it didn't require Steam, I would have bought it already.

Re:Avoiding to piss off their consumer base? (1, Troll)

dougmc (70836) | more than 9 years ago | (#10856112)

He wasn't suggesting that you turn steam off, disconnect from the internet, and start up again to save time.
... which will take even longer. I don't think you understood my point at all. Perhaps some examples will help :

I turn my computer on, I log in. I double click on Doom 3. 90 seconds later, I'm playing Doom 3.

I turn my computer on. I log in. I double click on Half Life 2. I get the hour glass for a moment, but then nothing more happens. Then the Steam task-bar thing appears, after a while. I double click on Half Life 2 again, or I click on the Steam task-bar thing and select `Play Games' and then `Half Life 2'. Then it spends a minute or two talking to Steam, and then it starts loading HL2. 90 seconds later, I get to play HL2.

Time spent from the first time I clicked on HL2? About 6-8 minutes.

No, I don't want to disconnect my ethernet cable all the time just to make my computer start up HL2 faster (and I doubt it'll work anyways.) I also do not want to leave it powered on all the time (that I believe *would* work.)

Unless you have a suggestion that would allow me to turn my computer on, log in, click on HL2 and 90 seconds later be playing HL2? I suspect that installing one of the no-Steam (i.e. for pirated copies) patches might do this for me ...

Re:Avoiding to piss off their consumer base? (1)

Fweeky (41046) | more than 9 years ago | (#10856240)

Much of the time appears to be Steam writing out files on demand for the game to run off. This seems to include it freezing up for 15s at a time in the middle of play for no apparant reason.

Thanks for helping to fragment my HD, Valve, and for reducing my experience for the sake of delaying a crack for all of 6 hours. You could at least let me put the HL2 cache files on a seperate drive, but I can't even move the SteamApps dir without reinstalling Steam :/

At least it doesn't whinge about my CD/DVD burning software, or virtual CD drives. And hey, I was playing within 20 minutes of release, so I guess I can cut them some slack, even if buying it direct from Valve did cost more than getting a box from a third party...

Re:Avoiding to piss off their consumer base? (1)

Average Joe (99250) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854760)

I thought Steam was introduced over a year ago, thats not new. The main problem people seem to run into is there not being enough content servers to handle user demand.

Re:Avoiding to piss off their consumer base? (1)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854847)

it is, and it has alsways had capacity problems. They have some incredibel servers at valve, they have more incredible content that puts way too much load on the servers. The even try to offload some of the bandthwith with bitorrent like technology, but it keeps behaving as cutting(breaking) edge stuff.

If the boxed version does not work for you return it. That will teach them.

Re:Avoiding to piss off their consumer base? (4, Informative)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854860)

I purchased my copy from Steam, after cancelling my pre-ordered boxed copy from ebgames. I had every preloaded about 2 weeks ago.

On Tuesday morning I started up my PC and Steam before I went into the shower. 12 minutes later, when I got back, everything was done and Half-Life 2 was ready. I even played a little bit before heading to the office.

I realize some people had major problems; and while it sounds like a LOT of people, I don't know how high the percentage is.

Steam was a success in MY view, but I'm sure others disagree. Personally, I think Steam's a great idea so long as it's not a springboard to something sinister; like mandatory "renting" of the game.

There was talk on a forum about perhaps they'd offer the ability to rent the game for a month or 2 if you want for dirt cheap (after all, how often do you just play a game for a few weeks and forget about it), but it would be optional and you could still fully buy the game. But I don't know if this was just shooting the breeze or something that Valve touched on.

My Steam experience was quite positive, I'd use it again to buy software if the situation arises.

Re:Avoiding to piss off their consumer base? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10854950)

Atleast Steam seems to be working correctly for you:

My experience went something like this:
- Installed Steam
- Installation screwed up somehow, doesn't work
- Attempt to uninstall Steam, failed
- Remove Steam manually
- Redownload and reinstall Steam (total time ~2hrs)
- Order and Pre-load HL2
- Wait a few weeks
- Try to play HL2
- Wait for the damn thing to activate
- Whenever I try to start a new game, crash with an engine error
- Attempt to get help. The support sucks and the forums are down. Redownload the game.
- Finally get it to work.

