I see by the ripples in my cup of water (Jurassic Park reference) that it’s time for another interview with an Ark community! This time we had a little chat with Marley who is one of the owners over at Dino Nuts. This PvE Ark community has been around since March 19th, 2017 with its launch of their The Island server. With a strong presence on Ark-Servers.net, I was eager to hear his story.
Due to the length of this article, we will break this interview down into 2 parts. [su_label type=”info”]Part 2 will be published upcoming Tuesday the 16th of January[/su_label]
Hey there Marley, cheers for doing this interview, how are you doing today?
Hey Syff. Great thanks, how about yourself?
I’m doing great! First of all, I like the name you guys choose for your community haha. How did Dino Nuts get started?
Thanks, the name has definitely grown on us and says a lot about the community and our approach to running it; we are after all nutters in our own right.
Dino Nuts was formed by myself, SparcMX and Willie back on March 19th, 2017. The aim was to create a friendly and relaxed gaming community tailored towards ARK: Survival Evolved in which people from all walks of life could come meet like-minded people and escape reality for a few hours.
Originally we started with one map, The Island. It seemed the most logical choice as it is the base map that comes with ARK and it strikes a great balance between being challenging to start off with, but not too hard people lose interest.
Once the player count started to grow, we decided to expand and release the most recent DLC map (at the time), Scorched Earth. This meant that people who had reached “end game” on The Island would be able to experience new content on our cluster, such as taming wyverns, killing earthworms and fighting the Manticore; all whilst surviving against the harsh Scorched Earth environment.
Our third server was The Center, which was a success for a number of months. Though after the flyer nerf it became rather difficult and almost tedious to cross the map. That on top of the frequent clipping issues meant that we had to search for an alternative map to sustain the level of quality we aim to provide our members with.
ENTER RAGNAROK! On our quest to find an alternative to The Center we came across the Ragnarok which offered everything that could be found on The Island, Scorched Earth and The Center all rolled into one, and as it was not an official paid DLC there was not a hefty price tag attached.
Fast forward a few months and we got news that the next ARK DLC was on its way. Aberration really brought something new to the table. Rather than just adding a few new fancy dinos and items, it added a whole new approach to playing the game. People within the community were excited about a new playstyle that did not involve simply flying around the map; instead, they were forced to traverse the difficult and unforgiving terrain with climbing picks, grappling hooks and wingsuits.
With the hype surrounding the release of Aberration building up as the days got closer, we were ready. Keyboard in hand, whiskey at the ready. Once Aberration was released to the public we had a server up within minutes ready for our community members to get a first look at Aberration, and it did not disappoint!
Did you have any experience running game servers/communities prior to launching Dino Nuts?
Fortunately each of our co-founders have a strong background in either server management or coding, which meant that setting up and managing the dedicated servers was something we are all familiar with.
In the past I have run various game servers ranging from the early days of Minecraft all the way to running a successful World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King private server.
SparcMX during his many decades of computer promiscuity has managed a large IRC network, numerous game servers, Internet Service Providers and.. He also writes software. If your playing Ark and you haven’t heard of ‘Commander’, maybe under the rock is not a good place to be 😛
Whereas Willie has experience of running a Smite Clan (he’s really into that game, don’t ask how much he’s spent on skins) and runs a web server for his students at the College he teaches at. He’s really into his tech and throws himself into anything he wants to learn. He’s addicted to watching how the back end works at the moment.
You guys are currently running 4 servers. What’s the difference between the 4?
Currently we run the following servers in our cluster:
- The Island
- Scorched Earth
- Events (more on that later)
Each server offers a different play style and level of difficulty, take The Island for example. It is an entry level map that gives players a proper introduction to the game. It has clear and defined difficulties across the map that range from the South, which is easy, all the way to the North, which is far more challenging. As it is also the official base map of ARK it contains a lot of the lore behind the game and why you are here.
