Q: What is the ARK Dev Kit?
A: The ARK Dev Kit is a simplified version of the Unreal Engine 4 Editor specifically compiled to streamline the process of creating Mods & Maps for the Unreal Engine 4 game ARK: Survival Evolved, and to upload them directly to Steam Workshop for other users to download and play.
Q: What can I create with the ARK Dev Kit?
A: While the ARK Dev Kit does not provide access to the ARK C++ game source code, it does contain all of our editable source art for the game, as well as our editable maps and blueprint classes. Thanks to the power of Unreal Engine 4's Blueprint system, even without C++ you can modify and extend quite a lot of the game functionality, including new items, weapons, AI Behavior Trees, structures, and all kinds of gameplay classes & game logic. You can focus on creating a beautiful new environment for the game, or extend the core game classes via Blueprint to add a whole new game mode and new mechanics. Over time we'll detail how to create more complex game modes on the forum, and provide more examples on how to do so!
Q: Where do I get the ARK Dev Kit?
A: You can get the ARK Dev Kit directly from the Epic Games Launcher. Simply Sign-Up, Download Unreal Engine, and go to the ARK tab!
Q: Where can I get help with the ARK Dev Kit?
A: On the official "ARK: Survival Evolved" Modding forum! Moderators from the Dev Team will do our best to help you with any questions or technical issues you might have, and we encourage you to read up on the general Unreal Engine 4 documentation at www.unrealengine.com.
TO PLAY A MOD OR CUSTOM MAP
To download mods or maps, simply go to ARK's Steam Workshop page and click "Subscribe" on the item you'd like to get.
Then in-game while playing ARK, you'll automatically see the name of that map or mod appear in the "Host / Local Play" menu, potentially after a brief delay while the content downloads in the background. If the mod has been updated, you can also manually refresh all your installed mods via the "Update Mods" button.
You can then either play locally or host an online game with it. Alternatively, you can simply join an online server that is playing a custom Workshop map (indicated by the "Custom ARK / Map Name" fields on the Session List), and it will automatically download before you connect to the game -- in this case, you'll see an on-screen progress indication of how the download is progressing.
CREATING A MOD OR CUSTOM MAP
To create your own maps or mods, first you'll need to sign-up (or sign-in) and download the Epic Games Launcher.
After downloading and installing the Epic Games Launcher, go to the ARK tab, Create, and click Install.
The download can take awhile because there is a lot of game media and a content cache to reduce load times. Even so, the editor can take a long time to start up the first time and you may be looking at waiting times up to 30 minutes for the first run.
When the editor is loaded, you will be in a test map and you can click the "Play" button on the editor toolbar to start playing, or open "Maps\TheIslandSubmaps\TheIsland.umap" to explore the full ARK Island. Alternatively you can open "Mods\DinoArena\DinoArena.umap" to see how a simple cookable mod is put together.
Full documentation for the Unreal Engine 4 Editor used in ARK can be found here: https://docs.unrealengine.com/latest/INT/Engine/index.html
COOK & UPLOAD TO STEAM WORKSHOP
When you're ready to create & deploy your own map to Steam Workshop, here's the basic process:
Make sure your map and ANY new content that it utilizes (blueprints, art assets, any new assets) are located in “\Content\Mods\YourModName\".
Then click the "Cook & Upload to Steam" button on the Editor Toolbar:
In the dialog which appears appears, you'll see your Mod listed, if it's in the “\Content\Mods\YourModName\" folder (otherwise it won't show up -- it has to be in a Mods subfolder!). Choose your Mod, and then click "Cook". The first time you cook your Mod, the Editor needs to compile a lot of shaders, so it might take a long time (i.e. 30 minutes or more). However, subsequent cooks will be much faster as the compiled shaders are cached to disk.
(Note: Cooking your Mod will actually cook it for both Windows and Mac/Linux platforms, for cross-platform online compatibility!)
After cooking is finished, enter a Title and Description for your Mod, choose a preview image and initial Workshop Visibility state, and then click "Upload" to Steam Workshop. You'll be asked for your Steam Credentials (don't worry, we don't store them), and then the process will connect to Steam and attempt to upload your content to the Workshop. You'll get a basic progress indicator so you know how things are going during the upload process.
After the upload is finished, you can click the "View Item on Steam Workshop" button to adjust your item's presentation on the website.
To update your content in the future, simply Cook and Upload again!
We'll have more tutorials about how the specific features of ARK level design are put together, but for now, feel free to explore and modify "TheIsland" map to poke around at how things work, including the stream sublevels and the zone area spawners. Remember, when designing levels you may wish to start small and simple, and then gradually scale up.
If you have any questions about the Mod Tools, feel free to post on the Unreal Engine forum for ARK modding. We encourage intrepid mod makers to help each other out here, the more the community can collaborate to build exciting new content, the better it’s going to be. Stay tuned to our Steam page, Twitter feed, and here for more information on upcoming ARK modding news!
Have fun and happy modding!