Ark is one of those open ended survival games we’ve been flooded with since DayZ became popular, but it’s probably the best of them. There’s no real narrative but there are hints of one - you wake up stranded on a strange world with prehistoric creatures and some weird implant on your arm, and someone sends mysterious beacons from the sky with supplies occasionally.
But none of that really matters. It’s just a reason to have you running around with dinos and non-dino but prehistoric creatures running around, which is awesome.
You gather and build bases, of thatch and wood and stone and eventually metal. Primitive spears to eventually guns. You grow crops. You tame dinosaurs of all sorts, as pack mules, as gatherers, as fast mounts, as murder machines. You can ride most anything big enough to fit a human on its back.
It’s a very technically demanding game, but it’s also a very beautiful game. But you’re going to want to run decent hardware. Although you can boost framerate significantly by making the lighting much simpler by adding “-sm4 -d3d10” (without the quotation marks) to your command line. I had to do that for a while until I got a new video card, since I much prefer high frame rates to beauty for shooters.
Anyway, we ended up renting a server so we could control the settings and get a fresh start. It’s not named SDMB, but I play more or less with people from the SDMB steam group, so it’s more or less an SDMB Ark server.
At first I’m not going to let people I don’t know into the tribe yet - there are ways that one rogue tribe member can grief everyone else, like destroying all our stuff. Plus I’m not sure we want most of the players on the server to form one big monolithic tribe (as of now there are about 6 regular players from our group and about 5 regular pubs with others dropping by occasionally). So for now, if you come to play, it’d be good to either form new tribes with each other or try going on your own. But my tribe won’t be hostile to you - we can even help you get started. And eventually we might merge tribes. I’d recommend people use this thread to form their own tribe if interested.
We just started the server 3 days ago, so it’s pretty new and fresh. We’re developing the server settings as we go. It’s a 3x all server, meaning that XP gain, gathering, and dinosaur taming happen at 3x the official server rate. This is because the official server rate is pretty slow and grindy, but we don’t want to go overboard and trivialize the content by making the multipliers super high like a lot of private servers do.
Flying dino saddles are disabled. Normally you can fly on the backs of dinosaurs, but I feel that it trivializes the content. Once you’ve got some high level flyers, you can zoom across the map in no time, easily spot hidden enemy bases from the air, and make trips for far off resources too easily. I feel like actually having to travel via raft and by foot, to explore and search for other players, and to have to make treks for rare resources is more interesting and more rewarding. But we might re-add flyers at some point.
We’re using The Center map, which is listed as official (free) DLC. You have to download it from the DLC section of the ark page to get it. I haven’t played enough to have too much of an opinion except that it’s really beautiful. It may not be totally compatable with the no flyers settings because there’s content clearly meant to be accessed by fliers, but we may add some bridging and building mods to make them accessible.
There are other small settings tweaks. The distance that structures block respawning gathering nodes like trees and rocks is 25% of normal - this is to help people keep their bases hidden in dense areas instead of having them become wide open plains in the middle of a jungle when a bronto comes trampling through knocking everything down. You can build about 70% more structures onto platforms and rafts. Day/night cycle changed to 40 minutes of day, 20 minutes of night - I like days neatly fitting into hours so you can easily reference time stamps on the tribe log. No transfers to or off the server. Attacks on structures only do about 70% damage, to somewhat offset the easier attacking based on high resource gathering. Resource respawn time takes 50% longer - I feel like resources respawn too fast in the base game and people should have to venture out a bit further, especially with high harvesting values. Max wild dino level is about 85, but if you can keep one alive and level them up for a long time you can get 100 additional levels on tamed dinos. Human max level is 120 and may increase.
We’re still evolving the settings a bit as we go. We’re debating removing industrial grinders from the game, since they’re basically kind of cheesy power levelling tools for established tribes. We’re considering removing platform saddles for land creatures too, since they make destroying enemy structures possibly too easy.
I’m thinking about putting in some mods that do things like add various building structures (for more variety in the sorts of buildings you can build) and some quality of life stuff. Probably nothing that dramatically changes the gameplay. I’m planning to use custom beacon code which makes beacons rarer but more valuable - they’re hardly worth going for in their default incarnation, but having beacons spawn less frequently, take longer to drop to the ground (giving people more warning and time to get to them - all people) but being valuable will make beacon gameplay interesting. I’m open to other ideas.
Anyway, the server is currently named “Free Beer! NoFlyers. 3X All” but may change if settings change - any changes will be noted further down the thread. The “free beer” part stems from a silly experiment I tried years ago. When I’d run big lobbies for Warcraft 3 games, it was a pain to get people to join and sit still for a minute to fill the game up. I started putting “free beer” in the title - and it seemed like 50-100% more people would join the game. Sometimes they’d say “where’s my free beer” but they’d stay anyway. So I’m seeing if that works again. Except I actually will add free beer - since you can brew beer in the game, I’m going to create a bar on one if the islands and give the location in the MOTD. It will be considered a neutral zone where people can hang out and enjoy their free beers.
So to find the server, filter to unofficial servers (at the bottom left), then either search for free beer or simply sort by server name and find it there. If you’re having trouble you can add me on steam (same name) as a friend and then you can just filter by servers friends are playing on and get on that way.
You can also hop on my mumble voice chat server while we’re playing, the address is beef.mum///ble.cc, port 4282 (remove the slashes).
Ark is on sale on Steam for $15 for another 22 hours or so. So if you’ve been thinking about grabbing it, go ahead and do so - this is the lowest price it’s ever been and will likely to be for a long time. Or maybe you already got it, and you haven’t played in a while - or you didn’t have a good server to play on - in that case, hop back on and get playing with us.