Tips to Translate Cataclysm dda to Every Language

Normally i don’t post but after seeing this post of Wellincolin, i decide to create this miniguide to share my experience translating ccda and tips that can help to start.

How i think the system works.

A program take all sentences and creates a .po file. then compile this file in a (.mo) usable for the game. Every language has a (.mo) in your game directory.

When you use Transifex, you are filling this file.po.

When you download the game, all the languages files (.mo) are, in the path lang/mo/xx_xx/LC_MESSAGES been xx_xx = en_US, es_ES, etc.

For translating the game locally you will need to compile the file .po from your language to the file (.mo).

Transifex way

Use transifex and wait for a new version to check that your translations are ok. Normally a new version is ready with new words every week.

How to see the changes locally in real time

  1. Install poedit.

  2. Download the file(.po) to translate normally (cataclysm-dda.po).

  3. Copy cataclysm-dda.po in your translation directory, next to your my case is (cataclysmdda-0.E/lang/mo/es_ES/LC_MESSAGES). Remember change the directory es_ES for your language(pt_BR, fr, hu, etc).

  4. Open cataclysmdda.po with poedit. Some errors will appear don’t worry.

  5. Now you will see almost all sentences of the game. Some sentence i could not find it there.

  6. You can now search the first one that always appears in main screen. Search the next sentence <ctrol + f> or find search option in menu:

      Bugs?  Suggestions?  Use links in MOTD to report them.
  7. Modify the text like like show in the red shape.

  8. Compile the file like in the image and select save into

  9. Ready to go, open ccda and contemplate your changes.

  10. This changes are local and allow to you check design of the sentences, some sentences depend in you writing spaces in the translation so be careful and try to check words.

About my experience translating

  1. You are going to make mistakes, don’t worry, don’t try to search for perfection, only try do your best next.
  2. Sometimes you will encounter different translations because many people can translate with different words the same concept. Try use the same word for same concept, use glossary in transifex for resolv this problem.
  3. Try to be efficient, write the minimun posible. Use tools for translating.


I 've been reading and listening English more than 15 years and i always learn new words. Sometimes I learn new words in my native language too. First, use wordreference or another dictionary online.


When I started, I was writing every sentence with my keyboard. This is a waste of time and a way to create more mistakes. If the sentence is bigger than 5 words, try use Deepl Simply saves a lot of time and errors. Surely you will need to change words or look for another synonim. Normally it will translate a 95% of the text and the other 5% will make errors. Read always the sentence translated because at least in spanish, it miss some genders and verbal forms.


If you cannot find the word or meaning. I recommend searching for images if is an object. For expressions try search directly in internet. Sometimes in slang dictionaries.

You are going to encounter with futurama words (blob), book names, trees from américa, fishes and flowers. In this cases try to search and equivalent that can fit there.

There is a lot of slang or translation that can be impossible to tranlate except if you are an specialist or that simply don’t exists in your language. Some examples are street language, onomatopeias, and idioms like ‘shoot the shit’.

Order in translation

  1. Always translate master-cataclysm-dda in first place and then the previous translation if you want. For what i learn the older versions only are used with older versions of the game. Besides normally older versions can use transifex suggestions and that way can use the new text. This could be wrong.
  2. Transifex orders word according order in files (.po). After translating a lot i don’t recommend do this. Your work will feel a bit dissapointed if you spend three hours in two days tranlating rings, medalions and mouth things. Besides, if you translate parts that are visibles and see your work with time you will feel better and encourage yourself to keep helping.
  3. Try at begginning jump all ammunitions and weapons too, and focus in translate menu, skills, etc.

Search for specific sentences to modify

Having to search in more than 50000 sentences is slow and inefficient. You will need to read a lot when try to change a sentence, (1 or more seconds) so i advice that you do a specific search always using only english. You will see how to do below here.

Advices for new Translations in my opinion

  1. Don’t translate ammunitions, weapons, rings, medallions at start.
  2. Focus in principal parts, menu, skills, options, etc. More fun and more easy to see the results.
  3. Besides that way people can play thinking all is translated and bang play a bit and see the uniqueness of this game.
  4. There is some variables in game that you will encounter, this variables can represent a lot of things, names, sentences, verbs, actions. You need to be respectful with then and leave then with the spaces in the original, or you will encounter weird sentenceswithoutspacesandnobodywantstoreadthat.

How to check in game situations:

Simply activate debug mode and try it, add enemys, objects and check that if works ok.

Example: Translation Help Menu

  1. Search in transifex for:

     `<a|A>: Introduction`
  2. Actually is is the 20850 sentence.

  3. Now look manually between the 49589 sentences without filter using the bar with the mouse search for the 20850 line. Try stay in 20000 and use the mouse wheel to get there.

  4. All the menu is down there. If you translate from 20850 until 21044 you will traslate all the help menu of the game.

This is a big menu and have a lots of specifics, so try to search in other idiom to find out how you can do it correctly.

In this case i recomend use first locally translations and when it’s ok fill transifex because in this menu you will encounter almost all kind of situations that you can find through the translation of the game and you will need use specific character.

More specific info see:

In your game, there is a directory with info about translating in a more formal way doc/ Almost all here i read it there.


Everyone can translate a language, but not everyone can revise sentences. If you do some work here, and contact one of the person than revise the project i am sure they will give you permissions in time to revise the sentences, and you will see your changes be revised by yourself or a translator of the team.


Transifex try to help you tranlate, looking for sentences than mismatch what you are translating in that moment. This can help a lot.


Transifex has a particular dictionary, that you and others can modify to help to maintain coherence in the translation. For example, for the word craft, the spanish glossary has fabricar, then normally when this word appears and i translate it with a synonim crear a warning will appear. Not always you need to use the same word, so you don’t have to use the glossary 100% of the time but improves a lot see the same word in all places instead of synonims.

How i personally translate, if anybody can use it

In my personal case, I use a linux system and automatize the changes in translation with several aliases, to make more fast checking things.

You only need a linux system, a bit of commands, use vim, installing msgfmt, know how to work in a linux system and ready, so i don’t think this is the best way to everybody.

alias ccda="~/Descargas/cataclysmdda-0.E/cataclysm-launcher"
alias cad='cd ~/Descargas/cataclysmdda-0.E/lang/mo/es_ES/LC_MESSAGES'
alias dac='cad;rm *.mo;touch;msgfmt cataclysm-dda.po; mv'
alias rec-cataclysm-po='cad;rm *.po;rm *.mo;mv ../../../../../*.po cataclysm-dda.po;dac'

I use like editor vim, so i don’t need to use poedit and i compile with msgfmt instead.

That’s all for now, and have fun translating and playing the game!

Sorry for the images, they were splitted but i don’t like to write in forums,my user doesn’t have permissions for no more than one image and two links. If anybody can fix it, the images split are upload, the links that i cannot write are wordreference and deepl. If somebody found gramatical errors the same.