How Accurate Are Ark: Survival Evolved’s Dinosaurs?

I play Ark: Survival Evolved [official site] mostly to look at its dinosaurs. I mean, who wouldn’t? But since the very first video that came out about the game, I’ve wondered how close to modern paleontological thinking they are.

I’m interested in all this stuff because for the past few years I’ve been reading a wonderfully When the Internet Was Great-style blog called Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs, which documents representations of dinosaurs, mostly from old picture books, many of which I pored over when I was little, and critiques them according to current scientific thinking. So I asked one of its writers, Marc Vincent, about how games and popular culture depict dinosaurs, and to look at a few of Ark’s. Guess what? Ark’s dinosaurs aren’t very dinosaury.

It’s important to note that Ark’s dinos aren’t meant to be scientifically correct. Its island is also home to ape men and giant snakes. Creative director Jesse Rapczak told Gamasutra that he and his team didn’t go out to attempt accuracy, instead designing creatures that look and behave how players expect. And maybe sometimes don’t, like Doedicurus, which rolls around Ark like Sonic the Hedgehog. Studio Wildcard explains them with some mysteriously undisclosed “in-world context for why these species may have evolved slightly from their historical counterparts,” but it’s also a bit of a get-out. Rapczak later told MCV: “We’ve noticed that a lot of people are quick to point out: ‘Hey, dinosaurs have feathers now. The big lizard thing is not scientifically accurate any more’. It’s actually kind of stressful because people are really passionate about dinosaurs.” He also said that “it’s really hard to do good feathers in a game.”

That’s completely understandable in the context of making a fun game, especially one where you can ride your captured dino and put glasses on it. Marc Vincent understands that, too, but the way they’re presented in the game frustrates him. “As a dinosaur geek, one can’t help but be a little disappointed that the developers have opted to tack dinosaurs’ names onto what are, essentially, fantasy creatures,” he told me. “If you’re going to name your creature after a dinosaur – and the majority of the species in this game are placed in existing dinosaur genera – then you should probably be prepared to make it resemble the animal in question.”

When I was a kid, I probably wouldn’t have minded about all this much. Anything depicting a dinosaur was incredible. But back then, I didn’t realise that the pictures of dinos that I looked at so much weren’t made by palaeontologists but illustrators who were influenced at least as much by other illustrators as science. Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs is brilliant because it shows how there were fashions in the way old faves were represented. You see vast and lumpen old monsters of the 1970s, which was how dinosaurs looked when I first started getting obsessed with them, and then you see how they’ve changed into the lithe and active creatures of today.

Vincent sees Ark’s dinosaurs as being part of a tradition that started with Jurassic Park, which was a big event for dinosaur representation. “For all their inaccuracies, and for all that the filmmakers made use of artistic license, Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs were nevertheless pretty well up-to-date for 1993,” Vincent says. Instead of basing its designs on old dino art, Spielberg’s team consulted scientists and referred to the work of the most well-informed palaeoartists of the 1980s, like Gregory Paul, Mark Hallett and Doug Henderson. That’s why the T. rex in Jurassic Park is an active hunter, able to run with its tail stretched out behind it, acting as a counter-balance. “If Jurassic Park had taken the route that so many are taking now, the film would have featured swamp-dwelling, lard arse brontosaurs and tail-dragging, tripodal, Harryhausen-esque tyrannosaurs.”

Spielberg was a bit too successful, though. “Unfortunately, Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs were so memorable that they quickly became inescapable in the popular media,” Vincent laments. The film set expectations for dinosaurs from which science has since moved on, while popular culture has not.

In that context, Ark’s a bit of a missed opportunity. It had a chance, like Jurassic Park did, to make a new and distinct vision of dinosaurs that might go on to inspire a new generation. But Jurassic Park knew it could start a revolution because it was a big Hollywood movie, while Ark seems to think it’s ‘just a game’. I think it could have thought big, because despite being still in Early Access, it’s been played by 1.6 million people. That’s a lot of people to whom Ark could have seeded a fresh vision of what dinosaurs looked like. On the other hand, hey, the gates are wide open for another game to do it. (EDIT: Like Saurian, which Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs has covered!)

