Trying to Make Things Right

Yesterday afternoon, it came to my attention that a raid was carried out Saturday morning involving one of our admin staff, and members of the Cult of Helo (COH) Clan. In the course of that raid, an absolutely suspect amount of materials were brought to bear against the as-yet unnamed, but self-proclaimed zerg group in K11. This activity involved the delivery of impossible amounts of Timed Explosive Charges, and later involved a member of staff using their powers to dive underground and throw explosives onto foundations invisibly, from underground.  Later in the raid, admin commands were utilized to directly destroy portions of the base. Players who engaged in the raid legitimately were given some of the explosives, and as things began to become more suspect, they instead banked the explosives so they could report the event.  I’d like to commend those who reported this to me, their integrity in not taking advantage of the situation, and their surrender of the ill-gotten materials.

I spent the better part of the day yesterday thoroughly investigating all of the server logs, tracking every piece of loot, every explosion, trying to make sure I had a very full picture of the situation. In the spirit of transparency, I want to explain everything that has happened, how this entire situation came to a head, and how we’re going to apply the lessons learned from this event to make sure we do better in the future. I’m avoiding using individual names wherever possible, in accordance with my policy of avoiding a culture of “name and shame” wherever possible. By the end of this report, I hope that you’ll see that I’m making every effort both to ensure that this cannot happen again, and that those involved are held accountable for their actions.

On or around May 3rd, a large group joined the server and began clearly, unequivocally declaring themselves as “running” the server, being the “new alphas,” and so on.  Several players expressed dismay at this, and when they did start raiding people on the 2nd day of the wipe, there were several complaints about this group. This almost immediately triggered conversations between myself and the server staff pertaining to this group, monitoring their activities, and preparing plans for how to deal with them if they proved to be toxic or hostile to the good form of the server. We’ve been discussing the problems they posed, and as they became increasingly toxic, we began making preparations to act against them. Throughout this time and over the last several weeks, a staff member has been taking a more active role in administrative work, having primarily been working in a technical role previously.

Last week, some players asked me if I would be upset with them for foundation wiping the zerg group, mostly as courtesy to prevent chasing people off of the server if I was trying to foster their support, etc. So, later the same day when the staff member approached me to ask what I thought about that group being foundation wiped, I believed this to be a reference to the earlier conversation, rather than sanctioning the group being wiped out. This is where I believe my main error occurred; I responded that I thought it was just fine, and I thought the rest of whatever was about to shake out would be interesting. I didn’t consider that my response would or could be considered as tacit consent for what played out.

Later in the week, a large sum of C4 was given to another group by members of COH. Yesterday, this member of COH logged on, taking more C4, and then began raiding the base in K11. Members from 2 other groups arrived to counter, only to find that COH was present and raiding.  Another large sum of C4 was dropped off, COH’s raider disappeared, and then things took a turn for the worse. C4 began being thrown up, from underground, at the base’s foundations.  Later, actual parts of the base were destroyed via admin commands. In response to this, the players present stopped raiding, deposited the rest of the explosives in a hidden location, and reported the events, along with video, to me. Because the video contains clan communications that don’t pertain to the raid and specifically names players involved, I’ve chosen not to present it at this time as part of this report. Most of the people involved firsthand in this situation have already seen it, and to keep sharing around the details would only serve to keep the cycle of drama and speculation alive; I much prefer to try and move forward from this and rebuild from the shaken trust. You’re of course, welcome to visit the #rust-main-staff-action-ama channel on Discord, and I will be glad to address any questions.

In the course of this situation, I’ve learned that we need to stop including sulfur, charcoal, or gunpowder in the senior admin kits. Typically, these materials were available on my sleeper and intended for being able to quickly craft replacements of materials I accidentally wasted for someone, while avoiding the awkward questions later in the wipe of why I was summoning ammo or the sort, but because this material was just available on my body, any admin that teleported to my sleep location would have been able to access that material. Going forward, only the materials absolutely needed for store building will be included in the large kits, and when the time comes to include explosives as part of the shop’s stock, it will be spawned separately to improve transparency and player awareness of what’s there. Additionally, we are terminating the policy of letting admin staff play on Main when they aren’t working a shift.  From now on, staff can only play on the Warzone server, which doesn’t have regular admin support like Main does.

Finally, there has been player sentiment that’s sufficiently widespread regarding COH. It was expressed to me during this investigation from multiple people in multiple groups that the feeling is that when someone sees the COH clan tag, it means that someone is going to get banned because COH doesn’t like them, or that some impossible loot is going to show up, suggesting that they are cheating or getting admin help. Rather than risking there being unfair play, the clan is going to be removed from Main, though they will still be permitted to play on the Warzone server, where there aren’t other admins that could possibly be involved in anything untoward. The staff member is being immediately removed and suspended from administrative actions on the server, but will remain on staff in other roles.

Passions run high. Feelings get in front of logic. People make mistakes. One of the things that makes Serenity Valley so special is how much people care about this community and its people, and sometimes when people are trying to do the best for everyone, some of those mistakes get made. Lord knows I’ve made plenty of them, almost always with the best intentions. As they say, however, the road to Hell is paved in good intentions. None of what happened yesterday takes away from the thousands of hours that our staff have spent working rather than playing on the server, our network connections, our technology systems, or the fact that he has gone above and beyond to support the server and keep things running when I was unwell and otherwise unable to.  Regardless of week’s events, this does not take away from the tremendous contributions that this staffer has made to our community, and without him, we just as surely wouldn’t be where we are today, just as certainly as if I was gone, too. This is the reasoning for a suspension rather than an outright removal. I’m going to work hard to regain your trust, to make sure that we stand for fair play and respect. I will, of course, answer any questions that you have honestly, candidly, and will have a text channel available specifically for this purpose. You, our players, deserve better, and we will do better.

2 thoughts on “Trying to Make Things Right”

  1. ok so I’m not on the server and I’m friends with the unnamed group in k11 and it was brought to my attention that there was an abusive admin and I would like to know did they get stuff in return for the admin abuse or did they not

    1. They will be. I’m still working on the security side of things and trying to make sure that there’s no further trouble/abuse, but once things are at the point that they don’t need constant monitoring, I intend to sit down with the group’s leadership and work on some sort of recompense to make this up to them. It is never EVER acceptable for an admin–someone who should be a steward of our players’ fun–to use that power to harm or hinder players, particularly when there’s no rules being broken. We should be there to enhance your experience on Serenity Valley, not ruin it.

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