The Survivalist: ARK Survival Evolved’s sequel tease is an insult to its fans

You know that moment when you just can’t take it anymore? I am there, right on the cusp. I know many folks have gotten to their “I can no longer support <insert name here>” phases for various games and studios for a variety of reasons, but I had never yet reached such a point in my own gaming. (That one studio doesn’t count because I never supported them in the first place.) And now here I am. I don’t think I can continue to support Studio WildCard.

That is definitely a shift for me. I have been an ardent fan of ARK: Survival Evolved. I championed the game pretty heavily: I have streamed it for over two years, I personally host two servers, and this very column was born largely on the back of ARK. I have almost 1500 hours of playtime, and I own the expansions. I had praised the game and Studio WildCard for a long while, holding it up as an example of things done right.

Then things changed. The accumulation of many remarks and actions that ate away at my trust was topped off by the way the studio shows disregard for its current customers, treating them as disposable cash cows. And then came the sequel talk this very week.

The last straw

What broke my support camel’s back? The last straw was the studio’s latest demonstration of its direction. You might recall that I was pretty incensed back at the beginning of the year when it came to light that Co-founder Jeremy Stieglitz did indeed break his contract, a move that cost the company a ton of money that could have/should have gone into development. What made it worse for me was the flippant air in which he basically bragged about what he did and defended it by saying it was “almost a moral obligation” to break his legal commitments and make the game. One response I heard to this was, “Oh yes, he had a moral obligation to violate his contract and expose his new company to millions in lawsuits because video game dinosaurs.” As a person who holds morals in high regard, I find the “morals” exhibited here are anything but, and that is problematic for me. The word does not mean what he thinks it means.

The particular statement that has the distinction of being the last straw was posted by the community manager on the official forums on Monday. The CM wrote, “With the unprecedented popularity of the game, it would be a disservice to not expand on that through a sequel.” I had two problems with this. One: A sequel? The original game hasn’t even been fixed, and there are two more expansions due — one of which missed its scheduled launch once already. So what about pouring ideas and work into fixing the first game first, and then doling it out to the expansions that many have already paid for? There was an answer to that in the very same posting:

“People may ask why expand through a sequel rather than more expansion ARKs like Scorched Earth or Aberration or the yet unrevealed third expansion, and the answer to that is simply a matter of efficiency. Our developers have learned a great deal when it comes to game development through the years of developing ARK as well as from handling porting the systems over to consoles; a good amount of work done has been applying those new fixes to old code and trying to make sure that the whole thing doesn’t put buttered toast onto a cat in the process. With a sequel, development could be further streamlined and made more efficient by not having to isolate old functions and trying to make them compatible with new discoveries. This could hopefully turn things around, as it’s no big secret that our release estimations are less accurate than an imperial storm trooper shooting at rebels.”

This answer sounds suspiciously like the devs are saying the current game is too broken and don’t want to waste time on it. After all, they could make a new product with less effort and get more money out of folks quicker than wasting time trying to make the current game actually work. Why put time into fixing the original and making more expansions for it… I mean other than the fact people have paid for these products? It feels like the whole paragraph could be summarized with, “We’ve got your money, but we want more, more, MORE!”

The discussion that precipitated this response was about a dev comment that a sequel was something the team was thinking about for a year or two down the road. So no, this isn’t something they are making right now. If that is truly the case, then great: a sequel in the future. Except, the first game seriously just barely launched this past summer! And more than that, haven’t we heard before that they are working one one thing (say fixing the bugs and optimizing ARK for launch) and then it turns out they were spending time on something else entirely (like the Aberration expansion)? I do believe this happened more than once, so even if they say they are not working on it, I can’t really believe them.

And if, as it was emphasized in the post, no plans are actually in the works for a sequel, why turn attention to it now — especially in light of the unfinished nature of all the current products? We want your attention on fixing what we have and getting out what has been paid for. That brings me to my second problem with that statement: The real disservice is not providing the best game you can for those who have been funding your development.