But how do Ark’s dinosaurs diverge from modern thinking? I asked Vincent to look closely at a few of them, and he replied, “I don’t want to nitpick specific creature designs too much.” To be clear, he’s not some pedant who is intolerant to the need to make a fun and technically practical game. “They’ve at least managed a far better Stegosaurus than the one in Jurassic World. I do wish them every success. Even if their pterosaurs are horrible.” But I talked him into it, and he wrote some critiques which I’ve included in full below. Over to Vincent.

BRONTOSAURUS

Brontosaurus lazarus

As you’re probably aware, a fairly recent scientific paper reinstated Brontosaurus as a valid genus, but it still very much resembled its close relative, Apatosaurus. (Where you draw the line between one genus and another is essentially arbitrary anyway, but the paper made a good case for it.) The Ark brontosaur is obviously intended to homage ‘retro’ representations of the animal in palaeoart from the 1960s and earlier – think Rudolph Zallinger and Charles Knight. These were often highly erroneous, giving the animal a rounded, tubular neck and a very different head to the one it had in reality (the latter for various historical reasons). The real Brontosaurus was very different and, in fact, a lot weirder. Its neck bones were hugely wide and triangular in shape, such that it would have had an enormously stocky-looking neck that resembled a Toblerone. Its tail would also have been longer than shown in Ark, and ended with a ‘whiplash’ tip similar to Apatosaurus and Diplodocus. The head of the Ark animal is also incorrect – it should be longer, lower, with a wide muzzle and teeth only in the front. If you want a pretty much up-to-date impression of what this animal looked like in 3D, check out Sideshow’s Apatosaurus maquette, which has been praised by the guys at SV-POW (and they know their vertebrae).

REX

Tyrannosaurus dominum

The Tyrannosaurus in the game appears to take a great deal of inspiration from ’80s and ’90s palaeoart in its style. The head has a very ‘shrink wrapped’ sunken appearance, which was popular back in the day but has fallen out of favour for being an unrealistic representation of what the soft tissues were probably like. The spiky horns over the eyes remind me very much of Mark Hallett’s depictions of Tyrannosaurus from the ’80s, which in turn influenced Jurassic Park. Most telling is the way in which the animal holds its arms. They are curled up with the hands facing backwards, similar to Jurassic Park. No tyrannosaur – in fact, no theropod – could actually achieve this, since the radius locks into a groove in the ulna, so they couldn’t twist their forearms like we can. Instead, the palms of the hands were locked facing each other, and you will see this in all well-researched illustrations made in the last 5-10 years. Judging by the in-game shots that I’ve seen, the creature also appears to have a great number of very thin, bladelike teeth. T. rex had some fairly slender teeth up front, but those further back were huge and thick, shaped more like chunky spikes than blades; they would have been good for crunching through thick flesh and bone. Of course, we could put this down to the in-game creature being a fictitious species.

RAPTOR

Utahraptor prime

OK, I know this is just a game, and a work of fiction, and these are imaginary species, etc. etc., but these things are still really fucking ugly. These are quite transparently Jurassic Park ‘raptors’ with scanty feathers haphazardly applied to a few body parts. This sort of thing was acceptable when Jurassic Park came out, but ceased to be so in about 1996. These no longer resemble what scientists thought these animals looked like in any way. They are straight-up fantasy creatures, and they shouldn’t have bothered with the feathers. Either do the feathers right – head-to-toe, like a bird – or just do what they did in Jurassic World, i.e. shrug your shoulders and give us a ludicrous fantasy beastie. Given how much more awesome even an attempt at a more realistic ‘raptor’ would have looked than these quite lazily designed things, I can’t help but a be a bit disappointed.

