Gabe Newell Responds To Valve Anti-Cheat Spying Rumours

By Graham Smith on February 18th, 2014 at 4:00 pm.

Cheaters in the palm of his hand.

A few days ago, a rumour appeared on Reddit that Valve Anti-Cheat, the software Valve use to crush aimbots and wallhacks across their games, was spying on people’s DNS cache and sending that information home. In other words, the Seattle game developer was watching every website you ever visited. It was only a rumour, and an unlikely one, but Gabe Newell appeared on Reddit last night to explain the situation. It’s a typically interesting look into Valve’s mindset and their approach to cheating.

There’s something poetic at the core of all this: cheat creators struggle to get users to pay for their cheats, and so put DRM inside their cheats. They put software to stop cheats inside their cheat software. “These cheats phone home to a DRM server that confirms that a cheater has actually paid to use the cheat,” according to Newell. That’s why Valve went looking inside your DNS cache. If they found evidence of phoning home, they knew a person was cheating and were able to ban them.

Newell makes clear that he wouldn’t normally reveal this kind of detail, but is doing so in this instance because the method of detection no longer works. “The cheat providers have worked around it by manipulating the DNS cache of their customers’ client machines.”

Ultimately, Newell argues this all comes down to an issue of trust. “Trust is a critical part of a multiplayer game community – trust in the developer, trust in the system, and trust in the other players. Cheats are a negative sum game, where a minority benefits less than the majority is harmed,” writes Newell. “There are a bunch of different ways to attack a trust-based system including writing a bunch of code (hacks), or through social engineering (for example convincing people that the system isn’t as trustworthy as they thought it was).”

Valve take cheating seriously because it erodes people’s trust in the system. That’s certainly true; Counter-Strike servers were paranoid places for years, in which any demonstration of skill was met with an accusation of cheating. It took a long for trust among players to return, far longer than it took to erode, and I still see more accusations of cheating in Counter-Strike than I ever did in Team Fortress or, really, any other modern multiplayer game.

Newell also suggests that some of the rumour-spreading might have been caused by cheat developers – that “social engineering” bit above. “VAC is inherently a scary looking piece of software, because it is trying to be obscure, it is going after code that is trying to attack it, and it is sneaky,” writes Newell. “For most cheat developers, social engineering might be a cheaper way to attack the system than continuing the code arms race, which means that there will be more Reddit posts trying to cast VAC in a sinister light.”

Valve are essentially fighting back with a little bit of social engineering of their own. They know that if they open up, and do so directly to the Reddit community, then they’ll win a lot of people over to their side. “Our response is to make it clear what we were actually doing and why with enough transparency that people can make their own judgements as to whether or not we are trustworthy,” as Newell puts it.

Somehow this post has come out longer than the original statement, so go read the full post through on Reddit.

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118 Comments »

  1. altum videtur says:

    DONT YOU WORRY YOULL BE TOLD EXACTLY WHAT TO DO
    COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS CONTROLLED AS YOU WILL SEE

    There, I summed up everyything forever. youcango home now. Is done.

  2. Lexx87 says:

    This Reddit Community I so often hear about, is it something I should look into.

    I don’t think i’ve ever been on Reddit in my life, other than the one about the Russian prison guard telling his stories someone posted.

    • aleander says:

      All the look into the Reddit community you will ever need: http://www.reddit.com/r/ShitRedditSays/

      It works if you have low pressure, though.

      • Lexx87 says:

        Well that certainly worked with me having continued no interest.

      • vatara says:

        Judging all of Reddit by /r/ShitRedditSays/ is like judging a city by its trash.

      • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

        I don’t like Reddit at all (confirming my 4chan bias here), but it’s really not fair to judge it by /shitredditsays/. The “archangels” (as they dub themselves on srs) are actively AGAINST free speech on the internet (referring to it ironically as “freeze peaches”), and cry to other subreddits to remove innocuous posts that they deem “problematic” on a regular basis. They are a disgusting bunch, it’s true, but just like you probably don’t judge the entire women’s sufferage movement of the early twentieth century by some elements’ propensity to send bombs through letter boxes, you can’t judge the whole of a website by one, extremist subreddit either. You will find a subreddit for literally everything, /srs/ (and /atheism/, although less so nowadays) are just very militant ones that shout very, very loudly.

