ARK: Everyone Do the Dinosaur

I’ve been keeping my eye on ARK: Survival Evolved for a while after hearing about how awesome the game is supposed to be. Since I’ve been playing other survival type games (7D2D, H1Z1, Salt), ARK wasn’t really something I was in a rush to pick up, though I thought the idea of a survival with dinosaurs was pretty cool. I was a bit of a dinosaur nerd when I was in elementary school, and I was surprised just how many dinosaurs I could still remember.

A little bit ago, one of my Zombie hunting troop caught wind of ARK and excitedly sent me some info on it. Ever since then, the game has been on our collective radars. It wasn’t until it went on sale this weekend that we really bought into it.

So, I spent most of Saturday afternoon working to install and set up an ARK private dedicated server, just like I have with games like 7D2D. It’s not a 24/7 server, but something I turn on when we want to play that gives us our own customized environment to play in. I did some reading about server settings and highly modified our server to be much more casual friendly. I was impressed by the number of server settings available to customize, and was happy to balance out a server that was much less grindy than I’ve heard other servers can be.

I will note that setting up a server is not an easy thing to do. I had to fight with port forwarding issues and had a lot of failed starts. I eventually managed to get it to work somehow.

I will also note that ARK is not a very optimized game, being in early access. I had to immediately knock down some video settings to get it to run on my machine. I’m also having login crashes from time to time that restart my graphics driver even after a driver update.

That Tribe

I mentioned on another post that we quickly formed a tribe, which I named Ooga Booga (I dunno, first thing that popped into my mind at the word “tribe”), which functions as a shared guild in this game. I am very impressed with the tribe functionality in ARK.

It’s easy to invite someone, promote someone, and mess with all sorts of tribe settings, even this early in alpha. Tribe members automatically get access to shared buildings, storage and dinosaurs. They also earn a little experience when they’re in proximity to other tribe members who are doing things – even picking berries or crafting!

This makes ARK a much stronger social structure than other survival games I’ve played – H1Z1 should really take a good long look at this system.

Crafting and Building

Crafting and building is usually my favorite thing to do in survival games just because I like the downtime of making awesome things for my friends to experiment with. Both systems are very easy to do in ARK. As you level up, you earn points to unlock Engrams, which are recipes you can use to craft everything from clothing to weapons.

I was surprised when Syn picked up the building stuff before me, and started laboring away at building our first little thatch hut. We’re working on upgrading it to wood at the moment, but I find the building system easy and pretty fun (considering we have boosted harvesting on our server to make building less annoying).

Taming Dinos

This was the part of the game I was most excited about. I wanted to learn all about taming and raising dinosaurs! Again, I’ve modified the server to make this less of a hassle than it would be on a normal server. But, I find that taming the dinosaur isn’t as difficult as actually keeping the tamed dino alive!

This is the story of Happy, my first tame. I chose to tame a dodo in order to try things out and learn about taming.

I used this most excellent video to teach me how to tame, btw:

So, anyhow, I tamed Happy and all was good.

Then I decided to try something a bit more challenging and tamed a pair of Dilos. I then decided to see what happened if my little group of dinos were set to protect me against the big wide world. So along the way back to camp, I engaged in battle with other Dilos. That’s how I learned, with anguish, that you can accidentally kill your own tamed dinos in the heat of the battle if you’re not careful where you swing your spear.

I lost Happy and I lost one of the Dilos, so I was down to one. Upset about losing my very first tame, I brought the remaining level 3 Dilo home, named him Watch Dog, and set him to watch over our beachfront, which he did dutifully.


Having a bit of experience with taming, I decided to try for a mount. I lucked out and found a Parasaur who was stuck between two trees and couldn’t run. So I quickly tamed her and named her Happy (yeah, I know).

Once tamed, I very carefully brought her back home, left her as unagressive, and set her next to the shack while I set out attempting to harvest enough hides to make a saddle. While doing this, I discovered my first supply drop!

So, I snagged the supply drop, and set up a fire to camp there for the night. The next day, I saw another supply drop across the bay, and decided to investigate.

Sadly, I met my first raptor, which I killed, followed by a group of ants that killed me. I swear I’ve had more deaths to insects in this game.

I did manage to run back and get my stuff off my body in time, then snag what was in the supply chest. At that point, I was getting a little overconfident in myself.

Aywren vs. Trike

I saw a level 4 Trike and thought it was sure to be an easy tame. I really, really want a Triceratops mount as they’re one of my favorite dinos, next to Brontosaurus and Stegosaurus. So, I attempted to tame it… and it took me out without much effort.

This time, I ran back and couldn’t find my body… so I’d just lost all the hides I had been collecting for my saddle. And I had almost been done! Naked and defeated, I started on a trek back to home base when I discovered a Trike egg on the beach.

Oh! I thought. Maybe I can hatch this or something? (Note: You can’t yet. Maybe a future feature?)

Smart me. What do I do? Pick it up.

Suddenly, I had a raging female Trike on my tail.

Oh, crap!

I run down the beach, racing for the safety of the house. Only… the house doesn’t provide any safety. That female Trike is pissed and she’s ramming the building to get to me. Rather than see the house torn up, I run out of the house only to see the Trike now mauling my Happy, who is set to be non-aggressive, and is not fighting back.

I try to intercept, but it’s too late. Happy is slain and the Trike turns on me, and promptly deals me a death blow.

So I respawn on the bed without thinking. In the house. And the angry female Trike is still at the door.

Ooooh crap! Now she’s attacking Watch Dog, I realized in horror.

Only, Watch Dog is set to defend himself, and somehow, the Trike had health low enough that the Dilo took her down. Wow!

I gave Watch Dog a big helping of raw meat for that.

Finally A Mount

I’d lost my Happy. I lost all my hides. Aside from Watch Dog and a few levels, I was now empty handed of anything I’d earned that day.

So, I went out to tame yet another Parasaur. After chasing one down forever, I tamed Happy #3.

I was a little concerned that this Happy is only a level 1 dino. But I took him back home and was sure to let him defend himself if attacked. I then managed to gather all the hides needed for a saddle, and finally had my first mount!

Later that night, my tribe logged in again and I departed upon them the wisdom and folly of taming dinos. We now have a new dodo named Fred, and a Phiomia named Tame (name pending). We found a Philmia saddle in a supply drop, so we now have two dino mounts to ride.

My current project is building a fence around our settlement to keep out the wandering dinos and keep our pets safer.

And no more Trike Eggs.