‘ARK: Survival Evolved’ Guide: How To Make Procedurally Generated Maps

Studio Wildcard introduced procedurally generated maps to ARK: Survival Evolved with PC patch 248. It’s still to arrive on the Xbox One, but the ability to create custom maps is a welcome new feature. This guide will help Survivors understand all the different values that go into creating a procedural map.

Caveats

It’s important to remember procedural-generated ARKs are in very early development and tagged as “experimental.” The ARKs that can be generated are approximately the same size as The Island map, depending on the values entered.

The generated maps do not feature any caves, swamps, Obelisks, or rivers currently. There are still supply drops, however, and animal spawns are based on the biomes generated. Expect these missing biomes, including the desert, and features to be added as Studio Wildcard continues to iterate on procedurally generated ARKs.

If you have any additional tips or see something that appears wrong, please share in the comments below.

How to Create a Procedurally Generated ARK

A Procedurally Generated map in ARK: Survival Evolved.
[Image by ;ARK: Survival Evolved']

Simply go to the Host/Local option on the main ARK: Survival Evolved screen. At the top-left of the “Your ARK Settings” screen is a new button called “Create Procedurally Generated ARK.” The next screen that opens will be a menagerie of settings to fiddle around with to create your own custom ARK.

The number will be explained in a moment, but let’s first explain what some of the buttons and drop-down menus do.

The “Host” button at the bottom will generate a new ARK based on the values entered. “Reset to Default” will return all the values to their default setting, and “Randomize” does just as the name suggests.

The Preset drop-down box restores the default values with the “Default” selection, or the last custom values entered with the “Custom” selection. The “Favorites” drop-down is where you save your favorite values based on the “ARK Name” entered. The “ARK Name” field also doubles as the map name that can be selected from the map list.

Understanding the Terrain Settings

[Image by 'ARK: Survival Evolved']

Density Values: There are several density values scattered throughout the settings for things like Grasslands Grass, Jungle Grass, Mountain Trees, Redwood Trees, etc., but they can be explained first. As expected, these determine how often these items appear in each biome. The higher the value, the more of them.

These density values can affect performance as you are basically asking ARK: Survival Evolved to render more objects. It’s also worth pointing out that some of the default values will require adjusting. The Redwood Biome Tree Density of 0.35, for example, is far too high and results in incredibly dense forest with Redwood tree trunks almost touching. A value of 0.001 will give a density closer to The Island.

Map Seed: This is the map seed used to generate the randomness of the resulting map. The remainder of the values builds off the number entered from 1 to 999.

Landscape Radius: The 1.0 default value leaves a ring of ocean water around the island. Increasing this number pushes the radius of land generation closer to the edges of the map while decreasing the number generates more ocean.

Water Frequency: This value works with the Water Level value to determine how frequently water appears on the map. Lowering the value below the default value of 5.0 reduces the frequency.

Mountain Frequency: How often mountains are generated across the map. The higher the value, the more mountains. The default value of 8.0 creates quite a few across the map, while a 4 will reduce the number of mountains.

Mountain Slope: This works in conjunction with Mountain Height to determine how steep the mountains are. Higher Height values and lower Slope values will result in extremely steep walls. A higher slope value will give a more gradual slope.

Mountain Height: Obviously, this determines how tall mountains can get. A value of 10.0 Mountain Height will put mountains up into the cloud layer. The default value of 1.0 is close to the mountain heights found on The Island.

Turbulence Power: This number is supposed to affect how randomly the map generation follows the values entered. It’s not clear yet on how changing this number affects the variation in the map.

Shore Slope: This value goes from 0 to 2 and determines how hard the map transitions from the ocean floor to the shore. A higher value makes for a smoother transition.

Water Level: This value is essentially the sea level of the map, which can be raised or lowered based on the value entered. If you want more land, go lower than the default value of -0.72. If you want more water in the middle of your map, raise the value higher. It’s important to note that you don’t want this value to be less than the Ocean Floor Level Value

Erosion Iterations: These are the cracks and crevices or rivulets seen alongside the sides of mountains or on the beach shores. The default value is 200,000 with a higher number giving more and a lower number giving less.

Ocean Floor Level: How deep the ocean goes. The default value is -1.0 and it doesn’t need to be fiddled with much. Just make sure the number is less than the Water Level unless you want to see some really funky things happen with a map.

Understanding the Biome Settings

This Procedurally Generated ARK got a tiny Snow Biome for ARK: Survival Evolved.
[Image by 'ARK: Survival Evolved']

The majority of these settings are “Density” settings. Please refer to the note above for each.

Snow Biome Size: This is a radius value that determines how much space the Snow Biome will take up on the map. The default value of 0.3 can be thought of as 30 percent of the map starting from the “Snow Biome Location” values. Put this value at 1.0 if you want a winter wonderland.

Redwood Biome Size: Just like the Snow Biome Size, this determines how much space on the map the Redwood Biome will take.

Mountain Biome Start: This is a height value, not an x, y coordinate value. It determines the height at which the mountain biome starts.

Jungle Biome Start: Just like the Mountain Biome Start value, this determines the height at which the Jungle biome starts.

Island Border Curve: This determines how dramatically the land will curve from the shore to the ocean. A higher value than the default 4.0 can result in a Cliffs of Dover look.

Max Spawn Point Height: This value determines the maximum height value on land that a spawn point can be created.

Shoreline Start Offset: This value helps determine how wide the beaches are by marking the start point from the water line. The 0.01 default is similar to The Island, perhaps a bit less. Increase this value to generate wider beaches. Note that it does not take much of an increase.

Shoreline Thickness: This value works together with the Shoreline Start Offset to determine how wide the beaches will be. Raise it above the value of 0.0015 to get more beaches.

Deep Water Biomes Depth: This value is still being researched.

Map Settings

[Image by 'ARK: Survival Evolved']

These settings determine the start and end location for the different regions of the ARK map generated and range from 0.0 to 1.0 along both the x and y-axis. The default layout given is essentially the same as The Island. The Snow Biome x and y values of 0.2 are in the top left-hand corner of the map. The Redwood Biome Location x and y values of 0.5 are dead center on the map.

The Region values are where each of the spawn regions starts and ends on the map.

It is important to note that mountain and water generation do take precedence and can overwrite the Snow and Redwood biomes. Additionally, a spawn region will not appear as an option if it is underwater.

ARK General Guides:

ARK Map Guide:

ARK Taming Guides:

[Featured Image by Studio Wildcard]