It’s all about the cash

I totally get that games need to make money. I am all for it… just not by any means possible. And the actions of Studio WildCard feel like it is all about the money to them. Plenty of veteran players feel dismissed and/or insulted. Remember the WildCard dev who called players cheapskates for not wanting to spend $20 on an expansion for an unfinished game still in early access? Yes, he apologized after the community made a ruckus, but is that sentiment of money-before-players gone? Is this a company that is trustworthy? Lets look at the studio’s track record:

  • Co-founder lies repeatedly about involvement, breaks contract, and calls it moral
  • Studio loses tens of million to lawsuit
  • Scorched Earth paid expansion is pushed out while original still in paid early access
  • Sale to Snail Games kept quiet
  • Prices escalate for retail version because of physical components, but digital also raises
  • Season pass goes on sale before Aberration expansion launches, while original buyers get no discount and still no game
  • Studio claims it’s a disservice to not plan a sequel while simultaneously saying that work  fixing the existing games is not efficient

I don’t know how far in advance that Steam sale on the season pass was set, or how much control the studio had over it, but it bothered players. Granted, the sale on would have hit after launch had the expansion launched on time, but it didn’t. Did anyone really expect it to? In the quote above, WildCard admitted, “It’s no big secret that our release estimations are less accurate than an imperial storm trooper shooting at rebels.” And what about raising the price so much when it launched? Yes, we knew it would raise some, but up to $60? Studio WildCard Co-Founder Jesse Rapczak told gameindustrybiz.com it wasn’t about greed:

“It’s tough because we actually, as a company, make more money selling it at that lower digital price because there’s not all of the cost of goods and all of the shipping costs and taxes and retailer fees,” he comments. “So when people look at the increased price, they might be tempted to think, ‘Oh, these guys are just trying to get extra money or whatever.’ But, actually, the opposite is true. More people buy the game when it’s lower priced. At retail, of course, we’re taking home what might be less than that lower price on digital normally. But, the flip side is, retailers won’t put it out there if it’s that cheap… because it wouldn’t even be worth it to them.”

But wait, since players still buy the game digitally, such as on Steam, and since it was raised just as much (you know, to be fair compared to the retail versions), doesn’t that mean more profit there?

These things add up. There are other little bits all throughout the development, things that always seemed geared toward future paying customers than those who already ponied up. And now “talk” of a sequel right after the original launched — in its buggy, unoptimized state no less? Chasing the almighty dollar sign caring not about the methods used to get it, that is just too much. I can’t really support that way of thinking. It’s like they got drunk on success, forgot about the game we all bought into with them, and don’t care who they hurt while going after what they want. And what they want appears to be money, not following through with completion of their game.

Am I done with ARK? I can tell you I will not be buying any sequel. Will I still play those versions I’ve bought, even those that aren’t out yet? I am not sure at this moment. I can still play offline and on my servers with friends, and I can’t ignore that streaming is a part of my job. But I am considering not giving that kind of support either.

In the survival genre, there are at least 1001 ways to die, and MJ Guthrie is bound to experience them all — in interest of sharing them with you! The Survivalist chronicles life and death struggles against all forms of apocalypse, outbreak, mutation, weather, and prehistoric wildlife. And lets not forget the two-legged savages! Tune in here and on OPTV to see who feeds better: MJ or the Death Counter.
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108 Comments on "The Survivalist: ARK Survival Evolved’s sequel tease is an insult to its fans"

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Brandon Dickenson

Honestly, considering the development time… I think what he said about a sequel is not only right, but inevitably the right decision. A lot has changed in 5 or 6 years… both for the studio, and for the engine. The problem with constantly updating the same game, is you eventually turn into WoW… every new coat of paint becomes less and less exciting when its the same shit underneath. You gotta at least innovate something, change something in a massive way.

underwrought
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underwrought

I read the quote as basically … “Consoles make way more money than PC so we are going to create a console specific squeal for consoles and maybe port it over to PC”.

