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Topics - Kyzrati

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1
Announcements / SITREP Saturday #13: 6.81 Seconds
« on: February 16, 2018, 03:42:44 PM »
This week I finally finished taking care of all the personal issues I needed to catch up on after neglecting and letting them pile up for the past couple months while I worked on getting the past couple releases out to you all. Now all that stands in the way of Beta 6 is 7DRL and... of course all the remaining Beta 6 work itself xD

So what have I been up to in my travels through the endless world of Cogmind dev...

For one I hadn't played for a bit and it's always good to stay familiar with the experience and mechanics while designing more of them, so I took on last week's seed run and wrote about that on the forums. It was a wheels-only conduct run on which I successfully fought my way into the late-game, but ultimately doomed myself by splitting my long-term strategy between multiple disparate approaches based on some interesting (spoiler) parts I found. It would've been nice to have streamed this one since it was great fun, but I was still over here in Japan. I'm actually heading home today (if you recall I've been working from Japan), though it'll still be a while before I can back to streaming with all this work to do.

If you're interested in the commercial side of things, last week I also posted an article over on Gamasutra about the most recent Steam Winter Sale and the effects of being featured. Lots of data and graphs to pore over :)

Achievements

A good many hours since the last news were spent coming up with the initial achievements list. Cogmind will start with at least a couple hundred achievements, so it's important to get the categorization right from the start and have everything nice and organized.

I also had to decide how to handle the icons, so I started doing some sketches in REXPaint and came up with a style that will work nicely. Preliminary tests:



Still more work to do there, including the final pass (and then also automating the creation of JPGs required by Steam--would much prefer PNGs...). And of course I'm using ASCII. Though naturally I want to (:P), there's also not much of a choice anyway since these aren't just Steam achievements--they'll also be displayed in game and must fit the theme and UI. Cogmind also doesn't use the Steam overlay so when you earn them they'll have to be rendered via its own terminal display.

It's been fun working with the symbolism, drawing on characters, colors and more aspects utilized in the creation of Cogmind to convey the idea of an achievement in a little 3x3 grid.

My current intention is to have all achievements available across all difficulty levels, avoiding the bloat of having separate versions for every difficulty. Almost everyone plays the default difficulty the game was designed for anyway, and for the rare case of players who want to move up from a lower difficulty level I'll add a way to reset your achievements. Unfortunately this particular feature will only be available to offline players because Steam does not support it.

Optimization

In case you didn't notice (you've probably noticed xD), Cogmind can take a while to start up. This is because pretty much all data is loaded right at the start, which for years was fine, but it's continued to grow all this time and sequentially loading everything was starting to be quite a drag, made all the more noticeable by the fact that I have (and prefer to keep) a blank screen while the game starts. Windows might even decide pop up a nice little "this program is not responding" notice.

I'll deal with that message separately later, but more important is that it shouldn't really take so long to get into the game, so I took the three largest chunks of data and multithreaded them. Fortunately this was quite easy to do since each is mostly raw data that in this case really doesn't care about the existence of the others. The three chunks are GUI particle scripts, map particle scripts, and sound effects. (The only exception was particles that needed to reference sound effects, so for that I added some code to link them up after all the threads completed.) Highlighted profiling data for some potential optimization candidates:



So what kind of savings are we looking at? In my test build scenario, startup took 19.13s, including 6.27 for GUI particles, 3.98s for sfx, and 2.31s for map particles. That's 12.56 seconds for three things that can essentially be loaded in parallel. Post-multithreading profiling:
   


The main thread sleeps for 6.81s, meaning that basically the steps that previously took 12.56s were instead crammed into 6.81s. So startup time on many machines has been cut by approximately one-third... Nice :D

Here's a graph demonstrating what Beta 6's multithreading looks like, the first such case in Cogmind:



There's more optimization that could be done, but this was the easy stuff and most other work would have significantly diminishing returns so isn't worth it right now. I also left all the old sequential loading code intact so that I can switch over to that with a debugging option in order to properly debug any loading issues, just in case. It's not the kind of thing that usually has issues, but if it does it'll be nice to keep it single-threaded because multithreaded debugging is just asking for trouble and confusion.

Miscellaneous

You might have noticed among the guides that we have a new one! Last week Suizin/tamagotaso helped translate Cogmind's manual into Japanese. Quite a feat considering it's currently 60 pages / 17k words. Many thanks there <3



I've also made the TXT version available next to the English version on the site.

This week Jazzer reported finding a special Storage room that had no access from the rest of the floor, so I'll take this opportunity to point out that you can find rare instances of the map generator doing stuff like this. It won't affect your progress, can be a fun discovery to make by blasting in there (or via sensors/hacking), and can reflect "glitches" in the 0b10 system, either benign or perhaps intentionally influenced by crafty enemies of the Unaware. Or maybe they're just not done remodeling :P. As another example you'll sometimes find hidden doors that lead nowhere--they haven't gotten around to digging out the target room yet.

Here's Jazzer's Storage room as seen in the debugger:



The left one was built first and originally connected to a corridor, but later they decided to add another at the end of the corridor and filled in part of the corridor when they shifted the room rightward. Again this is quite rare, and not something I'll be addressing so you might just come across it one day :)

Another find by fpsbossfight, something which is definitely a bug but unfortunately not really worth the amount of time it would take to address considering how pointless this is during normal play: If you fill an entire map with Dirty Bomb Traps and set them off in a one-turn chain reaction, the game will crash around the 400th explosion xD

Rather than show the image here, I'll just link to it because it's spoilery if you have yet to find Zion. (Yes he was finding creative ways to murder everyone...)

Once again I'll schedule the next SITREP for two weeks from now, so March 3rd, while I continue forging ahead with the Great Achievement Update and also spend some time finishing up my plan for the upcoming 7DRL. I haven't had any time to think about that for a while, and I prefer going into a timed project with a clear plan so none of that precious time is wasted :)

Also notice that Cogmind is on sale both on my site and on Steam to coincide with the Lunar New Year sale. After this one ends in a few days, the next sale should be the Beta 6 release, for which I'm thinking I'll do an out-of-event one and some promotion since we're getting all these achievements :)

Since a lot of the relevant SITREP discussion happens on Steam rather than in the forums, for reference here's a link to this same news on Steam. But feel free to post replies here, too :)

2
Stories / GDFKTT's first win (pacifist!)
« on: February 04, 2018, 02:12:09 AM »
GDFKTT over on r/Cogmind shared their first win, which I'm copying here so the writeup isn't so easily lost on Reddit :)

Pre-Note: This is an overview of my third Beta 5 run ever, my 1st ever win, and my first real attempt at a complete pacifist run. Credit to u/zxc223 for the first 2 minutes of one of his pacifist speed runs that showed my how to use propulsion part coverage correctly without dropping core speed. First two attempts with no guidance were complete failures. Also I've watched Kyzrati do early parts of a couple beta 4 runs on Twitch - this was lots of help understanding some of the game mechanics.