PACHY

Pachycephalosaurus leniproelia

This is one of the better ones. A common mistake is to give this animal very narrow hips, like a theropod – in reality, its hips were rather wide (the better to accommodate its huge herbivorous gut). It’s a bit hard to tell, but judging from the fact that people are able to sit on and ride these creatures, it looks like they’ve been given nice wide hips. It’s also not too big, which would have been a danger if the developers relied on ’80s and ’90s dinosaur books – actually, it might be a little small. The head basically follows the real skull, with a bit of artistic license applied (fictional species and all that).

DIMORPHODON

Dimorphodon equesica

What the hell is happening with this one, I’m not sure. Whereas the developers of Ark have exhibited a noted 1990s-style feather phobia when it comes to theropod dinosaurs, Dimorphodon – a pterosaur – appears to be covered in them! Pterosaurs weren’t dinosaurs, and didn’t have feathers. Instead, they had a hairlike covering of what have been termed ‘pycnofibres’. The creature’s anatomy also deviates from real pterosaurs in other ways, including completely lacking the characteristic pteroid wrist bone that helped support the wing, and also in the shape of the wing membranes. In fact, the membranes seem to have been replaced by feathers! As far as I’m aware, no-one has proposed feathered pterosaurs in the past, so the developers are just making shit up here.

TRICERATOPS

Triceratops styrax

This one is avowedly a fantasy creature. Cross-breeding a Triceratops and a Styracosaurus … well, even if you did have them in the same place at the same time, this couldn’t happen. They were simply too distantly related. However, the creature in Ark does basically resemble Triceratops with some funky extra horns on its frill, so we can talk a bit about how it deviates from the science. It’s actually not bad at all, with a nice erect posture and the right sort of body plan and head shape. The tail is a bit long, but that’ll be those Styracosaurus genes, I guess. What I particularly like (apart from that awesome colour scheme in the concept art) is that there are large, rectangular, croc-like scales on the underside of the animal, which correspond with (sadly yet unpublished) examples of real Triceratops skin. If the designers did want to be a bit more accurate, they could change the hands a little. Ceratopsians walked with slightly bowed front legs, and had ‘hands’ with five digits, only three of which touched the ground; they other two were basically vestigial and lacked claws.

Ark: Survival Evolved is out now.

48 Comments

  1. Cloudiest Nights says:

    Really interesting article looking into the factuality of ARKs representation of dinosaurs. More of this, please!

    • le artiste voyuer says:

      the accuracy of the depiction of the dinos in ARK is irrelevant due to the fact that it is a video game that has cavemen with assault rifles and is deemed as an “experiment” in terms of why the island exists. the headline of “how accurate are ARK” made me smash my face into a table.

  2. melnificent says:

    Brontosaurus is back… That’s about all I managed to take in.

  3. Superpat says:

    Really is a shame they didnt consult specialists for the dinosaurs, modern dinosaurs are so much more interesting than the one dimensionnal monsters of the past.

  4. MMajor says:

    I remembered reading this and had to dig it up after reading this article.. link to theguardian.com

  5. Veloci Rascal says:

    how does the stegosaurus in ark look better then the stegosaurs in jurassic world the stegosaurus in ark looks like it was born with some kind of deformaty its face looks like a plop of shit honestly tell me what looks better

    this domented piece of shit: link to google.ca

    or this amazing stegosaur from jurassic park the lost world: link to google.ca

  6. Cinek says:

    As a dinosaur geek, one can’t help but be a little disappointed that the developers have opted to tack dinosaurs’ names onto what are, essentially, fantasy creatures, If you’re going to name your creature after a dinosaur – and the majority of the species in this game are placed in existing dinosaur genera – then you should probably be prepared to make it resemble the animal in question.” – Totally agreed. That pretty much sums it up.

    In either case – very good article, was a pleasure to read. Sometimes I wonder why they didn’t go for more realistic approach in cases where it’d be so much more fascinating and fun, eg. Brontosaurus, or still unreleased Eurypterid. Not to mention the lolDimorphodon – I’d kill (a virtual Rex for a miniature pterosaurs instead of this ugly feathered rat.

