If I'd been asked this morning to guess what's been going on in Ark: Survival Ascended, the survival game with dinosaurs, and my options were "they added some new dinosaurs" or "they made a Mickey Mouse sidescroller in it," I definitely would've been wrong.
This week, Studio Wildcard updated the Ark Development Kit mod tools with a "powerful, flexible framework that enables creators to build entirely new games from scratch inside of Ark," and has demonstrated that framework with the video above, which includes a straight-up Steamboat Willie platformer.
The studio also added a "Custom Cosmetics" system and some Steamboat Willie looks to go with it. (If you missed it, the first Mickey Mouse cartoon finally entered the public domain this year.)
"Now Survivors can dynamically apply player-generated costumes to players and dinos, skins to armors and weapons, and skins to all the game's structures adding both visual variety and functional enhancements," says Studio Wildcard. "These can be dynamically added onto any server, including Official Servers."
The updated Dev Kit, meanwhile, enables the creation of "custom maps," "game modes," and as evidenced by the Mickey Mouse demo, "entirely new experiences" that work on both PC and console.
The source for "Super Steamboat Willie," as they're calling the Mickey sidescroller, is included in the Dev Kit as "a demonstration of the creative flexibility and freedom" of the Simple Game Framework, "and a small example to jump-start new creative creations in Ark: Survival Ascended from the modding community."
I'm not sure whether Ark's going to become a big platform for unique user-made games like Roblox, but I'll never say no to powerful mod tools. The Ark Dev Kit can be downloaded from the Epic Games Store—it's a "custom version of the Unreal Engine 5 Editor," which is why you'll find it there and not on Steam.
"The resources we dedicated to this system? Worth every byte," Studio Wildcard said of its updated mod tools in a post on Thursday. "Now, those resources are back on Ark: Survival Ascended, and we're laser-focused on getting Scorched Earth to you in April!"
The Scorched Earth desert map is set to release on April 1.
This week's update also added official transfers: "You can now move items, creatures, and characters onto the map without restriction!" exclaimed the devs. The feature is available on certain official servers, with unofficial server support to come.