The Puzzle Update
The update is nearly here. It'll be at around 3.30pm EST. Apologies for the delay. The new monument puzzles lie in wait for you, a look at the new swampy bandit town, custom maps are coming, and more. This patch wipes the servers and blueprints.
We had to make an executive decision to hold the patch back for a day. Our apologies. Here's why:
During the first half of the month I got married and went on my honeymoon. The other programmers ended up getting occupied with some technical issues with upgrading Unity, attempting to take advantage of some new features to improve performance. When I got back, the Entity I/O stuff was two weeks behind where I thought it would be, so I hunkered down and got it done as best as I could. This meant that the artists were additionally delayed in deploying it to the monuments, which put us in the position of testing the game at the last minute. Here's what I thought about:
First: We worked tirelessly up until the 11th hour because you guys waited an entire month, and I didn't think it would be fair to release a patch with virtually nothing in it. We've had a good track record so far with these monthly patches, and this was somewhat of an exception.
Second: I didn't want to release it yesterday because it wasn't tested enough and there were some bugs and balance issues. We aren't trying to gate loot behind these puzzles. They're supposed to add bonus loot.
Third: Due to the nature of how monuments work, if we did release it yesterday we would have been unable to apply any fixes or loot balance changes without doing another wipe, which means it would have been in that state for another month.
Fourth: The unity update introduced a bunch of crashes we've been working working overtime to resolve.
Taking all of these elements into consideration I decided to hold the patch up for a day to allow the team over at Rustafied and our own internal Q&A to run through everything and make sure it was as solid as could be so we could deliver to you guys the experience you deserve.
We’re introducing progression through the monuments. Until now, all the content you looted in our monuments was readily available, there was little to none prep-work needed for a monument run, and you’d probably just run mindlessly through it unless you got to a jumping segment. Some monuments became harder last year with the addition of NPCs. The puzzles add a whole new layer to the game's mechanics: they will link monuments together into a coherent path, with increasing rewards and difficulty as you progress through a wipe cycle. They are also laying the foundations for player usable electricity in the future. The puzzles offer an extra layer of loot.
Here's a list of the monuments that contain puzzles and their relative complexity:
Basic Tier, grants access to Green Cards:
- Gas Station
Easy Tier, grants access to Blue Cards:
- Satellite Dish
- Sewer Branch
Medium Tier, grants access to Red and sometimes other Cards:
- Water Treatment Plant
Harder Tier, grants access to Elite crate loot
- Launch Site
- Military Tunnels
The complexity is linked to the tiered map system, where larger and more rewarding monuments were already located.
The puzzles will often start with you identifying power sources, such as generators, and re-establishing the power flow through the system. Some work alongside timers, some need the combined power from two sources to work. Some buildings can be accessed in different ways, for instance using sliding doors or key cards. In specific cases, you may find yourself trapped in a building by design until you find an auxiliary power source inside to power the doors release mechanism. When a puzzle has been modified or completed, a reset procedure will trigger after some time to refresh all of its elements and respawn loot for new players to attempt it.
Fuses are found crates in the world and can currently last 180 seconds when plugged through flowing current inside a fuse box. Plan your moves ahead and be efficient.
Keycards are found inside of puzzles on top of specific desks, usually in the final loot room. Key cards have 10 uses, so in order to preserve them, always ensure you swipe your access cards at powered on card reader terminals. You may also find Green cards on scientists throughout the world.
Puzzle Elements Visuals
A few of the elements currently releasing this patch, such as the AND/OR/Timer logic gate boxes, use temporary art which is set to be redone in the next update. Also to come is electric wires on poles, indicating connections between buildings. Wires connecting elements on walls/ceiling between rooms will also be added to help understanding the flow of a puzzle a little more easily.
Entity I/O System
I worked on an entity I/O system (input/output) which allows us to have interactive elements in radtowns. So far we have the following elements for circuits.
The root of all circuits, generates power
Allows passthrough of power when on.
Allows passthrough of power for a set duration.
Forks an input signal into 3 or more output signals.
AND Only allows passthrough of power if both inputs receive power. OR allows passthrough of power if either input receives power (currently the same model for both).
Allows passthrough of power once the correct card has been swiped.
Kinetic generator via a player pressing "Use" on it.
Allows passthrough of power for a few seconds.
Vince did a great job of combining all of these elements to create puzzles in the various monuments. It really brings the game to life.
In addition to this, we now have a foundation for player-deployed circuits and electricity! Soon we'll be able to have switches, pressure pads, player detectors, door manipulators, and all kinds of goodies to help with home automation as well as offline raiding defenses. I can't even begin to imagine the designs players will come up, but I'm pretty excited.
I've also tried to design this system in a fashion that it only costs server CPU when a circuit is modified. While this won't be an issue with the radtown puzzles, we hope to use the new Unity Jobs system to mitigate the impact on server performance in the future when players place 80,000 switches to make some kind of rube goldberg machine that draws a penis on a sign.
We've upgraded Rust to Unity 2018.1 this month. This is a major upgrade, even more so because we were still on 2017.1 since both 2017.2 and 2017.3 were too unstable for us to use. The 2017.x release cycle has been pretty horrible in terms of engine bugs, but 2018.1 seems to be much better, and it feels like all the redesigning of major parts of the engine Unity have been doing are finally starting to pay off.
