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Today’s the day our Stateside friends move their belts up a notch after yesterday’s mashed potatoes and turkey binge. Thanksgiving may be over for another year, but Ark: Survival Evolved is still running its Turkey Trial event until Tuesday, December 1st. It’s a good old-fashioned turkey hunt, with the twist that harvesting their ‘Super Turkey Wishbones’ will let you craft something special. And there are fire-breathing DodoRexs. Yeah. Need to see that action? I don’t blame you: …

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I play Ark: Survival Evolved mostly to look at its dinosaurs. I mean, who wouldn t? But since the very first video that came out about the game, I ve wondered how close to modern paleontological thinking they are. I m interested in all this stuff because for the past few years I ve been reading a wonderfully When the Internet Was Great-style blog called Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs, which documents representations of dinosaurs, mostly from old picture books, many of which I pored over when I was little, and critiques them according to current scientific thinking. So I asked one of its writers, Marc Vincent, about how games and popular culture depict dinosaurs, and to look at a few of Ark s. Guess what? Ark s dinosaurs aren t very dinosaury. …

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Ark: Survival Evolved‘s Survival of the Fittest mode is designed for competitive play, bending the mechanics of the survival-and-crafting dinosaur game towards an experience that’s faster paced and more aggressive. It’s also designed to be more entertaining to watch on Twitch streams than the process of punching trees in the main game. If that sounds of interest: the game’s developers have let us know that that their next official Survival of the Fittest tournament is called The Last Stand, will run from September 24th to October 24th, and can be joined by anyone who owns the game on a first-come, first-served basis. More details await below. …

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I’m fascinated by the process of bringing real things into video game systems, deciding how to classify them, which characteristics to represent, how they’ll work, and how to make them distinct. The complex stats and balancing of virtual guns is perhaps the most obvious example, because video games, but I do enjoy seeing Ark: Survival Evolved do the same with prehistoric creatures. Consider the thick-skulled Pachycephalosaurus, which scientists have theorised was into head-butting. Aye, but isn’t that only a fancy attack animation for just another bipedal dinosaur? Right. Well. Let’s game this up: they also have a ‘charge’ attack to even smash through buildings. Ah! Now that’s a gamification I can get behind. …

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Peel off my scalp, saw through my cranium, then shake the goop out into a video game, and you’ll either find yourself in either a cyberpunk girl gang up to no good or dark icy waters filled with friendly and frightful creatures. I’m now suspicious of the scab I found on the back of my head this morning, as Ark: Survival Evolved has dived into the latter with its latest Early Access update yesterday. Giant anglerfish and friendly penguins are the stuff my dreams are made of. …

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