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Development of Counter-Strike: Condition Zero

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After the success of Valve Corporation's release of Counter-Strike in 2000, they worked on a sequel for it and development started for Counter-Strike: Condition Zero.

SummaryEdit

Condition Zero started development in 2000 by Rogue Entertainment, initially announced in May 2001 at E3 of that year. Rogue's producer for the game, Jim Molinet, later that year moved to Sony and the development company went defunct, leaving Valve with the development. Later, they gave it to Gearbox Software, the developers of the Half-Life expansion packs, so that Valve could focus on the development rival Team Fortress 2 and its new engine.

Gearbox created an overhaul of Counter-Strike with high quality models and better graphics, similar to Blue Shift compared to Half-Life. They also added alpha blending, allowing for realistic foliage and weather effects, and a single-player mode to the game. They also placed explosive weapons such as a Molotov cocktail, tear gas bomb, and M72 LAW rocket. They also used the release of Steam to their advantage to help prevent cheating by ensuring constant code updates.

After a few developmental delays, it missed its late 2002 deadline and was given over to Ritual Entertainment, who completely remade the game into a single-player one with 20 unconnected missions. They enhanced the AI of the original Half-Life to create the initial bot AI. It was expected to have a release in early 2003 with a secondary multiplayer mode, and developed alongside the Xbox version of Counter-Strike.

However, after declaring the game gold and handing out review copies of Ritual's work, Valve saw an average review score of around 60%. The companies retracted the gold status and work on Condition Zero was essentially begun again. Ritual's share of development was dropped, and development was given over to the relatively young Turtle Rock Studios, who easily restarted where Gearbox left off. They developed an updated bot AI that was beta tested in Counter-Strike 1.6 before release and was later integrated into Counter-Strike: Source and became part of the "AI Director" in Left 4 Dead. The final game contained a version mirroring Gearbox's version, along with 12 missions recovered from Ritual's single-player portion, called Deleted Scenes.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9]

2000-2001: The First HaulEdit

Rogue Entertainment was in a frantic state in developing American McGee's Alice for Electronic Arts through 2000 to be finished by the Christmas season. After being released in October, they started on a PlayStation 2 port when EA cancelled the project in January 2001 and stopped funding them. During a desperate search for new projects, Valve came to them and wanted them to make a single-player version of Counter-Strike. They eagerly accepted and started developing what they called Condition Zero. Originally kept quiet, the game was initially announced at E3 2001 in May of that year.

During production, Rogue's producer for the game, Jim Molinets, later that year accepted a job as Senior Producer for SCE San Diego, which the team accepted, since most of Molinets's work had already been done and they could have moved on. Valve, worried that the rest of the team knew about Molinets's move before the contract signing, removed Condition Zero from their hands, leaving Rogue to dissolve under financial bleeding. Valve and Rogue's Bobby Pavlock then argued to each other in the press about which side initially got involved.

2001-2002: A Gear-ShiftEdit

By mid-2001, Valve became too busy to work with it, and they handed it over to Gearbox Software, the developer of the Half-Life expansion packs, so that Valve could focus on their own developing co-rivals Team Fortress 2 and Half-Life 2, their own new proprietary engine, and a special online distribution platform for them. Many Valve fans had least expected a sequel or expansion of Counter-Strike than the Team Fortress 2 or Half-Life 2 games, both of which also had long developmental delays, though both in-house at Valve itself. By late 2001, however, more people started to hope for Condition Zero as the long-delayed Team Fortress 2 was slowly dismissed as vaporware. At the same time, it was speculated that co-creator Minh Le was working on a "Counter-Strike 2" using the "TF2 engine".

