Interview: Maxaki from Blueberry.gg

Time to grab your pet rock once again because it’s time for another interview with a Rust community! I recently had a chat with Maxaki who is the owner of Blueberry.gg which was founded around January 2016. This community managed to take up all top 3 spots on Rust-Servers.net. And with (currently) 11.465 Steam group members, I was eager to hear his story.

Greetings Maxaki, thanks for doing this interview with us! How are you doing today?

Hey Syff, I’m doing well, thank you.

Congratulations on the success of the Blueberry servers! Currently you guys are claiming the top 3 spots on Rust-Servers.net. Can you tell me a bit about how and when you guys started hosting your server(s)?

It began as a game I enjoyed playing, I got hooked for a couple months a big majority of it was on modded. We played on EU Best and after a while I was dissatisfied with lag problems, plugins and felt like I can do it better. Now, in the beginning everything goes smooth since difficulties upscale gradually the more people you have on your server(s), so it wasn’t easy and still isn’t easy to this day, there’s constant problem solving every day. It started out with the BLUEBERRY 5x server, I had one goal and it was to provide the best possible server with best support. I personally greeted people with a welcome and gave them a hatchet/pickaxe to get going. We faced many challenges, I spent a big amount of time trying to find the perfect host since whenever it got populated, the DDoS attacks started and it created a huge set back since players lose trust in us which is understandable. Then we found OVH with a Rust UDP deep package inspection and we finally had the protection, after that we’ve just steadily upscaled our community slowly but steady.

Prior to Blueberry, did you have any experience with managing servers/communities?

Hosting interests started when I was 12 years old. I made Counter-strike public servers with WC3 & Superhero mode and kept it going for a while but eventually I started to enjoy playing too much and went all in on Counter-strike.

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With multiple servers it must be hard at times to keep everything running smooth. How big is your current staff team and how is the hierarchy setup?

It’s a challenge I enjoy and requires a special kind of person to actually like it. I recommend reading your article about stress and managing community, it explains it well. Things come at you from every angle, Discord, Steam, Slack, Phone, in your dreams. It’s almost haunting at times but it’s a process in itself to let go and not do the 18 hours a day.

We have Admins and Chatmods. Admins don’t play and can solve any issue they feel like. Chatmods makes the ingame chat more pleasurable muting people who doesn’t follow the chat rules. We are a team of 10 Admins where 3 of us is actively active and I cannot emphasize how much other server owners and EAC help out with malicious players matter to us. Without them hosting servers would become dull after a while. Server owners in Rust has a great community lead by Bugs from Rustafied.

Are players able to become staff members? if so, how does this process work?

We’re always looking for good people but it’s very hard to find. Majority of people don’t enjoy listening to the average kid in Rust. It’s not a glamorous or fun thing to do, it’s more about challenging yourself to become a better person. You get shit every day and it builds a character you’ll have with you rest of your life. Then there’s the back-end players don’t realize how much time consuming it actually is. As mentioned earlier it requires a special kind of person to enjoy this. People are apply to apply here but we’re selective and can take months until someone gets accepted.

For the ones who are new to Rust, what kind of servers do you guys host?

5X Gathering – with a shop in a self built “town” which is a non-pvp/raiding zone for people to interact and get to know each other. Many people have made their Rust friends from this Town and after a year still plays together every day. The server has lots of plugins to make your life easier and comfortable. We’ve been aiming to be able to get the most out of Rust pvp, raiding and interaction.

10X Gathering – pretty much a copy of 5X but without a Town but even more maximized toward raiding and pvp

22x Main/2x Odd servers aim is to feel like you’re playing Vanilla rust but with 2x gathering.

2x Solo/Duo/Trio is almost the same as 2x Main but with group limit and has vip kits in order to afford more advanced player group tracking

I noticed you have both a Discord and a Teamspeak server. Is there any specific reason for that?

When we started the server Discord wasn’t really popular, Teamspeak was “the shit” so we provided free rooms for clans to get a community feeling. We still offer Teamspeak servers but nowadays most people are connected to our Discord channel.

While browsing through your steam group (which currently has 11.465 members!), I noticed there are requirements in order to join the server. Why is that?

Due to the nature of Rust a cheater can completely change a whole week’s wipe within a day and we realized that about 95% of all caught cheaters in Rust use Limited Steam accounts since they buy keys on cheap websites. They usually have many of these accounts and by going the extra length to pay $5 and get 30hrs on your steam account we know you’re a bit more serious. Cheaters still do come and therefore we have a strict non-VPN use that makes it easier for us to link various steam accounts for malicious use. Via Discord you’re able to message us and explain your situation if you need a whitelist to bypass the VPN and Steam account check.

Just out of curiosity, how is the Rust community doing these days? I personally have been out of the (pvp) game for a while now.

Depends from which angle you look at it. Hosting wise there has probably never been at a better point. Due to the great slack owner group monitoring pretty much only the well intended and good people gets accepted/can stay in the group and those are usually the ones who has the popular servers. People who do it for the wrong reason usually show their real face after a while and get excluded from the community.

From a player perspective it’s a bit shaky. It’s an all in or nothing kind of game with a lot of ego boosting. Players get addicted and when their satisfaction don’t get met they lash out on players creating this toxic behavior. As for PvP it’s pretty much the same, I’m a bit out of the loop playing wise too.

Do you host random (special) events within your servers/community?

We’re focusing more on creating plugins that works automatically that gets integrated in server gameplay rather than spending our time doing things manually. While hosting many servers your time needs prioritizing and special events becomes less important. When we’re bored or don’t have anything to do we sometimes jump on server and throw some supply signals on airfield and down the helicopter for people to get some great PvP going.

Let’s talk development real quick, since you are running modded servers do you stick to pre-made plugins or do you make them yourselves/have a dedicated programmer?

Core plugins are from public Oxidemod.org but if there’s anything we want that isn’t on there we’re in contact with ~5 developers that can make things possible.

“Teamspeak was “the shit” so we provided free rooms for clans to get a community feeling”

Currently focusing on maintaining the current server until we get a bigger team to support any new ones. We’re interested in trying out servers in the US again but waiting for a new datacenter and get some American admins.

What are some of your fondest memories which took place within the community?

There are memories made every week, every Thursday update is exciting. It’s exciting to watch Rustafied and hear Helks voice. It’s exciting to realize you’re a part of hosting servers for a great game. The biggest memories are from the early 5X days where I still had time to be ingame and watch the gameplay at all times, follow clans progression and see them make friends, see them get enemies and fight for who is the best.

Starting a (Rust) community can be tough in the beginning, are there any tips you can give to starters?

Be patient and never relax, be stubborn. Hosting a server is like creating and solving a puzzle at the same time. Everything goes hand in hand, you can have the best server, configuration and plugins but lack players. Make the newcomers feel like you see them on a personal level, get them excited about making the server better, be transparent and when fuck ups happen admit it quick and provide a solution to make them feel safe. Listen to players, everyone likes to feel they can make a change for the servers best. Have a way to keep in touch with players, steam, discord. If you grow and get a higher population don’t spend too much time on a single matter because some players will try to make you their bitch. Look around for the servers that’s more popular than yours and adapt around theirs.

How can new people join your servers?

Best way to get in touch with us and see information about servers is on our Discord.

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About Syff

Founder of Angry-Mob.com, keeping your game community up-to-date with articles, guides, interviews & more! Besides Angry-Mob I currently am employed as a Sharepoint developer and multimedia advisor. You can find all my projects on my portfolio: https://Rokbock.nl