SPOILER WARNING: This post contains some spoilers. Read on at your own risk.

<Start Transmission>
Greetings fellow Cog Minds! No, you're not receiving this transmission in error. I bring you an epic tale of hope, despair, pursuit, and flight, from the world above! Behold!

I awoke for the third time in a scrap heap, collected myself and immediately equipped up on legs and guns in the correct configuration to protect myself without engaging them, and then hovered into Materials where I quickly encountered the repeated bane of my young existence as a pacifist... Pests. Thankfully luck and a new higher speed were with me, and after quickly finding a couple flights of stairs in sequence I ended up in Storage somewhat shot up, but with an evolution under my belt and some gear laying around that gave me some room to start my first real powered hover build.

As I was already discovering, the most nagging part of this entire escape was the lack of inventory storage. I never equipped an expansion slot into utility during the early game for fear of slowing down, and then when I gained the capability to risk higher mass allocation I never found the storage module I needed...

I also had the good fortune of finding two shiny core shielding units lingering in a dusty corner, and although I agonized heavily over giving up an extra leg, I finally relented and tucked them into my tiny body and sped away... It was to be a critical and fateful decision that would later save my bacon... By the time I exited storage Materials 8 I took me a total of 92 turns, so about as quick as the last two areas, and I sped into Factory 7 starting to feel confident and with one of those core shields now deployed around my small but growing frame of propulsors.

And then came the factory patrols... oh god they were everywhere, and the earlier luck I had encountered with finding exits was gone... My frame took a crippling amount of punishment, little charred bits of hydraulics and limbs littered my wake. That must be how I was followed so easily by the growing swarm of defenders. Factory 7 took me longer than all of the earlier levels combined, and by the time I climbed into factory 6, I was hurting for healthy modules. So it was great when first door I opened led to a nice bot who locked down his terminal and calmly alerted the authorities to my presence...

At some point, as the mad chase resumed the first core shield failed and the backup got slotted in, and then shortly after I received a crippling hit to one of my main flight engines and power source at the same time. Feeling cornered and left in a vulnerable slow configuration, I tore frantically ripped pieces off myself (with some more violent help from my purusers) until I was tiny once again, and zoomed onward through the level searching desperately for the stairs. Core health dipped below 30% but that critical core shielding, partially melted and glowing a fiery red continued to mitigate damage like a champ! And then a bright light appeared in front of me... and I flew through it without a moment's hesitation into...

Darkness. Safety. Evolution. More propulsion and utility please and thank you.

The hatch into Factory 5 closed behind me with a sharp hiss of compressed air and scanning the area I found... desertion. It appeared that all the commotion on the lower floors of the factory had drawn away many of the squads assigned to this portion of the facility, but there also wasn't much lying around to rebuild myself with, so when I was again blessed with an exit ahead, I immediately took it. Factory 4 was similarly sleepy, and similarly devoid of useful things, except for a drone bay, which immediately gave a great return on a small matter investment. Frustrated with my slow rate of recuperation and final loss of the last of my critical core shielding I sped into the first set of stairs my tiny dronelets found, hoping to head into research and fresh piles of matter and powerful equipment.

But no sooner had the entry hatch clanged shut and I began to take in the darkness, echoes, and the drip drip of water falling from a high ceiling did my frustration turn to dread... god damned caves crawling with patrols... Crawling as in - there were four mercenaries just lounging around the entrance. The chase was already on! But suddenly in the moment before their optical sensors locked onto me, I had a vision... I saw myself or another of my kind from above and heard the confident voice of God Kyzrati saying to him/me "In the caves, you want to go East!". And as the vision faded I acted on instinct and did just that. Dashing from wall to wall, fleeing the sound of grinding treads and armored legs that characterized my pursuers, until somehow, finally, after 3 sets more of stairs I found something that I could never have imagined existed... The resistance!

The warlord's stronghold was fast, and well stocked with new and powerful equipment. I was to to be only able to take a mere fraction of it with me for the challenges ahead. It was hear that I learned more about the all powerful entity controlling the facility - the arch villain who seemed dedicated to making my tiny existence a living hell. Yet the warlord had a plan, and risky though it was, it appeared as good as any I could come up with. So taking my leave as the villainous horde closed in yet again, I wished him and his "One god army" the very best, and escaped out of the secret emergency exit, back into the caves, westward bound with an ever growing host at my heels, yet happy and confident in my larger self and my fresh supply of powerful equipment.

Research 3 was exactly the abundant source of goodies I had hoped for, yet came with fresh terrors that tempered my enthusiasm. By the time I climbed into Research 2 I was again starting to wonder about the length of my future. Turned out I need not have been considered, for no sooner had I started my fresh explorations of the new area than the entire level melted down into a chaotic sea of desperately defending facility guards, and a small but determined contingent of fighters led by none other than the Warlord! The one god army delivered such exacting justice it made the Human God's fabled wrath look like a child's temper tantrum.

The sharp contrast from the bright purple of Research and the lime green of Testing should have been a clue that my luck was changing again. Dogged by new powerful prototype defenders firing all kinds of fancy slugs and thermal weapons, but augmented by strong and numerous propulsion units to evade, the race upwards resumed in earnest. The measure of things was determined simply by the number of spares lying around that I could take every time something else on my hull got slagged. Also, I had some extremely horrible luck with finding the exit that dragged things on longer than they should have and put me in a worse state than I might have otherwise been when I finally jetted up up up into: Access.

Finding the big door took literally seconds. But I instantly knew what it meant.. OUT. I CAN GET OUT! Finding the way through it, was an absolutely ardorous task. Despite multiple hacking units, my attempts to open by the terminal ended in complete failure. I pounded by biometal legs on the terminal in frustration but knew there had to be another way through. The blast door was too thick, I couldn't dent it with any weapon I knew of. More running and exploring to the sides gave me the answer I sought.. Forcefield guarded by to Colossi... that had to be it! Thus ensued a temporary circling circus as I searched for a weapon that could breach the field, chased by one of the two massive defenders and a swarm of it's smaller brethren, and starting to take serious punishment to my protective screen of legs and treads covering my fragile nuclear and quantum propulsors. Finally, a single nova cannon! Equipped, I sped back to the field and began my last stand and blasted away at the field. A HIT! Oh shoot there's another layer! Again and again I fired until there was one barrier left, and I decided to make a break for the hole before making my final shot.... WHAMM!

