The map after Dust was always going to be a bit of an odd one, and that’s pretty much what happened with Cobble (or ‘de_cbble’ or ‘Cobblestone’ depending on who you talk to).

Originally, Cobble wasn’t a Dust-ish take on an English farmhouse-esque villa-ish collection of buildings. I had wanted to make a castle. An enormous castle. A haunt for tourists, and ghosts, probably.

Being the creative type, I called it “Castle”. I like castles. So Chris ‘MacMan’ Ashton (who, as you’ll remember, designed Dust’s texture set) diligently assembled all the textures I’d need for this endeavour, and I set to work, making the best Counter-Strike castle map the world had ever seen.

I devoted weeks of toil and effort to it, laying down routes and carving out polygons to get the large areas performant. Terrorists entered the map climbing up ropes from shore, while CTs entered through the tourist entrance, tasked with rescuing the poor lab-coated scientists who had once again scheduled a field trip on the exact same day half a dozen Terrorists decided to raid the ice-cream stand. Plenty of backstory, but the map itself…

Castle screenshot Cobble screenshot
cs_cstle (left) versus de_cbble (right), both named in honour of 8.3 filesystems and my distaste of random vowels

Well, it was not the best Counter-Strike castle map the world had ever seen. It wasn’t the worst, but it wasn’t good. (You can download it from here if you’re so inclined)

So I started again, and just tried to create something a bit Dust-ish. It took me either 8 hours or 8 evenings. Either way, probably the shortest amount of time I’d spent on a complete, playable CS map.

I could never quite get the Dust-ish layout to fit into a “Castle” theme so I just went with the farmhouse look instead. Thanks to the Half-Life engine’s limitations (or “power” as we called it back then) it didn’t really matter that the textures didn’t quite match the architecture I’d shuffled them on to. Just like the original Doom was considered “realistic” in 1993, Cobble looked close enough like Ye Olde Anonymous Farmhouse that it looked pretty good for a map at that time. The fact that the textures looked great together no matter how I composed them did no harm either.

Cobble finally arrived in CS BETA 6.5 (along with Aztec and Italy) and the reaction was pretty good. A few revisions later and it emerged as a far better map for competitive play than Dust (Dust 2 wouldn’t arrive for another 6 months), but the simpler, more accessible Dust still had the edge for pub matches.

CS:S came along and Valve/Turtle Rock gave Cobble an update, bringing in updated versions of the same textures, populating the map with details and embellishing the architecture, but the map still felt a bit alien to the theme.

Cobble screenshot Cobble screenshot
Cobble in CS:GO. It's a castle!

So, given Cobble’s history as a failed castle map, the CS:GO version of the map put an enormous smile on my face. Valve had achieved what I failed to do and stay true to the original texture set, setting the map in an actual castle, tourist information, museum relics and all. It’s basically what Cobble should have looked like from the very start.