        • Senethro says:

          Maybe its because I’m European but I think Free Speech is a really dumb defense of racism, homophobia and misogyny.

        • entireties says:

          “The “archangels” (as they dub themselves on srs) are actively AGAINST free speech on the internet (referring to it ironically as “freeze peaches”), and cry to other subreddits to remove innocuous posts that they deem “problematic” on a regular basis.”

          You really think a group of feminists would decry free speech? It’s a joke, doofus. Redditors often claim that SRS impedes upon their right to free speech by criticising their comments and actions, so instead of denying the idea that they hate free speech SRS users sarcastically embrace the notion.

          SRS does not and will not cry to other subreddits to remove posts, that’s absurd. SRS’ party line is to document awful, bigoted comments on Reddit. Do you think that downvoting or somehow getting moderators to remove those comments would back us up somehow? The only thing we vocally want taken down is things like creepshots/candidfashionpolice, violent racism such as r/ni**ers or paedophilia related subreddits like r/jailbait. I understand that it’s easy to get swept up in all the garbage Reddit spews about us, but a lot of it just doesn’t make sense at all.

          • WrenBoy says:

            I’ve had a quick look at srs. I can see that it’s members think it’s fantastic and wonderfully clever but to an outsider it looks like theredpill have swapped y-fronts for knickers.

          • Baines says:

            I’d believe that there are people who would defend free speech when they want to say what they want, but will oppose free speech when it is someone else saying what they don’t want to be said. I’d believe it, because a good number of people do just that. The bits that vary are what they want and don’t want said.

            (Unfortunately, similar goes for persecution and other issues.)

          • Vin_Howard says:

            “You really think a group of feminists would decry free speech?”

            Let me ask you this: would any group that holds any type of belief suppress free speech? The answer: HELL YES!

            And saying it’s to counter “racism, homophobia and misogyny” is a really, really terrible argument, because people just love bending the definition of words to suit their personal beliefs.

      • Gaz says:

        Reddit Delenda Est.

      • LionsPhil says:

        A slightly better link for Reddit having some value, given the context of RPS: http://www.reddit.com/r/KerbalSpaceProgram/

        It’s the Internet. It’s full of people. Some of them are assholes. Many of them are unfunny (I suspect half of 4chan’s hate for them is that they do “meme humour” the way your boss does). There’s identity and ratings, so there’s circlejerking and feuds. Beyond that, it doesn’t seem intrinsically notable other than that it’s big.

      • taristo says:

        I’m more partial to http://www.reddit.com/r/TumblrInAction/ pointing out the insanity of the SJW movement every day.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      Don’t.

      Reddit truely is the arsehole of the internet. Or, more accurately, it’s a suppurating boil on the arsehole of the internet. It’s only real positive contribution to the world is that it gives the kind of abhumans who populate it somewhere to go that is far away from the rest of us.

      And that’s probably only a slight exaggeration.

      • Grayvern says:

        I don’t think it’s fair to Ogryns, Squats and Ratlings that they be thrown in the same taxonomical bucket as redditors.

    • Drake Sigar says:

      Once upon a time, millions of people watched reality television shows to look at the human garbage on display and feel that rush of superiority.

      Now they don’t need to tune in, they can just go to Reddit instead.

      • acheron says:

        Ugh. As awful as Reddit is, Gawker is 10x worse.

        • DatonKallandor says:

          Doesn’t change the facts. Reddit actively defended their “right” to have entire subreddits dedicated to pedophilia, child pornography and rape. That’s not a place that deserves to get any support from anyone whatsoever.

        • phuzz says:

          Jalopnik is a Gawker site, but they seem to be pretty nice. Their commenters are about as nice as people here are, ie you get occasional arseholes, but there’s a lot of pleasant, informative and non argumentative people there.

        • Bury The Hammer says:

          Not that I like Gawker, but to be fair to them, some parts of it are way worse than others. Lifehacker is occasionally great when talking about tech (and often pseudo-science otherwise), Kotaku can pretty much fuck right off.

    • Alexander says:

      Pretty amazed at all these Internet crusaders accusing Reddit of being garbage. Sadly, this says much more about the stuff you’re interested in and the subs you’re hanging at. And about you, ultimately.

