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Building Counter-Strike: Global Offensive atop a strong community


I can't imagine how hard it is to be a development studio with some of the most beloved franchises under its belt. Fans expect so much. It can't be easy to be Valve -- doubly so when trying to develop the next entry in one of the studio's popular competitive franchises, Counter-Strike. Valve's Chet Faliszek really wants to please the fans and eventual communities that will spring up around Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

Gallery: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (9/22/11) | 9 Photos

So Valve listened to its fans, bringing in top Counter-Strike players to examine Counter-Strike: Global Offensive before it was announced. "We wanted to engage the community," Faliszek told me as we both took a break from Global Offensive. "We brought in Counter-Strike: Source pros the very first day, before we even announced it -- it's been all about community." According to Faliszek, Valve didn't do a satisfactory job supporting the community around Counter-Strike: Source, something he hopes will change with GO.

"We created 1.6 for CS:S and then we didn't really support them in a way that we traditionally do, where we're engaging the community. We did do some work but we never engaged them in the same way, so we wanted to make sure we went back and did that right." Faliszek said that rather than dictating to the community what the game should be, Valve wants its community to shape Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to fit their desires throughout its life online. "They, on their own, have created really strong communities that we respect, so we didn't want to come running in there saying, 'No, this is it.'"

Some of those community-driven decisions involve simple ideas, like limiting each map to one character model per side, which cuts down on player confusion and avoids situations where arctic soldiers are running around desert-based maps. Other things such as being unable to aim down the sight or pulling off drop-shots -- a popular move where a player will quickly go prone mid-duel -- are a few other examples of how Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is staying true to its heritage.

The Arsenal mode I played was yet another example of looking to the community. Arsenal originated as a mod, in which one team attempted to plant a bomb. Naturally, the other team doesn't want that to happen. Each round is only a few minutes long and each player is assigned a different weapon every round. Exemplary performance awards players extra stuff: in one round, I had multiple kills, which granted me a flash bang grenade for the next round.

"The very very first thing we did, at the first stage of development, was make sure we were making a Counter-Strike game. We weren't going to do a bunch of things that other franchises thought were cool," said Faliszek, "they're great, but they're not Counter-Strike." Based on what I've seen, this is undeniably Counter-Strike.

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