The intended way of learning monster toughness

I guess this question is philosophical in nature, but… I started to think back to my recent deaths and realized that practically all of them occurred because I met a monster whose capabilities I didn’t know. And in many cases, when you realize it’s much tougher than you assumed, it’s too late to save yourself. Had I had the information, I could have tried different approach or avoided them altogether.

So my core question is: What’s the way players should learn about the danger level a monster presents? In Dark Souls you’re supposed to learn by trying. But in a roguelike game with permadeath, it seems quite harsh to die (possibly multiple times on the same monster type and lose tens of hours of progress) just to gather this information. The descriptions provided in-game seem insufficient to make educated estimations.

I remember there being talk earlier about it being ok to check the wiki. But is this what we are expected to do? Maybe using the debugger to simulate battles? Or is it fair to reload after a death for such lack of information without it being considered scumming? A matter of opinion - I know, but what’s the official truth on this? The “intended experience”.

I personally think it’d be useful to include the monster difficulty stat as a number into the description. Or maybe have a conning system like Everquest had, which let you eye a mob and get feedback on whether you’re likely to be able to handle it.


I think if you examine a monster in the e(x)amine menu, it shows a relative difficulty?

If this is true, I’m really embarrassed. After all the time I’ve put in, I should have noticed.
But to tell you the truth, I’m literelly at the moment looking test mobs with examine and I can’t find anything I could interpret being what you describe. The relative speed is indicated very clearly, but can’t find anything about relative toughness.

Not sure if even that would be enough though, now that I think about it. Many mobs have qualitative abilities that can be totally deadly in some cases and still hard to put into a single number. Leaves the original question still open about the intended or “correct” way to learn about monsters.

The “relative difficulty” shown is pretty much a red herring almost all the time.
Wasps have the “lowest” tier for difficulty display, yet they’re the single most deadlier creature in the game - especially with the guaranteed damage. (actually, this applies to most hostile bugs in the game, really). There’s also the fact that Wasps do not trigger Safe Mode when they’re “neutral”, whereas Chiuauas and Moose do, for instance.

The Skeletal Juggernaut displays as white which is also misleading - yes, they’re slow, no, they’re not weak.

The Zapper Zombie shows up as white, and while yes, it is relatively “easy” to avoid, being shocked isn’t quite something easy to deal with, especially early game when they’re more prevalent. Shocker Zombies show up in light-red, by contrast, which is “alright”, but at the same time it can be misleading too.

I don’t think there’s anything better than the speed indicator, to be honest. The colours are misleading, and even if we judged them by “size”, it can also be misleading too (cockroaches are bastards, so are Slavering Biters or “normal wasps”, as referred above).

When in doubt, shotgun.

Wait… you’re saying the colors are about monster toughness and not just a flavor element dependent on monster type? FFS!

I was kinda expecting text in English language. Didn’t even think the color might have any real significance.

But hmm, yea. Like you said, this is not enough. Even if I learn to understand these colors, those qualitative things are the real problem. And that brings me back to the original question. In-game information is insufficient and it’s expected for people to know things they can’t safely learn in order to survive.

Would I be corrent in saying that if you die because a monster did something you did not know it can do, reloading is factually not “scumming” and in fact the intended way to play?

It’s a single player game, so how you play it is up to you (bragging about feats brought about by save scumming is obviously outside of that). It can be noted, however, that it’s easy to save scum yourself out of enjoyment, so it’s partially dependent on the level of self control.

From my perspective, investigate how things work after making a save to test it out deciding to restore the save regardless is just cutting needless repetitive chore out of the game. The alternative is to play it “realistically”, which would mean hide and only fight when forced to, but flee whenever possible, “upgrading” to fight things that play through experience has shown you should be able to handle. That’s probably going to get boring fairly quickly, though.

