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Viability of Hostage Rescue Scenario in CS:GO


will2k

 

hostage_rescue_webcover.jpg.4dd4f37d3616

 

This level design article is about the past and the present of the hostage rescue mode in Counter-Strike. Showcasing the inherent issues that accompanied the scenario allowing the bomb/defuse mode to gain traction and popularity. This article will also present what can be done, level design wise, to remedy some of the shortfalls and allow the scenario to be viable.

A historical background

Counter-Strike officially started life in June 1999 with the release of beta 1, and it shipped with four maps, that’s right, four whole maps. They were all hostage rescue maps and the prefix used for these maps was cs_ as opposed to the standard deathmatch maps starting with dm_. This prefix was an abbreviation of the game’s name (Counter-Strike) which hints to this hostage-rescue scenario being the only one in the minds of Gooseman and Cliffe, the creators of CS, at the time of launch.

Fast forward a couple of months, beta 4 rolled out in November 1999 bringing to the table a new scenario, bomb defuse. The new maps carried the prefix de_ and while one would think that the hostage rescue maps would be switched to hr_ prefix, they kept the same prefix which started to be referred to as the “Classic Scenario”. Counter-Strike was built on hostage rescue scenario.

I started playing CS in beta 2 in August 1999 (I totally missed beta 1, screw me) and maps like Assault and Siege were all the rage at LAN parties. The nearest LAN/internet café was a 5-minute drive from my place, and LAN parties with friends used to be a blast full of shouting, cursing, bluffing, noob-trashing; the standard menu for a CS session. Good times.

Siege, the oldest CS map (beta 1), and Assault (beta 1.1) were the epitome of the game. You had to dive in as a CT deep into the T stronghold to rescue the hostages and bring them back to safety. These maps were the most played on LANs and embodied the style of early CS gameplay. At the LAN place where I used to wage my virtual battles, Assault equaled CS, literally. A fun fact is that when Dust came out, I started a LAN session with this map and everyone in the room shouted at me: "What the hell is this? We wanna play CS!" For my friends, Assault was CS.

However, those rosy days for hostage rescue began to turn into grim grey when folks started playing bomb defuse scenario and realized how…fun it was. A map like Dust almost single-handedly pushed the scenario into higher ground with its bright environment/textures, clear/wide paths and its ease of use and noob-friendliness. A year later, around Summer 2000, Counter-Strike was now equivalent to Dust for my friends.

How did this happen? What went wrong?

Inherent flaws of hostage rescue

Hostage rescue is a very delicate and tough scenario for law enforcement operators in the real world. It puts the assailing team at a great disadvantage against heavily-armed barricaded hostage-takers who are probably using civilian hostages as human shields and as a bargaining chip for a later escape.

As you can deduce, transferring this scenario as realistically as possible into the game will not fare well, and this disadvantage will carry on for the CT team. The problem is only exacerbated when you add the more or less “flawed” game mechanics to the scenario. This is exactly what went wrong with hostage rescue scenario in case you are still wondering about the rhetoric questions at the end of the historical background introduction. The popularity of cs_ scenario started dwindling and the rise of the bomb/defuse scenario only made things worse.

Almost all the early cs_ maps featured a relatively tiny hostage zone/room having one entryway usually sealed with closed doors that the CT must open to get access inside. This room was typically located behind T spawn which made the area a camping ground and made camping that zone an obvious and rewarding tactic for Ts. The doors having to be manually opened with a loudening sound made things worse and negated any surprise or sneaky rush towards the hostages. A classic example is the hostage area and T spawn in cs_assault.

assault_hostage_zone.jpg.95f68be672e7756
I dare not think of how many Ts are camping behind those doors

Another equally important camp fest occurred in the hostage rescue zone. Early designs made the rescue zone relatively small with one or two access paths that can be defended from one location. If the CT team manages to reach the hostages and rescue them, the Ts could easily fall back to the rescue zone to camp and patiently wait for the CTs to show up. The hostage rescue zone in cs_italy is a nice example to showcase how one T could camp in the southernmost spot in the zone allowing him to monitor both entryways, from market and from wine cellar, within the same field of view. CT slaughter was almost a guaranteed thing to happen.

italy_rescue_zone.jpg.9665269f5f384899d6
A CT will show up any second now; imminent slaughter commencing in ...3, 2, 1

A third flaw was the hostages themselves. They were difficult to escort and protect and were easily stuck or left behind in various parts of the maps between their initial hostage zone and the final rescue zone. I lost count of how many times I rescued the hostages and ran as fast as I could to the rescue zone, reaching it with a big grin on my face only to turn around and find out that only one or two of the four hostages actually followed me; the others were randomly stuck on a ladder, door frame, window ledge, vent, chair, table…I could go on but my blood is starting to boil just thinking of this.

