The Ark of today has been in operation for a little over 4 months now and has seen people who played on our two previous servers come and go and help us tailor this instance of TheIsland to the point where we are now pretty happy with it. As such, we are now in position to open it up fully to anyone and everyone looking to jump in for the first time or revisit Ark 9 months after we initially started hosting servers.
With GamingNow opening it's doors for the first time publically we thought we'd take a quick look around our Ark and introduce you to some of the history there.
In the beginning
The first couple of weeks in the newly built Ark covered the Christmas period. As such, plenty of people were around to spend the yuletide whacking trees, pounding stone and getting eaten by surf raptors on the western beaches.
It was also a time where RaptorClaus would sail through the air randomly dropping gifts in the dead of night for brand new survivors to hastily gather up.Unfortunately, chasing towards dropped gifts from RaptorClaus proved problematic for most people due to the fact early game players are unable to ride flying dinos and most of the time RaptorClauses gifts went uncollected or worse - survivors were killed en route.
RaptorClaus can eat a dick.
In addition to the cruel teasing from RaptorClaus, winter itself had descended upon the Ark and the average temperature around the coastal regions dropped from it's normally temperate range to a level where just staying warm enough to survive the night was a major challenge.
For those of us who had made camp close to the snow biome in the north west, it was even harder.
After the thaw
By the start of January the survivors were relieved to find winter was passing and with it, survivability improved dramatically. It was at about this time when we discovered that three distinct groups of survivors had came together and formed Tribes.
The first of which quickly occupied an area on the coast in the North West of the Ark where the temperate zone met the snow biome. They would build a small wooden compound backed against a huge rock to protect themselves from the plethora of carnivorous beasts and became known as The Wonder Chums.
The original Wonder Chums base of operations
The second tribe to get organised originally settled on the southern coast under the guise of The Muppets. They spread quickly from their humble beginnings on the beach and would setup several small outposts throughout the region, eventually becoming the largest and most active tribe on the Island.
The third major tribe emerged a short time after The Muppets had established themselves and initially settled nearby with their assistance. This group - Tribe Of Rune - would soon put their aggressive play style to good use raiding small tribes and lone settlements along the coast. While it was not known at the time, they were effectively vassals of The Muppets and worked cooperatively with them during the early months of the year. Eventually, their raids would spark a conflict that would lead some to near complete ruin.
By the second week of January most of the major tribes had got to a position where they could expand inland and start working on a permanent home for themselves. Where and when this exactly happened is anybodys guess, but from my perspective as a member of the Wonder Chums our initial ambitions to tame a few heavy pack animals and escorts suggested we were now ready to explore the inner snow biome.
It had taken longer than anticipated to get to this stage due to the fact we were in desperate need for fur armour to protect ourselves from the unforgiving elements and acquiring this fur was difficult, dangerous work as we not only had to do battle with savage wolves and Mammoths but also do so quickly enough before freezing to death. Needless to say we sacrificed a lot of potential building and preparation time to gather the furs we needed to make the long trip inland to set up base but by the end of the first week in January we were ready to settle down.
At the same time, both the Muppets and Rune had expanded their sphere of influence and began launching raids against a number of solo survivors and two player tribes in the south and west. Fortunately, it would be a while before we would ever come face to face.
Moving inland we quickly discovered we lacked both the resources and manpower to settle properly within the snow biome due to the number of high level dinosaurs and utterly brutal weather. Our goal had been to move to an area we could easily defend from ground attack while keeping us close to the precious metal and oil resources we would need to survive and dig in. However, it soon became clear at our present experience levels and numbers it was simply too difficult and costly to make a go of it in the cold.
Our plan changed - albeit slightly - and we headed to a relatively flat location atop a series of great waterfalls near the volcano where on a previous incarnation of the server we had built a resource outpost.
It was not the easiest location to tame and clear out due to the presence of so many dangerous dinosaurs but we had access to a free flowing water source, plentiful metal, rock and obsidian on the mountain side and no shortage of varied creatures we would eventually domesticate as our base began to grow.
All we needed was time and a lot of resource gathering in order to build a circular perimeter wall in to protect us from both the wildlife and the fear of marauding players.
Unfortunately, it was at this time when two of the regular tribesmen stopped playing on a regular basis which slowed production down considerably.
Meanwhile, both the Muppets and Rune with undiminished manpower dug in in prime locations and began preparing for war.
While myself and my remaining companion were frantically working to erect a massive wall around our claimed area, we began getting reports of more frequent and destructive attacks on several solo players living in the south. One in particular seemed to be being singled out for punishment as his frequent reports via the GRN Ark Server facebook page indicated.
We knew that we would eventually be drawn into a war with either the Muppets or Rune but we were not aware at this time exactly who was performing the raids or the fact that both the other major tribes had allied.
Throughout this period we offered advice and some minor help to those in need but didn't overtly get involved due to the fact we were still putting up our walls and would be a very large and easy target to attack by what sounded like a very effective raiding party.
Eventually, however, we finished the walls and erected some biological turret defences to keep both roaming wildlife and curious explorers at bay. We had also benefitted from an abundance of local wildlife to gain enough experience to put ourselves at the top of the technological food chain.
