ARRP 2010 – Cataclysm

Hours at a computer have caused your strength and perception to decline…
but your mind couldn’t be better honed.

Forget Alphaman, Cataclysm is a open-ended free form roguelike ambiented on a post-apocalyptic future; you can play the current alpha version by SSH and delight with the wonderful detailed world. Be sure to explore the subway and the sewers!

Let's drink the last cola of the world
Let's drink the last cola of the world
Ah! a liquor store is never out of place :)
Play in the sewers, boy!
Play in the sewers, boy!
Ah! a liquor store is never out of place 🙂

45 thoughts on “ARRP 2010 – Cataclysm

  1. I am trying to compile this in Ubuntu, but, despite the fact that I have the required libraries, I keep getting this error:

    In file included from bionics.cpp:1:
    player.h:10:20: error: morale.h: No existe el archivo o directorio
    In file included from bionics.cpp:1:
    player.h:123: error: ‘morale_type’ has not been declared
    player.h:178: error: ‘morale_point’ was not declared in this scope
    player.h:178: error: template argument 1 is invalid
    player.h:178: error: template argument 2 is invalid
    make: *** [obj/bionics.o] Error 1

    Any ideas?


  2. Hi, Whales here, author of Cataclysm. Thanks for the write-up and video, slashie.
    Sorry about the compilation errors for the latest version on github. I’ve since added morale.h and moraledata.h, so the project should compile okay.
    Saving is broken and will likely stay that way for a few days until I finish integrating the features I’m working on now. Sorry about that.
    Please note that if you don’t feel like compiling Cataclysm yourself, there is a public ssh server available which generally has the latest functioning version of the game. You can connect at — there is no password. One of the advantages of using the public server to play is that the world is shared among all players; hence, you can find the trail of destruction and carnage that others have left before you, and even loot their stashes or dead bodies. Sadly, direct PvP/coop play is not (yet ;)) a part of the game.


  3. How does one exactly launch this game? I feel like such a noob but I don’t see any application files and I don’t know how the SSH works. :C

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!


  4. IAmTheMoose, when the SSH server is available you can use a program called Putty (, just run it and put “ssh://” in the Host Name field, making sure that the SSH connection type is selected underneath.

    Whales also kindly told me that under Putty to get the numpad to work correctly you have to press ctrl+Numlock, and sometimes Numlok again.

    The only issue is that you can’t back up your saves over the SSH, and mine were corrupted a few times unfortunately, but Whales may have fixed this by now after I told him.

    To avoid this I had to install Ubuntu and learn how to compile C++ under linux, which wasn’t fun and involved massive amounts of trial and error, as I said above I don’t know if there’s a way to get it to work on Windows.


  5. IAmTheMoose, you can play on Windows by connecting to my public SSH server. It’s very easy; just download a program called “putty” (google it) and connect to . If you like to use the numpad for movement, putty requires you to press ctrl+numlock to turn it on.

    The game has been ported to Windows… kind of. Apparently, it compiles, but doesn’t let you proceed past the main menu. If you want to give it a try, you might have some luck. Thanks to jaydg for the port.

    YSS, sadly the server stays down at night to save on energy costs. It should be up between 8:00 AM and midnight-ish, Eastern Standard Time.


  6. There is a free windows app called Putty that will allow you to connect to the ssh server. SSH means ‘secure shell,’ it’s basically encrypted telnet. That said the game’s server is down at the moment, though it worked last night.


  7. Any chance of compiling this on OS X? I have a Linux partition, but I hate rebooting just for Roguelikes…. I need something to do besides ADOM over here….


  8. Umm, Whales, I’m trying to run Putty, as I have the program lying around on my computer, but I have no idea what I’m doing.
    I put the address you gave in the Host name (or IP address) box, is that correct? What do I put for the port number? This game looks awesome. 🙂


  9. The roguedevelopment wiki lists the ability to board windows/doors, but I can’t figure out how to do that, is it implemented yet? More then that, I’m having difficulty just surviving. Towns, at least, seem to crawling with zombies. Is the idea here to sleep out in the woods and make runs into town for supplies? I realize its quite early, but it seems like there’s something really fun here, just having a bit of trouble getting a character to survive more then a couple hours.


  10. Hey whales 😉 good to see you still work on this game, i hope you guys will manage to port it to windows, server being down makes me windows user really sad as this is a Rl with really good potential and there’s no way to save properly on server.


