Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead, or CDDA, is an open-source survival roguelike video game. As a roguelike, CDDA is characterised by permanent death (permadeath), and one request which pops up now and then on discussion groups is whether permadeath could be disabled. The following is a selection of eloquent arguments(!) advanced by those opposed to adding such an option:

No. (1, 2, 3)

It’s a rougelike, not meant for filthy casuals.

bad. very bad. no re-spawn. Dont do it

Losing be-gone… Lets talk about an insta-win button… Facepalm

don't do it !

And from the Project Lead himself:

not just no but hell no.

When I stumbled upon CDDA, these were some of the community discussions which I first found, and I was shocked by the vehemence with which these posters almost universally decried this suggestion. Now, to be fair, this discussion does raise issues of game design, and the nature of the particular experience which the game leads desire to create for its players. In that sense, it is sensible for a developer to refuse to implement a feature which is believed to be incompatible with the desired vision for the game.

But, as an open-source project, many of the particular arguments raised in these discussions come off as entirely repugnant to the principles of open source. Indeed, one poster ventured so far as to remark:

There is no democracy here. We have people here who have definitive right to accept or reject a given suggestion.

This, of course, flies in the face of the premise of software freedom. CDDA is licensed under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence, which is approved by the Free Software Foundation as a free licence.1 And as the FSF describes, freedom 1 of the four essential software freedoms is:

The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish.

In the setting of CDDA being free software, it is open to its players to decide, for themselves, what kind of gaming experience they each would like. And if they decide, at their own risk, to depart from the formula of the roguelike and eschew permadeath, privately and for themselves, it is not open to other players to deny them that on the basis of their own personal preferences, or to decry them for being ‘filthy casuals’.2

I was recently reminded of this kind of destructive paternalism when doing some reading on parking cameras and proximity sensors for cars. Clearly, parking cameras and proximity sensors are quite popular with the public, having become nearly standard on consumer vehicles over the last few years. Yet when one Whirlpool poster took to the forum to ask for recommendations about aftermarket units, hordes of holier-than-thou combatants (including a Section Moderator!) emerged from the woodworks to criticise the question:

I find this is getting a bit ridiculous … Can't people learn the dimensions of their car and use some skills?

I'd tell her to open her eyes

I'm still using the old Mark 1.1 Human Eyeball for both front and rear sensors. I even got the Corneal Reflex thrown in for free.

maybe you shouldn't be driving at all.

Now, again, there is a valid point to be made here, that driver aids are no substitute for experience, judgment and skill. But whatever the case may be, that is entirely off topic to the original question. To completely dismiss the original question and retort with ‘open your eyes’ and ‘maybe you shouldn't be driving’ is presumptuous, unhelpful and rude. It is this kind of dismissive ‘I reject your question and substitute my own’ attitude which has made StackOverflow infamous!

More to the point, though, there is clear benefit to driver assistance devices. Will those Whirlpool commenters pay for repairs if the OP's car is scratched? I think not. Perhaps the OP has young children – where will those commenters be if a child is injured or killed because of poor reversing visibility? Of course driver aids are no panacea, won't work 100% of the time, and can't substitute for driver diligence, but if even one injury is averted, or one life is saved, then they surely has their place. Say it with me, everyone: Harm minimisation is good.

Some commenters in another thread pointed out the cost of these aftermarket units and – again, rather than actually answering the question – suggested to the OP that it would not be worth it. Certainly, expensive they may be, but at the end of the day, it is the OP's money, and who is anyone else to stand in the way of them spending it on something that they want to buy? Surely, the much more helpful approach is to answer the question, provide some recommendations, and allow the OP themselves to decide if the price tag is worth it. I think we owe it to them, as a matter of common courtesy, to assume they have the basic criticial thinking and decision making skills required.

A civil society is founded on respect, and that includes respect for the autonomous preferences of other people. When individual rights may conflict with each other, we have the basis for an entire academic field of study – but when they do not, the right course of action is clear. You mind your business, and I'll mind mine.


  1. Strictly speaking, it is CC BY-SA 4.0 which has been approved, but CC BY-SA 3.0 is forwards compatible with CC BY-SA 4.0. 

  2. The extent that I would disagree with the poster in that quote and suggest that there is, or should be, ‘democracy’ in CDDA is not to suggest that CDDA should change its governance and automatically cave to users' demands, but in the anarchistic sense of ‘exit-based empowerment’, and the extent that I would suggest users can reject the CDDA team's ‘definitive right’ to maintain the codebase is merely in their legal right under the copyright licence to fork the project if they were to so choose.