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  • Community Crunch 159: Winter Wonderland & Dev Diary!

    Hey Survivors! Welcome to the latest edition of the Community Crunch! :Jerbhi:

    Winter Wonderland Is Returning!

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    Have you been Naughty or Nice this year? I've heard whispers from the elves and reindeer that a certain Mr. Claws may be dropping gifts for all of the good survivors this holiday season, and coal for the naughty ones too. ;) 

    We'll have more information on this in the coming weeks!

    Dev Diary!

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    This weeks diary entry is brought to you by Lead Programmer, Chris Willoughby. This weeks dev diary is about Extinction-related game balance and also about the big fixing process of Extinction since it's initial release.

    Quote

    ARK, at its core, is successful because it offers the best and most diverse survival experience that it can to each player who plays it, and the many options that we provide allows that to happen. There are many, many players that play our game over multiple platforms and each of them has a different definition of what’s most important to them, what ARK does well, and what it should do better. Early on we made a decision to offer a vast array of options, modes, maps, servers, and mods to get as close as we could to being the best survival game for everyone. This creates a major challenge when it comes to development however, as each piece of content or change is used in a large number of different ways. The many play modes are likely to be at odds with each other and are competing for the same development resources, so we have to make a number of tough decisions and pick our priorities. This can result in mechanics that feel less than ideal for your setup or bugs that only appear in certain modes. I do believe it’s better than the primary alternative - not offering or supporting these options at all.

    In this industry we need to develop and introduce new content and mechanics to keep our game interesting and relevant. When we set out to develop something with the size and scope of Extinction, we first sit down and figure out what new experiences we could bring to the table. We brainstorm far and wide, documenting and elaborating on ideas before scoring them. We try very hard to introduce features that either have broad reach and appeal across our play modes or add a high amount of depth to one. The things that resonate the most through this process are grouped together into creatures, items, or features that become the key features for the expansion. Generally when we do this we’re intentionally trying to shake up the meta to breathe new life into the game. Often times it’s hard to predict exactly how the new features will be used by players, and just how much they’ll shake things up. 

    On the other side of the coin, testing changes to a game like ARK is quite difficult. Stepping back, it’s really a numbers game. Let’s say, for example, that you have 10 QA testers, and they’re testing 50 hours a week, that’s 500 hours of testing per week. Next, let’s say that you have 3 months to fully test your changes. Multiply the 500 by 12, and you get 6,000 hours of serious, in-depth testing. That can seem like a lot, but it’s nothing compared to the amount of time that players put in. ARK averaged ~50k users for November on PC. If you multiply that by 30 days and 24 hours, you end up with a rough estimate of 36,000,000 hours of ARK played in November. That’s 6,000 times as many hours as in the example above. There were approximately 1,200,000 hours of ARK played in the first day of Extinction. There were 50,000 hours played in the first hour after release. 10 minutes after Extinction released, players had already played 10,000 hours of Extinction, eclipsing the amount of testing done by the 10 testers above. Suffice it to say that when you experience problems when playing a game just after release this is a big reason why.

    Obviously we don’t like it when our game has problems, so we focus much of our testing on critical areas and we test them over and over again and prioritize the issues we find. As you can imagine, this is a lot easier in a single player game with a fixed path through a scripted storyline. Once you start multiplying out all of the options and variables, however, it quickly becomes a monumental challenge. As illustrated above, it’s impossible to test every experience that a player is going to have in a game like ARK within a reasonable timeframe. Our volume of players means that players will always have for more time playing ARK than us. When you combine this with the fact that most of those players are playing competitively you realize that many of them are looking for a way to get a leg up on their competition. Very quickly they’re using things in ways that you didn’t intend or even think about, and it’s up to strong systems and well placed testing to make sure that they stay in a healthy place. Sometimes you experience breakdowns in one or two of the above and you have to turn around a fix as fast as possible.