To add insult to injury, hostages could also be killed or “stolen” for ultimate trolling. When Ts were stacked on money, they could easily kill all the hostages, basically turning the round to a frustrating terrorist hunt for CTs. In early CS versions, a CT teammate could press the “use” key on a hostage that you were already escorting to steal it. This would leave you helplessly wondering where the hell did the 4th hostage go in case you did not catch the teammate performing the action.

Lastly, maps themselves contributed to the issues that were piling up against hostage rescue scenario. If you are a CS veteran and you were around the early betas in 1999, you would most certainly remember how quickly hostage rescue maps were pruned from one beta to another; some maps even had a life span of 1 week before being discarded out of the official roster. Most of these early cs maps featured dark, nightly environments that were unfriendly to both newcomers and established players. Other maps had a confusing-as-hell labyrinthine layout that confused even the most great-sense-of-direction players, and made remembering paths nigh impossible. Some of these maps had narrow twisted paths and choke points, vents, and ladders that not only frustrated players (especially CTs) but also made rescuing and escorting the hostages more of wishful thinking. The icing on the cake was the different gimmicks introduced in some maps that made a frustrating gameplay/layout even more annoying: some maps had a machine gun nest in T spawn allowing Ts to master and perfect the art of CT slaughtering while other maps had flammable drums that could be shot and blasted for the ultimate carnage right next to the hostage zone. Good example maps include cs_prison, cs_bunker, cs_iraq, cs_hideout, cs_facility, cs_desert, among many others.

Meanwhile, bomb/defuse scenario was gaining grounds at an increased rate and before too long, hostage rescue was relegated to a distant second place in terms of popularity among players and level designers alike.

As a small experiment, I tallied the number of custom hostage and defuse maps submitted on Gamebanana for Counter-Strike Source and Global Offensive. For CS:GO, there are 761 de_ maps against 157 hostage maps while for CS:S, the figures are 4060 de_ for 1244 cs_ maps. The disparity is rather meaningful as the ratio in CS:GO is 4.85:1 while for CS:S the number is 3.26:1. This means that for each hostage map in CS:GO there are almost five maps of bomb/defuse whereas this number drops slightly to almost three maps for CS:S. With CS:GO putting extra focus on competitive gameplay, this ratio is bound to further grow widening the rift between bomb/defuse and hostage rescue maps.

That’s it? Is it done for cs_ maps? Shall we prepare the obituary or is there a magical solution to breathe some fire and life in them?

Solutions for viability

There is a magical solution that involves you transferring a large sum of cash to my bank account, then my “guys” will contact your “guys” to deliver the “solution”. The drop point will be at the…apparently, there has been a mix-up, this is for another “deal” …nervous chuckle.

Seriously though, while there is no magical solution that will lift hostage rescue onto the rainbow, there are a couple of things that level designers can do to start injecting some momentum to the scenario. Luckily for us, Valve has already paved the way (so these “Volvo pls fix pls” do work after all?). In March 2013, Valve introduced a major CS:GO update that completely overhauled the hostage rescue scenario mechanics and introduced cs_militia as well. The update was a game changer and a much needed tweak towards a better hostage rescue gamemode.

We now have two hostages instead of four, and the CTs only need to rescue one of them to win the round. Moreover, the hostage does not stupidly follow the CT but instead is carried on the CT’s shoulders. Obviously the movement speed of the CT carrying the hostage is decreased but this “inconvenience” is countered with added bonus round time and the fact that the CT doesn’t have to glance over his shoulders every five seconds to make sure the hostages are still following him (this kind of distraction can prove fatal to the CT escorting the hostages). The hostages’ spawn location is randomized and can be controlled by the level designer. A nice change is that hostages don’t die anymore thus cutting any chance of Ts trolling (you still lose money when you shoot a hostage – shooting a hostage is pretty pointless now akin to shooting yourself in the foot).

