Rust, but for casual gamers

Rust, but for casual gamers

Ever since game night stopped being a thing due to the pandemic, my friends and I have made it a habit to regularly get together in private sessions of some of our favorite open world survival games like 7 Days to Die, The Forest or Conan Exiles, where we would peacefully build our little homes or raid bosses together and share the loot. Recently, we decided to give Rust a try.

What a view!

As it turns out, Rust is quite the contrary of what we expected: Its entire concept is centered around PvP on highly-populated public servers, and it’s clearly aimed at regular, if not excessive gamers. There’s no official way to play a private session with your fellow introverted casual-gamer friends, but there are ways to somewhat bend the nature of the game to suit your needs.

Contents

Since I couldn’t find a properly documented, coherent how-to guide on how to set up a private Rust server on the entire internet, I’m using this article to collect the information I’ve scraped together from various forums and Reddit posts.

  1. What challenges do casual gamers face?
  2. Setting up a server
  3. Making your server private
  4. Stop base and vehicle decay
  5. PvP or PvE?
  6. How to evade a Forced Wipe
  7. How do I know what kind of wipe will occur?
  8. Quality-of-life mods for casual gamers
  9. Conclusion

What challenges do casual gamers face?

Monthly wipes

Facepunch Studios regularly wipes all Rust servers, including private ones. The wipes are delivered to both your client and the server through Steam updates, so they’re practically unavoidable.

There’s different kinds of wipes; one being the Forced Wipe, which is initiated once a month (every first Thursday at 2 PM Eastern Standard Time for the PC version) and which basically means that all your buildings and equipment are cleared right off the map and you have to start from scratch. This is so that freshly joined players on public servers have a fair chance at competing with long-time players, as everyone gets the same starting conditions – but of course not exactly an attractive outlook if you get to play together once a week like we do.

Another kind of wipe is the Blueprint Wipe, where all recipes you ever learned are erased. This usually happens once a year if at all, and you’re rightfully afraid of it.

Decaying vehicles and structures

Home sweet home

By default, your base, horses and vehicles will deteriorate over time if not maintained regularly. For your base, it means to keep certain amounts of building material in your cupboard at all times in order for it to upkeep itself. Horses need enough food in their trough, and vehicles need to be repaired regularly.

Modular cars, for example, will decay over the course of eight hours and eventually disappear; 36 hours if parked inside your base.

So basically, you’d have to log in every day to grind for building upkeep resources and make sure your horses and vehicles are alright.

PvP and sleeping

You’re gonna want to make sure you’re in a safe space when logging out, because your character will remain in the game, sleeping on the ground. Anyone who finds you can loot you, and any wild animal or attack helicopter can kill you.

In your absence, people will try to raid your base and loot your stuff, so it’s important to check in regularly to make sure your base’s defense mechanisms are still intact.

There’s a mobile app called Rust+ which you can connect with your base and receive real-life alerts when someone attacks your base while you’re at school or work. (While this concept is utterly fascinating to me as someone who works in mobile app design, this is what I was referring to when I said that the game was aimed at “excessive gamers”.)

Setting up a server

This was an easy one: After comparing several game server hosting platforms as well as a self-hosting solution from my own webspace provider, I quickly came to the conclusion that self-hosting is ridiculously expensive, so I went with the least shady-looking hosting platform in an acceptable price range. In my case, I went for Nitrado, as they allow switching games if you ever grow tired of the one you’re currently hosting.

I’m happy with it so far; the backend UI is alright and the server is stable, so if you’re still on the fence about it, I’d say go for that one. (I don’t get paid for this, this is just a genuine blog article based on my personal experiences.)

I’m not going to document the entire process of setting up the server as it’s up to Nitrado to guide their users properly, but to be frank: You sign up, put some prepaid money on your account and then proceed to rent a server for a game of your choice. However, for some games you have to buy a minimum amount of slots (20 in Rust’s case), which unfortunately isn’t really stated anywhere until you have put money on your account, which cannot be withdrawn (only donated). 4 out of 5 stars.

Making your Rust server private

Rust servers are public by nature and there’s no native way to make them private, so you’re gonna need a workaround. Thankfully there’s a mod for this – or plugin, as they’re called in Rust context.

Step 1: Install framework

First of all you will need to install Oxide on your server. This is a framework that allows you to use plugins. In the Nitrado backend, this is easily done with one click. If you’re on a different platform, you might want to check out one of the many guides that are out there.

Step 2: Install whitelist plugin

Next, you want to download the Whitelist plugin from uMod. You’re gonna get a single .cs file.