    When we built the Titans, for example, we balanced them against dinos, items, each other, and bases. We wanted each of them to feel different and wanted them to have roles almost like classes in a class-based shooter. We wanted them to be somewhat slow and predictable, and ultimately squishy when faced with organized and concentrated fire. We felt very early on that they should be able to do a lot of damage to an endgame base, if left unchecked. Beyond countering this strength, we wanted to limit how fast people could tame and transfer in Titans, and make it a difficult decision to make - so we went for cooldowns on transfer and starvation. Of course, players discovered a way around starvation (kibble?!?!?!), so that broke a big piece of their cost completely. Last week we released a patch that brought this back closer to where we envisioned it, but it’s unlikely that it’s the end of balance changes to the Titans.

    Meks were built to counter Titans. Generally, the math that we used when developing the Titans and Meks was that approximately three Meks should be able to make short work of a Titan, and we set out to arm the Meks with abilities (like the rocket pack) that would allow them to take the Titans on. In this regard, our primary focus was on the defensive capabilities of the Mek. Unfortunately, in our efforts to nail the defensive-side of things we overlooked a few issues that could occur on the offensive side; especially related to base raiding. The reality is that this was a mistake. Players discovered within the first few days that they could be used to dismantle bases by bypassing most of their automated defenses. Once something like this is discovered we need to act quickly - we ask ourselves if we feel like the mechanic is overpowered. Then we ask if it fits with the design of the creature. We ask what the counter is and talk through the best way to balance it. Ideally, we’d have all of these discussions and make all of these decisions early in development. When faced with the numbers game above, however, you realize how likely it is that a few of these slip through the cracks to the final game. We work diligently to to step up and resolve the issue the best way that we can, as fast as we can.

    If I were to step back and put on an Idealistic hat, I’d want to reshape ARK such that none of these bugs ever made it through to our players. I’d want to test and retest every interaction, every spot in every map, every scenario that a player could find themselves in. The reality, however, is that it would take a very large team, a very large amount of time to develop something as broad as ARK and deliver it flawlessly. Large enough on both fronts, that the likelihood of success drops dramatically. And even then, that game would have bugs. Yes, ARK is not perfect. However, we enjoy working on a game that delivers a broad, good experience to many players over one that offers a narrow but perfect experience to only a few or takes ten years to make. We strive to minimize the number of problems. We pride ourselves on recognizing and resolving them as fast as possible. As we continue to work on Extinction issues, long standing issues, previous promises, and whatever is next for ARK (stay tuned!), we’ll continue to approach it from that perspective. Our job is to provide the best experience we can to the highest number of players we can reach, as fast as we can. Sometimes there will be bumps in the road, but they’re a necessary part of making the things we make at the scale that we make them. We think it’s worth it.

    PC Patch Tomorrow!

    Tomorrow at 10am PST there will be a PC patch. There will also be another post tomorrow here on the community forums going over some of the changes coming up and things currently being worked on by our development team.

    Mod Community Updates!

    Hello, fellow modders. You'll be happy to know we have a manual devkit update ready that includes all of the extinction content!

    https://forums.unrealengine.com/development-discussion/modding/ark-survival-evolved/62293-12-2-ark-dev-kit-v287-1-is-now-on-google-drive

    I also have a new tutorial ready for you, this time we're finally going to get started on some graphs for this mod. Specifically how to convert our tamed creatures into the sentry crystals that will be used elsewhere by the mod.

     

    Fanart of the Week!

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    Ark Survival Evolved Carbonemys Wallpaper by Malabar!

    Evolution Event!

