How hard was the learning curve for you guys?

Someone brought up in the knife spear thread I made about how difficult the learning curve is and I wonder how it was like for the rest of you? I literally cannot remember my early game experience and actually find it to be incredibly intuitive now.

I remember being incredibly intimidated by the crafting menu for my first couple dozen playthroughs, and having nothing to do with it. I also remember layering storage on until I couldn’t move and it took a while to learn while that was a bad idea.

It’s been a long time, but I distinctly remember setting my evac shelter on fire a couple of times before I really started to learn how things worked. And at least once I had a fairly advanced survivor (solar powered welding cart, other decent gear) who still lived in an evac shelter about 3 map tiles south of a home improvement superstore - until he did some loud construction and drew out the horde.

C:DDA has a fairly steep learning curve, but it has a sensible control interface and 90% of the time, the steps to create something are pretty logical. If you want to cook something, you need something to cook, a heat source, and some kind of cooking implement.

I compare that to Project Zomboid, which is supposed to be a more casual game, but has some oddities. The control interface is annoying (oh, look, your mouse moved too close to your survivor so you turn around in combat and get bit) and some of the steps to create stuff aren’t very logical: I quit playing when I had a survivor fail to cook a TV dinner despite standing in a fully stocked kitchen with a stove that was on.

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I remember leaving shelter and not dying was challenge. Then I realised turning surrounded start off might help. I remember trying to live in the woods with the tent. Just to get eaten by Jabberwock. I generally avoid forests even now. But most of my starting time was mild challenge, because I always read a lot on Wiki beforehand. I did that with Dwarf Fortress and it worked fine, so I used the same approach in CDDA. And also read forums a lot. Like every single thread or something. Also guides.

So I would say it has steep learning curve but only if you prefer to jump into the game and figure on the go. You’re in trouble then.

I picked up the last stable maybe 9 months ago. I tried playing it, but it didn’t have a tileset (I thought that anyway) and I found the tutorial so difficult in ASCII that I abandoned the game. That’s not learning curve, exactly, but it turned me off the game so it’s worth mentioning. I’m someone who likes to get into a game and be able to instantly understand most of what I’m looking at – this is obviously not the case with Cataclysm.

I came back to it maybe 4 months ago because I was looking for zombie games and it was referenced here and there. I’d also been using YouTube a lot so I thought I’d search around for a beginners guide, make things easier to swallow.

I found Vormithrax’s videos/tutorial series. Once I discovered there was a tileset I fell in love with the game. If it weren’t for Vormithrax explaining pretty much every single thing about the game, it would have been difficult for me to learn. Not impossible or anything, or even really hard I guess, it’s more like a time sink. Not knowing the commands or how things work would have taken a lot of time. IE: Vehicles are a good example. A lot of stuff is obvious when you think about it, but to a new player it’s a bit confusing. Not knowing you can craft a welder/goggles. Not knowing how to begin construction on a fresh vehicle, not knowing a frame belongs on every square, not knowing you need an alternator, where to look on the vehicle screen for certain information, etc. etc.

I think, erm, my point is, that I acclimated to the game quickly, but it was 100% thanks to Vormithrax. Without him I probably would have never invested the time necessary to learn the game’s systems/many commands/certain ‘at-a-glance’ information. And frankly, this game is incredible, so I’m grateful to him. And to all of you, of course, because I’ve learned plenty in the forums.

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I do vaguely remember lighting the shelter on fire cause setting things on fire is always nice, waiting for a few moments, being annoyed at how bugged fire was, and going to sleep. I woke up to a collapsed building and 500 pain.

i remember first leaving the evac shelter (prior to the birth of DDA) was looting the town when i was killed by the dynamically spawned zombies that i couldnt seem to get rid of.

Accidentally created a world with no monsters at all at first and decided to just stick around and get used to the UI. That helped greatly. After starting to play for real, already knowing about night raids and other basic stuff, I still had a fair share of deaths while getting the hang of the game.
While I never watched any guides or playthroughs (just can’t stand them) I did read the wiki and forums a lot.

