For some reason I don't quite remember, a few weeks ago I dusted off Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and fired it up to have a bash. I had barely ever played CS:GO before - maybe once or twice when it first came out just to try it - so it has been years since I've played CS for any reasonable amount of time.
As a bit of background:
I was never a huge fan of Counter-Strike but played quite a bit of it and sometimes even had quite a lot of fun pwning noobs.
I have always been frustrated by games with pub modes that ostensibly are about team-based goals but generally descend into a mishmash of team-based FFA - it's often a struggle to convince members of your team to focus on goals (e.g., "hey, let's rush left and plant the bomb" is just not a strategy that is met with a high degree of buy-in by random online teammates).
Counter-Strike has always had this problem in spades; old timers might remember the AusGamers "Lightning Dust" server that I set up many moons ago - the point of which was to try to put a finger on the scales by applying more time pressure to the Ts to push and plant. I always found it fun but there were a bunch of people that never seemed to get it.
Anyway, I started playing CS:GO again and was very curious to see how the game had evolved over the last couple of years - what new gameplay mechanics have been introduced? What new weapons? What new interface elements to make things easier for pub games?
I was a bit surprised to discover how almost absolutely identical CS:GO is to my memories of the last time I played CS (five years ago? More? Definitely long before CS:GO was released). The visuals are substantially improved - while it's not absolutely stunning it's definitely a huge improvement and looks really nice, with some really great subtle visual effects around the place. Additionally, the engine and ecosystem feels really solid - the addition of custom guns and skins and stuff seems like it has gone well, and the matchmaking and pro features look like they're pretty cool (although I haven't played with any of these much, it's clear a lot of effort has gone into all of them).
But the lack of significant changes I found weird. There's a few new maps maybe - I'm not even sure as everyone seems to be pretty content playing Dust and Dust2. There's a new weapon - the Zeus single-shot electro-zapper thing, and I think the fire grenades are new too.
I didn't expect a whole new game with hugely different mechanics (sprint, prone, lean) but I thought there might be at least something that felt substantially new or interesting or different. The most significant change I've noticed is the addition of the 'Score' column in the scoreboard, but it's really barely noticable and has no design treatment to stand out above and beyond the kill count. The actual score itself still doesn't take into account many teamplay-focused gameplay elements - you only get a measly two points for planting or defusing the bomb, when they're critical for the round?!
As a result the game feels very comfortable and familiar; it's fun to dive in for a bash but it's still frustrating in exactly the same ways, especially if you're on the T side in a bomb map - people play in their own totally isolated bubble and don't even attempt to teamplay. Had several Aztec games recently where some players buy an AWP and set up camp just outside of spawn and stay there the whole game - basically waiting for the rest of us to try and die, then pick up cheap kills when the CTs come through to try to mop up. This seems to be really common.
I am teamplay difficulties are significantly exacerbated, being in Europe - every game is full of people speaking different languages (also Russians seem to be toxic by default); it's generally harder for people to communicate effectively.
I feel like there's a huge lost opportunity to make a some simple changes to improve pub teamplay. Something like a simple tactical screen at the start of the round which is just a voting thing so people can indicate what they're going to do, but I appreciate that part of the game is /actually/ communicating with your teammates. I just think that this basically never works in practice in pub games, which is where the vast majority of the game is played. There's a few other small things that would be nice - for example when I play with my brother and we start the game in a lobby, there's no UI treatment that differentiates him from the rest of the team. Again I get that if we were better at communicating, we'd know where we are at all times, but I just think we'd be able to get more done if there was an at-a-glance way for us to distinguish ourselves. Even if it only happened in the first five seconds of the round so we could figure out where we are!
A better points system I think would help too. Dropping the bomb at the start of the map, for example - basically a sign that you're completely giving up on the objective - should result in loss of points. Points for defending the bomb carrier or even just being in his vicinity for x% of the map.