      • Ergates_Antius says:

        No, it really doesn’t.

        EDIT: And I find the fact that you call people who are critical of Reddit “internet crusaders” telling.

        • Alexander says:

          Yes, it really does. Maybe grow up and choose what you consume. Reddit is only a microcosm of the Internet and thus, of culture. If you choose the garbage, that’s what you’ll get. The Internet is already full of garbage, but somehow you don’t complain.

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            I do choose what I consume, and I also choose from where I consume it.

            I choose not to use, and thus support, an organisation that provides facilities to people who like to wank over pictures of dead women. Sure, you can filter all the “shit” out if you choose, but it’s still there. Reddit know it’s there, and they choose to allow it and to facilitate it – all in the name of freedom of expression. Well, fuck that, and fuck them. They should grow up and take some responsibility for the kind of shit they’re enabling.

          • WrenBoy says:

            I choose not to use, and thus support, an organisation that provides facilities to people who like to wank over pictures of dead women.

            And yet the fact that you are commenting on this article makes a mockery of that statement. Or does your ISP block reddit?

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            How? There is a world of difference between not blocking something and actively supporting it. But you know that anyway.

          • WrenBoy says:

            There’s a world of difference between not blocking something and actively supporting it? You do realise that that directly contradicts your last comment right?

            Given all you accuse reddit of is not preventing questionable content being posted and given how you have just stated that not blocking this content is completely different to actively supporting it, it’s a little hard for me to imagine what your issue with reddit is.

      • Koozer says:

        That…makes no sense.

      • acheron says:

        What it says about me, ultimately, is that I don’t like wading through shit?

      • apocraphyn says:

        Ahaha, you’re awfully salty! If anything, several of the disparaging comments are coming from people who commonly browse areas considered to be darker pockets of the internet, that would often decry Reddit for being full of the same “Internet crusaders” you just mentioned. Besides that, Reddit’s full of plenty of garbage, so stop talking out of your backside.

        • Alexander says:

          Yes, fella, reddit is full of garbage. Tons of it. Just like the Internet, culture and life. I’m sorry I’m not there for you to decide what you consume and somehow you feel obligated to hang around all those idiotic subs.

      • Nogo says:

        What if you just think reddit is just terribly designed and that small-subs are trumped by existing forums and wikis?

      • Dorako says:

        Though your overall point is fine, I love that you’re complaining about Internet Crusaders while your picture is the anarchism logo.

    • kael13 says:

      Reddit is what you make of it. If you look at the main page of /r/all, or the default page of Reddits, you’re going to have a bad time and immediately denounce it as the bumhole of the Internet. Which, to an extent, it largely is.

      However, as with any unexplored, murky quagmire of filth, it requires dredging, filtering and cleansing to create your favourite paradisical dreampool of wonder.

      So what all the flowery metaphor was trying to explain is simply: you have to create an account, remove most of the default subreddits and go look for the interesting ones.

      Remove: /r/pics /r/funny /r/adviceanimals /r/whateverelseclogsthefrontpagewithcrap.
      Places to start: /r/science. /r/astronomy. /r/askscience. /r/games. /r/gamernews. /r/unitedkingdom /r/britishproblems (Represent the homeland!)

      Others if you’re still interested: /r/tea. /r/coffee. /r/technology. /r/truereddit. /r/bestof /r/worldnews (a bit hit and miss in the comments section. Can be mob-like) /r/masseffect (a guilty pleasure) /r/earthporn (pretty scenery, yayy!) And the list goes on.

      • Malcolm says:

        Reddit appears to be the latest incarnation of usenet. Albeit centralised.

      • sophof says:

        The main problem I have is that the site is almost intolerably hard to use in my opinion. It is very confusing and makes little sense. I only use it now because several of my friends use it extensively, so I get sent links all the time.
        I agree that the front page is quite horrible and that it gets better if you start selecting the stuff you like and get away from memes, but the site requires quite a bit of dedication before you get anything out of it and the end result is often an echo-chamber of your own thoughts.

        I also doubt the effectivity of using active voting to filter what people see, which is basically reddit’s main selling point.

