Faces and skin tones? Just the beginning. Now we're getting to the real meat of the conversation. Beware: NSFW.
Multiplayer survival game Rust (you know, the one from the dude who created Garry's Mod; I think his name is Jeff or something) randomly generates players' physical characteristics for them, imitating the screaming chaos of biology rather than letting players choose. It then ties that selection to players' Steam ID (as opposed to a single session or server) so they can't game the system. You work with what you've got. Earlier this year, the development team added skin tone to the mix, prompting some controversy and even in-game racism.
The next step in this boundary pushing social experiment? Penis size, of course.
Over on Reddit, user M4STER_TROLL posted a video demonstrating an amount of variance some might characterise as large, not unlike what you'll find in my pants (a lot of pennies) or someone's penis. Rust lead Garry Newman explained to me how the feature works in an email:
"It's hard to predict what Steam ID would do what," he said. "It takes the 64bit int Steam ID and uses it as a random seed which is then used to randomise a bunch of stuff about the player — dick length being one of those. We do this so players will be kind of recognisable in game and that their identity could be something that will follow them around."
The game's latest version — only available on the development build for now — also ties height, head size, face, limb size, and more to your Steam ID.
Newman added that the penis part of the equation wasn't even intentional. "The dick thing wasn't really planned, it just so happens that it has a separate bone there for the censorship cube that we can scale independently," he explained.
So yep, that's how Rust is handling dicks. I know you were worried about it, but now we can all rest easy. Our time of great national crisis is finally over.
Predictably, people are... reacting, which has largely taken the form of comparing sizes:
Most people seem to be taking it all in pretty good humour, but for those who feel like they got the short end of the stick, BlueSkilly is here to help:
That said, what if you want to play as a non-penis-haver? The Rust team just started working on the game's woman model, which they're taking a refreshingly non-idealised approach to. "In the same way that our male models aren't perfect specimens of the male body, neither should the female be," they wrote. And of course, women characters' builds will be randomly generated. Newman told me that sex, too, will be random. As with everything else, you won't get to choose if you're a guy or gal.
It's a cool system all around, if you ask me. I'm not saying every game should rip choice of physical characteristics from players' quivering hands, but it's cool to see this one do it. There's something to be said for taking a walk in the shoes of someone who's not Exactly Like You (Wish You Looked), for getting a small taste of how the world treats people differently for entirely superficial reasons.
Similarly, I can't fault a game for not giving players everything they want on a silver platter (piled high with arms and legs and noses and you get the idea), for reminding them that life isn't always fair. And hey, fact is, a lot of people feel shame about penis size. It's something they try to avoid talking about, or they make unrealistic boasts when the topic comes up. Maybe this will help bring the conversation out into the open in some small way.
Or maybe it will just result in dick jokes. On that front, I imagine we're only seeing the tip of the iceberg. Just the tip.
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