After the success of Counter-Strike, the prospect of developing a single-player Counter-Strike experience sounded attractive. Thus, the idea of Counter-Strike: Condition Zero was born in 2001.

2001: The first haul

Rogue Entertainment was in a frantic state in early 2001. After developing American McGee's Alice for Electronic Arts (EA) through 2000 and the release of the game in October 2000, they started working on a PlayStation 2 port of the game. However, when EA suddenly cancelled the project in January 2001, Rogue Entertainment found themselves without a project to work on.[1]

During a desperate search for new projects, one of the companies Rogue Entertainment contacted was Valve Software. Gabe Newell of Valve had always wanted to play a single-player version of Counter-Strike, thus Valve decided to offer the creation of such a project to Rogue Entertainment.[2] In April 2001, an agreement was reached and Rogue Entertainment started developing what would become the first iteration of Counter-Strike: Condition Zero.[3][1]


Screenshot of the iteration by Rogue Entertainment

The version of the game designed by Rogue Entertainment had a very Half-Life-like single player experience, much like Counter-Strike: Condition Zero Deleted Scenes. Their design also included some questionable weaponry including a crossbow, land mines and a suicide belt.[4]

However, before the game had even been unveiled the producer of the game at Rogue Entertainment, Jim Molinets, announced that he would be leaving the company for a job as Senior Producer for SCE San Diego. Employees of Rogue Entertainment did not think this would affect development of the title since most of Molinet's work had already been done. However, Valve felt betrayed and had concerns regarding the financial stability of Rogue Entertainment following Molinet's departure and responded by removing Condition Zero from their hands.[1][2]

Development on the title was headed for a short time by Erik Johnson's team at Valve Software. At this time, the game was officially announced in the form of a teaser of an upcoming cover story in the magazine Computer Gaming World.[2] However, shortly after the game had been officially announced, all work done on the game by Rogue Entertainment was scrapped as development on the title was handed over to Gearbox Software.[5][6]

2001-2002: A gear-shift

Gearbox Software picked up development on Counter-Strike: Condition Zero shortly after finishing work on Half-Life: Blue Shift in May 2001.[5][6] Instead of basing their work on what had been previously created by Rogue Entertainment, Gearbox decided to start over from scratch.[7]

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Screenshot of the iteration by Gearbox Software

This design of the game included many improvements to the technology and visual quality of the game such as higher quality player models, alpha blending, a level of detail system and the possibility of using weather effects.[8] Their single-player mode drew inspiration from console games such as Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and Gran Turismo.[9] New weapons were also the be introduced in the form of e.g. a Molotov cocktail, gas grenade and a M72 LAW.[8] Gearbox also utilized the talents of several people in the community, including David Johnston and Christopher Auty for level design, and Markus Klinge, the creator of PODBot, for the creation of an official bot for the game.[8]

However, after about a year into development, Valve Software suddenly wanted to change the design of the single player mode to a more traditional linear shooter as the narrative of the game design by Gearbox Software wasn't good enough.[10][11] This new single player experience was showcased at E3 2002.[12]

Shortly thereafter, in July 2002, Gearbox Software decided to withdraw from the development on the title.[13] While an exact reason for the decision was never given, it was likely related to the decision by Valve to change the design of the single player component.

2002-2003: The story of the Deleted Scenes

Ritual Entertainment was facing financial difficulties following the decision by EA to cancel the PC port of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in early August 2002.[14][10] Like manna from heaven, the decision by Gearbox Software to withdraw from the development of Condition Zero a few weeks earlier meant that Valve Software was looking for a new team to develop Condition Zero further. Thus in mid-August, an agreement was reached whereby Ritual Entertainment would take over further development of the title.[15][16]

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Screenshot of the iteration by Ritual Entertainment