  7. apothebrosis says:

    The devs have said numerous times that these aren’t meant to be a 100% copy of the dinosaurs of reality. If you actually research most the scientific names of the dinos ingame, they aren’t real. The ONLY part of the dino that is accurate is the genus, the species is entirely thought up to give the game developers some freedom in designing their dinosaurs.

    The isn’t even on earth. You’re on an island and you’re a specimen like every other creature on the island.EVERYTHING on the island is an altered form of what we know. There’s a giant spider the size a two story building, a dragon, and a King Kong sized ape in the game. All of these dinosaurs are all from different periods of time, yet they are all on one single island? That should be a bigger red flag than an older interpretation of dinosaurs.

    You rag on the devs about not being 100% accurate to modern day paleontology, but that wasn’t their intent to begin with. They wanted to give us a unique survival experience with content that can be relatable, and still unique in the process.

    • Bugamn says:

      I’m not one to usually do this, but did you even read the article? It says there:
      It’s important to note that Ark’s dinos aren’t meant to be scientifically correct. Its island is also home to ape men and giant snakes. Creative director Jesse Rapczak told Gamasutra that he and his team didn’t go out to attempt accuracy, instead designing creatures that look and behave how players expect. (…)
      That’s completely understandable in the context of making a fun game, especially one where you can ride your captured dino and put glasses on it. Marc Vincent understands that, too, but the way they’re presented in the game frustrates him. “As a dinosaur geek, one can’t help but be a little disappointed that the developers have opted to tack dinosaurs’ names onto what are, essentially, fantasy creatures,”

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        Serrit says:

        I should have refreshed sooner :-)

      • Caiman says:

        Alex does make it all clear in the article, but Vincent comes across as a little too arrogant with his dissection. Saying things like “the developers are just making shit up here” is way too dickish, frankly, assuming he understands what the devs were going for. It reminds me of paleontologists’ criticisms of Jurassic World’s dinosaurs. There was a valid point to be made about inspiring a wider audience, but many of them killed the message with their tone.

        • Cinek says:

          Way to be oversensitive, really. At no point while reading this article I felt like tone is inappropriate.

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      Serrit says:

      To me this article is agreeing with you that it wasn’t the dev’s intent to be realistic, and thus this was a missed opportunity to entertain and educate players with a more accurate and up to date dino representation.

      The author also points out that the expert criticism was only provided on insistence, so I read those comments more as hypothetical against if Arc was trying to be realistic.

      Interesting article anyways – thanks Alex and Marc!

  8. BluePencil says:

    I think this is my favourite RPS article ever.

  9. Malfeas says:

    This is something I was pondering while playing ARK. Thanks for this article, I appreciate it.

  10. renner says:

    How cool is that T-rex design for Saurian(featured on Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs).

    I had never heard that game before, but I’ll have to keep an eye on it.

    • Mollusc Infestation says:

      I made this very same discovery, via the exact same investigative procedure. Saurian pretty much sounds like my dream game (concept). I appreciate that ARK is trying first and foremost to be fun, but all i’ve ever really wanted from a dinosaur game is some nice boring ecology.

    • Cinek says:

      Here they’re making the case for a looks. Basically – they added feathers based on other species from the Tyrannosauroidea, even though all skin impressions of Tyrannosaurus showed no feathers, but rather classical dinosaur skin. It’s sort of like beating a dead horse, but… wow, the feather layout they came up with is extremely unlikely and makes no sense. It’s like if someone would put a half-finished fur coat on it…

      • SaurianGame says:

        Hey all, Saurian developer here. Just wanted to clarify a few things brought up by “Cinek”

        -Tyrannosaurus IS a Tyrannosauroid, more specifically the last and most derived member of the lineage. Thus far, every tyrannosauroid we’ve found that was preserved in situations that are conducive for the fine level of fossilization that allows us to see feathers shows them to be well plumed. All data points to the ancestors of Tyrannosaurus being feathered, and to suggest that the animal subsequently lost all of its feathers for any reason requires extraordinary evidence.

