Greetings fellow Citizens. I would like to discuss the issue of the recent leak of confidential Star Citizen game files.
This past weekend has been a series of black days for CIG, and for the Star Citizen community as a whole.
Before we go any further I would like to explain what I’m talking about to those who are unaware.
On Friday night Disco Lando posted some pictures from his phone on twitter. They were showing him playing Star Marine. Those images, interesting and hype-filled as they were, got posted to the Star Citizen subreddit.
Unfortunately in the background of those images, on Disco’s desktop (he was playing in Windowed mode) was a URL.
A curious reddit user decided to see what the URL was and they got a file… from that file you could get a link to a torrent… and the rest is history. The internal developer build of Star Marine leaked. Many of us were wondering if this was intentional? A sly way to slip out a PTU build?
We at The Relay, and much of the community at large, followed the situation closely. I myself was live on The Base, and watched the torrent, browsing its content. From looking at the files contained therein, I could see there was a massive amount of sensitive information. It quickly became clear that this was not a purposeful leak. Eventually, CIG closed the connections for the torrent, and it stopped. We hoped that not much of the data got out, that it was unlikely anyone got the whole thing. I deleted all of the information I had right away.
Unfortunately it looks like we were wrong.
And now for the bad part.
That same Friday, Keegan Standifer, Associate DevOps Engineer @ CIG Austin , asked the Star Citizen subreddit community politely to please not share the leaked information.
Throughout the day Sunday, however, users have begun leaking confidential images from the download. From what I saw in the torrent file… there is more to come. Much much more. People are loaded into FPS maps, into Squadron 42 maps. The newly redone star map has leaked.
I get the feeling there are people out there who are excited by that prospect, excited by the chance to know so much more about the game… but you shouldn’t be. This is no good for the game.
Many people looking at, leaking, and supporting the leaks, they’re fans of the game. Huge fans. And they can be commended for that. It’s good. Star Citizen has the capacity to be one of the greatest games ever made. Our curiosity, our thirst, for more information, drives us to be an incredible community. And that should never change.
But I want to remind you all of Half-Life 2. From Wikipedia:
Originally slated for release in September 2003, the game was delayed in the wake of the cracking of Valve’s internal network. The network was accessed through a null session connection to Tangis which was hosted in Valve’s network and a subsequent upload of an ASP shell, resulting in the leak of the game’s source code and many other files including maps, models and a playable early version of Half-Life 2 and Counter-Strike Source in early September 2003. On October 2, 2003, Valve CEO Gabe Newell publicly explained in the Halflife2.net (now ValveTime.net) forums the events that Valve experienced around the time of the leak, and requested users to track down the perpetrators if possible.
In June 2004, Valve Software announced in a press release that the FBI had arrested several people suspected of involvement in the source code leak. Valve claimed the game had been leaked by a German black-hat hacker named Axel “Ago” Gembe. After the leak, Gembe had contacted Newell through e-mail (also providing an unreleased document planning the E3 events). Newell kept corresponding with Gembe, and Gembe was led into believing that Valve wanted to employ him as an in-house security auditor. He was to be offered a flight to the USA and was to be arrested on arrival by the FBI. When the German government became aware of the plan, Gembe was arrested in Germany instead, and put on trial for the leak as well as other computer crimes in November 2006, such as the creation of Agobot, a highly successful trojan which harvested users’ data.
At the trial in November 2006 in Germany, Gembe was sentenced to two years’ probation. In imposing the sentence, the judge took into account such factors as Gembe’s difficult childhood and the fact that he was taking steps to improve his situation.
To be entirely fair with our comparisons, the source code of Star Citizen did not leak… but a huge amount of game data did. There could be some very serious consequences for the game that come out of this. A lot of people are treating this like it’s not a big deal and that nothing will happen. There could be very serious consequences for the people doing the leaking, and those same people are treating it like they`re doing the community a service.
In the coming hours and days, as we wait for a response from CIG, we will see people appealing to our sense of community, people warning of the legal ramifications, people saying they have a right to view and post leaked content.
A lot of the things in these files were supposed to be secret for a reason – this could lead to parts of the game being redone including ships, levels, and/or the star map. These leaks are all information that CIG no longer have control of. The Star-Map leaked once before, and CIG redesigned it as a whole. They will need to decide on a course of action and it COULD lead to significant delays, money being wasted, good people losing their jobs, and more.
For those out there saying CIG should have had better security… you are absolutely, 100% correct. That said, many are suggesting that the fault for the leaks lies entirely with them. The people leaking the data are responsible too.
But it`s not only about CIG. It`s about the community behind Star Citizen. We have come together to help CIG make the best game possible. With this leak, we`re doing the opposite. We`re breaking it.
So. Those are my thoughts, the thoughts of most of us here at The Relay. The Relay as a whole waits with slight trepidation for CIG’s response.
We will not be posting, covering, or reporting on any leaked materials.