Homeworld Cataclysm 1.01 patch installation crash

On some machines installing the 1.01 patch for Homeworld Cataclysm seems to fail. Usually this is in the form of a freeze or a crash while installing. Without this patch one of the many errors you may encounter on newer machines will be:

"Unable to open file: Cataclysm.big"

To get around the freeze/crash while patching follow the steps below:

  1. Download the Homeworld Cataclysm 1.01 patch. Make sure you download the patch specific to the region where you bought the game. Keep in mind after patching you will not be able to load saves made before the patch!
    Download link 1 <– Softpedia (US version)
    Download link 2 <– Shacknews (US version)
    + Download link 3 <– local mirror of extracted patch files (skip steps 2-5)
    Download link 4 <– Assam Kiiith’sid Storehouse (All regions) NOTE: the /x command line option has been found to not work with this specific patch version. Do not use it.
  2. Create a shortcut to the patch .exe. On most versions of Windows this can be done by right clicking the patch .exe file and then clicking Create shortcut.
  3. Add the /x command line switch to the patch shortcut. Right click on the newly created shortcut and select properties. In the target field add a space and then the following command line option:
    e.g. C:\Users\<YOU>\Desktop\HWCPatchV101_USA.EXE /x
  4. Enable run as administrator. While still in the shortcut properties select the compatibility tab and select Run this program as administrator. This setting is needed for the /x paramter to work.
  5. Run the patch from the custom shortcut you created. Double click the patch shortcut you created to run the patch with the /x command line option you supplied. This should change the patch installation prompt to ask you where to extract the files contained within the patch. The prompt will look something like this:
  6. Copy all the extracted patch files into your Homeworld Cataclysm directory. Once you’ve selected all the files to be extracted, go to where you extracted them and move them into your Homeworld Cataclysm installation directory, overwriting any files that may have already been there. Once this is done try running the game again!

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Homeworld Cataclysm open .BIG files

Homeworld Cataclysm (like Homeworld) stores data in .big files. In order to extract these files you’ll need an extraction tool. There are several user built tools that work great. I used winbigw and had no issues with it. To extract .big files follow:

  1. Download winbigw
  2. Start WinBigw.exe. Once you’ve installed the tool start the WinBigw.exe program.
  3. Extract a .big file! Navigate to your Cataclysm directory and open either cataclysm.big or update.big. To extract all the files into a new folder use the right most button.


cataclysm.big contains almost all the essential game files. Among these are several script files, some object files and a bunch of .shp files which contain all the object data for each ship. One thing that annoyed me about Homeworld Cataclysm was that the data source wasn’t easily accessible like it is in Homeworld 2. To aid you in this process and give you an idea of what you’re getting into, I’ve extracted some of the game’s .shp files and uploaded them into the spreadsheet below (link to spreadsheet).
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Homeworld Cataclysm save file location

Homeworld Cataclysm save files are located within your Homeworld Cataclysm directory. Single player saves will be in the following folder:


Note – […] represents the location of your installation directory – likely something like C:\Program Files.

For those of you that want to pick up where you previously left off rather than starting the game from scratch, I’ve posted my save files below. These are just the autosaves at the start of each mission. Keep in mind you will need to have the 1.01 patch installed. You’ll have the ships I was using, but it shouldn’t matter too much, some of the missions make it almost impossible not to lose most of your fleet. Enjoy

Download single player saves

To use these saves files just extract this zip file into your save file directory and start up your game.

Homeworld Cataclysm custom options

Homeworld Cataclysm has several options you can add when launching the game. To add an option follow these instruction:

  1. Right click on your Homeworld Cataclysm shortcut and select properties
  2. Under the shortcut tab add any of the following options. Separate all the options with spaces e.g C:\Program Files\Sierra\Cataclysm\cataclysm.exe /640 /noBorder

/heap <n> – Sets size of global memory heap to [n].
/prepath <path> – Sets path to search for opening files.
/CDpath <path> – Sets path to CD-ROM in case of ambiguity.

/enableSSE – allow use of SSE if support is detected.
/forceSSE – force usage of SSE even if determined to be unavailable.
/enable3DNow – allow use of 3DNow! if support is detected.

/dsound – forces mixer to write to DirectSound driver, even if driver reports not certified.
/dsoundCoop – switches to co-operative mode of DirectSound (if supported) to allow sharing with other applications.
/waveout – forces mixer to write to Waveout even if a DirectSound supported object is available.
/reverseStereo – swap the left and right audio channels.

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Homeworld Cataclysm on Windows 7

Tested: ,

When running Homeworld Cataclysm on Windows 7 the main issue is usually not with the OS but with newer video cards. Users with unsupported video cards may experience the following error right after the intro cinematics:

"Cataclysm.exe has stopped working"

To get around this follow the steps below. Advance warning: some users have reported that the game still crashes after following these steps on non-US versions of the game (e.g. UK). If you find that this is the case, please contact me or hunt down an US version of the game and use that instead.

  1. Install the Homeworld Cataclysm 1.01 patch (most important part). Make sure you install the patch specific to the region where you bought the game. Keep in mind after patching you will not be able to load saves made before the patch! See the Homeworld Cataclysm 1.01 patch installation crash post if you have any trouble installing the patch.
    Download link 1 <– Assam Kiiith’sid Storehouse (All regions)
    Download link 2 <– Shacknews (US version)
    Download link 3 <– Softpedia (US version)
  2. (Optional) Install the latest video card drivers. In most cases this won’t be necessary, but it’s always good to have the latest stable release of your video card drivers. See your video card manufacturer’s website (e.g. nvidia) for more info on how to download the drivers.
  3. (Optional) Run as administrator and with Windows NT compatibility. While still in the shortcut properties select the compatibility tab and run the program under Windows NT compatibility and select Run this program as administrator.
    Note – Setting the game to run in compatibility mode, works for many, but some users on Windows Vista have reported that this step actually prevents the game from running, so be sure to try both with and without these settings.

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