I’ve been playing Rust for a very short time but, I’ve noticed quite a few things that would make this game a lot more interesting on the diplomacy and economic side of things.
I know this game is in early development and, as you have stated before, you are not sure which direction the game will go yet. These are all just opinions but, I think it would make the game a lot more engaging if there was a structured faction system, a way to form boundaries, name towns, start trade, declare war on other factions, grow food, etc. There is a lot more to iron out as far as the basics of the game (there is no map yet, or friends list, etc.) However, I am looking ahead at the big picture.
I really like what direction the game is going in right now, I like the ability to be a loner, gather supplies, scavenge, and just survive. This is a very valid game style that suits a lot of players; however, there are also gamers who enjoy a more diplomatic and economically engaging experience on top of the strictly survivalist gameplay.
I envision the ability to start a town from the ground, build walls, gather different people and assign them ranks on a structured system, run the economy and base it off of whatever makes a profit (have a team of scavengers, or woodcutters, or steal from other towns,) place all of this in a menu and allow someone to run their town from a subsection of their inventory, the ability to add and remove members, make people a higher rank, give them different responsibilities or “missions,” chat with their town, control the towns “wealth,” etc.
Also once a mini-map is added, there could be a “tower,” or “wall,” that you can build to expand borders further and further. Of course this is combatted because the bigger it is the harder it is to defend. There could be a certain configuration to build a “town hall,” or possibly a “capture the flag,” system could be implemented instead, etc.
You could also build your image, name your town, create a flag or symbol, make trade with different towns, etc. All while you deal with lone wolves, zombies, Radiation, and other challenges.
It would be hard to make this system intuitive I’ll admit, I’d like to hear some other ideas people on the subject because I’d be really interested in seeing this style of gameplay more supported in the game.
It would also be really interesting if you experimented with a “Karma” system.
I have a lot of high hopes for this game and whatever direction you guys decide to take I’m sure it’ll be awesome!