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Cataclysm: Bright Nights


Activities are long term actions, that can be interrupted and (optionally) continued. This allows the avatar or an npc to react to events (like monsters appearing, getting hurt) while doing something that takes more than just one turn.

Adding new activities

  1. player_activities.json Define properties that apply to all instances of the activity in question.

  2. activity_actor.h Create a new subclass of activity_actor (e.g. move_items_activity_actor) to store state and handle turns of the new activity.

  3. activity_actor.cpp Define the start, do_turn, and finish functions needed for the new actor as well as the required serialization functions. Don’t forget to add the deserialization function of your new activity actor to the deserialize_functions map towards the bottom of activity_actor.cpp. Define canceled function if activity modifies some complex state that should be restored upon cancellation / interruption.

  4. If this activity is resumable, override activity_actor::can_resume_with_internal

  5. Construct your activity actor and then pass it to the constructor for player_activity. The newly constructed activity can then be assigned to the character and started using Character::assign_activity.

JSON Properties

  • verb: A descriptive term to describe the activity to be used in the query to stop the activity, and strings that describe it, for example: "verb": "mining" or "verb": { "ctxt": "instrument", "str": "playing" }.

  • suspendable (true): If true, the activity can be continued without starting from scratch again. This is only possible if can_resume_with() returns true.

  • rooted (false): If true, then during the activity, recoil is reduced, and plant mutants sink their roots into the ground. Should be true if the activity lasts longer than a few minutes, and can always be accomplished without moving your feet.

  • based_on: Can be ‘time’, ‘speed’, or ‘neither’.

    • time: The amount that player_activity::moves_left is decremented by is independent from the character’s speed.

    • speed: player_activity::moves_left may be decremented faster or slower, depending on the character’s speed.

    • neither: moves_left will not be decremented. Thus you must define a do_turn function; otherwise the activity will never end!

  • no_resume (false): Rather than resuming, you must always restart the activity from scratch.

  • multi_activity(false): This activity will repeat until it cannot do any more work, used for NPC and avatar zone activities.

  • refuel_fires( false ): If true, the character will automatically refuel fires during the long activity.

  • auto_needs( false ) : If true, the character will automatically eat and drink from specific auto_consume zones during long activities.


There are several ways an activity can be ended:

  1. Call player_activity::set_to_null()

    This can be called if it finished early or something went wrong, such as corrupt data, disappearing items, etc. The activity will not be put into the backlog.

  2. moves_left <= 0

    Once this condition is true, the finish function, if there is one, is called. The finish function should call set_to_null(). If there isn’t a finish function, set_to_null() will be called for you (from activity_actor::do_turn).

  3. Character::cancel_activity

    Canceling an activity prevents the activity_actor::finish function from running, and the activity does therefore not yield a result. Instead, activity_actor::canceled is called. If activity is suspendable, a copy of it is written to Character::backlog.


While the character performs the activity, activity_actor::do_turn is called on each turn. Depending on the JSON properties, this will do some stuff. It will also call the do_turn function, and if moves_left is non-positive, the finish function.

Some activities (like playing music on a mp3 player) don’t have an end result but instead do something each turn (playing music on the mp3 player decreases its batteries and gives a morale bonus).

If the activity needs any information during its execution or when it’s finished (like where to do something, which item to use to do something, …), simply add data members to your activity actor as well as serialization functions for the data so that the activity can persist across save/load cycles.

Be careful when storing coordinates as the activity may be carried out by NPCS. If its, the coordinates must be absolute not local as local coordinates are based on the avatars position.


This function is called exactly once when the activity is assigned to a character. It is useful for setting player_activity::moves_left/player_activity::moves_total in the case of an activity based on time or speed.


To prevent an infinite loop, ensure that one of the following is satisfied:

  • The based_on JSON property is speed or time

  • The player_activity::moves_left is decreased in do_turn

  • The the activity is stopped in do_turn (see ‘Termination’ above)

For example, move_items_activity_actor::do_turn will either move as many items as possible given the character’s current moves or, if there are no target items remaining, terminate the activity.


This function is called when the activity has been completed (moves_left <= 0). It must call player_activity::set_to_null() or assign a new activity. One should not call Character::cancel_activity for the finished activity, as this could make a copy of the activity in Character::backlog, which allows resuming an already finished activity.