I’m gonna start this off by saying that this is definetly not the first time at least some of the things I’m about to say have been said. But now, after having spent roughly 4500 on the game, I have decided that it is time to get a lot of stuff of my chest, and sparkle a real conversation on what this game’s future will realistically turn out to be.
So. A bit of background.
Our story begins in October 2015, that was the very first time I’ve ever downloaded and played the game, Unturned. If you don’t know what Unturned is (which most likely is not the case, as I’m posting this on the SDG forums) you can search it on Google or Steam.
Anyways, back in 2015, I really was not impressed with the game, and ended up uninstalling it after a couple of singleplayer playthroughs, in early Decemeber.
Fast forward to may 2016. The game had, by then, received some updates, so I once again downloaded it and started messing around trying to get some achievements, this time, though, I gave servers a shot, all of which were survival vanilla ones. I kept playing for a while, but sometime after the russia map update, having experienced all of the new content, I left it behind once more, but not before making a very short come-back in October of the same year to check if the game had received any substantial updates.
Now, in these 2 very short years, I had rarely even encountered the biggest chunk of the Unturned community, in fact, I didn’t know this forum even existed until 4.0 update logs started being published god knows when. What I did do, however, was discover the RP genre of servers.
RP as a genre was not really popular at the time, but there was a fairly large amount of people playing it. As time went on (now in 2017) I started playing and getting involved with these servers and their management. I’ve been staff for various different RP servers, something that would have helped in the future, but I’d like to stop here and discuss this for a second.
Running just any type of server, as long as it’s not a completely vanilla & survival one, is relatively easy - running a RP server, however, is not. Why? You need a whole bunch of assets, and skills to use them effectively.
I’ve made an extremely oversimplified list of those, splitting some of them into different groups - So, what do you need to run a RP server effectively?
Non-Essentials yet extremely recommended:
-Plugins & Workshop mods
-A modded map with NPCs
-An active playerbase.
-A good place to host your server.
-A capable, possibly experienced, and also active staff team, made of people you are 100% sure you can trust.
And to top it all of, the most important thing of all: a competent server Owner.
Now, due to how difficult it is to (efficently and seriously) run a server, some server owners will try to cut back on one or more of these assets, the most common of which, being Staff members.
It was not rare, nor is it now, to find Staff members abusing their powers. (this, of course, is common between all server types, not only RP) Why? Simple: if you’re a server owner, and need admins, who are you going to ask for help first? Of course, your FRIENDS. But now, what are the advantages, and the disadvantages, of having your friends as staff members?
Positives: You can trust them. That’s pretty much it.
Negatives: They most likely will not have any or have very little Staff experience. Also, since they are your friends, you most likely are never going to punish them for the things they do - and they know this.
Now, you might say that this is not always the case. Your Friend X may have some level of staff experience; but let’s face it, cases like yours are extremely rare, in the english-speaking Unturned community, at least.
After giving staff powers to their friends, a server owner might also want to give them to someone else, possibly a frequent player of theirs, who’d like to get involved more with how things are run, to help out the others. And this is actually a pretty smart move - in theory. In reality, what happens is that those players turned staff members, will be the only ones to soak up all the admin duties and work there is to be done, as the owner’s friends can now sit back and have fun making whatever use they want of their powers.
Moving on, what else can a server owner cut on? In one way or the other, pretty much everything else that was on the list, including, their own management skills, and the care they have for their server.
I have personally seen the downfall of so many servers not because of the level of the content they provided or, whatever else you could image, but because the server’s owner simply could not fix or was too lazy to fix some aspects of it. And like domino tablets, something that doesn’t get fixed with a server, is most likely going to cause some trouble, as players are unhappy with what they’re getting, and simply leave, causing a downfall in player numbers, which will definetely not be seen as a good thing by the server’s owner. This may produce one of these two different effects:
- The server owner tries his best to fix whatever problem there is and bring players back. (extremely rare)
- Further stop caring about how things are going, or just never finding the willpower to learn how to patch things up. (the most common route)
There is another thing that can make server owners quit working on their service, but we’ll get to that at the very bottom of the post.
So, what did I want to say with all of this? Competent Server owners, or at least, decent ones, are very, very, very hard to find.
Ok, but why am I telling you this? It’s because the vast majority of Unturned players relies on servers, and only a small fraction of them play the singleplayer mode. And since we’ve clarified that these problems are common with pretty much all server types, you have a problem. A bloody huge one.
This problem is clearly shown in Steam’s player charts, which show that Unturned lost almost seven thousand players in May 2020. Let me reiterate: in 2020, during a global pandemic, Unturned, has LOST players. And while the last 30 days do show an extremely small increase in those numbers, it is not nearly significant enough for a free to play videogame, during the beginning of Summer holidays.
It is in the final 6 months of 2017 and early 2018 that I’ve gained most of my experience as a staff member, finding myself in staff positions on RP servers basically every month or so; I say this, because, as mention before, many servers I’ve worked for have shutdown. How was I able to gain this experience? I guess you could say it’s because I tried to help other players as much as humanly possible, putting their experience over mine, on servers where I was left alone to care about all the staff work pretty much on my own, as the numbers of normal players who become staff are very slim anyways. And now, I know what you may say - Nobody forced you to help anybody - welp, I kind of had to if I wanted to learn how the job works, and also, I don’t get a kick out of people asking for help in the chat, unlike most server moderators seem to these days.