Garry published a more detailed overview on his personal blog if you're interested in this sort of thing. Implementing all the new features in a project the size of Rust is a massive task, so after this initial upgrade of the code base we'll roll out more and more of the new features with the coming updates. Quite a few of the them are also still in the testing phase on Unity's end and won't be ready for a wide release until 2018.2 or even 2018.3 are out.
Custom Map Support
I finally got around to implementing support for custom maps. This initial release, while fully functional, is definitely still to be considered a preview version to give the modding community time to play around with it. Here's how it works.
Instead of running the server with the level, seed and size parameters to either load a static map like Hapis Island or generate a procedural map on the fly, you can now also run the server with the levelurl startup parameter to provide a link to any custom map file. Both the server and connecting clients will download the map file from that address and then load it. The reason we chose to host the map on a separate server is so the actual server bandwidth and performance is unaffected by potentially hundreds of people downloading the map, which at around 20MB is relatively large even when compressed as it includes the entire terrain data. This is similar to how FastDL works in Source and makes it possible to use custom maps even on servers with limited bandwidth.
So how do you get or create a map file? All procedural maps are already saved to map files in the game folder as sort of a cache. This makes joining a server much faster than running the procedural generation every single time you connect. These map files use exactly the same file format custom maps will be stored in. You can upload and pass them to levelurl and players that join your server will download the map file instead of generating the world locally. The real use case however will of course be custom maps. For this purpose an official map SDK will be released in the coming weeks. This will allow the community to load, save and work with map files and make it easy to create tools like world editors or custom procedural world generators that can run offline and therefore use much more advanced algorithms than the default generator.
I hope you're as excited about the possibilities of this as I am!
Bandit Town Monument
As some of you may have realized from my commits, and some of the more recent update videos, I've been working on a new monument. The Bandit Town is an area filled with wooden shacks connected by shoddy bridges, surrounded by a large swamp, and filled with dense fog. Behind the town you will find a large dredge that was abandoned there that will act as a safe zone. The whole monument will be surrounded by a dense forest, making it difficult to spot from afar.
While a lot of the art had been done, the bandit town still lacks any gameplay elements and requires more work. So while it's missing this month’s patch, you can expect it next month.
Keep in mind that while it's set in a swamp, that doesn't mean a new biome is coming anytime soon. However, if all goes smoothly, I'm hoping to reuse the new assets and create a couple of buildable swamp monuments, similar to how the ice lakes work.
Earlier this month I worked on extending the Compound monument in order to give players more entry and exit routes. The place will now have a couple of underground tunnels that are guarded by NPCs on patrol. The tunnels are lit as well in order to keep things ever so slightly safer.
Other minor changes include removing the gate leading to the refinery as that was used to actively block access to it.
Scuba Art Update
I didn't have a lot of time to give the scuba gear (featured in the last update) a proper art pass. Some of it was unfinished, and some of it was just simply placeholder. The diving enthusiasts among you may also have noticed that the diving tanks didn't feature a BCD, and as such would technically be pretty useless. I've updated the mask, fins and diving tank with proper art so you can go for a swim without ruining your... immersion.
The wetsuit pictured is an update from what's currently in game, but hasn't made it this patch, expect it in the next one!
I decided to named this section Changes instead of Update or Upgrade because, unfortunately, due to this month's engine update to version 2018.1 we moved one step forward and one step back. It was a complicated, albeit important update for us going forward. Though, unfortunately, this version of Unity isn't as stable as we have wished.
Despite all the work that went in to update all the shaders and plugins, we were still able to roll out a few visual improvements:
- Penumbra shadows visible when in High Quality mode (Q=2) are now softer with noise less visible when TSSAA is enabled
- Ambient Occlusion is now 2x faster and shows less flickering
- Switched terrain rendering to Texture Arrays; mitigates issues with anisotropic filtering, fixes tiling seams at a distance and reduces shader complexity
Some known issues we're still working on:
- Disappearing/pitch-black materials in some monuments (mostly fixed)
- Reflections in Windows/D3D11 are simpler again, and lower quality, in order to avoid a crash around monuments
We hope to have these issues fixed over the coming days and will issue client updates as we progress.
The Scientists have got a new sensory system, and it opens up for things like noise reaction, better use of memory, working with imperfect information, reasoning about likely hiding spots, and more. Since it's through the sensory system the AI collect its data about the world around it, an AI can be no better than the data it collects. Good data is the foundation for good AI in other words, so this is a definite step toward achieving that goal.
Different types of weapons now emit noise to different ranges, and silencers will reduce the distance at which the weapon can be heard by Scientists.
Until we are able to take light and darkness into account for the Scientist's vision (it is simply too expensive to calculate with our current tools), using a light source now only adds a slightly higher chance of detection where it was a sure give-away before.
The Scientist vision will better respect their field of view now. They have perfect vision straight ahead, but it's more blurry at the periphery, and they won't see what is behind them. Player movement and silhouette also affect the chance of being detected.
If they see you, but you then hide, they will remember where they last saw you and search from there. They no longer have absolute knowledge of your whereabouts.
The waypoint system used at the Outpost saw an upgrade this month. It's now better at preventing Scientists from getting stuck on the patrol path, and multiple Scientists can share the same waypoint system. This was applied to the new lab area of Military Tunnels and also in the new sections of the Outpost.
The junkpile Scientists have seen some work too, where they now are peaceful up to the point where you aggro them. They will no longer shoot at random bystanders or go mad over cactuses.
Animals have long been stupid when players jump up on foundations or rocks that the animals can’t get to. While a more complete solution is in the works, this month they will at least flee when they realize they can’t get to you.