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If you missed last week’s great news about Operation Payback: with the support of the CS:GO community, the map-makers’ share has reached over $150,000! Thanks to everyone who has participated so far.

To celebrate the success of Operation Payback, we’re extending the event for an extra month. You’ll continue to get access to these fantastic maps on our official servers until August 31st.


Meanwhile, we’re looking at a great list of maps that we hope to include in the next operation. If you’ve been working on a map, now is the time to make sure it’s in the workshop and getting votes!

Last week we gave you a walkthrough of our decision-making process while developing an update of the classic map de_mirage. One thing we didn’t give you, though, was the actual map.

Today, the wait is over: Mirage is here! Jump into an official Casual, Competitive, or Deathmatch server and check it out.


Also, today’s update includes a new tool to help you practice throwing flash and smoke grenades in all of our maps. While you’re on a private server enter “sv_grenade_trajectory 1” in the console, and you’ll get to see the visual arc that grenades follow across the map.

Lastly, Operation Payback passes are on sale for just $0.99 from now until Monday. Get access to a diverse set of community maps, and match up with the rest of the CS:GO community through official Valve matchmaking servers. Now is the perfect time to play some great maps while supporting the CS:GO community.

We hope you enjoy the de_mirage update and Payback sale, and get some practice time in with those grenade lobs. As always, your feedback is incredibly important to us; be sure to let us know what you think of everything!

Since we launched Counter-Strike back in 2000, Mirage has remained one of the most popular competitive maps next to Dust2. In short, it’s a classic, and we’d be nuts to tinker with the core gameplay of something that already works so well.

However, let’s be honest: Visually, Mirage hasn’t aged as well as some of Counter-Strike’s other classic maps. Put simply, it could really use a new coat of paint. But it was important to us not to fix anything that wasn’t broken. Over the course of Mirage’s update, when we weren’t playtesting the old map, the CS:GO team was immersing itself in demos, movies, and streams about it. We wanted to have a detailed and comprehensive understanding of how the map was played on a competitive level, so that we could achieve a specific goal: to improve the readability and graphics of Mirage without losing any of the gameplay, jumps, corners, timings and balance that has made it so incredibly playable for three generations of Counter-Strike players.

Below, we’ve chosen a few examples that highlight some of the updates we made to Mirage, and our thought process behind them.


Above is a good example of our attempt to improve the map’s overall readability. You’ll notice in the classic Mirage map, most of the wall textures had a dark and noisy bottom half – right at player height. In most lighting conditions, this had the potential to reduce enemy readability. For the updated Mirage, we went with lower contrast, less noise and a brighter palette to make player silhouettes easier to identify against the background.

You’ll also notice that in the image above, the boxes on the left that lead to balcony have been changed to better match the theme of the map. However, the changes are purely cosmetic: the dimensions are the same and the gameplay hasn’t changed.

A common complaint we receive from players is that there are a lot of spaces in classic maps that just feel too tight. In Mirage, this was particularly pronounced at the entrance to A from CT spawn. So we widened that entrance to improve the flow of the game while making the space more interesting to move through.


Here, after noticing time and time again that CTs could cover the terrorist apartment balcony from behind the box with very little risk to themselves, we made CTs a bit more exposed while also making the area more accessible. Previously, this was a crouch-jump hop onto the boxes to cover bombsite A. The stairs behind the platform were added to make the area a more viable option for taking/retaking the site, while also making it a slightly more dangerous place to be.


Above is an example where the original geometry of the classic map has been retained in order to maintain the same peeking angles.


In middle, it was very important that the boxes players use to boost into the sniper’s nest stayed the way they were. We updated the art to be more in-line with the theme of the map, but as with the boxes at Bombsite B, the gameplay remains the same.

In the classic version of Mirage, CT snipers had an easier time of staying concealed in the sniper’s nest spot. In the updated version, snipers now silhouette better against the back wall.

