From the earliest stages of our development we knew we had an opportunity to create a game that pushes next-gen gameplay experiences in addition to awesome visuals. The result is that the world of ARK and its inhabitants feel like a real place that you can walk through, explore, and truly experience in your own way.
The PS4’s powerful hardware has allowed us to bring a scale and scope to the game that wasn’t previously possible in the console space. We’re shooting for the moon with this one, a fully persistent game world, tens of thousands of AI entities, totally destructible foliage and environment, and multiplayer on a huge scale.
And yeah, we’ve got dinosaurs. Dinosaurs that you can ride! At release, we’re shooting for about 60 distinct species, and we don’t plan to just have them just wandering around as cannon fodder.
All creatures in ARK have their own living ecosystems, predator hierarchies, and an autonomy that exists outside of the players’ influences. Their interactions with each other intertwine with the way that players might use them, because almost every one of our creatures will be able to be tamed and used for peace or for war. The PS4 has the horsepower to pull this off, so we’re really excited to be finally bringing these kinds of next-generation gameplay experiences to consoles.
We didn’t stop there, though, because what’s better than experiencing all of this as if you were really there? After working for almost three years pioneering and creating high-end experiences for HMDs, I can tell you with good confidence that not much compares to soaring over the jungles and mountains of ARK’s islands on the back of your very own pteranodon. The feeling of immersion the team has created in this beautiful world simply has to be experienced first-hand; it is profound and impactful, and even for me was a little bit surprising when I first tried ARK in VR.
When you design an experience like this, one of the most important things is to not fall into the trap of focusing on one platform and type of input while letting the chips fall where they may on the rest. Just like mouse versus gamepad, you have to design with VR in mind from the beginning. All of your testing, all of your gameplay elements, they need to tie into the experience of wearing a VR headset, the different FOV, the perception of motion and presence that exists between looking at a flat computer screen and virtually “being there”. In the end we don’t just “allow” for VR, we recommend it, and ARK is a richer game because of it.