Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Rust Warning

"Hell is other people." - Jean-Paul Sartre

After 40 + hours of gameplay, I must regretfully retract my endorsement for the game Rust.

The game itself is still a marvel. But the community, dear reader. The community, by and large, is deplorable. If you enjoy pillaging, murdering the innocent, theft, terrorizing, bullying and just being an all around douche, then please, by all means, go lay down your $20. If you manage to get to a position where you can do all of that, I will be amazed.

Given that the game is still in it's Alpha stage of development, there is a chance that changes will be made that will allow the more social, non-homicidal people to enjoy the game for what it is. But I will show you what you can expect.

When I started the game, I was one of the first people to settle a relatively isolated part of the main corner of the map. Not too populated, but close enough that there were still resources within walking distance of my base. If you go further out, there are no resources, and you are doomed to starve to death endlessly. I tried to keep to myself, and for the first few days, I succeeded. Oh, there were occasional attacks, but I just shrugged and said "ah, well. I shouldn't have had all that loot on me." Within three days, the game has become unplayable. Every time I spawned, I was killed within minutes, even though it was clear that I had nothing of value on me. Every attempt to gather any kind of resources to continue to improve my base were met with unprovoked attacks.

My base is pretty well stocked with weapons, supplies, and materials. It is also out of the way of main traffic, up in a deserted and resourceless part of the map. I was on my way back to my home with a few pieces of stone and a hatchet when I was ambushed by a running man with a rifle. I opened my outer metal door (my foyer has TWO metal doors, an inner and an outer), and before I could close it, the hoodlum dashed in. SLENDERMAN, his name was. The beauty of my system is that no one can open doors in Rust except the person who placed them. So when I was able to quickly close the outer door, my attacker was faced with the prospect of being trapped inside with no way out.

He asked me to open the door. I said no, he shouldn't have tried to attack me.

He demanded that I open the door. I said no, he should think twice about entering other people's houses uninvited.

He offered to give me all of his stuff. I knew from the moment he said it that it was a lie. Because he could have simply killed himself with a key command and all of his stuff would have been left behind anyway. No, the fact that he wanted to be let out meant he did not intend to give me ANYTHING. He dropped a bunch of stuff on the floor (not his rifle, I noticed) and stood by the door, begging me to open it so he could leave. After a few minutes of telling him that I was a friendly player who didn't want trouble, I just wanted to be left alone, and that I objected to his attack on me, I explained exactly what was going to happen.

"I am going to ask you nicely to never come back to my house, and to please not attack me should you encounter me again. You are going to pick up your possessions. I am going to open the door to let you go, and you are going to turn around and kill me. I guarantee it."

I was 100% right.

He even tried to claim that he was shooting at someone else who ran into the room when I opened the door, that he was not with them. Well, when I spawned back in, naked, and with nothing but my default rock/torch/bandage kit, I was in the middle of nowhere for some reason (the game's respawning mechanics sometimes ignore when you have a spawn magnet in your house, like a bed or a sleeping bag (it's Alpha, what can I say)). Miracle of miracles, the first person I encountered didn't kill me on sight, until I said "you'd be helping me out if you just killed me, actually." So he said "Good luck, buddy" and shot me in the head.

I respawned in my bedroom. With three people waiting to ambush me in my house when I opened my third, innermost metal door. I saw them through the cracks in the walls, but we couldn't do anything to each other so long as those walls remained. Then they starting hacking at the walls.

Eventually, I knew that they'd outlast me. I would either sign out, and when I came back I would find my base destroyed, or I would watch as they continually brought a supply of food from the outside world and stayed alive while I starved to death, and they'd eventually get in by hacking away at my last wall. I equipped my shotgun, opened the door and took my chances.

I spawned once in the bedroom again, and was immediately killed by the prick who had helped the guy. A later spawn put me back in the field again, at which point I resigned from the server. I may sign in again in a few days, just to keep my account access (I've heard stories about inactive accounts being deleted, despite the fact that people have PAID for access), but if I do play this game again, any trip I take to that server will simply be to denounce the bandits, describe what they did, and warn others to avoid them at all costs. I have a buddy who purchased the game just as all this was going down. We may try another server. But until Facepunch Studios (should the studio name have been the first red flag about what type of player I would encounter?) enables some sort of protocol that prevents random murdering just for the fuck of it, I cannot let anyone waste their money on it.

