What is Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead?
An open-source, open-world sandbox roguelike set in a terrible future, where the dead don't stay dead, there's a new and terrible threat around every corner, and you might just end up becoming a monster yourself.
You are a survivor of the end of the world. You'll have to use every ounce of strength, courage, ingenuity and resolve if you want a chance to survive in the new world born from the ashes of the old. The dead rise, and the mere sight of you enrages them... and as time passes, they seem to be changing, growing ever more aggressive and ever more deadly. You'll have to avoid or defeat them to scavenge materials from town. Perhaps you'll reinforce a safe house as a base of operations and go on a mission to cleanse the city - or perhaps you'll steal a truck, load the back with supplies, and head out into the countryside - the cities simply aren't safe. Unfortunately, the zombies aren't the only threat this world has to offer.
Strangely animate plant creatures, which you've decided to call triffids based on their similarities to a classic literary monster, roam the countryside, and a pervasive white fungus seems to cover swathes of the land, threatening you with a cloud of spores and a variety of infected creatures. Giant ants venture forth from their colonies, pits winding down into the ground, and strange rumbles echo from deep beneath the earth until the dirt moves along the road, something enormous moving alongside it and keeping pace with your truck, attracted by the noise but remaining just below the surface.
You can't run forever, but you can prepare to fight back. Tear your truck down, and rebuild it as a death machine geared to re-killing the undead, and anything else that gets in its way. Stock up on ammo, and tweak your guns for maximum performance. Some traps surround the safe-house you've built yourself, and you hunt the nearby woods for food, but you don't plan on staying here forever. When you're ready, it's time to strike out and explore the research labs you suspect had something to do with the disaster. You can't save the world, it's too late for that - but maybe you can try to understand what actually happened.
Soon, a whole new world is open to you - advanced science has rewards, and potential pitfalls. You feel your body changing from the substances you encounter, and as you explore the world looking for answers, sustaining injuries and spending some days running on nothing but the fumes of a poorly thought out drug binge, you eventually give in to the allure of the military cybernetics cache you came across. Before long, it's hard to even say if you're human any more. But you can't stop now. Even this is only a taste of the potential, and danger, this new world has to offer.
Welcome to the Cataclysm. There are dark days ahead.
An open source game running a Kickstarter? Wtf, mate?
Yep! Cataclysm has been open source for a good while now. Originally developed by a man named Whales over the course of several years, development eventually came to a halt. Then, in January of this year, a community driven version of the game was relaunched as Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead, attracting a rush of new contributors and leading to an explosion of improvements. The game improved at an impressive pace. But I think we can do better. Despite the amazing progress we've made, there's a lot left to be done, and we're all, each of us, doing this as a hobby. Think of how much we could accomplish if we could do this full time!
Ah, but then we'd run out of food and lose our homes and most importantly our computers, and where would we be then? Not developing Cataclysm, that's where. So we got an idea - instead of starving to death for our love of the game, why don't we see if we can raise enough money to support one of our own taking on the mantle of a full-time developer dedicated to making the game the best it could be? Why, think of all the things we could accomplish!
Which lead us here - with your support, we're hoping to allow Sean "GalenEvil" McLaughlin, a valued member of the team who's worked for several independent game contracts in the past, to pursue his passion 24 hours a day 7 days a week. His passion, in case that wasn't clear, is developing Cataclysm, and he seems to be disagreeing with me pretty vehemently about that number I just wrote down, so that may be an exaggeration. Still though, we're hoping for a boatload of dev time, and we've got a lot of awesome things we're hoping to accomplish with it!
So how much do you want, and what are we getting for it?
Our initial goal is just $7,000 dollars, which allow Sean to dedicate three months of effort to the project. Along with the "time", there are a few other feature obligations that are going to come along with this. The bulk of these three months are going to spent developing the following features:
Full Graphics Support - Cataclysm is a roguelike, and roguelike has traditionally meant the ASCII graphics you'll see in many of the examples above. To be honest, we love that stuff, and many Cataclysm fans do. But others don't - they like pictures, and animations, and things that actually look sort-a kind-a maybe like the objects their supposed to be representing. If you're one of those people, have no fear; full graphical support - for sprites, tilesets, conceivably other graphics things I can't think of - is something we're working on as I type, and Sean is going to dedicate himself not just to fully implementing it, but doing it well. You'll be able to plug in and play with a variety of community provided graphics packs, many of which already exist and are ready to go. You'll always have the option to play with the traditional text-based interface, if you wish, but gorgeous pictures and adorable little animations will provide an equally enthralling experience.
Extreme Vertical - Right now, Cataclysm is a bit... flat. You can explore underground basement levels, but there are no skyscrapers to climb, no deadly mutant buzzards flying far above your head, and no kicking zombies out of third story windows into an alleyway before jumping across to the opposite roof and opening up on on the crowd in the parking lot below with your m249 light machine gun. You can't do any of that right now, and that's a damned shame! If we reach our goal, one of our priorities is going to be fixing that.