All in all I spent ~8hrs getting Steam to do its job properly. If they wern't able to do it correctly they shouldn't have done it at all, there is definitly no way in hell I am ever going to buy a product from Valve that has this idiotic activation scheme in it. The POS Steam still crashes randomly, I used to go ~10 days between reboots, now I'm lucky to get 10hrs because of that screwed up piece of software.

Re:Avoiding to piss off their consumer base? (1)

healy (234314) | more than 9 years ago | (#10856010)


And then, even when I'm not playing, Steam pops up and sends messages to my screen. So far, they've been related to HL2 and Steam, but how long will it be before Valve is advertising their new game? Or somebody else's new game, available through Steam? Or how about some new energy drink to drink while playing their game?


Not having a windows box anymore, I'm currious:

Can't you just shut off steam when you are not running HL2? I can't believe it has to be active in the system tray even when you are not playing the game...

Re:Avoiding to piss off their consumer base? (2, Insightful)

dougmc (70836) | more than 9 years ago | (#10856173)

Can't you just shut off steam when you are not running HL2? I can't believe it has to be active in the system tray even when you are not playing the game...
Probably. But why should I have to turn off spyware? I should remove it! In fact, it shouldn't be installed in the first place, unless I wanted it there!

Having programs that work only when the spyware that came with them is running is nothing new. But this is the first time that I actually *paid* for the program (at the store, no less) and it still required that spyware be installed and active for the program to run.

Re:Avoiding to piss off their consumer base? (2, Insightful)

healy (234314) | more than 9 years ago | (#10856225)


Probably. But why should I have to turn off spyware? I should remove it! In fact, it shouldn't be installed in the first place, unless I wanted it there!

Having programs that work only when the spyware that came with them is running is nothing new. But this is the first time that I actually *paid* for the program (at the store, no less) and it still required that spyware be installed and active for the program to run.


Did you read the EULA? I suspect (but don't know since I don't own the game) that's part of the EULA. If you don't want it, then don't play the game. I'm not going to argue about it being spyware or not, that's pointless. It's valves game, you chose to purchase it & agree to their terms. Deal with it, shut it off when not playing or Delete the game if you feel so strongly about this so called spyware.

Re:Avoiding to piss off their consumer base? (2, Interesting)

dougmc (70836) | more than 9 years ago | (#10856988)

Did you read the EULA? I suspect (but don't know since I don't own the game) that's part of the EULA.
Yes, I read it *very* carefully. And yes, it's there. (Like most EULAs, it gives Valve the permission to pretty much do anything it wants.) But I wanted to play HL2, so I sold a bit of my soul to do so.

I knew what I was getting into, mostly. Though I was under the impression that Steam was a one-time thing, that once authenticated I didn't need to deal with it ever again. I was obviously very wrong.

But none of this means that I have to like it, or that I can't bitch about it and either improve Steam or make it optional for single player games again, as it should be. Maybe if enough people bitch enough, Valve will see the light. In theory, I could return the game (voting with your pocketbook is very effective), but it does work eventually, and it's fun once started, so I don't really have much of a case to make to return it.

Re:Avoiding to piss off their consumer base? (1)

AntiChris (778842) | more than 9 years ago | (#10856992)

And then, even when I'm not playing, Steam pops up and sends messages to my screen. So far, they've been related to HL2 and Steam, but how long will it be before Valve is advertising their new game?

Well, if their track record is any indication, six years!

Unlikely, but a nifty idea (5, Insightful)

WaldoJMU (2651) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854407)

IF Valve is, indeed, running such an experiment, it's pretty unlikely that Gabe Newell (or anyone at Valve) would immediately fess up to it to some unknown joker on the Internet - WHILE they're trying to catch people.

