Last month, we invited GameSpot readers to ask any question about the dinosaur-survival game Ark: Survival Evolved. We selected some questions and put them to Jesse Rapczak, the co-creative director, art, and technical art director on the game.
You can find the questions and answers below. Among other things, Rapczak spoke about split-screen support, the possibility of supernatural elements coming to the game, how mean comments affects the team, why there is no cross-play, and a whole lot more.
Ark: Survival Evolved has been in Early Access on PC for more than two years, and unfinished versions of the game are available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The full launch, which will be available digitally and on a disc at retail, is slated for August 29.
Thank you to everyone who sent in questions!
"Local splitscreen on PC?" -- Submitted by Vef
"The Windows 10 version of the game will support local splitscreen, since it is based on the Xbox version of the game. We’re still evaluating whether to add local splitscreen to the Steam version. Stay tuned!"
"Do you ever plan on adding an overt supernatural element to the game, even as an option? Not so far as a magic system, but anything that strays from the science fiction atmosphere?" -- Submitted by Nerdonomicon
"We are huge fans of fantasy and mythical themes, especially when it comes to designing amazing visuals, lore and gameplay to go with them. While Ark is primarily a Sci-Fi universe, we have already dabbled pretty deep into fantasy themes with Ark: Scorched Earth, adding Wyverns, Rock Elementals, and the ruins of an ancient human civilization obsessed with worshipping the Obelisks and the Manticore. More recently, we added an exciting Griffin that can be tamed on the official Ragnarok mod map. Be sure to check this stuff out if you haven't already, and remember that Ragnarok will be coming to consoles at the end of August!"
"Are you sure it's ready to come out of early access? Considering there are still numerous bugs and performance issues across a number of systems, how confident are you people will pick this game up for double the price it was for early access?" -- Submitted by Smalwex
"We definitely are ready to come out of Early Access, but that doesn’t mean we’re ending development! Now that the console versions have hit Gold Master, many of the biggest issues in the multiplayer game are being addressed over the next few weeks with the team focused especially on PC optimizations and bug fixing leading up to launch.
Our server refresh and cheating fixes being deployed are intended to fix a lot of the remaining problems players have been seeing with the live game. We are already seeing a tremendous amount of pre-launch interest in the retail version of the console game, and strongly believe that Ark's retail price is a great value at launch--especially for new players!"
"Is there a possibility at some future point that Windows 10/XBL users would be able to play with those that purchased on steam? At some point could the Windows 10 version possibly be activated on steam?" -- Submitted by Groto
"We have said it before and we'll say it again--we want everyone to play together! While there are no issues with Steam, the main hurdle is Sony's policy against PS4 cross-network play with Xbox. We just don't have the time or resources to make multiple versions of the PC game and servers that support cross play with only one console platform (and it's confusing for end users). When the day comes that Xbox Live and PSN players are allowed to play together, we'll be first in line to support it."
"For the full release of the PC version, are you planning any additional anti-cheat measures? Do you think cheaters at this moment in time pose a serious risk for the game and people's enjoyment of it?" -- Submitted by Wiro_
"Prior to the retail launch we are rolling out new server code and infrastructure necessary to prevent critical issues such as server crashing exploits, duping, and DDoSing. This will be deployed on a new server network that will give new players the best experience on launch day. Legacy servers will still be supported, although we plan to remove low population servers over time." (more info here)
"Have any of the negative comments every pushed you to curl up on the couch with a pint of ice cream and just binge your favorite show on Netflix?" -- Submitted by Louis
"I think it's important to remember that we're all hard-working human beings, making huge personal sacrifices to ship a game that we can all be proud of. The internet can be quite mean and nasty sometimes, and I'd be lying if I said hurtful comments don't affect us. That being said, we try not to take the bad stuff personally and appreciate ALL feedback: Good, Bad and Ugly. Negative remarks that aren't simply intended to be insulting often contain valuable feedback, which is why we choose to develop the way we do, with as much transparency and two-way communication as possible."
"How much longer do you feel you can work on this game before you move to something else? Would you consider handing the continuing support of the game to others?" -- Submitted by Louis
"Ark has proven to be a hugely successful IP with staying power, so we don't plan to stop developing it any time soon. We have exciting plans and lots of ideas to extend Ark over the next few years, and you'll be hearing about them soon."
"Do you have a preference for the future of Ark? Do you feel more effort will be put towards new maps, or trying to build in an adventure element? Or will there be a push for yet another level to the tech? Or Filling out what's there?" -- Submitted by Wiro_
"All of the above! We very much feel that Ark is an IP that transcends one game, and you'll be hearing more about Ark's future following the retail launch on August 29th. Stop by our booth at GamesCom (Aug 22 - 26) or PAX West (Sep 1 - 4) to find out more - it's going to be an exciting ride!"
"Will the game ever run halfway decently?" -- Submitted by Xylymohydyte
"Good news! We have some nice PC optimizations coming for retail launch based on the console work we recently completed. It’s important to remember that Ark's world is fully dynamic, and while we have created countless proprietary optimization techniques, Ark can't benefit from being optimized in the same ways that many other games can.
Nearly every tree and bush can be removed, most medium-sized rocks can be demolished, players can build massive structures everywhere, hundreds of AI creatures can be tamed from tens-of-thousands out in the wild, and we still want to use advanced dynamic lighting techniques and highly-detailed assets. That's why our system requirements are higher than many games if you want to turn some of those features on, and performance can depend on a lot of factors related to what you've managed to get on screen.
"I have always wondered if there are any plans to get private games more improved to allow further player distances instead of being close to the host?" -- Submitted by LLamasOnTheRun
"For console, this is a problem of memory. Xbox One, PS4 and PS4 Pro just don't have enough memory to keep the entire world loaded while also playing the game. Fortunately, the Xbox One X has massive amounts of extra memory, so we plan to remove the host barrier when the host is using an Xbox One X!"
"Will the two follow-up Expansions announced for the Season Pass complete and close the Ark Storyline entirely or is there potential for additional Expansion content not included in the initial Season Pass?" -- -- Submitted by Cyanicember
"As long as Ark players are interested in the type of content we are creating for the Season Pass, we’ll continue making it! We have lots of ideas and a full-time writer on staff to help us develop the Ark story further. In the meantime, have you read all the Explorer Notes yet??"