And here we are once again, time for another interview! This time I had a chat with RyanJD who is the owner of Rustoria. This Rust community hosting several modded servers has been going strong for a while now. With over 25.000 steam group members, over 8300 Discord members and a solid ranking on both Battlemetrics & Rust-Servers, this community is considered one of “the big ones”. I was eager to hear his story.
Greetings RyanJD, thanks for doing this interview with us. First of all, how are you doing?
Hey Syff, thanks for asking! I’m going great, hope you are too.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how Rustoria got started?
Sure thing. Rustoria has a huge story behind it that I’d love to share. It was first started in the middle of 2015 as a singular server with 20x gather. But as we grew and found out the games performance wasn’t at its best back then we had to adapt and change it’s gather rate. We decreased it to 5X gather, which is the server most people recognise us from now, the Zeus 5X.
As far as I’m concerned personally, I’m not the original owner. The original owner named Tyran was the original owner of this server and co-founded it with one of his friends named Gareth. However as time passed, our servers and community were growing faster and faster to the point where owning and organising a community as big as Rustoria at the time was becoming quite the hassle for Tyran alongside a full time job and also running a business! This is the point in time I took ownership of the server and the majority of the old staff became uninterested in administering the server. At this time, I was an admin for around 2 years before becoming the owner of Rustoria.
Aa far as the original and old staff are involved, it does not mean they’re not around still, they are definitely still around. The old staff come and go sometimes for the old chit chat or hacker ban. Which I personally find amazing that they’re still wanting to be involved in Rustoria after all these years.
Did you have any experience running servers/communities prior to Rustoria?
Nope I had zero experience in community management and server management prior to me being a part of Rustoria. Luckily I learned all I needed to know from the past owner and the fellow Administrators in the 2 years prior that I was an admin for. I also took up C# developing in this time to allow myself to work on custom plugins for Rustoria, so that expanded my knowledge even more.
What makes the Rustoria servers different from the rest out there?
Rustoria I feel is an extremely unique server despite the similarities we may have with others out there. We offer a really good staff team that are active and mature that can help with players problems usually within the same hour they are submitted to us. Some of us are also nocturnal, so that helps with the 4am reports sometimes coming in, haha.
In regards to server quality overall, I would say we are the only server out there that can offer the server performance we provide. Due to me being quite experienced in plugin development now – I am quite familiar with the games code itself so I can see hiccups or opportunities I can take within plugins to allow us to better optimise our server. Resulting in a near lag-free gameplay for all our players no matter their country. One thing players often get confused with however is that their games FPS reflects on how “good” or “lag free” a server is. This is something that often jeopardizes our egotistical and self proclaimed lag-free titles.
tl:dr we have an extremely talented staff team with an advanced and optimised plugin collection to offer a competitive edge over potential runners up in the modded section.
Having multiple servers can be quite the job for your staff members. How is your staff team set up?
Yes, it definitely is the task at times. We recently hit a huge milestone of holding 1,038 concurrent players across all our 6 servers. Despite hitting this huge milestone, our staff team was definitely put at a test. We of course smashed the test and was able to handle all these concurrent players’ reports quickly and efficiently resulting in them all being happy in the running of our community.
As far as our staff team goes, I am really confident in my staff members and staff rules I have in place. This is something I am constantly working on improving as I feel having an excellent support team in a game such as Rust is essential for a reputable server.
We have 5 roles, Owner, Administrator, Trial Administrator, Head Moderator and Chat Moderator. We have a training process for all of our staff members to ensure they are understanding of our in-game player rules and also our staff rules. For example, we have a staff FAQ that our players commonly ask. We require staff members to reply to the players using the same boilerplate responses we provide. This allows us to give a consistent answer for all our common questions resulting in minimal confusion across our player base. I will go ahead and give a brief explanation of all our roles:
- Administrator – People in this role have full admin permissions in game – some of them have dedicated server access too. They are required to deal with all hacker reports and server reports. Some of them sometimes help me out wiping the servers, updating them etc.
- Trial Administrators – People within this role have basic administrator permissions such as ban, kick, mute and spectate. They cannot noclip, spawn items in, use god mode etc. This role is here to put our future administrators until a trial period, sometimes people we put in trial abuse – so we give them minimal tools to be able to do that. We usually keep people in this role for around a month to make sure they understand all the admin related powers and scenarios.
- Head Moderator – This role is here to allow our Administrators to continue to focus on the admin side of things when there’s a lot going on or an admin is unavailable. These staff members train our future chat moderators and sometimes deal with applications too. They ensure our future chat moderators understand how things work, what to do in certain situations and also when to punish a player for violating our chat rules. Head Mods are allowed to permanently mute and also have a say in the demotion of chat moderators.
- Chat Moderator – This role within our community is one of our most important roles. We take strict action against things such as racism and homophobia. We do have filters in place to prevent common uses of these, however rust players how they are get past this. So we need human eyes monitoring our chat for a fair moderation of our chat rules.
“We are making a huge minigames server, something you’d typically see on a game such as Minecraft”
You guys currently have over 25k Steam group members, quite the achievement! How did the community grew to this size?
Yeah our Steam group is definitely of our biggest achievements. To think we have a reach of that many people at any time is crazy. However, with the growth of our servers players wish to stay updated with things such as updates, wipes and more. Not only this, we also offer perks for being in our steam group in-game. This allows us to add a benefit of being in our steam group while also providing updates to our players that may benefit them.
Being a european community, I noticed that you also host a US server. How is that going and what made you decide to expand to another continent?
