Cataclysm DDA "Multiplayer" Guide

So, first up, hi! I’ve been obsessed with the game for about a week now, and having a blast. I’ve been reading a bunch of various threads about this and haven’t yet seen this tip, so now I have a suggestion for if you’re having trouble surviving on your own. Was gonna put it in the tips and suggestions thing, but then I realized I’d written a novella. Oh well, new thread it is!

Grab a buddy and play Cataclysm DDA Multiplayer! Sorry, “multiplayer”. There’s a bit of a distinction. But how, Mij? Well, it’s easy with this 8 step process! But first, lemme explain a bit about what you’re getting:

The game has a persistent world and allows you to have multiple characters. The purpose of the persistent world is so if you wander into town and get murdered, your next character can come along and find your corpse along with all your stuff. But because you can have multiple characters, and the world is modified when you save any character, this means that you can totally make a character go grab some stuff and drop it in a pile, save, load another character and go pick up that pile.

Despite being a complete exploit for single player use, this has a wonderful side effect in that it lets us pretend the game is multiplayer in a kinda turn-based fashion. You take a turn, your buddy takes a turn. You never see the other character, but do you see their improvements on your base and your vehicles, and you get to watch as magically your piles of tins of beans turn into piles of empty cans. With me so far? Okay, on to the 8 step process! If you’re lazy or in a hurry, I’ve bolded the important parts of each step.

  1. Make sure you’re using the same game version. This works with .1, haven’t tested it with .2 yet. Presumably you should also have the spawning option (static or classic) set the same, but I don’t know if it’ll make a difference. Probably won’t.

  2. OPTIONAL: Make a new world for your buddy and you to explore! This will delete any saves you currently have, so making a backup of your current save folder might be a good idea. Alternately, you can choose to make a completely separate folder with a copy of the entire game, which is the option I’ve been using. Keeps everything nice and compartmentalized.

  3. Make your character! The great thing here is you can choose to specialize in something. Wanna be the quirky hunter/mechanic who takes care of all the food and water prep, and spends off time working on the Raid Chopper Mk1? Or maybe you wanna be a sneaky scavenger type, quiet and stealthy, who makes nightly raids into the city to gather supplies? Discuss expectations with your buddy - or don’t and hash it out as you go along!

  4. Play for a predetermined set of time. I like doing it in roughly 1 day increments. You could do a hard and fast rule on time frame, if you wanted, which would be useful for fidelity of tools and equipment. For example, if you can’t make it back in time for your buddy’s turn, then she might not have access to the desperately needed hacksaw and batteries you just looted, meaning you won’t have access to a nice fixed and/or upgraded deathmobile for you next day’s adventure. This puts a lot of pressure on small trips or communicating goals and expectations.

  5. Save and quit, then send the save folder to your buddy. I like to use a combination of WinRAR and puush, but there are tons of ways to do this. Early games, with not a huge amount of exploration will be a under a meg. My current save on day 8 (where it took my person a 24 hour journey by car to get to my survival partner) is about 12 MB, or zipped 809 KB.

5b) OPTIONAL: just zip and send them the entire game folder. It’s not that big, honestly, so if you have high speed internet, you’re golden. If you do this, skip step 6.

  1. Your buddy replaces their save folder (again, safest to set up a copy of the game, same version as you, which is reserved for multiplayer.

  2. Buddy starts new character, then plays for predetermined amount of time.

  3. Buddy saves and exits, then copies and transfers the save/game folder back to you!

Wow, I’m bad at organization. Oh well! Hopefully this is pretty clear anyway. Lemme know if you have any difficulties with steps in here. It’s worked fine for me, so maybe I can help troubleshoot. Again, this hasn’t been tested yet on the newest version, although it probably still works based on not seeing any announced features that would preclude it.

Further advice:

Finding your buddy:
This can be tricky. Sometimes you start in the same basic area. I made two characters on the same computer while doing initial testing with this, and they both started at the same evac shelter. They had different names, however the same skills. I’m not sure if that’s a determining factor for sure (based on small sample size of tests), but I can say that when my buddy and I tried this, when making character two on their computer, they kept spawning way the hell away from me. In fact, it would probably have taken three to four days to get to them on foot (a stolen car is a godsend) and that’s without actually knowing where they are.

