The history of Counter-Strike
Nowadays it is difficult to find someone who likes video games and has never played or at least seen Counter-Strike, whether at home or at a computer Club. This addictive game with simple and dynamic rules was born from a simple mod, and no one would imagine would become a great success. But one company believed in its success: Yes, the all-powerful Valve.
The game (also known as CS) was responsible for popularizing LAN Houses around the world. In addition, thanks to Counter-Strike, a new sport was born (or at least gained such name) among people who played a lot and dedicated themselves more than the normal: The electronic sport.
All this because Counter-Strike was the pivot of several disputes between teams of players (or clans), who with great training sessions, managed to lead a team with an impressive organization, where for each member of the team, a specific function was assigned. Soon we will comment more about this “intensive training”, which at times became curious and even bizarre.
From a small mod to a success
The story of Counter-Strike began in mid-1996, when a Vietnamese (Canadian-born) game developer named Minh Le met the Quake game, which at the time was a big hit of the genre. Shortly thereafter, he also learns the SDK (development kit) of the game, and starts to use his talent to develop something related to the game of shooting.
His mod for Quake was based on operations made by Marines, and so his mod was called Navy SEALs. In that game, you were a soldier from the US Marines, and another thing that caught your attention was that its creator added new weapons, which were not present in the original version of Quake.
As soon as the Quake 2 game was released, the independent developer also acquired its development kit, and after a while created what was the “evolution” of Navy SEALs: A new mod called Action Quake 2, which was even more similar to CS that we already know. The new element was a much bigger success than its predecessor, and id Software chose it to be present in an official package of mods for Quake 2.
The Birth of CS
After Action Quake 2, Minh Le continued to study Computer Science, in addition to having his parallel works as a developer of mods. This time, the game of the moment was Half-Life, a launch of the time. It was also during this time that Minh Le met Jess Cliffe, and together they started working on another mod, which we all know very well: The Counter-Strike. For the first time in history, a game mod would become much more famous than the game itself from which it was created.
With the release of the first version of Counter-Strike in 1999, its popularity was growing at an exponential pace, to the point that Minh Le went to devote himself totally to mod, leaving his college aside. Do you think Le’s decision was a mistake? Needless to say no.
Meanwhile, Jess Cliffe also worked on the improvement of Counter-Strike along with his friend Le. In addition, Cliffe also recorded the radio commands that are used in the matches, with his own voice, which was another outstanding characteristic of CS.
Counter-Strike’s beta period was quite long, and involved a lot of work. The first open beta version of CS was released on June 19, 1999, and the game began to have weekly updates. The constant support for the game, along with the fun it already provided, was the right formula to bring millions of fans online.
In all were 19 beta versions of the game, until Counter-Strike, version 1.0 was released in the year 2000.
An opportunity seen
When Counter-Strike was in its fourth beta, the company Valve, creator of Half-Life (where the CS was created as a mod) saw a huge opportunity in this game, which already had an identity of its own. Valve’s bet was just beginning, and along with Sierra game distributor, they were allowed to market Counter-Strike separately, being a kind of Half-Life extension.
As CS began to be sold, the deal got even more serious and several gaming sites around the world made great positive reviews. At this point in the championship, the game was already a world fever and its creators had their reward: Both Minh Le and Jess Clife were hired by Valve to continue developing Counter-Strike and also a successor, Counter-Strike 2. A short time later, this project was canceled and the focus remained only on the first CS, which was not a bad idea.
Occupation: CS Player
With the gigantic success of Counter-Strike in the world, and the beginning of broadband internet, there was a problem: it was too expensive. And this opened the door to a new type of business that exists today, both in the Europe as well as in several places in the world: The LAN Houses. These establishments could hire a quality internet at a high price, where several computers connected in local network could be used. And what was the best place for a player to play CS with their friends without spending a lot of money?
Because of this, LAN Houses and Counter-Strike are heavily linked to the present day, which has become a great pastime for young people. As there were many CS players in LAN Houses, many teams were born and so the game was taken more and more seriously by players with more hardcore profile. In addition, several CS championships were created around the world, including the World Cyber Games (WCG), the Electronic Sports World Cup (ESWC) and the World e-Sports Games (WEG).
Such championships motivated the really dedicated players to face Counter-Strike as a real profession. And such players have made a lot of money coming from sponsors, and tournament prizes. Thus, there began to exist professional teams of CS that came to train for more than 6 hours daily, improving their techniques and reflexes.
There are curious stories about professional Counter-Strike clans, such as a Russian team that in 2009 underwent one of the most exhaustive and difficult training we can imagine: The team coach hired several strippers so that during the team training, they would try to take the attention of the players by seducing them, and the poor ones were forbidden to even look at them. In this way, they would have an even greater focus on the game, literally forgetting everything around them. Even if it was naked women.
The evolution of Counter-Strike
The famous Counter-Strike version 1.6 was released in September 2003, and to this day is the preferred version of CS by many players. In addition, it was for a long time the most played of the Steam platform, which had been released at the same time (and that would be another worldwide success, but that’s another story). This title was maintained by CS for a long time, but not all was good: Some changes made in version 1.6 were criticized by fans of the game, such as Riot Shield, a shield used in the team of Counter Terrorists (CTs) and giving full protection against frontal shots.
The shield made the game very unbalanced, and Valve admitted that error later, where the shield was excluded from the series. With the success of Counter-Strike multiplayer, the producers realized that they could include a campaign mode in the game, so people could have fun while they were alone (this was already possible with bots, but it was not cool).
With the help of Rogue Entertainment studio, the CS campaign version, called Condition Zero, was developed. In addition to Rogue, other studios also worked on the development of Condition Zero, such as Gearbox Software, and finally Turtle Rock Studios. During these transitions, several optimizations were made in the game’s original textures, as well as improvements in artificial intelligence.
CS: Source – New generation and new look
After Condition Zero was released, the game seemed to have a stability. But what no one expected was the new plans of Valve, to present a new version of Counter-Strike, but this time with a real visual revolution, thanks to the new graphics engine of Half-Life 2, Source.
Counter-Strike: Source brought a new life to CS, but it was not as famous as the legendary CS 1.6. This was because the game presented a different physics, which compromised the dynamism of the matches of which the players of 1.6 were accustomed. With that, the high reflexes of the players were no longer so necessary in the new version. Even so, the game had a very satisfactory amount of sales and success.