SDMB Ark: Survival Evolved server

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///, 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.

I’ll give it a try. It certainly looks impressive. Do you use the Primitive+ Free DLC? Have you tried the for-pay DLC?

I haven’t tried either. I like the idea of the primitive+ mode, because the higher tech tiers seem kinda silly to me - going from stone hatchets to electronics is too much - but I’ve heard it’s not as balanced or fleshed out as the main game so I haven’t tried it. It’s something I will probably eventually try.

The DLC I object to like everyone else because an early access game should be spending 100% of their dev time on developing their product, not outputting paid side products (and the way they allow you to transfer powerful dinos from paid servers to regular servers reeks of pay to win - an option we have disabled on our server). I’ve softened my stance a little since I learned that they lost a big court case relating to a non-compete clause that cost them 40 million dollars - they may have needed the big cash injection to keep going. I might grudgingly pick it up for like $7 some day, but not now.

I got onto the server last night. The server search does not work very well, it took like 15 minutes to find your server.

Having fun so far. Got eaten a few times. Eventually made some clothes and weapons. I should probably read the wiki at some point to get a clue about what to do, but it’s fun fumbling about.

Most annoying thing is the lack of an aiming reticle. It’s hard enough hitting stuff with one. I kept missing trees. :dubious: I’ll have to do some calibration and put a sticky-note on my screen.

Is this playable in solo-mode? I mean in a manner similar to Minecraft where you can join a server or just play it by yourself?

Yeah, there’s a localhost option which allows you to play solo or have friends join you if you want.

Keep in mind that, if you’re going to play in off-line mode, you’ll need to tweak the settings for your game. In particular, you’ll want to increase the resource respawn rate since the clock is ticking only when you’re actively playing (versus live servers where the clock is always ticking) so nothing will respawn while you’re not playing.

Sounds interesting and looks great. Thanks for the info.

I’d watched some of the Early Access gameplay on Yogscast. It looked fun, and I need a new game. I may join in, too.

Ark is $12 in the steam sale, which is its all time low price.

We weren’t attracting long term players with those other settings, so we’re going to try a fresh start. We’re going to be playing on The Island, the default map, and the no flyer rule will be gone - the only thing that will still be restricted is Quetzals because they’re just ridiculous and exploitable. I added a few architectural mods that make building cleaner and easier and add types of structures.

The server name will be “Newbie Friendly 3X ALL PVP, NEW 12/24”, I’m trying to attract some new players to the server. The plan is to help new people along at first and not be hostile towards them until they’re hostile to us.

I had a feeling it was going to go on sale. I’m downloading it now.

Are servers region locked? I can’t seem to find it

Not sure if you were trying to connect to the name in the OP or the revised one later in the thread in post #10. The name is currently “Newbie Friendly 3X ALL PVP, NEW 12/24”

But if you still can’t find it, you can use this link to directly connect to the server: steam://connect/

Put that into a web browser and it should forward it to steam.

It was the revised name, but I still couldn’t find it despite using search terms like Newbie and Friendly. Bit late for me to join now so I’ll give up, but will try again tomorrow. I’m a complete newbie who went for it at 11e in the sale so even if do manage to find the server I’ll be useless to anyone for a while yet until I figure the game out a bit better.

Make sure you’re filtering for “unofficial” in the bottom left of the server browser - you can also sort by name and look that way.

Anyway, last day to grab the game for $12 on steam if anyone wants it. We’ve been pretty busy since we switched over to The Island, 10+ people are on most of the day. Hopefully that keeps up.

I’m filtering by unoffical, have tried searching by name, still nothing :confused: I added you on Steam (I hope) so will try the connect by friends servers method. I tried by IP address too but Chrome does not hand it over to Steam to handle.

I bought Ark a while ago, but just installed it last night.

I had been playing Subnautica, but I’ve run into too many bugs to want to keep playing right now. It seems like it’ll be a fun game when it’s more finished.

My experience playing single player Ark:SE wasn’t particularly spectacular. The game is gorgeous, I spent the first few minutes admiring the sun streaming through the trees, dappling the forest floor with swaying light. Then while I was trying to figure out how to eat berries I got killed by a raptor.

While trying to get back to my dropped inventory I got eaten by ‘carno’ about five feet from where I spawned.

I managed to dodge the carno again and make it back to my first death point. Then something spit green goo in my eyes and I got eaten by the raptor that ate me the first time.

Any suggestions for tutorials for total noobs?

I decided to try to forgo tutorials and just roll with it in solo mode.
One thing that helped me immensely was a pointer from another player that different spawn points have different difficulty levels, and the one that’s selected by default is pretty far over on the hard side. West 1 (I think) is much easier, with mostly herbivores near the spawn, and plenty of resources to get going. Apparently the area names used to contain their difficulty levels but don’t any more? I’ve seen screenshots with and without, and mine definitely doesn’t.

The game is pretty well designed from a crafting standpoint: there wasn’t anything too crazy I couldn’t figure out on my own. Water skins did take a bit to figure out, but part of the problem there was that they automatically instantly fill when it’s raining and I just happened to make my first one while it was raining.