One of the main design goals of modern competitive multiplayer games is "easy to learn, hard to master". Certainly the teamplay mechanics side of CS is like that - I haven't watched pro games so I could be completely wrong (tips for great games to watch on Twitch or whatever appreciated!) but I imagine they are totally next level in terms of tactics, teamplay and timing and almost totally indistinguishable from pub games. Aside from the few standard FPS skills like twitch reflexes and aim and stuff I feel like there's not a lot to master in terms of the basic mechanics - as evidence for this I'd present a bunch of the results of recent games that my bro and I have played recently where we are often winning many rounds, even though we haven't played the maps before and played the game for years.
I am certainly not claiming to be awesome at it - just that the learning curve seems quite shallow compared to Dota (which is the only other multiplayer game I've been playing for the last few years).
Mostly it has made me want to play Urban Terror again. I would love to see a Counter-Strike that has some more variety in the core gameplay. Sprinting and basic wall climbing for example - two simple things that made Urban Terror feel so much more like a complete game. Maybe leaning although I haven't played many tacshooters where I got the hang of leaning so not sure if it's worth the added complexity. I think a few small additions like this would increase the range of "mechanical skill" and make it that much harder to master - this would happen at the expense of AK-spraying noobs but I'm not sure if it would be that big a deal.
I think balancing it out with something like UT's damage system would be good too - so it's easier to take a bit more damage in more interesting ways. I got sniped in the leg yesterday for over 100 damage which killed me, which reminded me that In UT you'd (typically) take a non-critical leg wound that you could bandage up; your movement speed would be reduced, but it meant you could take more damage and stay alive longer in a variety of circumstances.
Some more small-scale teamplay-focused things would be cool. I actually really liked the idea of the shields from Condition Zero (although I didn't play it much so don't know how it worked out practically).
Certainly the simplicity of CS is a huge factor in its popularity and I can easily imagine even minor changes to the gameplay would probably be considered too risky (if only to avoid legions of CS players complaining incessantly). But it would be nice to imagine a future where CS evolves a little more actively over a period of several years so that it feels a bi more like a different game over time.
Anyway, the game is still fun enough to play that the frustration is usually outweighed by the entertainment factor. I just feel like it's been several years since I complained about Counter-Strike so I thought I'd do it all at once.
Be interested to hear if other people are still playing it and what I've missed!
Yeah I still play CS:GO competitive. I normally play one every night and then play PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.
I find matchmaking pretty ok and gameplay is simple and effective.
I played CS with my brother recently and got completely owned. I guess my reflexes have gone down the s***tier but the game was never that much fun to me anyway. People still play it like they used to on the WON servers. Still the same damn maps.
Trog did you use to play RTCW: Enemy Territory? My absolute favorite FPS game, with TF2 coming in second. I loved how these games forced players to concentrate on the objective while still giving them opportunities to solo the enemy.
Yep ET is probably the team-based FPS I've had the most fun playing online in general pub games.
I loved how these games forced players to concentrate on the objective while still giving them opportunities to solo the enemy.Yep, and the bigger thing was the game mechanics made forcing you to cooperate quite fun as well - being a medic (what I always liked) to revive fallen soldiers on the battlefield or being a lieutenant to drop ammo, etc. Just little combinations of teamplay activities that were generally really subtle, really easy and made it awesome without it changing into a game that was totally dominated by classes.
I also played a bit of CS:GO the other week, after not having played since CS 1.6 back in like circa 2000.
I was surprised it hadn't changed much, everyone's still basically playing dust, the average age seemed to be about 14 (on South African servers at any rate), the game play is kinda annoying with it sticking in the same old map bottlenecks, with no team play and awp campers.
I played in casual and was surprised I managed to pwn and come top in quite a few matches, guess the reflexes aren't too rusty. Someone even accused me of cheating with a headshot script or some such! lol.
It made me want to play / miss Tribes (used to play the original a lot, thought Tribes: Ascend was great fun) and Urban Terror (loved UT!).
Guess I need to check out the latest Battlefield or CoD for some online FPS fun I can dip in and out of. Or maybe Quake Champions actually, that looks sweet.
I was never a huge fan of Counter-Strike but played quite a bit of it and sometimes even had quite a lot of fun pwning noobs.Dirty team stacker.
