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Operation: Payback, First Hand

By FMPONE • 28 Sep 2013 • 14 comments • 106690 views

The first map-pack for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) was launched by Valve in the Spring of 2013. It was called Operation: Payback, and consisted exclusively of community-created maps. I'm often asked about my experience as a map-maker whose work was featured in the promotion. And just recently the sequel to Operation: Payback was launched — Operation: Bravo.

What's the objective of these "Operations"? I would describe them as Valve’s way of supporting custom mappers. If you've ever purchased a map-pack DLC for games like Call of Duty, you sort of know the drill... but the crucial difference between a typical commercial DLC and what Valve is doing, is monetary proceeds from each Operation go to community members. And community members are making some serious coin: well over $180,000 dollars was raised throughout Operation: Payback’s five-month season. That's a HUGE reward for mappers, which is having a real impact on our lives. Any fan of gaming and game development done the right way should not miss their chance to support Operation: Bravo.

Attached Image: cache-2.jpg But what if you don’t play CS:GO? First, I would suggest you give the game a shot, since that’s the only way you’ll get a chance to check out my newest maps, which (full disclosure!) were included in Bravo. CS:GO is typical Counter-Strike: it's really addicting... in a good way! Secondly, Operation: Bravo means more than just eight brand-new maps for people to play. Historically, Valve has always tried to provide a financial incentive for artists and designers to make custom content for their games (we saw this in Team Fortress 2 for instance, where some folks were taking home as much as $100,000 yearly just from making hats). At this point, it’s clear that you can earn money by making stuff for Valve titles. What might not be obvious is how bold Operation: Bravo actually is, even compared to what we've seen before.

Bravo is intimately connected to the case-drop system recently unveiled for CS:GO. What that means is that by buying a Bravo pass, you increase your likelihood of obtaining cases which can be opened to obtain rare items, or simply sold on the marketplace for a profit. At initial launch, Bravo cases were going for as much as thirty dollars. It sounds ridiculous, but it seems likely that for most players, Bravo will tend to pay for itself. Welcome to Steam-land!

Attached Image: gwalior-3.jpg Valve's unprecedented support for custom content is a big reason why I wanted to get heavily involved with mapping for the new Counter-Strike, even before I knew much about the game. I was confident that big things were on the way. But Valve — and the community — delivered beyond my expectations. So, why should you join thousands of others in supporting Operation: Bravo? I think there are three key reasons:

1) As graphics get exponentially better, custom content becomes that much more challenging to create. More knowledge, experience, and personal sacrifices are required of designers and artists.


2) In the past, innovators have created some of your favorite maps and games.


3) Valve is paying close attention. Send them the unambiguous signal that you will support their newest effort to reward content creators.


As for myself, I'm in law school. At my school, students should budget for a debt load in the area of $60,000. So far, thanks to Valve and the community’s generosity, I have received almost $18,000, putting a serious dent in my debt. By the end of this year, thanks to Bravo, that figure is likely to grow substantially...

Attached Image: cache-3.jpg From a designer's point of view, from the moment that my map was included in Operation: Payback back in April, it instantly attained a higher public profile than ever before and received more play than ever before (including substantial play from CS:GO's developers -- which is pretty special). It's difficult to describe the stress, fascination, and thrill you experience watching a crowd of gamers running around a level you created. Basically, it made me prouder than ever to do what I do.

I was also incredibly grateful that Operation: Payback enabled me to reward the artists (3Dnj and penE) that I had collaborated with. Because of the well-known Counter-Strike brand name, as well as the money I earned, I was also able to include my friends and family in my creative endeavors more than ever before. All the kindness shown by Valve, the community, and folks sending me Steam messages of congratulations and enthusiasm (and yes, questions about how much I earned) was both touching and invigorating. Now I'm dreaming about levels more than even I'm accustomed to.

So, that's my perspective... but keep in mind I'm just one of the people this promotion uplifted. I hope you agree that Operation: Bravo empowers the community and provides serious income (not to mention resume pedigree) for map-makers. In closing, please consider supporting Operation: Bravo!



14 Comments

you rock man, keep it up!!

$18,000, holyshit dude, congratz.

gratz !

HUGE congrats again! That's insanely rewarding in many ways.

great article and congratulations! hopefully you can pay off your debt with the next maps entirely :)

this shit makes me happy :). HUGE congrats!!

Awesome to see Valve seriously rewarding community talent! Congrats!

That's some nice reward money for a job well done dude, well deserved!