        In the end Reddit is imo a good indication of a hidden problem of the internet, the afore-mentioned echo-chamber. I might be imagining things, but I feel like there is a recent resurgence of PC-behaviour, where the political correctness can be about more or less anything. It feels like people are losing their tolerance for other viewpoints and are more easily ‘insulted’ whenever they do see one.

    • quijote3000 says:

      Let’s see facts about Reddit:

      They were one of the earliest and strongest opposers to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)

      “In May 2012, Reddit joined the Internet Defense League, a group formed to organize future protests”
      “Reddit users donated $185,356.70 to Direct Relief International for Haiti after the earthquake devastated the island in January 2010″
      “In early October 2010, a story was posted on Reddit about a seven-year-old girl, Kathleen Edward, who was in the advanced stages of Huntington’s disease. The girl’s neighbors were taunting her and her family. Redditors banded together and gave the girl a shopping spree at Tree Town Toys, a toy store local to the story owned by a Reddit user.”
      “Reddit started the largest Secret Santa program in the world, which is still in operation to date. For the 2010 Holiday season, 92 countries were involved in the Secret Santa program. There were 17,543 participants, and $662,907.60 was collectively spent on gift purchases and shipping costs”
      “Reddit users donated $185,356.70 to Direct Relief International for Haiti after the earthquake devastated the island in January 2010″
      “Reddit users donated over $70,000 to the Faraja Orphanage in the first 24 hours to help secure the orphanage after intruders robbed and attacked one of the volunteers, Omari, who survived a strike to the head from a machete”

      Also, there are a big supporters of freedom of speech.

      This page where we are writing now has a huge disclaimer: “We do not have a freedom of speech policy here”

      • DatonKallandor says:

        “This page where we are writing now has a huge disclaimer: “We do not have a freedom of speech policy here””

        As it should. Freedom of Speech is entirely overrated. One look at Reddit will prove that comprehensively. It is however a nice buzz phrase that makes anyone who uses it seem like “the good guy”, so there’s that.

        • taristo says:

          No, you are the problem. If you don’t believe in freedom of speech you don’t believe in freedom.
          As Noam Chomsky put it back in 2000:
          “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”

          You are free to disagree with anything someone says or think it is garbage but you have no right to censor them from saying it. Leave that to dictatorial regimes and theocratic states.
          The problem with the far left nowadays is more and more that they seem to be resembling the far right, but for different reasons.

          • WrenBoy says:

            Every time I see a “Freedom of Speech” thread I check to see if anyone commenting knows what it even means. It’s very rare to find a single commenter who does and this thread is no exception.

          • Lemming says:

            Freedom of Speech is an American right for Americans. If you don’t believe in Freedom of speech you simply don’t believe in the American ideal. Which is fine for, well, everyone else on the planet.

          • taristo says:

            “Freedom of speech” is not an “American ideal”. As someone who lived under dictatorial (communist/marxist) rule for 10 years and wasn’t allowed to listen to western radio, watch western TV stations or read western newspapers as well as consume western produce and be limited from leaving the country I want to grab people like you by the collar and facepalm you as long as required to get some sense into you, since you have no idea how good you have it to be able to freely speak about your opinions and not being taught just the “party line” in school and having to memorize and write down certain things about your country or how great it is if your parents get into trouble for not doing just that.
            Or hearing about the parents of other children being shot by “secret police” in front of their eyes because they were of jewish descent and dared have an opinion (and the perpetrator only getting 10 years after the regime being toppled).

            Alternatively deport some of you for a year to North Korea and see how fucking well you like it there: https://sites.google.com/site/sophieinnorthkorea/home
            There are a lot more important things in this world than having ones sensibilities “offended” by seeing or hearing something one doesn’t like or agree with, freedom of speech and freedom to ones own opinion is definitely one of those things and frankly you people sound utterly ridiculous to me and are in serious need of some education or perspective.
            My only solace is to believe that you don’t know how good you have it or what you would be losing and thus have no idea what you are talking about.

            An alternative to “freedom of speech” is also grounded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 to be more exact, which states: http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml#a19
            “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

            The right also dates as far back as the Roman republic, which had its own version of “freedom of speech” enshrined.