  11. @Ian: Yes. Apply a hammer towards a door or a window. You will need nails and some two by fours obviously.

    Kheh heh, I have Linux! I can play Cataclysm any time I please. ^_^


  12. Lol at some point i thought about buying linux just to play cataclyms but i have no idea how a linux works and such so im going to wait for a windows version or something and i’m not wealthy enough for a second pc yet


  13. Installing a second operating system on your computer without breaking the first is not so simple matter. I suggest you find some Linux Live CD image and burn it. This way you will be able to boot Linux without actually installing anything. Should be good enough to play Cataclysm.


  14. Hey folks, glad to see there’s a bit of interest in the game.

    I wish I could say a Windows version is just around the corner, but I have next to no skill in coding for Windows, and while the game will compile on Windows, and might even let you create a character, you can’t actually play. Since I don’t have a Windows system to compile on, I don’t know how far I am from a working Windows version… there could be lots of work to do. Any help towards a port is greatly appreciated!

    Yoink, just put “” as the host name, and “cataclysm” as the user name. The port number should stay at the default, 22.

    Ian, cataclysm is quite hard, even for a roguelike. Leaving towns for safer ground is a totally valid strategy, though there are non-zombie monsters outside of town. However, it is possible to survive indefinitely even in the most infested areas. Just remember that you’re faster than most zombies, and you don’t have to kill them all. Stealth is important to avoid detection. Don’t go into a building if you’ve got a pack chasing you, unless you’re confident you’ll be able to kill them, or to escape out a back door. Once you learn the nuances of the game–and it plays VERY differently from your average roguelike–you should be able to survive as long as you like with most characters.

    There’s no website, forum, etc., for Cataclysm right now, so this is as good a place as any to discuss it. I’m usually very active in #rgrd on Quakenet, and you can email me at with bugs, comments, and feature requests. There’s also occasional discussion on the talk page at roguebasin;


  15. Thanks Michal, for the info on boarding, and thanks to Whales for the reply. I’ve since gotten a better handle on the game, there are a few tricks, i guess you could call them, that make handling zombies a bit easier. The roguelikes I have the most experience with, unreal world and dwarf fortress, tend towards the unusual side I think, which is what had drawn me to your game in the first place. Cataclysm easily has the potential to be on the same level as those games.

    However, taking you up on your solicitation for comments and feature requests, I’ve got a few niggles. First is that the game stops you and requires you to turn run on and off any time a zombie is spotted. This can get quite annoying when the same zombie is on the edge of your visual range and keeps popping in and out as you’re running away so that each step you take requires you to press shift+1. I appreciate the game wants to warn you when you spot a zombie, but it seems like there ought to be a better way of handling this.

    Second, and this may be deliberate for debugging rather than an actual bug, it seems as though I’m able to teleport to another map location by scrolling around the map screen using the arrow keys and then pressing enter. Knowing this, I’ve been trying to avoid using it but I often use enter to exit a screen and thus find myself using it unintentionally. It makes the game rather easy when that dangerous trip to the pharmacy across town is reduced to a quick teleport.

    I’ve really enjoyed it so far though, so thanks again.


  16. Run mode does not make your character move faster through game world. It just a safeguard allowing you to lean on direction keys to move longer distances. I turn it off and activate only when I intend to go somewhere far.


  17. As a prole, I understand wanting to save on the electric bill, but can you please put the game up during EST mornings? I’d like to subvert the power elite by playing video games at work.

    Love the game, having a great time… I will hopefully have constructive commentary and praise after I get the hang of it. I don’t want to start offering suggestions until I at least get a chance to put some of the computers / electronics skills to use.


  18. Ian, as Michal says, “run mode”‘s ONLY effect is to stop movement when a zombie is nearby. This is designed to allow you to hold down a movement key safely. Before run mode was added, I would hold down a movement key when I thought I was in a safe area–only to have a zombie appear and kill me before I could react and lift my finger. You’re not the first person to make that mistake
 perhaps I should give Run Mode a different name. 😛
    And yes, the long-range teleportation is designed to make debugging and feature testing easier. I’ll move it to a different key, and once I have my first beta release, it’ll get removed entirely.
    Jim, I’ll see what I can do. Sadly the automatic boot feature on my server doesn’t seem to work, so I have to turn it on manually. What I’d really like is a third-party mirror
 if any of you has a Linux server you’re willing to share, let me know 😉


  19. I just wanted to say that I really enjoy this game so far. I feel like theres a lot of depth here, but I haven’t gotten very far! I have been experimenting with str 6 int 12 other two at 9 characters, with the skill learning traits and some of the dissabilitys like asthma and the like.