        -While it is true that all integument impressions for Tyrannosaurus and it’s closest relavies that have been found to date appear to be “scaly”, they are in fact quite different from most other known dinosaur skin impressions in that they are tiny. Individual scales on the quarter sized patch of skin found with ‘Wyrex’ can be measured in millimeters. For comparison, if someone were to attempt to restore a human being’s integument based on a patch of preserved skin equivalent to that found with ‘Wyrex’, it would be akin to looking at a patch the size of the average 3 hole punch.

        -While the distribution of feathers on Saurian’s rex might appear unlikely, its almost identical to that of Kulindadromeus and what is preserved of Juravenator. There is also a recently discovered Ornithomimid that shows very similar feather distribution, and all 3 are not that different from the plumage distribution of an Ostrich or Emu. There are genetic signals in both birds and crocodiles (animals that are living dinosaurs and sister taxa to Dinosauria respectively)that indicate the integument of the body, tail and limbs are independently controlled, i.e. just because the tail is nude or scaled does not mean the entire animal was. I invite anyone interested in a more in-depth look at our rex to check out our blogpost covering this: link to saurian.maxmediacorp.com

        • Cinek says:

          Let me clarify a few things, cause there seems to be plenty of false assumptions in your post and plenty of points when you’re missing the mark with what is related to what.

          – Read my post again. It should be more than obvious from it that Tyrannosaurus belongs to the Tyrannosauroidea
          – “Thus far, every tyrannosauroid we’ve found (…) allows us to see feathers shows them to be well plumed” – that’s not true. In fact – you partially contradict yourself in a next point
          Kulindadromeus is from a different order, it’s like arguing that humans must have scales all over the body because pangolin does. Ornithomimid is a bit more closely related, but still very far off – it’s much closer to birds than Tyrannosaurus was, they had far more evolved feathers than Tyrannosauroidea clade did.
          – Also Ornithomimid had a different feather layouts than your interpretation of a Tyrannosaurus. In fact – none of the birds nor dinosaurs you gave as an example had a layout of feathers identical, or even close to the one you proposed (the biggest differences tend to be on a tail and legs area).
          – It is not certain if largest Tyrannosauroidea had feathers as due to increase in size a ratio between skin surface and volume makes feathers far less important for insulation in large animals than small or medium-sized, therefore it’s most likely that Tyrannosaurus, living in relatively warm climate, devolved (already quite primitive) feathers of it’s smaller ancestors in the same way largest mammals devolved fur – it played no role, while was expensive for the organism.
          – IMHO if the Tyrannosaurus was heavily feathered at all – it’s layout would by far closer to what the one Impossible Pictures made for the Gorgosaurus in a March Of The Dinosaurs (2011) movie, Gorgosaurus which, by the way, was far more closely related to the Tyrannosaurus than any example you gave. The layout you made-up is extremely unlikely.

          • SaurianGame says:

