Surviving the Ark: Day 1

Jeff and I have been playing Ark: Survival Evolved since before the game was officially released. I stumbled across it one day when he and I were between games. He said he had looked at the game but never played, so we decided to give a try.

Our original foray into the Ark world was on a game hosted by Jeff, so we basically had the whole island to ourselves….just the two of us. It was a great way to get to know each other. I even jokingly told him once that engaged couples really ought to play ark for a few weeks as part of their pre-marital counseling because it’s kind of like real life, requiring you to work together as you make epic decisions like where should we build our house, who’s going to farm and who’s going to hunt, and who is responsible for feeding the animals once they are tamed. Plus you get to have great conversations like, “hey! what happened to the hatchet I just put in this box?!” or “I um…didn’t pick up that stuff you dropped for me and….umm….it seems to have all disappeared….sorry….could you make me some more weapons….please…?”

Eventually, the beta version of Ark started to give us some issues, and Jeff wasn’t able to host our world anymore, so we stopped playing Ark for a while. Recently, however, the full game was released, so I suggested we give it a try again. Jeff tried to set up a private world, but, again, the game wouldn’t cooperate. We decided to just try one of the less crowded official servers.

Spawning into Ark for the first time is always treacherous. There are many dangers, and your character is very vulnerable, but it gets even more complicated when you are trying to find your partner. You can’t control where your character will spawn in other than picking the general zone.

We decided to spawn in the easiest zone, the south zone, but, of course, we didn’t end up spawning at the same spawn point (it’s like the game knows we want to play together, so it makes the experience as difficult as possible). Our most of our first session looked like this:

“Where are you?”
“I don’t know. I’m like on the beach with a big rock. The green obelisk is on my right.”
“The green one or the red one?”
Ummm… looks green to me…”
“Look at your map. What’s you longitude and latitude?”
“Oh. Ok. Uhhhhh… 83 lat by 57 long?”
“Huh…ok…well, I’m at 73 by 83. Just stay there. I’ll come find you.”
“Ok……Uh oh…..Oh!…..NO!
“Never mind. I just died.”

Eventually, we did find each other, and Jeff created our tribe. We picked a spot on the beach (which veteran pvp players scoff at, but this is pve so who cares) and built a little shelter. By the time we got to this point, it was getting late, and we had to call it a night before we managed to gather enough resources to create a bed which serves as the tribe’s permanent spawn point. This means, that the next time we logged in, if our characters had died for some reason, we would spawn at a random location all over again. (Yes….your character can be killed while you are logged out. This is an online game that never ends. It’s one of the coolest things about this game.)

After our first game, Jeff’s schedule got crazy busy, and he wasn’t able to play very much over the next couple of months, so growing and maintaining our homestead became my responsibility. I ended up spending a couple of my next gaming sessions dying and respawning all over the south map. Eventually, I wised up and started creating little base camps at spawn points so that when I died, I would have some basic equipment near by to get me jump started. Nothing too fancy, just a small thatch structure, a campfire, and a storage box with clothes and basic supplies. Arguably, the most difficult part of Ark is getting started, and that trick really helped. I finally got our little tribe up and running.


P.S. Don’t get all weird about this being titled “Day 1.” I’m not going to chronicle each individual day! 🙄 It just felt like a fitting title.

Surviving the Ark Sandbox

I have found a new obsession. It’s a video game called Ark: Survival Evolved, and it’s basically Minecraft for grown-ups.

Ummm…..why are you giving me that blank stare? You don’t know what Minecraft is either?

Ok. Let me elaborate….

Ark: Survival Evolved is the most awesome online, multiplayer, sandbox game ever! It’s one of the first games Jeff and I played together, and that’s not even why it’s so awesome!

But before I start gushing about all the reasons Ark is so much fun, I should probably give you some idea of what this game is all about.

See, video games are categorized into several different genres such as action, adventure, sports, and role-playing games (just to name a few) with each genre being further divided into sub-genres. Ark (and by extension, the afore mentioned, Minecraft) is a role-playing, sandbox game.

A role-playing game (RPG) is basically what it sounds like. You play the role of a character in the game, battling monsters and exploring the game world. Most of these types of video games draw their gameplay style from traditional role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons with the character you play often having similar attributes and abilities as characters in D&D.

Sandbox games are a sub-genre of role-playing games, so they often have the same mechanics or feel as more structured RPGs. You play a character inside the game world, but they differ in that there is no set story-line, or the story-line is very relaxed. Basically, in a sandbox game, you get to do whatever you want, build things, fight things, collect things, and in the case of an online game, interact with other players.

When you enter the world of Ark: Survival Evlolved for the first time, your character wakes up on a tropical looking beach. You have no clothes (ok, you do have underwear…you’re not completely nude), no food, and no tools. So your immediate task is to remedy this before you freeze or starve to death because this beach may look tropical, but the weather is anything but.

At first you scrounge around picking up rocks, gathering berries, and punching trees. Yes…I said punching trees! Punching is the only way you can get thatch and wood to make your first tool, a pickax.

Once you have the pickax, things get a little better because you can collect resources faster and make a fire, but by this point, you have probably noticed one other unusual thing about this beach. There are dinosaurs everywhere!


Hopefully your initial encounter with dinosaurs consists of just watching a few herbivores mill peacefully around, but more often than not, your first lesson in dinosaur/human co-habitation involves a gruesome death in the jaws of a ravenous carnivore when it kills you and sends you back to the stone ages. Ok…..a terrible cliche….but it was just begging to be said….especially because after you die in this game, your character respawns in a random location back at square one….no clothes, no tools, no food. The only advantage you have when you respawn is that you keep your experience level and engrams (or abilities) you have learned, and if you’re really lucky, you can even find your corpse and retrieve all your stuff.

So now you’re probably thinking, “Wow! That sounds frustrating and awful,” and you’d be right. There is a learning curve to this game, and that’s probably why it took me until this second go round (Jeff and I recently restarted playing this game a few months ago) to really fall in love with it. The first few sessions are spent literally just trying to survive, but it does get better. Once you master a few skills like hunting, building, crafting, and farming, the game improves drastically, and from there, the sky is the limit! Yes….I used another cliche….but I had too!….because (and here is the best part)… this game you can tame, ride, and fly on dinosaurs!

Ok…once is not enough…I have to say it again……You can tame dinosaurs!!!!!

In the world of Ark, dinosaurs are your ultimate helper and guardian. Not only can you ride them, but they help you hunt, gather, and carry things, as well as protect you, your friends, and your stuff. Dinosaurs are awesome!

And did I mention, they are kind of cute, too.


Ok, I think dinosaur fun is the best place to stop, and I’m pretty sure I have covered the basics of what Ark is like. There are still a few mechanics of the game I need to explain, but I think I can hide those in the stories I am going tell in my next few blogs.

I hope you come back and live the Ark life with me.