Saturday, March 01, 2014

Dirt, Decay, Rust

Hi all, it's been a while since I last posted hasn't it? I won't bore you with my wondrous exploits of work though. Instead i'm going to talk today about the game Rust.

For a long time, ever since I was in middle school actually, I haven't been much for competitive or multiplayer games. That wasn't always the case though. Once upon a time I played WarCraft III with fervor, and I had a real desire to play round after round. However, that flame died out when I lost multiple ladder rankings due to poor teamwork (there's a story behind that, but it's too long to share here). It was after months of losing match after match that I became very disappointed with other players, and my interactions with them. As a result I completely lost all desire to play with other human beings. Since then not playing with others has become a bit of a mantra for me, which i've stuck to it to this day. And it's all because I know how douchey other players can be. Rust however has begun to change that a bit for me.

There's something about the crafting, and competitive survival design of the game Rust that I find hard to resist. You're allowed, and moreover encouraged to build a shelter, gather sufficient supplies, and explicitly go to dangerous locations, all for the benefit of survival. Now right off, none of these things are new. However, everything is somehow distinctly different in rust, and it's something I've never encountered before. That difference is how, both struggling to gather and survive better than anyone else, are both encouraged and kept in check by the way pretty much all players naturally act. Like total douchebags.

When I think about it, this is something far from new. Plenty of games have used competition as a force to drive success. But for me, someone who's been out of the multiplayer circuit for so long, it's kinda like a revelation. And moreover I don't think any other game has done it quite the same way as rust, though there are other games which are very similar.

As an example, in Minecraft there's no real good reason to dig, or build other than to do it because you can. The entire game is about exploring your creativity, and sharing that with other people. But when you introduce other random player to that experience, everything changes. The game's purpose in single player becomes meaningless in multi, because other players will relentlessly destroy your work. At this point the game becomes combat focused, which Minecraft is really not designed for. The alternative to try and foce the game's goals and purpose to stay the same is to force special protections to stop greifing, but this hinders the overall ease of gameplay, meaning the experience is compromised one way or another when playing with or around strangers. This however, is not a problem in Rust.

Despite heavily relying on gathering and crafting just like Minecraft, Rust instead focuses on survival and how things aren't permanent. For instance if you build a wooden shelter it will just vanish eventually, because it rots away. And when you log out your character just goes to sleep where he stands, so you can still die while not playing. In Rust safety lies in preparation, so if you want your shelter to be more permanent you need to gather tons of resources. But some of the most useful materials can only be scavenged from hot zones, where you run the risk of getting killed by radiation, or worse other players. It can take a long time to be fully equipped, and after you have the materials and knowhow to stop squatting in wooden shack, craft Kevlar armour to wear, and hang a shotgun on your hip, you have to fend off other players who are, naturally, being total douchebags, trying to kill you and take all the shit you've worked so hard to acquire.

All throughout this process one thing never changes, you can lose everything suddenly and without warning. One false step, or a single bit of bad luck, and your entire base is raided while you're taking a dirt nap. And it's all propelled by the very thing I hate most about playing with other random people, they're total assholes. Which is why i find it so strange that the game is fun. You rush to gather and prepare, so you'll be better at killing than the other guy for when he inevitably comes around. Yet at the exact same time, to survive, you have to be just as big of an asshole to him, as he'll ever be to you. It's so strange, I never though I'd see an open, crafting, survival game that would propel itself though competitive gameplay. It's the last thing I would have imagined, much less that I would end up loving it.

Suffice to say, Rust is a strange but well-made game. And the reason I keep coming back to it is because I have to deal with all the other players, that I never want to play with.

1 comment:

Cyclo said...

Keep up the good work man, enjoy the blog.