Yes, the US server was just recently launched actually. So far the growth of that server has been great. It has already reached a #48 rank on http://battlemetircs.com within the 2-3 weeks of it being online. That rank is better than some other modded servers that have been around for years!
I wanted to launch this server because of the high demand from our player base. A lot of our players are from the U.S.A and play our EU servers because of our staff team and customised plugins. Another thing that wanted me to launch this US hosted server was the pure amount of american and canadian players we had on our servers. The week before the servers launch we had 130 US/CA players on our 250 slot EU hosted server. So that was definitely a sign to me and my staff to launch a US hosted version of that server, so we did.
Are the mods that you are running on your servers custom made? or do you use available Oxide/Umod plugins.
We use a huge range of plugins across our servers, it would be insane if myself and our developers would maintain them all. Luckily there are both paid and free platforms to obtain certain plugins which we do use and have used sometimes. However the state of these plugins is debatable, so most of the time we edit them or rewrite them to ensure they add no extra latency or processing power to our servers. We have a large selection of customised plugins, roughly 80% if I was to guess. While also filling up that other 20% with both customised versions of existing plugins to aid with performance and also public ones.
Are you guys currently working on something new/special?
Yes I am glad you asked this. We are currently working on something insanely innovative. We are making a huge minigames server, something you’d typically see on a game such as Minecraft. However due to Rust server performance we have had to make some adaptations and developments. It will basically have one core server which we will name the master. Then it’d have 10s, 100s or 1000s of slaves to add more processing power to this server. This system also allows us to use different terrains while not even leaving the server. Say you wanted to join a procedurally generated map, you could just walk through a door; be sat with a loading screen then you’re in it! Then to go back, you could enter a command such as /lobby then it’ll take you back to the old map which could be a different map such as Savas Island. This is a huge thing that can withstand 1000 concurrent players on this one server at a time. We are also confident in saying it can hold this amount of concurrent players with zero lag.
“If you’re not willing to put time and effort into your community, then don’t bother”
Have you and your communities noticed anything different after Rust went out of Early Access?
I give Rust and the Rust developers the best support I can as a server owner. However I have noticed a large decline in popularity since the early access launch. It’s shameful that it’s like this, but I have ideas as of why. But they are ideas reflected on me being a server owner in their game. For example there has been a crash issue on all servers for about 4 months now, I have been telling the developers this issue for months also. But the crash issue still exists. Now, I’m not too sure what client issues are like as I don’t play Rust anymore. But if the client issues are anything like the server issues I experience then I can fully understand as of why this is happening.
Since you have been going at it for a while, there must have been times where your motivation went down a bit. How did you handle that and what motivates you?
Most definitely, I think any community owner or administrator has went through a stage of no motivation. But as I am a very motivated person when it comes to things I enjoy I quickly recover after a short break, luckily I can take these with faith that my staff team can keep things running smoothly after all the things I’ve taught them. Breaks for me definitely help with motivation issues I face. I usually have motivation issues after very stressful weeks i.e servers crashing due to a previously mentioned issue – or lots of plugins needing fixing. But I never fully leave unless I am away from my computer.
In terms of what motivates me it’s many things. I am a statistical person, so I like to see high statistics for my servers. For example, high ranks on http://battlemetrics.com and http://rust-servers.net. This is not all I look at though, I look at population counts across my servers, look at steam group member counts and look at discord member counts. These numbers really motivate me and motivate me to work harder to make them grow even more. My main motivator is staying above a few competitors that shall not be named, but they know who they are.
What are some of your fondest memories which took place within the community?
Near the time I took over from owner, Rustoria was at one of it’s lowest points statistically. Something I will always remember is how quick we recovered from a population dip. At this time around 7 months ago now, we had only 2 servers after several others being shut down. Only one of these 2 servers had population, but that population was nothing like it used to be. However this was due to the inactivity in the owner and other staff members at the time. Me taking over gave me a motivation spike and from there I would like to say I turned Rustoria into what it used to be. But recently that has turned out to be the best point Rustoria has been at historically. We now have 6 total servers all with substantial population that pleases me. Hopefully this growth continues as we continue to expand and do our thing.
As always, are there any tips you would like to give to other (starting) communities out there?
Yeah I am always keen on lending a helping hand to people as long as they’re willing to do their part. I often get people in my PMs “how do you get population”, “how did you make # plugin”, “how did you make # bot”, “can you give me # plugin/bot” etc. These type of people I try to avoid as they’re clearly trying to do something that I like to call leach. They are in it for themselves.
This goes on to add to my next point. If you aren’t willing to learn things for yourself and you turn to others to do things for you – you won’t get anywhere. You are on your own, you need to be independent and learn things for yourself. You’ll find that this benefits you in the long run too, because if something breaks in the future you’ll likely know how to fix it.
Also, don’t think copying other communities unique ideas and features will get you anywhere either. Likelihood is players will just see you as a copycat community since the place you’re copying from likely has a large player base if you’re copying from them, right? Think of your own unique ideas, you’ll see more benefits than copying already existing ones.
If you’re not willing to put time and effort into your community, then don’t bother. If you gain any success it will become a huge task for you to maintain and keep the success reigning. You need to have motivation beyond money, fame and power.
Most important tip: don’t be a cunt to your players. Always be understanding and assist them with their issues. Players range of all types of skill and understanding, some are new to the game, some are new to your server. Bare this in mind and act like you’re speaking to a dummy until you can tell they’re not one.
Finally, where can people find you?
We have many ways to find us, typically just a google search of Rustoria will find most of our platforms. But our best place of finding us for redirection is our Discord which can be found at http://rustoria.co/discord – hope to see some new faces around.