This is all good news if you ask me; hostage rescue is on the right path to become popular and viable again. With Valve doing the first half of the change, level designers have the duty to continue with the second half.

Hostage defuse?

As a first suggested solution, let us start treating hostage rescue as bomb defuse. Let’s be honest, bomb defuse works really well, so why not transfer this “experience” into hostage rescue. What we can do is to have a hostage rescue map’s layout mimic one of bomb defuse – that is have two hostage zones that are similarly placed as two bomb sites. We need to start treating a hostage zone like a bomb site with all accompanying techniques of rushing, pushing, faking, peeking, holding, smoking, flashing, etc. The good thing about this is that whatever knowledge, skill, and layout awareness that players have acquired from defuse scenarios will transfer effortlessly to the hostage rescue scenario; you do not need to learn new tactics and strategies. The roles will be inversed: instead of Ts rushing bomb sites and CTs defending, CTs will push hostage zones and Ts will defend and rotate.  

Sounds logical, right? Some people might argue that having 2 separate hostage zones is not “realistic” and my answer is Counter-Strike was never about realism (carrying and running around with a 7 kg (15.5 lb), 1.2 m (47.2 inch) AWP sniper rifle with 25x telescopic sight, quickscoping and headshotting opponents is the epitome of “realism”). If you want a realistic hostage rescue scenario, then you are better off playing the original Rainbow Six Rogue Spear and SWAT 3 from 1999, or the more recent ARMA and Insurgency for a realistic military setting. I practice what I preach and I already implemented this technique in my last map “cs_calm”. The map was a remake of my CS 1.5 map from 2003 and obviously I made the “mistake” at that time to follow the trend set by official maps of having one hostage zone right behind T spawn. A playtest on Reddit CS:GO servers back in March 2015 confirmed that this setup won’t work well as Ts will inevitably abuse the hostage zone.

I made some radical layout changes towards T spawn and hostage zone and created two new hostage zones on the upper and lower levels of the map that are connected by a back hallway to allow quick rotations (in addition to the one through T spawn). Obviously, there is no direct line of sight between hostage zones to prevent 1-zone camping. Ts have absolutely no incentive to camp one zone as CTs can reach the other one, rescue the hostage and head back to the rescue zone without being spotted from the other zone. CTs actually have a chance of winning the round by rescuing the hostages.
I like to believe the new layout worked well. Only time and more hostage rescue maps will tell.

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Layout of the map "cs_calm"

Rescue zone anti-camping

We have remedied the hostage zone camping but we still need to tend to the rescue zone camping issue. A solution to this is to have two rescue zones in a similar setup to what is nicely done in cs_office. While Ts can still camp one zone, they risk a big chance of having CTs reach the other rescue zone. Again, CTs will have a viable option to save the hostages without being shredded by camping Ts. If the layout does not allow or facilitate having two rescue zones, then one big rescue zone with multiple entrances (three is a good number) should work fine. The trick here is to have the entrances not easily covered within the same field of view to prevent camping.

Into the zone

Just as we established that we should treat hostage zones like bomb sites, it goes without saying that each hostage zone should have at least 2 to 3 entry points. It’s pretty pointless to have only one entrance as this totally defeats the purpose of spreading hostages into two zones. The different entryways should also not be covered within the same field of view of one T; if a T decides to camp the zone, then he should be able to cover two entrances from one point leaving the third one more or less at a dead angle and viable for a CT rush or stealth/sneak surprise. 

calm_angles.jpg.b64703f998092930a327195b
Showcase of Hostage Zone A on the map "cs_calm"

The above screenshot showcases “Hostage Zone A” in cs_calm. A terrorist will typically camp near the hostage covering the two encircled entrances. The third entrance from upper level denoted by the arrow is not in the direct FOV, and is prone to a surprise attack by CTs that could catch the camping T off guard. If possible, try to spread the entrances on different vertical levels to spice things up and keep Ts on their toes.
Lastly, it is a good idea to have a connector between hostage zones to allow fast rotations but without having a direct line of sight between hostage zones. We want to make the scenario fairer to CTs but not at the expense of Ts, inadvertently making it unfair for them.