If you’re lucky enough to start in the same evac shelter, this isn’t a concern for you. If not, here are a few methods you can use:

  1. Have one person, doesn’t matter who, send the other person a screenshot of their map. Make sure to explore a decent bit during the day time, so you have a lot of notable terrain features to use. For me, it’s really helpful to have a good idea of the basic shape of the town you’re nearest, plus any of the more rare features, such as evac shelters, LMOE shelters, sewage treatment plants, mines, etc.

  2. Start exploring! This can be slow. Like I’ve stated, in my current “multiplayer” game, our spawn locations were incredibly far apart. In fact, here, this is what it looks like:

In this, the main terrain feature to help me find my buddy would be the river. If you can manage to notice some common features, bends in the river, etc, then you’ve got it made, but it does require both people actively exploring. There’s the constant threat that you’ll waste days going the wrong directions, sadly, but… hey, the apocalypse is hard, man.

  1. Roll a new character! I don’t have experience in how it saves things, so this might just bloat the size of your save folder. Dunno! Could use some further testing. But the gist of this tactic is to have player two make a new person, scout for terrain that player one fed them via screenshot or description, then Q the character if they’re not in the right place and try again with a new person.

One concern I have here, as mentioned previously, is that characters with the same skill set might just start in the same evac shelter. Again, I did not test this exhaustively (or at all! :D) but it’s worth mentioning that if you seem to see a lot of the same location with a few characters, try again with a different skill set!

If it turns out your save folder bloats from this method, one thing you can do is simply to revert the save folder with each attempt, to keep it “pure”. Or don’t do that, accept the massive file size, but gain the benefit of random piles of loot next to clones. Hell, that even falls in line with the thematic parts of the game. Just assume one of those teams of scientists managed to track down most, but not all of the escaped clones.

  1. Cheat! Be warned, this is Pandora’s box. The game is more fun for me without cheating, and it’s soooo tempting to use this thing. You have a few methods I know about to help you out, which will be kept in spoilers in case people don’t want to know how for whatever reason. will be displayed below because I can’t figure out how to use spoilers. Sorry folks!

To cheat, use the cheat console. It’s mapped to Z by default, but I think you can change it in the options.

4a) Check the map! Z -> 4 will reveal the map, if you then close the game, it will not save. Alternately, check it then just replace the save folder again before you actually head out there. If you check your buddy’s location screenshot, or look on their character, then check yours, you should be able to spot the place to head. Either map out a quick route to get there, or just gauge based on the general distance direction and figure it out on the fly. WARNING: this will totally show you where everything is, ruining some of the fun of exploration. Your call.

4b) Teleport! Z -> 3, then choose your destination. Point and click, basically. This probably requires you to check the map with the above step. In theory, you could teleport into unexplored squares without doing that, but it seems clunky and annoying. Both breaks realism and is inefficient. It does preserve a some of the exploration factor, but at the risk of taking forever to actually find your buddy. WARNING: when teleporting, it may look like you’ve pulled vehicles along with you and sudden your map is broken. Not so - the game just doesn’t update until you move out of the 12x12 submap.

4c) Check your grid coordinates! To do this, use Z -> 7.: Check game state… It tells you what location you’re at, with an image like this:

So, there’s some useful stuff here, but the part we want is the first line. It is, basically, x:y in XX:YY, where lower case is your local map, which you can see normally, and upper case is your over map, which you can access by default m key. I’m not at all knowledgeable about the map code, but maybe you can check this for further reading: [URL=][/URL]

From basic experimentation, it shows me that x:y goes from 60-71, meaning its a tinymap with 12x12, before incrementing XX:YY is. XX:YY is our moneymaker. Heading east 12 tiles will increase XX, heading west will decrease it. Heading south 12 tiles will increase YY, heading north with decrease it. So, basically, If upper left of the map is XX:YY of 0:0, then heading directly southeast for 120 tiles will leave you at coordinates 10:10. Furthermore, for every two increments of XX:YY in a given direction, the m map will update your location.