    I think I’ll make a melee power house so I can explore more of the game. Using a shotgun seems counterproductive, as the blast SERIOUSLY draws in the enemys.

    Something I noticed, every time I go to the inventory screen to look at something, it pops me back to the main screen. Is there any way to avoid this, and just take me back to the inventory screen so I can quickly look at all my new toys?

    Also, are there any non hostile NPCs or any good ways to explore the biotec system?

    Aaaah! You’re game has me super intrigued Whales. Top score sir.


  20. Whales, I wish I could help. If you set up some sort of paypal-ish type of thing, I would be happy to contribute my small share to development, but Linux is a magical and scary place for me. My computer literacy barely allows me to get past my own firewall.


  21. Zach, you’re right about shotguns; they’re very powerful, but the noise makes them more of a liability than an asset. Still, sometimes when you are cornered your only concern is killing whatever’s got you trapped, even if it means that more monsters will show up soon. This is where shotguns shine. They’re also very useful in areas with limited population, like a bee hive.

    You also make a good point about looking at your inventory with the ‘i’ key. I’ll make it keep you in your inventory until you hit Esc or spacebar or the like.

    NPCs are on hold for retooling currently, but they’ll get rolled out again soon. Most NPCs will be friendly towards the player, or at least willing to cooperate. The bionics system isn’t very fleshed out currently, and the only way to have bionics is to start with the Android trait. Additionally, the only place you can find bionic upgrades is in the bottom of a science lab–one of the more difficult dungeons in the game.

    Jim, thanks for the generous offer! I’ll probably be setting up a donation system soon. Just having people interested in the game, and sharing their complaints or ideas, is a huge help. A big thanks to all of you!


  22. If inventory interface adjustments aren’t too much of a bother, how about being able to select multiple items for dropping, similarly to the interface for picking items up, rather than having to do it one by one?

    It might also be useful to make items in your inventory stack. With both volume and weight to keep track of, an additional hard limit on item capacity is kindof annoying. This is especially true with high strength characters/packmules, who don’t get to use their full capacity. I don’t know how you would ever manage to actually craft clothing out of rags or hides as they would clutter up your inventory so much.

    Both my suggestions come from how much time I spend inventory shuffling and desperately trying to prioritise my lootings.

    I realised I was going to make various suggestions regarding salvaging two by fours and nails from doors/cabinets, or taking doord off their hinges with screwdrivers, but i’ve never found a screwdriver, saw or axe.


  23. Dear Whales,

    I finally got to try this game a couple weeks ago and it is truly magnificent! Thank you for bringing this game into the world 🙂

    Here’s my two cents:

    1. Love the stat-system; every character feels really uni


  24. que and has ups and downs.
    2. Zombies are good, even if a little Left4Dead-esque (but I think it’s awesome you brought those kinda zombies in. Any chance for a tank?? :3 )
    3. The nightvision seems really restricting, but this could just be me. Assuming that the power is knocked off-line in a cataclysmic scenario, there would be little electrical lighting at night and it would doubtlessly get dark, but it just feels that i should be able to see further than just in front of me. Maybe the distance you can see at night unaided can be doubled (making it two squares, or four if the player has night-vision)
    4. Shopping malls?
    5. WINDOWS VERSION :3 :3 but i understand if you cannot as long as putty works and my saves don’t get muddled.

    This is a really good game and I might go play it some moar once the server is back online.

    Have a good one!

    **double post, cannot delete previous, here is continuation.

    also, before i forget, there should be a limit to how many traits one can take. I made a character with every single negative trait and raised the stats to 20ST, 20DX, 12IN, 16PE and then raised my skills in melee and other skills. This character proceeded to dominate everything that came his way using a butter-knife 😛 still it was lots of fun playing as him


  25. wait. on the nightvision thing. like, when i am out in a dark place, UNLESS IT IS PITCH-BLACK, i can usually make out structures a fair distance away. What if you can see buildings regularly, but items and enemies remain invisible (but audible) until closer?


