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Cataclysm: Bright Nights


For official way to build CataclysmBN see Compiler Support.


You’ll need to have these libraries and their development headers installed in order to build CataclysmBN:

  • General
    • cmake >= 3.0.0
    • gcc-libs
    • glibc
    • zlib
    • bzip2
  • Curses
    • ncurses
  • Tiles
    • SDL >= 2.0.0
    • SDL_image >= 2.0.0 (with PNG and JPEG support)
    • SDL_mixer >= 2.0.0 (with Ogg Vorbis support)
    • SDL_ttf >= 2.0.0
    • freetype
  • Sound
    • vorbis
    • libbz2
    • libz

In order to compile localization files, you’ll also need gettext package.

Build Environment

You can obtain the source code tarball for the latest version from git.

UNIX Environment

Obtain packages specified above with your system package manager.

  • For Fedora-based distros:
$ sudo dnf install git cmake ninja-build mold clang17 ccache \
  SDL2-devel SDL2_image-devel SDL2_ttf-devel SDL2_mixer-devel \
  freetype glibc bzip2 zlib-ng libvorbis ncurses gettext flac-devel

Windows Environment (MSYS2)

  1. Follow steps from here:
  2. Install CataclysmBN build deps:
pacman -S mingw-w64-i686-toolchain msys/git \
   	  mingw-w64-i686-cmake \
   	  mingw-w64-i686-SDL2_{image,mixer,ttf} \
   	  ncurses-devel \

This should get your environment set up to build console and tiles version of windows.

CMake Build

CMake has separate configuration and build steps. Configuration is done using CMake itself, and the actual build is done using either make (for Makefiles generator) or build-system agnostic cmake --build . .

There are two ways to build CataclysmBN with CMake: inside the source tree or outside of it. Out-of-source builds have the advantage that you can have multiple builds with different options from one source directory.

To build CataclysmBN out of source:

$ mkdir build && cd build
$ cmake .. -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release
$ make

The above example creates a build directory inside the source directory, but that’s not required - you can just as easily create it in a completely different location.

To install CataclysmBN after building (as root using su or sudo if necessary):

# make install

To change build options, you can either pass the options on the command line:

$ cmake .. -DOPTION_NAME=option_value

Or use either the ccmake or cmake-gui front-ends, which display all options and their cached values on a console and graphical UI, respectively.

$ ccmake ..
$ cmake-gui ..

A CMake build with almost all options with build optimizations (ccache, ninja, mold) + tracy profiler may look like:

mkdir -p build
cmake \
  -B build-fedora \
  -G Ninja \
  -DCMAKE_C_COMPILER=clang-17 \
  -DCMAKE_CXX_COMPILER=clang++-17 \
  -DLUA=ON \
  -DLINKER=mold \
  -DTRACY_VERSION=master \

Build for MSYS2 (MinGW)

NOTE: For development purposes it is preferred to use MinGW Win64 Shell or MinGW Win32 Shell instead of MSYS2 Shell. In other case, you will need to set PATH variable manually.

For Mingw,MSYS,MSYS2 you should set Makefiles generator to “MSYS Makefiles”. Setting it to “MinGW Makefiles” might work as well, but might also require additional hackery.


$ cd <Path-to-CataclysmBN-Sources>
$ mkdir build
$ cd build
$ cmake .. -G "MSYS Makefiles"
$ make  # or $ cmake --build .

The resulting binary will be placed inside the source code directory.

Shared libraries:

If you got libgcc_s_dw2-1.dll not found error you need to copy shared libraries to directory with CataclysmBN executables.

NOTE: For -DRELEASE=OFF development builds, You can automate copy process with:

$ make install

However, it likely will fail b/c you have different build environment setup :)

Currently known depends (Maybe outdated use ldd.exe to correct it for Your system)

  • MINGW deps:

    • libwinpthread-1.dll
    • libgcc_s_dw2-1.dll
    • libstdc++-6.dll
  • TILES deps:

    • SDL2.dll
    • SDL2_ttf.dll
    • libfreetype-6.dll
    • libbz2-1.dll
    • libharfbuzz-0.dll
    • SDL2_image.dll
    • libpng16-16.dll
    • libjpeg-8.dll
    • libtiff-5.dll
    • libjbig-0.dll
    • liblzma-5.dll
    • libwebp-5.dll
    • zlib1.dll
    • libglib-2.0-0.dll
  • SOUND deps:

    • SDL2_mixer.dll
    • libFLAC-8.dll
    • libogg-0.dll
    • libfluidsynth-1.dll
    • libportaudio-2.dll
    • libsndfile-1.dll
    • libvorbis-0.dll
    • libvorbisenc-2.dll
    • libmodplug-1.dll
    • smpeg2.dll
    • libvorbisfile-3.dll

Build for Visual Studio / MSBuild

CMake can generate .sln and .vcxproj files used either by Visual Studio itself or by MSBuild command line compiler (if you don’t want a full fledged IDE) and have more “native” binaries than what MSYS/Cygwin can provide.