Gearbox created a new overhaul of Counter-Strike with high quality models and better graphics, similar to Blue Shift compared to Half-Life. They also added alpha blending, allowing for realistic foliage and weather effects, and a level of detail system now taken for granted in the Source engine. They added a single-player mode to the game, similar to the final game, based on inspiration of Randy Pitchford from, unexpectedly, console games such as Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and Gran Turismo 3: A-spec. They also placed new weapons such as a Molotov cocktail, tear gas bomb, suicide belt, and LAW rocket, although they eventually removed them over time. They also used the release of Steam by Valve to their advantage to help prevent cheating by ensuring constant code updates. It's also likely that Gearbox collaborated with Valve on the Valve Anti-Cheat system to further their efforts. During this time, they hired PODbot creator Marcus Klinge to work on the initial bot AI for the game. There was also a score composed by Chris Jensen, who co-composed the Half-Life expansions Blue Shift and Opposing Force.

Early 2003: The Story of the Deleted ScenesEdit

Although expectations were high, Gearbox had a few unknown developmental delays, and Condition Zero missed its late 2002 deadline. Valve then gave it over to Ritual Entertainment who was already working on an Xbox port at this time. Erik Johnson, the leader of Valve's involved CZ team after Rogue, spoke to all the press about the news through their involvement, completely remaking the game into a singleplayer 20-level game. They modified the AI from the original Half-Life to make the NPCs in the game. It was expected to have a release in early 2003 with a secondary multiplayer mode, and developed alongside Gearbox's Xbox port. The score was composed by Zak Belica, each mission carrying different environmental musical orchestrations, similar to some of Mike Morasky's work on Valve's Left 4 Dead series.

Late 2003-2004: The Final StretchEdit

After declaring the game gold in mid-2003 and handing out review copies of Ritual's work, Valve saw an average review score of around 60%, being as the work was relatively primitive to other new games. They retracted the gold status and work on Condition Zero was essentially begun again. Ritual's share of development was dropped, and development was given over to the relatively young and less thought-of Turtle Rock Studios, who easily restarted where Gearbox left off. Their bot AI written by Mike Booth, which was beta tested in Counter-Strike 1.6 before release, was continued for use in their relatively simple single-player campaigns alongside the classic teamplay. The final game contained a version based off Gearbox's version, along with 12 missions from Ritual's single-player portion, called Deleted Scenes. Four music tracks from Zak Belica were salvaged and placed in their multiplayer section, and 95 tracks were placed in Deleted Scenes after later Steam updates included the extra missions not included in the main storyline.

While development was completed, Valve was in a lawsuit against publisher Sierra Entertainment, which lasted from August 14, 2002 to April 29, 2005. The accusations included copyright infringement, involving distribution of Valve games by Sierra to Internet cafes, and breach of contract, including withheld royalties and delaying the Holiday 2003 release of Condition Zero.

Deleted Scenes was particularly criticized, since Turtle Rock didn't tamper with Ritual's work, leaving poorly scripted levels and poor quality compared to their moderately met version.

ReferencesEdit

[10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20]

  1. GameSpy's Most Wanted Games of 2003
  2. CVG PC Interview: Zero Hour Approaches
  3. http://archive.gamespy.com/previews/december02/csczpc/
  4. PC News Exclusive: CS:CZ
  5. GameSpot Preview - Mar 25, 2002
  6. Warp2Search - CS:CZ Interview!
  7. PC World Australia Condition Zero
  8. BBC - Leicester - Secret Level - Condition Zero
  9. 1UP.com Preview
  10. GameSpy's Most Wanted Games of 2003
  11. CVG PC Interview: Zero Hour Approaches
  12. http://archive.gamespy.com/previews/december02/csczpc/
  13. PC News Exclusive: CS:CZ
  14. GameSpot Preview - Mar 25, 2002
  15. Warp2Search - CS:CZ Interview!
  16. PC World Australia Condition Zero
  17. BBC - Leicester - Secret Level - Condition Zero
  18. 1UP.com Preview
  19. Gameplanet - Counter-Strike: Condition Zero Live Chat
  20. Rogue on CS: Condition Zero


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