–I watched (part) of a Let’s Play series by a Youtuber name Aavak. That’s also how I found that game. He tends to play in such a way that could be considered semi-tutorialy. I probably neither would have heard of this game, much less learn how to play, if it wasn’t for him. (He’s started back up playing the game again. Here’s the first episode:
–For me, it was somewhat difficult, but not too hard. Watching Aavak first then getting into the game really helped. If it wasn’t for that fact that I used a tileset, there just would be no way I’d be willing to play it. ASCII just hurts my eyes it’s so bad (In my opinion).
–He has also done dwarf fortress, but that was so confusing I wasn’t even going to try watching his series, much less playing it myself.
–I learned quite a bit of the game by myself after I learned the basics off Aavak, and so survival wasn’t too bad. I knew not to set a fire in the evac shelter for one thing. :slight_smile: : And of course that encumbrance is important. :blush: Also that getting something like a wheelbarrow or a shopping cart is really good to get. :smiley: Along with other things aside.
–Of course, knowledge and experience are two different things, so I still died a considerable amount early game. Probably not as much as some people (not to sound rude), but dang did he help me! To be honest, I sometimes would save scum too… But only when the game did cheesy shenanigans against me! Like when a zombie brute spawned in the basement of the evac shelter for example :angry:

I found it rather easy, once I learned which key did what, and how to work with a few mechanics. There were a few things that didn’t mesh at first, but I’m a pretty decent hands on learner.

Watched a bunch of letsplays (Aavak and Rycon) before deciding to test it by myself and it went pretty smoothly. Well I got wrecked by a pack of wolf on day 3 but it was ok.
After that I mostly learned the finer stuff by lurking the forum and playing.

I basically memorized the entire wiki before I even really started playing the game, and even then I played it real safe. I started out dying as per usual, then eventually putting points into archery, fabrication, and tailoring at chargen. Enough points to make a longbow, arrows, a duffel bag, a cloak, etc. With this, I played a ranged archery character and got pretty far. Cataclysm is a game that mostly follows logic, thing tend to happen as you would expect IRL.

Throw molotov, it makes a fire. Lead zombies to a house, burn said house down with a molotov.
Dig spiked pits and lead zombies in, simple.
Clear a forest to get a large vehicle through, burn it down map tile by map tile.

It took me a while to figure out layering, clothing, and encumberance. But after a while, I got the hang of it, and even went as far as making my deathmobile and mutagen by my 5th playthrough.
Crafting interface was pretty user friendly. I got the hang of it really quickly. Especially keybinds, those are more user friendly imo than other similar games that i’ve played like nethack or dungeon crawl stone soup.

One thing I did have trouble with in my first few playthroughs was figuring out that health can be regenerated by sleeping, and finding out that zombies revive. Having a handful of fat zombies gnaw at me in the basement of my evac shelter after killing them a few times was pretty irritating.

Ever since my first playthrough i’ve always taken a slow and steady approach to everything risky that I did, and it payed off. As I got really good at the game, I made a guide while I was at it.


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I believe I was the one who made the comment spurring this thread.

Having sunk my teeth into Dwarf Fortress for many years before discovering CDDA, I was used to an active wiki community supporting community-built games, and so spent several months IRL trying to learn how to play based on the wiki, which is…not up to date. Even after discovering the item DB, I still didn’t really survive until I started watching tutorial videos on youtube, which felt like admitting failure to me.

So, summarizing: playing for about 2-4 hours a week, it took me over two months of real time to survive longer than two days, using only the information available in-game and on the wiki. I did not manage to last an entire season until after 6 months, which included several breaks, and only after watching tutorial videos.

Learning the key commands wasn’t the issue. It was learning what paths actually lead to surviving that was the problem. For a game with so much breadth, there are remarkably few paths out of the first few days of gameplay, and all of them require knowing information that isn’t in the game (examining bushes? Night vision? REALLY? Show me where that is written down anywhere inside the game.)

I’ve always thought of it less as a learning curve and more like a learning cliff. There’s really no real ingame support for new players. The tutorial is crappy, the help section explains some mechanics decently, but nothing says “Hey, here’s how to survive.” Personally, I managed to get by mainly through reading wiki guides and following them to the letter. Even then, every few hours I’d find a new item or location or monster or something, go “WTF is this?” and spend half an hour googling to try to get some info on it.

That said, I tend to make things easy on myself. I reset worlds until I get a good start location and savescum as necessary on any character I’ve spent more than 20 minutes playing, so I’m not really a standard case.

All that said, it was a few hours of playtime before I could make a character actually survive and thrive more than a couple of days, and it’s taken months of serious playing to learn all the ins and outs. I’m not as knowledgeable as some of the devs, but I think I’m close. I should really start contributing to the wiki…

It was so long ago i don’t really remember in details. But i know i loved it, i even emailed my first adventures to a friend, who likes similar games like me.

