Monday, April 25, 2016

Rust Misdventures in Angel Island and Free Wood

By Bixyl Shuftan

Since writing about the game last time, me and a few of my Second Life friends have continued to play Rust for a while. We've gone through our share of misadventures, in both public and our private server, struggling with decay, bears, wolves, the helicopter, other players, and game reboots from updates.

As expected, my friend Nydia Tungsten did get a private server. She, and others were a bit wary of the "PvP kiddies" from last time, as well as hearing from me and Brandi we were having a little trouble with people breaking in to steal our stuff. One slight problem, making the server "whitelisted" so only we could get in. This would take several minutes, and somehow others found out particular server right away and jumped in before the process was completed. Fortunately, we could look up the map on our computer browser, which was a good thing as that became our first line of defense, or rather of hiding, against the helicopter, which we were learning to fear as a few bursts from it's machine guns or a single volley of it's rockets would send us back to respawning. Someone shouting "CHOPPER!" meant us staying in our bases, heading to an area with buildings or tunnels if nearby, or making a stick shelter to hide if out in the middle of nowhere. Ducking into a small shelter while it was in hot pursuit didn't always help as if you were next to a wall when rockets hit, you were gone. But the long bridges we made across water seemed to do the trick.

Despite Nydia's efforts, she could never fully turn off the decay rate. While it only affected foundations, it didn't take long for a basic stick foundation to crumble into dust, taking anything above with it, unless the floor unit was upgraded into wood, stone or metal. A friend who came with us, Hesh, found out the hard way when he made a basic stick structure a few stories high, and when it decayed away, his sleeping body was found floating in the air high over the ground. We sent him a message in G-chat not to pop in yet, and rebuilt a structure underneath him so he wouldn't be hurt from falling.

Hesh however was slow to learn the lesson. After a server reboot, we had to start over, and he build a barn-like structure around a large furnace. When I came to the server, I visited him, and used the wood I had collected on the way to reinforce the floor in the front part of the barn before I had to leave, parking my body upstairs. When I logged on next time, I found most of the barn gone, only the front up the place, which was over the floor I reinforced, and the large furnace, was left. Hesh had to leave for deployment, as he was in the military, so he left his building to me. So I began rebuilding "Hesh's Barn" as I called it, and maintained it for the next few weeks.

Jasmine also had some bad luck with foundation decay. Not simply rebuilding, she decided to experiment with builds that were a mix of triangular and square bases. She would show us pictures of her design, and I looked at them. Later on, I would put some of them to use.

During this time, we were finding bears were a persistent problem as when we would go into the wilderness to get wood, stone, and ores, they would find us. And once they spotted you, they'd catch up to you and tear you apart. And they seemed to come out from nowhere most of the time, getting them the label "ninja bears" on a public server I would later come across. If you turned to fight them, even a submachine gun was insufficient as the bear would stay up even after a dozen bullets and eat you. Running away, the more natural reaction, almost never worked either. Once or twice after jumping over obstacles, the bear gave up the chase. But other than that, the result was the same, the screen going red, and the speakers filled with the screams of your character dying as the bear tore into him, eating him alive.

If a death happened close enough to one's base, your stuff could usually be recovered. But it didn't take long for a dead body to fade away, and the stuff it carried with it. This had a way of happening after making a great find on a supply plane drop or returning back to our bases with our inventories full after forging into the wilderness. Brandi was trying out places with bear traps around with a clear path through them, so she could pass through while any bears chasing would get caught. I don't know how successful it went. It may be once she was prepared, luck arranged for them to stop coming. The best way to fight the bears I found was when spotting one running around was to set up a foundation and ladder not to far away, and shoot at it with a gun. It would always run up to me, but couldn't reach me if I was on the top of the ladder. It took about twenty pistol or rifle rounds, give or take, to bring down a bear. While the result was lots of leather, animal fat for fuel, and meat, the big reward was a sense of payback for the times one had been "ninja beared" in the woods.

Then there was the helicopter. Our friend Pagan Sunburn soon joined us, and came across a rumor that if one was still naked, the helicopter would ignore them as this was a protection for players just entering the server or recently respawning. We joked he just wanted an excuse to run around naked, myself commenting when those female skins that were being talked about by the developers came out, (s)he'd never put on a scrap of clothing.

The game itself was also updating. We were soon finding occasional 50-unit bits of wood, stone, iron ore and sulfur ore on the ground, which was a help, especially in one's start in a game, or if one got raided and lost everything, in which they could built basic tools faster then making a trek to a nearby permanent structure to search for crates for them. Later on, the wood chunks were reshaped into stumps, and the stone and ore peices given more natural rocklike looks.

We found out the place wasn't truly whitelisted as someone broke in and raided Hesh's barn, and added insult to injury by setting up on the wall a huge sign of a penis with "LOL" underneath. Nydia found the joker, clobbered him, and with him gone blocked him from the server for good. We took down the offensive sign with incendiary bullets. Nydia then set off a mess of flare pistols at Hesh's barn, making it a pile of drops. the most in one location I'd ever seen. I finished rebuilding the barn soon after. I had the idea of making a tower, which went up a bit higher than the barn. But eventually the server would be rebooted by a game update, Nydia called a "world killer," taking down all the builds, including Hesh's barn.

