Opportunities for misdirection maneuvers are less common in multiplayer shooters, so I'm compelled to highlight this absurdly creative flashbang feint I spotted on the ESEA YouTube channel from last weekend's ESEA S13 LAN in Dallas.
The setup: two teams whittle each other down to a one-on-one scenario around bomb site A on de_dust2. Watch how Swag (Team Dynamic) handles KennyS (VERYGAMES) after the bomb plant.
Valve has sent out a patch for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive that focuses on tweaking Hostage Rescue rules for stronger balance and to entice players away from the long-favored Bomb Defusal. Most notably, CTs have now adopted the tactical doctrine of draping hostages across their shoulders like a squishy scarf, and only a single rescue is needed to secure a win for the good guys.
You'll need to interact with a hostage for a lengthy four seconds to get him to hop on for a ride, and a new "rescue kit" shortens pickup time to a single second by presumably wowing hostages with attractively padded and comfortable-looking shoulder guards to rest on. Taking a note of influence from community-made maps such as cs_motel, hostage spawns are now randomized per match.
Valve is also continuing to stock GO's maps with updated versions of classic Counter-Strike levels, with cs_militia being the latest addition. It's structured similarly to cs_assault, where Ts benefit from an entrenched interior location to bunker in while CTs attempt rescue through multiple points of entry.
Defusing bombs got a small but significant change as well: turning too far away from a bomb while defusing it will cancel the process, a jump in risk and exposure for CTs trying for the win while Ts yet linger to guard the bomb. They could sure use one of those hostage-capes for extra protection.
Oh, and the rumored Support Pass for a community map rotation on official servers isn't happening. Valve even pokes fun at earlier reports of the pass with a new data string, "CSGO_Ticket_CommunitySeasonOneSpring2013_Leak," and its single-word description: "lol." Oh, Valve. Don't ever change.
The CS community took out their knives and eagerly sprinted forward to the hundreds of user-made maps filling Global Offensive's Workshop since last month. We've got a nice stack of them running on our own server, and Valve is evidently looking to copy that setup on its own servers. Data-divers of reddit have found mention of a "Support Pass" in the next patch for players to purchase and access a pool of community maps soon to join the official server rotation.
A list of new data strings found in the patch mentions a "Community Support Pass Season One" to "grant access to Season One's featured community maps on official servers." The proceeds are distributed evenly to map contributors in what's likely an incentive to encourage an increasingly large selection of maps to feature.
The data doesn't mention a price, but Valve has a similar system in place with Team Fortress 2's co-op Mann vs. Machine mode, where players access multi-map sessions by purchasing $0.99 tickets. Assuming GO's passes carry a similar cost, it should result in a relatively simple way to jump into high-quality custom battles for little effort. The patch is expected to hit this week, so we'll have a clearer understanding of Valve's plans soon enough.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has a lot of custom maps. Seriously, browse its Steam Workshop page and see for yourself. We've talked about some of our favorites (all of which appear in our CS:GO sessions on our server), but a classic map layout we've yet to see a worthy update for is de_rats' bomb-defusal play in an oversized kitchen. DJ PC820 and TastySlopsicle's de_dolls_csgo is perhaps the best spiritual iteration we've spotted yet.
Instead of a kitchen, de_dolls_csgo takes us into a heavily pink bedroom which I assume is the property of a little girl, but the power of pink is genderless. Just like in rats, the jumbo furniture provides multiple nooks and alcoves for plinking across the map, including a doll house with furniture and a duct passage for moving around without exposing yourself to the AWPer's paradise of the main bedroom floor.
The map supports both classic and deathmatch play as well as bots for offline practice. You can easily download it by hitting the green "subscribe" button on its Workshop page.
Valve boss Gabe Newell stepped up to the stage during last week's BAFTA awards to receive the prestigious Academy Fellowship for his contributions to gaming. Presumably momentarily distracted by accepting a trophy modeled after a smirking face, a bewhiskered Newell fielded some interview questions over the normally airtight subject of Valve's business performance that hinted at the monumental scale of the studio's prosperity.