Lastly, we also noticed that the underpass tunnel above right was largely neglected by some players, due to it being too concealed. We brightened up the entrance and wrapped the stairs around the corner. As a result, it now gets a lot more attention.


Previously, Ts needed to do two box jumps to enter the main route to B from T spawn. These boxes made the path to B via the apartments less accessible and kept this route from reading like the main route that it is. Preserving the time it takes the Ts to reach B via apartments, we made the entrance easier to navigate and more obvious to use, while not disturbing the established balance.


Coming back to the previous point about space, above is another example of where we took the opportunity to give players a bit more room to navigate in a way that did not affect gameplay in any significant way.

As you might expect, we’ve been collecting data throughout the development process to measure how players approach the original de_mirage (for example, see the heatmap below). Looking forward, we’ll be carefully monitoring these statistics to ensure that the same classic gameplay has been retained in the updated version.


We hope you enjoyed this glimpse into our process. We’ll be releasing the map next week, so be sure to keep an eye out for it. As always, we look forward to the feedback we get from a wider audience when we do.

First off, we’d like to thank the good folks in the CS:GO community who’ve volunteered to be Investigators in our Overwatch beta experiment. For those of you who haven’t heard about it yet, Overwatch gives the CS:GO community the power to report, review and give temporary bans to consistently disruptive “problem” players, and it’s been encouragingly successful. (Check out the Overwatch FAQ for details.)

So far, Overwatch Investigators have found evidence of disruptive behavior in 90% of highly-reported cases, with the decision being unanimous in the vast majority of cases. In addition to our standard test cases, we recently added demos of pro CS:GO players (specifically NiP and Quantic) to the test pool. Every single test case has been correctly dismissed as “Insufficient Evidence”, with no false convictions made.

In other news, you may have noticed that we opened the Steam Trading Card beta a few weeks ago. Since then, over 20,000 CS:GO badges have been crafted from over 120,000 trading cards! For those of you in the Steam Trading Card beta that who’ve been helping us by participating, thank you.

Today we’re updating the trading card art and badges to their final forms. Here’s a look at the new Steam badges. Let us know what you think.



CSGO Overwatch FAQ

What is the Overwatch?

The Overwatch lets the CS:GO community regulate itself by allowing qualified and experienced members of the community (‘investigators‘) to review reports of disruptive behavior, determine whether those reports are valid, and apply temporary bans if appropriate.

How does the Overwatch work?

Prospective Overwatch Investigators are presented with an active Overwatch button in the main menu, which indicates that there is a pending case for them to evaluate. The investigators can then choose to participate by watching a replay (eight rounds’ worth or roughly 10 minutes) and selecting a verdict.

If the investigators collectively agree that an offense has occurred, a ban will be issued. The ban duration will depend on the severity of the offense and the suspect’s history of convictions, if any.

How do investigators get selected?

Investigators are selected based on their CS:GO activity (competitive wins, account age, hours played, Skill Group, low report count, etc.) and, if applicable, prior Overwatch participation level and score (a function of their accuracy as an investigator). Community members who maintain both a high level of activity and high Overwatch scores will receive more cases to elect to participate in.

What evidence is available to the investigators?

Investigators are presented with a replay of a randomly selected eight-round segment from an accused player’s match, and their task is to determine whether or not that player has committed any offenses during that replay. The suspect is referred to as “The Suspect” and the other players’ names have been replaced. All text and voice chat has been omitted. The investigator is expected to make a determination solely based on the actions of the suspect.

How does a player end up getting reviewed by an Overwatch?

The system contains replays of players whose pattern of being reported exceeds or otherwise stands out from those of their peers. They may have a sudden spike in reports, or they may have slowly built up many reports over a long period of time. Additionally, a player may appear in a test case replay that has previously received a not-guilty verdict. These are randomly inserted into a case load and are used exclusively to help the system score investigators (the verdict in test cases will not result in any action against the suspect).

What are the charges and possible verdicts?

