One of our favorite things since the Rust alpha started was watching gameplay emerge in an organic way.

This goes hand-in-hand with us not giving you very goal-specific features, but rather tools to achieve those goals. For example, being able to make your shelter how you want it, out of building parts, instead of having only pre-conceived buildings.

There’s something that really struck me while playing today. As you might have noticed, the game started being really popular with French players (coucou au passage à mes concitoyens!), and in my experience, they generally have two things in common: 1) they hate speaking English, and 2) they take games rather seriously.

What I saw earlier today was an entire small settlement populated entirely with French players, who all wore the same combination equipment so they could quickly tell at a glance if they were buddies. They had built three large towers, with most players apparently having their own rooms for respawning inside of there. The buildings had outlook towers on the roof where players equipped with the best rifles stood on guard.

I came across them upon having freshly respawned after dying from radiation poisoning; they told me they shoot everybody on sight, but since I’m French and therefore spoke their language, I could convince them to not shoot me.

If you had something like a faction/team options menu where you could hand-pick players out of a list… and it automatically gave you advantages like no friendly fire… they would feel really artificial. Instead, it’s better to let them emerge out of other features: in our case, equipment, voice chat (and indirectly language).

This adds a depth you couldn’t have in a single player game, and I find it absolutely fascinating. Those guys met, they formed and built their own settlement; if you don’t match the language criteria, seeing how well-defended it is, you don’t stand a chance going in there alone. But if you had, say, an identical settlement, but with Spanish players instead… and half-way between those two, precious resources for survival… they would start fighting over it. One side would probably try to raid the others. And you’d start having pretty epic battles between factions. Imagine one of the players from the Spanish team stealing the uniform of a French player, so that he can kill them more easily before they notice who he really is. But if he doesn’t tell his teammates, they might kill him. Stuff like that.

Online behaviour seems to mirror the real world much more closely than we notice. It ends up being a great tool for multiplayer game design.

As I said above, we’re all about giving players tools to do what they want, so if we wanted to expand upon the whole settlement/village/town business, we could do things such as:

  • A.I. controlled guards/robots who could enforce a no-fire, no fights zone?
  • Better building parts for creating things like an entry gate
  • A way to set up shops for trading resources, or having shelter for the night
  • etc.

We plan to add weather conditions and hazards to Rust in the kind-of-near future, and I can’t wait to see how it will change the social dynamics between players, just like how voice chat saved my life when I came upon the settlement of French players.