I was fortunate enough to attend eSports Summit at this year's GDC. I was most excited to attend the League of Legends panel since I am currently playing it religiously but I was surprised about the amazing Counter Strike panel “Community Level Design for Competitive Counter-Strike: GO”. As just a consumer of eSports, I was surprised how influential the designs of a game 15 years old has had on eSports and gaming.
I grew up playing Counter-Strike as a kid after having played the first Half-life. Counter-Strike was the first person shooter I ever played online and man did I play a lot of it. I was never good at the game since everyone was at a such a high level when I played plus the barrier to entry was not great compared to today's online shooters. Even with all that taken into account I thoroughly enjoyed playing online with my friends because winning didn’t really matter.
Learning how the iconic De_Dust 2 was designed made me understand why Counter Strike is the premiere first-person shooter game that is still being played over a decade after it was created. The map was designed with such attention to detail to create the ultimate competitive map. By making sure the location of the choke points were in the right locations to having a minimalist aesthetic allowed for players to best showcase their skills.
I knew this map was designed extremely well since it was the most played map but I had no idea how much of the map design I took for granted. The designers knew so much about what I and my friends wanted in an online shooter before we even knew what we liked about online shooters. Not until Xbox Live can I say most of my friends really started realizing and picking which shooters we liked to play online.
Counter Strike is game over a decade yet it created so many fundamentals in not only online shooters but any competitive online game. I saw design choices used in this game that is still being used even in games like Call of Duty and League of Legends. It probably wasn’t the first but it is the most popular game that revolutionized competitive online play which is why it is still professionally played in the eSports scene.