Ark: Survival Evolved developer Studio Wildcard has launched a new program to let modders earn cash while they work.
As reported by PC Gamer, the initiative will see the studio sponsor 15 modders each month, before their work is evaluated to determine who should continue development and who should be dropped.
Those selected will be handed $4,000 a month until their mod is either finished, or Wildcard chooses to drop them and go in a different direction.
According to Ark lead designer and programmer, Jeremy Stieglitz, the studio might eventually increase the number of creators it takes on each month if the system proves to be successful.
"If we have to expand the program because the 15 mods are all doing so well that we don't want to cut any of them," he explained, "then we'll expand the program to more mods every month."
Former Ark modder and current Studio Wildcard community manager Cedric Burkes will have the job of choosing who to sponsor, and will also decide which modders get booted from the program.
The final decision might not always be down to Burkes, though, as Wildcard isn't against implementing a community vote further down the line.
"Once we get this kind of process going, we're almost certainly going to work out a community-driven aspect to is it as well," elaborated Stieglitz, "where the community maybe even ultimately can vote, along with some discretion, maybe, on Cedric's part on who goes into that voting pool."
As for what happens if a modder chooses to leave the program, or a mod stops working long after its creator has jumped ship, Studio Wildcard says successful candidates will have to hand their source assets over to the Ark dev team.
That means if a mod needs to be updated in the future, Wildcard's own in-house developers will be able to take care of it themselves. Although it's hoped that won't be necessary.
"We hope to not have to do that," added Stieglitz. "That's kind of a safety net. Really, this [program] speaks more generally to something that I think is kind of lacking in the industry, which is a midway point between hobbyist modders, who are just really dabbling, and professional game developers."