Rust is a game that will either consume you, devolving you from a human being into a loot goblin king who lays waste to all who try to step to their throne, or you get bludgeoned by a rock the first time you spawn on the beach and then never return.
It’s difficult to boil down exactly what Rust is. Part-survival game, part-PVP, all-mayhem, Rust spawns you on a beach with nothing but a rock to your name. Do you go out and seek friends, or do you go it alone? Do you build a base and try desperately to stay alive, or do you travel around with a pumpkin on your head and regale other players with your finest rendition of Britney Spears’ Toxic?
Many who enjoy Rust’s very specific brand of misanthropy have been involved since the early days, watching it rise from yet another zombie survival game to an incredibly diverse experience where each wipe has new stories to tell. While you may be king of the hill in one wipe, the next could see you become the jester, like a grotesque, much more naked version of Oliver Twist where you go around begging for food and hoping for mercy. Sometimes even an existence as miserable as that has its own fun to offer.
As someone who has devoted too many hours to a game that gives me severe heart palpitations, I wanted to reach out to Facepunch and ask some questions. Ranging from the much-vaunted cars to new modes to special events, Maurino Berry, game designer on Rust, gave me plenty of answers.
It’s fair to say that Rust has changed a tonne since the early days. How much has the shape been dictated by how people played such an open experience, and how much is based on what you always planned? The roadmap for Rust is a long one and most of what we add has been planned for quite some time. However, the order in which we introduce these new features and elements is often swayed by our observations of players. Some features have not aged well and need updating and revisiting. Others ended up being a complete waste of time and have to be removed (like the XP system).
I’ll often play with a few random players and more often than not when they start a sentence with “I wish you guys would just…”, they end up having a point and it ends up in the changelog the next patch!
You recently hit a landmark amount of concurrent players and seem to always be near the top of Steam charts. What did you do to celebrate, and how hard is it to keep at your best to keep players invested? More than anything, breaking old CCU records feels great because it justifies the hard work we put into Rust. When we realize we’re close to breaking a record we all start sharing screenshots of the player counts on Slack and congratulating each other.
We all work really hard to make Rust the best it can be: it’s a game we also like to play, so every addition is something we feel would give us something else fun and interesting to do as a player.
PVP is a huge part of the game, but have you ever considered a separate competitive mode for PVP with rankings? Say, for instance, last clan standing until their loot’s gone? Game modes are something we’ve been thinking about adding natively in the not too distant future, but we’re trying to do it right and in such a way that we don’t totally fragment the player base.
Outside of what we might do ourselves, there are plenty of modded servers providing a host of unique experiences, from Battle Royale to Zombie Survival, and we’re going to work on making those servers easier to find for everyone.
Is there anything you’ve wanted to do in the past that was too ambitious? And maybe could accomplish now? Cars were a pipedream, but they seem to be on their way. The good thing about being able to work on a living project like this is that we can take advantage of new technologies as they come out. When we first released Rust, there was a hard limit on how many collision objects were allowed at one time, which meant entire forests had to be represented by a single collision object that could never change. This meant you could not cut down trees. Engine improvements allowed us to give each tree its own collision object and for players to chop them down. Someday we’ll get server transitioning working and bridge the gap between islands — that’s always been a pretty ambitious goal for us.
“We all work really hard to make Rust the best it can be…”
Speaking of, just how difficult has it been to work on the introduction of cars? The main problem with the introduction of land vehicles is trying to cope with how it will affect the overall meta of the game and accounting for it in such a way that the addition feels justified and worthwhile — and most importantly fun, without circumventing existing systems. Part of what we have been doing over the past few months to prepare for this is modifying how the island is generated. We’re adding ‘wasteland’ style zones, more roads and increasing the maximum map size to more than double the previous maximum.
You guys like to add seasonal events, so is there anything special on the horizon for Easter? There’s going to be Easter content for sure, keep your eyes peeled! (Ed: the Easter Egg hunt makes a return, as do special skins for the holiday.)
The trailers you guys have been putting together lately have been top notch. Would you ever consider a series like Red vs Blue for Rust? If we ever get more breathing room in-between creating videos for our updates there are a bunch of encounters and non-update related experiences to be found in Rust that we’d love to capture in a trailer, but a series? Probably not.
“Someday we’ll get server transitioning working and bridge the gap between islands — that’s always been a pretty ambitious goal for us.”
Would you also ever consider a solo story-focused mode like The Long Dark or The Forest? There’s a lot of lore dotted around the island that is just begging to be explored. Yes.
With a massive game like this, the banhammer must go into overdrive sometimes. How many are you up to this year, and is there anything you’re trying to make detection easier? So far this year we have banned over 40,000 accounts. Keep in mind that does not mean 40,000 separate cheaters, some offenders are very dedicated and can go through many dozens of accounts in a month!
And finally, what would you do if you woke up naked on a beach? Crawl back to my resort hotel room and nurse my hangover.
Rust is available now on Steam. PS4 and Xbox One versions are arriving sometime in 2020.