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    Survivors on all platforms will be receiving a special Evolution Event perk this weekend! It will be active from Friday the 7th of December at 1 PM EST until Monday the 10th of December at 3 PM EST. All Official Servers across each platform will be undergoing this evolutionary change which includes:

    2x Harvesting Rates
    2x Taming Rates
    2x EXP Rates

    That's it for this post guys! As always if you’ve got anything to share you can find us at:

    Twitter: twitter.com/survivetheark
    Facebook: facebook.com/survivetheark
    Reddit: reddit.com/r/playark
    Instagram: instagram.com/survivetheark
    Twitch: twitch.tv/survivetheark
    Steam: steamcommunity.com/app/346110
    Youtube: youtube.com/survivetheark

    All the best,
    Studio Wildcard

    Edited by Jen


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    Hello Chris and Jen, 

    I also feel like I want to chime in with everyone else. 

    I bought Ark back when it was Early Access on Steam. The game instantly skyrocketed into one of my favorite games. The ability to go anywhere! Do anything! Holy moses, that was amazing. 

    When it was announced that it would be coming to the Xbone I was ecstatic. I can play with my console peeps now! 

    I'll be the first to admit, I'm beyond bitter still about the Flyer nerf. I get that it's a balancing thing, but why does that have to affect Single Player? -_- 

    But recently, it just seems like Wildcard has made enough money that those of us who've been here since the beginning are just peons and are ignored. Like "We've made our money, now be content with anything we give you." 

    I can understand some of the bugs, but ones like the Ragnarok issue? We reported problems back in 12/2017. Jat looked into it for a while, and it was fixed by June of 2018. TLC update comes out in July, and it breaks again. Still no response from the Dev team on an issue that's been going since 12/2017. 

    I loooooove Ark! The idea is awesome! I love the freedom afforded by the game. But the blatant lack of communication, the constant bugs, and the lack of fixing bugs instead of rolling out new material is alienating your player base. 

    It was due to things like the Flyer nerf, and all the bugs, I decided that it was not worth buying Extinction/the annual pass - and was not terribly surprised when my buddies were having bugs. 

    If things like the bugs for Ark cannot be fixed, and there is no communication from the Dev team, I really do not see how any further games out of Wildcard can succeed. 

    I want to love this game. I sincerely hope that changes are made - ones that will facilitate people like myself and a couple of my console peeps coming back. 

    Edited by TehGrimCreeper

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    "When we built the Titans, for example, we balanced them against dinos, items, each other, and bases."

    It is only SAID Titans are balanced, reality hits hard on players when months of work on bases gets rammed by 1 or 2 titans in under an hour, or 5 titans with regardless of what Bloodlines and gear you are defending. 

    A couple of proofs of this so called "balance":

     

     

     

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    What he said ^. How are Titans supposed to be balanced and how cam they be checked in small tribes for exemple? If u are not online ar the exact moment a titan comes for You, u are gone in 10 min. And If someone uses a titan,u cant really ,,check,, IT, as maybe he atacks someone else and u attacking IT would be teaming. I mean, offline raiding was bad enough untill now, but with Titans u need tot be online, active and preparared for it at all Times and even then all your hundreds of hours of work will be gone in minutes. I mean, i think what u said that they are squishy and all, might work in regular oficials oricum even 25man, but not in a scenario of 6 man with no teaming. MAKE TITANS TAMABLE LIKE ONCE A MONTH ON SMALL TRIBES AND PUT A TIMER ON IT, THAT WILL CREATE CONTENT AND WILL PROVIDE SOME GOOD BATTLES BETWEEN TRIBES WANTING TO TAME THEM

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    I've send you a mail containing a serious exploit on Extinction that definively needs to be fixed ASAP.

    Everyone on official can use it to gain insanely amouts of advantages over... well everyone. Even ( so called) alphas.

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    On 12/3/2018 at 8:06 PM, Lewiatan said:

    Dear Chris.

