Interview / Valve’s Chet Faliszek on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Valve Software are returning to their famed Counter-Strike series next year with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. But this is no simple update, as GO will mark the franchise debut on both PSN and XBLA. We caught up with Valve writer Chet Faliszek at the Eurogamer Expo 2011 to find out more about this one.

TVGB: So what’s up with CounterStrike: Global Offensive? What’s new? What’s old?

Chet Faliszek: So Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is the best version of Counter-Strike. We’re taking everything we’ve learned from Source and Counter-Strike 1.6 and combining it into one product.

It’s also the best looking Counter-Strike and it’s probably the most accessible one in the sense that one of the things we learned as we were going back and looking through Source and how that affected the 1.6 community was that we kind of clamped down on skills a little bit in Source so it made it harder for players to differentiate themselves. We wanted to expand that in GO so that players could really show how good they are because that’s a lot of nuance to high levels.

But equally in the casual mode you were playing today money doesn’t mean anything, you can jump in and start playing and having that excitement without all the other levels of skill.

TVGB: For those that haven’t played it before, Counter-Strike has always seemed like such an alienating experience because it’s already got such a huge community. In that respect are you worried about bringing it to consoles and a new audience?

Chet: So one of the problems we see now when you jump into Counter-Strike Source, for example, you jump into a game and you have no idea if you’re playing with a newbie or some guy that’s been playing for seven years and going to own you. That’s one of the things we wanted to do in CS: GO – make sure we have skill based matchmaking. So you can jump into a game playing on the skill-based side and you’re matching against people of your skill. So you’ll always have a competitive game without being overwhelmed.

TVGB: But what about bringing it to consoles? That’s kind of a new era for Counter-Strike.

Chet: For us this project originally started as having CS ported to XBLA and release kind of like a nostalgia kind of thing. And we started playing it and fell in love with it again and realised just how well is translated. So we’ve had a lot of people come here and say ‘Oh it’s not the PC version, I don’t wanna play that’ and then they jump on and they’re fine, because this really translates well to the platform. There’s so many different people playing on so many different platforms so we’ve made it here that the controls are simple and straight forward and you pick it up and you go.

TVGB: How is the PS3/PC cross-platform play shaping up?

Chet: We’re looking at it. One of the things we’re going to find out during the beta is either how far to drive that or how far to bring that back because we’re not going to hamstring one platform for another. So for Portal 2 it was really easy to keep the cross-platform in step because the co-op was pretty much delivered out of the box and there was nothing else that needed to be done there. For GO we’re going to be doing more integrated updating which is going to be a little more problematic but we’ll see how it goes.

TVGB: Are there any fears that with this play, PC players would be at an advantage?

Chet: I would say definitely that PC players will be at an advantage but that’s where skill-based matchmaking comes in where you’re rising up in skill to as skilful as you are. So if you’re super-great with a controller you’ll rise up into PC ranks. That’s what we’d imagine. The PC has a more precise fidelity of movement.

TVGB: You’re also moving into a space where you’re now going to be competing with the two biggest online shooters that are coming out at the end of this year. What are your hopes for Counter-Strike against those two? Where do you see it fitting in against two other modern shooters?

Chet: A lot of other shooters have come out since we released Counter-Strike 12 years ago, but if you look at PC stats it’s still the number one shooter on PC. Over 25 million people have played the franchise.

So we’re pretty secure in saying that there’s people who want that experience where it’s about tactics and skill and in the moment. It’s not just ‘I just died, why’d I die? How did that guy do that to me?’ – those games are fun, don’t get me wrong I’m going to play the hell out of Battlefield 3, it’s a totally fun game.

But those games do things differently, they don’t do the experience. This is much more like a sport where it’s really clean. You know the rules, you know the map, you’re just tested against the skills of the other guy.

TVGB: And with that in mind how long do you see this particular incarnation of the game lasting? Will it have the same sort of legacy on consoles?

Chet: We’re going to update it and make it the best version of Counter-Strike so we definitely see that kind of longevity with this product.