A worthy follow up to this thread.
Multiplayer games have become no-go zones for me because of how toxic the communities are. When I was a young d******* I thrived in them but now they only serve to annoy me. Plus I think drugs and alcohol have destroyed the parts of my brain that made me slightly good at them in the past because I am just so s*** now.
PUBG is great though. I only play on teams with people I know personally and I can just mute everyone else. I can't see their chat messages; they may as well just be extremely well programmed bots. Haven't played it in a while though because it's so damn stressful and I just want to kill Nekkers with my cheaty specced Geralt.
A worthy follow up to this thread.haha nice memory!
Multiplayer games have become no-go zones for me because of how toxic the communities are.yeh ever since I started playing games where I wasn't admin I really struggled because I couldn't simply kick and ban people that were toxic and had to adjust to a whole new way of playing. Dota's muting system is OK but people still default to toxic mode; it needs some more incentives on the commend side to encourage better behaviour.
I basically had to immediately turn off the voice chat system in CS globally because it was full of either russians yelling, kids swearing or just general idiots being idiots. The text chat seems to be almost totally vestigial now and used for abuse or random s*** - seems like that is the intent based on where it lives in the UI now.
I am keen to try PUBG as it sounds like it's pretty fun in groups but it looks like of a bit slow and snipey?
I was playing CS last night on a casual server and randomly the guys had great voice chat banter, a bunch were even beatboxing and doing funny voices, was awesome! Big change from the usual kids swearing. Guess it's all about who you play with. It does seem regretful that the online gaming communities always seem to default to toxicity.
CS is a f*****g annoying pub game. Battlefield I find is a little better because there is a better chance of teaming up with a teamplay focused squad.
im surprised by how much i enjoy proper overwatch matches.
when you play as a team, you can beat any non team playing enemy
There have been significant changes, however they aren't related to the in-game gameplay. Well, hard-core CS players will nerd out and say there have been significant in-game gameplay changes, however to the more casual player they wouldn't be seen as significant.
It's like if you widened the goal posts in soccer by 20 cm's on each side, most people wouldn't even notice much. The high level players would think it's a MASSIVE change. Stuff like that has happened in CS:GO.
The biggest change would be the exceptional in-game launcher with the match-making system. It does a really, really good job of matching relative skill levels of each team.
They have also implemented a really solid anti-cheating system with both automatic detection features and a collective user-driven judgement system on suspect players.
In the lower ranks this is a problem, as you progress to the middle ranks it starts to rapidly improve. In the higher ranks most people know common strats, the major call outs and many minor ones too. People respond to information much more fluidly and communicate much more concisely. They stay silent during clutch moments, etc.
However, there are always the angry toxic players that are quick to blame others, they can significantly disrupt teams and destroy that sense of teamwork.
I feel this happens much more in the lower-middle rank were players tend to have an overrated sense of their own skill compared to their fellow players.
Ahh you see, there is. A lot of the hard-to-master skills in CS are subtle. Getting your timing just right for counter-strafing to stop your movement (it decelerates quickly, but is not instant for example) is a skill that a lot of players have trouble learning.
Pre-firing is another skill in CS that isn't really big in other titles. There are clear angles that are hugly advantageous for the defenders, as such the attackers need to be very good in knowing where to line up their aim for when they apply the above counter-strafe so that when they pop out from a corner they hit the defenders head before the defender can shoot, there is only 100-200ms of room for this.
Then that is where information gathering comes into it, which is yet another skill that is hard to master. You have to learn how to gather information from what your team-mates see and very importantly DON'T see. From what is heard, etc.
A fair chunk of the beginning of a round is just the attackers gather information about the locations of the defenders and then how to deal with that.
This is what I mean about the hard-to-master skills being subtle. Unfortunately due the heavy team-orientated style of the way many of these skills are applied and developed, it requires playing with people of similar (slightly better actually) in order to learn how to effectively use these skills.
If the learning curve was shallow, then there wouldn't be clear top-level players/teams compared to second tier player, etc. The general public would be just as good, and they clearly aren't.