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Cate Mehlos

I bought Ark very shortly after it came out to early access. That was before my support of Early Access was broken entirely (not buying EA titles anymore). I was really excited about how often the game was getting updated and improved. I have seen large performance improvements, but, it basically went from barely runnable to pretty playable. I bought the scorched earth expansion, justifying it with “Well I’ve put so many hours into Ark and got the game cheap to begin with, it won’t hurt to give them a bit more money.” and now the game is technically ‘launched’. I don’t feel like I could ever play this game on a server because it’s too easy to get stuck, have terrible bugs ruin your progress, and of course get griefed by other players. I thought about buying the aberration expansion, but with this news, I probably will not. Definitely not without a huge sale.

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Johnny Rogue

Play my maps man…they are free and I still work on them updating them usually weekly.
Skies of Nazca – https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=720200839
Thieves Island – https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=651147582

New areas. Skies was one of the first (the Center was the first) to have floating islands and they are pretty fun maps.

Also, they probably want to jump on a sequel cause we are using a pretty old version of Unreal 4 (4.5) and the engine has advanced BIG TIME since then (its at 4.18 now) with lots of new features and cool abilities that are just NOT available on 4.5 and coding it on their already spaghetti code would for sure break something.

Sorry third edit…the game industry has been all about the money since mobile gaming exploded. The days of making good products just to make good games is long gone sir.

Goettel
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Goettel

Good, anything hurting ARK means a bigger chance of my buddies rejoining me in my MMO. I’m feeling particularly selfish today ;-)

Emmanuel Carabott
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Emmanuel Carabott

The idea behind crowd funding is great, the problem is its way to easy to abuse. I dont know if there is a solution for it really. The problem I believe is mainly that unlike having a publisher with crowd funding there are just no consequences.

Its even crazier when get a publisher and then they also crowd fund at the same time (must be amazing to be an investor in such a publisher…. get returns without having to spend to invest before hand, 3rd party players will do that for you.)

I’d say if everyone wants crowdfunding to work we need some changes to curb abuse. the only idea i come up with is, if you want crowdfund, you need to put your game and code in escrow with each release with that crowd funding platform (platforms do money only fair they should do some work too). When you crowd fund you need to provide a design spec that people are going to fund you against. You want to change it? fine but you need the majority vote of all your backers to do that. Until that spec is met to an acceptable level of quality (to be determined by crowdfunding platform or majority vote ) if devs dont provide substantial update every say 6 months then crowd founders are given full non exclusive rights to what is in escrow. So they can decide to continue developing if they choose and even monetize their work if they choose to. Now what do I mean by substantial updates? that will be tricky to determine but it should be that the developer goes bust and the owners simply release “something” every 6 months just to keep ownership of a project thats effectively dead. On the other hand it shouldnt be overly harsh where devs need 24/7 crunches just to keep control over their project.

Perhaps this isnt the proper way to do it at all either, bottom line is if project fails (devs run out of money, loose devs, etc..) or if devs decide to move to something else before project is ready (they project they’re not going to make enough money to justify continued development, find a better opportunity etc..) At least crowdfunders get something in return for their investment and for developers they actually have something keep them on target like a publisher would.

DeadlyAccurate
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DeadlyAccurate

They used to (maybe they still do) have a regular Q&A where people would post questions in the forum, and they would use their newsletter to answer some of them. There were many repeated features people requested that they constantly agreed to do and never did. For example, a way to eat multiple berries at a time. They also said they planned to have diurnal and noctural schedules for the animals. So many times they would say, “Sure, we can add that” and never did.

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iamisobe

((Deleted by mod. Please review our commenting code or don’t come back.))

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Darthbawl

Sounds like you need to git gud with your insults. :P

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2Ton Gamer

Your argument about Jeremy being a money hungry tool is dead on. However, the majority of issues with Ark, simply cannot be fixed because of the older version of the Unreal Engine that was used. Had that wind bag waited just a year longer and completed his contract, he would have had a more stable version of the engine that included a ton of optimization that their custom engine can never have. They stretched the engine as far as they could.

Whether it’s right or wrong doesn’t matter, it’s going to happen and it will probably make even more bank. The only thing we can hope for is that they learn from their mistakes and get that huge ass chip off their shoulder. I still say that of all the games I’ve played in the last 10 years that I got more value per hour played from Ark than any other game. That’s saying something. I look forward to a more stable game, which we’ll never see from the original or any of the subsequent expansions.