The slug from the Colossus took out my power source, and my already depleted energy reserves from firing the cannon and keeping my engines hot for the dash to safety left me dangerously vulnerable. I could not move, I could not install my fresh backup power source. I sat, waiting as the Colossus cycled his weapon systems and fired point blank. BLAMMM! My Nova Cannon -the most critical piece of equipment I needed to escape- went from green to red. Finally, my batteries recharged and my backup power slot came online as the second Colossus came back around the corner, and then both of them gave me another point blank volley. BLLLAAAAMMMMMMMMM! Treads and legs were torn away but somehow they missed the giant Nova Cannon! With a surge of electrons I reactivated my quantumn engines and zoomed into the hole in the forcefields, stopping briefly to fire off one more volley with the cannon that breached the final barrier in front of me.... "Freeeedommmm!", I yelled as I dashed onto the stairs, laughing at the frustrated bleeps and blats of the two Colossi robbed of their prey!

And now... I'm not just free... I'm Free Fallin'!.. On my way to... well..that information is classified, just incase HE'S got spies listening in...

So anyway take heart in my success. I wish you the best in your own future attempts and hope you'll escape join me out...errr...here. Wherever HERE is... you'll figure it out if you visit "Electrical Engineering".

TOTAL SCORE: 33510
Damage Taken: 15167
Turns Passed: 4735
Play Time: 185 min
Seed: SurveybotGatlingMembrane

Signing off,
Cog Mind
<End Transmission>

TOTAL SCORE: 33510

3
General Discussion / Cogmind manual in Japanese
« on: February 04, 2018, 02:08:18 AM »
Beginning with Beta 5, tamagotaso has created a Japanese version the manual which you can find the latest version of here on Steam.

Excellent work!

4
Announcements / SITREP Saturday #12: The Next Big Thing
« on: February 02, 2018, 05:43:03 PM »
Hope you're all enjoying the latest Beta 5! I'm of course already getting busy with Beta 6, but there's plenty of other stuff to cover today, too...

Stats

As usual following a major release, the leaderboards were reset. We're already seeing a lot of good runs this Beta, including a ++ extended end-game win which we didn't get to see last time:



Old leaderboards and scores have been archived, accessible at the bottom of the page, e.g. the final top scoring runs at the end of Beta 4:



Overall we're seeing significant improvement among newer players. I've also done a lengthy summary of stats for Beta 4, including highlighting certain achievements and an overview of general player performance and meta data.



(If you're interested in this kind of data you can also scroll back through the thread for stats on previous Betas since I don't always cover the same things.)

Beta 6?

So right now I'm in Japan to visit relatives for Chinese New Year (my son's on holiday so we can get out of town). We've been here for the past week and will remain for the next couple weeks, but it doesn't have much of an impact on progress. In fact, my workstation here is pretty much identical to my home setup.



That said, for a number of reasons Beta 6 will definitely take longer than the last couple releases. I have a bunch of family/personal stuff I've been neglecting lately to get Betas 4 and 5 out, so I'll have to work on that, but more importantly this year's 7DRL is coming up and I'm planning to participate. I could try to rush out Beta 6 before then, but double rushing (my normal speed is rush :P) is usually a bad idea, plus this particular release is going to add a rather big new system so it needs to be done right! I also shouldn't push my head too hard--I'm still spending 8 hours on treatment each week (when at home) for that concussion back in April, but it's stopped improving.

As for 7DRL, which is technically optional, I've already skipped the last five years worth of them as I focused on creating Cogmind, but I'm really interested in putting some new projects out there, and this time even though it'll slow down the Beta 6 release this particular 7DRL idea is something I know fans of Cogmind can get into so it'll definitely be worth it :D

Also with regards to progress in general, recall that in a past SITREP I talked about Beta 5 giving us a "clean slate" by finishing up all the near-term must-have features. Well, in the latter weeks of Beta 5 work I kept piling on so much new stuff and pushing others further down the list that it'll take another release or two to finish off those things after all :P. At least that's good in that we'll have plenty of little things to work on, too! In any case, the next release will of course be mostly about moving ahead with major features...

Next Big Thing

As per the roadmap, up next is... Achievements!

Yes, we're finally doing one of the things listed there rather than all the other secret/unlisted stuff I'm always throwing in xD

I've marked this one feature alone as taking three weeks, and I've heard some surprise at that number so may as well take this opportunity to give a rundown of what's involved. It's quite a lot of stuff!

On the surface it appears quite simple, and technically if you're just adding a handful of achievements for Steam it's really quite easy, yeah, but Cogmind's particular situation is going to include a lot more achievements, and a lot more moving parts, than your average game.

Here's a high-level TODO list of what it'll take to bring Achievements to Cogmind:
  • Research Steamworks docs for achievement specifications
  • Create and organize a list of achievements
  • Do an achievement UI mockup
  • Test how Steam achievements work in other games, and how they're presented on the player and community side
  • Create the achievement data, including names and descriptions
  • Implement an achievement handler, and check for each achievement at relevant points in the source code
  • Implement the Cogmind-side dedicated achievement interface
  • Decide how to integrate achievement notifications into several different existing UI systems
  • Find solutions for a number of tough achievement-related issues
  • Create icon art for every achievement (in both acquired and non-acquired form)
  • Test a selection of achievements in a non-Steam build
  • Build a system to communicate with Steam regarding achievements (prioritizing game-side data, rather than Steam-side like most games do it)
  • Add achievement data to Steamworks backend
  • Live test the achievement system on Steam, including syncing of old data on either end
  • Fix the inevitable oversights and bugs in the system before they reach players
  • Actually release it :P (after adding a whole bunch of other stuff that should go in the release, too!)
Oh my I've only barely started working down that list and writing it all out like that is making me go O_O. Heck there might be items I overlooked... Many of these steps certainly include numerous fine details, so the overall workload is not to be underestimated, but in the end we'll have a system that's robust, works for both Steam and non-Steam players, and can be easily expanded further in the future with even more achievements.

At least the art needs will probably be relatively easy to deal with. Because the achievement icons must be displayable in game (not just Steam), they must conform to the game's grid-based style, meaning the only real choice is ASCII like the rest of the in-game art. These icons also have to meet Steam's dimension requirements (64px), so this means they'll probably be fairly small and simple in order to still be somewhat readable at that size. I have yet to do any tests so we'll see. I'm still working on the achievements list at the moment.

I'll have more to share on this topic over the next month. Note that we have an ongoing achievements suggestion thread here on the forums from which I've been taking a number of ideas to combine with my own.

Meta

nuzcraft, one of Cogmind's most prolific Let's Players, got his first win recently and shared his writeup over in the Competitions board (he plays all the seed runs so you can play along as well if interested).

Over on r/Cogmind, GDFKTT shared a writeup on their first win as well, and a pacifist run no less.

