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Counter-Strike turns 15: A Chatty retrospective

Counter-Strike turned 15 years old on June 19, 2014 and Chatty has compiled some of their favorite memories of Valve's shooter.


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!

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    June 23, 2014 11:00 AM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Counter-Strike turns 15: A Chatty retrospective.

    Counter-Strike turned 15 years old on June 19, 2014 and Chatty has compiled some of their favorite memories of Valve's shooter.

    • reply
      June 23, 2014 11:19 AM

      My favorite memory:

      My second favorite memory:

      Van camping with riedlos during a shack battle. Full chatty here:

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        June 23, 2014 11:19 AM

        0h, crap, that was back in 2007?!? That was a long time ago. :[

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        June 23, 2014 12:47 PM

        what happened to foxhawk

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        June 23, 2014 2:03 PM

        god that was awesome. i fell out of my chair laughing when that happened.

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      June 23, 2014 11:50 AM

      Killed Q3 as an esport imo :(

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        June 23, 2014 11:57 AM

        I loved Goldeneye like my first-born child, but I never picked it up again after I discovered CS.

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          June 23, 2014 11:59 AM

          I had such an unreasonable hate for it because it was stealing good q3 players left and right. I was young and stupid.

          I still think it's a crappy competitive fps but i can now admit I see why it is popular.

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            June 24, 2014 8:23 AM

            I liked CS, but the people playing it always ruined it for me.
            Such toxic people, I would play for a few days and then stop.
            Always such elitist attitudes.. God forbid you didn't carry the team or made a mistake.
            Usually resulted in a ban if there was a server admin around.

            I feel that RTCW was always hindered by people that would not move on from CS.
            I remember using the server browser software, like All Seeing Eye, and always seeing TONS of people on CS and all the other multiplayer games getting the scraps that fell off the table.
            Kind of similar to what wow is doing with MMO's now...

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      June 23, 2014 11:53 AM

      Counter-Strike is the best.

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      June 23, 2014 1:17 PM

      funny cs video

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        June 23, 2014 1:18 PM

        nevermind crustar posted it FRIG

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          June 23, 2014 1:36 PM

          I posted it in response to 0unce's original query, but he didn't include it in his article. :[

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            June 23, 2014 1:59 PM

            Ah, but who says this is the last article on the subject?


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      June 23, 2014 1:41 PM

      I have friends that still play 1.6. They are nuts.

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        June 23, 2014 9:20 PM

        Yes, you can totally still load it up on Steam - 1.6 - and find populated servers. Its fun to do once or twice a year. If somehow I could get a server with an entire community back in action like the old days I could totally go back to spending my gaming hours in CS 1.6 and only CS 1.6.

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      June 23, 2014 3:17 PM

      My friend and I had cable Internet when it was new and it gave us not just great pings but also freed up our phone line. So we used it to talk to each other in our earliest form of private VOIP communications. We used it to cooperate as well as ghost which was to provide locations of where other players were when one became a spectator. This was well before wall hacks were rampant so we were never suspected. And when we had moments of shooting players through a door our common explanation was that we had surround sound speakers and the latest Soundblaster card with EAX and people bought it.

      The game became great when we became bored and started to find exploits. I discovered that we could move hostages and always relocated them into rooms with only one way in and used them to block the doors. Also exploiting the jump crouch assist to reach higher ledges to be someplace completely unexpected. Nearly all players only thought in 2D in places where there was no where to get up on a vantage point without assistance like the overhead lights in the bathroom on cs_militia. We won so many matches that way because hostages blocked the doors from opening and CT's would have to kill them to get in. But once in they never saw my friend or me on the light and only focus on the other sitting in the tub.

      We also used jump crouch to lift each other up onto crates in bomb maps as the T's and plant bombs in unreachable or hard to find places at the bomb site. The first time was an inspiration when out team kept getting killed even after planting the bomb ahead of the CT's defusing it. It was on de_cbble where I told my friend to jump on my head and I boosted him on a crate. He planted the bomb and at site B on a crate, we went to go defend it but we're a both instantly killed by the CT's. They were unable to find the bomb and kept running in circles looking for it. When the timer came to the end they tried to run and most of them died in the blast. We were laughing so hard on the phone and from that point on we always planted the bomb up on crates and we really pissed off that team with victory after victory.

      We also had a knack of using the goatse pic as a spray which distracted players at checkpoints or delayed them at their spawns since everyone had to stop to type out "WTF is that?" The best was the time on I think de_aztec or a similar looking map where we sprayed one crate with it while my friend his behind the crate with an AWP. I spotted for him when someone ran past and he stopped to look at it. I told him to shoot on the phone and you could see the bullet come from the asshole and kill the guy.

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      June 23, 2014 3:25 PM

      Remember the first appearance of voicechat?

      That said, there were a lot of hitbox issues, and CS definitely stole multiplayer thunder from some other deserving FPS games (Quake 3, Soldier of Fortune, Doom 3; I specifically remember someone saying that they didn't want to run a single Doom 3 server on a box that could host FOUR CS servers). CS also arguably set the stage for the modern military FPS glut that was touched off by Call of Duty 4.

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        June 23, 2014 3:30 PM

        Voice chat was hilarious when the bodies first stuck around because they'd still be considered 'alive' after they hit the ground and before the game had 'settled' the body into place. This resulted in people dying, falling over, and saying "fuck" (or something) right as they hit the ground with moving mouth and everything.

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      June 23, 2014 4:50 PM

      I ran a series of CS servers on the East Coast many moons ago. They were originally Quake and then Quake2 servers called Yoda's Barn. A fellow player and friend who initially was a fan of the Action Quake mod showed me one of the early Beta's of CS. We started running one server to see how the game would be received.

      I had wanted to move over to Q3A, as I personally was a bigger fan of the Quake series. Q3A didn't seem to catch on like Q2 did and more players seemed interested in CS than Q3A. I think part of this was due to Q3A requiring hardware rendering. CS could still be played in software mode.

      It took me awhile to wrap my head around running the servers. The player base was far different then the Quake core fan base. Trying to stay on top of all the various hacks was nearly a full time job. The wall hacks were probably the most difficult to detect.

      The problem I noticed was that those players that did have great skill were often accused of being aimbots.

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      June 23, 2014 9:39 PM

      I remember some of the betas being better than 1.x was. (though this might have been because of the insane overpowered M4A1 and MP5 I'd always use lol)

      Anyone else remember Gooseman's original Navy Seals mod for Quake 1? That's really where this all started:

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