New Zealander Dylan Beck, more commonly known by his online personna @Rudeism, has made a name for himself by creating crazy and wacky game controllers using a variety of objects – then playing games with them on his streams. However, he meet his biggest challenge yet when Five Star Games in Australia asked him to make a controller for its simulator game Farming Simulator 22 (spoiler alert: He made it out of a real tractor!) I spoke to Dylan about what was involved in his latest build project.
Firstly, thanks for your time, Dylan. What was your reaction when Five Star Games approached you about building a controller for Farming Simulator 22? Did you come up with the idea for using a tractor as a controller yourself? How did the collaboration work?
Five Star originally came to me right out of the gate with the tractor idea, but it’s also something I’ve thought about myself for a long time. I’ve always wanted to do it, I just never had the means to source a tractor in the past! They got in contact with Case IH, the farming equipment manufacturer, and they reached out to local farmers in the area that would be willing to let me come to their farm & borrow their tractor over the weekend.
Luckily we found a guy out west of Christchurch (New Zealand’s second largest city) who was willing to help! I already had a rough idea in my head of how I’d do it, on account of having thought about it so much in the past, so luckily I already had a really good starting point to work from.
How do you approach a project like this? What’s the first thing that goes through your mind? Talk me through your creative process.
I don’t tend to do a whole lot of pre-planning when it comes to controller building – my usual process is very trial-and-error based. I tend to go with the first idea that comes to mind, and if I find a problem, I’ll go with the first solution I can think of to get around it. Sometimes I’ll be in the middle of building and realise that I could be using a completely different & more effective methodology – nine times out of 10, I’ll scrap the whole thing & start over if that happens. I tend to find that technical ideas come best when I just get stuck in!
Of all the controllers you’ve built, has this been the most ambitious? It’s certainly the biggest, I’m thinking …
Absolutely the biggest! I think the only thing that comes close is the car I used to play Forza Horizon years ago, and that’s probably only a quarter of the size of this tractor. It’s not the most complex in terms of the controls themselves, but in regards of the cost & size of the object I’m using, it’s going to be a LONG time before I can top this! The only two things I can think of that might top it right now are super cars and planes!
Talk me through some of the challenges that you faced over building a controller from a fully working tractor? Did you ever think at any stage you may have bitten off more than you could chew?
It definitely felt daunting at first! I think the main issue was building a control panel that took all the controls of the game & boiled them down to a small set of buttons. There’s a *lot* of different things you can do in the game – different levers to pull, different tools to use, etc. It took a good number of iterations to figure out a layout that worked, but once we had it, it became really easy to use from the get-go.
You have a history of making controllers from a variety of things: a baguette, jellybeans, a Lego Star Wars helmet, a Honda, and you’ve got a Samoyed called Atlas: Have you ever contemplated creating a controller powered by your dog? Would something like that actually be remotely possible? I guess if anyone could make it work it would be you, right?
It’s something I’ve thought about a lot! I think the thing that makes it hard is that I’d need it to be voluntary on Atlas’ part, so he can run off if he wants – I don’t want to force him to play games! He’s in his rebellious teenage phase right now, so maybe in a while, once he’s calmed down. Might make a good Youtube video! I think you could make it work by training him to press certain buttons – the hard part would be figuring out the right cues to encourage him. If you could use cues in the actual video game to make it happen, that’d be perfect!
How important was working with the farmer whose tractor it was? How did his input help with your building of the Tractroller?
The tractor is owned by a guy named Matthew, who lives on his farm west of Christchurch. If it wasn’t for him, the whole project would be dead in the water! He was super helpful – he took time out of his day to show me around the farm as well as the tractor & how it all works. When it comes to a build like this, where the controller is going to be an object that you can use in-game, I do my best to make that functionality line up as closely as possible, so Matthew’s insight was super helpful!
What was the most memorable part of the stream with Farming Simulator 22 using the Tractroller? Are you pleased with how fans reacted to it?
I think it was the moment I first managed to put the throttle to the tractor and having it move forward in-game. It’s a really small thing, but seeing it work for the first time is always super exhilarating. I have a tendency not to test my controllers in-game before I stream, so I can experience it purely on-stream for the first time. (I made sure the right signals were being sent from the controller beforehand though, of course!)
Lastly, were you happy with the final product and was it everything you expected it to be?
It turned out better than I could’ve hoped! I’ve had a tendency in the past to try and build controllers that are a bit more ambitious or complex than my skills will allow, but considering this is the biggest controller I’ve ever worked on, and it went off without a hitch, I’m feeling a lot more confident in my skills now. I reckon I’d be keen to try more stuff on this scale!
Farming Simulator 22 is out now on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. You can watch Dylan’s Twitch stream from a week ago here