However, this is a pretty neat idea - since Valve knows that people are going to pirate the game, the proactive step of CONTROLLING the version that gets pirated by modding it so that they can track it anthen releasing it BEFORE anyone else can do the same pretty much ensures that they'll get the personal info (name, credit card #, address, etc.) of lots of pirates, and then they can choose what to do with that info.

The first option that comes to mind is emotionally satisfying to but a horrible business plan - they COULD use that personal info to PERMANENTLY BAN that person from using Steam/HL2, ever. Although that might make Gabe & crew feel good for a few minutes... they just potentially lost ($50 x #_of_pirates).

The second option, which is BOTH emotionally satisfying AND a good business plan, BUT is ALSO only quasi-moral and barely legal, is to use that personal info to contact the pirates directly and extort^H^H^H^H^H^H encourage them to buy a legal copy immediately, otherwise Valve will turn their info over to the authorities for prosecution. This not only "sticks it to the pirates" but also generates additional revenue (($50 x #_of_pirates) - ($50 x #_of_stupid_pirates)). Heck, if they went the extortion^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H encouragement route, why not "encourage" them to buy the $90 package instead? :)

The third, and most likely option, would be to turn all of that personal info over to the authorities and make a huge example out of all of them, thus instilling the Fear of Valve into all pirates everywhere, which would hopefully reduce the number of pirates and create a Utopian society for all.

All that said, though, I doubt there's any truth to the story, since, again, it kind of defeats the purpose of having a sting-operation if you TELL EVERYONE you're running a sting! :)

Re:Unlikely, but a nifty idea (2, Interesting)

Random Guru 42 (687672) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854458)

By saying that they're running this, however, even if it's totally fake, will still encourage people who sit on the fence to buy a legitimate copy rather than pirate it. It's a good move, even if it is a lie.

Re:Unlikely, but a nifty idea (4, Interesting)

swright (202401) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855021)

The thing that's troubling me about all this is that if Valve acutally put this 'warezed' version online then surely it isn't warez at all..

I mean, they uploaded for everyone else to copy. Freely. With no EULA presumably.

Surely if Valve put it online then it's not illegal to download/use it and the worst they can do is ban you from Steam?

Re:Unlikely, but a nifty idea (1)

Zeromous (668365) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855730)

Maybe this 'anonymous lamer' is smarter than we think he is.

He could be calling "shenanigans" precisely because valve has been quiet on the subject. Perhaps they are running an unconfirmed sting program, and this guy is claiming gabe told him to circumvent the process and smoke them out.

So indeed, what is the point of a sting, if everyone knows?

Re:Unlikely, but a nifty idea (1)

Vicsun (812730) | more than 9 years ago | (#10857099)

I haven't downloaded HL2, so I'm not sure how the whole thing works, but... would pirates really give out their real names, addresses and credit card numbers, like you suggest?

sounds reliable (5, Funny)

syrinx (106469) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854438)

"It's claimed by a poster on filefront.com that..."

uh huh. well, it's claimed by a poster on slashdot.org that Natalie Portman pours hot grits down my pants.

Re:sounds reliable (1)

nsuccorso (41169) | more than 9 years ago | (#10856952)

And you have the presence of mind to post while this is happening? Truly, you are a Jedi!

debunked (1)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854498)

i thought this has been debunked elsewhere..

Re:debunked (1)

G-Spot (72524) | more than 9 years ago | (#10856008)

Where?

Re:debunked (1)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 9 years ago | (#10856346)

couldn't find the lins:(
i saw it on a forum on halflife.net

Broken deductive reasoning (4, Insightful)

Quarters (18322) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854608)

"Monitoring warezed HL2 files on torrent networks" is not the same thing as "Valve populated torrent networks with warezed HL2 files."

Re:Broken deductive reasoning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10855044)

umm, and how do you get all the connections on a torrent without seeding some of it yourself?