At the moment only a limited combination of options is supported (tiles only, no localizations, no backtrace).

Get the tools:

Get the required libraries:

  • SDL2 (you need the “(Visual C++ 32/64-bit)” version. Same below)
  • SDL2_ttf
  • SDL2_image
  • SDL2_mixer (optional, for sound support)
  • Unsupported (and unused in the following instructions) optional libs:
    • ncurses - ???

Unpack the archives with the libraries.

Open windows command line (or powershell), set the environment variables to point to the libs above as follows (adjusting the paths as appropriate):

$ set SDL2DIR=C:\path\to\SDL2-devel-2.0.9-VC
$ set SDL2TTFDIR=C:\path\to\SDL2_ttf-devel-2.0.15-VC
$ set SDL2IMAGEDIR=C:\path\to\SDL2_image-devel-2.0.4-VC
$ set SDL2MIXERDIR=C:\path\to\SDL2_mixer-devel-2.0.4-VC

(for powershell the syntax is $env:SDL2DIR="C:\path\to\SDL2-devel-2.0.9-VC").

Make a build directory and run cmake configuration step

$ cd <path to cbn sources>
$ mkdir build
$ cd build


$ cmake --build . -j 2 -- /p:Configuration=Release

The -j 2 flag controls build parallelism - you can omit it if you wish. The /p:Configuration=Release flag is passed directly to MSBuild and controls optimizations. If you omit it, the Debug configuration would be built instead. For powershell you’ll need to have an extra -- after the first one.

The resulting files will be put into a Release directory inside your source Cataclysm-BN folder. To make them run you’d need to first move them to the source Cataclysm-BN directory itself (so that the binary has access to the game data), and second put the required .dlls into the same folder - you can find those inside the directories for dev libraries under lib/x86/ or lib/x64/ (you likely need the x86 ones even if you’re on 64-bit machine).

The copying of dlls is a one-time task, but you’d need to move the binary out of Release/ each time it’s built. To automate it a bit, you can configure cmake and set the desired binaries destination directory with -DCMAKE_RUNTIME_OUTPUT_DIRECTORY_RELEASE= option (and similar for CMAKE_RUNTIME_OUTPUT_DIRECTORY_DEBUG).

Run the game. Should work.

Build Options

A full list of options supported by CMake, you may either run the ccmake or cmake-gui front-ends, or run cmake and open the generated CMakeCache.txt from the build directory in a text editor.

$ cmake -DOPTION_NAME1=option_value1 [-DOPTION_NAME2=option_value2 [...]]

CMake specific options

  • CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=<build type>

Selects a specific build configuration when compiling. release produces the default, optimized (-Os) build for regular use. debug produces a slower and larger unoptimized (-O0) build with full debug symbols, which is often needed for obtaining detailed backtraces when reporting bugs.

NOTE: By default, CMake will produce debug builds unless a different configuration option is passed in the command line.

  • CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=<full path>

Installation prefix for binaries, resources, and documentation files.

CataclysmBN specific options

  • CURSES=<boolean>

Build curses version.

  • TILES=<boolean>

Build graphical tileset version.

  • SOUND=<boolean>

Support for in-game sounds & music.

  • USE_HOME_DIR=<boolean>

Use user’s home directory for save files.

  • LANGUAGES=<str>

Compile localization files for specified languages. Example:


Note that language files are only compiled automatically when building the RELEASE build type. For other build types, you need to add the translations_compile target to the make command, for example make all translations_compile.

  • DYNAMIC_LINKING=<boolean>

Use dynamic linking. Or use static to remove MinGW dependency instead.


Choose custom linkers such as gold, lld or mold.

  • Choose ld if you don’t use libbacktrace.
  • Choose mold if use libbacktrace. It’s the fastest linker, outperforming gold by 24x.
  • BACKTRACE=<boolean>

On crash, print a backtrace to the console. Defaults to ON for debug builds.

  • LIBBACKTRACE=<boolean>

Print backtrace with libbacktrace. This allows lld and mold to print backtrace, and is generally much faster.

  • USE_TRACY=<boolean>

Use tracy profiler. See Profiling with tracy for more information.

  • GIT_BINARY=<str>

Override default Git binary name or path.

  • USE_PREFIX_DATA_DIR=<boolean>

Use UNIX system directories for game data in release build.

  • USE_XDG_DIR=<boolean>

Use XDG directories for save and config files.

  • TESTS=<boolean>

Whether to build tests.

So a CMake command for building Cataclysm-BN in release mode with tiles and sound support will look as follows, provided it is run in build directory located in the project.