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.