Re:Broken deductive reasoning (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855290)

* umm, and how do you get all the connections on a torrent without seeding some of it yourself?*

by claiming that you seed? torrent isn't designed to hide anyone sharing it some file. doesn't really matter if they get all the connections either... and it would be also braindead to assume that they don't follow what happens to their game online. they'd be braindead to not to(but then again, they coded a pretty braindead AI for hl2 that they considered "extremely good" so who knows what they're up to).

all that said.. the filefront post guy is just full of shit... for various reasons, valve is not sharing the full obviously for free, and full functionality. were it a fake.. well, then the release would get "nuked" on all the usual warez info places and then nobody would get it.

(just about the only version seen for sharing works with the later fixes.. so I hear..)

I might just rant here a bit how the dynamic environment isn't that dynamic in ANY places where it matters(problem solving on how to get by... there's always just 1 way, just 1 thing to do - like when you need to cut electricity to somewhere.. were it dynamic you could blow the wires, cut them with the spinning saw things or whatever instead of walking to the lever. and then there's the question of designing the levels so that it becomes a necessity for some parts to be non-dynamic, because otherwise the player would get stuck quite fast as he would chop the only ladder to freedom. storytelling is _weak_, the player has no fucking idea wtf is going on and nobody explains anything to gordon, and gordon is again a mute, which oddly enough doesn't seem to really bother anyone. in short, they should have played more deus ex 1, less cannon fodder 1 - the combine soldiers really are clueless cannonfodder just waiting to get shot. the engine itself isn't that great now that we've seen farcry and doom3 either).

I would laugh (2, Insightful)

dougnaka (631080) | more than 9 years ago | (#10856990)

If *any* copyright holder connected to a .torrent of something they claim violated their copyright. It would be *very* easy for a lawyer to demonstrate that once they started giving you a copy of the file they were also giving you permission to use it, and therefore not only did they lose their legal case, but you got a free, legal, copy.

Several Possibilities (3, Interesting)

TellarHK (159748) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854612)

Gabe could be saying what he did just to put the scare tactics out there. I would think that could be pretty effective, up to a point. It seems to me that Valve had several options for ways to make HL2 a bit more secure than the average release, by way of options like having the HL2.exe check the MD5 on the Steam.exe, and vice-versa, or other you-get-my-back-I-get-yours dual anti-piracy measures. Considering that I got over five years of playtime out of Half-Life and various mods, I think paying for HL2 was a very wise investment, and feel that people who pirate it just need to pay up and stop harming a developer that gave modding the biggest kick in the pants since inception.

"Let's let people mod our game. And what the hell, we'll buy the leading map editor for our format and give it out for free." iD didn't do that. Everyone else followed Valve's lead here.

The way I would like to see Valve approach this, would be to let people get a taste of the game with the pirated version (maybe the first 1-2 chapters) and then lock Steam down tight, wipe out a few of the required game files (like the .gcf files, nothing executable) and pull some form of identifying mark from the user. If you pirate software, and the company swipes something identifying you personally - as long as it's nothing that could be considered "theft" of data or records - morally, you deserve what you get.

I hope Valve does have some kind of a crackdown in progress, we'll have to see where it goes from here. Gabe never replied to my question about the "post-Steam" future of Half-Life 2, which is my only real concern about the authorization system.

Wrong meaning (1)

tom taylor (610506) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854699)

Surely Gabe means that they're tracking people using the warez version, and the experiment is to do with that tracking? I think he's just badly phrased the reply.

Next Step (0, Troll)

Shadow_139 (707786) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854791)

A way to stop drug users, supply deals with Coke and Speed mixed with Anthrax http://www.usafe.af.mil/direct/sg/anthrax/Pictures /anthrx22.jpg/ [af.mil] .... And watch to see who develops sours and boils. ----- "Clutch my testes, bloody squirrel humpers!!" -Happy Noodle Boy

How incredibly astute of them! (2, Interesting)

Txiasaeia (581598) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854800)

Let me get this straight: People download warezed copies of Half-Life 2, a single player game. They use a program in order to get around Steam. Valve finds out and prevents them from then on from using Steam. For a single-player game which people already have single-player access to. Isn't this kinda like closing the barn door after the cows have left?

