Friday, August 14, 2015

Running Through ARK: Survival of the Fittest & Developer Contest

OMG – so much news from Studio Wildcard today: the launch of the ARK Dev Kit directly within the Epic Games Launcher, massive Alienware mod contest, and the release of the badass ‘Survival of the Fittest’ tournament battle mode. To celebrate the news, ARK: Survival Evolved is now available on the Amazon Store, at an introductory, 25% off limited quantity sale!

Studio Wildcard today released the ARK Dev Kit, a streamlined version of the UE4 Editor to simplify the creation and sharing process of mods for ARK: Survival Evolved. It is available to download now for free via the Epic Games Launcher HERE. Creative souls can easily generate their own ARK items, weapons, creatures, maps and game modes to share with fellow survivors online.

Got mad modding skills? The “ARK: Survival Evolved Modding Contest” also kicks off today, sponsored by Alienware and is a massive competition to celebrate the best of the best in the modding community. The contest objective is to use the Unreal Engine 4 ARK Dev Kit to create a new “Mod” that best exemplifies the judging criteria. Players can submit diverse island maps, underground environments, game modes, new structures and items for a chance to win over $25,000 in cash and prizes. The more creative the better! To enter the contest and find details on rules and regulations, go HERE.

●      Grand Prize (1st Place): $15,000 USD, Alienware Area-51 Desktop, and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Graphics Card
●      2nd Place: $5,000 USD, Alienware X51 Desktop, and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 Graphics Card
●      3rd Place: $2,500 USD and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 Graphics Card

To showcase the depth of the ARK Dev Kit, the Studio Wildcard team created the competitive ‘Survival of the Fittest’ (SoTF) total conversion mod, which is now available to download via Steam Workshop. Each SotF battle takes place on a modified version of the ARK island, with the objective being to eliminate all other survivors before they eliminate you! The map is surrounded by a dome-shaped force field that shrinks as the match progresses, and leveling, gathering, taming and building happen at a quicker rate. As the contestants enter this arena, not only do they need to look out for the dangers from the creatures and the other survivors, but also randomized ‘Evolution Events.’ These events take place every 30 minutes and have major impact on the gameplay, from freak weather occurrences, to dinosaurs dropping from the sky, extra supply drops, day-to-night shifts, player location reveals, and more. Best of all, the full source content for the ‘Survival of the Fittest’ mode is available within the ARK Dev Kit, so aspiring mod creators can see how this game-changing “Total Conversion” has been put together, and build on it or make their own!

What are you in for? LET'S DISCUSS! I'm watching Pokket (one of my favorite Twitch players) in her nailbiting first jump into Survival of the Fittest. For those unfamiliar with ARK, you are basically running across an island gathering elements to build tools and a base, looking for weapons and taming dinosaurs, mammoths, sabretooth tigers, giant's all there. Is there an objective to the game? Not really. you build, tame and conquer. That's the lot. The biggest frustration seems to come from a player's ability to raid a base when those players are offline, leaving only rubble behind upon their return. If you've spent weeks building a base, collecting dinos and making gear, this can crush your motivation to continue.

There was a degree of confusion at first, with not be enough servers to go around, so once unofficial servers popped up, you had to pounce. Pokket located one in China that was"laggy as fuck", so make a mental note, this seems to be a startup problem across the board. The lobby is much like any other multi online player game with an ocean of jackasses jumping around and yelling odd things, only you are in an energy bubble high above the island. The second they hear Pokket's female voice, she is surrounded by 5 digitally muscular dudes in loin cloths looking for the source of boobs. Luckily, the wait wasn't too long and soon enough, Pokket is falling down toward the island with her partner Amaris. The pair make a B line for the volcano, stopping at a platform along the way with gear available for all to snap up, screaming HUNGER GAMES pretty hardcore. Actually, the whole thing is very Hunger Games-esque, but then again, Hunger Games is a lot like video or the egg..take your pick.

Since you are in a battle to the death, everything you'd normally experience over long periods of time happens crazy quick. A shift from day to night and then back to day probably rolled out over 10 minutes or less. Leveling up is also hyper accelerated. In the short time Pokket and Aramis were able to stay on the server without incident, they built a mini fort, tried to kill some attacker who sprinted off with ungodly speed, survived a drop of vegetarian dinosaurs on their roof and fended off an assault from a rogue giant bird. Pretty eventful for 20 minutes.

As most games on launch seem to be these days, things are buggy, laggy and confusing. Since I'm a noob, I couldn't speak on how quickly the issues will be addressed and when more official servers will come online to handle the massive player load, but seeing how many people play the same Counter Strike boards over and over for hours, and H1Z1 attracts hordes with the same basic battle royale premise minus the dino wrangling, building, crafting and all out war...I'd say ARK: Survival of the Fittest is set to be mega popular!

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