Yesterday over on r/RoguelikeDev I shared some of Cogmind's debugging features that I use for development, so check that out if you're interested in some more behind the scenes sort of stuff. Some examples:

Highlighting map encounter prefabs, colored by their type (fluff/reward/danger/risk-reward...):



Visualizing squad routes:



Visualizing ambient sfx propagation:



Watching entity (robot) time values:



Checking cellwise cave-in factors as affected by explosions:



#13

The next SITREP will be February 17th so that I have more to show for it, since a lot of the current work is behind the scenes, but as usual I'll be hanging out on the Discord every day. Stop by!

(Note that also around that time there's the annual Steam CNY sale, so for those few days expect a 10% discount.)

Since a lot of the relevant SITREP discussion happens on Steam rather than in the forums, for reference here's a link to this same news on Steam. But feel free to post replies here, too :)

5
Announcements / Cogmind Beta 5 "Zionic Revolution"
« on: January 23, 2018, 05:48:08 PM »
Beta FIVE brings us interesting changes to your potential Zion allies, new NPCs, items and mechanics, and color customization along with lots and lots (and lots) of QoL.

It's another big one.

Cogmind Beta 5 "Zionic Revolution" (0.10.180124) changelog:
  • NEW: 9 new unique named NPCs
  • NEW: 13 more unique items
  • NEW: 1 new wheel variant
  • NEW: 3 new types of resupply dispatch
  • NEW: 1 new 0b10 terminal record, along with several random lore dialogues available in the usual places
  • NEW: 25 new score sheet entries (total = 662)
  • NEW: Several additional special encounters
  • NEW: 3 new optional map styles for ASCII mode players at size 16: Terminus, Verite, Kaypro (see manual under Advanced UI > Fonts)
  • NEW: Some methods for tweaking colors/brightness/saturation/etc (advanced.cfg for now: renderFilters, see manual under Color Customization)
  • NEW: Roster dispatches potentially include allies from a new category
  • NEW: Mechanic for automatically locating nearby terminals (spoiler)
  • NEW: Operators reset their terminal under a certain condition (spoiler)
  • NEW: Special animations for connecting to Z-hack-capable terminals
  • NEW: First connection to a Z-hack-capable terminal gives instruction regarding intel retrieval
  • NEW: Added EM damage spectrum class "Fine"
  • NEW: Enforced projectile spread mechanic for certain weapons
  • NEW: Line-of-fire for volley including a spread-enforced weapon highlights entire potential spread area
  • NEW: Option to always display the edges of the current map (advanced.cfg only: showMapBorders)
  • NEW: Option to completely disable the standard printing/text sfx (advanced.cfg only: muteTextSfx)
  • NEW: All Launcher Guidance Computers prevent launcher misfires otherwise caused by system corruption
  • NEW: Robots sending distress signals to alert nearby allies display the range of that signal
  • NEW: Effect description for matter/energy storage utilities explicitly states their ability to collect resources while in inventory
  • NEW: Active Particle Accelerators show modified damage values for applicable weapons in inventory and part list info mode ('q')
  • NEW: Effect of current momentum on melee weapon damage is shown directly next to applicable weapons in inventory and part list info mode ('q')
  • NEW: Discovering exits purely via Terrain Scanners in easiest difficulty mode reveals their destination as if sighted
  • NEW: Advanced quickStart option also available in easier difficulty modes
  • NEW: "Trapped" challenge mode prevents gaining trap knowledge from hacks, Zionite intel, 0b10 Decoders, and friendly Operators
  • NEW: Prototypes and other unknown parts identified by attaching them accompanied by explicit log message
  • NEW: Component Analysis Suite identification effect log message also specifies name of utility doing the identifying
  • NEW: Manual includes additional subsection explaining overload mechanic for some power sources and energy weapons
  • NEW: It's safe to hold a wait key while a nearby Fabricator or Repair Station is processing (autoblocks command for two seconds on task completion)
  • NEW: Manual includes additional subsection on Key Holding, under Key Commands
  • NEW: Starting position in Scrapyard will never overlap with an item
  • NEW: Map areas discovered via Terrain Scanners and other methods but never actually seen displayed in greenscale rather than color
  • NEW: Active Garrison Access dispatch countdown timers now visible on map when using a Signal Interpreter
  • NEW: Heat transfer damage may outright melt struck part of an already overheating robot (chance matches weapon's heat transfer value)
  • NEW: Filter mass item labels by applying an integrity percentage cutoff via itemLabelIntegrityPercentCutoff (advanced.cfg, currently defaults to 26%)
  • NEW: Filter mass item labels by applying a minimum depth-relative rating cutoff via itemLabelRelativeRatingCutoff (advanced.cfg)
  • NEW: Known faulty and broken items not labeled on map when using mass item labeling (can change behavior via advanced.cfg)
  • NEW: Mass labeling items a second time within 5 seconds ignores all label filters
  • NEW: If exiting a map will fail to bring some allies due to their distance, shows dedicated warning message and puts a longer block duration on the move
  • NEW: All Alpha supporter names registered since Beta 4 added to in-game list (see Credits menu)
  • MOD: Imprinting prevents direct and indirect hacks at most 0b10 terminals (special manual hacks okay)
  • MOD: Z-hacks can no longer be detected, traced, nor blocked across an entire floor
  • MOD: Some items may appear in more than one type of resupply
  • MOD: Cave seal disengage behavior different if imprinted
  • MOD: Mak. Sword uses regular melee impact sound rather than heavier sound
  • MOD: Updated color of Centrium wheel variant art to match other items of same material
  • MOD: Potential cave-in areas on map are always highlighted (tactical HUD mode not required)
  • MOD: Rocket Arrays and Scatter Rocket Arrays significantly improved, though can no longer be focused via targeting
  • MOD: Hero class renamed to Knight, ASCII changed from 'O' to 'K'
  • MOD: Hvy. Hardcell Cannon resource costs reduced
  • MOD: AM-PH4 propulsion tweaked
  • MOD: Behemoth cannot appear on top of cave exit stairs, and much less likely to be too near any cave entrance
  • MOD: "Trapped" challenge mode trap count multiplier upped from 5 to 10
  • MOD: Hack given by the so-called "annoying derelict" in caves causes the victim to follow instead of remain stationary
  • MOD: "Armor Coverage" best state entry in score sheet refers to raw total coverage of attached armor instead of percentage value
  • MOD: "Suicide/Restart" button on Game menu renamed "Self-destruct"
  • MOD: Robots sending distress signals to allies out of view only reveal that ally's position in easier difficulty modes
  • MOD: Robots calling for help or reinforcements from a garrison only reveal that garrison's position in easier difficulty modes
  • MOD: Removed Game menu, Save/Restart/Quit buttons now appear on Basic commands page
  • MOD: Removed tutorial message explaining how to save and exit
  • MOD: Removed "Show Non-FOV Color" from options menu, always on by default
  • MOD: Removed Ctrl-` command for toggling non-FOV color display
  • MOD: Weapon Cycler and Quantum Capacitor effect descriptions reworded for specificity, no longer refer to "projectile weapons"
  • MOD: Alarm Traps in Garrisons no longer trigger an investigation, they simply alert any nearby hostiles
  • MOD: Mechanics that clear robot memory (e.g. the Reconstructor) now also clear off-turn partial spot records
  • MOD: Melee momentum damage bonus applies to all melee weapons, not just I/S/P damage types (piercing still gets its double bonus)
  • MOD: Melee damage type modifiers on Status page merged into a single "Melee" value (extra piercing damage bonus only displayed by the weapon)
  • MOD: Only non-zero values are listed under the Status page's resistances and damage modifiers
  • MOD: Data Miner dispatch redirects no longer occur during late-game wars
  • MOD: With Label Supporter Items option on, the few items not applicable for gallery collection show standard description at bottom of info window
  • MOD: Easiest difficulty mode puts Med. Storage Unit in Scrapyard, rather than Sml.
  • MOD: A certain Exoskeleton's overweight penalty reduced from 30 to 20
  • MOD: Robot core damage popups in Tactical HUD mode default to showing actual remaining integrity rather than as a percent
  • MOD: Replaced advanced.cfg preciseCorePopup option with its opposite, percentCorePopup
  • MOD: "No X in view" message displayed when there is no applicable object for the given label type instead shows "No X to label"
  • MOD: Targeting will not autosuggest a previous target whose relation with you has changed since you last attacked it
  • MOD: Super Gauntlet challenge mode keeps the lone target Garrison Access available even under high security lockdown
  • FIX: Crash on right-clicking directly into second robot info while analysis or traits of first robot still open [Valguris]
  • FIX: Overloaded weapons did not apply damage bonus again walls [Valguris]
  • FIX: Walls/doors not applying damage resistances correctly [Valguris]
  • FIX: Schematics for items only available by special means did not display fabrication info when opened via fabricator/schematics list [Valguris]
  • FIX: Credits list contained some duplicate supporter names [zxc]
  • FIX: Insufficient energy for overloadable propulsion upkeep might overload the propulsion instead of autodeactivating it [zxc]
  • FIX: Typo in options.cfg (fix resets your calculation log setting; if you want a non-default option you'll need to redo) [zxc]
  • FIX: Penetration values missing from gallery export data [Raine]
  • FIX: While on-map combat log active, any visible messages could partially overlap an open Status window [Raine]
  • FIX: Typo in screenshot tags and filenames for game over screen [johnicboom]
  • FIX: Advanced quickStart option could also be activated in tutorial mode despite lack of Storage Unit in that layout [Zoticus]
  • FIX: New corrupted AI misfire mechanic could in some cases affect player UI target recall [Happylisk]
  • FIX: Could continue hacking record queries at a locked terminal prior to closing window by using number keys if keyboard mode active [neutral]
  • FIX: Pressing 'f' during the exact frame a major NPC enters view and opens dialogue window blocked commands once window closed [nuzcraft]
  • FIX: STAY command issued to ally with a previous destination allowed them to reach it before returning to intended stay location [GJ]
  • FIX: Subatomic Replicator used without effect then dropped into inventory remained unidentified until inventory redrawn due to another interaction
  • FIX: A certain type of derelict log could reveal exit to Zhirov's location, which they shouldn't know
  • FIX: Moving multi-cell robot sensor scans not displayed correctly in tiles mode
  • FIX: RMB on robot then opening Analysis or Traits and closing again prevented further right-clicks on other robots until info window closed
  • FIX: "Max Gunslinging Chain" entry in score sheet was not being tallied

