Rencontre avec Brute

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Casual and top players are not the only actors of the Counter-Strike community. There are other people who spend some of their free time – amongst other things – to administrate tournaments, write news, shoutcast matches, going to LANs, etc. The world of eSport is full of volunteers who strive for its development. Some of them have a pretty high visibility, while others are in the shade; which don’t make them less important. Today, we are interviewing somebody who produced a considerable amount of work for Counter-Strike. Everybody knows or has played on one of his creations. Nonetheless he is only known by the most insiders of ours, especially by mappers.

It we talk to you about mappers, it is for a good reason. We have met one of the most known of them : Colin "Brute" Volrath. To give you an idea of its importance, you should know that Brute had thought and created some of the most played maps in the world : Tuscan (on 1.6 and source), Russka (on 1.6 and source), and Forge (on 1.6).

Some months ago, when mirage_csgo was released, we decided to contact him in order to get information about his work, about a potential release of Tuscan for CS:GO, or about his thoughts on cs:go official maps. Without further ado, here is the interview :

Hi Brute, in the past you’ve released both CS 1.6 and CSS maps. We’ve heard of de_tuscan on CSGO, how’s that going?

It's coming along very well. I'm really putting in the hours this past month and the remainder of October to get this map completed. Porting an old map certainly isn't as fun as making a brand new map, but I still enjoy the challenge and the excitement of working with a new game as always. The sooner I can wrap up de_tuscan, the sooner I can move onto making a new map for the community, more on that later of course :)

Regarding your ongoing project (de_tuscan), are you planning to modify the environment of the map or stick to the style of the 1.6 and Source versions? The same question goes for the gameplay of the map.

Yes, the map needs to be adjusted and changed based on the environmental play of cs:go. The physical layout of the map is not going to change much, if any however. But the actual look and feel of the map is going to change, it needs to look more open and take full advantage of the source engine's awesome power, that the old 1.6 engine just wasn't able to handle. As for game-play I haven't really received much negative feedback on what anyone likes or dislikes with this map, so the map is going to stay the same gameplay-wise unless something changes in the next two weeks from the community.

When did you start creating maps and what got you started in the first place?

Well this question is going to make me sound like an old fart, but I actually started mapping when Duke Nukem 3D was released. The program was called BUILD and it was way over my head, patience, and experience as I was only 16 years old at the time, but I still got into the program and enjoyed the work I put in. Eventually I moved onto half-life and counter-strike 1.6 and it wasn't until I was finishing up college that I really started to get a grasp of what I was actually doing and really nailing down the process. 

As for what got me started? That's a good question, I think it was more that I wanted to make custom maps that my friends and I could play on together, I knew what we liked when we played certain maps and I thought that learning something like this would build from there. The gratification of seeing your work being played really motivates you to keep working at it.

When you create a map, how do you make sure it is balanced? What are the first steps? Do you draw the map or do you run some tests on a simplified version of the map? What are the questions you need to ask yourself upfront?

Lots of playtesting is a big part of the balancing process. Running through the map over and over, getting down timings on rushes, timings on rotations for CT's, timings for various choke points and angles on the map are also a big part of the balancing act. Honestly, balance is probably the hardest thing to achieve because a map can seem so imbalanced for years, and as the professional teams slowly embrace the map it becomes balanced over time. The map "de_forge" is a great example of this, a map that originally was so T-Sided I wanted to remake the entire thing, but over time with a few minor adjustments is still T-Sided, but barely.

I'm a big fan of drawing in general, for a new map, or a modified old map I spend countless hours drawing out 3D layouts of the various parts of the map before I even begin using the software. I never use the software without already knowing exactly what that bombsite is going to look like, I plan ahead and plan often. If I don't know what an area is going to look like, I draw it out, every time. And yes the first versions of the map are always simplified, I never start making a map complex until I know the layout is exactly how I want it to be.

My biggest questions up front are usually the following. Is this map different than what is currently being played? What does this map bring to the community that isn't already there? What unique feature or game-play aspect can I bring to this map that will make it more enjoyable to the community? And of course the last question, is this map balanced and enjoyable?

Without Tuscan, we would never have moments like this ! (Extract from 30P LAN by MsTsN)

How did you manage to have your maps added to so many official mappools? How did people get to know about them in a context where most players are reluctant to change?