          • Aninhumer says:

            You can believe in Freedom of Speech without requiring that every possible venue for public discourse be completely unedited. RPS deciding to delete your comment on their website is not even remotely comparable to the government arresting people for publishing things. Personally, I find the comments on RPS to be far higher quality than most other places on the internet, and I think their strict moderation has played no small part in that. And I think most of the readership is entirely happy to have a place to talk without having to listen to the bigotry, spite and vitriol that seems so pervasive elsewhere.

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            @taristo : Yes, because the only alternative to completely unfettered freedom of speech, where anyone can say anything they like about anything they like whenever they like, is North Korea. Well done. Do the words “false dichotomy” mean anything to you?

          • Josh W says:

            Freedom of expression is this really interesting thing, we’re only just seeing it’s flaws, as more and more commonly personal filtering – not having to have to interact with things we oppose – is something people are seeking.

            Expression used to be opposed to silence, now it is opposed to expression.

            I’ll unpack what I mean by that: Shouting someone down by chucking information at them, badgering them until they can no longer participate in conversation, and applying all the anger provoking techniques of trolls and unprincipled debaters.

            These are all types of expression. They are all types of speech. They obviously limit expression themselves.

            So how can we resolve this paradox? That people become unable to communicate because the airwaves are clogged with the loud or the disgusting?

            We could say that free speech must first be allowed to all, even if that means that one person cannot have infinite amounts of it. The idea that if your words push other people out of being able to express themselves, you should pull back. But it is hard to define freedom in such a way as you can have a fraction of it.

            Then we have the fact that free expression of opinion can be a part of trampling our other rights. The infamous example being shouting fire in a crowded theatre, but every situation where words have an effect runs the risk of this same argument being applied. The only situation in which free expression is totally without conflict with other people’s rights is when words have no impact, no meaning, and expression expresses nothing to anyone but you.

            I don’t think the solution to this is to just go “freedom of speech is for governments to care about, private individuals and companies can do as they like”, because that just opens the possibility of those companies who run our internet filtering and blocking with impunity. The solution is in the principles themselves, and deciding how we can get the freedoms we want without making them so self-contradictory we just give freedoms to those who can enforce them.

            An atmosphere of hostility shuts some out, while making others speak more freely. It also leads to people saying things that people should not ever act on. If some of reddit self-identifies as a cesspool, and we always make sure to defeat the arguments that spawn there, then hey, we actually have an immune system running. Basically it is the context around racist and intolerant speech that makes it dangerous, and part of the context that makes it safe is making it semi-repressed, making it something that people say in jest or in character but would never actually do, and only “jest” it in particular circles.

            So I think there’s a place for even the most awful of things, but it’s a place where everyone honestly looks down on it, including preferably those who do it.

            And bringing that back around to the even more local stuff. I think it’s a good idea that the guys running RPS want a non-spiteful non-rude attitude here. Because that kind of atmosphere, that kind of expression, allows you to do things you can’t do if the works are getting gummed up by mean-spirited thoughtless attacks. This shouldn’t mean the particularly thoughtless kind of “positive thinking” that avoids criticism, just basic standards of hygiene in conversation, restraining certain kinds of nasty impulse.

            And yes, for those who think about those kinds of things, this is totally a foucauldian disciplinary perspective on freedom of speech, it’s certainly open to abuse itself, but it’s the best I’ve got at the moment.

      • JanusForbeare says:

        Don’t forget that they raised the money to send the Jamaican bobsled team to Sochi. You have to give them props for that. :D

      • sophof says:

        Well at least this website understands free speech, whereas most people incorrectly assume they fight for free speech when they are protecting their own viewpoints. Only when you protect one that you don’t agree with, that’s when you are truly fighting for free speech.

        I don’t like that this site has this stance, I just dislike it less than so called free-speech crusaders who are simply racists/bigots/you-name-it.

        And I’d like to add that basic free speech is included as a universal human right. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with it of course ( ;-) ) but that should give people that gleefully dismiss it some pause, or at least that’s what I like to think.

    • Shadow says:

      Reddit is not a unified community. It’s merely a medium in which multiple communities of varying degrees of quality sprout. It’s as simple as that, and judging it as the internet’s prime hive of scum and villainy is a rather extreme generalization. Like on said interwebs or this very planet we live on, it’s possible to find all sorts of stuff, from terrible to fantastic.