Ragnarok is the next step up in difficulty. It offers a wide variety of landscapes that mimic that of both The Island and Scorched Earth. It is one of the biggest maps available for ARK at the moment and offers some truly beautiful scenery and diverse environments. It is currently our most populated server that has a thriving ‘community created’ economy of its own.
Scorched Earth is where things start to make you change how you play the game. Unlike The Island and Ragnarok where you can find a water source everywhere you look, it’s a bit trickier than Scorched Earth. The sun is constantly beating down on you which puts a real strain on your survivor meaning you become fatigued much faster.
You will also have to change your building style to the adobe structures provided which mitigates the searing heat. Sandstorms are a plenty and will temporarily wipe out your electronics and send you back to the stone age!
Aberration really kicks it up a notch as it again forces you into an even more unfamiliar style of survival. No longer can you hop on to your flying dinosaur to escape the evil that lurks below, you must traverse the challenging terrain with climbing picks, grappling hooks and a wing suit. But beware, there are frequent earthquakes that will disorient you when least expected.
All of our servers share the same mods so you can travel through the cluster from server to server without having to load / unload additional mods. It also means you can experience different maps without having to start from scratch again.
“Once Aberration was released to the public we had a server up within minutes ready for our community members to get a first look at Aberration, and it did not disappoint!”
With all these servers and players the staff must have their hands full. How is the staff hierarchy set-up and what are the tasks for each rank?
First of all, we are fortunate to have staff members from all around the world which means we have at least one administrator online at all times. This ensures issues are dealt with in a timely manner.
The first point of contact is our community members. We have a text channel within our Discord which is marked “#ark-reports”, here a player can post the issue they are currently having. Whilst admins periodically check this channel, we often find that the community and more often than not, willing to help out; something of which we are very proud of.
Second point of contact would be our admin team. They handle various issues ranging from helping out community members, handing out event / vote / donator rewards and making sure that both in-game and on the Discord, that rules are being followed so that everyone is having a great time.
Our third point of contact is our head admin. On top of doing the admin duties listed above, he’s also responsible for ensuring admins are confident with their decisions and to handle escalated issues if required. If a conflict was to arise, he would have final say.
Finally we have our founders that are responsible for ensuring that the server runs smoothly at all times. We are available around the clock to minimise any down time and perform regular maintenance. This includes updating the servers and scheduling weekly events for the community.
There was once a time where the founders did all the heavy lifting, but as the community grew it became inevitable to promote from within to free up time spent replacing Dinos!
The founders now spend their time managing teams rather than individuals and promoting Dino Nuts abroad.
I noticed that the event calendar is empty the upcoming days. Got anything “special” planned in the near future?
Willie is our events coordinator and is responsible for running the events and building everything that is needed. Recently we’ve had an influx of players wanting to help build. Willie designs dossiers for the large scale events at the end of the month; they give some cryptic clues on how to pass the tests that face them. He actually got mentioned on the Official ARK Community Crunch for his Voras Maze dossier! Willie hosts the events as an old eccentric wizard called The Oracle.
No one knows where he came from, but the players love him as he flies around in his unicorn screaming commands at the players. We actively promote RP in some of the events. The events can range from dino races, bare knuckle boxing matches, medieval tournaments and Group PvE events with Raid Boss, The Four Horsemen and Krampus. The events are really creative and take a lot of time to organise, design and build but it’s really worth it and quite enjoyable for our budding community architects. The community really appreciates the hard work that goes into each event and everyone has a great time. Some events have been known to run for 6 hours. It can get pretty involved.
We actually have an exciting event called Dungeon Crawlers coming up this month on Friday [**]th. 7 buildings that players will teleport to with 7 different mini adventures, puzzles and decisions to make and waves of evil creatures before fighting 7 mini bosses that will then take them through half the map to get to the End Boss. As always, if the players find it too ‘easy’, The Oracle will step in and conjure up some more creatures for them to fight or challenges to take.