Just like DOTA it really does takes years and solid dedication to play at those higher levels. If it was really as shallow as you think, it wouldn't be able to have these multi-million prize pool competitions so frequently.
In the most recent Operation, they had a couple game-modes for this very aspect. 2 v 2 matches, etc with modified rules and even specialized maps.
That's one of the coolest things the CS:GO team has done imo, every 6 months or so they release a new Operation which has interesting game-modes, challenge games, main map rotations, etc.
My only b**** about them is that you generally have to pay a small fee to be able to access most of the coolest features, some of the game-modes are locked off from non-Operation players.
That being said, people are weird and like to spend real money on in-game cosmetic stuff and sometimes, really large amounts of money. So when a new operation comes, often it comes with new skins. These come in crates. You randomly get crates/skins after matches (sometimes, not always).
It can be easy to make $10-$20 by selling a crate very early after an operation is released, which easily pays for purchasing the operation. As it's random though, you can't be guaranteed you'll get a operation crate drop in time to sell it for enough $'s to pay for the operation. It has to be within the first week really.
last edited by Tollaz0r! at 10:29:27 16/Sep/17
Great post Toll thanks!! I need to go through it in more detail but very informative.
One thing I definitely forgot to mention was the addition of the radar which I think is the biggest change. I really like it though it seems like a weird concession to the sorts of teamplay-based mechanics.
Also I forgot to mention cheating still being a problem - less so the actual instance of cheating but people whining about cheaters. We had a game on the weekend where someone tried to kickvote my brother in the 2nd round because he got like 3 or 4 kills without dying. He insisted that he was cheating over and over. F*****g ludicrous.
Yesterday I saw my first real cheater though - some dude just spinning around in circles shooting down through the floor in Vertigo killing people on the level downstairs. Was really stupid. I reported him - am I likely to get any feedback about it?
I agree, that is the most infuriating aspect of CS and that attitude has been about the same since the game began pretty much.
I figure it must have something to do with the time-to-kill combined with the tension of matches that is what CS is about. For instance, the pre-firing skill I wrote about means that when someone pulls off that technique, particularly in the middle/lower skill groups, it will appear to be extremely suss from the viewpoint of the person that died. Particularly when they are frustrated and viewing everything with a negative bias.
I've always found that aspect interesting though, why is it that hackusations are rife in CS. It's true that there are always new cheats being released in that cat-and-mouse fashion. However, being on the receiving end of these hackusations (and witnessing it happen to my friends as well) I can only conclude that most of the time people think someone is cheating, it isn't true.
So is it a problem of the player base? Or is it a peculiar reaction that most people would enact due to the mechanics of the game, like in the brief example above? I guess what I'm wondering is, are the high levels of hackusations in CS an artifact of the human psyche combined with the way CS plays. If that is the case, there would be no real way to reduce that, short of teaching players new psychological coping strategies to deal with the anxieties produced by the game. Which would explain why the problem is so damned persistent, literally for a decade and longer.
That is called a spin-bot, troll level cheating. IMO, most of the cheating that takes place is along these levels. AS most cheats created are detected and cleaned out in a short time frame through VAC. There are more sophisticated cheats available, however due to the nature of VAC these types of cheats tend to be extremely limited in their availability with people having to pay increasing fees to access them. The idea being the more exclusive the client base the longer the cheat can remain active for.
As for feedback, yes you will receive feedback. When you report a player the backend does its magic (no-one really knows for sure how the system works, valve intentionally obfuscates that information). When the player is flagged as a cheater and banned, either by automatic detection or due to player-consensus, you will receive a message in the launch screen saying that 'a player you recently reported has been banned, thank you' or something like that.
Also, if a player has been detected as cheating and banned from a match-maker game, the results for that game is nulled for both winners and losers. IF it was one of your 10 recent games, it will have a piece of information in that game-history screen saying as much.
It's widely considered useful to report cheating players regardless of the game type. The play-consensus system is called 'Overwatch' and players who have played enough comp matches and have an account that has been active enough, gain access to volutiarily watch a suspect match. The player-names of the match are randomly changed to generic names so peopel have no-idea who they are watching.