Nydia's server wasn't always up, so I continued to make a few rounds into the "Bunga Bunga" server where Brandi Streussel and I cut our proverbial teeth into the game. Then the server stopped coming up. I then began checking the list of other servers in the game. It's been my experience that public servers that you have to share with a not too large number of others (I've never been on those that have about fifty people at once), you're a little more likely to make it back to base with what you've gathered as settlements seem to cut down on the bear and wolf population. But one can still get unlucky and run into one, as well as hostile players. But keeping hold of your stuff can be a problem as not only would some players steal from others than gather on their own, some seem to make it their mission in life to hit your place again and again.

Among the other Rust servers, I found one called "Free Wood," which gave it's players a full stack of wood, 1000 units every twenty minutes. It also boasted it's helicopter was 80% less accurate. There weren't too many people when I first came across it, and looking around I saw lots of structures, but no people and very little chatter. I also found resources were more plentiful, more wood and stone chunks on the ground that could be picked up, more barrels and boxes one could get stuff from, notably blueprints for which I learned new things to build rapidly. This seemed to be the place for me.

Then I heard a possible reason from what chatter there was why "Free Wood" was relatively quiet. People were talking about a server wipe in a few days. And one day, I returned to see many more people on, and I found myself having to respawn. It turned out I hadn't been clobbered, but the server had restarted after all. Fortunately I still had my skills. But unfortunately with the reboot came some aggressive players, or as I put it, "the freaks came out." Going about collecting wood and stone, I was fired at, "I'm gonna kill ya!" And when I finally had enough animal fat to make the fuel needed for a furnace and began setting up a small base, before I could so much as finish the walls the place was attacked and a burst of submachinegun fire ended, or "wrekt" as was the gamers lingo, my first attempt to make a base in Free Wood rebooted.

Coming back, I had a little more luck as I appeared near the airport. After refining some fuel, I made a large furnace and began building a base. But every day, the place would end up raided. So after getting more fuel, I had to move further away, making a place not to far away from the satellite dish area. People were still trying to break in, but it wasn't as bad, and I began to build the place upward.

In the meantime, Brandi found another public server to try things out, "Garden of Eden." While it was supposed to be Player versus Environment, someone broke into her place activated permissions for himself on the "tool cabinet" that prevents those not on it's list from building around a certain area, and after looting Brandi of everything set up walls around her, trapping her in. She couldn't respawn elsewhere, so could only sit there. I had to log onto the server and find the place. Along the way, I found a revolver in a barrel, and found enough animal fat to make a small furnace to smelt metal for bullets. Getting to her place, I shot up the walls and once again she was free.

Back in Free Wood, the attempts to raid my place were mostly a nuisance. Someone did get to my bedroom area, and tried on me what they tried on Brandi. But with the "free wood" coming in every twenty minutes, I kept making spears and soon punched through the stick walls. Fortunately most of my stuff was in a hardened "vault" room with metal walls and an armored door, so they got little. I eventually built the place up to where it was passing the wires on the power line tower it was built next to. Then the "squirrels" as I called the raiders began to get serious, finding the weak spot in the building permissions area, setting up a makeshift scaffold of basic stick ladder units, and blowing their way through. I logged on to catch one in the act, and seeing him through a hole he had made as he was whacking away with a hatchet, he didn't hear me as I got closer, aimed a weapon, and put his raid to an end, helping to make up for the damage I had to repair.

I noticed others were setting up one square structures around their bases, which obviously had tool cabinets inside. I decided to try that, and made two "nodes" as I called them, planning on making two more the next day. But I was a day too late. When I logged on, I found the "building blocked" tag on my display as I went around. Going to the lower levels, I found to my sorrow that the "squirrels" had gone in through the stone floor by blowing up a section and used the metal still in the furnace to reinforce their hatchets as they chopped their way to where the tool cabinet was, wrecking that then making their own. They managed to break through my designated vault room's metal wall, and used the items there to cause further damage, building all kinds of walls and making the place not truly my own.

Dispirited, I sneaked over to the airport to get more fuel, and headed away to make a new base. Jasmine Dawn had showed me a design for making a base around a large furnace using a mix of square and triangular bases. Finding a spot on a hill overlooking the water treatment plant area, I laid the foundation, a first floor, and part of a second. No raids that night. I continued building, having enough stone from the rocks around me, and if the helicopter showed up while I was out, the plant's tunnels were close by to duck into. It would be a few days until I noticed a stick tower outside: almost certainly someone's idea of trying to raid me by dropping in my place from above. I chopped it down, then quickly built four tool cabinet "nodes" around the place. There were no further raiding attempts after that. Eventually, I began returning to my old tower and eventually chopped down the walls, and took down the raider's tool cabinet and set up my own. It was mine once more.

But victory was short-lived as it was about time for the server to update again. There was also talk about the game itself updating. After the update turned out to be a "world killer," Nydia, Brandi, Jasmine, and I started up the Angel's server once more. We had heard among the changes were the female skins that had been talked about by developers and players in the forums alike for months. But we found instead of being given a choice of whether to be male or female, the game randomized it like it did one's skin color.

