XP OR NOT XP, THAT IS THE QUESTION
Without an XP wipe with every map wipe, all newbies and new players on a server are at a huge and seriously un-fun disadvantage to established players. Established players are organized, able to raid, and well-armed, while new players start friendless, unable to raid, and unarmed. Without an XP wipe, the XP system serves only to enforce this imbalance.
The trouble with XP wipes, of course, is that they’re unpopular--that’s a lot of work to lose. Leveling up is grindy by nature. If you need or want something available at a higher level, you must either wait patiently to get it through normal XP accumulation or...start grinding, which means you deliberately do things you don’t want to do in order to get the XP you need. This is work, plain and simple, and work is not much fun.
THE SOLUTION IS SCARCITY
All items unlocked right from the start. Players can make anything they want if they have the parts. In a stroke, the grind is gone. The established-player advantage is gone--players are free to switch servers without penalty. The artificial limitations vanish, and all players are free to do anything they want, provided they have the resources, tools, and components necessary to craft and maintain the more valuable high tech stuff in the game.
Most low tech stuff is made from raw materials which can be found everywhere. High tech parts would be scattered around the map in monuments and rad towns. Particularly valuable items like Tommy guns and AKs may require parts available in more than one kind of rad town. This geographical distribution would strongly encourage players to get out of their bases and search the rad towns all over the map. And scarcity would encourage trading and raiding other players.
It is also possible to have special crafting tables that can only be found in rad towns. Certain high tech items or parts could only be crafted or repairable on these tables, which would encourage players to risk lives and treasure in the rad towns to get the good stuff. Alternatively, special tools could be needed to craft and repair high tech items. The main idea here is to give players goals which cannot be achieved without risk and player interaction.
FROM THE ALPHA TO THE OMEGA
High tech parts become available over time. As the time from the last map wipe grows, the likelihood of finding a high tech loot item or part increases. This is a very simple, and 100% effective method of enforcing an opening, mid-game, and end-game during the course of a month.
This doesn’t have to be absolute. The chance of getting desirable parts can always be present and growing at a steady rate to encourage rad town visits right from the beginning, but gaining an overwhelming advantage within hours of a wipe can be prevented by tweaking a simple variable. To encourage server differentiation, allow admins to tweak this variable themselves.
We are not saying players should spend endless hours banging barrels in monuments. The most scarce parts would only be available in difficult to reach (and easy to fight over) parts of monuments, like the top of the sphere or bottom of the military tunnels. If players don’t like searching monuments, they can always trade for the parts they need, or man up and TAKE it from somebody. This is Rust, after all.
SOME NOTES ON THE CURRENT SYSTEM
We like the new satchel charges--they’re very Rusty. They make raiding available to lower level players. However, we think they should be available right from the start. Under a no XP system, we’d make them even more unreliable, but we’d also increase the cost of armored doors--10 or 15 HQ per door instead of 2.
We also *like* the item ownership idea in the present system. Not as a system to encourage cooperation, but as a way for server admins to see where an item came from. A solid innovation.
We understand that quite a bit of effort has gone into the development of the XP system. If Facepunch doesn’t abandon it completely, we still strongly believe there should be an XP wipe with every map wipe, but if not, then an XP-lite system should be implemented to get players to a defensible status (basic guns, armored doors, and satchel charges) within six to eight hours AND implement our scarcity solution.
Nobody likes an armchair quarterback. It’s tough to make a compelling and well-balanced game. All games have loads of interoperating moving parts. Change one, and countless unintended consequences happen. That said, we make proposals as passionate Rust gamers. Take them or leave them, we only hope to respectfully contribute to a healthy, productive, and supportive dialogue on how Rust can best evolve.