      Random thought: if spacefaring aliens happen to have a similar kind of generalizing, judgmental thought patterns some people seem to have, Earth’s days are numbered.

      • blahman9 says:

        Thank you so much for finally saying this, sometimes it seems that people are just willing to judge something as wholly good or bad, even entire groups of people. Why does it feel like the concept of the individual is fading away? Did people ever believe it existed? Generalization seems only good for providing propaganda to better manipulate a mob.

      • Bury The Hammer says:

        The main issue I have with reddit is that, yeah, there’s great stuff, but there’s an enormous amount of guff and it takes a long time to get through.

        I would prefer to browse RPS – who do the filtering for me – than filter through the firehose of shit coming through reddit. I’m sure you can find occasionally great stuff, and it’s good for ad-hoc communities (e.g. TwitchPlaysPokemon have been using it as a message board).

        Strangely, I actually enjoy the utter chaos of 4chan over reddit when doing random browsing through stuff, but that’s just because they take themselves a whole lot less seriously. I’ve also convinced myself they’re all trolls, because if I thought they believed what they were saying there, I’d have to give up on this ‘human race’ thing.

    • Synesthesia says:

      ooh! that was a good one.

    • C0llic says:

      Reddit is a place that has something for everyone really. I would be stunned if a person couldnt find a sub reddit that was relevant to their interests. At the very least, its a great resource for anyone who ends up getting particularly sucked into a game, as you can be sure that title will have a thriving discussion community.

    • TheMick says:

      I heartily suggest you check out the reddit sub sections, aka sub reddits, for specific games!

      The reddit groups for Rust and Day Z Standalone are quite enjoyable. That’s about as far as my reddit experience goes thus far.

      • soldant says:

        Pretty much, if you only read the crap, that’ll be all you ever get. I’ve always dismissed reddit as a load of garbage, but if you only ever stick to the meme-factory centres that’s all you’re ever going to see. Start digging a bit deeper (and that’s effortless) and you’ll find plenty of reasonable people.

        It’s the same as the Steam community – overflowing with childish nonsense and memes, but there’s still decent discussion happening.

    • ajhayter says:

      This should get you started CGP Grey – What is reddit?

    • Shooop says:

      Reddit’s impossible to summarize with a few posts because it’s literally everything on the internet.

      If you have an interest in something, Reddit has a group talking about it. Of course there’s things out there people are interested in that should not be. Blame people for being disgusting for that.

    • DThor says:

      I shared your “I seem to be missing something” until a few months ago, primarily because it’s about as friendly to a new user as a shark with tapeworms. I currently lurk on the periphery and still find it an annoying as hell way to peruse information and opinions, but seem to have come to a sort of peace with it. First off, yes, there are quite a lot of turds there, and wearing rubber boots is recommended. However, I admit that it’s a very good place to hear news NOW. Most up to date. It’s also got some wonderful little corners such as Historyporn, which is simply an endless posting of images from throughout time that lead you to incredible stories, and there are great little subreddits such as when Bill Murray went on to answer any questions as part of his latest movie pressers.
      But, you need boots. Over and over, as I wade through the morass, I keep wondering why they seem so hell-bent on keeping you from browsing intelligently, and then I realize they simply didn’t design it with that in mind. It’s the equivalent of digging through a linux filesystem.

  3. aliksy says:

    If it wasn’t for the risk of false positives, I’d say we should ban people who cheat in multiplayer games from the internet, and brand a “C” onto their forehead. Scum of the earth, I say. [/hyperbole]

  4. spunky says:

    OMGWALLHAX

  5. Awesumo says:

    In Ye Olde Days whilst playing Age of Empires multiplayer you had a ‘Cheats on/off’ button… and I know of one 12 year old that learned you could quickly press ‘cheats on’ then press start game… and you could have cheat mode active while your opponent didn’t….
    One cheat code gave you batman cars that launch dead cows at your enemies….

  6. LunyAlex says:

    I hope Gabe becomes fonder and fonder of using his Reddit account.

    In the past few years Valve have been particularly bad with communication and transparency. Seeing a direct message from the Grand Poobah himself somehow feels healthy.