Zionic Revolution

Our namesake feature for this release has some major implications, and got even more fun.

Getting "imprinted" has always been a great power boost, and at its inception was intended as such--basically a low-effort way to make a run both easier and more interesting by offering a wider array of tactical options, especially for combat builds which generally have no significant hacking capabilities. But that 1) made it feel like this option has way too much potential to pass up when planning a route to the surface (even more so for extended end-game runs!), and 2) is a pretty big waste of a design opportunity :P

I've been planning to revisit it for a while, and now that the rest of the experience is pretty balanced, its time has come!

(Note: If you have no idea what this section is talking about, dare to venture deeper into the caves and you shall see :))

Whether or not you imprint is now a long-term strategic choice rather than a pure no-brainer bestowing permanent benefits. It's true imprinting carried some minor drawbacks before, but these only came into play at a couple plot points that an imprinted player in particular probably wouldn't need quite as much anyway.

On the downside, being imprinted now removes the ability to use 0b10 terminals in a regular fashion. In fact, you won't even be able to hack open doors! (of course there are still the usual number of alternative ways to get through them)

Beta 5 is not, however, a straight up nerf. While lack of terminal access is a big change, yet more varieties of \\ZION hacks were added, some quite powerful, and they can no longer be detected, traced, or blocked, among other new imprinting benefits. That you had access to them was also somewhat easy to forget about before, whereas now there are three different types of reminder instead of just one. You won't forget :P

In short, rather than an occasional "get out of jail free" card, z-hacks now enable (and in a way, enforce) other unique ways to play. This makes imprinting a much more interesting decision, and it's not always going to be the right choice for every build or style!

Some imprinted-related gifs:







The "Zionic Revolution" is not just mechanics, either--it also comes with some new personalities, and new special items. For example:





No more details there because it's all quite spoilery and best discovered on your own one day :D

Distressed Robots

For December's Beta 4 I added the mechanic revealing locations of non-visible combat bots receiving distress calls from visible non-combat bots:



This is a great feature for new or struggling players, basically a way to learn how robots are reacting even without any sensors of your own, so I think it serves a good purpose in easier difficulty modes. But in the default Roguelike mode it removes some of the suspense and tactical challenge, unnecessarily lowering the difficulty of the average encounter. This is why I was on the fence about adding it back then, but instead of letting the feature incubate for a while and testing it out on my own, I thought I'd put it out there as an experiment for everyone to try out.

So now, as prior to Beta 4, you'll know victims alerted a hostile, but won't know where they are or precisely where they're coming from (other than what you can inference from map knowledge and other factors, or outright sensor data). Instead, the distress call now animates the range at which a given robot can alert allies. This was something you could figure out via meta knowledge over time anyway, and counting cells is annoying so adding this is more of a QoL feature to make it explicit and save on that time/effort.

Seeing a Watcher emitting its signal in Beta 5:



On a similar note, garrison location pings during reinforcement calls have been removed from the default difficulty mode, though there is no range shown there because it actually depends on the garrison itself and can even occur at longer ranges. That will continue to be a challenge to players who don't have relevant intel.

Mechanics

Beta 5 comes with a range of new or slightly adjusted mechanics.

