Interview: bawNg from Intoxicated Gaming. Part 2

In the previous part of our interview with bawNg, owner of Intoxicated Gaming, we talked about the history of Intoxicated Gaming, the difference between their Rust servers and the reason for not having admins within their servers. Let’s jump back in because bawNg still has lots to talk about!

Are players able to fulfill the role of moderator/admin? If so, is there a set process for this?

Players on the servers will never be suitable for any kind of moderation or administration role, as that would be unfair to other players. Even if an admin was able to deal with all situations with no bias and never abused their power in any way, just by spectating players, they would have information that no player should have. Not playing on the servers or knowing any players personally makes it easy to remain completely unbiased in all cases, ensuring there is never any conflict of interest when decisions are made.

Just to give the people a little insight into running a community like yours, how many hours do spend on community development on a average week?

The majority of my time almost every single day goes into something related to my game servers. While most of my time goes into software development, there are various other things which also need my attention regularly.

I always encourage players to provide useful feedback and I try to take into account all feedback when making decisions. I make use of statistics and also run polls on the servers to get a better idea of how the overall community feels about certain things and use those numbers to make better informed decisions when making changes to servers. I have a very reasonable set of rules for the servers and they are enforced as fairly as possible; while I think players should be given as much freedom as possible, some things are obviously not acceptable and have to be dealt with accordingly.

I’ve never had a community manager, nothing has ever been actively advertised and all growth has always been organic. I believe that if you put enough work into building something which is better than alternatives, users will naturally gravitate towards it.

“Players on the servers will never be suitable for any kind of moderation or administration role, as that would be unfair to other players”

On the about page on your website I see you guys are no stranger to hosting servers outside of Rust in the past. Any plans for setting up new servers (outside of Rust) anytime soon?

I don’t have any immediate plans to support any other games, as it’s already hard enough for me to find time to get to the insane amount that I’ve planned for Rust, but we’ll have to see what happens in the future.

Right, Rust Battle Royale, how did this project get started and what is it?

Rust BR was originally inspired by the Battle Royale mod for Arma which was the very first BR game mode. The core concept is simple: you spawn with nothing and have to find all loot around the map, only get one life and the last player standing wins the match. I could see the potential in this kind of gameplay and wanted to see it happen for Rust.

I decided to put together an initial prototype early in the Rust alpha, even though at that point the state of the game made it rather challenging to pull off. Although the initial prototype was playable and became popular very quickly, it still had countless flaws, but that was to be expected while Rust was still in alpha. Most of the serious issues were eventually either patched by Facepunch or overcome with creative workarounds. While much of the game mode was iterated on, there were still fundamental limitations holding it back.

After hosting a few BR servers for a while, funding the hosting became completely unsustainable and I had to announce that most of them would be shutdown. To my great surprise, the community didn’t like the idea of that at all and made so much noise that it got the attention of Garry, who offered to fund the hosting. This was really amazing and without the support of Facepunch, the game mode would likely have never reached the point of where it is today.

One day when I was feeling extra crazy, I decided to start designing and building a prototype of a completely new server architecture by re-implementing a large portion of the server and netcode from scratch. This would provide some big advantages, including allowing many matches to be played concurrently with a new matchmaking system and significantly reducing wait times between matches. After testing the new architecture on a public server and doing a great deal of optimization and improvements, things were looking much better. However, after further testing, some serious issues which had previously gone unnoticed began to surface and it turned out that keeping the Rust client happy while doing crazy things with the server was easier said than done. So resentfully, I rolled back the public server to the old architecture and started working on a major overhaul in order to workaround all the client-side limitations and bugs. The final result was a solid new architecture which is extremely efficient and is also able to keep the client happy while providing a seamless user experience.

“To my great surprise, the community didn’t like the idea of that at all and made so much noise that it got the attention of Garry, who offered to fund the hosting.”

Rust BR gameplay has changed a great deal over time and these days I think it feels a lot more organic and Rust-like. I continue to iterate on it over time, improving existing systems, introducing new Rust content, and sometimes also building detailed themes for holiday events like Halloween and Christmas which include custom content as well as changing up gameplay in some interesting ways such as having night time matches.

The core game mode is pretty solid at this point, but there is so much more planned for the future. Some of the future additions that will be coming include statistics, support for team matches and integration of custom monuments created by the community.

It seems like you’re an avid programmer. How is modding within Rust treating you? Any pros and cons?

Coming from some of the other native engines that I’ve worked with in the past, modding Unity games is generally a walk in the park in comparison. That said, it’s in my nature to constantly look for creative ways to improve existing systems and push boundaries to make new things possible. I’ve built up a massive code base over the years, some of which is either tightly integrated with or completely replaces many essential parts of the Rust code base which other modders would never consider going near; while doing so has allowed me to create some great things, the downside is that upkeep can be a whole lot more complex than what other modders have to deal, sometimes a lot of work is needed to account for changes made by Facepunch.

Rust’s modding support is still lacking in many ways and while I enjoy the challenge of having to come up with crazy solutions to make new things possible, there is simply no viable solution in many cases. I hope that by working with the Facepunch devs, I will be able to get a lot of things improved from their end in the future

The flow of updates changing the game (especially during EA) must have caused you many headaches I’d imagine?

The game has indeed changed a great deal over time, and while players see the visible changes, they are generally unaware of the internal changes which can at times require a lot of work to account for. I knew what I was getting into when I started modding the alpha, and although there have been some rough times, I’ve gotten very familiar with the Rust code base and preparing for updates is just a part of the process.

Early access was a rollercoaster, but there have also been some fairly major updates since leaving EA and I’m sure there will be more in the future. I usually start preparing days before an update, sometimes weeks before the most major updates. While I always try to build systems which are resilient to updates, it’s inevitable that sometimes Facepunch will change things that break a lot of my shit.

Many updates have also introduced serious performance issues, bugs, and exploits over the years, but I’m generally on top of that and create hotfixes for serious issues myself long before Facepunch gets to addressing them officially.

While I always try to build systems which are resilient to updates, it’s inevitable that sometimes Facepunch will change things that break a lot of my shit

End of Part 2