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06 December 2018

2018

A look back at what we have learned this year and where we want to go next year.
Garry Newman
Programmer
United Kingdom
Rust - 5th Anniversary
It's been a roller-coaster ride for Rust, which is 5 years old on Dec 11th. Our vision was a harsh, brutal world where we wouldn’t impose any of the arbitrary rules that other online games created - you would had to figure out how you survive for yourself. That turned into the open world, base-building multiplayer FPS that’s now Rust. When we released we never expected it to be as popular as it was. It was a prototype, the code was a mess and we wanted to slowly make things better. We even actively told people not to buy the game. When it exploded in popularity on release in December 2013 the demand for regular updates was immediate, we slowly started to realise that we couldn't give our players what they wanted. We were righting fires on every front, in public and in private. We tried to make it work, we hired new people and tried to make things work. But it wasn't going to.

Do Over

Me and Helk took the decision in 2014 to remake the game from scratch. The initial intention was to port code from the old version to the new version, but that proved just as difficult as removing the shit code. So literally everything was re-written. This was a thankless task, it wasn't appreciated by a lot of the community and there's still people who will argue that the older version that they haven't played in 4 years was superior. It's obvious in retrospect, as a developer, that we made the right decision. It got us into a position where a new developer could come on board and make meaningful changes to the code in less than a week. It enabled us to release meaningful updates reliably every Thursday. It let us quickly implement and iterate on dramatic game changes, then just as quickly revert them when they didn't work out.

Early Access

We took the point of view that if Early Access didn't exist we'd have been happy to release Rust in the condition it was in, so at the start of this year we left Early Access. This wasn't and isn't the end for Rust. As fun as doing weekly patches were it was apparent that the gaming media wasn't willing to follow and post about them. We changed to doing monthly themed updates. Instead of "Devblog 196" we titled these updates things like Vehicle Update, Hot Air Balloon Update and most recently the Electric Anniversary. This makes it a lot easier for everyone to digest, and allowed us to add some great content since we left Early Access. The world of Rust has Monuments and the puzzles in them, aggressive AI controlled enemies like the Scientists and the APC. We have events like the Cargo Ship and the Attack Helicopter. Also scuba diving. And now we have electricity (which Helk thinks will have the biggest impact on the game of any update so far). Stuff like this is keeping the game as popular day to day in 2018 as it was in 2013.

Team

It's not easy to put a team together from scratch. Our Rust team right now is very tight, very committed and know exactly what they're doing. Their abilities impress me every day - we're all lucky to have them. Helk's vision and instincts as a game designer scare and surprise me every day.

Stats

Here's some lifetime state.
  • Rust has sold 7,457,075 copies
  • Most popular countries are US, Russia, China, UK, Korea - in that order
  • Rust is on the wishlist of 1,668,876 steam accounts
  • Rust had 71,801 concurrent players online in November this year - a new record high
  • 4,489,297 skins have been sold in the Rust Items Store
  • The skin creators have earned $1,903,164.70
  • Items have been sold 20,091,729 times on the marketplace
  • To date Rust has grossed $110,313,646 (including VAT, DLC, bundles, in-game sales)

Next Year

We've got some exciting announcements coming next year, we've been working on a lot of things in secret (which isn't usually our style). But you'll have to wait until ext year for that.
Garry's Mod
I started making Garry's Mod 14 years ago when I was in my early twenties. I'm in my mid thirties now and we're still not done. The weirdest thing to me is that there are people playing GMod now that weren't even born when I started making it.

Stats

Here's some lifetime stats.
  • Garry's Mod has sold 15,386,927 copies
  • Most popular countries are US, Russia, China, Turkey, France - in that order
  • Garry's Mod trading cards have been sold 17,711,182 times
  • Garry's Mod is on the wishlist of 1,244,715 steam accounts
  • To date Garry's Mod has grossed $99,553,687 (includes VAT, DLC and any bundles)

Next Year

If you're good at maths you probably worked out that next year is the Garry's Mod's 15th birthday. If it was a human and living in the right country, it'd legally be able to have babies.
Prototypes
As a lot of the community know, we hire people to work on whatever they want to. We don't know where a great game is going to come from or in what genre, so we try to avoid telling people what to do. This has worked out well for us so far - it's how Rust came about. This means we have a lot of projects in production simultaneously - being created by lots of independent teams. We don't ever expect these games to be huge AAA hits. GMod and Rust are anomalies - not only for us - but for the entire industry. Our attitude is that if we can make a game that we're proud of we're happy. Bonus points if it covers its development costs. The worst case scenario is that we learn from each game and get tools/assets we can recycle and use in future projects. As the boss its up to me to sometimes step in and shut projects down. I generally give people a lot of rope to realise that the project isn't working before I shut it down manually. You can see a list of our projects here.
Clatter
Clatter (one of our prototypes) is getting released this year. It has been made by Adam and Thai over the last couple of years, at its simplest it's a multiplayer turn based robot fighting game. Under the hood there's a lot of depth once you start to explore things like squad layouts and leagues. It's a niche game so it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but our hope is that the people who it does appeal to will love it. Facepunch prototypes encourage people to make games that exist in a niche for this very reason. As a bonus bit of synergy you'll get a new helmet skin in Rust when you've played Clatter for over half an hour. Clatter is hitting Steam on the 10th December, so head over to Steam to buy or wishlist, depending on which side of that date you currently are.
Staff
I wanted to take a moment at the end of the year to highlight something that I don't think people 100% keep in mind when they're calling our staff lazy, unmotivated, useless and generally being abusive and demanding towards them. Our staff are real people. They have real lives. They're not chained to a wall in the office. They're dealing with babies, deaths, school plays, car accidents, divorces, cancer, house moves, parents evenings, acts of god, weddings, illness, mental health. So please when you're about to be abusive to someone on the internet consider that they might be having the worst or best week of their lives, then consider whether you would like your comments to be an everlasting part of that memory for them.
Next Year

Merch

We have an on-off relationship with merch.. it's a nice thing for our players to be able to own something to do with their favourite game. But in the past we've started investigating it and got bored of all the talking and bullshitting around. This year Jas joined us to handle business development. He loves all the talking and bullshitting around - so is a natural fit to work with some partners to get us some merch. Our attitude towards merch is that if we're going to do it then it should be done as a service to our fans. We should only sell things that we think people would be proud to own. It's going to take a bit of time but it's something we want to get sorted in 2019.

China

Also on Jas' plate is China. It's one of our top ten biggest markets (without even trying) and it's growing fast for all devs. But selling games in China is.. complicated. We're exploring the best way to sail those waters.

Chippy

Chippy is another one of the prototype games, we were hoping to release this Christmas, but it wasn't ready in time. We're hoping to get it out in the first half of next year.

Facepunch Forums

The forums are something that cost us money but any benefit isn't measurable. The only reason to keep them alive is because it'd be a shame to kill them. Early next year I'm going to decide what we do with them.

Tub

I've been having a fun working on Tub this year and am hoping to have something to release next year. It's been a good tool sharpener for me and I've learned a lot of stuff. I feel like it's important to work on smaller things like this to clean your palate between big projects - which can be draining. A lot of time a change is as good as a rest.

S&Box

A lot of people ask me about the status of s&box - our multiplayer game sandbox using Unreal Engine. It's under constant development but it's still in more of an exploratory phase right now. There’s a lot we’ve learned over the years in this area. We have some pretty big ideas of what we want players to be able to do/create so want to keep a lot of it under our hat until it's ready.