Counter-Strike Wiki

Turtle Rock Studios is a video game development company known for their work on the official Counter-Strike bot, Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, Counter-Strike (Xbox) and Counter-Strike: Source.


Touching base with Valve Software

Original logo

Turtle Rock Studios was founded in March 2002 by Michael Booth after he left Electronic Arts.[1][2] The studio was named after Turtle Rock, Irvine, California, the neighborhood where Booth lived at the time.[3] He originally founded the studio in order to develop indie games.[1][4]

When Booth's former colleagues from Westwood Studios, Chris Ashton and Ido Magal both of whom were working at Valve Software at the time, found out about the work Booth was doing they mentioned the possibility of getting his games released in the future via the Steam platform that Valve was developing and encouraged Booth to get in contact with Valve.[1][4] Booth got excited by this game distribution platform and cold-called Scott Lynch, the chief operating officer at Valve, in 2002 which started the conversation between Turtle Rock Studios and Valve Software.[1][5]

Getting involved with Counter-Strike

After Booth contacted Valve, various projects were discussed including Counter-Strike: Condition Zero.[1] However, Booth's experience and passion for AI programming and his interest in the original Counter-Strike game eventually resulted in him being given the project of developing an official Counter-Strike bot in late 2002.[1][6][7]

Michael Booth spent about six months programming the bot until it went live on June 5, 2003[8] as part of the Counter-Strike 1.6 Steam beta.[1] The bot was well received by both the Counter-Strike community and Valve Software.[1]

Stepping in on Condition Zero

At around the same time the Counter-Strike bot was initially released, the iteration of Condition Zero developed by Ritual Entertainment was being finalized.[1] However, internal playtests at Valve and early press reviews of the game indicated that there were issues with the game and a change was needed.[9] Since the bot had been well received, Valve Software was comfortable with Booth's capabilities as a game developer and decided to hand over further development on the title to Turtle Rock Studios.[1]

Taking over development of Condition Zero meant that Booth had to hire employees, find an office space and purchase equipment for his company.[1] He reached out to some former Westwood employees, including Chris Ashton, about joining his company and assisting in the development of Condition Zero.[4] They finished development of Condition Zero and also helped out with the development on the Xbox version of Counter-Strike.

Nurturing Counter-Strike: Source

After Condition Zero had been shipped, Valve Software was pleased with the way the title had turned out and thus also brought Turtle Rock Studios in to assist with the development of Counter-Strike: Source.[4] Turtle Rock Studios provided the bot AI technology for the game and designed some of the maps.[10] The designers at Turtle Rock had complete creative control over the maps they created and they were only overseen by Valve Software.[7] Turtle Rock Studios created a total of seven maps for the game.[11]

Original content and Valve South

While the team at Turtle Rock was excited to have worked on the Counter-Strike series, there was a drive to develop an original title within the studio.[4] They prototyped by modifying the Counter-Strike: Source game code and this eventually evolved into what would become Left 4 Dead.[4] Valve Software decided to fund the title and on January 10, 2008 Valve announced that they had acquired Turtle Rock Studios and the studio was renamed to Valve South.[4][12][13]

Reforming Turtle Rock Studios

Due to the large distance between the offices of Valve and Valve South, coordination and moving people between the offices became difficult.[4][13] Thus after Left 4 Dead had shipped the two studios sat down and concluded that it would be best for the studio to go independent again.[4]

Michael Booth no longer wanted to be involved with the studio, so Chris Ashton and Phil Robb had to step up to reform Turtle Rock Studios.[4] The studio regained its independence in December 2008,[14] and they spent the entire first month of December setting up their offices in a small warehouse for housing the company that numbered only around 5 employees at the time as several employees had left for Valve Software when the dust had settled.[4][13]

Initially, the reformed studio did two years of contract work for Valve Software.[4][15] This included producing additional content for the Left 4 Dead series and early work on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.[4]

Eventually the work for Valve Software dried up, and the studio decided that it was time to start working on a new projects. Thus they started development on the game Evolve.[16] This game was released in 2015.


In March 2019, Turtle Rock announced Back 4 Blood, a new zombie co-op FPS in the vein of Left 4 Dead, which is slated for release on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in June 22, 2021. And will be published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.



  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Callaham, John (2003-10-17). "CS: Condition Zero-Turtle Rock Studios Interview". HomeLan Fed. Archived from the original on 2004-04-22. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  2. Turtle Rock Studios (2003). "About". Turtle Rock Studios. Archived from the original on 2003-04-24. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  3. Pitts, Russ (2015-03-19). "For Turtle Rock studios, Evolve isn’t just a game, it’s a mantra". Digital Trends. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 Hanson, Ben (2014-01-31). "Life After Death: The Story Of Turtle Rock Studios". GameInformer. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  5. Callaham, John (2003-04-17). "Official Counter-Strike Bot Interview". HomeLan Fed. Archived from the original on 2003-04-26. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  6. MrEasy (2003-12-24). "Official CS Bot developer interview". Archived from the original on 2004-02-09. Retrieved 2017-05-29.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Blink (2006-03-17). "Turtle Rock Studios Interview". Retrieved 2017-05-29.
  8. Valve Software (2003) "Counter-Strike Update History". Steam. Archived from the original on 2003-08-06. Retrieved 2017-05-29.
  9. Thorsen, Tor (2003-10-17). "Condition Zero commotion has golden ending". GameSpot. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  10. Kuchera, Ben (2008-01-10). "Valve eats brains of Turtle Rock, makers of Left 4 Dead". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2017-05-30.
  11. Turtle Rock Studios (2006). "Dramatic Environments". Turtle Rock Studios. Archived from the original on 2006-07-19. Retrieved 2017-05-30.
  12. Valve Software (2008-01-10). "Valve Acquires Turtle Rock Studios". Valve. Retrieved 2017-05-30.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Remo, Chris (2009-06-03). "E3: Valve's Lombardi On What Happened To Turtle Rock". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2017-05-30.
  14. Robb, Phil. "Phil Robb's Profile". LinkedIn. Retrieved 2017-05-30.
  15. Pitcher, Jenna (2014-02-14). "Turtle Rock Studio heads discuss conception of Left 4 Dead and Evolve". Polygon. Retrieved 2017-05-30.
  16. Robinson, Martin (2014-02-11). "Why Turtle Rock left Valve". Retrieved 2017-05-30.

External links