Conclusion

Hostage rescue is a fun scenario if you ask me. It had many inherited and added flaws that contributed to its waning but it’s nothing that can’t be reversed. We, as level designers, need to push some changes to put the scenario back on track. What I just showcased in this article might not be the only viable solutions but they certainly are a step in the right direction. Level designers are intimidated by players who shun away from cs_ maps, and this turns into a vicious circle where players avoid hostage rescue maps and mappers in return avoid designing them. We need to break this cycle and designers need to bravely embrace the solutions I presented here or come up with their own solutions. The more cs_ maps that come out and get tested, the more we could validate these solutions as viable.

In either case, we need to get proactive towards hostage rescue scenario; after all, this is the cornerstone that Counter-Strike was built upon.


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I was thinking of experimenting with 6 entrances (3 per objective/hossie) which is more than most DE maps have. The goal should be to keep the Terrorist side uncomfortable and not able to just hold 5 angles for easy kills. Giving the CTs one more path of attack than the terrorists can feasibly cover should keep map control dynamic and get players more engaged. If the map has a mid then control of it should be critical just as is the case on most good DE maps.

Having 6 entrances could open up options for drawing terrorist attention away from CT breaches too. When it gets to the stage of actually touchdowning the hostage in the safezone there should only be a couple CTs left at most (unless the terrorists have really fucked up) so I think one zone with multiple paths in is fine in most cases- just keep the amount of cover down so camping is difficult. Two different zones might swing balance too far the other way.


Another problem with CS maps is the current timer mechanics. It can make for long, boring and drawn out rounds. Not much mappers can do about that!

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I had thought about some of this as well, awesome to see your thoughts about it. Treating hostages like bombsites is probably the key solution which could save this game mode. What i still don't like about the current cs_ map situation is the fact that Terrorist always have the advantage of having the hostages way behind them. Actually like on your map. The meeting points are probably around the center of the map and therefore there won't be such thing as a "hostage room take strat" with proper smokes and flashes.

I'm curious how maps like Cache and Dust2 would play if you simply swap the spawns and place hostages on the bombsites.

But there will still be a problem. After taking a "hostage site" CTs still have to move back on the map in order to win the round. Taking the same way back feels restricted and boring imho. Also rushing Ts have the opportunity to camp in the opponent spawn and simply wait until the time ran out. Like you mentioned in your article. But what can be done about it? From time to time i am still thinking about it, but i can't really find a proper solution which makes me throw away any plans of a future cs_ map by myself.

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You convinced me to try an hostage map while finishing the detailing of my defuse map!

So I guess your article has made its wanted effect :)

This is a really smart idea. Doing a good hostage map is something to be respected

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Thanks everyone for your comments and overwhelming support, greatly appreciate it :). I was out of town so sorry for my late reply.

A BIG shout out to @'RZL for his logistics support and help, and thanks to @FMPONE and @Sprony for being very supportive and quick-responding as head admins :)

As I mentioned in the article, what I showcased is just the beginning and I'm relying and counting on the talented designers in the CSGO community and Mapcore to come up with additional ideas/suggestions to inject life to hostage rescue scenario.

What is dearly needed is more cs_maps getting published to test and refine these ideas as I said in the article's conclusion.

Get mapping :D

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Sufficiently separated hostages are definitely a step in the right direction. I'm a fan of the hostage mode as well; it really deserves better. Prior to the hostage update in Italy, Terrorists would just hunker down in that one house for an easy win as they really only had to watch two entrances. After the update put the other hostage in the far wine cellar, Terrorists had to spread out more to cover the main routes. Same goes for Office: the further apart the hostages spawn, the more Terrorists have to spread out. The more spread out Terrorists are, the better chance Counter-Terrorists have at winning.

