Feature Article

Ark: Survival Evolved Dev Answers Your Questions About Cross-Play, Switch, And More

Jesse Rapczak answers your questions.

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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!"

Rapczak
Rapczak

"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??"

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

eddienoteddy

Eddie Makuch

Bring back the Whalers.
ARK: Survival Evolved

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Avatar image for Wiro_
Wiro_

It's really cool to see that my question about additional anti-cheat measures was selected!!

But another question in the article has "Submitted by Wiro_" written after it, but that question was actually asked by someone else! It's the question "Do you have a preference for the future of Ark? Do you feel more effort ..." So, I'll give the correct credits here. That question was submitted by Louis.

@eddienoteddy I guess it got mixed up because our comments were so close together. Literally adjacent to each other, with no comments in between.

Avatar image for risingdawn
Risingdawn

Switch confirmed.... .

Avatar image for superklyph
SuperKlyph

I was led to believe there would be some mention of Switch in this article. I feel misled here - perhaps even lied to.

Avatar image for greekarc8
GreekArc8

@superklyph: I was about to say I was click baited.

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gameboy8877

@greekarc8: Makuch strikes again

Avatar image for XBgyManX
XBgyManX

Did they basically say that they want the Xbox One and the new Windows 10 version to be the main versions of Ark? It kinda sounds like Steam version primarily, and the PS4 version to a lesser extent, are getting left behind a bit.

Avatar image for gamer162594
gamer162594

@XBgyManX: Did you miss the part where they said it was due to Sony's Anti-Xbox policies?

No one to blame but Sony for that.

Avatar image for superklyph
SuperKlyph

@gamer162594: I think we can blame the developers for the lack of Steam/W10 cross play.

Avatar image for gamer162594
gamer162594

@superklyph: "I think we can blame the developers" - I'm the opposite of you. I am thanking the developers for calling out Sony.

If more developer grow a pair and start calling Sony out, then maybe....just maybe we'll see some change.

THANK YOU ARK FOR HAVING THE GUTS TO CALL OUT SONY!!!

Avatar image for girlusocrazy
GirlUSoCrazy

Surprised nobody asked why this is max 1080p on Xbox One X

Avatar image for darkelf83
darkelf83

@girlusocrazy: I thought they were gonna have a toggle between 1080p/60fps (Medium) or 1440p/30fps (High)? Not sure what happened to all the boasting they did at E3; "we'll see ARK running at 1080p 60FPS on close to Epic settings on Xbox One X".

Read more: http://www.tweaktown.com/news/57990/ark-dev-xbox-one-horsepower-phenomenal/index.html

Avatar image for girlusocrazy
GirlUSoCrazy

@darkelf83: Perhaps wikipedia was wrong? I guess it does both 1080p60 and 1440p30

http://gamingbolt.com/ark-survival-evolved-can-run-at-1440p-and-30fps-on-xbox-one-x-with-settings-roughly-equal-to-pc-high-developer

Avatar image for darkelf83
darkelf83

Wait, they want to rip on Sony for not allowing cross play with MS but the Win10/Xbox version isn't cross play with the Steam version?

So from what I've seen looking around Ark is playable on Win10/Xbox, PS4, and Steam each in their own little corners. People want to get all bent out of shape because the console versions won't be playable together but don't seem to care that the two PC versions cannot play together?

Avatar image for gamer162594
gamer162594

@darkelf83: No cross play with Steam because of Sony, read the article again.

Avatar image for darkelf83
darkelf83

@gamer162594: How could Sony be responsible for no cross play between two PC versions? Steam/PS4 doesn't do cross play anywhere I could find.

Avatar image for gamer162594
gamer162594

@darkelf83: Ark didn't want to create PC - PS4 servers and SEPERATE PC - Xbox servers. So if Sony supported cross play with Xbox then we'd have Xbox - PS4 - Win10 - PC servers!!!!

Win 10 uses Xbox Live, take Rocket League for example.....if it had a Win 10 version it would work with Steam because in RL the Steam - Xbox Live cross play works.