A quick recce of the known positions of other settlements on the Island provided us with enough intel to be confident that we were on balance ten to fifteen levels higher than most of the other players and as such wouldn't face the sort of firepower we now had access to from the other tribes.
This fact allowed us to relax a little and allowed us an opportunity to goto the aid of other survivors who were being raided by land and by sea.
It was during one such call for help that we flew over and covertly engaged a raiding party as they attempted to abduct the owner of a hillside fortress whos defences had been breached by stealthy attackers.
Our long range intervention allowed the prisoner to escape and we forced the two attacking Rune raiders to retreat on their boat back to their base. It was not long later that we discovered this raid was also conducted by members from the Muppets tribe and ticked us off to the fact that both the Muppets and Rune were working together.
This was going to become problematic.
The remains of Palu's base after a series of Rune & Muppet raids
The original Muppet base on the southern shores had been abandoned some time prior to this and what we initially thought they had settled a bit further inland. Purely by chance, we happened to fly over a mountain top not far from our Volcano home base and stumbled across what we believed was a Muppet mining outpost.
At that time we assumed their main base of operations was still hidden further to the south as we had heard reports that the as yet undiscovered Rune main base was built within one of the many cave networks in that region. It made sense to us that the two allied Tribes would be setup close together for mutual defense so we mostly ignored this "outpost" for the next couple of weeks.
It was only some time later when the raids against Palu forced him to temporarily flee his base and attend to real world concerns that we realised out mistake when we discovered this base had not only grown but had become a full blown hilltop fortress.
We also discovered during a series of area flybys that the Muppets had recruited additional members to their tribe and were in the process of taming a number of high end predators alarmingly close to our own area of influence.
While alarmed, we were not yet considering directly attacking either the Muppets or Rune since we had not been attacked ourselves. However, things quickly escalated when a Muppet Pteradon intercepted us during a patrol along the beach and began attacking.
Unable to effectively combat the flyer from one of our hauling Argys, we retreated to our base to discuss potential retaliatory options.
While we were convinced our impressive walls and biological turrets would keep us safe from direct attacks, it was clear we had neglected our air power as the Muppets had demonstrated they could quickly hit us out in the open with little chance of being able to retaliate effectively. Our fleet of transport Arygs (which we used to haul mined metal from the volcano summit) wasn't agile enough to engage a practised Pteradon fighter and we had only a couple of low level scouting pteradons of our own.
Worse still, we were not really prepared for any kind of a serious fight. We had used all our metal resources producing auto turrets and ammo for them as well as infrastructure items like an industrial cooker and freezers.
We knew whatever we decided, we would need more metal and fast.
In order to get that, we needed to head back up the mountain and gather some up.
Our walls were vast, strong and well covered in most places
That very same day we flew up the mountain to resume mining with our metal gathering Anky we had ridden up the winding mountain paths to the summit two weeks previously. We took a fleet of 6 Argys with us specced for haulage and began the job of mining out the metal.
As daylight began to wane we had nearly cleared the entire crater and 5 of the 6 Argys were fully loaded and ready to return back to base. The sixth I was piloting was half full at this stage and I was about to head back to the Anky for the final load when we spotted two manned Muppet Pteradons flying over the craters southern peak.
I immediately knew what was going to happen and whistled for the Argys to take off and attack the lead Pteradon. The hope was they we could quickly inflict enough damage to the frail fliers to send them scurrying away.
Of course, that momentary fight or flight instinct betrayed my good judgement as the heavily weighted down birds took to the air at a tenth their full normal speed and slowly followed me in as I broke to attack.
The vastly more nimble Pteradons broke formation and began attacking the slow birds - one coming directly for me - and I knew there and then what a huge mistake I had made in preempting the attack.
The second Pteradon quickly engaged most of the birds and began to lead them towards their mountain top base while the lead bird barrel dove into me over and over.
When I regained my composure I attempted to whistle the birds back into formation to retreat with me but they were already out of range and there was little chance of me being able to catch up.
A few gentle hits were landed on the Pteradon who was cutting me up but not enough to give it cause for concern. I hadn't noticed a the time but it was a very high level creature - a good sixty or so higher than even the most experienced Argys we owned.
At this point my only option was to flee. The metal was quickly dumped and I veered over the edge and down the mountain towards the safety of my base and it's anti air turrets.
A few more hits came in on the way down, then a change of tactic as I began hearing the sound of an attempted grapple as I bobbed and weaved out of it's line of attack.
It wasn't enough though. Still less than half way back to base I found myself grabbed off the back of my favored Argy and hoisted away in the clutches of this insanely high levelled Pteradon.
It took a couple of seconds to snap myself out of the shock of it all before I pulled out my metal sword and angled myself upwards to strike at it. Just then, I'm free falling and allowed a few extra seconds of flight before coming to an messy end at the base of the volcano.
Respawning a few seconds later, I watch helplessly as the UI informs me minute after minute of the death of my 6 Argys at the hands of the two Pteradons somewhere in the sky to the south.
My remaining tribe mate, who hadn't been with me on the mining expedition sets his bong aside for a moment and rushes over to ask me what the hell is going on.
"We're at war." is about all I could say.
After that things became complicated.