It's hard to think of a map in a multiplayer FPS that's more famous or popular than De_Dust2. Dave Johnston created the original version of Dust for Counter-Strike 1.0 way back in 2000, with Dust 2 coming out the following year. How many other levels are worthy of a sequel?
Valve recently gave the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive version of the map an overhaul, their goals being to improve readability, refine player movement and update the visuals. I had a quick chat with Dave to get his opinion on the changes.
RPS: Did you have any involvement with the recent Dust 2 remake?
Dave: I should preface all of this by saying that, embarrassingly, I've not actually played the new version yet! I did take a very, very close look at the screenshots when it was revealed though. Regardless, it's almost certainly the best version of Dust 2 ever made.
I've not been involved in any CS maps since Condition Zero. Frankly, it feels like CS map making has evolved so much in the interim that, if asked today, I'm not sure I could provide any useful input - if anything, it'd be like Jony Ive asking Alexander Graham Bell for help designing the next iPhone. The basics are generally the same, but modern CS map design has so many additional layers on top - both technical requirements and gameplay aspects - that I simply don't have a sufficient awareness of. There are metagames that didn't even exist when I made Dust 2 - so I had it incredibly easy compared to the current generation of designers!
RPS: What do you think about the new art direction?
Dave: The updated art direction is lovely. It's clean, it's crisp, it feels real and lived-in. The most important aspect is that it actually feels a pleasant environment to be in - I'd honestly love to spend a weekend at hotel Aurore if I could. Half the reason the original Dust and D2 were so bright is because I like that embracing, welcoming ambience, so I'm so glad it's been retained.
RPS: Why do you think Dust 2 has enjoyed such long lasting appeal?
Dave: I'm not sure there's a single reason why D2 has lasted so long. I like to think it just happened to hit the right balance of simplicity and depth, but it also got a big boost simply by being the successor to Dust. Today it's the one big constant that brings players from every generation of CS together, and supplies a certain comfort by just being there, even if it's not necessarily the most interesting or exciting map at any particular moment.
RPS: Thanks for your time.
You can try the new version of Dust 2 for yourself whenever you like - it's currently live in CS:GO.