Today Studio Wildcard, the team behind the wildly successful Ark: Survival Evolved, released an Ark Dev Kit, a slimmed-down version of the Unreal Engine 4 editor designed specifically for their game. To promote that release, the team has announced a modding contest and publicly released a Hunger Games-inspired total conversion called Survival of the Fittest.
Ark is a multiplayer survival adventure game currently available on Windows PC and scheduled for current-generation consoles next year. Released on Steam's Early Access program just this past June, the game has quickly developed a devoted fanbase and a hefty revenue stream.
The release of mod tools to the community has been a priority for the developer, as co-creator Jesse Rapczyk said in a recent interview. The Ark Dev Kit will be available for free through the Epic Games Launcher.
In a press release issued today, Studio Wildcard said that by using the mod tools "creative souls can easily generate their own Ark items, weapons, creatures, maps and game modes to share with fellow survivors online."
The first of those game modes, developed in-house by Studio Wildcard itself, is called Survival of the Fittest. It features a custom map, bounded by a dome-shaped force field, that shrinks in size the longer a match goes on.
"Leveling, gathering, taming and building happen at a quicker rate," in that mode, said the press release. "As the contestants enter this arena, not only do they need to look out for the dangers from the creatures and the other survivors, but also randomized 'Evolution Events.' These events take place every 30 minutes and have major impact on the gameplay — from freak weather occurrences, to dinosaur stampedes, extra supply drops, day-to-night shifts, player location reveal, and more."
Survival of the Fittest was highlighted just a few weeks ago, when 70 popular Twitch livestreamers were invited to a no-holds-barred, five-hour tournament with a $30,000 prize pool. During the stream they showed off a free-floating camera mode that allows shoutcasters to monitor the action from anywhere on the map.
Survival of the Fittest is now available on the Steam Workshop as a free plugin.
To celebrate the release of the modding tools, Studio Wildcard is also hosting a contest in conjunction with Alienware. The best mods created for the game will be elegible for over $25,000 in cash and prizes. The grand prize is $15,000, a new Alienware Area-51 and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti.
Polygon will have our impressions of the Survival of the Fittest mode soon.