Troubleshooting of ARK: Survival Evolved

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ARK: Survival Evolved is typically a resource-hungry game. Currently it is in alpha, and has various complications from time to time. How to determine and solve some of these complications will be explained in this article. The article will explain why the server can break and lag.

Possible Causes

  1. Modifications: The most common cause for lag or decreased performance lies with the content installed on the server, which are added manually: mods. At this phase in development, it cannot be certain the mods are developed correctly or are always compatible, mostly because mod developers are typically amateur.

  2. Corrupt Save Game: Sometimes the game save can become corrupt, which usually stops the server from starting properly. This can be caused by the game itself, or can be caused by mods. The server will not start when structures or other content cannot be read by the game. While the server is down, no backups can be made.

  3. Version Mismatch: Another reason you cannot connect could be a version mismatch. If the server and your client are different (enough) versions, it could prevent you from joining. Typically, our servers update within 3 hours of an update. We test each update before rolling them out, and our system is automated, so it can take some time. Mods will also need to be updated from time to time, and an outdated mod can stop you from joining a server. If your server has out of date mods, they will say so on the web interface, and should be updated.

  4. Hardware: The final cause could be hardware related. It is possible there are not enough resources on your host system to properly run the game, in which case you will need to contact support. An acutely loaded server can cause delays in information processing, resulting in decreased performance, or a crashed server.

Software Messages in Log Files

Currently there are only a few bits of information regarding internal operations of the game server for ARK. This is because it is currently still in the alpha-stage of development. Luckily, WildCard has programmed the game to produce crashstack log files, which are created immediately when the server encounters trouble. There are currently four different messages that we can solve based on the message. To find the crashstack files, navigate to 'Tools' on the web interface, and click 'File Browser'. The directory is arkse/ShooterGame/Saved/Logs. The messages are inside the crashstack files, and can be broken down as follows:

  • "Unable to load world object headers from world save file": This message means that your game save has become corrupt, and the server cannot load it. The easiest method to solve this, is to start the server with a save backup. This is found under 'Settings' under the section 'Backup'. Select the most recent save game backup to start the server with that has a normal file size compared to the most recent, save changes, and restart the server.

  • "Ran out of memory allocating XXXX bytes with alignment 0": This message is an indication that the memory of the host system cannot be properly allocated. Since the systems generally have enough RAM for the games, this is a rare message. Mostly this message will occur when mods are in use, and it requires support intervention. Please contact support immediately should you find this in a recent crashstack.

  • "Bad name index": When the server is giving a 'Bad name index' error in a crashstack, this is a mod on the server that can no longer be executed. Check the mods and ensure they are up to date. You should start with the most recently added mod.

  • "Fatal Error": This message is generally uninformative because it provides no information. It is more often a mixture of 'Bad name index' and a corrupt save game. First action is typically to remove the most recently added mods. Taking a backup of your save games is a wise choice here, just in case the server needs to be reinstalled.

If you also check the restart.log, a message can appear here when the save game is defective, or mods consuming more than 10GB of RAM during the boot process. The server will stop itself for security reason during this. Mods should be disabled, and a backup of the save games should be taken in the event the server needs to be reinstalled.

Possible Solutions

  1. Modifications: Firstly, you should check the mods. It is recommended a backup be taken of the save games. Use the FTP credentials on the web interface with an FTP client, and take a copy of the 'Saved' folder on the server (arkse/ShooterGame/Saved). It is wise to start removing mods based on when they were added, by removing them from the Active Mods in Settings step-by-step, restarting the server in between each removal to see if that has helped.

  2. Corrupt Save Game: Corrupt save games are the most common cause for a server not starting. As mentioned above, this is caused by some portion of data not being read properly by the game, causing an error. Because this can happen frequently, the game itself makes save game backups roughly every two hours of server up-time. Go to Settings>Settings and find the section 'Backup'. Choose a different save game to start the server with, generally not the most recent one, and one with a smaller file size, as corruption generally increases the file size substantially, save the changes, and restart the server. Repeat this process until the server is responsive again.

  3. Version Mismatch: This is a simple solution. Everything needs to be up-to-date on the server in order for a client to access it (with some small exceptions, not all patches are required for the server side immediately). When mods are handled by our system, looking at them on the Settings page will let you know if they are the current version or not, and if not, a button will show up on them to 'Update'. Click this button, and restart the server. When manually managing mods, you need to stop the server, and reupload the new content via FTP.

  4. Hardware: The last and least common cause is the hardware. If, for example, resources are not being handled properly, or the server is restart looping, support needs to be contacted immediately via phone or email ticket.