I’ve been trying to go for very high realism approach during the recent years. I kinda enjoy roleplaying as a survivor, but of course there are limits. Pretending not to know things I do, since my character couldn’t, would be too much =)

I know no-one is going to know, if I load the game after a stupid death. I think I brought up the question, because I wanted to know what the official view on how the game should be played. I mean… I could buy chess pieces and invent my own moves playing against myself in my living room, but it wouldn’t be chess anymore.

For me, the core issue is that in a game, where dying is permanent and potential loss of time investment huge, there should be an intended way to learn these things with acceptable risk. Reloading would be one option to find out new things about mobs. Another would be game wiki, googling and reading the board when you encounter something new.

I was probably looking for some clear statement on what would be publicly acceptable player behavior. Like, if I streamed my games to the readers of this board, what kind of actions regarding this matter would cause me to get negative feedback.

I like having a rigid framework on the highest level. I’m kinda bothered already by the fact there aren’t built-in end goals and automated tracking for them. I’d like to pretend there’s a clear rule when loading is allowed so I can feel I’m playing it “right” :joy:

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Remember that this is a game where, on the one hand, you have pool limited purchase points, and, on the other, free points to max your stats (and probably skills as well) plus stats through skills and stats through skills. The difference in PC capabilities between these extremes is enormous. In addition to that, the game gradually grows more and more dangerous to those at the lower end of the power spectrum, with swamps now full of deadly monsters, and ever more and worse enemies (yesterday I encountered a zaptor for the first time. If it had had some AI its combination of features would be almost unbeatable, at least without explosives. Being lucky with the equipment used you might not be harmed, but taking it down would be very hard).

I think I get your point there. There is such a big variance in the base options and the level of challenge they lead to, that a single “intended experience” just doesn’t exist. It’s more like a sandbox or a buffet which you can play around with.

This is all fine in itself. However, I now notice that the lack of generally accepted framework or “rules for runs” is psychologically difficult for me. If doing pretty much anything is ok, then all challenge is self-imposed and to me, disturbingly artificial.

Maybe it’d be a good idea to implement some official run types with specific settings, rules and win conditions. That way you had something clear to adhere to. And you could say: “Hey, I completed type II, variant F last night.”

Or maybe the need to discuss this is just a symptom of my more general and perpetual feeling of lack of purpose. :smile:

It’d probably also help with my survival, if I didn’t insist on always starting with the Really Bad Day scenario, all possible addictions and no skills :rofl:

I’m a greedy bugger, so I start with a lot of negatives and invest the points into stats (using the mixed pool middle option). That leads to a character with very good stats (compared to the baseline, which, in my view, is painful to play, in particular due to low STR being so restrictive: no carrying capacity left when armored up, so looting is painful), so if I survive the first month things are looking good.
Addictions wear off as does morbidly obese, and bad eyesight can be cured with bionics.
I also reduce the zombie spawn to 20%, because I find it extremely tedious to slowly (and, I think, safely) pick off the hordes one zombie at a time, only to get nowhere. It’s not as if the world is empty of zombies (again, yesterday, despite the spawn rate, there were 20-30 zombies crammed into a looted gun store, and they weren’t all basic ones either. I don’t want that to be 100-150, and getting rid of 100 zombies to clear a hospital is enough for me, rather than 500 (done that, only to find everything smashed up). The old labs get too sparse, but the new ones seem about right).

Striking a balance between what you feel is justified save scumming and what is not is hard, and it is indeed an artificial restriction (and no save scumming whatever the reason is also a decision). However, the purpose is to have fun. and it isn’t fun to keep repeating the first season over and over again because the PC keeps dying within that time due to entering a basement, opening a door, or whatever. That happening during the first week is no big deal, as you haven’t lost that much, but later on…

For me to have fun, I need to see some progress. In my case it means the PC getting better, building a base, getting a good vehicle (my latest construction was a disappointment, though), and a general feeling of living near the edge but not too near (and quests can help in that regard).
What you enjoy may be different, though.