So how do we use this?

  1. Z -> 7 at your destination. It’ll say "Location x:y in XX:YY, [description]. Make note of XX:YY.
  2. Z -> 7 at your location. It’ll say "Location x:y in XX:YY, [description]. Make note of XX:YY.
  3. Understanding that heading south or east increases XX or YY respectively, and heading north or west decreases, figure out how far you are from your destination. Take the larger number, subtract the small number from it. Divide that by two. This tells you how many tiles on the map screen (accessible by default key m) it takes to get to where you’re going.
  4. Write down directions, then head off in search of your buddy! Good luck!

Aaaand, there we have it! A weird hybrid of single player/multiplayer. Can you use this to cheat in single player? Sure! Should you? Eh, I’m not one to judge. It could be a lot of fun to make a few characters, for these purposes. Multiplayer in this fashion is definitely fun, although there is a lot of pressure on completing your turn quickly so the other person can get back to it.

I’m tired of typing so here’s some things in no particular order to watch out for:

This method of “multiplayer” will will totally work with more than two characters. Unless there’s a hard limit in the game, the limiting factors are how long you’re okay with not having a turn and how difficult you want the game to be. (having magical tools teleport into the base while you sleep much easier than having to find every damn thing yourself).

Food will decay twice as fast if stored on the ground. ~36 hours for meat is pretty short when your day takes 48+ hours. Since I’m the survivalist, cooking person, I find it helpful to make a bunch of food, then store only about a days worth in the meat pile for my buddy. The rest I hold on my person when I pass the save off. Annoying, but works.

Your dates/times will not match up between characters. This is helpful in making sure you’re playing for roughly the same times.

Current weather conditions and monster locations are specific to each character - not shared! I had a situation where my buddy told me about a bear outside the sewage plant we were holed up in, and asked my to take care of it. Wandered outside, saw no bear, shrugged and went on my way. When I passed the save back, I left the door open and they got mauled by the bear, which happily wandered in. Be warned!

Prediction from above: assuming there are no issues with the .2 version, using the static spawning means that each character will probably have to deal with their own zombie hoard. I’ll update this when I’ve got more info on it. Pacifist characters are still just as difficult with this method, for better or worse.

Skills are specific to each character. Sadly, my scientist buddy can’t install bionics in me with the same efficiency as she can upgrade herself. On the other hand, I do feel less guilty about save scumming for a successful install when I know I’ve got someone there who would be able to realistically upgrade me. YMMV.

Battery use will be ridiculous. Seriously. Ridiculous. Work together on resource expectations! If you have a big project you’d like to do, make sure to clear it with your buddy first! A town’s worth of batteries can be sucked up in a day by a single character, and when you have two or more? Not to mention you have to share bionics, mutagen, vehicles, engines, etc etc etc. That said, the ability to have two mechanics work together on a vehicle is pretty damn cool.

Did I miss anything? shrugs Anyway, I’d love to hear if anyone else has tried this, and what their adventures have been like! It’s been immensely fun for my buddy and me, and I have to say that I absolutely love this feature of the game, intended or not. It’s done wonders to keep me interested. :slight_smile:

edit: Fixed a few spelling errors

1 Like

This is a really comprehensive and thought out guide, and I’m glad to hear you and your friend are having fun, but it seems that only 2 IRL friends could do it as opposed to a succession style game on a forum , due to the extensive communication required, and even then it seems like a lot of file switching.

Well, it depends on what the participant expectations are. With a succession style game, you usually do things in large increments, and depending on the style of the activity, it might take a day or week for each turn to complete. Because this focuses on swapping back and forth between a small number of characters many times, it’s definitely more fun to have a faster pace. You could do one on the forums with a one or two day turn around, with occasional breaks for the main participants by either pausing the game, so to speak, or by electing someone else to do stuff independent of them on the same save file until the main people get back. I think it’s totally workable.

There would be a lot of communication at the start and end of your turn, basically, but in the middle… it’s up in the air. Really your call. I like to give my buddy updates on steam chat. We do know each other in real life, but we’ve communicated entirely over the internet for the duration of our game.

