Unity Focus: Making Rust shine

Unity Focus: Making Rust shine
Will Freeman

By Will Freeman

May 6th 2014 at 12:30PM

Facepunch Studios boss Garry Newman explains why he chose Unity to power his Early Access best-seller

Rust has sold more than one million copies since its launch late last year and, like other Early Access games, the title isn’t even finished.

The open world exploration and survival title is the brainchild of Facepunch Studios, the indie developer set up by Garry Newman – better known as the creator of Garry’s Mod.

While this well-known physics sandbox ran on Valve’s Source engine, Newman opted for an alternative tool for developing Rust.

“There’s a bunch of obvious benefits to using Unity,” he explains. “The ease of making multiplatform games, for one; you press a button and it compiles for a platform of your choice. There’s no need to try three different PCs running different operating systems, no need for virtual machines – it just works.

“The pricing is really clear and simple. It’s not cheap, but for what you get it’s not expensive either. It has subscription options too.

“The engine is well used. If you have a problem and you type it into Google, about 50 other people have already had that problem and probably found a solution. Those two days waiting for the engine’s developer to respond to your email is condensed to 30 seconds searching Google.

“Unity is a different way to work – although this throws a lot of programmers off. But if you’re a game developer and you want to make a game, you’ll probably find that you can get a prototype done in a week in Unity.”

ADAPTIVE RUST TREATMENT

Unity also helped the Facepunch team when it came to iterating and updating elements of the game based on feedback from the Early Access users. Given the game is still in a very public beta form, being able to fix problems and add new features will be essential to continuing Rust’s success.

“Unity does allow us to evolve a lot faster than we would be able to in another engine,” Newman says. “If you’re doing things right, then adding things like new items or weapons to your game should generally be a case of copying a prefab, changing a couple of components, and changing the art."

If you’re a game developer and you want to make a game, you’ll probably find that you can get a prototype done in a week in Unity.

Garry Newman, Facepunch

Rust encompasses a number of mechanics. As well as standard exploration and combat, it also revolves around construction and, as you would expect from Facepunch, physics-based interactions between objects.

Newman explains how Unity enables these mixed mechanics to come together: “Because this is a very general engine and isn’t strictly tied to one type of game, it doesn’t have any expectations of the developer. This allows us to defy genres in a lot of ways.

“The asset store has been a godsend. In the early prototype stages, it’s a lot of risk to add art to a game; you might decide to go a different way, or scrap the project completely – then the art is just thrown away. With the asset store you can pretty much type in anything you want and get a result. All of the animals models in Rust are from the asset store. We haven’t felt the need to change them yet, because th­­­ey’re serving their purpose.”

LOOKING FORWARD

Newman is understandably positive about Unity, but he’s also keen for the team behind the engine to continue developing it – if only to help developers like himself who are pushing the limits of what the tech can do.

“We’d love to see the physics system get an upgrade,” he says. “We’re limited in Rust right now by the 65k collider limit, so we’d love to see that limit broken.”

Newman adds that he “absolutely recommends” Unity to other developers, chipping some words of advice: “Make the game, not the engine. Don’t fight Unity – find a way to embrace and use it. For example, don’t go to huge lengths to try to control the garbage collection.”