Unless you are a violent sociopath who wants to meet new douchebags but you can't make it to the next Cannibal Corpse concert, then I say sign up today while the douche still flows freely.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Food For Thought:

Here's food for thought: in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, when we first meet the Ewoks, they hold Luke, Han, Chewie at spearpoint, tie them up, and prepare to cook them for a feast. (Spoilers for those in a 30 year coma:) It is only through Luke using Jedi shenanigans on C3PO that he puts the fear of God in them and they let them go.

These little furry bastards are cannibals.

NOW go back and watch the movie again, paying special attention to the fact that they have several Imperial Stormtrooper helmets assembled as trophies (and an admittedly bitchin' drum kit), and ponder this: are there heads inside those helmets? What exactly are they serving at the celebration feast? They never, to the best of my memory, show any other animals in the forests of Endor, which would seem to suggest that these creatures tend to hunt other species to near (or total) extinction, and are not shy about frying up anyone they manage to trap (even if they are not so distant relatives, genetically speaking, as the Ewok must be to the Wookie).

All I'm saying is that the Rebels feasted on the flesh of fallen Stormtroopers, which were basically genetically modified and cloned organisms held in bondage against their will and trained to murder. If the noblest heroes of our generation's fantasy lore are okay with this, I think we can survive eating a genetically modified tomato and a cloned beef burger.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Do you like Minecraft? Was your favorite part of Minecraft those first few nights, huddled against a cliff face in a primitive structure praying the zombies and wolves wouldn't eat you, and that you'd be able to find a pig the next morning to get some food?  Did you enjoy that feeling when you first met another player, not knowing if they were friend or foe, being careful to not be too aggressive while not letting your guard down? Did you ever wish that it was scarier, bleaker, and more beautiful?

Welcome to Rust.

Rust is a new first-person Survival game from Facepunch Studios, and it is guaranteed to drive you crazy. Still in its Alpha stage of development (and containing all the bugs that condition implies), Rust is a nightmare. You awake naked in a field surrounded by green trees, only to have this seeming utopia disturbed by the growl of wolves, or the groan of the walking undead. Hungry? Go hunt. But don't run blindly after that pig, or you may run right into the jaws of a nearby wolf. And don't forget to gather some wood and make a fire to cook your food, or it may make you sick. Cold? Butcher your kill and you MAY get some cloth that you can use to make some pants. Dead? Congrats, you get to spawn somewhere else, naked, and with only a slim chance to find your corpse and the meager possessions you worked so hard for.

You get almost nothing in the way of guidance. Running naked across a field, I was hailed by another player from a nearby structure. After ascertaining that I was no threat, he dropped some cooked meat at my feet out of pity. I didn't even know how to pick it up. So I ended up having to check out the Wiki, and learning all the little nuances that make the game a little easier.

So here, for your benefit, are 15 tips about Rust to help you adapt, and hopefully… SURVIVE.

1. You will NOT SURVIVE. The Rust experience has been likened to Hell, and it's not far off. When you die, your corpse falls to the ground, the screen goes dark… and then you are back where you started. Not geographically, (that would be too helpful), but you lose everything that was on your person and spawn in a random spot. The best thing you can do is embrace that and adapt to that concept as soon as possible. If you are running from danger, or starving to death, or bleeding out, look for distinctive landmarks, and run towards a tree or a rock. If you manage to find that spot again, you'll have a better shot of remembering where your corpse (and its spawned backpack of your goodies) fell rather than the middle of a grassy field.

2. Know thy E key. The E key is your friend. It will allow you to interact with any item that is interactable. It opens your doors, searches storage boxes and backpacks, and picks up items. If you see white text and don't know what to do, hit E. Also, when attempting to interact with items like a campfire, or a furnace, HOLD DOWN E to bring up a tiny sub menu. It took me a while to realize how to actually interface with a campfire to cook my food rather than just ignite and douse it.