One thing that needs to be pointed out every time is that this is a Single Player game, that’s customized by the player (to the extent the people maintaining the game nowadays allow for anyway), for the player themselves. However you choose to play the game, to tackle a scenario of your choosing, and whether you “save scum” or not, it’s entirely up to you and there is no shame in either - I find that the real shameful act is the small class of pseudo-gitgudders that lurk around shaming others for just wanting to have fun when exploring a certain game at their own pace. And C:DDA kinda has a small group of people like that. Especially when we consider the fact that, most likely, literally everyone that played the game has save scummed in order to kill a certain monster or to finish looting that building they just found for the first time in a playthrough, because them dying was “absolute BS, there’s no way this would happen/this monster is too OP/he just teleported here!/this monster is clearly broken so this death doesn’t count.”

Q: “Is it acceptable that I save scum if I feel like I was cheated by the game?” / " Would I be corrent in saying that if you die because a monster did something you did not know it can do, reloading is factually not “scumming” and in fact the intended way to play?"

A: Yes, and anyone saying otherwise has most likely done the same, or probably still do but don’t want others to do so - kind of a bit of a toxic mentality that still to this day I don’t understand. This includes things like:

  • "Random monster shows up out of nowhere, despite you clearing up the area, and the game being the game did not give you audio clues nor trigger the “X is dangerously close” prompt for you.
  • The absolutely stupid, arbitrary, poorly explained and documented workings of how lighting affects you and the monsters (something that certain streamers have highlighted (and of which I have post highlighting said issues, somewhere in these boards), which lead to you getting shot because apparently “very dark = bright” in some arbitrary and very specific occasions.
  • being shot by a monster/robot that you cannot see;
  • NPCs just decided to go crazy because Portal Storm or because you shot them when they decided to step in front of your gun with no way for you to predict that;

There probably are many more examples, but just to name a few.

Q: "Is it cheating to look up information on the Wiki/Reddit/Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Cataclysm? (ie is meta-gaming frowned upon?)

No. You did touch on this above, in terms of the learning process and stuff. Players are literally forced to do so in order to understand a lot of things in the game that, despite how for the most part the game very well conveys information to the player, it is still very common to see/experience certain situations where there is literally no information about something. A good set of examples for this would be the Mutations and the Proficiencies:

  • Mutations: Most players will refer to the Wiki, but that is pretty much pointless. There’s barely any updated information there and this part of the game has had SO many changes (especially recently, the core way in which it functions was drastically changed), that it’s essentially looking up for lies. It doesn’t help that whoever makes/works on/develops/decides on these changes does not publish the design document for them - and no, if you argue with "just go look at the PR!", you’re wrong: for most people, wading through thousands of posts to try and find a specific one on Github is a stupid process, even worse for people who do not do “computer stuff™”, and that seems to be constantly neglected. And this is not even mentioning the fact that most PRs are very badly worded or are just written in a way that, at best, only the technical minded will understand. If we had the “design documents” (by this I mean "some sort of guide sheet that allows people to actually understand the idea of the feature that’s being implemented), they could be used as guidelines for updating the game’s wiki. That’s, imo, what seems to be the biggest thing keeping people from Volunteering to doing that task.

  • Proficiencies: similar gripe as above, made worse by the fact that they put into the game and there still is no chart, no “menu”, no “list”, no “tree” that a player can refer to in order to see what leads where. And no, a player shouldn’t have to go out of their way to go to a wiki/reddit thread/discourse thread/ask a streamer “what this thing is/does”: all that information should be in the game - in the 90s when games couldn’t do that, they had a manual, but that’s a tall ask for a project like this, hence why an in-game “encyclopedia-like” thing would actually be welcomed for things like these. (same applies to “what you unlock when you reach X level in X skill”.).

