This is Aqueduct, a level I created for CS:GO using the Hammer editor with the intention of promoting competitive gameplay.

CS:GO is a fast paced first person shooter that has multiple gamemodes, I chose the competitive gamemode “Bomb defusal” for my level.

This competitive mode has 5 players face 5 players. One team defends the bombsites and the other tries to plant the bomb at one of them to win the game after  the bomb has detonated.


  • Multiplayer
  • Created while attending The Game Assembly
  • Designed for competitive 5 versus 5 play

Tools used

  • Hammer
  • Photoshop
The starting area for the Counter Terrorist

The starting area for the Counter Terrorists

Goals and Achievements

My goal was to make a level that could potentially get accepted into the game through steams workshop system where the community upvotes levels after playing them.

This level has reached more than 100 000 visitors, 50 000+ subscribers and more than 2700 ratings

My level has the potential to  be added to CS:GO. I base this on reasearch I did surrounding previously included levels. My level exceeds some of the already included levels when it comes to ratings and playerbase.

The Aqueduct towers over you as if you were an ant

The Aqueduct towers over you as if you were an ant

Blueprint and research

To start off, I researched already popular maps in the competitive scene, and one of those was ever popular de_dust2 map.

I read the blog posts made by the creator of de_dust2, trying to find out why the map is so successful. I found that he had used a special type of a layout method known as the clover design and I decided to  use it to create my own layout.

The process of creating a clover layout consists of creating 9 squares in a numberpad layout that you then connect to the neighboring squares. Due to the symmetry of the layout the balancing part of the level is simpler to control throughout the development process because players can only control 5 squares with a full team.

A single "square" is represented with a colour

A single "square" is represented with a colour

A slideshow of how the middle area changed to adress key issues
Moved the fountain to block the CT from rushing middle
The middle was a mess of player variables, to adress this I remade the middle
This is how it turned out after the rebuild (from a different angle)
The sand was replaced with tiles to keep the theme more consistent, the end!

Playtesting and fixing

After I finished my blockout I started playtesting with bots, this showed me that the CTteam was able to reach the middle faster then the T. To adress this issue I moved a fountain in order to block part of the viewing angle for the CT. This caused them to be more cautious when approaching the middle area thus slowing them down.

The middle of the map was constantly changed throughout the entire development process since it is such an important part of the map, connecting every single square in the level. In the middle of the level there were roughly 5 entry points but having to control all those different entry points proved to be too difficult. After severaI iterations I found that a good number of entrances to the middle area would be 3 or 4 since that enabled players trying to hold the middle area single handedly to cover a majority of the entrances. This also makes camping impossible.

I decided to add the Aqueduct to my level after a playtester said some simplistic BSP work looked like an Aqueduct during the early stages of development.


At first, my design was very cluttered with props since I thought more props would sell a more believable world in the eyes of the player. However, as a consequence, the frame rate was lowered substantially and that made seeing other players more difficult.

Another issue that I encountered was  that I did not keep a consistent theme throughout my level. This was a big hurdle for me since I mainly focused on the gameplay aspects of my level. However, I also knew that the visual aspect of my level would be important when I presented the finished level  on Steam, since that would maximize my chances of receiving feedback.

Based on what I have seen on Steam, if the level looks pretty then it will get more attention but a level with good gameplay that lacks good visuals will receive less feedback.

After releasing my level to the steam workshop, feedback increased tenfold and that made it possible for me to upload patches daily, this taught me a lot about how to log and prioritize feedback. At the end of the first release I had a large amount of community made videos, images and more then 2000 comments on my two workshop pages for the level.

A area early in development cluttered by props, hard to spot enemies

A area early in development cluttered by props, hard to spot enemies

Statistics as of 2016-04-27

Statistics as of 2016-04-27

Reflections (continuation)

This also taught me how to interact with the community since my map got quite popular. At the end of the beta release my level had garnered almost 80 000 visitors, nearly 33 000 subscribers and 2400+ ratings.

After releasing my level a second time, after a month of incorporating feedback, I kept a close eye to the statistics of my level and other levels  on the workshop. Especially the popular ones. Something that really boosted my confidence was that  my level has a better ratio of people visiting my workshop page and downloading it than most of the top levels for CS:GO.

As of today, the new release has more then 100 000 visitors, more than 50 000 subscribers and 2700+ ratings.

Looking back at the project I feel as if I have grown a lot as a creator. I had to manage a large community of people playing my level, I had to log feedback from hundreds of players and I had to set up work schedules and arrange my workflow to ensure daily updates.

This area is very open because I wanted the players  to be able to manouver it with ease as they spawned

This area is open in its design because I wanted the players

to be able to manouver the area with ease as they spawned

The Terrorist team is presented with multiple routes to fulfill their objective

The Terrorist team is presented with multiple routes

to fulfill their objective

This truck was placed here to keep the theming more authentic and also to add cover for the players going in on the site

This truck was placed here to keep the theme intact

and also to add cover for the players heading towards the site

The Terrorist came to the location with the truck to the right

I placed a truck to the right so that the player understands where the Terrorists came from

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Max Forsberg © 2020 max.j.forsberg@gmail.com