Side note: it's depressing how much my idioms have changed after living in Saskatchewan for five years.

Journalism experts we are (0, Offtopic)

sweede (563231) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854911)

" This is the news from some guy with a filefront account, so take it with a grain of salt "

I think that before /. questions the accuracy of some news submission, they should look at the accuracy of their own comments, News submissions, and what users title their submissions.

some one needs to change "News for Nerds. Stuff that matters." to something like,

"We think we're un-biased when we report stories that are different than how we feel, but thats not what gets subscribers paying the bills, and thats what maters"

burn karma burn!

No soup for who? (4, Interesting)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 9 years ago | (#10854912)

I'm not really getting this... It's easier to patch than to reverse-engineer, so I presume the warez version of the game is supplied with a crack that fakes out the Steam authentication so that it doesn't know it's being tricked. Nobody who is interested only in the single player game will connect to another computer online.

How can they expect to track people? Bittorrent? The only tracking information specified in BT is IP address, and most people have a dynamic IP which can be changed by unplugging their modem for 10 minutes.

And what's the penalty? They're banned from the service they don't need? So what?

Could Swing Both Ways (1)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855296)

Well, putting out bogus copies of pirated materials is nothing new, but this is a bit risky. On the one hand, they may net a few would be pirates, but on the other hand they risk alienating a lot of people who just don't know any better. And in the end, those professional pirates who'll be out selling the bogus copies to the unsuspecting will still have their money and are unlikely to be caught.

Re:Could Swing Both Ways (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10857093)

"On the one hand, they may net a few would be pirates, but on the other hand they risk alienating a lot of people who just don't know any better."

I very much doubt that there's anyone using BitTorrent to download copies of brand new commercially released games who doesn't know better. It really is pretty obvious.

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10855628)

I, for one, welcome our new Valve masters!

Half-Life 2 for FREE, no warez, no crack (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10855754)

I think if this story has any merit, it's simply Valve trying to save face in light of the embarrasing flaw/trick with steam which allows anyone to download and activate HL2 for free. http://www.nforce.nl/nfos/renderer/ls-black.php?id =79200 [nforce.nl]

Re:Half-Life 2 for FREE, no warez, no crack (1)

umrgregg (192838) | more than 9 years ago | (#10856969)

Could you elaborate? Work firewall prevents me from viewing what is said on the page...

Maybe it could hurt Valve more (5, Interesting)

G-Spot (72524) | more than 9 years ago | (#10855899)

If this is true, it actually could end up hurting Valve in the end. For instance, lets say someone downloads a copy of HL2 and plays it. In the process, they are banned from Steam. They decide that they like the game and perhaps would like to play CS:Source or DoD:Source, and so they try and purchase the game. Valve, having locked the potential customer out of Steam, will have lost a customer. Now, you're probably saying that people who download games have no reason to buy them, but this is not true, especially in this case, considering that many people buy the game for CS:Source and DoD:Source. I myself first played an illegal copy of Half-Life, but then bought the game because I liked it and wanted to play TFC. This is only considering the fact that Valve could track the users...
Now, how is Valve going to track the user? Look on their computer for a Steam account and ban all accounts found? What if one of their friends had been over playing on their box, logged into steam, and there were two accounts on the machine? Ban both accounts? I know I was showing my friend the CS:Source beta when he didn't have it, I saw my account directory still on his machine last week. What if the user of the pirated software didn't even have Steam? Ban his IP? Not practical due to dynamic IP's. I know, many people have broadband connections with static IPs, but still many don't. Also, if a user owns a steam account, it's a good bet that they have purchased a product, such as HL or CS:CZ. If someone can find in the Steam EULA where it allows Valve to revoke use of a product that a user already owns, please post it in reply to this. Direct quotes only please. So, in summary, this is either bullshit or a pretty stupid plan... I'm betting on the former.

