This is the second part of our interview with Marley who is one of the co-owners over at Dino Nuts, an Ark PvE community. Be sure to read the first part here where he talked about their history, past experience, the staff team and events.
Got any plans to expand Dino Nuts? Be it branching out to other continents or launching servers for different games.
We originally looked at releasing both an Age of Conan and a Dark and Light server, however they seemed awfully similar to ARK: Survival Evolved and did not seem to pick up much interest within the community, so we decided against it.
Expanding our ARK servers is something that is in the works. The growth of our community has been a steady path upwards, which is fantastic. We would love to have servers based in both the Americas and Oceania, though cost is a major factor. We’ll explore all opportunities and seize them when the iron is hot!
Currently we are only focusing on our ARK servers and have no plans to release any servers for other games. However we regularly play other online games with our community such as Grand Theft Auto: V, Fortnite and Cards Against Humanity.
Let’s talk (mod) development real quick. Do you guys have custom made mods or stick to finding the sweet spot with public mods?
We use only publicly available mods which have been carefully selected and tested to ensure our players have a balanced and fun experience in-game. Our selection of mods add additional features such as new building mechanics, quality of life improvements and some much needed TLC. We feel it is very important to have consistency, which is why all servers within our cluster share the same mods.
There has been talk in the past about creating a unique mod for our server, though it is rather difficult to strike a balance between functionality and usability while avoiding clutter. We would not want to create a mod for our server that we did not truly believe served a purpose, that could not be provided by our existing selection of mods or configs.
“There is nothing more motivating than seeing the community enjoying themselves”
Personally I would like to address the (personal) elephant in the room being Ark’s price tag. What do you think of them charging “full” price for the game?
It is definitely something that has caused a lot of controversy when it was announced. The price hike was rather substantial, especially considering the cost of the additional DLC’s. However taking a step back and looking at it objectively is very important.
You have to consider the number of man hours that go into creating and releasing such a massive game. There are a lot of factors to take into account when realising the true scale of development, such as understanding that each decision has to pass through various people, then be developed, tested internally, texted externally and then signed off for release.
On top of the aforementioned there is also the additional development time spent on the DLC’s such as Scorched Earth, Aberration and any future DLC’s. Finally there is the time spent on ensuring bugs are fixed promptly and the massive team that drives this force is housed, fed and petted at least once per day.
With all things considered, as a long term player I can justify the large price tag of ARK, I have definitely got my monies worth. However if I had never played ARK before and only recently heard about it, I would be rather deterred from spending that kind of money. Which is unfortunate, but understandable.
Running a community is tough at times. Did you encounter periods of being less motivated? if so, how did you handle this?
You are right, it can be very taxing running a community at times, especially when the numbers start to grow. However we are fortunate to have an incredibly dedicated team. As we have three founders it means that if one of us starts to get a bit burnt out or needs a break, we can have the remaining two founders pick up the slack and keep engines running at full steam.
We also have a fantastic admin team that takes a lot of the general strain off from managing the servers. Whilst they are busy keeping the community happy, we can focus on ensuring the servers are running smoothly.
Finally there is nothing more motivating than seeing the community enjoying themselves. It is hard to put into words, though when we run our community events and have upwards of 30 people in voice chat at once it is chaotic, but hilarious. Everyone is having a laugh until early hours of the morning, making memories and blowing off some steam.
There is always one questions that a lot of starting (ARK) servers/communities have and that is : How did you attract new players when starting out?
I would like to say that we have the secret formula, however there is not one, unfortunately.
It is all about learning to walk before you can run. Before you start to advertise your new server you first need to make sure that you have a few things sorted, these are:
A clear line of communication
I advise Discord as it allows both text and voice chat. This will allow you to release targeted announcements to your community and act as an offline hub for your members to converse with each other whilst they are either away from their computers or waiting for your server to be updated.
Know your server
This may sound silly, however knowing your server, what you offer and what you wish to achieve is very important. People are going to want to feel that they are in a safe and fun place that has structure and is not just going to vanish one day. You should know the key server settings off the top of your head so that you can answer any questions potential members may have.
This will be your primary method of attracting new players to your community. People will visit an ARK voting websites (such as ark-servers.net or TopARKservers.com) in search of a place to blow off some steam. Take advantage of keywords and tags; people will search terms such as “PvE” or “PvP” depending on the sort of server they are looking for.
You should always leave your community members with a good impression of your community. Word of mouth is very important, it is afterall your reputation on the line. Peoples experiences on your servers will determine if they stay or not, so make it a good one.
There are a whole host of ways to obtain community members out there such as voting websites, word of mouth, shoutouts, having your own website, reddit, SurviveTheArk and many more. It is not the lack of players that is the concern, it is how you present yourself to the potential players and what impression your leave upon them.
Every great thing has an element of mystery, something you can’t quite put your finger on. The secret sauce (which we won’t discuss here) is prerequisite to building that “snowball”. Once its rolling, it just grows and grows.
“Peoples experiences on your servers will determine if they stay or not, so make it a good one”
Besides getting new players, is there any advice you would want to give starting/new communities out there?
I know, it’s potentially the biggest cliche aside from “it’s not you, it’s me”. However it is very true. There is no shortage of online communities out there, so you need to stand out in the crowd. Don’t simply follow the trends, bring something new to the table, offer something unique and people will come.
Rules & Guidelines
Set out clear rules for your community to follow within Discord and in-game. Make sure your community knows what is acceptable and what is not. There is nothing worse than poorly defined rules that the community could interpret different ways.
Be willing to go the extra mile
More often than not, you will see little to no results immediately when starting a new community. It takes time and a lot of effort to build, it won’t happen overnight. Be sure that you are willing to put the extra time in to ensure everything is running smoothly. This will become your second job!
Build a team
Get a few trusted friends together to help you along the way. When you do start to picking up the numbers, you will soon find that issues within your servers will arise. Even the biggest and best communities have issues time to time, it is part and parcel of running a community. Having a trusted team on hand at all times really does lighten the load.
Keep up to date
You should stay up to date with the latest ARK servers and surround yourself with other like minded server owners. You can find them on various modding Discords, though the best place I have found is the ARK Unofficial Server Owners Discord. On top of that you should keep an eye on the official patch notes on both SurviveTheARK and the ARK Steam page.
You’ll need to invest both your time and money. Running a successful community does take a lot more time than you would expect. However the real kicker is the cost to run and sustain a large player base. ARK servers aren’t terribly optimised and do not take advantage of multithreading which means that you will have to get a server that offers a high clock speed (GHz).
If you are looking for a managed hosting solution that gives you substantial hardware for a reasonable price, I would recommend PremiumARK.
However if you are looking for complete control, you will want to invest in a dedicated server. This can be rather pricey but guarantees you have access to the resources advertised and that you are not sharing any. I would advise selecting between either OVH or SoYouStart.
Lastly, where can people find more information on Dino Nuts and how do they join your server(s)?
Dino Nuts can be accessed a variety of ways, however the best way is by connecting to our Discord. We have admins online around the clock to assist you with any issues you have!
You can find out all the information you need to know about our servers on our website.
As for connection information to our ARK servers, you can find them at the links below:
Cheers for having me Syff, it has been rather exciting telling the story behind Dino Nuts.
Now if I may do the signature sign off for the Dino Nuts community…
Until next time, Nutters!