Old enough to drink.
CS-Nation old design - rizzuh

Apparently, today is the birthday for Counter-Strike. I think technically it was yesterday, June 18, but we aren't the official record keepers by any means. The official word comes from a short, but sweet tweet that went out from the official CS:GO Twitter account.
What more is there to really say? I have not personally played the game in years now, but the game is obviously more popular than ever. It was thanks to Counter-Strike and CS-Nation that I am here right now bringing you this news. I do owe it a thanks for that. CS-Nation is sadly just a lost relic these days that most players have zero idea about. It's certainly a bittersweet feeling.

I looked up CS-Nation at archive.org to go through some of the older stuff. Here is what we had in the "About" page back on February 5, 2005.

Also, shoutout to rizzuh for always keeping it classy in his screenshots for the old site. Bonus shoutout to ICQ.

Counter-Strike was released on June 18th, 1999 as a modification (mod) for the popular game Half-Life. It pits a Counter-Terrorist team (CT) and a Terrorist team (T) against each other in a variety of exotic and urban environments. It features three game modes: Defusion where T players plant a bomb and CT players defuse it, Hostage Rescue where CT players attempt to rescue hostages, and Assassination where T players attempt to kill a VIP that the CT players must protect. Counter-Strike is currently the most popular online action game available, even though it technically isn't even a game on its own.

Half-Life, released in November '98, was hailed as "Game of the Year" for its outstanding single player, but the multiplayer side of the game was never that popular until Team Fortress Classic and the Software Developers' Kit (SDK) were released. The SDK allowed programmers and artists to create modifications for Half-Life. Modifications, or mods, are common in First Person Shooter gaming titles. Counter-Strike is a mod for Half-Life, and originally required a copy of Half-Life (HL) to play.

Jess Cliffe, a student, created the website for Minh Le's newest mod, Counter-Strike. Minh Le, known as Gooseman online, had previously worked on Action Quake 2 and Navy SEALs for Quake. Cliffe, who uses his last name as his online handle, was a webmaster of a Action Quake 2 map site and had developed an online friendship with Minh when he was working on that game's models.

Cliffe eventually helped more and more with the design of Counter-Strike before release; Minh was the main member of the CS Team. Minh did all the modeling, skinning, and animating for Counter-Strike, along with coding with knowledge he gained from Simon Fraser University. The maps were handled by those interested in the mod, not by a dedicated mapping team. Indeed, the core CS Team consisted of only two people. And while Cliffe did much to help design Counter-Strike, his main duty was with the website and PR stuff.

Counter-Strike's website, hosted on Planet Half-Life, built up much anticipation for the mod, which looked like the most complete mod in the HL community. This relatively new community had few mods in development at the time. Of course, partly due to Counter-Strike's success, Half-Life is a very popular target game for many mods.

Counter-Strike's first version was BETA 1; "BETA" software is software that is not final or software that is incomplete (for more on the early history of CS, check out cs - year 1). This trial phase, basically an excuse to allow the CS Team to change anything it wanted to, continued until November of 2000 when version 1.0 was released. At that stage, Valve Software, the developers of Half-Life, took over development of Counter-Strike. At this stage, Valve released Half-Life: Counter-Strike which is also called CS Retail.

Minh and Jess still contribute to Counter-Strike's development, but only in designing the game and not actually programming or modeling. Still, many of the changes we see in our modern versions of Counter-Strike can be attributed to their choices. It's anyone's guess as to who is actually "in charge," but it is certain that many of the more daring changes (such as the slow-down after jumping in CS 1.4) were designed by the core CS team.

Counter-Strike is currently the official game of the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL), a company that houses two or more US-based LAN competitions a year that give out tens of thousands in winnings to competitive CS teams, or clans. Because of this, Counter-Strike has a large e-sports following full of clans that are very skillful and players that are dedicated to their craft. The online counter-part to the CPL, the CAL, is responsible for most online CS competition. Most players, however, aren't in clans and just play on public servers (sometimes called pubs) for fun.

Two CS spin-offs are currently in production. First is the oft-delayed Counter-Strike: Condition Zero that amounts to the single player counter-part of Counter-Strike. Second is the mysterious Counter-Strike for Xbox (CSX), which has been out of the headlines recently but was shown at E3 by Microsoft.

Minh is currently developing the unannounced Counter-Strike 2, which will likely use the new Half-Life 2 engine—dubbed "Source"—developed by Valve. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Jess graduated from Virginia Tech in 2003 and currently works for Valve in their Bellevue offices.