The original de_season was crafted eight years ago by Ted "cashed" McIlwain and went on to become an extremely popular map on the Counter-Strike:Source circuit due to the balanced and geometrically fine-tuned nature of the map.
CS:GO was introduced to season when Ted ported the map in February 2013, keeping the original textures. ESEA, often known for its progressive map pool decisions, adopted the map immediately for its Season 14 play in both Europe and North America.
|The retextured de_season takes place in view of Mount Fuji|
Although the map began to steadily accrue its hours of CS:GO playtime, any chance of serious exposure was then overshadowed with the announcement of Valve-sponsored majors in late 2013.
With the majors came an officially sponsored map pool, which saw its action sans-season at DreamHack Winter 2013.
Retexturing a classic
However, with complaints about certain maps continually being raised and a constant hunger for new maps for Operations in the air, de_season was a continued question mark for many. This is where current co-creator of the rework Shawn "FMPONE" Snelling comes in. When I asked Snelling about the decision, he told me:
|"After Cache, I asked Volcano what he thought about Season, and what his experience had been playing the map as a professional in Counter-Strike: Source. He said it was one of the most popular maps in the pro scene in CS:S, had a very pleasant look, and offered teams a large amount of strategies. That made me want to work on the map for CS:GO, so that every CS:GO player could enjoy Season."|
Indications of a major rework to de_season to keep the map in tune with Valve's modern aesthetic philosophy for maps appeared in early June 2014 when Snelling previewed some screenshots of the map.
Ditching its threadbare industrial CS:S textures, the map promised to be a clean-cut, minimalistic take on a competitive layout with Japanese overtones.
After several months of work, the map saw its release in October of 2014; and despite a few troubling indications that it would not make it in time for Valve's upcoming operation, the map debuted in Operation Vanguard.
|Glimpses of a new de_season were hinted at throughout 2014|
A joint re-texture from original creator Ted and FMPONE, the map has now seen several months of play in both leagues (e.g. ESEA Invite Season 18) and match-making servers. Although not part of the current Valve map-pool or the active duty map set, it has been widely accepted as a competitively viable map.
With the end of Operation Vanguard, de_season's future is not clear. Will it return in the next operation or be assimilated by Valve à la de_cache?
Although Snelling would not comment on what's next, the map is in a continued state of frequent development (with three updates in the past two weeks), and Snelling made it clear the map is a passion project and will continue to grow:
|"Ted, the original author of Season, put so much love into this project over the years. I was lucky to work with him on a modern look for the level, and I think it turned out really well. Even though the map has already been released and featured in Valve’s Operation: Vanguard, we're still working hard on it."|
Working with pros to perfect the map
In addition, Snelling has incorporated the feedback of numerous pros in recent changes, with many of them making nade set-ups more simplified or widening/narrowing corridors and certain peek positions.
|The entrance to A site was narrowed, pesky barriers removed and overhead clutter simplified|
The overall effect has been to keep the map true to its CS:S roots while also strengthening its competitive integrity; as Snelling says,
|"If a pro contacted me today and said “I don’t like this” I would listen to what they have to say and likely make changes, because I care a lot and want to see this map succeed. Season needs to be perfect."|
FMPONE made special mention of the North Americans of Team Liquid who influenced a number of recent changes. In particular, he thanked Damian "daps" Steele for his invaluable input and numerous opinions. In his own words:
|"I recently sat down the Team Liquid guys, and they were amazing with feedback. They said that the glass above the bombsites could be annoying, so we fixed that by adding an invisible trigger which breaks the glass before it can interfere with grenades. There were also some complaints about timings and angles, so we listened and changed things back to how they were in Source."|
|An angle from CS:S has returned for upper rafters of B as well as moving the entrance a tad|
FMPONE also mentioned that he is curious to hear what the European scene have to say about the map, and welcomes critique, saying,
|"Other changes were made simply by listening to pros on Twitch or seeing complaints on Twitter. I want to be more available for European pro feedback as well."|
As some of the screenshots above make clear, these changes are meant to streamline the flow of the map and eliminate awkward angles and barriers. A comparison of some recent changes along with image sliders can be found on Max Reiger's site here.
A full changelog of the three most recent updates is included below.
[UPDATE: MARCH 23RD]
[UPDATE: MARCH 26TH]
[UPDATE: MARCH 31ST]
The only way for players to be able to see the changes to de_season is through the workshop version, which is found here.