As for the hostage rescue zone, in general I'd agree that multiple entrances are good. But the rest of the paths to and from are important to consider as well. With the hostages separated enough, the first stage of hostage rescue acts like the bomb defuse mode. One team trying to secure one target, and the other trying to defend both.

grXmM30.png

It's the second phase where new considerations come into play. Instead of the offensive team being able to switch to defensive, they generally remain on offense until the end. By the time a hostage is picked up, remaining Terrorists should be moving to the optimal places to defend: any place where Terrorists can monitor all paths Counter-Terrorists can take to the rescue zone. By this point, the teams should have been whittled down, so try to keep one point manageable for at least one remaining player on each team.

For example, in Office, it's foolish to go straight to the rescue zone as Terrorist. It's impossible to cover both ends at once. Instead, the optimal location is right outside of bathrooms. You can keep an eye on both elevators and long hall, the only ways for a Counter-Terrorist to leave. If they make it past that point, Terrorists have lost if they can't catch up. In Italy, as will2k showed, the best place is in the rescue zone which makes for an easy hold. For Militia, it gets more complex. An ideal close range spot is right by silos above sewers, but there are two boost spots that can get around that. A long range player can cover all of these near bridge, but has to keep an eye on multiple directions.

Whether or not you make the rescue zone an ideal holding spot is up to you. I'd suggest doing so as it makes it easier for new players to perform well. I've made a hostage map with what I've learned, so feel free to check it out.

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Great article Will2k, it was interesting to read and i'd also love to see more hostage maps played. I perfectly remember the first AWP shot i did on cs_assault, camping as a CT on top of the building near CT spawn (that doesn't exist in recent versions of the map) and killing a terrorist getting out of the vents. At this exact moment, i realised how fun it was to frag an ennemy :D

I've been thinking about this a lot also for the map i'm working on (cs_opera) and came to the same conclusion as you did about the rescue zone that must have at least 2 ways to get inside. 1 single terrorist can hardly protect the area, i find it more fair and exciting. I also like the idea of seperating the hostages apart, i didn't really make this but it's a good idea.

 

As blade x64 said, the second phase is also important, maybe more than the first phase because people can't exactly know where others are, only terrorists know that there's at least 1 CT near the hostages at the beginning. So, it's important to give the CTs some advantages, because they have another attack to lead (terrorist will try to defend the rescue area most likely and CTs have to get there). The problem here is that, everything you do to help CTs going back to their spawn helps the terrorists during the first phase, because the maps are not dynamic and do not change for the second phase (which would be pretty cool by the way). Therefore, it's hard to balance it, it's a very interesting topic.

In my case, i decided to help the CTs by creating many connectors between the paths, i don't really like being forced to follow the path i've chosen from the beginning with the hostage on my shoulder, cause if terrorist get the information of which path i've chosen then i'm fucked. I wanted to give the CT with hostage the possibility to escape with many possibilities, which makes the job a lot harder for terrorists. I just hope it will work in the end and that it won't help terrorists too much in the first phase.

 

There also have been a hostage map with the hostage being at CT spawn and 1 CT could immediately take the hostage with him. Then, the group of CTs were going together to the rescue area (which is almost at the same spot as the terrorist spawn). It's basically an assassination map with the VIP being the CT taking the hostage with him ^^ He's just able to use any weapon and if he dies others CT can take the hostage. It was good idea !

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Great article, @will2k! Nice to see there's a discussion going on about this again :) 

As blade x64 said, the second phase is also important, maybe more than the first phase because people can't exactly know where others are, only terrorists know that there's at least 1 CT near the hostages at the beginning. So, it's important to give the CTs some advantages, because they have another attack to lead (terrorist will try to defend the rescue area most likely and CTs have to get there). The problem here is that, everything you do to help CTs going back to their spawn helps the terrorists during the first phase, because the maps are not dynamic and do not change for the second phase (which would be pretty cool by the way). Therefore, it's hard to balance it, it's a very interesting topic.

It would be interesting to see a Hostage map where the rescue zone is not at or near the CT spawn, but at a different location (either accessible from the beginning or only when CTs grab a hostage). That way both phases of the round (1: CTs trying to get to hostages, 2: CTs reaching rescue zone) can be designed differently.

For example, the area for the second phase could be smaller (made for 2v2 players in mind, let's say), or further/closer to the hostages spawn locations than the CT spawns. 