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Peregrine Falcon

And this is exactly why I never crowdfund, kick-start, pre-order, or purchase alpha/beta ANYTHING! (except MOP!)

HATE LOCKBOXES?!? Well, what do you call throwing in money for a game that doesn’t even exist yet? I’d call that the ultimate lockbox. You buy in and then maybe you’ll get a game, maybe you’ll get a scandal, and maybe it’ll just quietly disappear. And they STILL don’t publish the odds.

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Cypher

So much This!
Same with those season passes; “pay for future DLC now and hope we actually deliver on the quality, hell sometimes even deliver at all!”

quark1020
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quark1020

Dude….never thought of it that way!

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steve

Most of the problems with the game result from Wildcard not having software developers to match their content creators. The game is a buggy mess, and even if they did manage to retain a senior-level programmer the job of re-engineering their code is likely to cost more than just making a sequel.

Not that I wish to excuse Wildcard. This is something they must have been aware of from the early stages of development. Senior programmers are rare, and probably worth three or four times the salary they’re willing or able to pay.

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Tanek

“This is something they must have been aware of from the early stages of development.”

Exactly. And the players who were giving feedback for the game told Wildcard about the same problems over a 2 year period. But hey, we just did not know how game development works, right? If they spent time on fixing the issues back then, it would all have just broken again in the next patch anyway. All will be fixed in beta. :P

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Sally Bowls

Everyone gets to their own positions in their own way. For me, it did not pass my personal smell test back when the baker, using her maiden name, was a cofounder and said her husband was just helping out. Before they lost the lawsuit that said it was not true. Then there was some aggressive monetization prior to launch.
So I assumed some players had moved on and the ones who had stayed were either OK with the moral issues or felt the game outweighed them.

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Luxxicon

It is a good game with issues. Some people don’t like the phrase but I definitely feel that I have gotten my money’s worth… (several hundred hours).

I work in a high tech field and know the pain of supporting old code that you wrote before learning a bunch of painful lessons (Experience: Information you get just AFTER you needed it). Maybe it is a money grab, but I feel the more likely scenario is that the cool features / performance optimizations / whatever they want to add are just too painful or impossible to do with the old code base. People pay for new features and additional development, but refactoring old code takes a long time and nobody want to pay for that. You can’t keep going forever with the initial investment (i.e. purchase). Is that “right” or “moral”, but you need money coming in constantly or you can’t pay your bills and then everything stops.

I am not as emotionally invested in this game as others so perhaps it is easier for me to have this attitude. I’m not saying you shouldn’t feel that way, I’m just saying I don’t.

Luxx

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Sally Bowls

In general, I can support that idea. If a game like WoW or EVE with 15 year old code begun in the time of 32-bit, single-thread processors without DX/graphics power wanted to rewrite, I could certainly understand.

I just don’t buy it for a game that launched 3 months ago!!! Or perhaps if your 3-month old game is such a mess that it is not worth maintaining, then I don’t find it credible that the same team, with less money than in the early glory days, could do appreciably better today than the game they launched three months ago.

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Keith Ramsey

Correct, official launch was 3 months ago.. the code it working on more than 2 1/2 years from when it went to Early Access. Probably three YEARS old or more.

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Luxxicon

The code is significantly older than 3 months… multiple years and much learning.
Comparing the resources of Blizzard (and the multiple rewrites they have already done to WOW) to this company is not reasonable.

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Tanek

This is the thing about it for me. They JUST LAUNCHED. Granted, I don’t think it was ready for launch yet, but what’s done is done.

I guess it is a hazard of having a game in early access for so long (I think 6 months to a year should be the limit for actual paid early access play), but you can’t use ea as a shield for 2 years when it comes to bugs and poor performance (remember the “it’ll all be fixed in beta” and “you just don’t know how game dev works” excuses people had on the forums?) and then also pretend the game has been out for that long, so it is ok to ditch it and aim for fixing the issues in a sequel.

What would people think if a game that had NOT been in early access launched buggy today and then the developers said it would be too much to fix the current game, but hey, we learned a lot and you’ll really want to buy the sequel!