Ritual Entertainment redesigned the game concept from scratch, but would reuse a lot of content previously created by Gearbox in their game design.[17][18] This design iteration of the single player game was a linear shooter that spanned 20 missions utilizing a modified version of the Half-Life AI.[19][20] It would later become Counter-Strike: Condition Zero Deleted Scenes. It also featured a musical score composed by Zak Belica, with each mission carrying different environmental musical orchestrations, similar to some of Mike Morasky's work on Valve's Left 4 Dead series. Multiplayer was not neglected, and Ritual Entertainment created new high definition player and weapon models.[19] In addition, Valve Software recruited the services of Michael Booth from Turtle Rock Studios for the creation of a bot AI for multiplayer.[21]

After about 10 months of development, by June 2003, Ritual Entertainment had finished their contribution to the project.[22] However, during internal playtesting at Valve and following early reviews by the press, it soon became apparent that the game designed by Ritual Entertainment had several shortcomings.[23] As the bot AI designed by Turtle Rock had been well received by the community and the press during beta testing, Valve decided to hand over development of the title to Turtle Rock Studios in June 2003.[24][23]

2003-2004: The final stretch

The decision to redesign the game following the early reception of the work by Ritual Entertainment was a well-kept secret which wasn't revealed until early October 2003. Due to the success of the bot AI, it was decided to create a design that centered around the capabilities of this bot.[25] Thus, the Tour of Duty game mode was born.

The game was slated to be released on November 18, 2003.[25] When the day arrived, the game was nowhere to be seen.[26] Valve Software blamed the publisher Vivendi Universal Games for intentionally delaying the release of the game and Valve would later make this part of their ongoing lawsuit with the publisher.[27]

Finally, almost three years after its initial announcement, the game was released on March 23, 2004.[28]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Shacknews | More on Rogue-Valve Fallout
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Voodoo Extreme - New CS Not Cancelled. Archived from the original on 2001-05-27.
  3. STOMPED - Rogue Working On New Game. Archived from the original on 2001-11-14.
  4. Computer Gaming World - Issue 204 (2001-07) Ziff Davis Media Inc.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Action Vault - Counter-Strike: Condition Zero Interview. Archived from the original on 2002-08-02.
  6. 6.0 6.1 GameSpot - E3 2001: Half-Life: Blue Shift goes gold
  7. - Condition Zero Int.. Archived from the original on 2003-01-18.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 - Preview: Counter-Strike: Condition Zero (PC). Archived from the original on 2001-12-04.
  9. - Preview: Counter-Strike: Condition Zero Revisited. Archived from the original on 2002-02-01.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Shacknews Article - Counter-Strike: Condition Zero (Ritual Entertainment). Archived from the original on 2003-01-27.
  11. PC Zone - Issue 118 (2002-08) Dennis Publishing Ltd. - Read via Cool Guys Krew A Great Site for Cs stuff. Archived from the original on 2002-09-26.
  12. The Adrenaline Vault | News | Condition Zero Update. Archived from the original on 2002-06-03.
  13. .plan File for Randy Pitchford
  14. IGN: Two Towers Cancelled?
  15. Ritualistic Articles - Counter-Strike: Bringing the World's Most Popular Shooter to Xbox Live
  16. Ritualistic Forums - wow
  17. - Counter-Strike: Condition Zero Interview. Archived from the original on 2003-04-18.
  18. HomeLan Fed : Exclusives : Counter-Strike: Condition Zero Interview. Archived from the original on 2002-12-27.
  19. 19.0 19.1 - Interview: Ritual chats about Counter-Strike: Condition Zero. Archived from the original on 2007-09-11.
  20. - Preview - Counter-Strike: Condition Zero (PC). Archived from the original on 2002-12-21.
  21. HomeLan Fed : Exclusives : Official Counter-Strike Bot Interview. Archived from the original on 2003-04-26.
  22. Ritualistic Forums - Stop misleading people!!
  23. 23.0 23.1 GameSpot - Condition Zero commotion has golden ending
  24. HomeLAN Fed : Exclusives : CS: Condition Zero-Turtle Rock Studios Interview. Archived from the original on 2004-04-22.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Shacknews - Condition Zero Gold Friday. Archived from the original on 2003-12-02.
  26. GameSpot - Condition Zero goes fool's gold
  27. GameSpot - Valve prevails in cyber-café rights case
  28. Steam - Condition Zero Update History
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