Ark: Survival Evolved is a game unlike any other. It’s a unique take on open-world survival that mixes the ancient world of dinosaurs with the modern elements of civilization and machine guns. Even just explaining it in one sentence sounds ridiculous, but it creates a new and exciting open-world explorer where you can learn to survive with hundreds of other players or become dinosaur food.
There are several ways to run Ark on your computer, and one of these involves using a dedicated server for Ark Survival Evolved. This can greatly improve your (and other player’s) gaming experience, but to fully understand why we need to gain a better idea of both what Ark is and what a dedicated game server is. The goal of this article is to help you understand how a dedicated server can impact your game performance and whether it is right for your setup.
What Exactly Is Ark?
For anyone unfamiliar with the open-world genre things may seem confusing for a bit as there is no traditional storyline for you to follow. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a sequence of events, just that you the player have control over what pace you do things and where you go. In fact, exploring an island on Ark can take you hours, all the while you’re collecting resources and building up your character as you see fit.
The game doesn’t stop there though. Depending on your island you could be alone with nature or find yourself interacting with other players. You each control one human dropped onto the island naked and struggling for survival. The choice of whether to work together and create a tribe or take one another out is up to you, adding an interesting level of interaction in the world. Since this kind of game style simply wouldn’t work if you had thousands of players all right next to each other there are multiple islands where players are staggered. This is where servers come into play.
What is a Dedicated Server?
Dedicated servers are not exclusively for gaming, but for the sake of this article, we will talk about dedicated game servers. To understand what a dedicated game server is let’s talk about what it does and how it functions from the point of view of an individual player. The server is a middle man between you and all the other players playing a game. With the servers help you are all able to coordinate with one another in a way that logically makes sense to each player.
If Player 1 swings a pickaxe at Player 2, Player 2 needs to somehow see that this action was done unto him. From a programming standpoint if Player 2 is running a game isolated on his own computer he would have no way of ever seeing Player 1 or knowing a pickaxe was swung. But with a server connecting the two information is sent multiple times a second from both players to the server and then back. The server manages the physics of what logically would happen given the inputs of both players and then notifies both computers of what image should be displayed to reflect those physics. The result for Player 2 here is he gets hit with a pickaxe and loses health.
Given an around the world connection via a shared server, the big gameplay determinate becomes how quickly data can go on a roundtrip. Depending on the game this connection speed can make or break an experience. The slower a connection is the choppier gameplay becomes, and the less likely users will be coming back to play again.
Using a Dedicated Server for Ark:
Now that we know the basics of what a server is, let’s talk about how to use one in Ark: Survival Evolved. Dedicated servers are not necessary for playing Ark, but they can improve everyone’s experience. A dedicated server in this sense means that the server exists solely for managing the game, whereas playing with a non-dedicated server means your program is both acting as the server and running the game for you simultaneously. This can make things simpler for you, but performance is not as good.
Playing without a dedicated server can also tie players in Ark to the host player. If a host wanders too far away on an island the game could force other users to come to their location. Likewise, if the host player quits the game the entire server will cease to function for other players in the world. This behavior is hardly ideal in an open world game where half the appeal is being able to go where you want when you want to.
A dedicated server is just a program running your server logic, it doesn’t directly impact any player’s graphical experience. For this reason, you don’t need a GPU to set one up, you just need CPU, RAM, an OS, and storage. It’s simple to rent a game server as well since many well-established companies support dedicated game servers for games like Ark or Minecraft.
What to Look for In a Dedicated Gaming Server:
The first thing you should always check with a dedicated gaming server is the price. Obviously, you only want to pay what you can afford, and shopping around can help guarantee you’re getting a good deal. These prices will change based on what you want out of the game too, but there are some minimum requirements to meet for Ark. Your dedicated server will need 8GB of RAM and run at least a 64-bit Windows system or Linux OS. Your disk space requirement will change depending on the number of players you’re hoping will land on your island, but 20GB of disk space is your minimum target to hit. As your player base scales up this will need to as well.
You’ll also want to make sure that you have a hosting plan that both functions all the time and can recovery properly when it doesn’t. In a perfect world nothing breaks, but there’s nothing that will kill a player’s motivation more than if a game crashes and their data is permanently lost. For this reason, when selecting a plan make sure there are disaster recovery plans available. It’s better to be prepared and not need it than to find yourself up a creek without a paddle. Especially if that creek is full of hungry prehistoric creatures.
Likewise, since your game will exist online, there are sure to be people out there who try to abuse it. Protection from things like Distributed Denial of Service attacks can help ensure that your server doesn’t get overloaded and is able to continue servicing players as they expect. Lag is a surefire way to lose your audience, and without them, there’s not much point in paying for a server.
Summing it Up:
Ark is a truly incredible game. It’s such a fun concept for an open-world game and using a dedicated server can help improve everyone’s gaming experience. A dedicated server can minimize lag and unintended gameplay interactions, allowing you to dedicate your time to make your island unique and keep users coming back.