The CS:GO YouTube video machine 3kliksphilip has put together a wonderful video about the third Dust map, aka de_dust_pcg. Have a watch:

It was quite nice to be reminded about this map as it turns 12 next year. I’d originally made it as part of a two-part tutorial for PC Gamer, so it never quite got the attention and iteration that Dust and Dust 2 benefitted from. In fact, I’d honestly nearly forgotten what it looked like, apart from a few small areas - and I didn’t remember the Terrorist spawn area at all.

Retrospectively I’m surprised at some of the choices I made, and the choices the layout exposes to players. The map clearly doesn’t have the same depth of gameplay as Dust 2, sitting closer to the original Dust in terms of size and complexity - perhaps it could be considered Dust 0.8 if these things were numbered in such a way. I’m still unsure if the dropped bomb spot was a good idea, but it was certainly fun to try it. If the map had been through the same process of iteration as the other Dust maps it might have ended up quite differently - but that was quite beyond the scope of a magazine tutorial!

In many ways, de_dust_pcg harks back to a simpler time, when we (or maybe, I) were too focussed on lowering the barrier for entry instead of the all-important metagames that help enshrine longevity. Modern gamers are more permitting of increasingly complex layouts, and as an industry we’ve got far, far better at decorating environments to make them easier to interpret, learn and retain. Newer game engines - with their realistic lighting models, real-time shadows and physically-based rendering - have certainly helped us recreate and then exploit properties of real world to guide players around the virtual world. All-in-all, not only can modern games deliver more, modern gamers expect more, and so de_dust_pcg will probably leave most CS:GO players wanting a little… well, more.

If you want to play de_dust_pcg, you can find some servers on Philip’s site. If you fancy getting your hands dirty and opening it up in Hammer - something I strongly encourage everyone to try - I’ve uploaded the original files here. It would be amazing to see the map updated with the same assets and stylings as CS:GO’s Dust and Dust 2!

Many thanks to Philip (@3kliksphilip) for not only making the video, but for recovering the original files (which I’d embarrassingly lost), fixing it all up for CS:GO, and releasing it on the Steam Workshop for others to play.