I sank a solid eight months of my life into Ark. I would wake up, go to work, and come home from work thinking only about what I was going to next in Ark. I alpha'd my tribe and then wiped the map, it was great.
@Lmpkio I've heard of The Isle, but given that its designs are much more stylised and tweaked than, say, Saurian or Prehistoric Kingdom, I'm not inclined to use it as a main reference. Not that I plan to nitpick on realism, but I'm hoping for a more natural aesthetic than The Isle, reason being that conservation science will be a major theme of the project.
So far I've been using paleo illustration for my main inspo. Here's some nice things I dumped in the guild discord a little ways back.