Counter-Strike turns 15: A Chatty retrospective

By Ozzie Mejia, Jun 23, 2014 11:00am PDT

It started as a simple mod to a classic first-person PC shooter. Taking Valve's original Half-Life, a pair of programmers tinkered with the game's script and worked to turn it into a team-based multiplayer romp. The result was a mod called Counter-Strike, which turned 15 on June 19 of this year. Since then, it turned into a retail release and quickly ballooned into a global phenomenon, becoming one of the most influential and beloved multiplayer experiences ever created.

As a website with its roots firmly entrenched in PC gaming, Shacknews' Chatty community has some fond memories of battling Terrorists and Counter-Terrorists across the years. Their recollections range from unforgettable encounters, to funny bugs and glitches, to nights that just went on without end. This is a collection of memories from our community about Valve's Counter-Strike.

Shooting like it's 1999

What's there to say about Counter-Strike, other than there's no greater satisfaction than getting together with friends to run through Valve's classic maps in an effort to blow it up or defuse a bomb. It wasn't always the pristine experience we see today, as some of our posters remember the game in its rougher state.

"I was invited to the first beta and remember playing with [creators Minh "Gooseman" Le and Jess Cliffe]," recalls poster cruncht1me. "This was before most of the guns and weapons were in the game. It was the Goldeneye level, Facility. Such good memories, man. I played this game so much though my teenage years."

The obsession for some of our posters had only just begun at that point.

"I played so much CS," said Chatty's ThomW. "I started playing almost at the beginning -- I was hitting planethalflife a bunch of times a day, and downloaded just about every mod to try it out. CS looked cool and grabbed me right away. I think the first version I played had the hostage-saving stuff implemented, but it was really rough. The map I remember had a big, ugly two-story building on one side where the Terrorists spawned, there was a big gap with a couple planks that the CTs would cross to get into the building, and not much else."

"I was really into the HL mod scene," Morgin added, recalling his time with the original beta. "I still have these emails back and forth I had with [co-creator Minh "Gooseman" Le] where I tried to convince him to let me buy CS for $1000 to make it an exclusive mod for my website. This was way back in the day, like 4-5 days after it was first released. The only map was this really rough version of cs_mansion I think that had hedges with broken clipping and, as Thom said, the hostages glowed and you could **** with all the doors as a ghost."

But the original Counter-Strike was only the beginning. Over the course of the next 15 years, the Shacknews community would grow to cherish this multiplayer treasure, adding it to the annals of other beloved PC classics like Quake and Doom.

Back in the day

For some of our Chatty posters, Counter-Strike brings them back to their younger days, some as far back as high school.

"Counter-Strike was the first game I became almost obsessive with playing," said InfectedSoul. "During the latter half of my high school years, any time not at school (and some I should have been!), I pretty much played CS nonstop either with a few buddies or at a LAN we did in town here. Every Saturday night 15-25 guys, depending on the nights, would cramp into a local computer store, hook up our own rigs, and scream at each other until our throats hurt. Average night went from 6pm til 2-3am, with many of them stretching until the sun was coming up and we could go out for breakfast and talk about the hilarity of the night before. When I used to be good at the game I got banned a lot for "hacking" on pubs which always made me laugh and stroked my ego big time."

"Counter-Strike was the first game that I ever really got any good at," added Adm.Snackbar. "At the end of my senior year of high school, my parents finally ditched AOL got a broadband connection, which meant I could finally play online games. I had been exposed to Counter-Strike at a LAN party earlier in the year, so I immediately downloaded and started playing with friends from school on the NPS server. I came in right at the end of 1.4, so it was nice to not have to unlearn any bad habits during the transition to 1.5. I have fond memories of knifing AWPing bastards, going on TMP streaks in the 747, and playing noscope scout rounds on dust. But my absolute favorite memory is the time I jumped on a new server, bought a Colt, then sprinted across the bridge on Aztec while headshotting 5 consecutive people, including the server admin, and was instabanned for hacking. Nothing is a bigger ego-boost than having someone ban you for hacking while you're playing legit."

In the case of zerog83, Counter-Strike reminds him of conflicts with his college roommate over turning the volume to 11. Poster gorphine had a similar experience tormenting his college dorm with loud blasts of CS. "When my buddies back home got into CS too we would LAN up a couple computers so we could play internet games together," he explained. "Whoever died first would spot enemies for whoever was still alive. Plus shots and lots of smoking between rounds. When Gun Game came out years later, I was like a kid in a candy store. This is still my go to game for a quick adrenaline filled gaming session."

Counter-Strike was even good for helping folks find love. Chatty's helvetica recalls meeting her significant other (poster lefthighkick) through Counter-Strike: Source. It was all a part of a weekly gathering on Tuesdays, in which she'd set up her CS:S server to run custom maps. Custom creations included this Breakout-themed map and this dollhouse map.

Counter-Strike was good clean fun, whether it involved building silly towers or messing around with player names, as poster Rex_the_Runt would so often do.

Let's not pretend Counter-Strike was perfect, though. There were definitely bugs to be found, as sanchez points out when he remembers the game's initial issues with DirectX. Meanwhile, helvetica remembers an issue on de_dust2, in which the map's bomb exploded and the fire persisted through to the next round. But when it came to bugs, Counter-Strike was considered a different animal than large-budget FPS games of today. The latter come with expectations, given their funding and development team pedigrees. CS was one of the first games of its kind, so when it occasionally tossed in a glitch, players didn't react so much with fury, but rather with a light-hearted laugh.

The next generation

Since Counter-Strike first released 15 years ago, some of our Chatty posters have even gone on to have young children of their own. And yes, that means an entirely new generation is discovering Valve's shooter for the first time, whether it's the original, the updated Counter-Strike: Source, or the more-recent Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

At the forefront of this new breed is the son of baron calamity, who is creating headaches for anyone he comes across. In fact, he put together a video showing off his dynamite killing spree.

The kid has already reached the rank of Master Guardian Elite, having player CS:S for two years and CS:GO for eight months. With players like this, Chatty's legacy in the world of Counter-Strike will live on and is a great testament to 15 years of frags and bomb detonations.


Do you have any Counter-Strike memories you'd like to share, as we continue through this milestone year for the franchise? Share them with us in the comments below!

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