There also have been a hostage map with the hostage being at CT spawn and 1 CT could immediately take the hostage with him. Then, the group of CTs were going together to the rescue area (which is almost at the same spot as the terrorist spawn). It's basically an assassination map with the VIP being the CT taking the hostage with him ^^ He's just able to use any weapon and if he dies others CT can take the hostage. It was good idea !

That could work too, although it kinda sucks if you're the one that needs to drag the hostage around for the whole round maybe. It would be nice if you could drop a hostage (without dying), just like you can drop a bomb in a safe spot before pushing into a site.

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@Squad if you make it closer than spawn you can end up having too much trouble balancing timings, because if it's too close, you have basically no time to have sort of "retakes" for T's if you have hostages spread around around the map.

Actually if you start from the hypothesis that you separate hostages, one could try to push the rescue zone beyond all of that, in a way that would make the CT path more linear, you get the hostage and you continue instead of walking back.

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Actually if you start from the hypothesis that you separate hostages, one could try to push the rescue zone beyond all of that, in a way that would make the CT path more linear, you get the hostage and you continue instead of walking back.

That's exactly what I was trying to say :) 

When CTs reach a hostage, the Ts could fall back to the rescue zone, as opposed to rotating to the rescue zone at CT spawn.

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(Ideas come towards the end, the first part is more a recap)

Really nice article Will2k, I agree with pretty much everything you said, and the info was well  presented and clear. I also feel Blade made some very insightful and relevant points. Although de maps are undoubtedly more popular, I do believe that hostage gameplay needs to be explored and developed further.

The problem is simply one of battle/combat mechanics which is as true in games as in real life...  an attacking force (which is obliged to advance and take an objective) will always be at a disadvantage to the defending force. An attacking force will almost always suffer greater casualties than a defending force.

For this reason de maps are fundamentally biased in favor of the Counter-Terrorists and cs maps are biased in favor of the Terrorists, and is why I believe it is important to retain both modes. Obviously individual map design can help to neutralize this bias, but in many maps it can still be seen

Blades summary of the phases of the round is a great way to explain this, although personally I would simplify his model a little and say that essentially (for both cs and de) the round can be divided into two phases.

In defuse:

PHASE 1 = Terrorist team attacking and securing one of the two bomb sites allowing the bomb plant.

PHASE 2 = Terrorist team defend the bomb site against remaining CTs until the bomb explodes.

What is vital in this setup is the switching of roles from PHASE 1 to 2, the Terrorists who may have suffered more casualties in PHASE 1 can the switch to defending in PHASE 2. This makes de mode internally more balanced with late round mechanics compensating for earlier imbalances.

In hostage however it is obvious that:

PHASE 1 = CT team attack and secure one of the hostage areas and recover the hostage.

PHASE 2 = CT team push back through the map and attack the rescue zones to release the hostage.

The reason the attacking force are always at a disadvantage is simply the fact that they have to move in order to take the objective, which means leaving cover and exposing themselves. In hostage rescue the CT team is forced to spend the entire round on the move, making them more vulnerable, and in both PHASE 1 and PHASE 2 they can be seen as the offensive team. This means the mode lacks the internal balance seen in de mode.

I also completely agree with Will that there is nothing wrong with evolving cs mode to be more like de mode...

 

So bearing all this in mind (and yes, I know mostly what I said was a summary of things others have said here, but it helps to make the thinking behind this next idea clear) I think a solution with a lot of potential would be the following:

PHASE 1 of the round remains unchanged, two hostages in the map and the CT team must attack and secure one of the two hostages.

However in PHASE 2 things would change... rather than making their way back through the map to one of two rescue zones, what you would have is this:

VERY NEAR to where each hostage is located there would be a couple of EXTRACTION zones.

The idea being that rather than going back all through the map the CTs take the hostage to one of the close by extraction zones, and then they have to wait there for 30-45 seconds with the hostage while an extraction vehicle comes (by helicopter or boat or car or whatever) It can be an instant win situation like the bomb exploding, as soon as the time counts down and the extraction arrives the round can be over (I am not suggesting players would have to physically place the hostage into the vehicle and let it leave) 

This would even out the round by allowing CTs to play defensively during PHASE 2 of the round. The extraction zones themselves would need to be designed a little like they were bombsites and need to be close to the hostages.

