Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Counter-Strike (CS) is a popular team-based mod of Valve's first-person shooter Half-Life. The game pits a team of counter-terrorists against a team of terrorists in rounds of competition won by completing an objective or eliminating the opposing team. The latest incarnation of the game, Counter Strike: Source (CS:S), is based on the Source engine developed for Half-Life 2.
CS has been the most widely played online FPS for the past few years. In 2002 there were over 30,000 Counter-Strike servers on the Internet (second place was Unreal Tournament with about 9,800). In 2004, GameSpy statistics show that there are frequently over 85,000 players simultaneously playing Counter-Strike at any point in time, accounting for almost 70 percent of the online FPS audience. According to statistics gathered by Valve's content-delivery platform, Steam, these players contribute to over 4.5 billion minutes of playing time each month, making it the most popular online FPS in history. CS was originally played online through the WON gaming service, but WON shut down in 2004, forcing players to switch to Steam, Valve's online authentication and content delivery system.
Counter-Strike is a team-based game in which players join either the Terrorists (T) or the Counter-Terrorists (CT). Each round starts with the two teams spawning simultaneously; usually they are given a few seconds before the round starts to buy equipment (weapons, ammunition, armor, etc.). Also, they can buy more equipment in the first 90 seconds after the round starts, depending on the server settings, and provided they are in a designated "buy zone" for their team (see Counter-Strike equipment).
The goal of the game is to complete the level's objectives (e.g., the Terrorists may have to plant a bomb) or to eliminate the opposing force within the given time limit. The round ends when a team wins the round or when the round's time limit is reached. The game tracks how many players each player has killed, how many times they have died, and gives players money for killing enemies or completing team objectives. It also tracks how many times each team has won. Both teams receive additional money at the beginning of the next round, with the winners of the last round receiving more money than the losers. Surviving players retain their equipment but those who have died must buy new equipment.
Any players killed before the round is over become "ghosts"; their chat/voice messages cannot be seen/heard by the players still alive, they become invisible, but they are able to watch the rest of the round. The developers of Counter-Strike have added several restrictions to this system over the years to prevent spying ghosts from communicating with those still playing. For example, ghosts cannot change their names until a new round begins because in early versions, dead players could communicate with the living by changing their names (e.g., Mr_He_Is_behind_you). Depending on server configuration, ghosts may or may not have possibility of floating freely anywhere on the map. The default in early versions was to allow the ghosts to float freely, but this default was changed later because dead players spied on the living and could communicate through alternative media (most notably voice in case of Internet cafes).
The game is a fast-paced yet tactical shooter, in a similar vein as the "Tom Clancy's" series of shooters. Pacing is fast, in the sense that players die in one or two hits from some guns, though gameplay is not nearly as fast-paced as Unreal Tournament. The game is considered a semi-realism shooter because of certain inconsistencies between realism and gameplay. One known example is how the game treats players who have been injured. A player with 1 health point is just as effective as a player with 100 health points. The 1 HP player suffers no consequences from prior injuries sustained, such as leg shots which realistically would not let someone stand up much less run around.
- Beta 1.0 - 19 June 1999
- Beta 1.1 - 27 June 1999
- Beta 1.2 - 20 July 1999
- Beta 2.0 - 13 August 1999
- Beta 2.1 - 17 August 1999
- Beta 3.0 - 14 September 1999
- Beta 3.1 - 16 September 1999
- Beta 4.0 - 5 November 1999
- Beta 4.1 - 1 December 1999
- Beta 5.0 - 23 December 1999
- Beta 5.2 - 10 January 2000
- Beta 6.0 - 10 March 2000
- Beta 6.1 and 6.2 were "Server Only" updates, not for client/user machines
- Beta 6.5 - 5 June 2000
- Beta 6.6 - 22 June 2000
- Beta 7.0 - 26 August 2000
- Beta 7.1 - 13 September 2000
- Version 1.0 - 8 November 2000
- Version 1.1 - 10 March 2001
- Version 1.3 - 19 September 2001
- Version 1.4 - 24 April 2002
- Version 1.5 - 12 June 2002
- Version 1.6 - 15 September 2003
- CS: Condition Zero - 23 March 2004
- CS: Source - 7 October 2004
The Counter-Strike team was formed by Minh Le ("Gooseman") and Jess Cliffe ("Cliffe") in 1999. Counter-Strike Beta 1.0 was released in June that same year, followed by a relatively quick succession of the beta releases (by the end of 1999, beta 5.0 had been released). CS gained in popularity just as rapidly. The Counter-Strike team was acquired by Valve to turn the fan-created mod into an official mod for Half-Life. In November 2000, Counter-Strike 1.0 — the first non-beta, official retail version of the game — was released. The newest version of CS is 1.6 and was released in September 2003 through Valve's new distribution platform called Steam.