    • frightlever says:

      When simply opening an email fucked over several years of game development, I guess it’s natural to shy away from communication with the community.

      • LunyAlex says:

        Nope, it’s not.

        They got hacked. All my sympathy, but beyond that? Boo hoo.

        It means nothing regarding how transparent and open they should be with fans.
        Being communicative doesn’t put the Beta code of Half Life 3 at risk.

      • soldant says:

        They were compromised, the source was leaked, and that wasn’t cool. But Valve kept saying that HL2 would be out in September 2003, when the leaked content clearly revealed that it didn’t have a hope in hell of making that date. Vivendi, the publisher at the time, said that it wouldn’t make September but would make ‘holidays 2003′, only to have Gabe Newell himself contradict it and insist that the 30th of September was the date. They continued to hold that line all the way up to September, despite the team knowing it would never reach that date. When the content leaked in October, people discovered how far behind they really were, and that the September date was ridiculous.

        That’s bad communication. Unfortunately, that’s caused Valve to just say nothing instead of being honest. Valve’s occasionally laughably inept communication when it comes to problems with development stems from that event, not because a malicious email breached their walls. Everybody knew that they’d been spouting nonsense when the 30th of September came and went without a release… the leak just revealed how ridiculous it actually was.

  7. SandmanXC says:

    Trust the system! \m/

  8. ArtyFishal says:

    I can’t stand how game’s journalists consistently kiss Valve’s ass. Valve confirms the rumor, admits they’ve been surreptitiously invading our privacy, and we’re suppose to praise them?! If this was EA there would be thorough indignation and outrage in this article, but not if it’s saint Newell! We’re rightfully outraged at the NSA for spying on us for real world threats, but we’re suppose to let it slide when a company as lofty and immaculate as Valve does it over video games.

    Valve needs a watchdog, but don’t expect it to come from the “journalists.”

    • subedii says:

      Uh, EA DOES do this. It’s called Punkbuster, it’s used in Battlefield, and it does basically the same thing.

      In either case, the Reddit assertion and hyperventilating is (surprise), wrong. What the software does is create an MD5 hash of the DNS listings for local comparison (If the aforementioned companies really wanted to know all the sites you’re looking at, there are WAY easier ways to go about it. What the software is looking for is a hit on a very specific hash, a process which happens (if I’m reading this right) AFTER it’s detected the cheat ). There is nothing in the code posted that shows what the original poster of it says it does (i.e., send your website listings to Valve). You can check this yourself if you read the code.

      I’m not going to bother reposting the specifics, but if you want more info, “Dire” does a good job of explaining the MD5 hashing over on NeoGaf.

      http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=769964&page=5

    • LionsPhil says:

      Pretty much. VAC is a horrible lump of spyware, and it’s a horrible lump of spyware where the party line is “zero tolerance, engine-wide bans, no appeals”, so they present it as software that is never wrong even though that is clearly a) ludicrous b) false. (Yes, in practice, they have quiety backed out on that in some cases.)

      About the only defence to mount for it is that “at least it’s not Punkbuster”. I hope we don’t need a suitably Clarksonian similie about venereal diseases here.

      • subedii says:

        I don’t mind Punkbuster?

        Actually I don’t mind Origin either. I mind EA frequently in their general behaviour, but I don’t mind Origin.

        • LionsPhil says:

          To name one of its crimes: last I dealt with it, Punkbuster insisted on running elevated, presumably so it could scan the memory of other processes. If you weren’t admin, you got kicked.

          AFAIK, VAC doesn’t elevate. I may be wrong, and Steam may have snuck in a service to grant such during its install, but I thought I remembered it actually not doing such hateful things.

      • ChromeBallz says:

        This seems exactly like the arguments a pro-cheating person would use…

        Bash the anti-cheat software without offering any alternate solution whatsoever.

        Personally, even if i were to get banned by it, at least it means Valve / EA / whoever care enough about cheaters to do something about it because honestly, cheaters should just be shot or something. They keep on arguing that “it’s about their fun” but it just isn’t – It’s about *everyone’s* fun when playing anything multiplayer. So cheaters, please sod off to your mom’s basement and stick a shotgun in your over entitled mouths.

