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Tutorial: Getting Started with the ARK Dev Kit!

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  • Tutorial: Getting Started with the ARK Dev Kit!

    Q: What is the ARK Dev Kit?
    A: The ARK Dev Kit is a simplified version of the Unreal Engine 4 Editor specifically compiled to streamline the process of creating Mods & Maps for the Unreal Engine 4 game ARK: Survival Evolved, and to upload them directly to Steam Workshop for other users to download and play.

    Q: What can I create with the ARK Dev Kit?
    A: While the ARK Dev Kit does not provide access to the ARK C++ game source code, it does contain all of our editable source art for the game, as well as our editable maps and blueprint classes. Thanks to the power of Unreal Engine 4's Blueprint system, even without C++ you can modify and extend quite a lot of the game functionality, including new items, weapons, AI Behavior Trees, structures, and all kinds of gameplay classes & game logic. You can focus on creating a beautiful new environment for the game, or extend the core game classes via Blueprint to add a whole new game mode and new mechanics. Over time we'll detail how to create more complex game modes here on the Forum, and provide more examples on how to do so!

    Q: Where do I get the ARK Dev Kit?
    A: You can download the ARK Dev Kit Content via the "Tools" section of the Steam Client. You also need an Unreal Engine 4 account to download the UE4 Editor Executables via GitHub @ (you must be logged in with your UE4 account via GitHub to access this URL), as detailed via the "Getting Started" process below.

    Q: Where can I get help with the ARK Dev Kit?
    A: Right here on this "ARK: Survival Evolved" Modding forum! Mmoderators from the Dev Team will do our best to help you with any questions or technical issues you might have, and we encourage you to read up on the general Unreal Engine 4 documentation at

    Now onto how to create & upload your first Mod using the ARK Dev Kit!
    Note: we now have a Video Tutorial that goes through this process!

    To Play a Mod or Custom Map
    To download mods or maps, simply goto ARK's Steam Workshop page and click "Subscribe" on the item you’d like to get.

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    Then in-game while playing ARK, you'll automatically see the name of that map or mod appear in the "Host / Local Play" menu, potentially after a brief delay while the content downloads in the background. If the mod has been updated, you can also manually refresh all your installed mods via the "Update Mods" button.

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    You can then either play locally or host an online game with it. Alternatively, you can simply join an online server that is playing a custom Workshop map (indicated by the "Custom ARK / Map Name" fields on the Session List), and it will automatically download before you connect to the game -- in this case, you'll see an on-screen progress indication of how the download is progressing.

    Creating a Mod or Custom Map
    To create your own maps or mods, you'll need to download the "ARK Dev Kit" from the Tools section of your Steam Client, and also sign-up for Unreal Engine 4 at

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    After downloading and installing the ARK Dev Kit Tool from Steam, you'll need to download our custom Unreal Engine 4 Editor executable from GitHub here: (you must already be logged into GitHub with your UE4 credentials otherwise this will appear to be a 404; it's free so sign-up at then try the link again!).

    You'll want to either download the ZIP, or "check out" that repository into the root directory of your ARK Dev Kit installation. Extract it such that UE4Editor.exe, UE4Editor-Cmd.exe, and all of the Editor DLL's end up here:

    ARK Dev Kit\Engine\Binaries\Win64\UE4Editor.exe
    ARK Dev Kit\Engine\Binaries\Win64\UE4Editor-Cmd.exe

    Don't worry, if you don't extract or check out the repository to the correct location, then you can just copy the contents of Engine\Binaries\Win64\ to that exact location afterwards anyway.

    Once you've got the editor executables placed there, run "[Your Steam Library Path]\steamapps\common\ARKDevKit\ARKDevKit.bat", and the ARK Dev Kit Editor will proceed to load. It can take a long time to start up the first time as it needs to compile shaders and cache the game media, you may be looking at waiting times up to 30 minutes for the first run.

    When the editor is loaded, you will be in a test map and you can click the "Play" button on the editor toolbar to start playing, or open "Maps\TheIslandSubmaps\TheIsland.umap" to explore the full ARK Island. Alternatively you can open "Mods\DinoArena\DinoArena.umap" to see how a simple cookable mod is put together.

    Full documentation for the Unreal Engine 4 Editor used in ARK can be found here:

    Cook & Upload to Steam Workshop
    When you're ready to create & deploy your own map to Steam Workshop, here's the basic process:

    Make sure your map and ANY new content that it utilizes (blueprints, art assets, any new assets) are located in “\Content\Mods\YourModName\".

    Then click the "Cook & Upload to Steam" button on the Editor Toolbar:

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    In the dialog which appears appears, you'll see your Mod listed, if it's in the “\Content\Mods\YourModName\" folder (otherwise it won't show up -- it has to be in a Mods subfolder!). Choose your Mod, and then click "Cook". The first time you cook your Mod, the Editor needs to compile a lot of shaders, so it might take a long time (i.e. 30 minutes or more). However, subsequent cooks will be much faster as the compiled shaders are cached to disk.

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    (Note: Cooking your Mod will actually cook it for both Windows and Mac/Linux platforms, for cross-platform online compatibility!)

    After cooking is finished, enter a Title and Description for your Mod, choose a preview image and initial Workshop Visibility state, and then click "Upload" to Steam Workshop. You'll be asked for your Steam Credentials (don't worry, we don't store them), and then the process will connect to Steam and attempt to upload your content to the Workshop. You'll get a basic progress indicator so you know how things are going during the upload process.

