RUST: Why you shouldn't be paying to alpha-test games

RUST: Why you shouldn't be paying to alpha-test games

Postby qreeves » 25 Jan 2014, 08:23

Recently, I have had the unfortunate experience of buying one of the most popular Early Access games available on Valve’s Steam platform, RUST. I, like many others, put down US$20 in order to alpha-test this new survival game, which is loosely based on DayZ. The inherent issues with Early Access games such as this is that they implement only the bare essentials, and they're asking you to pay in order to play what could be considered, at its best, unfinished/unpolished gameplay, and at its worse, a pointless waste of time.

To date, I have sunk 38 hours of my life attempting to make some progress, any progress, playing this game online with other people. Most of that time was spent collecting sparsely generated resources in an incredibly large environment, while trying in vain to avoid being killed by other overpowered players during that process. I wasn't alone either, I worked with my loving partner, who I convinced to buy the game in order to properly try it out.

The problem with RUST lies in the core concept of the game: it rewards those who are already geared up and leaves new players grinding for hours on end in out of the way areas with little to no available resources, only to eventually be ripped off by the more powerful players. In short, the game has incredibly bad balance, and this doesn't seem to be a major concern for either the developers or those who currently play the game.

Time after time, we tried to collect resources in order to reach the level that the others players were already at. Nine times out of ten we would run into another player who is fully loaded within the first few minutes of a new spawn, where they would instantly kill us for no reason; well before we could even build a rudimentary stone hatchet. On the rare occasions where we managed to evade detection and stay alive for a few hours, we would manage to build a base, only to be killed and looted before any real progress was made. Any attempts to object to the situation would be shrugged off by loaded players with “Welcome to RUST”, or even more obscenely, “Suck shit, that’s how the game is played”.

What’s going on here is more problematic than you may think. The game rewards players in a better position, and even encourages them to go around griefing new players, mainly because there is absolutely nothing left to do once you reach that “all-powerful” point. The players get so bored, they go looking for trouble in order to justify their position and the money that they have spent on a game with no goals left to pursue. The ones who pay for this design flaw are new players, which is completely contrary to proper game development.

Nobody wants to spend six hours grinding for resources, just to be killed and required to start from scratch again. As I said, I've wasted 38 hours already and still haven't managed to get past building a base. You may just think I am upset that I never managed to get anywhere, and that may be true, but I am myself an open source game developer, and if the games I made behaved in this manner, people would complain and probably stop playing entirely.

The biggest reason for RUST’s success is the “brand name” the developers brings to it, Garry Newman and Facepunch studios. This game is not popular because it is good, per se; it is popular for the sake of being popular, and it brings with it an entirely undesirable player base, all of whom get kicks from hacking, griefing, lording over the weak, and causing all manner of trouble. In time, this will limit the number of players who are actually playing the game to the elitist few; sales are not an accurate representation of how good a game really is.

It is insane that a game this broken continues to receive rave reviews and massive amounts of attention, but I have my doubts that this will change in the future, because the players that do continue to play are the ones who get the most out of the current structure of the game. Everyone else simply stops playing, effectively throwing those twenty dollars in the trash.

If I could get a refund at this point, I probably would. Instead, I may just end up building my own, balanced version of this emerging game genre, and I will do so under a free and open source license. You shouldn't expect people to pay for something that isn't even finished (or good), as they have no measure of the actual value that product has, or will have.

In summary, don't buy RUST unless you like being constantly frustrated and picked on, or you are willing to suck the penis of whatever admin is currently running the server you are playing on.
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Re: RUST: Why you shouldn't be paying to alpha-test games

Postby TheLastProject » 25 Jan 2014, 12:21

Paying for alpha testing is generally a terrible thing to do, as you're paying to do the redundant work the developers would normally pay others for. It's, in essence, similar to paying to work as a cleaning lady.

I've seen balance issues like these before, but it was essentially the PvP aspect of an MMORPG, which means that the issue can be avoided. It sounds like that wouldn't be possible in this game, as it's a main part, in which case it just deserves to die, because that's not how you develop a game.

Honestly, I'd look forward to whatever you feel like building, I consider you a quite good designer.
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Re: RUST: Why you shouldn't be paying to alpha-test games

Postby Silux » 25 Jan 2014, 13:50

Playing alpha to me is like going in the kitchen and watch food as it is cooked.
A player in alpha stage would be more an hinderance than a positive presence, but if it helps funding the game, why not?
4 or 5 qualified beta testers usually are more worth than 100 players in terms of finding off flaws in the game and adjusting balance. Sometimes it requires a deep analysis work to find exploits, and that should be paid.
I'd rationalize the loss of 20$ as a donation to support the developers and the 38 hours lost as a metaphorical lesson about what to avoid in MMORPGs.
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Re: RUST: Why you shouldn't be paying to alpha-test games

Postby Calinou » 25 Jan 2014, 21:40

A lot of Minecraft servers have similar problems, and Minecraft is not in Alpha/Beta state anymore.
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Re: RUST: Why you shouldn't be paying to alpha-test games

Postby qreeves » 26 Jan 2014, 02:13

Calinou wrote:A lot of Minecraft servers have similar problems, and Minecraft is not in Alpha/Beta state anymore.