Back in SITREP #9 I introduced an "enforced projectile spread," a weapon characteristic that can't be overcome by simply stacking more targeting computers. See the SITREP for more notes on this feature, but basically you'll now see this reflected in the targeting display for the few weapons that are affected by it:



This mechanic also meant I could rightly buff rocket arrays to allow them to come into their own as a cool niche weapon:



One of the other bigger mechanics changes is that all melee weapons benefit from momentum damage bonuses (not just impact/slashing/piercing), as the system is now handled by weapon category rather than damage type. So where damage modifiers are concerned, the Status page only needs to list a single "Melee" entry:


(notice another change: that page also only lists non-zero resistances and modifiers)

While we're at it, in 'q'/INFO mode both the parts list and inventory display melee weapon damage as modified by bonuses from current momentum. This helps make it much more clear just how much damage you can do without requiring extra calculations, especially when considering whether to try chopping through a stubborn door.



While it probably won't come into play all that often, overheating robots hit by thermal weapons now may have their parts melted.



Launcher Guidance Computers now block launcher misfires caused by corruption. Being able to more safely keep a launcher equipped while corrupted could occasionally come in handy.



Also, it might take a while to discover but there is now an EM weapon out there using a new "Fine" spectrum with a 100% chance to set off engine explosions :)

Color Customization

By request, Beta 5 gives you a way to adjust visual attributes like brightness, saturation, contrast, and more.

There are also some presents that change multiple variables at once, like the low-contrast mode "SLEEPY":



ASCII combat in Sleepy mode:



UI interaction in another low-contrast mode, "AUTUMN":



There are other extreme modes like the "SWAP" filter:



Combine multiple modes and filters, like SWAP + AUTUMN:



For the details on how to get the most out of this set of features you'll want to check the latest manual, under the new "Color Customization" section, which explains all eight of the render filter functions and how to apply them to the UI or map.

See additional demo images on my dev blog here.

Although I try to encode as much information using additional methods beyond color, there might be some areas where I could allow further adjustment to benefit certain players' needs. If you have some type of color blindness or other color-related request that I might be able to solve via a filter or some kind of correction formula, let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Q... O... L!!!

Our favorite category :). Lots of feature requests fulfilled with this release, plus just more ideas I had to make your [Cogmind's] life easier.

Terrain revealed via scanners or other means before visiting it now appears in a monochrome "greenscale" rather than color like all other areas outside your field of vision.



This helps remember where you've actually been. And looks cool :D

Like the real-time melee momentum damage calculations mentioned above, 'q'/INFO mode also also displays which weapons are affected by an active Particle Accelerator and how:



There are now a number of ways to filter on-map item labels, described in the manual and adjustable via the advanced config. By default broken and faulty items won't be labeled, and you can also opt to exclude items below a certain integrity or relative rating threshold. Without any changes to the settings, Beta 5 automatically skips items with only 1~25% of their integrity remaining.


(Notice the repeat command at the end there which then includes all items in the labeling, regardless of filters.)

This is a first step of potentially several on the road to an even more effective label system.

Map edges can now be revealed via a setting, but this is recommended only for advanced players who are already familiar with most of the world since it can be somewhat spoilery. It's also somewhat immersion breaking, but it's decent QoL because without it those who really do know how all the systems work will pan around and find the approximate borders in advance anyway.



This feature uses a different style if you're playing with a swap filter:



Don't go looking for the "Game" menu buttons on their own page, since they've now moved right under the Basic commands and are accessible as soon as you press Escape!



quickStart (the option that automatically attaches and collects all items in the starting area for you) is now available in easier difficulty modes as well, with the easiest mode starting gear getting upgraded to a Med. Storage Unit:



Active garrisons now display their dispatch timer countdown directly on the map as long as you have a Signal Interpreter.



There's now a log message specifically for identifying unknown parts. This'll help both when you're reviewing a log later, and perhaps more importantly when that faulty prototype melts on you and you're left wondering what it actually was xD



When attempting to exit a map, the confirmation specifies how many allies you will be leaving behind if you leave immediately.



Potential cave-in areas are always highlighted, even without Tactical HUD mode. I originally thought it was active in all modes, but apparently not and I think it should be both obvious and helpful to even beginners to know what areas will collapse. It's an important mechanic to learn early on, and will seem more fair if those areas were marked to begin with rather than requiring a mode used by experienced players :P



The precise core integrity popup feature added in the last release is now the default behavior in Tactical HUD mode, with an advanced option to revert to percentage displays.



There's even more QoL listed in the changelog, so read through that to catch them all.

MAP_ASCII

I'm continuing to add optional map ASCII styles by request, where I can put together something suitable, and Beta 5 in particular comes with three more size 16 options.



The above example is the new size 16 Terminus option, and you can see the others in the last SITREP. This brings Cogmind's total number of custom font bitmaps to 112! Don't worry, it's not a magic number or anything and I won't be stopping there ;)

Setting these currently requires an edit to the game files themselves, as described in the manual's Advanced UI > Fonts section. For now that also means this feature is incompatible with Steam cloud, and you'll also have to repeat the same modification manually if you update to a new version, as it's not a part of the regular user settings. I'll be doing something about this later, but it's rather involved and requires a number of changes as deep as the engine level, so it can't happen too quickly/soon and I'd like to combine the related adjustments with other new features we'll be seeing down the line.

Beta 5 saves are not compatible with previous versions, but even if you're on Steam and have autoupdates enabled, Beta 4 is still available via its own branch and you can roll back to finish a run in progress first if you like.

6
Announcements / SITREP Saturday #11: Feature Request
« on: January 19, 2018, 04:54:04 PM »
Beta 5 is mostly done! This was the last full week of prep work, focused on handling as many feature requests as I could fit in (including some of my own :P) while also fixing any new bugs discovered in Beta 4.

FR

One player requested that, as a memory aid, terrain discovered via scanners (or other means) could be displayed differently than that which had actually been visited and seen before. I went ahead and used monochrome "greenscale" to draw those areas rather than the usual darkened colors used everywhere outside FOV.

I like how it looks, plus it's a good excuse to use the old green style I originally used (it was the only/default style before Alpha 13 a year ago!).

Momentum damage modifiers are now precalculated directly next to the melee weapons they affect, so you don't have to do it :P. This is especially helpful when trying to smash, slash, or stab your way through a stubborn door.


Similarly, active Particle Accelerators now show exactly how they affect the damage of your energy weapons (including those stored in inventory in case you want to pull them out for maximum fearsomeness).


I removed the separate "Game" menu page, simply putting its three buttons on the Basic commands page so they're accessible immediately as soon as you press Escape, also making them easier for new players to find.

There are a number of other changes still coming to the Escape menu system, but this was a relatively easy adjustment that was worth making now.

Thermal/heat transfer weapons that hit overheating robots may now melt their parts as well.


