Shawn “FMPONE” Snelling has a decorated history in map design creating some of the most well-known maps in CS:GO, including Sub-Zero, Crown, and Santorini. And now, the map creator has revamped Cache, his most popular hit.
With the release of the revamped Cache coming tomorrow, Dot Esports talked with FMPONE regarding the creative process behind rebuilding the map and the changes that will be made in the future.
Although it'll be released to the public on Oct. 10, its integration into the Active Duty map pool is unknown.
Two years ago, you mentioned that Cache was thriving. At what point did you think that Cache needed a change?
FMPONE: That’s a great question. I would say that we noticed professional players started to have more issues with the meta, just in terms of not being able to innovate too much. I would say that it probably started happening a year prior to the map being removed from Active Duty. It obviously starts off a little bit quieter and gets a little bit louder. It’s kind of like the same thing you’re hearing with, I would say with Mirage right now. It feels like there’s not a tremendous amount of new things you can do. I think it’s just inevitable when a map has been around for as long as Cache was. I mean, Cache was around for like seven years at that point. It was getting up there.
Cache has been in the map pool for quite a few years, which could lead to it becoming a skill-based map. How will this new Cache change this?
A lot of the teams that did really well on Cache were teams that had skill. But there were also teams that were not necessarily as skilled but they had a pretty good strategy for how to handle rotates and communication. For example, Ninjas in Pyjamas was a team that was doing really well back in the day on Cache and that was not necessarily because they had the most skilled players but they worked really well as a team.
In terms of what this new map will change, there is going to be a lot more emphasis on the Terrorists to use grenades. Before you’re coming out of A-main, it might have been sufficient to throw one smoke and then cross with maybe a flash or two. First of all, we have lowered the heights of the buildings around the A-site so there is going to be more of an opportunity to use utility. But you’re also going to need to use utility because there are more sightlines from Truck into the Default area. You saw Kenny “KennyS” Schrub AWPing on the new box at A-site. There is just a lot more opportunity for players to shut down aggression on the CT-side. Their options were limited before. Naturally, this will require the Terrorists to be more strategic to combat this.
Do you think all of the new changes to Cache, such as the open skybox in Checkers, a new railing in the B-site, and an open window in Mid, will contribute to a CT-sided map?
I think that it will contribute to the map being more balanced. I think in terms of sidedness, Cache started off as a very CT-sided map. Then, teams figured it out and were able to have better defaults on the Terrorist side and were able to predict when aggression happened from the CT-side. It gradually became a more Terrorist-sided map. But with these changes, the number of different changes we made, it will be challenging to predict the exact sidedness. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was CT-sided once again but I also would not be surprised if the Terrorist side gradually got better and better at evening that out.
Going back to the beginning of the creative process behind the map, was there any inspiration you took when designing this map?
I look at a lot of different games. There are obviously a lot of games that go for that overgrown style. I wanted something upbeat. If you were to go back and play Stalker, it’s kind of gloomy and dark. I wanted to take that look and refocus it around a different time of the year. Instead of fall or winter, make it more in line with spring or summer, giving it a similar location but slightly different spin.
Was there something during the creative process where you thought that you couldn’t change it anymore?
I would say that there were no major hiccups, it was really smooth. But the one thing, looking back on it, it just felt that it took me a long time to get out of CT-spawn, creatively. I was spending a lot of time there because I was nailing the look. If you go back and look at my Twitter, you can track my progress in real time. Over the little updates I was sending out, I was telling people when different areas were completed. I just remembered for whatever reason the very first area in CT-spawn. As I was nailing the look and getting assets that I could repeat throughout the level, I felt like it was taking forever. But after that point, it was pretty much smooth sailing.
Since the map is nearing completion, was there any standout criticism of it from the feedback at ESL One New York?
Well, the saturation of the colors was something that the professionals pointed out. All the maps in CS:GO are pretty desaturated so the professionals use digital vibrance. I’ll confess, I don't know if there is a particularly good reason that they do it but they all do it. Whether they think that they’re getting an advantage competitively or think it is more pleasant, I’m not really sure. They pretty much all do it. So I was a little surprised to realize the extent to which it was used. It was important to them to tone down the visuals in terms of color saturation that was being incorporated into the level. Realistically, this takes about an hour to do.
Would you say that there's a map that needs a redesign or is there a map that you would remove from the Active Duty pool?
Do I have to go away from Mirage? I just think that Valve tends to. This is speculation, but it seems like a common-sense logical process that if a map has been around for seven years, there comes a point where, as CS:GO is a product, you want it to look amazing on those gigantic arena screens in front of hundreds of thousands of people during the Majors. I think that when you have a product that is going on seven years old like Cache and Mirage, there is an importance to updating it for that reason alone.