Q: "Is it cheating if I play with a mod that removes [insert_creature_name_here]?"
A: No. Why would it be? Some people don’t care about the Sci-Fi stuff and play with no “Nether Creatures”, others probably just remove Mi-Gos. Some people absolutely hate how absurd some of the bugs in the game are (Wasps, Dragonflies, Mosquitoes) and most likely just mod them out. Some people are currently really tired of how non-sensical the Portal Storms are (either because most of the things it does are absolutely bs or because it’s an artificial way that was created to forcefully slow down the pace at which a player character develops, making the progress in the game an absolute slog, aside the fact that the constant interruptions are just a massive annoyance.). You mod stuff in/out of the game as much as you please, as long as you have fun playing the game. Anyone criticising you for playing any game the way you want to play it is wrong, and that isn’t even up for debate.

There is no acceptable behaviour, really. Regardless of what sort “behaviour” you would adopt, you’ll still always (inevitably) end up upsetting “No Resets” John Doe, “.50 Cal” xxx3D63L0RDxx, “Immersion Enthusiast” Little Jimmy or “No Way” Jose because they all have their own “definition” of how the game should be played. There’s no win scenario in that regard :stuck_out_tongue: The only “win” in this situation is that you should play the game the way you want to play, the way that you enjoy it the most, not the way others think you should play the game like. The clearest statements I can say are:

  • Play because you want to have fun and because you want to learn more as you go;
  • Take it onboard when people make friendly suggestions, but that doesn’t mean you have to do what they want you to do (there’s a difference between a suggestion and a demand, and as a streamer you will inevitably have a few people who do not understand the difference between those two things).
  • Set yourself a challenge with specific rules that you will follow with a specific challenge (“clear 3 labs”, “eat 200 units of bacon”, “Kill a Zombie by throwing butter at it”, “Clear a small town using only a rolling pin as a weapon”, “Can’t use 5.56/.223 bullets”, etc).

The “rules” are whichever you want them to be :>


This is a very good post. It helped me clarify my thoughts about this and understand the nature of the game better. Thank you.

With all this taken it consideration, having some standardized challenges with clearly defined rules and settings might not be a bad thing. Personally I have trouble respecting rules I come up myself for myself, so some external standardized reference would occasionally still be welcome. Maybe such exist already, but I just haven’t found them yet.

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I appreciate the words :slight_smile: (Hopefully it wasn’t too much of a dire read, as English isn’t my native language, so I always dread to think there’s some funky structure issues I am not able to spot).

As for “rules”, I’d probably suggest giving Vormithrax’s videos and streams a watch. He has a wide variety of stuff, that range from (really old) tutorials to some really interesting themed challenges. You have thousands of hours of streams catalogued on youtube that go as back as early 0.D releases I think. Which also serves as a nice exercise in seeing how the game developed over the years.

On a more personal note, I first started with “myself” as a survivor. Then moved onto some “videogame-based characters” with a set challenge that’s themed to them. Nowadays I just think of stupid ideas to see if they’re possible or things to try and break the game’s logic, given the game’s current “otherworldly, paranormal-heavy” setting that I really don’t fancy. On occasion I ask a friend or another for ideas or movie references to enact a short run myself, seeing I am not very knowledgeable of sci-fi stuff in general.

There is a proficiency menu, open the @ menu, then press p, it shows the categories, what they require, and what the lead to. The point I think needs help is being able to see all proficiencies in that gui, not just ones you have unlocked or are one step removed from.

That’s exactly what I meant. We need an actual proficiency tree of sorts. It’s been a long while since proficiencies were added to the game in order to stifle player progress, one would think that, at least, someone would’ve made it easier for new players to understand what each thing is and what it leads to, how to “train” it, etc. Especially considering how much guff was added to the game since then.

i didnt read through all the comments so i dont know if someone already said this, but if you ress e(x)amine to look around and put the cross/targeting indicator over the monster, and the press (e)xamine it tell you a ful description of the monster, it also tells you the monsters difficulty, for example migos if i remember are classified as “fatally dangerous” which is pretty true, but any way just press ‘x’ look at monster and press ‘e’ to see description and danger indicator, also it tell you stuff like if you can headshot, or burn them, or their senses (hearing, sight…) hope this helps

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