It is in this period, that I started interecting with the community a lot more, for obvious reasons.
Anyways, eventually, I had enough of how I was being treated and of having to listen to, I want to say, incompetent people, though I can already see people angrily smashing their keyboards to write something along the lines of - You’re saying they’re incompetent, but what proof do we have? - you mean that the fact that their servers are now closed is not enough proof for you?
Angry boys aside, it is during the very late months of 2018 that I first opened my own server. With the motto - We do things my way, or the highway - and I 100% meant those words. But it was not easy. I had basically no connections, no contacts of experienced staff members, and no friends of mine playing Unturned, to boot.
But… I guess I was also lucky. Having nothing to lose, I started giving some of my very first players staff powers, and they turned out to be my best staff members to date. Those very players, I today see as friends, and I rarely talk with them on a daily basis. This initial success was followed by growing player numbers and just a great feeling of proudness and joy in what I had desperately tried to put together.
Now, while I’d love to talk about my (now, past) server in more detail, I’m not here to brag, I’m here to write a rant on why I quit the bloody game. So let me get back to that.
During the months my server ran, I had to get ever more involved with the Unturned community; to find good workshop mods, good technical advice (as I used to be really really bad at getting plugins to work), etc. And so, I joined some modding discord servers, and there, I realized a couple of things:
Server owners may be the ones keeping the Game alive, but it’s mod developers who really made that possible, as the amount of vanilla content was, and still is, rather small.
There were developing problems not only in Unturned’s playerbase (which was, and still is, predominately kids around 12 years old) but also the modding community. There already were many modders dropping out of the Unturned modding scene, and those who remained, downcreased the amount of content they put out, for reasons which basically any modder could tell you. (One of them being that Unity work is a pain and that a lot of projects are often cancelled because of it, or incoordination between the people involved in said projects)
And, oh god… While, I did know this was a problem, I had not realized it was (and still is) that BIG of a problem. What am I talking about? Pay. To. Win. Servers. Yep, they exist pretty much on any game, but Unturned, and other free to play games, attract loads of people whose only goal is to squeeze whatever money they can out of their players’ pockets, which is actually relatively easy due to the afore mentioned very young age demografic of Unturned players.
Since 2018, things have only gotten worse for Unturned. Dwindling player numbers, an extremely toxic community (made so by its young age demografic) & a dieng modding community are not usually syntoms of a game with a bright future, and we must all face that.
I personally do not see a bright future for this game, and I’d be very surpised if it isn’t dead by 2021. Unturned has experienced its highest influx of players in the first years of its realease, and those days are not coming back.
Thank you for reading my post. This was Malviyn. Former owner of Malviyn’s RP. But before I turn my back. I have a couple of more things to say.
About that “something else” that can make server owners quit working on their services - we have some other causes, IE: the sheer numbers of servers popping up for a few weeks and then closing & the player numbers themselves. Both of these things combined, kill actually active servers. Why? Combine the fact that, when a server pops up, at least some people are gonna play on it, until it eventually closes, then facture in the second thing I mentioned, and you’ve got yourself a seemingly unstoppable beast for servers who are not backed up by big Youtubers, and russian servers, for some reason. Now, why am I telling you this? This is exactly what destroyed what little hope I still had in Unturned up until a few months ago, alongside making me quit the game.
About what I said in point n1. Youtubers. There are a few of them who I’d like to call out. I’m talking to you Nylex. And Elitelupus. And Fudgy. Bloody love how pay to win your servers are mate! Because of your notoriety you even went as far as jacking up the prices for your donator perks! - I might as well give them all of my mum’s bank account details while I’m at it! - that’s what your viewers are thinking everytime they donate to your servers, I bet.
Apart from your obviously staged content, you have such a strong levarage power, that servers will let you break their rules just so they can keep you recording on them. Oh and god forbid someone criticize you like I am doing right now - you’re gonna send your 12 year old army to murder us in our sleep! You’ve contributed to creating a tumour in the Unturned community. Congratz, blimey!
- This one’s about the modding community. And I wanna wrap this up quickly since I really do not want to write Dante’s Divine Commedy 2 Electric Boogaloo. This isn’t as much of a criticism as much as a - I’m just dumbfooled that it’s come to this - this, as in, the modding scene is pretty much dead, and the last modders who still make mods for Unturned, do so only if they get commissions (of which I have made plenty, and spent about 300 euros on in the span of 2 years) and never actually play the game.
Welp, that was all. If you agree or disagree with any of my points, let me know: I have some time to spare to answer at a least a whole bunch of comments.
EDIT: I forgot to mention another reason why I believe Unturned will be dead before 2021, and that is as follows: Unturned 4.0 / II is not gonna come out in time to save the game. Nelson is continuing to work solo, which is a rather bad idea, for a game that needs to be more detailed and complex than Unturned 3.0 - Nelson. Take some word of advice here. You 100% have money after all the gold edition and skin sales. Get yourself at least a couple of Devs.
EDIT N2, Electric Boogaloo: I did not purposely leave the fact that Unturned has gained players in the past months (except May). I suggest everyone go give a look at the steamcharts if they really wish to - Unturned player numbers can vary greatly as Animatic was saying when he mentioned 2019.
-My point is that, during a global pandemic, near the beginning of the summer months, Unturned has lost players. Usually, these are periods when games gain a lot more than they lose. (The 2% increase in the last 30 days is rather insignificant because of this specific period, too)