Then the player judges if the suspect player named 'The Suspect' (I think) is guilty of X,Y and/or Z. There is a list of options that can be selected. If a significant consensus is reached among a bunch of random players who viewed the match, then the suspect receives an overwatch ban. There is probably an algorithmic element to the decision as well, as valve have stated that they routinely inject Pro matches into the overwatch system to validate a players ability to suss out if a person is cheating or if they are just playing really good.
Presumably watchers are rated on their accuracy of being able to 'pass' a suspect who turns out to be a Pro, whilst those that say he is 'aimboting', 'walling', etc would receive a lower score for their future guilty votes.
Valve really have put in a lot of time and effort to try combat cheating, the CS devs have really got to be applauded for their efforts in what must be a very frustrating and thankless job.
Cool. Yep I feel I definitely have not seen many cheaters, at least many obvious ones. The instant replay you get when killed is generally good enough to know that you were killed by luck or skill in most cases - there are times when it probably hurts, rather than helps though. I had one moment a few days ago where I was randomly shooting cover fire into a door, a split second before a dude put his head out and collected the bullets. On the reply it would have looked exactly the same as me wallhacking.
Alas it's still easier for most donkeys to blame cheating when they get pwned.
I do think it's a side effect of what I still think is a problem with the core mechanics (what I was writing earlier about the skill differentiation). It's easy for a lucky noob to get easy kills through spray and pray (I got two headshots in a game yesterday within a few seconds, doing nothing but blind-firing through smoke). You have to watch for several rounds, or even games, to rule out cheating if someone has a small spurt of good luck (which is what happened yesterday with my bro).
Thanks for the info Toll, very interesting and useful! Especially the finer move/shoot tactics, some of my more frustrating deaths make more sense now.
ahh, you have it backwards.
It should be viewed as ruling in cheating. People do bulls*** things from time to time, the better players do bulls*** more often.
You blind fired into smoke, a part of you had an idea where about in that smoke is the most likely spot for bad-guys, 3D spatial awareness helps a lot for that. People really do have trouble perceiving what they can't see, it's a skill to accurately hit a particular spot that is behind a wall when you can't directly see that spot.
You used skill to minimize the randomness of shooting through that smoke. You were rewarded by getting the bulls*** kills. It's an indirect use of skill, unlike a rocket-jump off a wall to get the angle for a perfect shot in Quake, that is direct use of a skill(S). That is part of the difference between CS and Quake type games. In CS the skills used are more indirect.
Anyway, the idea is that if you suspect a player of cheating it's about Ruling the cheating in, do they do more bulls*** stuff, do they respond to information that they could not possibly know that can't be explained by reasonable chance? This is part of why players need to have a certain amount of experience under their belt in order to be eligible for Overwatch.
Viper, my guess is that in the Africa region you are in the player-base for match-making is much lower than casual. So it may take a while to match you to similar skilled players, a long while.
US and Aus tends to match for most ranks within 1-5 mins. The more restrictive you make your map pool the longer it will take. Taking Dust2 out of your MM match pool will significantly increase the time, with Mirage being the next most popular.
Does the rank I get in casual get used in competitive? So I can increase my rank through casual play to have a better chance of matching in competitive? I'm like a lvl 3 private or something, lol.
This is what I mean about the hard-to-master skills being subtle. Unfortunately due the heavy team-orientated style of the way many of these skills are applied and developed, it requires playing with people of similar (slightly better actually) in order to learn how to effectively use these skills.Yep all that stuff is really interesting. I guess playing it casually those parts of the 'skill tree' are almost completely invisible - you have to be playing at a high level to even know they exist.
Which is kind of my point - in casual scrub league, the differentiation barely has any effect. Maybe the matchmaking is just that good that you don't end up with good players coming in to dominate - certainly it's rare that someone comes in and is totally unkillable for several maps in a row, though occasionally (myself included) someone will have a good game. It's super rare for me though because I prefer to play first-through-the-door style so my KD ratio is often terrible :D