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After two years in early access, the dinosaur-riding sandbox survive-o-craft ’em up Ark: Survival Evolved will leave early access and launch on August 8th. It’s not clear how much this will actually change the game, as creators Studio Wildcard say they still plan to keep adding things after launch, but perhaps they’ll finally sort out Ark’s performance problems. And if wishes were raptors, beggars would ride, eh? Before then, Wildcard are still busy. Today they launched Valhalla, a free fantasy-ish makeover mod and new island. It’s the first mod from the Ark Sponsored Mods Program, which pays modders to mod, to get be officially added to Ark. …

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The makers of dinosaur-y sandbox survival game Ark: Survival Evolved have launched a scheme sponsoring mod development with actual real cash money. Every month they’ll pay fifteen modders (and teams) $4,000 ( 3.2k), with a view to potentially including their finished mods in the full game – as they have with others before. The first round includes everything from moonbases to islands inspired by albums. Mods can be huge for the long-term health of games, benefitting players and developers, so slinging them a big bag of bucks is a pretty great move. …

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I am delighted every time a new Ark: Survival Evolved update turns a dinosaur into a wacky gadget. From Archaeopteryx hang gliders to sauropods you can build mobile fortresses upon, the sandbox survival game has a fascinating and violent Flintstones logic. Procedurally-generated worlds are probably the biggest feature in last week’s update but I’m more interested in its new giant salamander. Can you guess what it’s useful for? Oh, y’know, you can ride it underwater and use it as a mobile oxygen tank by sucking air from bladders inside its head. Of course you can. …

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