Valve has also been attempting to cash in on the game's popularity by producing more Counter-Strike games. Valve released a version ported to the Xbox game console in November 2003. It features basic single-player gameplay against bots, but it focuses on multiplayer online play like the original. However, the Xbox version of the game (playable on Microsoft's Xbox Live online game service) has proved less successful than its PC counterpart.
A long-awaited single-player version of the game called Counter-Strike: Condition Zero was released on March 23, 2004. Condition Zero includes multiplayer bots as well. Though still very similar to CS 1.6, this game contains several graphical, sound, model and map changes. Condition Zero was developed by Turtle Rock Studios. Condition Zero was often critisized for not being up to par in terms of quality and did not sell as well as the original or the newest sequel.
Valve has updated Counter-Strike to use its Source engine which powers the recently released Half-Life 2. Counter-Strike: Source (CS:S) has been released for use by ATI Voucher holders, in Half-Life 2 bundles available on Steam, and with the boxed retail version of the game. Changes include the improvements inherent to the Source engine (such as better graphics and physics) as well as updated models, animations, maps, sounds, and some small gameplay changes. The riot shield introduced in 1.6 is gone and dead players now drop grenades just like other weapons (as was introduced in Condition-Zero).
The popular maps, such as de_dust and de_aztec, have the same layouts and size, but are revamped with many aesthetic additions such as glass bottles and 50-gallon drums. CS:S is currently available with Half-Life 2 retail editions as a multiplayer component.
For what Counter-Strike and its popularity is concerned the new Source engine heralds a new beginning for the most popular first-person shooter in history, a game which has been played throughout the world for more than five years. Finally, a small amount of vitality has been granted to what is now considered a dying game; although previous predictions of CS's demise have been premature.
The players of CS:S use the new engine for strategic purposes. Since objects in a map can be moved and have realistic properties this provides greater gameplay flexibility. For example in the map cs_office, the Terrorist players will "camp" in a room and barricade the doors with cabinets or chairs.
At the moment there are only 11 official maps available, and most of them are remakes of popular maps from earlier versions. In a recent update the map cs_compound was added, and it is the first original official map to be released for Counter-Strike: Source. At the moment Valve is working on another new map, de_port, and the historically popular map de_inferno, while Turtle Rock Studios continue to remake classic maps, although it is not known which maps they are working on. Below is the list of official maps for Counter-Strike: Source. Maps made by Turtle Rock Studios are marked with a T.
List of CS:S maps
Currently, there are three types of maps distributed with CS:
Hostage Rescue (cs_) maps are the original map type, based on a hostage rescue situation. Four Hostages (computer-controlled) are located near the terrorist spawn; the counter-terrorists must lead them to a rescue zone, which are usually near the counter-terrorist spawn. If the counter-terrorists rescue all the hostages within the time limit, they win the round. If a player on either side kills a hostage, they lose money and might also be kicked off the server. Killing the entire enemy team also ends the round. If the time limit is reached and the hostages have not been rescued, the terrorists win (even if all hostages have been killed).
The most popular hostage maps are:
- cs_assault (variants: assault_upc, assault2k, cs_assault_cz, cs_1337_assault, etc.)