    After the upload is finished, you can click the "View Item on Steam Workshop" button to adjust your item's presentation on the website.

    To update your content in the future, simply Cook and Upload again!


    We'll have more tutorials in the upcoming days about how the specific features of ARK level design are put together, but for now, feel free to explore and modify "TheIsland" map to poke around at how things work, including the stream sublevels and the zone area spawners. Remember, when designing levels you may wish to start small and simple, and then gradually scale up.

    If you have any questions about the Mod Tools, feel free to post on this Forum. We encourage intrepid mod makers to help each other out here, the more the community can collaborate to build exciting new content, the better it’s going to be. Stay tuned to our Steam page, Twitter feed, and here for more information on upcoming ARK modding news, including a major initiative to mobilize the mod community that will be announced soon!

    Have fun and happy modding!

    - Drake and the Studio Wildcard Team
    Last edited by StudioWildcard; 07-16-2015, 06:23 PM.

  • #2
    ive tried to follow the steps one by one i am logged into my unreal account obviously as im posting here but whenever i try to use the link i just get 404 all the time .


    • #3
      Originally posted by XZAN1974 View Post
      ive tried to follow the steps one by one i am logged into my unreal account obviously as im posting here but whenever i try to use the link i just get 404 all the time .
      Did you update your Epic Games profile with the correct github account info? If not that is the issue. It HAS to be the github account you are logging in as.


      • #4
        GitHub reports a 404 error even if the page exists, if you don't have permission to access it. You need to link your GitHub account with your Unreal Engine account - Google should help you there.


        • #5
          I've also heard that you have to verify your email first before you can see


          • #6
            Originally posted by sinarisinestro View Post
            Did you update your Epic Games profile with the correct github account info? If not that is the issue. It HAS to be the github account you are logging in as.
            when i goto my profile in epic all it allows me to do is change my github username . im not 100 % sure on whats going on i have the same email and password for both epic games and github even the same username Grimm1974 but it still shows constantly error 404 .


            • #7
              got it sorted guys ty .. seems i was just a bit impatient after waiting 10 mins once linking them and then reopening the sites it worked . :-)


              • #8
                Let's jump right into the modding fun!
                I havent downloaded it yet, but which engine version is used for the editor?


                • #9
                  Would the dev kit allow texture editing, such as for dinos? Or is there any chance (that there is or) we'll get an independent texture editor?
                  I haven't downloaded yet because of file size and I'm sure it would be terrible trying to run devkit on my toaster.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by fighter5347 View Post
                    Let's jump right into the modding fun!
                    I havent downloaded it yet, but which engine version is used for the editor?
                    Its a modified version of 4.5. Wont function without the custom editor provided by Studio Wildcard so be careful not to try and open/convert in say UE 4.8 as you'll have to re-download the 30gb+.


                    • #11
                      Hey Jargar82, yep all of our source art is included in uasset form, such as the Textures. To create a custom-textured dino, you'd inherit from one of the existing Dino Blueprint classes (such as Blueprint'/Game/PrimalEarth/Dinos/Raptor/Raptor_Character_BP.Raptor_Character_BP' ), and then use a Material Override and a child Material Instance of the Dino's Material that has your new Texture set into it. Then you'd use the NPC Spawner in a map or just drag and drop the dino blueprint into a map, to get your new Dino into the world.

                      Soon we'll support overriding the core gamedata with custom classes as well (for "mods"), so that you'd simply be able to then replace all original versions of the Dino with your Dino custom-textured Dino on the original level, without having to make a "new" map

                      Have fun,


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by fighter5347 View Post
                        Let's jump right into the modding fun!
                        I havent downloaded it yet, but which engine version is used for the editor?
                        Like what papz said

                        Its a very heavily modified 4.5.1. They said they provably wont ever do base engine "upgrade" 4.5.1+ . They will simply pull certain commits from epic that help fix stuff/stuff they really need.

                        Other than a few game specific stuff its works almost exactly like 4.5.1, I haven't had any issue transferring stuff over (blueprint wise, aslong as its UE 4.5.x), just know that you have to slightly modify to hook into their game specific stuff
                        Last edited by KRushin; 07-07-2015, 03:41 PM.
                        Twitter - @TheKRushin

                        Feel free to ask questions and come learn to be an #UnrealDev

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                        • #13
                          Hehehe yep KRushin, we don't plan to do a full-engine update but we will be cherry-picking new features from later UE4's including the new dynamic-foliage layering system that is in 4.8, among other things going in soon. You'll also find, if you examine TheIsland map, some interesting technical changes under the hood involving how Indirect Light Probes are used (search for the IBL probes in the various sublevels), which bake indirect lighting from the outdoor day-night cycle (and of course the beautiful TrueSky rendering), along with our near-view dense-foliage Terrain layer "Ground Clutter" system. There are various other render tech changes involving far-distance-field shadows too, along with some other new rendering tricks that we'll get into in subsequent posts.



                          • #14
                            Did you guys sign some kind of contract with Epic Games to be able to redistribute Unreal Engine 4 Editor? I remember that we normally can't redistribute the editor. I wonder whether it is possible to allow other indie developers to redistribute the editor for modding purpose.


                            • #15
                              According to the news article they did. Which is awesome may I add .