At least in Minecraft you can run your own server, and play only with your friends. You won't be seeing this in RUST any time soon because..
http://playrust.com/faq/ wrote:"We’re limiting the distribution of the server right now. This is because we don’t know where we’re taking Rust so we want to keep our options open."

I wish I could have kept my options open upon buying it, like.. the option to get my money and my wasted time back.
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Re: RUST: Why you shouldn't be paying to alpha-test games

Postby Julius » 26 Jan 2014, 14:44

Well it can't be that bad if you spend 38h on it already (an amount of hours one hardly gets out of other commercial games... most are over after 6-8h) :p

I agree with the grivances you have with the general genre, but it seems to be well liked by the crowd (not just because their creators are popular). Similarly games like DOTA2 and LoL are terribly unbalanced in the sense that they reward the already good and the others are left to "suck it".

But I think it is a strong metaphor for real-life, where similar dynamics are happening (the rich get richer all the time) and for most people that isn't a reason to oppose the unfair system but rather desire to be part of that top 1% even more.

P.S.: I am not playing any of those games.
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Re: RUST: Why you shouldn't be paying to alpha-test games

Postby qreeves » 26 Jan 2014, 15:12

90% of the time was spent grinding for resources, and I'd say 75% of that was just endless running to the next resource node. I did this in a vain attempt to justify the money I had already spent. I also believe you can't compare a "proper" game with an open ended game such as this, simply because it artificially lengthens the time you spend playing it by insisting you "grind". Yes, I am aware this is common in games like this and other (MMO)RPG's.

I do not normally pay for games I am unsure of, and will admit I fell for the brand-name and hype. If this had been a free, or less expensive game, I would have probably stopped after the first 6-hour grind+rape. The amount of time spent isn't indicative of how much I liked or enjoyed the game, it is more offered as proof of the fact that I did legitimately give it a fair go before giving up entirely.

That being said, I may play it again when the fad wears off and the hackers are less abundant; again, in the misguided hope that I will be able to justify the money I spent.
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Re: RUST: Why you shouldn't be paying to alpha-test games

Postby restcoser » 26 Jan 2014, 15:13

Julius wrote:Well it can't be that bad if you spend 38h on it already (an amount of hours one hardly gets out of other commercial games... most are over after 6-8h) :p

To be honest, I often like short games, they have their own right, and they can be massivly better than games which just suck your time, never stopping.
For instance, I love Bastion. Short, sweet game. I like Antichamber... the Stanley Parable... you get the idea.
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Re: RUST: Why you shouldn't be paying to alpha-test games

Postby unixfreak » 26 Jan 2014, 15:20

That's a problem i find with most (if not all) resource based games, that they can become easily unbalanced. At least, ones where you interact with other players.
Things that come to mind are DLC and in-game-store advantages which seems to affect alot of games now. For instance, you can buy weapon boosts or extra ammo/ores/spells which is another thing.

Also as Julius said, the rich do get richer in those kinds of games. It's fair to call games that require hours of grinding 'capitalism simulators'. Because if you're already rich (in real life) there's no need to grind and you can just buy your way up the in-game ladder. I'm not sure about RUST, whether that's a problem as i don't know much about it, but alot of games are doing the in-game microtransaction thing these days. The resource based games as a whole tend to bring along hoards of goldfarmers regardless of in-game stores anyway lol.
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Re: RUST: Why you shouldn't be paying to alpha-test games

Postby charlie » 27 Jan 2014, 09:21

38 hours is a lot of time to put into a game that you basically don't like. :P

It seems everything is trying the 'early access' route on Steam lately. I can see why - people paying to test games out... the industry has turned a historical cost into seed funding for new games.
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Re: RUST: Why you shouldn't be paying to alpha-test games

Postby greaserpirate » 27 Jan 2014, 17:24

looks like a whole barrel of fun: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hafXonvf7FY&nofeather=True

If you have Steam and one of your friends has Rust in their wishlist, send them this video and spread the word: Rust blows.

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Re: RUST: Why you shouldn't be paying to alpha-test games

Postby qreeves » 28 Jan 2014, 00:59

Yeah, I've seen that video already myself. It demonstrates that if you even mention the hacking problem on the Facepunch forums, you get banned. The guy wasn't even rude or pushy about it, he wanted a legitimate discussion about the problem. Facepunch's stance on this is that VAC will eventually ban them, and they admit it could take months for that to happen, but they are convinced that at some point it will. I have my doubts.
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