    I have one major problem in your way to justify the atrociously bad quality of the game and Extinction. This is 60$ fully released game and players should not be your beta or Q&A testers nor should you expect players to become ones. The way you described the problem tells me you want to excuse broken game by few numbers of QA testers. This is unacceptable frankly. Your customers do not care you don't have enough manpower to be blunt. They care about the quality of the product they paid for.  What you had been doing during entire Early Acces was bloating the game up with half-cooked or in some cases redundant content/mechanics. Instead of taking that time to flesh out core gameplay mechanics, do QoL updates, you were adding more and more stuff without polishing it before moving to a new shiny toy. Your game fell into the trap of feature creep that is coming back to you with full force. It seems your team is literally afraid of touching old code, because the whole game may fall apart. The sad part is people had been giving you tons of feedback, but you chose to ignore it deliberately or due to simple incompetence.

    Early Access has ended over a year ago. You earned a lot of money and you can afford more paid QA testers, but you would have to want that to begin with. You would have to have a better quality standard for game development, to begin with. The only reason why we got more regular bug fixes updates and QoL ones was due to BadArt4BadARK. The action was simply too large to ignore. 

    It seems WC hasn't learned anything from EA, to be honest, and ARK would continue to be considered as a game with a great potential wasted by game-breaking bugs and incompetent studio. 

    It's a shame how this game has ended up. I used to love this game, but bugs, lack of any optimization and developers refusing to communicate with the player base during EA was enough. 

    PS: Unfortunate, we players cannot get a simple "sorry" with highlighted steps to improve the bad quality of the game.

