Please, Steam Dinosaur Game, Don't Suck

Please, Steam Dinosaur Game, Don't Suck

Goodness gracious, ARK: Survival Evolved looks cool. So of course, I'm worried.

I don't mean to sound cynical, but well, we've been here before. A bunch of times. With survival games specifically — especially ones headed from the frying pan of hype into the sloooooooow burning fire of Early Access. And for some reason, double-especially when dinosaurs are involved. Remember The Stomping Land, which evaporated? And theHunter: Primal, which has no business being a "full release"? And numerous other dinosaur games that started out bad and clawed their way to mere mediocrity?

But OK, first let's find out what exactly ARK is. Why is it all-caps shouting its name at me, bellowing like a skateboarder who just got clotheslined by a mailbox or a dog who only knows three of the four letters of the dog alphabet? Here's the 100-player survival game's deal, per its Steam page:

"As a man or woman stranded naked, freezing and starving on the shores of a mysterious island called ARK, you must hunt, harvest resources, craft items, grow crops, research technologies, and build shelters to withstand the elements. Use your cunning and resources to kill or tame the leviathan dinosaurs and other primeval creatures roaming the land, and team up with or prey on hundreds of other players to survive, dominate... and escape!"

Sounds pretty par for the course, but what sets this one apart — or at least seems to — is all the promises the developers are making for their Early Access version, specifically. Apparently on day one (or day zero, I guess), we'll have access to over 30 creature types that can be tamed, level-ed up, and ridden, a full construction system, crafting, farming, a tribe system, massive environments, robust mod support, and a permadeath system that allows for you to "knock out, capture, and force-feed other players to use them for your own purposes, such as extracting their blood to for transfusions, harvesting their faecal matter to use as fertiliser, or using them as food for your carnivorous pets."

Oh, and let's not forget the titular ARK, which is "a formidable and imposing environment, composed of many natural and unnatural structures, above-ground, below-ground, and underwater. By fully exploring its secrets, you'll find the most exotic procedurally randomised creatures and rare blueprints. Also to be found are Explorer Notes that are dynamically updated into the game, written by previous human denizens of the ARK from across the millennia, creatively detailing the creatures and backstory of the ARK and its creatures."

And there be dragons, for some reason:

Please, Steam Dinosaur Game, Don't Suck

(The reason is probably Arks. Sorry, ARKs.)

That's a lot of stuff! The developers' plans are ambitious, that's for sure. Also exceedingly optimistic given that, again, that's all for Early Access, straight out the gate. They want all of that to be their base, and then they will build onto it kinda like in that genre of game they're making. Oh, and they're exceedingly optimistic about their update schedule:

"Over the next year, the game will be rapidly iterated on with updates usually coming 3 times per week, almost always including new features, balance and polish improvements, and bug fixes. We are extremely fast at development, and will continue to push forward with maximum energy to make the game ever-greater on a daily basis."

Yes, they plan to keep ARK in Early Access for a year, which is... a refreshingly honest admission, if nothing else. But they're also committing to a torrid update schedule, all of which sounds almost too good to be true.

I like it when it seems like people are taking Early Access seriously, and I'm really itching for a dinosaur game that is a) good and b) not so half-baked that I worry about dying before it's "done." But you know, I (and we, as a site) have been sucked in by hype around smaller, out-of-nowhere Steam games before, and I've been let down time and time again. ARKhas a hell of a trailer and it's making big promises (and it's apparently less than a month away), but I refuse to get my hopes up or tell you that it's certain to be the greatest thing ever. I can't do it this time. I just can't.


    Would like to hear impressions from anyone that gets in on the early access.

      Don't think early access is until june or july

      Last edited 12/05/15 6:25 pm

    "...updates usually coming 3 times per week, almost always including new features, balance and polish improvements, and bug fixes"

    I'm going to go out on a limb and say that won't be the case for long. They may keep up with the rate of updates, but I'm willing to bet the content of said updates will turn to mostly (or entirely) bug fixes for extended periods, especially later on.

    Last edited 12/05/15 6:03 pm


      Examples of this happening include RUST and DAYZ.

      Both had updates happening very regularly to their stable branches almost weekly at first, then they petered off when the core gameplay had been worked out. Now, you get updates once a month with DayZ and once a week/fortnight with Rust. Both update regularly and reliably (well, DayZ .56 you're sure taking your time there...) but this whole multiple times weekly patch thing does drop off after a while. Quality over quantity please.

    OH god please be good and be likae Arma 3 and kerbal and not like every other Early Access game

    Honestly sounds too good to be true! Seems like a close to perfect game for me.... if they live up to all their promises

      It LOOKS to good to be true too. It seems so hard to make a good dino game.

    Where are the frikken lasers? So close to being a dinoriders game!

    Capturing other players, force feeding them and then harvesting their shit; this game sounds like a trolls dream.

    Why dragons? Should have left it dinosaurs and made it a dinoriders knock off, that show was awesome I still have some VHS

    When the game gets out of Early Access, then we'll talk. Sorry, not paying to alpha/beta test someones game for them.

      That's a great decision, I wouldn't blame you for making it. But I'll just explain a little about why the early access system isn't a bad thing.

      It would be hard to develop a game when you haven't been able to afford food for days. So the developer may think "Should I keep working on this, let people support me financially while providing me feedback to get this finished faster, or should I slow development right down, possibly to a halt so I can get a job to pay my bills and eat".

      For every 1 person who is excited enough to pay money to play an unfinished game, there are many more who wouldn't want to do that but would be excited to pay to play the polished game. This gives the developers reassurance that they are on the right track making this game.

        the big trouble with Early Access though is that for every KSP/Arma3/Darkest Dungeon success story, there 10+ take the money and run setups

    I'll be interested to see how this is going to go from early access on steam to arriving on consoles.

    I watched that trailer twice... It looks amazing, and as an avid dinosaur fan I'm looking forward to playing this... I haven't backed many early access/kickstarter projects, but I probably will back this as I respect the vision they have and if their current alpha is half as fun as the trailer looks I'll be happy with that.

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