Although in the current cs mode this system is NOT catered for, I am sure it would be possible to achieve it entirely through mapping. Details would need to be tested, maybe the hostage can even spawn within the extraction zone and the countdown can start as soon as a CT recovers them.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Gulliver Thoday

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(Ideas come towards the end, the first part is more a recap)

Really nice article Will2k, I agree with pretty much everything you said, and the info was well  presented and clear. I also feel Blade made some very insightful and relevant points. Although de maps are undoubtedly more popular, I do believe that hostage gameplay needs to be explored and developed further.

The problem is simply one of battle/combat mechanics which is as true in games as in real life...  an attacking force (which is obliged to advance and take an objective) will always be at a disadvantage to the defending force. An attacking force will almost always suffer greater casualties than a defending force.

For this reason de maps are fundamentally biased in favor of the Counter-Terrorists and cs maps are biased in favor of the Terrorists, and is why I believe it is important to retain both modes. Obviously individual map design can help to neutralize this bias, but in many maps it can still be seen

Blades summary of the phases of the round is a great way to explain this, although personally I would simplify his model a little and say that essentially (for both cs and de) the round can be divided into two phases.

In defuse:

PHASE 1 = Terrorist team attacking and securing one of the two bomb sites allowing the bomb plant.

PHASE 2 = Terrorist team defend the bomb site against remaining CTs until the bomb explodes.

What is vital in this setup is the switching of roles from PHASE 1 to 2, the Terrorists who may have suffered more casualties in PHASE 1 can the switch to defending in PHASE 2. This makes de mode internally more balanced with late round mechanics compensating for earlier imbalances.

In hostage however it is obvious that:

PHASE 1 = CT team attack and secure one of the hostage areas and recover the hostage.

PHASE 2 = CT team push back through the map and attack the rescue zones to release the hostage.

The reason the attacking force are always at a disadvantage is simply the fact that they have to move in order to take the objective, which means leaving cover and exposing themselves. In hostage rescue the CT team is forced to spend the entire round on the move, making them more vulnerable, and in both PHASE 1 and PHASE 2 they can be seen as the offensive team. This means the mode lacks the internal balance seen in de mode.

I also completely agree with Will that there is nothing wrong with evolving cs mode to be more like de mode...

 

So bearing all this in mind (and yes, I know mostly what I said was a summary of things others have said here, but it helps to make the thinking behind this next idea clear) I think a solution with a lot of potential would be the following:

PHASE 1 of the round remains unchanged, two hostages in the map and the CT team must attack and secure one of the two hostages.

However in PHASE 2 things would change... rather than making their way back through the map to one of two rescue zones, what you would have is this:

VERY NEAR to where each hostage is located there would be a couple of EXTRACTION zones.

The idea being that rather than going back all through the map the CTs take the hostage to one of the close by extraction zones, and then they have to wait there for 30-45 seconds with the hostage while an extraction vehicle comes (by helicopter or boat or car or whatever) It can be an instant win situation like the bomb exploding, as soon as the time counts down and the extraction arrives the round can be over (I am not suggesting players would have to physically place the hostage into the vehicle and let it leave) 

This would even out the round by allowing CTs to play defensively during PHASE 2 of the round. The extraction zones themselves would need to be designed a little like they were bombsites and need to be close to the hostages.

Although in the current cs mode this system is NOT catered for, I am sure it would be possible to achieve it entirely through mapping. Details would need to be tested, maybe the hostage can even spawn within the extraction zone and the countdown can start as soon as a CT recovers them.

 

 

 

 

I feel like your last idea doesn't allow the cs  mode to really differentiate himself from the de_ one. Personnally I think this can work for a shorter time span, like 5 or 10 seconds. I feel however like the second phase would be a phase of T running behind Ct's to try to catch up with them, because if Ct's have the hostages it is necessarily because T have either been at the wrong place and haven't defended the hostage, or because the part of the team has been rekt :) which puts them at the disadvantage of having done something wrong and they deserve the clock ticking against themselves. But if you implement your situation, it puts things in a simpler state because they have intel about the whereabouts of CT'S which tell them more than they should know. They should know only where the hostage rescue zone is and try to catch Ct's until they get there :)

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