  26. For those who want to run Linux without installing a second OS (though it’s much easier and safer than it sounds), there’s CoLinux, which allows you to run Linux inside Windows.

    Alternatively, a dedicated server to run the game on could be rented. It’s only a few bucks a month, and could be paid with donations.


  27. Some things I’d like to comment on:

    1. Broken windows take 6 times longer to go through than open doors/doorways.
    It’s not hard to get faster than the zombies.
    The zombies seem to always pick the shortest distance path.
    Occasionally you can find doors nearby or even right next to windows in houses (I saw -+00- once).

    These facts together mean that when I find such a house I can lead zombies over, take a couple steps in whichever direction and suddenly the window is the closest entrance instead of the door, which is fantastic for me since I can then easily melee the zombies with very little risk of bodily harm, even at very low levels of skill. It also means that I can sleep a lot more easily than I should if I sleep next to a window, since then if they wander near enough to see me through the window I can generally just beat the hell out of them when I wake up and go back to sleep like nothing happened (as the window has such a lengthy movement penalty). I don’t know exactly where the line is on this of course; maybe smarter zombies will try to path around for doors over windows while the dumb normal ones will still try the shortest path, maybe the window cost will be toned down, maybe both, but as it is it seemed to make things rather easier as long as you’re dealing with a group of small size or are far enough away from a different point of entry. It also seemed strange because while real life does have higher in-laid windows that would be very hard to get through without hurting oneself or seriously clearing the way of debris, front windows are generally pretty darned large (in my house for example, the front window goes from about 6″ off the floor to about a foot above my head [me being about 5’10”]), yet in game the only windows that show that difference are the glass walls of some stores. I’d find it pretty neat if there were different movement costs for different types of windows (there would then be maybe a reason to smash in the front windows instead of the doors of houses you want to break into), but it’s up to you how you want to handle all that.

    2. Item management has some glaring flaws. For one thing I find myself terribly missing the features of Crawl that let me know from a distance the stats of an item; it’s irritating to not know an item’s stats or have forgotten them and have to traipse over to wherever it is. e is a decent holdover, but I truly wish I could get the same info from just looking that way (perhaps I’ve been spoiled by Crawl but convenience! especially when you are just starting out, or don’t know when/if the hordes will be on your back, and there are so many more monsters per tile [it feels like there are more monsters per tile here than in the dungeons of Crawl at least, given the need for explore mode], and I’d really rather spend less time examining the goodies and more time grabbing the stuff I want and moving on). Another issue is not being able to wear/consume items straight from the floor/container; this is also irritating because if I have a natural tendency towards being a packrat (I should just take that along with Trigger Happy since I’m bound to force my character to do it anyway), I have to put down anything that is burdening me in some way, then pick up what I want to consume/wear, *then* pick up the stuff I had to drop, when I *could* have skipped two of those steps (three if it’s something I’m eating/drinking and it automatically generates a piece of trash that I have to drop to pick my item back up again). A third problem, not as severe but still notable, is that I can’t put anything into a dresser/refrigerator/bookshelf; I know it’s silly to worry about that in an apocalypse, but darn it all I want to put the books back on their shelves in the library, not toss them on the floor like a savage!

    3. Trigger Happy is currently a free two points for anyone who doesn’t intend to use automatic guns. This *may* not be a problem but it is worth mentioning because those two points can buy some fairly nice extras. Hoarder is similar, though if you find a backpack it can take a bit of time before you fill that up to volume capacity (but of course, before then you likely have just jeans, and it’s *very* easy to fill that up!), so it may or may not be four points worth of trouble.


  28. Apparently nuking yourself is a bad idea. Who would have thought? Anyway, I believe genetic instability is a ridiculous mutation. Within 10 minutes of gameplay, I got practically every mutation and my Perception was at 23. I believe you may want to turn down the frequency of new mutations. Also, when I “acquired” schizophrenia I ended up getting a debug message saying something along the lines of “cannot destroy creature 17” and then meat would explode around me. Is that a bug or a part of schizophrenia.


  29. Yes, nuking is bad for your health. 😛 Schizophremia is buggy because it is very annoying and few people live long enough to test it properly. Probably the mutation frequency is for debugging purposes but you would do best by asking Whales.

    Cataclysm could use a forum or newsgroup.


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