The advanced quickStart option is going to be available at easier difficulty modes, too. I knew there might be minor issues regarding implementation and hadn't looked into them since I previously didn't have much interaction with players not using the default difficulty, so I didn't know whether anyone would actually use it. During Beta 4 I did hear one voice on the matter, though, so here it is! Adding quickStart to Easiest Mode did require swapping out the Sml. Storage unit for a Medium one, but I'm sure there won't be any complaints there :P. Here's a sample quickStart exit from the Scrapyard in Easiest:


While reworking some aspects of melee damage I went ahead and simplified the resistance and damage modifiers on the status page by only listing those which are non-zero values.


By request, active garrisons now display their dispatch timer countdown directly on the map as long as you have a Signal Interpreter. This information has been available for a while, but previously only by actually inspecting the Garrison Access terminal itself.


Launcher Guidance Computers now block launcher misfires caused by corruption. Being able to more safely keep a launcher equipped while corrupted could occasionally come in handy.


There's now a log message specifically for identifying unknown parts. This'll help both when you're reviewing a log later, and perhaps more importantly when that faulty prototype melts on you and you're left wondering what it actually was xD


Last but oh most definitely not least, robots sending distress signals now animate the range at which they are capable of alerting friendlies. This'll be important because in (only) the default Roguelike difficulty mode I'm removing the position-revealing feature added for Beta 4. I'll talk more about that in the release notes next week.


Fonts

Another player needed alternative map ASCII at size 16 to more easily distinguish characters on their smaller display, so I added several new options there.

The first is the great Terminus, which I think looks really nice but as a fully sans-serif font may not be that great for the state purpose in particular.


I'm not sure about the other two, but I'll have to get some feedback from those who actually need this feature :). In looking for some size-appropriate serif options I picked these old system fonts from the 80s:

Kaypro


Verite


Wiki Spoilers

The wiki now really is chock full of spoilers. Raine's been doing a great job with it and all the items are in there. I mentioned this last time but the data is even more complete now, including even comparison tables.

Robots, machines, walls, lore and whatnot still need to be added manually, so if anyone with the info and know-how is interested in helping out you can email me at gridsagegames@gmail.com to get an account. Ideally you'll also be in our chat so we can coordinate things.

Raine also has the Beta 1~3 score sheets in a database you can use to make pretty graphs here, for anyone curious about stats. (It scrapes all the data, but the publicly available fields are limited unless there are requests for others.)

AND she's also working on a bot for the chat channels <3

Fan Art

In between stories of epic runs, players have been sharing some cool Cogmind-related art over on Discord.

We have a couple images by MojoPoop depicting a Cogmind-DF mashup:




He also created a "Proton Cannon but not" in the style of Cogmind item art:


"Vigilant" - A Hunter by Rylan:


All of these were drawn in my free editor, REXPaint.

FTW

Early this week I did a couple more streams, and won this run :D

It was another combat run (of course!), only this time focusing on legs and stronger offense. There's a summary with images on the forums here. The entire run is in two parts on YouTube, -10 to -3 and -3 to the end.

That'll probably be my last stream for a while, since I'll be away from home for most of the next month (but still mostly working on Beta 6) and in early March I'm planning to do a 7DRL I think you'll all enjoy :D. More on that stuff in future updates, though.

Some top players have been thinking of streaming their runs, though, so if you hang out in the Discord you might find out about that. Most of the Cogminds you see high up on the leaderboards are in our chat, and in some cases I'm sure that's how they got up there so fast--there's a lot of wisdom to be found within! Come hang out :D (I'm there every day, too)

Beta 5

The next big thing is around the corner. Beta 5 is another huge release that I'll have out for you by mid-week. It's not quite done as I'm still trying to pack in as many last-minute features as possible and there are a few requested features on the shortlist. Most recently I spent a while on an RTS-style panning option, but doing a good one takes a lot of time so I don't think that'll make the cut (already tons of stuff planned for Beta 6, too xD).

See you with the full Beta 5 announcement before long :D

Since a lot of the relevant SITREP discussion happens on Steam rather than in the forums, for reference here's a link to this same news on Steam. But feel free to post replies here, too :)

7
Announcements / SITREP Saturday #10: Rainbowmind
« on: January 12, 2018, 05:28:34 PM »
Beta 5 is more than half-complete at this point, and will be out with the next couple weeks. Still plenty more little features to work on, but all the major stuff is out of the way!

All the Colors

The bulk of this week was spent on a new system of render filters to enable players with specific needs to make visual adjustments to aspects including brightness, saturation, and contrast.

They can do things like create a low-contrast effect, e.g. this one called "Sleepy"


Some ASCII combat in Sleepy mode:


UI interaction in another low-contrast mode, "Autumn"


Of course filters might just be for fun as well. Unless some of you would like to seriously switch over to "swap mode" which reverses the foreground colors for a very different look:


Swap mode in action:


I think swap mode looks even better when combined with one of the low-contrast filters:


Over on the blog this week I covered this system in more detail, including additional demo images and an overview of its implementation. Check out the full article: "Color Customization."

Edge Case

I've also added an option to show the map borders. For now it's off by default however, and only available in the advanced options, because although experienced players can and do figure out invisible map bounds indirectly via other UI features (you may have seen me do this on stream before...), there are a few cases where knowing the bounds can be somewhat spoilery for new players who haven't yet discovered certain areas before.


I also went ahead and created a different style specifically for when the the swap filter is active:


Wiki

Raine has been doing a great job of importing all our item export data into the wiki. Of course everyone has access to their own item gallery and data exports, including HTML and CSV formats, but the wiki will be good for linking, its sortable tables, attaching public discussion to particular parts, and maybe eventually a bot in the chat channels.

Anyone who doesn't mind can now spoil themselves silly with data, browsing hundreds upon hundreds of items... for example this subset of energy guns:


Each item type has its own box that includes relevant fields for that category.


7DRL

Remember that Cogmind originated as a 7DRL, and still lots of people play that free version as well. One of Cogmind's best players, GJ, went back and legitimately beat it, becoming one of only two known players to do so, and the only one to do it without the old cheesy mining tactic :P



The 7DRL version wasn't all that balanced towards the end, so if you can kick modern Cogmind's butt and want a different kind of challenge as well as a chance to see a lot of today's items and concepts at their fledgling stages, check it out.

While we're on the topic of 7DRLs, this year's challenge is just around the corner! Any of you participating? Every year I want to, and have tons of ideas piled up from false starts that didn't make it beyond the planning stages because I'm too busy, but I'm hoping this year will be different :P

Since a lot of the relevant SITREP discussion happens on Steam rather than in the forums, for reference here's a link to this same news on Steam. But feel free to post replies here, too :)

8
Announcements / SITREP Saturday #9: Secrets
« on: January 05, 2018, 05:32:47 PM »
2018 is off to a great start...


Content

Content! After a couple releases getting up to speed for and after the Steam release, we are finally in the swing of things and it feels great to have been adding new content for almost the entire week. The thing about content is that I always avoid talking spoilers, so I'll have to just give hints and tiptoe around much of what I've been up to :P

I added a dozen new items. New items need art!