Taming animals, on the other hand, is totally bizarre and I did have to read a couple of tutorials just to get started. Though once you get that paracer you don’t need to worry about hoarding narcoberries like some kind of, well, narco.

Sorry, forgot to reply, but I’ve never used any tutorial videos or anything like that. Just figured stuff out as I went. The the Ark Gamepedia is extremely helpful.

We got raided seriously for the first time last night. I just happened to log on when it was started so we had an actual battle with sniping and rockets flying. 4 guys apparently had been playing for 2 weeks to make a big attempt at it.

They built a pretty good metal battleship out of a raft, it had 6 or 8 plant species X turrets around it and was well protected by metal walls. We had lots of turrets around the sea approach to our base, but the turrets wouldn’t fire unless they came out of their ship, or at least came to the edge of the windows, so they were sitting back in their window hatches firing RPGs out of them relatively immune from our turret fire.

We had just helped out a newbie group that they’d previously raided with weapons to help them get back on their feet and defend themselves, and I hadn’t yet restocked fully what we gave them, so we kinda got caught with our pants down. We happened to have 4 people online so everyone hopped in but we made a desperate scramble to both fight them off with what we had laying around and also gather the materials to scrape together enough ammo to keep fighting. Had to send people across the map for stored weapons and gunpowder as they massacred our dinosaurs.

The worst part is that they added some sort of taming groups function a while back and I never mastered it. It lets you put dinosaurs into seperate groups where you can then give them orders a sa group (like attack my target or follow me). But I just assumed that if I didn’t bother with that stuff, it would function like it used to with all dinosaurs in range listening to you. But apparently not. Because dozens of our dinos in our pen were aggroed by their attack, and once they broke our sea wall the dinos went out to sea to attack them. I was trying to get them to follow me and put them on passive, but my group whistles weren’t working because of the stupid taming group thing. They couldn’t really harm the metal battleship so they just went out to sea and became easy pickings. Between the turrets and their deliberate attacks we lost almost all of our dinos - only the birds we used to go gather supplies during the fight and some in the spare aviary on the other side of the base survived.

We tried various approaches - Res made some C4 and tried to swim under their boat to place it, but we ran into a couple of stupid problems with that. The way c4 works is a little weird - it places it on the structure as if it’s a building component, so their boat was maxed out with the number of structures and so the c4 couldn’t be placed. We later found out that even after we destroyed pieces on their boat, it still couldn’t be placed with the error message “Can’t place c4 charge: can only build on suitable allied platforms!” which makes all sorts of no sense at all.

We were scraping enough materials together to make a few RPGs as we went, and I was firing on them. They kept moving the boat around our harbor to make it hard to hit them - and because you need 3-4 RPGs on an area to kill a metal wall, it was very difficult to hit the same wall repeatedly. So I focused on taking out their plant species X plots instead, which were close enough in the harbor to shoot us when we poked our head out to snipe them.

In between finding materials for RPGs, we were having gun fights from our elevator platform down to their base in the bay. But we had left our really good sniper rifle at another base, and the guy I sent to get it had gotten lost because by now it was a really dark night and he’d forgotten a compass. So we were using the slow firing iron-sighted longneck rifles while they fired back at us with semi-auto scoped sniper rifles. They killed us a couple of times but we were able to respawn upstairs at the beds, and we got a couple of them as well as the argents they had with them. A few times they angled the boat the wrong way so that our turrets could fire into our windows and killed them. At one point Taken had our best shotgun and was running up to their hatches trying to shoot in while dodging their species X - when the turret killed one of their guys, his bag of inventory dropped below the boat, and Taken was able to grab the contents (including a high quality rocket launcher and rockets), bring it back upstairs, and shoot it back at them.

They weren’t able to get rockets to hit the main elevated part of our base - we had gun turrets up there and I saw they were about halfway out of ammo as they had been shooting incoming rockets. But somehow even though the angle seems impossible they were able to snipe some of our birds in the protected areas in the base when the doors opened.

It got to the point where we had killed enough of them that when their loot dropped through the bottom of the boat they couldn’t hop out and get it, or our turrets would kill them. So we eventually bled their munitions dry that way. And I was able to eventually take out all of their species X turrets with the rocket launcher, so they had pretty much lost all of their offensive firepower. So they retreated, but I guess they’d pretty much spent everything they had coming after us, and they knew the retaliation was coming, so they just quit before we boarded them. Not sure if they plan on coming back. But we went up to their known bases after this and they’d been pretty much abandoned to put everything on their battleship. Which we penetrated, looted, and destroyed after they retreated.

The two of them we were able to take alive are on our hastily made prison platform on top of the wooden aviary. I need to build some furniture up there so we can sit back and relax and poke at them with a stick.

So, what do people think of this game?

I love the idea of taming and riding dinosaurs, exploring the world, and just having a good time. But the reviews are not really tha positive. Many people report having spent a lot of time with the game, but don’t describe it in very good terms and suggest that too much of the game ends up being spent on not-very-good PvP, with entire groups of trolling players who do nothing but wreck other players’ experiences, with everything in between dedicated to endless grinding.

Even people who like the often seem pretty lukewarm and end up with a lot of hemming and hawwing if asked to recommend it, which is not a good sign. What do you Dopers think of it?