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ARK: Survival Evolved Launches $25k Modding Contest

Modding tools and new modes.

The ARK: Survival Evolved [official site] folks have been busy. Today they're launching their Survival of the Fittest Hunger-Royale-style mode onto the Steam workshop. Coming with it are free mod tools, accessed via the Epic Games Launcher, that are a "streamlined" version of the Unreal Engine 4 editor. These will be used in a just-announced modding competition in partnership with Alienware where anyone can submit maps or mods for a shot at three big prizes. Phew, that's a lot of links. Read on for all the details.

The Survival of the Fittest mode was announced previously and had its inaugural tournament shortly after. It's a constantly shrinking arena filled with teams who must fight each other off to gather supplies and eventually become the last humans standing. What's interesting is Studio Wildcard are pushing the e-sports angle of it rather than the casual-competitive side it would most easily appeal to. It's certainly different from your average team-based game and I'd love to see it played at the highest level. Stallwart RPS freelance heroes Andro Dars and Steven Messner recorded themselves playing it for us:

Watch on YouTube

It's been revealed today that this mode was in fact built with the tools that are now available to all. You'll need to grab the Epic Games Launcher and then navigate to the ARK tools download page to get them. A handy press release informs me that "creative souls can easily generate their own ARK items, weapons, creatures, maps and game modes to share with fellow survivors online." Despite the different launchers, it's fully compatible with the Steam workshop. It also looks like you'll be able to download and use those tools without actually owning ARK - very useful for any veteran modders not sure if it's something they want to get involved in.

If you do, there's some hefty prizes on offer in this competition. The rules are pretty lenient, specifying only that you should create either a map for an existing ARK game mode or a mod to make a game mode of your own. Presumably, you could do both, in some sort of special combo deal. The extra-fries option of development. Once you do, uploading and voting takes place like this:

Round 1: Under the image caption for your screenshot, name your Mod, add the Steam Workshop link and a description of approximately 500 characters to describe how your entry best meets the judging criteria. It is also recommended that entrants add a link to a YouTube video showcasing the Mod.

In round 1, entries will be voted on and judged based on the following equally weighted Screenshot Judging Criteria:

Does the Entry look and sound engaging?
Does it look like it would be fun to play?
Judging Score Weighted: 75% / Public Voting Score Weighted: 25%

​Round 2: If your entry is selected as one of the top 10, the ARK: Survival Evolved developers will judge the finalists based on the following equally weighted Mod Judging Criteria to determine the final order of finish:

Overall graphical or functional quality/polish
Entertainment value (how fun is it to play?)

Once you've done/got through all that, you're eligible for the various prizes, which break down thusly:

1st Place: $15,000 USD, Alienware Area-51 Desktop, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 TI Graphics Card
2nd Place: $5,000 USD, Alienware X51 Desktop, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 Graphics Card
3rd Place: $2,500 USD, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 Graphics Card

One could even class that as being paid for a mod you've made. What a concept.

Entries need to be in by October 6th and, as above, will be judged on a combo of developer insight and public perception. Even if you're not taking part, expect a flood of quality content onto the Steam Workshop soon. If you're thinking of giving ARK a shot, Andro did a half-hour Let's Play for us last month. It's on Steam Early Access for £18.39 at 20% off.

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Ark: Survival Evolved

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Ben Barrett