In the backend of your hosting platform, you will find your FTP login data. Shut down your game server, connect to the FTP server with an FTP client of your choice and navigate to rust/oxide/plugins. Dump the .cs file there.

Step 3: Set yourself as an owner

I’m not entirely sure if this step is mandatory; it might depend on your hosting platform. Either way, you’re gonna want to set yourself as a server owner so your server doesn’t reject you as soon as your whitelist plugin is in place.

To do this, navigate to rust/server/serverprofile/cfg and download the file users.cfg. Add the following line:

ownerid 1234567890 "Your Steam name" "Owner"

The number is your Steam ID, which you can find via this tool. The Steam name is your display name on Steam. The rest you can leave as is.

Save the .cfg file, upload it back to your /cfg folder (replace old file) and restart your server. You should be able to join your own server despite the whitelist now, if you weren’t already.

Step 4: Setup whitelist permissions

When you’re in-game, press F1 to open the console. Then enter the following for each of your friends:

oxide.grant user 1234567890 whitelist.allow

Again, the number is the respective friend’s Steam ID.

Do this for all your friends and you’re done! They should be able to join your server now, while everyone else will get a “You are not whitelisted” error message if they attempt to join.

Stop base and vehicle decay

If you want to stop your base, horses and vehicles from decaying, here’s what you can do.

Base decay

The decay timer is still displayed, even if decay.upkeep is set to false

In your server.cfg, which you can find at rust/server/serverprofile/cfg or directly edit via your web interface, add the following lines:

decay.scale 0
decay.upkeep false

This will make it so that your base will not deteriorate over time, and it is no longer needed to keep building material in your cupboard at all times to keep your building alive.

Please note: The cupboard will still display a (frozen) decay timer and you’ll receive a notification that your building is decaying, but these can be ignored.

Horse and vehicle decay

Honse

Horse and vehicle decay can’t be shut off completely, but they can be prolonged to near infinity. Here’s what you need to add to the server.cfg in order to achieve this:

minicopter.insidedecayminutes 1000000

minicopter.outsidedecayminutes 1000000

motorrowboat.outsidedecayminutes 1000000

motorrowboat.deepwaterdecayminutes 1000000

basesubmarine.outsidedecayminutes 1000000

basesubmarine.deepwaterdecayminutes 1000000

snowmobile.outsidedecayminutes 1000000

baseridableanimal.decayminutes 1000000

hotairballoon.outsidedecayminutes 1000000

modularcar.outsidedecayminutes 1000000

The numbers are minutes and you can change them for any value you like. One million minutes are about 1.9 years, so your horse will most likely be fine if you don’t log in until next week.

PvP or PvE?

Since my friends and I like to play in peaceful co-op mode, I figured it would make sense to turn on PvE. However, little did I know that Rust’s idea of PvE would be to reflect damage done to friendly structures until I repeatedly hit myself in the face and died when unsuspectingly trying to tear down a wall.

In conclusion, you might want to keep PvP turned on, and just be careful not to aim at your friends or jump into their line of sight in the middle of a shootout with NPCs. PvP should be enabled by default, but here’s the relevant line for server.cfg just in case:

server.pve false

Evading Forced Wipe

There’s several abandoned forum threads on how to evade Forced Wipes, including using some plugins whose function is no further explained, let alone documented in an understandable way, but srtbull’s solution pretty much did the trick for me.

So here’s what you wanna do the night before a Forced Wipe:

  1. Shut down your server
  2. On your FTP server, navigate to rust/server/serverprofile
  3. Backup all files in there just to be safe
  4. Increase the number at the end of each of these files on your server by one:
    • player.states.226.db
    • yourmapname.4000.123456.226.map
    • yourmapname.4000.123456.226.sav
    • yourmapname.4000.123456.226.sav.1
    • yourmapname.4000.123456.226.sav.2
    • sv.files.226.db
  5. Restart your server
  6. Wait for Rust client and server update
  7. Continue playing Rust as if nothing happened

The numbers and file names up there are examples. By the time you read this, 226 might be 238 or more. Just make sure you increase the number by one. The other numbers in the .map and .sav files are your map size and your map seed. These you’ll want to leave alone and only focus on the three-digit number at the end of the files.

The only thing I found missing were the beautiful hand-drawn pictures on mine and my friends’ wooden signs; otherwise all our buildings, horses, vehicles and equipment were exactly as we left them. If I ever find a way to recover them, I will add my findings to this article.

What about Blueprint Wipes?

Unfortunately, this technique most likely cannot be applied for Blueprint Wipes. You can try, but it will probably cause issues. Facepunch Studios only does these kinds of wipes when the blueprint system is changed, though, so they rarely happen. However, if they do, you can still use the Blueprint Manager plugin to manually distribute blueprints back to your crew.