    I completely agree this map has so much potential the whole concept of this map has so much potential. They could have made it to where not only that there is dinosaurs being corrupted but also make it to where the player is corrupted and they have to constantly worry about the corruption getting too much also wearing about their dinosaur's gaining too much corruption, make the Wasteland have like some type of Spore that gives you corruption and overtime you have to start curing Yourself by finding stuff if not the corruption seems to proceed in your system and you have to use stasis pods and other means with the chemical bench to help you prolong it and make the final cure the bosses the alpha boss will give you like the full and final cure. Meet the game not so heavily dependent on the mech suits because let's be honest the mech suits suck, their blasters are completely inaccurate every single time the overheat function makes it completely not so mobile as it supposed to feel, not only that but the modules are so terrible there's no point in spending the resources to even get it and then you have to waste so many resources just to make the mega mac that only does two type of attacks maybe even three on occasion. I don't even want to mention the fact that the mech suits have no interface when you go into first person mode you don't get  make a signal of how much your Shields are in stuff like that, no AI I mean I was hoping for at least a voice saying "warning Health at 32%" and then some like beeping sounds but not even hella subnautica can do it there should be no excuse why you couldn't take time to implement that, not only that but they can't even protect themselves because they're set on passive mode automatically and you can't change . All these creatures that you added in extinction they have so much potential but they're wasted because you all thought and we're focused around water when the map barely has any water literally these creatures run completely terrible you try to use the Magnagarmr to get around and it's just terrible because you can't do it it's meant for ocean you take it to the ark map and then it's running and working perfectly fine the only one that seems to work good is the velanasour and the snow owl but even then it feels like their potential is shortened. The snowy owls could have had this cool attack wear that if they're flying in the sky they can shoot down icicles out of their wings or something like the vilanasour but icicles because let's be honest the snowy owl is a great preacher but it's limited because it can literally do little to no damage it's thermal vision is kind of useless on this map there's no creatures that hide themselves besides the rock Drake's. One of the biggest fails that I see in this DLC is at the enforcers and the drones have no module upgrades but the Mac does when the Mac has so crappy upgrades when you really think of the potential that you could add to the enforcer I mean you don't have to give the enforcer a giant Shield make it to where it combines its arms and then it becomes like a riot shield that connects its arms together and then it does like a quake attack and just stands there and turned mode just anytime it gets attacked at just Quakes down on the ground and kills anything make that an upgrade module make an upgrade module where it has like a Tek blade at the end of its tail and it does like a whiplash attack, the drones can be used to transport small items to players. not only is the corruption idea a great way to get players to keep constantly playing to make sure that their Dino stay alive and to make sure that their players stay alive trying to keep them from to corruption it's also great way to introduce more story the story seems to be so fixed about the max but it's not fixed around what's going on with the corruption we know that there's a corruption going on but we don't know what's completely happening in the first place the story seems to separate from the whole reason of why they even created dinosaurs like towards the end you just start to realize that they don't even mention anything about dinosaurs anymore on extinction they just mentioned more and more about these meks and the story and everything just seems to fall apart right there. If you're going to bring technology into a game like Ark you really have to balance it out but also keep it in a way to where it's interesting and doesn't make it seem like it's another game this feels like it's Halo when it doesn't even feel like it's Ark anymore it doesn't seem to go back into its true Roots where it's all about dinos but not only that but it also doesn't feel like we're getting our money's worth out of these creatures and the Mek suits and all this advancement into the game we're not game the full potential here there's so many great ideas parking around you guys got to find a way to connect it all together because right now these are all separate things the corrupted is a separate thing literally feels like has nothing to do with Extinction at this point in the corruption doesn't seem to affect the players or in the corruption doesn't seem to affect the players or any of the dinosaurs in the corruption doesn't seem to affect the players or any of the dinos tamed by the player then what is the point of adding this Cool corruption aspect just to slap shade of purple on these dinos and say that they are threat while they are a very big threat and can do lots of damage it still doesn't feel like the game is offering us anything new feels like a lot of reuse of old materials, some new dinos with less potential then what it could be also New Mexico Foods in all these advancements that lack potential to be what it can be and it just feels like the map completely was unfinished and that's including all the bugs and all the crap that goes on. And I know that you guys need to release content but you guys have mods that you can release maps that you can release I mean there can be so much content in between you guys can release in between even if it's small mods just like primitive Plus just something that can keep us occupied maybe the new maps you don't have to drop the DLC earlier than what it should be because we want to get our money's worth we want to play a fully developed great game and Ark has been that so far but now it's lost that because there's so much unused potential with the game and it causes a big problem in a big gap in the game if you guys want people to come back more and to keep playing your game maybe devise a way to where the player actually has to keep returning to make sure that their player and their Dino survives and that's what the corruption has the potential to be the corruption can be that wait for you can keep getting these players to keep playing the game. Developer I really recommend that you take a step back from your game take a real good look play it for a long while as long as you have two to beat it see how much time you actually wanted to put time into it see how much time you really actually enjoy playing play with a couple of friends Bounce Around ideas but don't release us stuff like this where it has so much potential but then just dies because no one sees the potential and just wants to release it for a new content, so I asked you not only as a player but as a huge fan of wildcard and a true member of Ark since the game first came out take back and look what your game has become and really think of where you want these updates to go through to really progress the game but a while also keeping the game like how you want it to be where you're getting more new consumers and new people coming in.

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    Why do we have to wait weeks for the Winter Wonderland update? Wildcard has been VERY inconsistent with their seasonal events. I can play winter maps in PUBG, Fortnite and several other popular games....but us Ark players just get....."you'll find out in a couple weeks....if you're lucky....and we don't forget"

     

    Your Atlas announcement is VERY tempting but I am CONSTANTLY reminded of the inconsistent communication, implementation and deployment of your new features. Fool me once....shame on you...you WON'T fool me twice. 

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    What i don't agree on the way Extinction was though out is it's a kinf if a pay to win TLC. If i dont buy Extinction, i can still get rekt by a titan by someone owning the map and transfering to Island or wtv. I wont have a Mek or another titan  to defend my base and all the progress will be gone in a mater of minute. Even with a Tek Shield you cant defend since it doesnt last more than 2 minute against a titan

     

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    PLEASE don't forget about singleplayer console players, we would love to participate in the events as well.  I would even love it if the decorations were available to cheat in.  Me and my kids want to decorate our single player bases and haven't been able to since we can't even cheat in the decor.  PLEASE enable this at least. 

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