And as for file swapping, the barebones requirement is deleting the contents of your save folder, then replacing them with the up-to-date files. Takes very little effort, honestly. With a forum, you would want to make sure you had a file host that wouldn’t get annoyed that a ton of people were downloading your file and make you upgrade to a premium account. Pretty sure dropbox would work indefinitely, if the host just never touched that file again hehe.

So, I agree that it does require a bit of effort, which makes sense because it’s not an intended feature of the game, but I disagree that it wouldn’t be a fun waste of time. I’d also argue that the point of succession games on forums is to have people commenting on them, even if they’re not playing. It’s to get the community involved in an activity, which might take months or years to complete. None of that is precluded in this method, is it?

If you could use some kind of software to share the “save” folder at the same time, it could do the trick. Im not sure, havent tried.

Yeah, the common method is to host the game on a server and access it via SSH.

I’m sure that’s relatively simple to set up up, but I dunno how. I bet google has instructions. It usually does :slight_smile:

If it’s just for one or two friends, sticking the cataclysm folder on Dropbox and playing from there should work fine too.

Now I want to play multiplayer with someone else… AND BURN EM HOUSES. Also kill zombies and shit

This can more easily be done utilizing Dropbox, by placing the game’s files in a shared Dropbox folder, the game will automatically keep up to date on all events in the world, though there is still the issue of having to play in turns

Recently some people were doing this exact thing, except over SSH, over on the IRC. It was pretty fun to watch them switch back and forth, and “You got any bandages?” “I left them at the door of the mansion.”

They wouldn’t let me play, though.

I think this would be one way we COULD do multiplayer in CDDA. In the game Wazhack, when you play multiplayer, you have the same dungeon, but different monsters, and when you are on the same spot, you can trade and heal one another. We wouldn’t even need to replicate the other player’s world destruction.

One caveat to the above method, I think food rots twice as quickly. If it is like it was, when you are logged in, your food rots, and when your friend is logged in, your food rots, too.

That makes me wonder why there isn’t a ssh server for DDA. I mean nethack does have a lot of servers and it makes sense for DDA to have at least one considering this is such a great game and so many people are playing it.

True co-op Cataclysm would be beyond amazing. And I don’t really see why it couldn’t happen other than “We don’t want to” Which Iv’e seen so many other Dev teams say about their games. O’Course if it were to happen It would no longer be turn based, And a few other things would need to change but it’s not impossible. And would definitely boost the player base.

I’ll try this with my wife and let you know how it goes!

If cataclysm became true multi-player it would (in my opinion) become the best game ever made.

1 Like

using some cloud storage like dropbox sounds realy easy, i think that as long as you both do not move over this same land you should be able to play at the same time

lets say player one and player two are at this same base
player one exits base and its out of reality bubble and he saves (autosave or something)
player two can enter the game and sit in base or go in other dimesions
both players play at one time on one world, they just must avoid crossing thier reality bubbles becaue they will override actions of another player lets say both players are at base and player two pickups some food and eat it and go away and saves but later player one who is in base too finish his crafting and saves and when player two returns base he will find food what he will see his food still there even after he consumed it some time ago

Which game had that feature where you met other players ghosts in your game? I think it was CDSS, but am not sure.

Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup.

There you met your previous dead character’s ghosts

By the way no one mentioned that if you have several characters in the same world, and if you try to farm for food, it will act very very buggy.

DCSS has that feature, it’s called ‘Bones’; it originated from Nethack but it’s much more dangerous in DCSS imo.

Although it isn’t related much to this topic, there should be a ssh-server for C:DDA similar to NAO ( that Nethack has. Players will be able to watch other games in progress, play on machines which don’t have a local installation and compete with others. But performance bottlenecks will be an issue since dda is a large game and performance issues still happen in normal game.

And I’m also not sure who will set up a dedicated cdda server and manage it. I think this issue was raised in the beginning but perhaps there was not much support for it and users didn’t see any advantage over using a standalone installation.

I’m necroing this topic to share the experiences me and my friend had with our “multiplayer” cataclysm game, and how we set it up.

