A year ago I posted this blog where I reviewed what we had done that year, and layed out our plans for upcoming year. It’s probably a good idea to do that again.
Here’s a few things that didn’t exist a year ago.
- Pump Shotgun
- Ambient Sound
- Paintable Signs
- Rocket Launcher
- Raknet Networking
- Assign sleeping bag to friend
- Repair Bench
- Building Upgrades
- Player skin colours
- Hapis Island
- Research Table
- Bullet Penetration
- Large Furnace
- Ammo Counters
- Blueprints System
- Water Catchers
- Code Locks
- Draw-able Maps
- Supply Signal
- Floor Spikes
- Language Selector
- Survey Charges
- PvP Collisions
- Pickable arrows/spears
I’ve purposely not included in that list all the bug fixes, optimizations and visual improvements we’ve made. Those things are standard.
We entered 2015 with the reboot in its infancy. We were seeing an average of 6,000 players online, and peaks of 11,000. This was a low point for us, but we had accepted it as an inevitability. We are never going to reach Rust’s initial popularity. Very few games have more active players two years after release than they did on launch. We were hopeful that the player counts would grow at some point, but we would have been happy to just maintain those numbers.
So as we enter 2016 we’re seeing averages of 15,000 and peaks of 29,000. Seeing a two times increase in players over a year is validation that we’re heading in the right direction. This is especially true considering how over-saturated the market has become with games similar to Rust/DayZ. The fact that we can still gain players with all these new guys around makes us very happy.
So if I could talk to myself a year ago, what advice about Rust’s development would I give?
Putting updates out every week, or even multiple times a week is great in the early days of an Early Access game. You’re reacting quickly to feedback and want to push shit out to players asap. As time goes on that changes.
Early Access is the time to be making big changes, to be experimental. Once a game leaves Early Access you can’t get away with that. So take advantage of this period because it won’t last forever.
Don’t be afraid of the reaction of people on the internet. The first reaction is always outrage, and is usually from people who haven’t played the game for months. Wait to hear from people after they’ve played for a week with the changes. Ask the people in game about the changes instead of relying on opinions from forums etc.
If someone consistently isn’t doing their job, stop giving them second chances. Get rid of them. Do it sooner rather than later so you don’t feel like an idiot for keeping them on the team. Shitheads breed shitheads. The rest of the team will wonder why they’re bothering to work so hard when other people can get away with doing much much less.
Set up a QA system. Get a support team testing builds, submitting bugs, moderating a bug report system. It makes everyone’s lives better. Build a system that works for current and future games, because this makes all the difference.
Stop reading Reddit! Jesus fucking christ just stop reading it. Reading Reddit every day will make you feel like you’re doing a bad job. And you’re not.
One of the things that we’ve been deliberately not doing this year is planning. We’ve had a shopping list of shit we wanted to get implemented, and tried to get as much done as we could in as short a time as possible.
In 2016 you’re going to see things get more structured, deliberate and focused. We’re plotting a path to leave Early Access.
This has positives and negatives for the end user. On the positive side we’re going to be focused on gameplay features, on planning them at length, implementing them as a team, and polishing the hell out of them. On the negative side this might mean that very little appears to get done some weeks – because we’re just planning. So you guys might have to chill on the “IS THIS ALL THEY DID THIS WEEK” shit.
We’ve started work on a roadmap for what we want to achieve in 2016. As with everything, we’re still working on it, stuff might change, priorities might change.
There’s a lot of stuff here that I’m sure a lot of people will want to discuss further. We’re not doing this stuff on a whim. We’ve had long long discussions and debates about what is wrong with Rust’s gameplay and what it needs to be less shit. If I see that people are finding anything here hard to accept I’ll make a post discussing our thought process.
Leaving Early Access
When we talk about aiming to leave Early Access we don’t mean we’re looking to be finished with the game. I mean we’re looking to lock in a base set of features, to be able to call the base level of the game done and to have the game in a state where we actually have fun playing. Leaving Early Access means locking all that shit in so we won’t be changing it too drastically in the future.
Post Early Access we’ll still be pushing updates but they’ll mess with the foundation of the game less than we do now. We won’t be revamping the building system or removing building components but we will be adding new ai, vehicles and weapons. We’ll also be balancing, optimizing and bug fixing.
We’re going to experiment with the format of the devblogs over the coming year. Although the blogs are great for the thousands of people who read them every week, they’re a little less accessible for the regular joe. So we’re going to try to make them a bit more inclusive.
What this looks like, we don’t know for sure yet. It might mean we try a video or stream as a devblog, or we just more carefully curate it instead of filling it with every detail.
Personally I think we did well this year. We did everything we talked about on our blog last year. Cheating is still present (as it always will be) but it isn’t completely rampant anymore, you could even say it’s under control. We’ve done a lot of experimentation, a lot of optimizing and balancing. We’re not there yet though. We’re leaning too far into PVP, and not enough towards PVE. The first 2 hours of the game are terrible. Way too much grind – which I think we can find ways to make fun. Performance is a lot better than it has been, but still isn’t where we want it to be. So there’s still a lot that needs doing before we think about leaving Early Access.
If you want to let us know what you think the best way is via the reviews section on Steam. Good or bad – all reviews are welcome. It’s been a pretty good way for us to find out how you guys think we’re doing. Do you think Rust has been worth your $20? Let us know.
I want to take a minute to thank a few people. The people who enjoy and play the game without complaints. The people who report and suggest solutions to problems, instead of attacking us for them. The people who spend their leisure time creating videos, wiki pages and workshop items. The people who spend their leisure time helping others enjoy the game either directly or indirectly by re-creating and reporting bugs. The modders and the server owners who spend their down time babysitting their own sub-communities.
Thanks to Team Rust, past and present. The way we work and the negativity we experience isn’t easy. It takes a certain type of person to be able to work under these conditions. These are real game developers.
We’re pretty proud of what we’ve all achieved together this year. Thanks guys!