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Ket Viliano

EvE has been rewritten several times over. Even WoW has had significant improvements made to it.

When I buy a game in early access, I am paying for them to fix the bugs, and get it right. The problem with “Sequel” is that it is just the game that I already paid for, but have yet to receive. Snail just wants to milk the customers,and floating a sequel is just a way of trying to do that. To which I say, no dice, I am owed the game I bought, with all possible bug fixes.

Polyanna
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Polyanna

I can understand the disappointment you feel when it becomes clear that a game you liked a lot of things about and looked forward to playing once it was fully realized now turns out to be basically just a ponzi scheme where “early access” players were just paying the developers to learn how to make games, so they could turn around and make an entirely different game (which they no doubt will sell to a whole new round of “early access” players for THAT game), instead of delivering the game that they said they were making.

This is why I stick to one simple rule when it comes to paying for any game, no matter what label a developer slaps on it: If you allow anyone who pays you money to play your game, then it is a released game, full stop.

If it’s a half-done, half-assed shitty game, but you’re still letting anyone who pays you money play your game, then it’s a half-done, half-assed shitty released game.

Anything else leads to confusion and delusion.

If the game as it exists right now, today, is worth the price the developer asks for you to play it, then pay the price and be happy to play it. Regardless of what bullshit label they slap on it to excuse it being a shit game, and all the pie in the sky shit they shovel about where it is going. If it’s good enough today for you to find it a good value, then that’s fine.

If the game as it is right now, today, is not worth the price of admission, then don’t pay it, and don’t play it. If it improves at some point to where it becomes worth the price, maybe reconsider. Even if the game ultimately doesn’t get where you thought it was going, if it was worth the price for you when you started, then you got to have some fun while it lasted, and it was worth what you paid. And that’s more than you can say for plenty of games, released or otherwise.

Until then, if you’re paying money or putting in time based on what you think the game will be instead of what it is, you’re just asking to be ripped off and disappointed. And more often than not, you probably will be.

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Chris Brown-DeMoreno

“This answer sounds suspiciously like the devs are saying the current game is too broken and don’t want to waste time on it.”

So, can I be honest? It’s just us here, right?

This is EXACTLY what they are saying and frankly, I don’t have a problem with it. While I am in the camp that believes that they should complete the promised content, as a programmer, I totally understand the sentiment here. I’ve worked on projects where–especially when you’re learning a new language or doing something relatively new to you or your team–at some point you might want to start over. Maybe you wrote a function 2 hours in that by hour 600 given all you’ve learned along the way you realize that you could have done in a much more efficient way but given the calls and how parameters are passed in and how you’ve returned results and referenced stuff all over it’s just not feasible to go back and re-write that right now. Does it work? Sure but you understand the inefficiency or bugs in it. When it’s something on the scale of ARK (and given how broken it is) you might look at that and say ‘the amount of work required to fix this in the way we feel we can now is almost like creating an entirely new game’. So why not just do that?

Do I want to buy a new game? Hell no. I want you to fix the one that I have but at the same time I would prefer a better made, more feature rich version of the game. If that means another $60 and 2 years of waiting, fine. Fine. Especially when, had they not said a word, they could keep the course they are on and I could spend that same 2 years with the same broken game and be equally as irate.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

I think this is right. If you follow any EA game by a newly minted independent studio, it goes through a lot of iterations. The difference is that many devs don’t abandon their babies on the frozen tundra, but find ways to improve their work and even significantly patch it. But for many EA games, it is clear the developer simply got to a point and stopped and called it done, whether it was or not.

Let’s not forget Hellgate: London. Or Flagship Studios. I always boiled this tragedy down to the inexperience of its founders, despite their years at Blizzard. They were used to operating Large, they were used to a significant organization and income stream supporting their ideas. Suddenly, they were out there, on that cold landscape, struggling to stay alive and no one to sign off on their cost overruns. And no money magically appearing in the bank to meet their payroll.