I sometimes play roguelikes, so the ASCII graphic and the overwhelming number of control keys was fine to me. I read the wiki and the json files when i was unsure about something. I love the game because of its modern settings, but the real reason i fell in love with the CDDA is the same reason i now dislike it a little:

CDDA doesn’t force itself on the player, you can explore everything on your own pace.

I’m super careful in survival games which is a great adventage at the beginning but disadvantage on long run, because every game has a pace to maintain the challenge, so you have to keep up or bad things gaining on you. But it is not true in the CDDA, you can just ignore everything until you are ready to take on them except some unlucky cases.

So i soon figured out i can lure zombies one by one into a bush i set on fire, i can easily loot houses on the city border and i don’t have to take risks because i can just loot any other houses.

The game changed a lot but mostly it just become easier, we have more monsters, monster evolution etc, but much more and more deadly gadgets to kill them.

I have played this game for two weeks without any mod and with tiles. Took me 3 days to avoid dying in 10 turns. A week to avoid dying in first day and learn what is an infection and how to treat it. Two weeks to learn to craft/use bows and tools/qualities and to use advanced item management. I finally have a character that lives more than 2 years now.

After learning the interface and a few basic things, I like playing the game. The interface is much simpler than dwarf fortress and I like that. I can’t play DF for a long time because learning the interface takes too long. Crafting is not too complex if I use the online item database as a reference.

I jump right into the game before doing the tutorial. After getting many early deaths, I try the tutorial. I didn’t finish the tutorial because the wiki says the tutorial is old and the tutorial is a bit boring. I already know the stuff at the beginning. It might be better to split the tutorial into several chapter (or worlds). That allows me to choose what to learn when I actually need it.

There should be a chapter in the tutorial about how to treat infection.
I lost a character because I don’t know green body part means infection, and infection means death unless I get antibiotics. First aid kit and disinfectant don’t work. I lost another character with first aid 3 because I didn’t know cauterize a wound can make it worse.

The tutorial should have a chapter about using/crafting guns/bows.
I still haven’t figured out how do ammo and gun works. I get how do mods work for a bow.
I have to google how to aim.

Another chapter should be how to drive. I didn’t know how to hit the brake before checking the controls page on the wiki. At the beginning, I get into a car and can’t drive it because I don’t have a screwdriver to hot wire it. I don’t know how to make a screw driver with duct tape. I don’t know which car can work. I just try them one by one. Now, I walk to the car, examine it, and then don’t bother to get inside. All of this happen when the zombies chase me.

I didn’t know advanced invetory management / clothing layers exists until I see the titles of the youtube videos.
I didn’t watch the full video because I like text more. I learned how to use the advanced inventory management from reddit.

The tutorial should have a chapter in the tutorial about choosing armor for different seasons. Took me a while to manually compare armor and keep the character comfortable. The information is split between several windows instead of all in the same window. In the end, I have to manually read description of every piece of armor to figure that out. The clothing layer window (I open it with the + key) seems to not let me put on/take off armors. I also have to press @ to check warmth.

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Irony. In my line of factory work I live much the way I play the game. Just made sense to me…well, you know minus the monsters trying to eat me and all lol

When every part has to be re-evaluated over and over for weight and various limits and strength with shape and size…yeah. Pretty easy learning curb :wink:

The problem I had was configuring the buttons. I mean. I knew every aspect of the game from the get go. What really befuddled me was learning all the commands. I knew what I wanted to do, but couldn’t remember the button for how to do it.

i used to just beat zombies(even brutes) with anything i could find and not know anything except for basic commands like i and e and , i didnt really touch the crafting and such morale for it was somewhat not useful for me being a attack and get type of player(most of the zombie games are like that).

I’m constantly learning new things. I’ve got most of the controls down. I recently ran out of ammo while clearing a small town and didn’t have a decent melee weapon, so I hopped in a low battery, low fuel car and just ran over them all. Also I learned the importance of finding a base with an infinite water source such as any place with a pool like a mansion.

Why an infinite water source is important? I just set up 4 funnels with 60L tank. Do zombies try to siege your base later? Actually I can build a well too. I was crafting/farming nearly all the time in the first 2 years. Maybe you play the game in a different way.

Mainly for starting out when resources are scarce. It’s hard to get a 60L tank just starting out.