            – “Thus far, every tyrannosauroid we’ve found that was preserved in situations that are conducive for the fine level of fossilization that allows us to see feathers shows them to be well plumed.” The specimens of tyrannosaurs that do show what appear to be scales are from formations that are not conductive to feather preservation, even for animals we know to be feathered. To date though, we have yet to find an extensively scaled tyrannosaur of any subclade. Whenever the situations exist for extensive, very fine preservation, tyrannosaurs have all shown feathers, and plenty of them, even in animals comparable in size like Yutyrannus.
            -Kulindadromeus is important to this discussion precisely because it is distantly related to tyrannosaurs, and yet still displays a similar distribution of feathers to what is seen in much more closely related animals like Juravenator and in some more derived coelurosaurs like ornithomimids. We would have selected this distribution without referencing Kulindadromeus at all because it is consistent with available evidence. We also don’t have any evidence that tyrannosaurs didn’t possess stage 3 feathers like those seen in dinosaurs closer to birds, the fossilization process often obscures these details, as illustrated by a study conducted by mimicking the preservation conditions seen in China using a dead sparrow; even animals we know to have fully formed feathers show what look like “dinofuzz” after crushing and sedimentation.
            -I’m not sure what you mean by saying “none of the birds nor dinosaurs you gave as an example had a layout of feathers identical, or even close to the one you proposed (the biggest differences tend to be on a tail and legs area).” Saurian’s rex has a distribution consistent with what we know of tyrannosauroids (Yutyrannus) and other basal coelurosaurs (Juravenator, Sciurumimus, other compsognathids) while also recognizing that developmental pathways allow for plasticity in developing different integument on different portions of the body.
            – Yutyrannus amply proves that large size is not selective against feathers. In fact, Yutyrannus preserves MORE extensive feathering that we applied to our T. rex, and this is not due to it living in some arctic waste land as commonly depicted. Yutyrannus and Tyrannosaurus lived in comparable climates, with an average temperature around 10 C. It is not “most likely” that large tyrannosaurids “devolved” feathers when all relevant data from other dinosaurs suggests the opposite. All the small portions of fossilized skin in tyrannosaurids show is that their tails and possibly their legs were not feathered, and this is consistent with the distribution of feathers seen in other basal coelurosaurs.
            -Elephants and other large mammals are a very poor analog for trying to explain dinosaur integument. Elephants are extensively covered in hair, and it serves an important function: it helps cool them down link to sciencedaily.com Feathers are even MORE effective at keeping birds cool by reflecting heat away from the body. Elephants also have far less surface area than a dinosaur of comparable size, making it much more difficult for elephants to lose body heat. On top of that, Tyrannosaurus possessed an avian-like lung and extensive air sacs, which allows for rapid exchange of interior heat through respiration. It is more likely that tyrannosaurs and other related theropods NEEDED feathers to maintain a stable body temperature because they lost heat so easily.

  11. MadJax says:

    I did have a response to this, but it wouldn’t be read, or it would be blocked. So fuck it, ARK is probably the best Walk-Em-Up.

  12. raiders says:

    I don’t care how accurate they are. I got it for 33% off!!!

  13. drinniol says:

    So… This is different to how games depict all animals how? E.g. every single fucking wolf is hell-bent on your death?

    • Cinek says:

      It’s not about character, it’s about anatomical features. Imagine now that your wolf is naked, doesn’t have a tail, it’s size is twice as large as it should have been and it splits poison. There, you got ARK-alike wolf.

  14. koeklimas says:

    That these dinosaurs are fantasy creatures is pretty much established when they started mixing species millions of years apart and added humans. Humans exist because of the extinction of dinosaurs.

    Still I really like this article. Dinosaurs have only been depicted properly in scientific articles, their notion of what is correct keeps changing over time and this trickles down on how society views them.

    I started following RPS recently and I have to say on this page we are allowed to think about video games in an intellectual way. This is depicted by articles like this or the article that picks apart the mgsv story.

    <3

  15. Jackablade says:

    That Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs site is like a dinosaur related TvTropes. I’ve been reading for hours just clicking more and more links.

  16. pennywyz says:

    Enjoyable article, it’s the stuff like this that separates RPS from the rest.

    Anyways, I could suspend my disbelief in this game (and most others) a lot easier if the dinosaurs/huge monsters actually showed some real weight and connection to the ground instead of the ice-skating balloon creatures we get now.

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    Ninja Dodo says:

    Great article! As much as I don’t mind artistic dino-license and have a great fondness for Jurassic Park and its take on these animals, thoughtful scientific analysis like this is fascinating.