Bomb defuse (de_) maps are the most popular map type, based on a bomb-planting/defusing scenario. One of the terrorists starts out with a C4 bomb that can only be planted at bomb sites; usually there are two bomb sites on the map, defined by A and B, one of which is near the counter-terrorist spawn. Once the bomb has been planted, the counter-terrorists must locate and defuse it before it explodes. On bomb defuse maps, CTs can buy a special defuse kit that decreases the time needed to defuse a bomb. Killing the enemy team ends the round if the bomb has not been planted; if the bomb has been planted, terrorists win if they kill the counter-terrorists, but the counter-terrorists must defuse the bomb even if they kill the terrorists. Previously, the round could end with the bomb planted but not yet exploded, resulting in a victory for the counter-terrorists. However, the round timer now becomes void when the bomb is planted, meaning the bomb can be planted even with 1 second left in the round and the round will continue until the bomb is defused, it explodes, or the counter-terrorist team is eliminated. Bomb defuse maps are by far the most popular, and are in general the only kind of maps used in tournament play.
The most popular bomb defuse maps are:
Assassination (as_) maps are based on an assassination scenario. One of the counter-terrorists spawns as a VIP (Very Important Person). The VIP cannot buy equipment, but starts out with 200 armor (the normal maximum is 100). The VIP must go to a rescue point; this is usually a helicopter or APC. The counter-terrorists win if the VIP makes it to the rescue point or all the terrorists are killed while the VIP is still alive. The terrorists win if the VIP is killed or the time limit is reached and the VIP has not yet made it to the rescue point. Assassination maps are far less popular than hostage rescue and bomb defuse maps. At the time of writing, this game type is not played in CS:Source.
The most popular assassination maps are:
There used to be an escape (es_) map type where the terrorists would have to flee the counter-terrorists and reach an escape zone, but that type is rarely played anymore. This game type is not played in CS:Source, and the ES maps were removed for Beta 7.0 in August 2000.
The three official escape maps were:
Custom map types
In addition to the maps included with Counter-Strike, there are many custom maps available created by map-making programs. Some custom maps even use a similar naming scheme to indicate map type:
Fy_maps (said to stand for fight yard, fun yard or fuck you) are team deathmatch maps where the only objective is to kill the opponents. FY maps are usually very small and simple. They are great for small servers and practicing skills. The spawn points are often not situated in a buy zone; instead the weapons are laying on the ground, usually one of each type and on some rare occasions armor is also provided. These maps are typically played at LAN Centers, parties, or when players are seeking quick, bloody rounds without much strategy involved.
Popular fy_maps include:
Aim_maps are another team deathmatch type, having a limited number and types of guns on the ground with the objective being to kill the opponents. The goal being to improve aim, especially with certain weapons. This kind of map does not have buy zones.
Awp_ maps focus on using the popular "AWP" (Arctic Warfare Magnum or Arctic Warfare Police) sniper rifle, which, in Counter-Strike, almost always results in one-shot kills (unless shot in lower leg or foot with armor).
He_maps focus on the use of the high explosive grenade (HE). Like the Aim maps there are no buy zones; only HE grenades spawn on the ground. On normal maps, HE grenades can only be bought in the buy zones and cannot be dropped or picked up - the exception being Counter-Strike: Source where grenades are dropped when you die.
Ka_maps (generally agreed to stand for "Knife Arena") maps center on use of the knife. Usually these maps will have some kind of variable, whether it be vehicles in the map, hidden caches of guns, or glass floors. No weapons are availible to buy, and everyone starts out with a knife.
Kz_maps are jumping maps, which allow players to improve their jumping skills. The objective is to get to the end in the shortest time possible. These maps have only counter-terrorist spawns, and killing is not an objective.
Soul Father and Kreedz, the creators of these popular jumping/climbing maps are currently developing a CS:Source jumping mod and are rumoured to be about 60% away from final completion, with an internal alpha version already released. There is also the possibility of there being a specific 'climbing tool' in this mod which will be selectable under the weapon changes.
Many, if not most experienced players around the world are a member of a clan. These groups of players are usually friends or associates who play together on a regular basis. Members of clans personalize their names with tags which are typically placed in front of and are separated from the players name. For example, in a name like "[sn]thret" or sn.thret, "sn" is the clan tag and "thret" is the player's name.