The reality is that the gaming industry is highly unique. Yeah, you might buy a Season ticket for the Dodgers or the Bills, but you know that somebody will appear on the field and the games will be played according to the rules, whether your team wins or loses. That’s really the closest analogy to what the gaming industry does right now . . . gets you to buy an unfinished product that may never materialize based on their promises of what they intend to do.

Seriously, does that sound like a con or what?

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steve

I think we see a lot of this in Star Citizen. Games of this scale are R&D projects, and if you aren’t willing to scrap and reiterate wholesale in R&D, you’re going to paint yourself into a corner you can’t get out of.

Add to that the problems with developing in your production environment. I wouldn’t touch that mess for $200k per year.

Xijit
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Xijit

All things must eventually end MJ, but there are still tons of other games out there just like ARK … Only, ya know, less shitty and mismanaged.

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the_lone_cowboy

Name one game like ARK. A game with: taming, breeding, heavy mod support, PVP/PVE, crafting, building, multiple maps, around 60,000 current players, etc…I have asked someone to name a similar game on multiple different sites/forums, but have NEVER received a reply. Lets see if someone on here is up to the challenge.

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Rheem Octuris

Minecraft?

Xijit
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the_lone_cowboy

No taming, breeding, mod support or anywhere near 60,000 players. Try again

Xijit
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the_lone_cowboy

No taming, breeding or PVE. Plus all servers wipe every two weeks. Try again

Xijit
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the_lone_cowboy

No taming, breeding, or anywhere near 60,000 players. Try again

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the_lone_cowboy

Huh? What happens when a online focused game isn’t getting enough players to continue making money? Popularity = more sales, which helps the game continue to be supported. Come on, you know this.

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Jeremy Barnes

Actually…you can “tame” thralls. Taming of creatures is coming.

The number of players is your little caveat to try to prevent anyone from finding a replacement you’ll accept.

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the_lone_cowboy

The number of players has to do with having 1000’s of options when it comes to picking a server. One of the number one things I love about ARK is the fact that servers can be heavily customized to your liking and have many to choose from. I see your point with taming thralls and will give you that, but breeding is one of the main draws to ARK. Without breeding, Conan will never come close to touching ARK. Why do you think Conan went from 50,000 players to less than 3,000 in 3 months? Everyone I asked about it gave me the same answer….they got bored and ran out of stuff to do.

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the_lone_cowboy

Far more will look for a server VS creating their own. Your personal preference doesn’t apply to most.

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Tanek

“Taming” thralls is bad enough. I’ll hope they don’t add a thrall breeding program in there. Yikes.

I do look forward to seeing what they can do with taming the creatures of the world, though.

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the_lone_cowboy

Same here. Conan was the game I wanted to overtake ARK. I still hope it does since I don’t like Wild Card as a company. The minute a better game comes along, I will jump ship, but not until then.

Xijit
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the_lone_cowboy

No taming, breeding, mod support or anywhere near 60,000 players. Try again

Xijit
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the_lone_cowboy

No taming, breeding, mod support or anywhere near 60,000 players. Try again

Xijit
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the_lone_cowboy

No taming, breeding, mod support or anywhere near 60,000 players. Try again

Xijit
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the_lone_cowboy

No taming, breeding, or anywhere near 60,000 players. Try again

Xijit
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the_lone_cowboy

No taming, breeding, mod support or anywhere near 60,000 players. Try again

Xijit
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the_lone_cowboy

No taming, breeding, mod support, multiple maps or anywhere near 60,000 players. Try again

Xijit
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Ashfyn Ninegold

Can I just say you two are hilarious.

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the_lone_cowboy

No taming, breeding, mod support, multiple maps, PVE or anywhere near 60,000 players. Try again

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rafael12104

So, can I be honest? It’s just us here, right?

Screw Studio Wildcard and the Dino they rode in on. Kudos to you MJ for seeing the entire forest.

I too was a supporter. Not for long but I joined in and had a great time playing the game. But than I began to notice that despite it’s time in early access, nothing was getting fixed.

And then Wildcard released an expac supposedly for additional testing, but which had a price tag.