Taking a look at my avatar, I found that the familiar "sausage" was gone, and the shape was more slender. Nydia grumbled she was still male, and Jasmine and Brandi were now dark-skinned females. Jasmine had a laugh at me and Nydia, joking we could hold a "genderbender party." But the laughs were short lived as we were soon dealing with the bears again, who loved chasing down and eating female humans just as much as the males. And once the avatars were dressed, one couldn't tell as easily. Nydia took a look at the forums for some comments. Some male players were furious. One took it in stride, cracking a somewhat sexist joke, "I've bled plenty in this game already. It might as well also be from down there." Pagan would come on a time or two, but we never did find out whether our prediction of him/her running around in a nude female avatar all the time came true.

Back in Free Wood, I found not only were the player built buildings gone, but also all our skills except those we entered the server with when we first logged in. Nevertheless, I went ahead, getting fuel from the airport and oil dome, which were in the north, making a temporary base just south of them, then heading south across some rough terrain to near the water treatment plant. After this reboot, activity wasn't as much as it had been the month before. Were players turned off by the skill reboot and rough terrain? I went ahead and began building a base around a large furnace. But I hadn't quite made the foundations high enough around the furnace, and so I couldn't get them all away around. I had to make another furnace at the other end so I could built all away around that. There was nothing else to do with the first furnace but keep it empty when not in use. During the few days I was building the base, there was a raid. I had to place nodes around the "figure 8" as I was calling it, and after that felt secure.

It was about this time events in Nydia's real life were keeping her occupied, so her server stayed down. Brandi took a peek at Free Wood, then Jasmine came in. They also made places near the water treatment plant. Then Jasmine had something she wanted to try, a "roundhouse" design built around a large furnace using square and triangular foundation units. She picked a spot close to my "figure eight" and we both went to work. It didn't take long for the two of us to finish it, then our friend Kryxia came in. All seemed well. There was soon an update in which water buckets and barrels were introduced, which led to a few trips to a nearby stream. One had to keep a bucket in the action bar for the water to stay. We kept a barrel of water in case some joker came by with one of those flamethrowers we'd been hearing about.

Then one day I checked in to find my persona naked and the room full of holes. looking around, the place was a mess. Even the armored vault room had been busted into. Once again, the "squirrels" had probed around until they found a weakness, then hit it with demo charges and jumped in, wrecking the place. The good news, they hadn't touched the tool cabinet. Checking the roundhouse, the damage was worse. They had somehow gotten to the tool cabinet there, smashed down  the door to the way up, and replaced that. The building was no longer truly ours.

With that, the enthusiasm of my friends for Rust had taken a hit, those not occupied by matters in real life no longer coming on. But I had one idea. With talk of a "skill tree," I had logged into an almost empty server to see if anything was different. I didn't notice anything different with skills, but the only sign of other players was when returning, I found a hatchet on me I didn't recall finding the day before. Maybe I could build the roundhouse here, and persuade my friends to come here. I was further encouraged that I finally found the highly coveted rocket launcher blueprint, and so early on too.

Unfortunately, just because there weren't other players, there were still hostiles. I got chopped up by the chopper, and was getting mauled by bears. But somehow, I found a spot, laid down the foundations of a roundhouse, basic walls, and just enough of a second floor to stay hidden from the chopper. The next day, I had enough time to reinforce a quarter of the roundhouse to the point anyone coming across it would have a hard time getting in. It seemed all was well. Then the next day, I found the server had rebooted. The roundhouse was gone. The skills I had learned, including the rocket launcher, gone. And before five minutes had passed, I ran into a bear, and once again died screaming.

I'm not sure how much longer I'll be playing Rust as even my patience has it's limits. But it seems as far as most of my Second Life friends are concerned, they've moved on to other pastures, at least for now. One stated she was tired of the raiders, tired of the "world killer" updates erasing all her work, and would be taking a break for a while, at least until Nydia could get her server running again. And there's no telling when that will be as right now, the game is the least of her worries.

So perhaps it's about time to move on to another game. As soon as there's one me and my circle of Second Life friends like, we'll let you know.

On a final note, I've heard stories about players and teams accomplishing great builds with Rust, such as "Paradise Island" in which a place resembling an inviting looking resort was crafted. Then there was "The Great Wall of Rust" in which a team braved glitches, bears, and saboteurs in order to build a wall across the width of their server's island, and came close to succeeding (WARNING: video contains male nudity). Then someone made a game in the game, a maze in which players had to navigate, braving traps, in order to get the prize at the end. Then there was the "City Council Arena" of which it was stated took teams seven days to farm materials and build. There are also fanworks in which players have made Rust items in real life.

So yes, the game does attract people who would rather build than wreck other peoples' stuff. It's just that they never seem to be around your particular public server. In the meantime, avoid windows on the first floor, use metal bars on windows on the first few floors, and don't be afraid to use some of the metal you're saving up on the first and second floor's walls and the foundation under them: raiders can't steal what's been used.

Bixyl Shuftan