First of all respect that you are willing to talk so openly about the money. Not everybody does that. Secondly, big props to you and all the others for making this amazing content. Which in my opinion, surpasses some of the original maps. Thirdly, this community should be extremely proud of itself. Not only are the mappers active here, most of the maps were also heavily tested on the Mapcore server. This site already has a big appeal due to the number of industry professionals that visit here but things like this just elevate it so much more above the rest. It makes me very proud to be accepted here, even though I don't make custom content for Valve games. Which, judging by the potential money that's to be made, has to change ASAP :)

Woah didn't see this until now, well deserved! :)

@FMPONE

In spite the fact that your maps are in top 10 on steam workshop, in the real life, i mean on international public servers not just USA, nobody wants to play them so much if at all. I was amazed of the player's reaction to your maps, it was quite unexpected. If you make a statistic of the maps played around the world you will see that the most frequently played CS:GO custom maps aren't even in top 50 on the steam workshop, but still the people prefer them over yours or even the official ones.

I wonder why?! Maybe it's the gameplay, maybe it's about how the map's environment makes you feel during the gameplay, i don't know.

Indeed your maps are technically well made, they are visually appealing and stimulate people to click subscribe, on the workshop. But that's all.

Anyway, you shouldn't feel bad, after all, you earned $18,000. ;)

Good luck with the law school!

If you make a statistic of the maps played around the world you will see that the most frequently played CS:GO custom maps aren't even in top 50 on the steam workshop, but still the people prefer them over yours or even the official ones.

 

I wonder why?! Maybe it's the gameplay, maybe it's about how the map's environment makes you feel during the gameplay, i don't know.

 

It's probably because many CS fans have always seemed to prefer playing on the same maps that were released 10–14 years ago ad infinitum. Sometimes when reading the 'feedback' on superbly-made CS maps I find myself wanting to slit my wrists.

@FMPONE

In spite the fact that your maps are in top 10 on steam workshop, in the real life, i mean on international public servers not just USA, nobody wants to play them so much if at all. I was amazed of the player's reaction to your maps, it was quite unexpected. If you make a statistic of the maps played around the world you will see that the most frequently played CS:GO custom maps aren't even in top 50 on the steam workshop, but still the people prefer them over yours or even the official ones.

I wonder why?! Maybe it's the gameplay, maybe it's about how the map's environment makes you feel during the gameplay, i don't know.

Indeed your maps are technically well made, they are visually appealing and stimulate people to click subscribe, on the workshop. But that's all.

Anyway, you shouldn't feel bad, after all, you earned $18,000. ;)

Good luck with the law school!

 

Humm i see what you mean but it's not especially something you can see in FMPONE's maps, top-rated map from the workshop are barely played on dedicated servers. There mostly are official maps (dust2, office, inferno, nuke, italy, dust ...) and few custom maps that are, indeed, not always top-rated maps from the workshop. The main reason to this is that server owners still don't have switch to the workshop system with its collections (because they never bothered to do it, even if the workshop system is 100 times easier to use).

 

This is a real problem, because on one side people go to the workshop, suscribe and leave a comment on the map they prefer and would like to play online. But on the other side, server owners don't give a shit and continue their stupid D2-only servers. This is, in my opinion, the best thing in the Valve operations : it allows the top-rated map to simply be played (my fy_pool_day map is probably the best example, even if i will soon have 100 000 subscribers, you can't find any server playing it).

 

 

The question is now, how did those maps have reached the top ? The first reason is, as you said, they are graphically appealing, when people see the small image that shows the map, they will make their first decision to take a look at it or not. Then, they look at the images and stuff and if they like it, they suscribe. They will probably test the map offline with bots and make their first opinion about it,maybe they will leave a comment.

But the most efficient thing you can use to see if people really like the map for its gameplay is the number of collections where the map is in, because it means that the guy who adds it in his collection liked the map enough (graphics, gameplay, environment ...) to make it run on his own server.

cs_museum : 557 collections

de_gwalior : 311 collections

de_cache : 399 collections

This is huge, you can't say that people don't like FMPONE's maps, that's completely wrong. I can admit that people don't really like that much gwalior in the current operation bravo but the favorite map is definitely de_cache, and it was cs_museum in the first operation payback.

 

 

But yes, please, show us your statistic about the most frequently played CS:GO custom maps.

Mr. beautifull rabbit use gametracker.com for that

Anyway, time will be the final judge. We will see what custom maps are still played after 2-3 years and what maps will be forgotten.

De_mirage was once a custom map, now it's official. De_torn was official now it's forgotten.