3. Say 'No' to grass. Everybody is doing it. The developers think it's a performance issue, and maybe it is for others. But I turned off grass because it took me 12 hours to even realize there were rabbits in this game. The tall grass obscures EVERYTHING that lies low on the ground, ESPECIALLY your corpse's backpack full of goodies. Turning off the grass makes all those rocks, woodpiles and backpacks pop. Hit F1 and type - grass.on false (period between grass and on, space, then false) - in the text bar. You may need to do it twice. And helpful tip: on a Mac Keyboard, you may need to hold the 'fn' key to activate the F1 without simply dimming your monitor (I didn't know this, so maybe you didn't either).

4. That clicking is not your hard drive. Whatever calamity befell this island, it involved radioactivity, because there are areas of the landscape where you will be bombarded with radiation. You can recognize this by the clicking noise and the fact that your monitor will actually start to show mild speckling. You will see your rad count begin to rise, and this will lead to a drop in health. Leaving the area will allow your rad levels to drop down again, and food will promote healing. Some supplies available in game may actually counter radioactivity.

5. Gatherer/Hunter, not Hunter/Gatherer. You can't hunt with nothing but a stone (except Pigs, if you have a TON of patience). Your first priority should be to find a tree (or better yet, a woodpile) and bash it with your rock. You will gather wood, and this will eventually be your primary mission in life. Wood means shelter, tools, fire, defense. Then find a rock outcropping. These stand apart from the various stone cliffs you will doubtless encounter. Bash these as well to get stones, ore and carpal tunnel. With wood and stones, you can make a stone hatchet, which will replace your rock as your primary tool and weapon for the first little bit. The TAB key brings up your inventory, and clicking on the CRAFTING tab will bring up your crafting interface. It tells you what you need to craft an individual item, and what you have. Once you are able to create a stone hatchet, you are then ready to hunt. But you won't yet.

6. Hell is other people. Because why bother gathering food and trying to stay alive if you will be devoured by wolves in the middle of the night, or (more likely) murdered by another player and have your meager possessions stolen? This game is PvP in many servers, and players have become notoriously wicked in this game. If you see another human and you doubt your ability to kill them, be ready to have your stuff ripped from your corpse. Sure, you may get lucky and find some other friendlies (hit ENTER and type "friendly" if you are, you may save your life) but always be wary. If you keep a weapon equipped, you may draw aggression when interacting with other people. Put away that weapon unless you feel hostility is imminent. Even if you feel you are better equipped, don't invite a fight you might not be able to win. The player may have allies and come back looking for revenge. As Sun Tsu tells us in the Art of War, "Appear weak when you are strong." A guy running around naked with a stone will draw less interest than a guy in pants with a stone hatchet.

7. Find your place in the world. It is recommended that you explore the environment and find a safe hiding place before "settling down." I managed to find a deep overhang on a coast facing the ocean, which means people would have to actively be looking for me to have a chance of finding me. But location is key when deciding when to make your stand. With no compass or map, you will get lost. Many times. You may think you know where you are, and then realize that the nice field you were gathering in is nowhere to be found. The only constant in the game is where the sun comes up and where it goes down. I decided to orient myself by putting the sunset to my right and heading toward the water. Once I found a nice somewhat defensible clearing near the rocks, I found my seaside overhang, built a storage box, and called it home. Leave as much stuff in this box as possible, because until you construct a sleeping bag, when you die, you will respawn at a random location without any possessions, and you can save yourself a big headache by keeping most of your stash in your bolt-hole. Be aware though that ANYONE can search this box, so if they find it, be ready to lose all your stuff.

8. Home Sweet Home. Once you have enough wood to build enough planks to create a foundation, pillars, walls and a door, you can consider building a home. But if you are even a little short, you run the risk of completing MOST of a structure and having someone else jumping on it. Doors are designed to open ONLY for the one who placed them (wooden doors CAN be broken through with enough time and patience, but no system is perfect) so once you place that door, the completed structure can only be entered by you. But stay flexible. I recommend building a two foundation wide structure with doors on two sides and a door in its one interior wall. This will create a sort of airlock, so in the event of an ambush (say another player waiting for you outside your outer door), the ambushing player will only get as far as your outer room. This will keep your inner room as a safer place to keep your valuables.