Avatar image for darkelf83
darkelf83

@gamer162594: That still doesn't make any sense. Ark has Xbox/Win10, Steam, and PS4 server sets. Since PS4 isn't cross play with Steam anywhere that I could find and you don't seem to be offering anything on. Why not add Steam to the Xbox/Win10 set? If they added Steam to the set then Sony would be the only one out but that isn't the case.

Your other responses here in the comments just show your out to attack Sony. You've got no case here move along. You should go see how many Win10 games are cross play with the Steam versions. MS isn't all about cross play like they want you to think.

Avatar image for gamer162594
gamer162594

@darkelf83: "Why not add Steam to the Xbox/Win10 set?" - If they did something like that, then you'd just be complaining about no Sony - Steam servers. Complainers complain, it's what they do.

I love their approach. Everybody loses thanks to Sony.....it's a brilliant way to put pressure on Sony. The more people upset then the more pressure on Sony. Not sure why some people don't understand that.

Avatar image for superklyph
SuperKlyph

@darkelf83: yeah that was a shitty, dishonest, half-baked response.

Avatar image for gamer162594
gamer162594

@superklyph: Win 10 versions uses Xbox Live. Sony won't play nice without Xbox, so no global cross play until Sony relaxes.

Avatar image for superklyph
SuperKlyph

@gamer162594: That's just deflection. It's not Sony's fault Windows 10 and Steam can't play together. Not remotely.

Avatar image for gamer162594
gamer162594

@superklyph: Win10 uses Xbox Live. If Rocket League had a Win 10 version it would work with Steam.

Read article again, they made it CLEAR that Sony is why they didn't do cross play across all platforms. Heck, Sony is holding up Minecraft crossplay too.

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JoshRMeyer

@gamer162594: Well this is the dumbest comment I've read today... And I've read a lot of dumb comments today.

Avatar image for gamer162594
gamer162594

@joshrmeyer: Really? Name a game that's on Win10, Steam and Console.......and has Steam - Console cross play but not Steam - Win10??

Avatar image for superklyph
SuperKlyph

@gamer162594: You are a moron.

Avatar image for gamer162594
gamer162594

@superklyph: Nice, intelligent response. That's what I would say too if I had no counter argument.

You do realize Win10 uses Xbox Live, right? And that Xbox One also uses Xbox Live, right?

So to make a game Steam - Win10, all they have to do is make it Steam - Xbox Live......which has been done with Rocket League.

Ark dev said they weren't doing cross play because they didn't want to maintain different servers for different consoles, thanks to Sony.

What don't you understand about that?

Avatar image for superklyph
SuperKlyph

@gamer162594: They are already maintaining separate servers for different consoles. The guy gave a BS response off the top of his head.

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GirlUSoCrazy

@darkelf83: Yeah that answer was weird

Avatar image for killercondoms
KillerCondoms

@darkelf83: Bait & Switch tactic, they want people to forget about the PC versions and be upset the console players can't play together hence the Sony bash.

Avatar image for bdrtfm
BDRTFM

@killercondoms: What? Yeah, that's their end game. Lie their azzes off so that a couple of hundred people at most read it and forget about the PC version and get angry about the cross-play issue. So far I count 2 people angry about it and 20 or so confused over the answer. Mission accomplished.

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KillerCondoms

@bdrtfm: Whatever works I suppose.

Avatar image for gamer162594
gamer162594

@killercondoms: There you go again dude, defending Sony when Sony is clearly the bad guy. Sony Fanboi 4 life!!!!

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KillerCondoms

@gamer162594: So them bashing Sony and me saying they bashed Sony makes me a fanboy? Not sure I get the logic there bud, had it been the other way around I would of said the same thing for MS but that's not the case. The Wildcard devs are good at whining, maybe if they spent more time optimizing their game people would actually be enjoying it more.

Avatar image for gamer162594
gamer162594

@killercondoms: How is pointing out fact considered bashing, please explain?

They are a dev, for a massively popular game, that is calling Sony out for bad policy. Something that may lead to change that is GOOD for YOU.....the consumer.