I think long-term exposure in the appropriate leagues is really the main reason the maps I've created still have staying power. I really have to thank CEVO / CyberEvolution, and Charlie Plitt their CEO for running their first Counter-Strike 1.6 mapping contest when they first opened their doors to the world. Both of my submissions took 1st and 2nd place (de_russka, de_crete) and that really got the ball rolling from a creative and motivational standpoint. I had made other maps in the past for other leagues, but this was really the first major breakthrough for me getting involved in the community. People slowly got on board with those maps and eventually CEVO came back to me for repeat work with creating "de_forge" and of course, "de_tuscan". I tip my hat to them for giving me the time, energy, and resources to help create the visions I had in mind for the community. An amazing league and an amazing organization to work with.

What’s your opinion on CSGO’s original maps? I’m interested in FFA maps as much as _se maps.

I actually like the new maps, I think the "old guard" of the 1.6 community just can't give into change. The maps are different, but it's time to move on, there's no money in counter-strike 1.6, and the professional teams realize this. People follow the money and changing or adjusting maps like "de_nuke" or "de_train" back to their original layout is wrong. Let the new maps marinade a little bit and you might be surprised what strategies and game-play evolve from it.

I'm sure if you look back at CPL Winter 2001 when NiP took 1st place they weren't playing Train or Nuke the same way it was played in CPL Winter 2007 when X3O took first place. Give the maps time.
As for the other maps, I think they're fun from a pub standpoint. But I also could REALLY see the single bombsite maps being used in a 2v2 or 3v3 style tournament. I could even see some kind of 1v1 style tournament involving the GG maps come into play, it would be fun and entertaining to watch if it's done correctly.

Make a map is not so simple ...

Volcano has recently released a new version of de_nuke, what do you think of the map? There’s been a lot of criticism about the vents, what’s your opinion?

I personally haven't seen Sal's new modified map (well it's not really new), but my above comment about the old guard answers this question, I don't agree with their decision to do this at all. It's satisfying a small audience of old gamers who can't adjust to the new game.

de_mirage is currently used in some competitions. Have you had a chance to test it and if yes what did you think?

Well first, this map was actually ported to counter-strike source by Ted "cashed" Mcllwain as "de_cpl_strike", and someone else ended up porting this anonymously (Madmax I think), so from an intellectual copyright standpoint I think it's wrong the community is embracing this map at all. I know Ted put a lot of hard work into his original version of "de_cpl_strike" for counter-strike source and unless someone knows something I don't whoever did this version didn't consult him on porting it as "de_mirage".

Sorry if I sound a little angry over this question but I take A LOT of pride and honor in the hours I put into bringing maps to the community, and stealing someone else's work and re-releasing it as your own without consulting anyone or even giving credit to the original author is wrong. I know the community doesn't really know about much of this going on they're just happy the map is released and playable, but it should be addressed.

As for the map itself I don't like it at all. This version of the CS:GO map didn't change anything from the CS:S version, it's just a fast ported version of the map. It looks exactly like the CS:S version and has no creative flair. The map should look different than the CS:S version, period. Just porting over the CS:S version and not changing anything is lazy.

As for the actual map itself, I still prefer "de_cpl_strike" the changes made to "de_mirage" look ugly and sloppy in my opinion. The upper entrance on bombsite B and the central planting area around bombsite B look clunky and poorly executed. The map doesn't look as smooth and polish as it did when it was released as "de_cpl_strike". The only things I agree on is removing the spiral stairs outside of CT spawn, and adjusting "dragon" at the back of bombsite B by removing the fence.

Russka by Brute.

Can you give us a release date? The map may well be included in various mappools, it would be great to see it at DreamHack Winter in November for example.

Sure, pending anything on my end I am shooting for a first BETA release in late October of this month. Depending on the internal feedback I would love to get wrapped up by the end of October, early November.

Thank you for your time, as usual I’ll leave the last word to you.

Thanks again for the interview! A special thanks to all of the fans and support I've received over the past years within the community! Feel free to follow my latest work updates on Facebook, Twitter, and online at Brutesmaps. You can also find my professional mapping portfolio online at ColinVolrath.com.

A special thank to Sickness and Hruntig for the translation

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