      • Big Murray says:

        I doubt you can name an instance of VAC being wrong where Valve hasn’t admitted and corrected it.

      • Widthwood says:

        VAC is what allows you to properly play multiplayer games, if you are not interested – just launch steam in sandbox and it won’t be able to do anything.

        Also, you might want to look up what “spyware” actually means, otherwise you could just as easily say that windows is spyware and firefox is spyware and every autoupdating linux distro is spyware

    • DrManhatten says:

      Simple follow the money and then you know why! It is sad to see that even RPS is so valve-biased in its reporting.

      • Nevard says:

        It’s hard for me to credit this when they were running such enormous TESO adverts while at the same time, telling everyone it was a bad game they shouldn’t buy.
        Accusations of corruption are honestly pretty boring as nobody ever feels inclined to back them up and you can essentially just throw them out for free, despite any opposing evidence.

    • carshit says:

      too bad you’re not smart enough to realize they didn’t admit to invading anyone’s privacy

  9. P-Dazzle says:

    Artificial Aiming says Hi, Gabe.

  10. heretic says:

    Cheating in multiplayer or to get ahead on leaderboards really is quite lame, however I find it sad that there are no longer cheats in single player games.

    How much fun I had with the Hitman series and the invisible mode, playing around the sandbox, learning the AIs’ quirks.

    With the newest Hitman the replayability is very low as you can’t explore levels as easily as before :( I hear there are some trainers to tweak how sensitive enemies are to your disguises but I am worried about Steam’s anti-cheat stuff banning me just because I’d like my games to have more replayability…

    • T-wester says:

      When I’m bored with a singleplayer game i often use cheatengine, a memory scanner/hexeditor. to do things like the old cheats would have led me. Change the amount of money, health etc. Or if possible ill donright mod cheats into the game.

  11. DrManhatten says:

    Yeah and I don’t trust Gabe and his bunch of minions.

  12. iseemonkeys says:

    I’m surprise nobody says anything about punkbuster. Now I have strong feeling they are selling your information when you use that program. The program always runs even when your not in a game. I refuse to play games that use that anti-cheat.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      In the original Reddit thread (not to mention every other forum the topic has since come up in), plenty of comparisons are made between PB and VAC.

      PB is spyware, no doubt about it. I’ve always assumed that VAC handled things differently, but this latest reveal has left me wondering.

  13. Shooop says:

    I don’t know what to make of this.

    Cheating in multiplayer games does need to be taken seriously, but how much control of our computers and information are we giving up in order to help curb it?

    • Widthwood says:

      Every single program and game you run on your computer can do the same and more, analyzing your documents, browsing history, even logins and passwords – you basically already gave up everything to each program you downloaded and installed.

  14. The Dark One says:

    Graham got an important part of this story backwards.

    If they found evidence of phoning home, they knew a person was cheating and were able to ban them

    No, if VAC found evidence of hacking, then then it would look for hash that matched a known cheat DRM server. That’s important because it means they only looked in the DNS cache after they had caught them.

    • soldant says:

      That may be material to the way that it functions, but doesn’t alter the fact that it checks the DNS cache, which was the real issue in question. What was more important to the story was that it was only ever checking entries that matched known cheat servers, not sending everything to Valve.

  15. Rapzid says:

    If you don’t trust VAC to scan your DNS cache on windows you are definitely NOT going to like the access it would need to be effective on Linux…

  16. Balanuir says:

    In other words:

    Yes, they do spy on you.

    Scum.

    • Nevard says:

      Steam has your credit card details and password too, terrifying.
      Just think, they could be playing your steam games using your account at this very moment.

  17. bstard says:

    I thank you dear hostis for fucking up my privacy. Why cant hackers just fail in offline solitude?

  18. Skeith says:

    Any worthwhile anti virus software behaves like the worst kind of spyware. It constantly monitors everything your computer does, because it has to. But the consent to do that is kind of implied by buying and installing it. Anti cheat works similarly but the consent is fuzzier because you have to install it to play most games. I’m ok with it because getting elbow deep in your OS is the only way it can work effectively. But it’s totally understandable that people have a problem with it.

  19. Gvaz says:

    It’s funny because I know exactly who this is by: CheatHappens. They’re all sleazy.

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