9. The Hunt is on. Start small. Take out some swine. Deer are too fast, rabbits and chickens are too small, wolves will mess you up, and if you encounter a bear this early in your experience… die and hope you spawn far away to start over. To hunt a pig, try creeping up on it (hold control to crouch) and get as close as possible with your hunting tool (rock, hatchet) in hand. Hit it once, and then sprint after it. Pigs run in a relatively straight line, so get behind it and pull even. Bash it on the head, and as your character slows when you strike, the pig will slowly start to pull away. You can use this opportunity to get in two or three more shots, and hopefully bring it down. Once it is down, skin it by hatcheting its corpse. You will gain cloth, animal fat, blood and raw chicken breasts (the only food item you can get from an animal at the moment). Cook these over a fire before eating them (Hold E to interact with a campfire to cook food) or you will get sick. Using cloth to create clothing is a natural instinct, but that cloth is better used creating a hunting bow. With a bow you have a better chance of hunting deer and defending yourself from wolves (don't forget to craft arrows, too). But your absolute FIRST priority once you obtain enough cloth is construction of a sleeping bag. This anchors your spawn point, and once you know you will spawn in the same place upon death, you are finally ready to start seriously gathering resources and creating your stronghold.

10. He who Smelts it, dealt it. Once you have enough cloth and animal fat to craft low grade fuel, combine it with stone and wood to create a furnace. This will allow you to turn your metal ore into metal fragments, which is what you need to upgrade your stone hatchet to a regular hatchet. The regular hatchet does more damage and increases the yield when gathering resources. The fragments can also be crafted into a variety of next level objects, like foundations and walls to make better structures, guns, weapon accessories, and the all important metal door (which can only be removed by explosives). Again, hold E to interact with the furnace, drag wood and ore into it, and then ignite it to create fragments, charcoal, and sulfur. Campfires and furnaces will continue to burn so long as they are fueled, so don't stock it full of wood if you only have a few ore to smelt.

11. Bigger Game. You have a bow. You have a hatchet. You have clothing. You have cooked food and bandages. You have a decent home. Now what? You step up your game, and go after the BIG game. There are pigs, deer, chickens, rabbits, wolves, and even bears to hunt out there. Deer require a few shots from a bow, and you can't really catch them once they run. You can only follow them until they stop and hit them again for the kill (again, watch out for wolves). Hunting aggressive predators like wolves and bears is tougher. In general, if you snipe a wolf from a distance, it will charge at you, and a well placed second shot will usually take it down. Bears require multiple hits and if you go after them it is advised that you do so from an elevated position at a distance. If you kill one, you can get leather which can be crafted into better armor once you know how.

12. The Walking Dead. There are zombies. They come in two kinds; black and red. The black ones are slower, but they kill in only a few hits and are tough to kill. The red ones are weaker, but they can close quickly, and if they spot you, they don't go down easy. You can snipe them out from a distance in one shot if you are good. Their corpses offer loot you cannot find elsewhere in the game, like food which counteracts radioactivity, and blueprints. If you find new blueprints, equip and use them IMMEDIATELY. If you die with them in your inventory, you risk losing them. But if you die having already read them, the knowledge of how to build what they detail stays with you. Most importantly, don't get greedy! Killing two zombies is cool; killing seven and getting killed by the eighth and losing everything really, really sucks.

13. Do unto others. Once you get to the point where you have a comfortable stockpile of goods, consider giving to other players. You can earn some good will and potential allies just by giving food, wood, stone, metals, or even weapons to players in need. But be ready to get backstabbed, especially if that's how you yourself do business. I have created a public access crate on the steps of my fortress where anyone can take the stuff I decide to put in there. I am hoping it will slake the thirst of any wandering bandits as well.

14. You will lose everything. Even if you take all the precautions to protect your stuff and tread carefully around others, this is an ALPHA version. There are frequent bug-driven wipes that occur that will decimate your inventory. The latest one left me with nothing but my structure (minus the wooden doors) and charcoal. But the fact that I simply couldn't walk away and just dove right back into the resource gathering side serves to emphasize how addictive this experience is.

15. Read up. There are other things going on in this game that I have not yet experienced. There are apparently airdrops which give you blueprints and other high value items, but I have yet to brave exploring them. You can find a lot of information at the Rust Wiki ( 

Rust is available for PC, Mac and Linux at (REDACTED) for $19.99 USD. Get early access and get a leg up when the BETA drops!