First off, the multiplayer we had set up allowed us to play on the same world at the same time, but we could not overlap reality bubbles. That was really the only catch and we could do anything else without problems or conflicting saves. The only real issues we had were not due to the game itself, but to the method of sharing that we were using. I’ll explain more on this later.

These are the basics of how we got things to work (taken from another post of mine because I am lazy):

[i]I did this with my friend: we had the map saved to the local drop box folder in each of our machines, which would then update any changes made on an identical map stored on a drop box server. Any changes I made to my local map (when saved) would be reflected on the one hosted by drop box and then subsequently to my friend’s locally saved map, effectively allowing us to play on the same world at the same time.

For visual aid, a change would look like this, starting with a change to my map:
Game(me) > LocalMap(me) > SharedMap(dropbox) > LocalMap(friend) > Game(friend)

All we had to do was not cross reality bubbles and auto-save semi-frequently to insure an identical map. This allowed us to visit places where the previous person was not too long ago, including player bases.[/i]

What we had effectively done was to have cataclysm read and write map data to a common source. We did this on a Windows OS so it may not be the same process while using a different OS:

[ul][li]I first set up a dropbox account (and my friend already had one).[/li]
[li]Then I downloaded the dropbox software onto my computer (this is needed for later).[/li]
[li]Next, in cataclysm, I created a new world with an easily recognizable name, in that case I called it “SharedWorld” (although it can be called anything you want).[/li]
[li]Outside of cataclysm, I took the newly created world file and moved it into my local dropbox folder (this was created when I installed the dropbox software, and can be accessed from the dropbox icon on the system tray).[/li]
[li]Once I put the folder there it synced with dropbox and was saved online to my account, and at that point I shared the file with my friends dropbox account so he had it as well.[/li]
[li]The next thing I did required the use of the command prompt: I created a junction using the path to the cataclysm world save folder (with “/SharedWorld” at the end) as the link, and the path to the actual “SharedWorld” folder (the one that I put inside my dropbox folder) as the target; doing this made a link in the save folder called “SharedWorld” which then caused cataclysm to read and write to the real “SharedWorld” folder that was located in the dropbox folder. In the command prompt this looked something like:[/li][/ul]

[ul][li]Then I had my friend do the same steps to link their folder and voila! We were then using a shared world! And after we had set it up, we were able to join the same world at the same time (with different characters). [/li][/ul]

Now, the issues that we encountered came from us and our use of dropbox. Technically this world we were both in was not real time, but instead communicated in chunks as we periodically saved, meaning that our “interactions” between each other were dictated by when and how often we saved. We should have decided a mutual auto save interval, but we did not. This ended up causing his game to overwrite some of the looting that I had done in a lab, duplicating items. Another thing we should have done better was communication. Like I said earlier, you can’t overlap reality bubbles, but you also can not overlap your reality bubble with the world data that someone else has modified before saving; the larger the auto save period, the larger the trail of unsaved world interaction a player will leave behind. If you overlap your reality bubble with an unsaved area, like me in the lab, whoever saves last overwrites the changes of the person who saved first, even if the last person to save was the first to modify the area in question. A way to avoid this almost completely is to have each game save nearly constantly, but that is sometimes too demanding on bandwidth and processing power. Instead, the most accessible way would be to set uniform auto save intervals and communicate when and where each member is going to be for the majority of the time. Eventually me and my friend came up with an easy way to make sure that we do not get too close to each other. We decided to divide the map into two sections, split down the middle, with 12 map tiles in between marked as the “no man’s land”. And if I needed to cross that boundary for some reason, then I would detail where I planned to go and would notify my friend when I returned and saved. We also did the same zone thing, but around cities that we claimed, using a map note every-so-often to trace a rough perimeter that was on the outer edge of the “no man’s land” surrounding the city of either one of ours.

In the end of it all, we had fun trading things to each other and swapping roles as “base keeper” and “scavenger”, It made the game 200% more awesome.

Edit: Feel free to nitpick and improve my information.
Edit: Edit: I can provide pictures for visualization on request.