Clans are formed for several purposes. One such purpose to imbue their teammates with a sense of camaraderie, playing together on public servers. Often, clans will join leagues to compete against other clans in a highly organized structure.
The majority of Counter-Strike players play in public servers on the Internet (called pubs), where teams are randomly composed of individuals. Teams do not have any set number of players, players come and go as they please, and individual records such as number of kills and kills-to-death ratios are the typical goal.
Scrims (short for scrimmages), also known as PCWs (practice clan war) or FWs (friendly / fun wars) in Europe, however, are more team-oriented. These teams may be composed of individuals not on in a clan/team (a pug or pick-up game) or committed individuals on in a clan/team. Typical play is five versus five, and the scrim is usually officially started (declared live) after making sure the server settings are correct, and then restarting the game three consecutive times (live on 3).
In the most common type of scrimmage play (MR12), two halves are played, each 12 rounds in length; although many leagues have switched to having 15 rounds in each half, in order to reduce the effect of the first round of play, which is known as the "pistol round". At the halftime, the teams switch: the Terrorists join the Counter-Terrorist team, and vice versa. The first team to obtain 13 rounds (16 rounds in the new format) is the winner, at which point a good game (gg) is declared and the scrim usually terminates, unless both sides decide to complete all 24 rounds (30 rounds in the new format) (playout). Tied scores at the end of both halves are declared as ties or played into overtime (two halves, three rounds each side).
- #findscrim — for clans/teams/pugs looking for others to scrim against
- #findpug — for gathering individuals for pick-up games
- #findringer — for locating ringers, or individuals to play with a team in a scrim
- #findclan — for individuals looking for clans and clans looking for members; #recruit is also used
In Europe, common channels used on Quakenet to find PCWs are:
- #5on5 — mainly German
- #warfinder — main UK channel
- #cdpcw — another popular UK channel for finding a match against opponents using the Cheating-Death (C-D) cheat protection
A match is much like a scrim, but it is officially arranged by and reported to a league like the Cyberathlete Amateur League.
Counter-Strike is infamous for the variety of players it attracts. Cases have been reported of players taking the in-game conflict too far and inflicting violence on their opponents in real life.  Furthermore, a large portion of the Counter-Strike audience is stereotyped as being young pre-teen males that seek to vent their aggression through the game. Players are sometimes viewed as being crude, using Internet slang such as leet, and prone to arguing over being fragged with accusations of cheating or camping as well as name calling ("awp whore") and similar remarks. When accused of cheating, one is often said to be using "hax" or "H4X," the leet/1337 mutilation of 'hacks.' Being accused of this is a dire insult, unless the player is on a map designed for hacks. Everyone hates hackers, including hackers; But some players (clients) hack becaus they enjoy winning more, hacking usually means that players have downloaded (dl) a seperate program that hooks into openGL, which runs HL and other games. When the hack hooks in it affects the game play, some hacks allow you to see players behind walls, some make it so you automaticly aim for the head on an enemy, killing them instantly. Valve will ban hackers if they are caught, they revoke their account so they cant play or have to buy a new one. Even other hackers hate hackers, if only because of the competition, though there is a whole hacking community, they put together/add on to hacks and post them on web-sites. Hacks are becoming ever-more elaborate and harder to indentify and catch.
Mods and scripts
Even though Counter-Strike is itself a mod, it developed its own community of script writers and modders. There have been many different mods and scripts to:
- Improve gameplay
- Remove features of the games which players felt were annoying
- Make the game more funny
- Create different modes of play
- Control players not following set rules
- Keep track of player statistics and scores
See Metamod for more information.
- www.counter-strike.net - The official Counter-Strike website
- Steam: Valve's online client required to play Counter-Strike
- The official Counter-Strike: Condition Zero website
- HLDS 101 - How to create your Counter-Strike server
- 17Buddies - World leader in custom maps (More than 10000 maps for Hl1, HLČ and Mods)
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