The World Factory and Mod Manager - Right now, you do generate a single basic world depending on the mode you've chosen, and that world exists until you destroy it - but we can do a whole lot more than that. With this tool, you'll be able to manage multiple worlds at the same time, and when you generate a world you'll be able to tweak settings, pull in mods created by other players, and share your world with others in a conveniently packaged form. How cool is that, right? Think zombies are dumb? Replace them all with dinosaurs. It's that simple.
And, of course...
More Monsters, More Locations, More Emergent Lore, and some Serious Bugfixing
Is that it?
It looks like we'll be hitting our target, so it's time to bring up our first batch of stretch goals!
$8,575: +2 Weeks! Scenarios Unlocked
3 months, 2 weeks total. The scenario system will allow your character to start in a variety of situations, in specific locations with specific kinds of equipment, and some of them with built in goals. A variety of basic scenarios will be included. For example, you might choose to play as the last surviving police officer in a city, starting in a police station with access to the security computers and armory. For more of a challenge, you may choose to be an office worker, trapped in his 7th story cubicle as the world goes crazy below, who must get out of the city without being killed. Or perhaps you'd rather start within the safe confines of a Last Man On Earth Shelter... and something, you know not what, prowling about outside trying to find a way in. There will be a good bit of support added for adding additional scenarios of this type, so it's unlikely you'll be limited to just these three. More advanced scenarios, such as Race to the West, where your character must stay ahead of an ever advancing wall of undead horrors approaching from the east, or Vatborn, where you start in a lab vat as a mutated being with no skills or memories, are also a possibility, if time permits. The game may also require you to accomplish certain tasks before a scenario becomes available - in the case of Vatborn, successfully bringing a lab cloning subsystem back online should do the trick. Vatborn, Race to the West, and an improved version of the currently existing Defense Mode will be our priorities for advanced scenarios and while they are not guaranteed as part of this stretch goal, they are likely to happen. Even if they do not, the groundwork for the basic scenario system means a number of community-created basic scenarios will be available.
$11,725: +1 Month! Stealth System, Vision Rewrite, and Monster Infighting Unlocked
4 months, 2 weeks total. This month will be dedicated to make the world a bit more unknown and a bit more alive with the introduction of partial detection, stealth mechanics, and improved monster interactions, including fighting one another. Objects such as furniture and bushes will be able to partially obscure characters, and there will no longer be a guarantee of instantly identifying everything within range at a glance. Depending on circumstance - light level, obstructions, etc. - you may only be able to tell that something is there, but not what it is, or whether it's hostile. Monsters will also get an identification system, and while they will investigate things they detect but cannot identify, they will not outright attack you until you are identified as a threat, and with the new ability for stealth-inclined characters and monsters to improve their odds of avoiding detection at all by taking cover behind various obstructions, stealthily penetrating and looting the heart of the city becomes a real possibility. And you'll never even realize that new threats have been introduced and are quietly stalking you until it's far too late...
$16,450: +1 Month, 2 Weeks! Z-level improvements, Inventory Rewrite, Extreme Biomes, and Physical Merchandise Unlocked!
6 months total. A good bit of time here will be dedicated to refining and replacing existing systems. An inventory overhaul, including the addition of containers, is a priority, and various improvements to the z-level system, should they be needed, will be done at this time. But perhaps the most exciting addition will be the introduction of extreme biomes. Strange portals dot the land, and some types of enemies may change the very nature of their territory, and these mini-biomes will be the result - patches of shifting sand a town wide surrounding a portal exuding a constant dry heat, with volatile weather along the borders. The fungus coating everything in it's territory, altering the landscape and weather. A ruined lab billows forth constant clouds of caustic acid, making the weather in the nearby area less than pleasant. All of these, and more, are the sort of behavior we're hoping to achieve. And even then, this is but the foundation for what may come later...
Finally, if we unlock all three of the above stretch goals, we'll open a small store offering a few items of Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead merchandise. While this was originally going to be added as a physical tier, at the rate we're going it will a tight call if we make it at all, and to give everyone an opportunity to benefit, we've decided instead to make the merch available outside the kickstarter, but to have a portion of each sale go towards funding our developer and reaching additional stretch goals!
More Stretch Goals are ready to be announced when if we get close!
Risks and challenges
Update: Well, the worst case scenario has happened, and Ethan has been officially replaced by our backup, Sean McLaughlin. I'm sure Sean is going to do an amazing job, and I'll be his backup. Don't fail me, McLaughlin. I cannot afford to be poor again.
Moving forward, other challenges include features taking longer than planned and us encountering various unexpected articles in design or implementation. If that happens, we'll do our best to stretch out the money and insure the work gets done regardless, and I'll probably dip some of my personal funds into the project to keep him going as well as doubling down myself to get things done. I think we've left ourselves enough of a buffer that this won't be a problem, and we'll have a strong team of volunteer contributors working alongside us, so while it's possible we go way over schedule on delivering our features (has there ever been a game where it isn't possible?), I'm pretty confident we'll be able to handle it should it happen.
The absolute worse case scenario: All of us die. I'm gonna be straight with you guys, if that happens we're probably not going to make our commitments. Apologies in advance.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)