Pah! (4, Interesting)

10537 (699839) | more than 9 years ago | (#10856068)

Far from this Steam activation deal encouraging me to buy the game rather than use a warezed version, it's done precisely the opposite. I was going to buy the boxed version of it to avoid the horrors of Steam (have you ever READ the T&Cs for it?), but now it transpires that it's Steam or no HL2 I guess it's no HL2 for me. For starters my gaming PC is not, nor will it ever be, connected to the internet, but that's not the only thing:

One, Valve's LAN-gaming policy is retarded -- you have to apply a month in advance if you want to play a Valve game at a LAN-party, but at the moment it's not enforced. However, all they need to do is disable the "offline play" mode on Steam...

Two, what happens if at some point in the future Valve go belly up? What good then your $60 piece of software?

Three, this is just another step towards some sort of stupid broadcast flag/induce act piece of moronicity.

Four, the only people inconvenienced by this (along with every other piece of product activation ever created) are people who paid for it. People with warezed versions are saved the hassle (and in the case of the CS:Source Emporio release, occasionally get extra features).

So long, Gabe -- I waited years for HL2, but I guess I'll never get to play it now.

Um, Firewalls anyone? (3, Informative)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 9 years ago | (#10856364)

Yeah, won't help for online play, but what kind of idiot plays pirated games online anyway?

Re:Um, Firewalls anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10857046)

what kind of idiots play games anyway

Re:Um, Firewalls anyone? (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 9 years ago | (#10857059)

Have you ever read a statement so outrageous and funny that you can't think of a good comeback :) Its a lot like watching C-SPAN.

You can tell if you're running the trap version (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10856983)

The fucking crowbar is rubbery and of no use at all despite Gordon's best efforts. Most frustrating anti-piracy since starforce. Damn you valve!

Was there a shift in the space-time continuity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10856984)

I swear this article was posted earlier, but now it is listed as being posted today at 2:00pm, even though the earliest responses are from 3 hours prior.

Somehow this jumped to the top of my page. Was it because it shifted to front page or something?

Slashdot's New Motto (5, Funny)

wramsdel (463149) | more than 9 years ago | (#10857010)

"Slashdot: Rumors for Nerds. Stuff that may or may not be true."

In related news... (4, Informative)

Kenja (541830) | more than 9 years ago | (#10857058)

In releated news, due to piss poor QA you HAVE to install Counter Strike if your trying to install HL2 off of the retail CDs. If you dont select Counter Strike (which is on disk five) the installer will look for the final file "hl2.ico1" on disk four and not find it (because its not there) forcing you out of the installer after swapping four disks. If the game wasn't so good I'd be REALY pissed off, as it stands I just take my aggression out on head crabs.

This site is taking the offensive... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10857077)

... on my eyes. Argh.

Doesn't make sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10857083)

From what I've seen, the warez version, somebody has cached the current files from steam, and patched client.dll so the software gets the expected returns without having to actually phone home to steam.

I can hear the conversation (0)

XellDx (737289) | more than 9 years ago | (#10857084)

Valve Employee #1(who may or may not exist): Wow, look at that
Valve Employee #2: Whats that Phil?
V-Emp#1:Apparently, Bob Barker just registered 30 of those bit torrent Half Life 2's, in 13 states, all at the same time!
V-Emp#2:Ah. I why they though people would actually put real information into an obviously illeagal copy.
V-Emp#1:Well, they did take a lot of acid before decideing on it...

Exploits in Linux Kernel not news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10857085)

After numerous exploits were released, the Linux kernel team has released 2.4.28.

Hahahahaha -- why was this not a major /. news item?

Why is this news? (0, Redundant)

wschalle (790478) | more than 9 years ago | (#10857098)

Surely there could be some better story about halflife 2 than some DRM spun rumor from filefront...
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