There are four distinct charges to be evaluated that cover the major forms of disruption. Each charge has two possible verdicts, ‘Insufficient Evidence,’ and ‘Evident Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.’ Additionally, an investigator may choose to ‘Postpone’ a review and restart it at a later time without a resolution.

What happens at the end of a case?

For each charge, if the system determines that the investigators’ collective judgment converges on an overwhelming verdict, then the case will be closed and all decisions rendered on the case will determine the final verdict. If the verdicts are overwhelmingly “Insufficient Evidence” or are inconclusive, the case will be thrown out.

Can one investigator have more weight applied to their decision than another?

Yes. A higher-scoring investigator’s verdict will carry more weight than a lower-scoring investigator.

How are investigators scored?

An Overwatch score represents an investigator’s ability to consistently and accurately judge the evidence they review, per charge, in both real and test cases. Investigators score positively for agreeing with the majority of other investigators’ verdicts for the same replay, and score negatively for being in the minority. The resulting change in score is larger when most investigators are in agreement, and smaller when they disagree. Because of the occasional test case inserted into the case load, the only way to improve an Overwatch score is to carefully watch the entire replay and make an informed and accurate judgment of the evidence provided.

How do I become an investigator?

Currently, the best approach is to play lots of matches in our official Competitive Matchmaking. We are slowly adding players to the pool of investigators, and randomly pick them with consideration to their playtime and skill level. The goal is to invite as many skilled reviewers as possible.

If I’m not an investigator, how can I help?

Report disruptive behavior. Reports feed the pool of cases that get reviewed, and good reports result in efficient case reviews. To file a report, open the scoreboard, use the arrow keys to navigate to a player, and press enter to open their player panel.

Aren’t mediocre players going to falsely convict good players?

It is not necessary for a player to be exceptionally skilled in order to be a good Overwatch investigator. For example, we would expect casters to be good investigators regardless of their skill levels, given their experience in observing highly skilled play.

Every new investigator will enter the pool with a low score, which only increases based on the accuracy of their verdicts. This process gives everyone a chance to participate while ensuring that only the best investigators drive case outcomes.

Since the beginning of Overwatch, we have been extensively reviewing Investigators’ Overwatch Scores. There is no systematic difference in Overwatch Scores between investigators who play in high, medium, and lower skill groups.

Why is the evidence replay sometimes jittery?

Previously, interpolation, which is used to smooth the transition between the known positions of players, resulted in some situations where the suspect would appear to get a kill while aiming slightly off-target, even though their aim was actually correct. While we investigate potential smooth and accurate solutions, the interpolation of the suspect’s aim was removed from the overwatch demos in order to more accurately represent the suspect’s POV during kills. This may results in a more jittery view in some cases.

The suspect is griefing a griefer in retribution. Is the suspect still guilty of griefing?

Unequivocally YES. Griefing in revenge either escalates an innocent mistake or generates the reaction that the griefer was intending. Additionally, it puts the griefed player in danger of being convicted for the retribution. There is no excuse for poor sportsmanship and your duty as an Investigator is to enforce the highest standards.

Do griefers and cheaters get the same penalty when they are convicted?

No. The penalty assigned to a suspect is proportional to their behavior. Suspects who are convicted of griefing are given a moderate cooldown, whereas cheaters are removed from the game entirely. As always, the best way to improve player behavior is to report griefers and cheaters whenever you encounter them.

Can I earn XP for participating in Overwatch?

Yes. You can earn XP by submitting accurate verdicts in your cases. After several of your cases have been resolved, you will receive an XP reward based on the overall accuracy of your recent verdicts, scaled by your Overwatch Investigator score.

You can collect your reward by completing matches and earning XP in any official game mode.

Is there a relationship between a player’s competitive Skill Group and their ability as an Overwatch Investigator?

No. Since the beginning of Overwatch, we have been extensively reviewing Investigators’ Overwatch Scores. There is no systematic difference in Overwatch Scores between investigators who play in high, medium, and lower skill groups.

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