How do I know what kind of wipe will occur?

Here’s my go-to sources for finding out information about the upcoming wipe:

  • Official Rust Twitter – Here Facepunch Studios will announce the date and time for each monthly update. Updates can get postponed sometimes, so I’d recommend to check here to be safe.
  • Official Rust Discord – Here you can get some additional information on the nature of the wipe (if you’re lucky) as well as a countdown bot that can tell you the precise time left until the update hits.
  • Rustafied – A site run by the Rust devs, offering previews for future updates as well as live streams prior to a wipe-inducing update.

Quality-of-life mods for casual gamers

The following list is probably far from complete, but here’s some additional plugins I installed on my Rust server to ensure a nice and friendly, convenient playing experience for me and my guys. I might add more to this list in the future as I try out new ones.

Look at this shitload of assets
  • Blueprint Manager – I mentioned this one before, but I’ll add it here just for the sake of completion: This plugin lets you distribute blueprints to your players. This could come in handy after a Blueprint Wipe.
  • Building Actions – If you place a building piece the wrong way, you only have ten minutes to demolish it, after that it’s fixed in place and can only be destroyed by tools, or in the worst case, explosives. This is obviously incredibly unfortunate if you end up changing your mind about your base layout as you build and expand over weeks and months. This plugin makes it so that you can demolish your building pieces whenever you feel like it.
  • No Weapon Drop – When you get killed, you drop your backpack as well as the item you’re currently holding (e. g. your gun). You will not find the latter in your backpack when you come back to retrieve it, but it will be somewhere in the grass and might even despawn, depending on how long it takes you to come back – a huge source of frustration for some of us. This plugin prevents dropping your weapon separately, and you will find it in your backpack instead.
  • NPC Drop Gun – Enemies will shoot at you with high-end weapons but then drop nothing but like five pieces of cloth and an apple. We mutually agreed that this is Not Fair, so I installed this mod to make sure they additionally drop their weapons as well as some ammo.
  • Sort Button – Oh, how I love this plugin! It adds a sort button to your containers, which lets you sort their items by name or category. I can’t believe this isn’t a native function, but here we are.
  • Stack Size Controller – I gotta admit that this one feels kinda cheaty, but if you only have like one day per week to grind and would prefer not to have to spend 50% of the time going back to your base five billion times to load off your stuff because your backpack is full, this plugin is for you. It lets you increase the maximum stack sizes with a multiplier of your choice, either globally, per category or per item.
  • Time Of Day – This one is also more on the cheaty side, but especially in the beginning, when you’re naked and afraid with nothing but a rock in your hands, you really don’t want to put up with pitch black 30-minute nights in a forest populated by wolves and bears. This plugin lets you set custom lengths for your days and nights and even skip them if need be, which can be a life-saver.
  • Welcomer – This is a plugin that posts a message in the chat when a player joins or leaves the server. If you don’t happen to have Rust installed on an SSD, starting the game and joining a server can deadass take 20 minutes or more because it’s loading so many assets, all while Steam is already showing your friends as playing Rust even if they’re not on the server yet. This way, you never know when they’re truly online unless you spam “status” in the admin console or one of them finally posts “hi” into the chat. The Welcomer plugin doesn’t sent the message until they’ve actually woken up and are ready to play, which I find quite handy.

Absolutely don’t use this one:

  • Horse Seat – I loved the idea of adding a second seat to my horse, but v1.0.3 seems to be incompatible with the current Rust version, as it ended up teleporting my husband’s character into a parallel dimension (same map, but without any buildings or players) and killing him. I’d uh… recommend to keep your hands off this one until it’s updated.

Conclusion

You can hand-paint signs! How cool is that?

First of all, kudos if you read all of this – you’re either very desperate or very brave.

In conclusion, it is possible to turn Rust into a somewhat peaceful building-and-exploring open world game, but in my opinion it still remains obvious that the game is not really cut out for this. The building and decoration pieces are very limited as opposed to Conan Exiles (unless you buy additonal ones in the workshop), and what irks me most is that the “dungeons” (enemy structures) don’t really feel rewarding enough, as there’s no golden treasure chests at the end, but you’ll just end up getting the exact same stuff you can find in roadside car wrecks without putting your character’s life into danger.

I think the actual, intended fun comes from building a short-lived base and defending it from trigger-happy strangers on public servers, roaming the lands for scrap and teaming up with like-minded people to be hooligans all over the place. While I’m not a big fan of any of that, the game does feel kind of empty if you’re just building and exploring, so all power to the dedicated extrovert hooligans out there.

Either way, I hope this article was helpful! Enjoy your private Rust session!