You are a normal guy defending Sony for poopy policies. And your opinion carries just a liiiiiiitle less weight than theirs. No offense.

Get it now?

And you're not just "pointing out they're bashing Sony"...that's not what makes you a fan boy. You defend Sony every chance you get, and you ignore the bad things they do and actually try to justify them. THAT'S what makes you a fan boy.

Avatar image for killercondoms
KillerCondoms

@gamer162594: Nothing you say carries any weight, I already proved how incompetent you are.

Now get over it and move on.

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Moviespot

Note to self - new user name is baitspot

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trackles

Clickbait is why i have adblock on.

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MeatyMisto

Why is Switch in the title, when there's absolutely no mention of it in the article?

Avatar image for gamer162594
gamer162594

@meatymisto: If anyone thinks super-unoptimized and resource heavy Ark would ever work on Switch.......well....they'd prolly fall for this trick.

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DarthRevenX

@meatymisto: clickbait is why.......

can't have a website in 2017 without some clickbait......

Avatar image for superklyph
SuperKlyph

Come on. What a cop out about cross platform play. He said they want to let all versions play together but then said that they WON'T support W10/Steam. Their reason is bullshit too. Then he hypocritically blames Sony for the console platform block.

Avatar image for gamer162594
gamer162594

@superklyph: W10 - Steam would use Xbox Live, therefore no PC - Xbox then no W10 - Steam. Ain't Rocket Science.

Avatar image for superklyph
SuperKlyph

@gamer162594: you literally JUST said it was because of Sony. Now it's because of XBL without Sony being involved, but somehow still Sony's fault.

If W10/Steam is such a barrier, how does Sony entering the equation magically have the barrier break down for universal cross play including Steam and Win10?

Heck, they even SAID they could do Win10/Steam cross play but won't. Come on. Use your brain. You can't seriously believe the things you're typing.

Avatar image for gamer162594
gamer162594

@superklyph: OMG dude. Yes, it is Sony's fault that Ark won't do cross play. That's a FACT stated in the article, absolutely can't deny that.

And, Win10 - Steam cross play IS the same as Xbox - Steam cross play. They're are connecting to the same servers. Think of it as Steam - Microsoft cross play.

"Heck, they even SAID they could do Win10/Steam cross play but won't." - because of Sony. They won't do Steam - Microsoft cross play because they don't want to maintain seperate servers for Microsoft and Sony.

If Sony said YES, then they'd do cross play. BUT Sony is still saying no....in 2017....with all this technology.....Sony is still agains forward progress.

Avatar image for superklyph
SuperKlyph

@gamer162594: They are already maintaining separate servers for MS, Sony, W10, and Steam. It would be consolidating to maintain separate ones for only MS and Sony. All platforms compatible with servers A, Only Sony with servers B. As opposed to the current models of separate servers A, B, C, and D for each different platform.

I don't even know what to say. If you can't understand that, there's no hope. You seem to think some platforms can already post together or something. That isn't the case. All separate - all separate servers.

Avatar image for gamer162594
gamer162594

@superklyph: But they would need even more servers. They would need Steam - PS4 servers AND Steam - Xbox servers. Instead of just Steam - Console servers.

Something has to manage the connections and do the cross play, If you can't understand that there's no hope, lulz.

So that's TWO additional banks of servers to do cross play. If Sony agreed, they could have just ONE additional bank of servers....which aren't cheap, FYI.

FYI, MS and Win10 are the same thing. They both use Xbox Live. No need to list them as seperate. I bet you we get Win10 - Xbox cross play, even though it's not really cross-play since it's the same network.

Avatar image for superklyph
SuperKlyph

@gamer162594: Or they could leave Sony out of the cross play equation completely (like that are right now) and put every single other thing on one server type. In any case, even with your solution there would be fewer servers if you just want to argue numbers.

W10 and XB1 servers are separate. They are networked, but separate.

Avatar image for killercondoms
KillerCondoms

@superklyph: That's WILDCARD for you.