Thoughts on changing the game start date


#1

GitHub issue for more context: https://github.com/CleverRaven/Cataclysm-DDA/issues/28000

As we continue to make the game more realistic, early spring start is becoming more and more difficult. This is as it should be, because surviving early spring with nothing is really hard. Gathering plants has been reduced to realistic levels now, but this makes a lot of default survival tactics hard. It is constantly raining and freezing, making it hard to get food or drink water or stay warm. It’s a really hard time to survive: traditionally even if you had a filled larder in your 18th century home, the last time before things really warmed up would be the toughest.

Nearly any change to make survival more realistic and complex is going to make starting the game harder, and at some point it’s going to become pretty much totally inaccessible to new players. There are already issues trying to make changes we really should make, like eggs and nuts can be foraged in early spring only because taking them out would make it all but impossible to start the game.

Suggestion: Make “early spring start” a challenge rather than the default.

Start the game at least one month into spring, when the freeze is over and players can plant. Maybe just move it right into the first day of summer, which will mostly just return the difficulty to what it was before freezing and gathering mechanics were made more realistic.

My own preference is to move the start of the cataclysm to 5days before the beginning of summer, and make the game start in early summer. This restores early game hunter gathering viability, reduces the impact of wetness and cold for brand new characters, and allows new survivability changes because it’s not all that hard to get by in summertime.

Another very good option would be to go right to late summer or early autumn. While this would still give the same survivability, there would be a new added challenge - that in a fairly short time, winter will come. This means that in the first year, the challenge would change from “here you are, unarmed and unequipped in freezing wet weather with no food” to “you have only a short while to get ready to survive your first winter without amenities. GO!”

Ideally I would like the “start of the cataclysm” to be 5 days before whatever the ‘default start season’ was set to in World Settings, and for that default to start as summer. Then you can set it to whatever you prefer and not have monster evolution and NPC conversations and things advance with it.

Keep in mind spring start should still totally be an option, just not the default. Ideally I’d like to be able to move around the cataclysm start date depending on what your default season start is set to, so that if you set the world start to “autumn”, your cataclysm happened five days before the first day of autumn, year 1.


#2

Good change. I think it will have a positive impact on newer players. Summertime will give them more freedom to learn and explore the Cataclysm and change the amount of time/energy spent focused on dealing with the cold/gathering clothing, not being able to farm, etc.


#3

I can definitely support this. As the game edges closer to realism starting in “The starving time” is gonna be really rough to noobies especially those who aren’t familiar with the nuances of gameplay. I’ve found hunting to be absolutely vital for “innawoods” with the plant changes.

And realistically it was the one of the hardest times since winter typically left people with nothing to eat come spring.


#4

Can we just have the start time be modular without actually treating Spring 01 as the start date?


#5

Even if we make start time flexible, we need a default start date so that Erk and others can write consistent dialogue.


#6

So this would mean start date, in code, is always spring day 1 and unable to change that?

While I myself am for, at the least, a summer day +1 start, what about season lengths? If you start spring +60, for example, it would still be spring if the player chose 90 day seasons. Conversely if the player chose 30 day seasons, it would be the start of fall.

I know I will feel stupid for asking this, so bear with me: does the option ingame already for changing starting seasons need a lot to work properly? I havent tried to change that in a long time so am unsure if it even works.


#8

I think the nitty gritty depends a bit on how the calendar is changed to make way for the new first day of the cataclysm.

What I’d personally like is to see the “canonical” date of the cataclysm set to the end of spring, and have NPCs refer to the cataclysm happening in late April. I would also like the code to allow that date to move around for alternative scenarios, but NPCs will always talk about the cataclysm happening in April so that we don’t have to make a whole bunch of conditional dialogue.


#9

yeah, idealy there should be no reason for the cataclysm date itself to be dependent on when the start is, if anything the inverse would be true

Seems like running the star date as a kind of 10% from the end of spring or something would be the best way to go, something that scales no matter the season length.


#10

I feel like early autumn would be a better date, on a early summer even a noob have PLENTY of time to spend looting and farming. With 90 days seasons, Winter wouldn’t be a challenge at all.

IMO autumn’s dead trees and stuff suits the apocalypse more than a lively and warm summer.


#11

then spring is a good time for noobs, lots of food and resources to get them started. they can move on to autumn starts once they have a feeling for the game.

True horror doesn’t care how nice the weather is, it uses your contentedness to lull you into your doom. It doesn’t just wait in dreary shadows, it comes for you even in the light.
The monsters let you know that nowhere is safe. Nowhere is it ok to let down your guard. That no matter how peaceful your surroundings it can only mean that the monsters havn’t had a reason to come here, that your presence is all the incentive they will need to tear your securities and grind your peaceful hamlet down into yet another reminder that the world is no longer safe for you. That peace is extinct concept, society and safety are only dreams from the past to keep you from giving up. That those dreams are the only thing remaining in the end, the only monster you can hold being the one of hope.

^this is the vibe that we should aim for if CDDA is “scary”
Personally I am not good at being ‘horrified’ but that has never been what CDDA is for me. Its a casual sandbox rougue-like with a ‘0 to hero or died trying’ plotline and the only part of that that lends itself to ‘horror’ intrinsically is the rougue-like bit. Its just not that kind of game to me, so making the game ‘default start season’ based solely on creepiness just doesn’t make sense to me since there isn’t enough about this game that is creepy to me as a player. (plenty for the characters to be sure though)

TL;DR Eh, game is creepy for the character not the player, creepiness level is not a reason to make the game harder for new players, the option to start in an alternate season is always an option.


#12

I feel like with weird dimensional tears happening, there’s room for some confusion about when exactly the cataclysm hit, especially for people from different regions. But probably not enough for a spring<->winter spread, I suppose…


#13

There is one advantage to the early spring start: food rots more slowly! This means that you don’t have to worry about perishability as much – jerky is easy to make if you start near a swamp, but you don’t always start near a swamp. Since meat is the one of the most reliable sources of calories in the early game, but spoils quickly, this is a big deal, I’ve found.


#14

I think every season is going to have difficulties and troubles as a start. Summer’s heat can cause as much trouble as springs cold and wetness. Food rot happens so fast in summer it’s hard to just pull something off and cook it without it going bad immediatly on the walk back or mid cook. The current rot mechanics would make summer a frustrating time, things turning to rot at obscene rates. If the constant water freezing solid would get tuned down, so thing like body heat could keep water from freezing on you when you carry it under your jacket or something then the spring would be much less difficult on new players then it currently is.


#15

The current thought is to start around spring day 45. This allows many of the advantages of spring, but a lot of the mechanics that people find most frustrating become later game problems.

It’s true there is no season without its set of problems.


#16

That will scale with Season length changes right? I find 30-45 days a good length for seasons so hopefully that won’t be a hardcoded number.