Newell chalked up Valve's successes largely to user-generated content on open platforms such as Steam Workshop before sharing some jaw-dropping numbers. "There's sort of an insatiable demand for gaming right now," Newell said. "I think our business has grown by about 50 percent on the back of opportunities created by having these open platforms.
"And just so people understand how big this sort of scale is getting, we were generating 3.5 terabits per second during the last Dota 2 update," he added. "That's about 2 percent of all the mobile- and land-based Internet activity."
Wait, what? We're not exactly sure what Newell meant when he dropped that bombshell of data info, apart from maybe claiming responsibility for all those times my connection speeds chugged while browsing these past few months. Still, it seems entirely plausible—Dota 2 has a lot of players, and the MOBA recently took the crown for the highest concurrent user amount of any Steam game ever. If any Steam game can feasibly take a bite out of the entire Internet, Dota 2 holds the best chance.
Beginning tonight, we're hosting daily Counter-Strike: GO events on our server. Because why the hell not?
Our weeks-old, St. Louis-based CS:GO server has hosted lively Steam events about twice a week. We run custom maps exclusively because the community has somehow produced 1,000 of them for CS:GO since adding Steam Workshop support last month. I earmarked my early favorites in February, but new favorites have already emerged, like the cs_sauna remake.
How to join, in four extremely simple steps
Join the PC Gamer Steam Group to be notified of events Subscribe to our CS:GO Steam Workshop map collection (this will auto-download and auto-update the maps we run on our server through Steam—MAXIMUM CONVENIENCE!) Join the server ("PC Gamer | The Psychedelic Den of Map Experimentation," IP: 18.104.22.168:27015) around 7 PM PST / 10 PM EST Have fun; be the kind of person you'd like to play games with
Thanks to GameServers for being a darn good server provider. If there's a config setting you'd like changed or a map you'd like to see in the rotation, just let me know or leave a comment on the Steam Workshop collection. Messages sent to firstname.lastname@example.org stir my spinal community antennae implant.
And yes, we know CS:GO isn't the only game in the universe. But we've got a good thing going there, and I'd rather do a slow roll-out of community funtimes than expand things too quickly. Look for more games and events to pop up throughout the year.
Whenever you download and install a game on Steam, the files rest neatly on your hard drive like a well-pressed stack of laundry for quick access and organization of custom mod files. Some older Source games creak along on an older format from an earlier age in Steam's saga, but in a new FAQ, Valve says it's converting the guts of these games to use the SteamPipe content delivery system for faster load times and an updated file layout.
Counter-Strike: Source, Day of Defeat: Source, Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, and Team Fortress 2 will soon traverse over to the steamapps/common section of your Steam folder instead of the older steamapps/ destination. The conversion is automatic: Valve says you'll need enough disk space "for about two full copies of the game" as it changes over.
Modders and mod users have a little bit of extra homework to do to ensure everything works. Custom files will need to be copied manually over to the new directory, and mod authors should start packaging their works as VPK files instead of in a ZIP.
ZIP files still work in a pinch, as Valve describes it:
"For example, if the ZIP contains custom player models that look like (heaven forbid) ponies, and one of the files is materials/models/player/scout/scout_head.vtf, then you might make a dirctory such as tf/addons/i_love_ponies. You should unzip the mod such that the custom scout head texture ends up at tf/addons/i_love_ponies/materials/models/player/scout/scout_head.vtf."
Check out the rest of Valve's FAQ for more detailed info on the changes SteamPipe brings. You can also download and join the ongoing Team Fortress 2 beta to see the updates for yourself.
As I hoped, CS:GO’s appearance on Steam Workshop eased the map drought irking Global Offensive players since launch. About 700 Defusal, Hostage Rescue, Deathmatch, Arms Race, and other maps now populate Steam Workshop, and all are available for easy download (and auto-updating) through Steam. I’ve played a bunch of them with our community over the past week.
All the maps I’m recommending can be played on our official CS:GO server, “The Psychedelic Den of Map Experimentation,” hosted in St. Louis. Thanks to GameServers for being a helpful provider of our community servers. Download everything that our server is running in a single click by subscribing to our CS:GO map collection on Steam Workshop.