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      particlese says:

      Yep, I’m gonna hang out in/near this camp, as well. I’m all for rad-looking 80s/90s dinos (and vaguely-related things like Skyrim’s version of Argonians), but I also love the sciencey articles this Ark game seems to be spawning here, and of course the further science it gets linked to. (Whoops, there go a few hours…)

  18. hamilcarp says:

    Fantastic article, this is why RPS is the best

  19. takfar says:

    The nice this is, Ark is being developed with strong mod support already. And given how popular the game has gotten, I wouldn’t be surprised if a few enterprising fans are interested in doing a “Dino realism” mod. In fact, there have been dozens of those for other games, from battlefield to total war, so it’s more like a mod genre at this point, and almost a staple of all mod-supporting popular games.

  20. NephilimNexus says:

    Eventually (if it hasn’t already happened) someone is going to make an avatar named “Jesus” and take screenshots of himself riding around on the back of a T-Rex.

    At which point everyone will realize that the issue of dinosaur realism in a game like this is kind of silly to begin with.

  21. matt_d_rat says:

    While I am normally one for having things scientifically accurate in any kind of media, this article quite frankly pissed me off. I don’t want to simply say “it’s just a video game”, because that statement in my opinion undervalues video games as a genre.

    The Ark team have said on numerous times the dinos AREN’T scientifically accurate, they are created as a sub-species and as such affords them some creative freedom and licence.

    There is no point in trying to shoe-horn what is considered to be scientifically accurate on Earth into a fantasy/virtual world, because we can simply apply the same set of arguments… the creatures on The Island evolved differently.

    That is assuming they evolved naturally at all. I would first ask:

    – Why are the humans waking up on this island in the first place?
    – Why are these creatures here? What are those pendants embedded in their arms?
    – What are those big obelisks floating in the sky?

    My interpretation of the genesis of The Island in Ark is a big scientific ecosystem experiment by some advanced race to understand how species can co-exist and adapt.

    But that’s just my two cents.

    • Cinek says:

      Re-read the article. You clearly didn’t understood the message.

      • matt_d_rat says:

        I understood the article perfectly thank you. My issue with it can be summarised by the following quote:

        “I don’t want to nitpick specific creature designs too much.”… which was later followed by saying things like: “What the hell is happening with this one, I’m not sure.” and, “OK, I know this is just a game, and a work of fiction, and these are imaginary species, etc. etc., but these things are still really fucking ugly.”

        If that is not nitpicking then I don’t know what is. For me he lost all credibility at that point.

        Again coming back to my original point, I think it is far more interesting to look into the story behind Ark and how those obelisks and the chips which are embedded in the human’s arms came to be, rather than trying to shoe-horn scientific accuracy for how dinosaurs on earth evolved into a fictitious world which for all intents is not on earth.

        As a software engineer I can give you one very good technical reason why the dinosaurs aren’t covered in feathers, it’s really really really hard to get them right, both from a look and a performance point of view. Personally I would take a game that is playable over one that looks stunning (which I actually think Ark is, minus the feathers) but is only giving me 10fps.

  22. HERP DERP NANOMACHINES says:

    #ActuallyScientificScienceFiction

  23. Jimmy says:

    This wonderful article reminds me of a great comment some years ago from an RPS reader, noting the disparity of architectural styles used on a building in a Counter-Strike map, leading to an interesting thread on architecture versus ‘splosions.

    Ark is definitely on the ‘splosions and headshots side of the spectrum, but I have said many times that I would happily throw money at a dinosaur ecosystem walking simulator. Make it happen. K thx bye.

    • Cinek says:

      Same here. It could be something really amazing.

      Even more so if done with proper physics, to see this “weight” dinosaurs had, and not feel like if they’d just be floating helium balloons that play walking animation while actually hovering just over the terrain. Don’t get me wrong – they did far better job than most of the games I seen, but still… it just doesn’t feel right when Carnotaurus bites Carbonemys and it flies 5 meters back while being perfectly still… or a pterosaur that can hover still 1m above the ground, indefinitely.

    • cauldron says:

      You should look at Saurian (link to saurian.maxmediacorp.com)

  24. BarryScott says:

    Now if only you article writers would spend this amount of time and effort into actually making video game related content than spouting about how accurate a games creatures are.