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Adding Mods to your ARK: Survival Evolved Server

Last updated: 11/14/19
written by  Nodecraft Staff

Subscribe to the Mods on Steam Workshop

Start your Steam client, and select ARK: Survival Evolved from your game library.

Click on the "workshop" button near the top of the game page in the new UI,

A view of Steam's game page for ARK: Survival Evolved, highlighting the workshop button.

or click on the "browse the workshop" button in the middle of the game page if you are using the classic steam UI.

Adding mods to your ARK Workshop Collection

Select the mods you want to use in your game, and subscribe to them.

Once subscribed, steam will begin downloading the mod content.
You will see ARK in your game library listings is now "validating" for a short while.

A view of Steam's control panel showing a game being "validated".

The mods are not actually installed correctly yet, Steam has only been downloaded the files it needs to start installing them. To perform the actual installation, you will need to start Ark next.

Start ARK on Steam, and choose "Host/Local" as if starting a singleplayer game

The title screen of ARK: Survival Evolved.

Once ARK is started you will see messages in the lower right corner listing the progress of mods being installed.

This step of starting ARK is absolutely essential, and cannot be skipped.

ARK Survival Evolved host local screen showing mods being installed.

Wait for each one of the subscribed mods to be fully fully installed. This may take some time.

When it's finished, the mods will show on the lower right side of this screen, like in the screenshot below.

A view of the control panel for single player games in ark

Why do you need to start ARK?

After subscribing to the mods in the workshop, steam only downloaded a handful of files for each mod.
When ARK is actually started up, more files are downloaded or created and the amount of files in the mod folder grows dramatically.

For example, subscribing to the mod "Structures plus (open source)" which overhauls and improves the entire building system in ARK, will download 1 file, and 2 folders initially. After ARK has been started, and the mod is actually installed, those will become 5 files and 20 folders full of content. There will be separate folders for each of the building elements added by the mod: all the doors, gate, walls, etc. Every single new item needs a folder with information for the mod to actually use in game.

If you copy only the files initially downloaded by steam, you will not have working mods, because large chunks of files will be missing (they haven't been downloaded or created yet).

This by the way, is the leading cause of why you can see engrams listed in the menus, but you won't be able to learn the engrams. There are separate files that add new engrams to the listings, and separate files which tell the game what the engram actually does, what materials are needed to make it, etc. Without the extra files downloaded after starting the game, you won't be able to learn the engrams.

Activate the Mods

Select each mod you want to use, one at a time, and then click on the button with the two arrows on it, and then click the "add mod" button when it appears.

A view of the control panel for creating a single player game in ark, showing how to activate mods

This will enable each mod, and they will now appear in the upper right side of the screen, like in the screenshot below.

A view of the control panel for creating a single player game in ARK, showing enabled mods

Start a Single Player Game

Load into the game, and wait about five minutes, and then exit.

Find the Installed Mods

On Steam, go to your game library and right click on ARK: Survival Evolved, and then click on "properties" at the bottom of the popup menu.

In the window that appears, click on the "Local Files" tab along the top, and then click on "Browse Local Files".

Adding mods to your local files folder for ARK

This opens a window showing the files for your ARK: Survival Evolved client in the Steam application.

Adding mods to your ARK client

Click on and open the following folders:

  • Shootergame,
  • then Content,
  • then Mods.

And in that last folder are all your mods! ta-dah!

Inside there are folders for each mod, labeled with the steam workshop ID for each mod.

There will also be matching numbered files that end in ".mod".

Both the folder for each mod and the matching ".mod" file must be uploaded to the server for the mods to work correctly.

Upload Files to Server

Upload to your server all the mod files copied from the previous step.

Copy them to the folder /ShooterGame/Content/Mods on the server.

It's highly recommended that you "zip" all the files up before uploading them to your server. Files contained in a single zip file are also easier to move around on your server, if you need to transfer them from one directory to another.

You can use drag and drop in the file manager view of the control panel, or you can use an FTP program to do the uploading.

Enable Mods in Configuration Files on the Server

The next step is tell the server to actually load and use the mods, by adding the mod ID's to the configuration file that controls this.

That file is called GameUserSettings.ini, and it's located in /shooterGame/Saved/Config/LinuxServer

Once you've gone to the LinuxServer folder, select the file GameUserSettings.ini by clicking the blue box to the left of the file name in the Nodecraft file manager view. Then click the "edit" button at the top of the file manager window.

Once the file manager is displaying the contents of GameUserSettings.ini, find the section labelled [ServerSettings] in purple text.

In that section, add the following line

ActiveMods=

followed by all the steam worskshop IDS of the mods to be enabled, separated by commas.

NOTE: Capitalization is very important in ark settings, the line ActiveMods= must have an uppercase A in active, and M in mods or it will not be processed correctly by the game.

Below is an example.

ActiveMods=642284892,764755314,719928795,880887081,702828089,880871931,741203089,670764308,731604991,668239751,793605978,1357417063,566885854,693416678,870709781,893834064,722649005,812655342,924933745,1184763409,1341173952,609380111,1420423699,1420423699,954683928,1092784125,1210379301,519536568

Once you are finished, save the changes made to the configuration file, and then restart the ARK server.

If everything has been done correctly, your ARK: Survival Evolved server now has mods!

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