I haven’t tried everything the community’s produced, of course, but I’ll continue to update this list as I encounter CS:GO maps worth your time. By all means, recommend maps that I should take a gander at. (de_library, which released on Monday, is at the top of my list.)
de_seaside Compact and straightforward, this is CS:GO’s best custom map. The CTs are steps away from covering both bombsites, so the onus is on the Terrorist team to find creative ways to draw attention, distract, or outright outgun their opponents. I love the waterworn surfaces that cover the dock setting—they remind me of The Parish from Left 4 Dead 2.
Bombsite B itself is a miniature siege—a long wooden bridge (and another that passes underneath it) are the most direct routes for the Terrorists, and any would-be bomb-planters taking this path need to be covered from the dock, where snipers can protect themselves behind large boxes as they line up shots on B. Separating A and B is a hazardous middle lane that represents a high-risk flanking route for both teams.
de_conduit Conduit is conventional and damn good. Like Seaside, its rectangular layout offers a left, right, and sniper-friendly middle lane for both teams. Unlike it, Conduit feels suited (as creator ds- describes) for competitive play.
Bombsite B is a choked concrete room with an aluminum ledge that sits right above the planting point like a hat. Securing B relies on an aggressive push from the Terrorists, encouraging some members of Team T to die for the cause so they can secure a foothold on that side of the map. A is a more open construction yard—a secret tunnel in the middle provides a secondary route to it from the middle of the map. Vibrant colors (yellow paint, neon red and green lights, contrasting light and darkness) give Conduit character against the odds of its industrial setting.
de_cache Cache’s flat, three-lane layout is the handiwork of competitive CS legend Salvatore “Volcano” Garozzo. Its industrial setting borders on boring, but terrific balance compensates. Cache features a middle lane similar to Seaside and Conduit—a coverless no-man’s-land that’s treacherous to cross and can be ignored entirely, but one that opens up flanking routes to both bombsites if you push through.
Bombsite B is overlooked by a nest that CTs have ladder access to, and I love the way fights play out here when Terrorists pop a smoke grenade to make an aggressive entrance into B.
cs_museum Museum is GO’s most gorgeous map. Outside, stone arches overlook a street entrance lined with gardens. Inside, golden light filters through an atrium onto carpeted stairs, a T-rex skeleton, and scaffolding. Creator Shawn “FMPONE” Snelling called upon fellow modders to build custom assets for the map, and the extra help is evident in every corner.
In the nearly 50 rounds I’ve played so far, Museum has favored the Terrorists. Raised windows, scaffolding, and an elevator shaft give the Ts some great vantage points for getting the drop on the CT assaulters who spawn outdoors.
Snelling wrote a terrific explanation of his design decisions on Museum (and the research that informed them) for Mapcore.org.
cs_motel It’s a novelty map, but in lieu of a worthy, ridiculous successor to de_rats (de_rats_ol_shack for CS:GO hasn’t impressed me), Motel has been a huge hit on our server, and our go-to for unserious Counter-Striking. Two floors of cramped bedrooms open out into a parking lot and small swimming pool. Four hostages spawn randomly in the rooms, and most rounds play out like hide-and-seek. The Terrorists have an incentive to camp the rooms that hostages spawn in, but this is mitigated slightly by hostages only appearing on the CTs’ radar. I also like that Motel makes shotguns preferable to rifles and SMGs.
cs_parkhouse_go A port from CS:S, Parkhouse hands the CTs a dozen different sniping options from a rock ledge that hugs one side of the map’s centerpiece, a two-floor modern house moated by a lake. Two pairs of hostages are isolated on a top and bottom floor. With scoped weapons, the CTs have a serious advantage, but there are moments of fun in this asymmetrical siege map that remind me of classics cs_assault and cs_militia.
Against the threat of sniping, turtling is usually the best option for the Terrorists, and things get wonderfully messy when the CTs are forced to take the fight indoors. I wouldn’t call Parkhouse balanced, but I've enjoyed it.