After that, I became more aware of the shenanigans of the Studio Wildcard management culminating in the sale of the studio to Snail Games a chinese conglomerate which they hid and refused to acknowledge for a time. LOL. Still not sure what that was all about.

Finally, I started seeing the success of Ark abroad and most especially in China where new versions of the game were being released with new features. All the while, here the same old serious bugs continued to hamper my game play.

It became clear to me then, that they really didn’t have much interest in fixing this game. Wildcard would just string us along as long as they could until the game could no longer be supported.

Voila! Talk of a sequel!

Screw Studio Wildcard, I say. I’m not falling for their bullshit again.

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Melissa McDonald

… and this is why I don’t have a writing gig in the video game industry. I just can’t summon up this much passion, outrage, concern, or caring about stuff like this. I play the games to escape. The oft-repeated outrages about lockboxes, balancing, gender-locking, et al, are just not stuff I get upset about.

I enjoy the game for what it is. Rinse and repeat.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

This is pretty much my approach to games and has been since opening that Christmas gift, The Game of Life, way back when. I look at it as a kind of adventure, what does this game have on its mind? What’s this about? What’s the purpose of this? That’s when the game is new to me and I’m approaching it with beginner’s mind, forming no opinion.

Later on, however, when I’ve answered most of my questions, sussed out the core of the game and gained a knowledge of its mechanics and how they favor or disfavor my enjoyment, I do form opinions.

I’ve never touched ARK and never been tempted. I’ve learned to avoid MMOs in Early Access on Steam. They have a very bad track record. And as the years went by and it remained in Early Access, and despite MJ’s cheerleading, there was something about ARK I just didn’t buy. Then the kerfuffle about an expansion while in EA. When I saw that, I thought, yup, lucked out on this one. And then the price hike. Well, enough said.

Bottom line, though, you either enjoy a game or you don’t. And when you don’t, time to step away and cast about for something else.

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Koshelkin

I’m sorry but I’m really amused right now. A sequel? A-fucking-amazing. Thanks Snail, thanks to the dubious people at Wildcard.

Y’all should support Conan Exiles and Funcom. Conan Exiles is friggin fantastic.

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the_lone_cowboy

Is ARK perfect? nope. Is WC perfect? nope. Is this one of the most ambitious games to ever come out? I think so. I’m willing to bet you will buy the sequel & keep playing ARK. There is reason it’s peak players have been holding steady since 2015, because the ones that leave then realize there isn’t a single game out that can replace ARK. Really, look at most of the “I’m done with this game!!!” threads on Steam and then check the persons profile…..they are still playing ARK. Are there similar games? Sure! But nothing quite like ARK (taming, breeding, heavy mod support, PVP/PVE, crafting, building, etc.

You really want the ARK devs to wake up? Make a game that captures the magic that ARK does, but make it BETTER. Wild Card keeps making money because of lack of competition. Why do I believe the competition isn’t out there? Because of how ambitious and difficult a game like ARK is to make. If it was easy, ARK would have died the minute a better game came out……I’m still waiting on that better game.

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Serrenity

So MK – Just a few notes as I don’t have a dog in the fight – haven’t played in years.

The first is on the buggy original version and not wasting time on making it work. So taking dollars entirely out of equation… What probably happened is they had weak product management and development process. So as they were developing they probably delivered hackathon features to get them out there and saying they would go back and fix it–just had to get it out there first. Then they said that again. And again. And again. They never cleaned up their tech debt because management never let the developers go back to fix stuff because features are sexier then cleaning up tech debt.

So what you end up with is a product that has no cohesive architecture and a lot of half realized features that are hacked together to just get it to work.

It happens in development all the time when you ask devs to do things fast but never let them fix the stuff they did quick. You end up with a crazy janky product.

So when they say they want to work on a new game, what they are saying is that their tech debt is becoming so heavy to work around it’s taking them to long to deliver the features. Naturally the business response is to burn it down and start over so they can start delivering features fast again…. And eventually what happened in the first game will happen in the second.

All in all, it’s a management issues and a development process issue–driven by greed absolutely, but compounded by weak and ineffective management

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Tazuras

This sounds about right to me. I also tend to think that it is in part due to lack of education of management about these issues with software development as well as industry wide issues in adapting to developing software of ever increasing complexity.

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Armsbend

Hi, MJ. Welcome to Early Access/Kickstarter. A few of us have been telling you guys it’s a scam for years now. It’s nice you are finally seeing it for what it is and will continue to be. ARK is a fine example of a developer not actually being interested in finishing a game – but very interested in fund raising without any intent on completing anything. That’s when the money dries up.

““I can no longer support ””

We (or at least I) support you though MJ!

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Koshelkin

That’s why I only crowdfunded devs which already had worked on titles of a similar scope with sensible goals. It worked out well, mostly, and the only game were I took a leap of faith(Repopulation) is in some sort of development hell(atm).

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life_isnt_just_dank_memes

Good for you, MJ! That was put very well.

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Dug From The Earth

Perfect example of a bad indie dev (yes, they can be just as scummy and low rate as a triple A company or publisher like EA).

Gamers really need to stop putting such unwarranted faith into companies now days. They should have to earn our trust before we give it, given all the times companies are jerking us around just to shake more money out of our wallets.

what-4
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what-4

I dropped em like a hot pan when they sold an xpac to an EA game. Their course of action is now “GRAB CASH”.

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Cervator

Pity about all the drama and hassle, since the base game has so much potential. Wish they’d be more organized and sensible about managing such an asset.

I remember that screenie. We all died in glorious fire. I hope Wildcard avoids that fate :-)

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kgptzac

I have to ponder whether this game is a demonstration of success or failure of Steam’s Early Access program… looks like the latter more and more now.

ceder
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ceder

Oh btw MJ, Jeremy’s not the CEO of Wildcard. Doug Kennedy is.

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Armsbend

What was the cookie baker’s title again? C-level exec right?

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Tanek

What really gets me about all of that is, I defended them. I STILL think it was wrong to just dismiss his wife because the business she ran was a bakery, but to have it turn out that he really was hiding his involvement? (I think he is Lead Developer? And a co-founder. Whatever it is, a much more central position than the “consultant” that was claimed.) It is like he was just laughing at everyone who gave them the benefit of doubt. “Fooled ya! *wink*”

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Armsbend

I didn’t have anything against her being a baker. I think people can move from being unsuccessful baker’s into software. But what I KNOW FOR A FACT is that a former owner of a failed small bakery simply cannot instantly be in a C level position at a software company running a multi million dollar game. That is why everyone who has been in software knew she was a placeholder – as did the court. Their being so antagonistic about it really showed how silly it all was. I really enjoyed watching them being shoved through a window into oncoming traffic – figuratively speaking of course.

ceder
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ceder

Are you referring to Jeremy’s wife Susan who used to own a bakery? She was a cofounder and business manager for a while but she doesn’t directly work for WC anymore.

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Armsbend

Back in Dungeon Defender’s heyday I was a huge Trendy fan – it’s why I paid attention to this one. But yes that’s the one.

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Cosmic Cleric

Thank you for speaking out MJ/citizen! /bow

miol
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miol

Just: Thank you! /bow

ceder
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ceder

*Grabs a tub of popcorn and grins*

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Veldan

The sequel thing bothered me as well, and I never even played ARK. If you have a game that needs fixing, on top of expansions that are planned / in the works, you really should not talk about a sequel. And what they said about it seems to indicate exactly what MJ wrote: they’d rather make a new game and avoid their past mistakes than trying to fix those mistakes in the current game. Too bad for everyone who purchased the current game.

(Though I might add, for people who played 1500 hours, I think you got more than your money’s worth regardless of the future direction of development)

what-4
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what-4

I got 1500 hoursish as well, TO say ” I got my moneys worth” is not something I can fully agree with. I did, obviously, get A LOT of time out of my 25$ purchase. But I never got to play a full, fixed, game, which is what I expected. I expected my frustrations in EA would be rewarded, in time, with a finished product. Something that I now doubt will EVER happen. I did get a lot of time out of it and dont feel cheated or anything. But WC made lofty promises missed pretty much all of em and never truly delivered what was promised 2 years ago.

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