Some more examples of what's coming:

I'll say that (aside from one) these are special items you won't find just lying about. (But that also implies...)

Some other mysterious mechanics and animation work...






Another important focus of this week's work was to partially redesign the mechanics surrounding "imprinting" (if you know what that is). I'll talk more about that come the Beta 5 release notes, but for now just know that it got a lot more strategically interesting.

Projecile Spread

I also added a new mechanic that allows me the option to force multiprojectile weapons to spread their shots if appropriate. The ability for builds to stack targeting computers in order to overcome accuracy-based spread mechanics and concentrate multiprojectile volleys on a single target was always a bit of a limitation on some of the weapon designs. Now I can force even a weapon firing "accurately" to randomly spread its projectiles within a designated arc of the target.

I mainly added this feature to enable one of the particularly cool new weapons, but this also made it possible to go back and fix a couple of other weapons which were never quite good enough due to the design limitation. (Previously I couldn't very well make numerous individual projectiles too powerful given that you could easily create a super powerful totally imbalanced weapon with just some targeting.) I'm certainly not converting all multiprojectile weapons over to the new system, just a few special ones that needed it in order to be improved.

It's not a widely used mechanic, but when it's applicable the line-of-fire indicator will let you know with a little cone reflecting the potential spread area.


One weapon in particular which was always a neat concept but in my opinion never really worth using is suddenly going to get a lot more fun :D


More Streaming

After posting the last SITREP I went off to stream the conclusion to the weekly seed, unfortunately losing one floor before the end :/. My fault really, stupid mistakes were made (also giving in to the desire to just blow everything to hell xD). So many pretty launchers...

You can find a quick writeup on the forums, and I also uploaded it to YouTube as Part 2.

Next week is... more new stuff!

Since a lot of the relevant SITREP discussion happens on Steam rather than in the forums, for reference here's a link to this same news on Steam. But feel free to post replies here, too :)

9
Stories / A classic blunder...
« on: December 30, 2017, 11:31:30 PM »
Quote from: Nuc_Temeron
So, I'm doing well, a large cargo pod full of nice things and a bunch of gear that works together.

I find a Repair Station, and decide I should repair my almost-destroyed cargo pod. I put it in the machine, 6 of my items drop to the ground. That's ok.

But wait, a swarm of scavenger bots just entered the room, attracted by the gear on the floor. I can't pick it up but I can't let them grab it. I decide in a panic to shoot my gatling laser at them.

Oops, I forgot I'm in a room full of explosive machines. They explode in a massive chain reaction, booming in turn around the room, destroying the scavengers but also my gear on the floor, half of the gear I have equipped, the repair station, my cargo pod inside of it... All vaporized in a moment of panic.

10/10 would vaporize again.
(source)

10
Announcements / SITREP Saturday #8: Data Stream
« on: December 29, 2017, 05:30:29 PM »
Steam's winter sale's been going on for a week now, and Cogmind was featured on the front page Thursday (US time) for an entire day. ASCII represent! I'm pretty sure that's first time a 100% CP437 logo image ever appeared there :P



Much of the week was spent dealing with the usual release aftermath--taking feedback, fixing a few minor bugs, planning the next set of features, and working on stats etc.

Leaderboards

As with every new major version, the scores and leaderboards from the previous one (in this case Beta 3) have been archived. The leaderboards were reset for the new Beta, and I also compiled some notable player-specific stats from the score data submitted over the past couple months.



You can read the text version here on the forums.

Because the leaderboards have been getting pretty crowded by all our new players, I added section links to the pages. Here's a Beta 3 archives sample:


And new leaderboards sample:


Stats

In addition to the usual stats, this time we've got so much data following the Steam release that there's room for interesting comparisons, so I did a more in-depth blog post: "Player Metrics: Stats and Preferences on and off Steam." Within you'll find aggregate data and analysis of tens of thousands of Cogmind score sheets, including both performance and preferences in a dozen graphs. Here's a little collage to give you an idea:



In the Stream

I'm finally back into a bit of streaming, starting earlier this week with a Beta 4 run I haven't quite finished yet. I wrote a summary of what's happened so far on the forums here, and uploaded it to YouTube as Part 1. Wish I had more time to stream--it's fun! Don't want to leave the run sitting too long (we already have a new seed!) so I'll probably finish it up soon, like... today.

I like to have at least one win per Beta before fooling around with even more suboptimal strategies (my preferred play method itself is not all that optimal :P), so I'm actually going for a win this time. I've just entered the late-game with backing from Zion. We'll see how it goes, but in the past a combination of overconfidence and extra attention due to Zion has always ended my Zionite runs. I more easily win when running solo :P

Miscellaneous

Tiggerbiggo made a trippy animated version of Cogmind's Steam header image.


Long-time player and self-proclaimed master trapper DDarkray played the "Trapped" Challenge Mode and made a mess of the place.


I should definitely stream some of the new Challenge Modes later. Maybe after I've got my Beta 4 win in. Although maybe I should wait until the actual selection UI is in? They are very tempting, though... (I've enjoyed playing them in the past, but never streamed any of those runs.)

neutral found a crazy bug allowing them to summon nearly unlimited hostile squads to their position!


2018

Today's the final SITREP of the year, but we have 2018 to look forward to! I already mentioned some of the things to come back in my Year 4 annual review, and honestly sales have been going well enough that I think I'll be able to keep adding features for at least the next year. Certainly the idea list is long enough :D

It's going to be a busy 2018. Thanks all for the help.

Next week I'll be working on Beta 5 so we'll have a progress update on that!

Since a lot of the relevant SITREP discussion happens on Steam rather than in the forums, for reference here's a link to this same news on Steam. But feel free to post replies here, too :)

11
Ideas / New Scoresheet Values
« on: December 23, 2017, 03:58:31 PM »
As you all probably know, I'm always adding new entries to the scoresheet layout, which is now huge. If you ave any suggestions/requests for more info, feel free to drop them in this thread for consideration and/or discussion.

Note that I also plan to revamp the scoresheet format at some point so that it can fit more stats (for example by allowing horizontal lines to contain containing multiple values in order to create charts), though I'm not yet sure when.

12
Announcements / SITREP Saturday #7: Betas Forever
« on: December 22, 2017, 05:33:04 PM »
Well the big news of the week is already out there--Beta 4. That being released just yesterday, the patch notes already cover most of what I did this week (for example the addition of new Challenge Modes), so I won't have quite as much flashy content to share today :P

Still, there are a few topics to cover...

Beta 5

Thank you all for the feedback on Beta 3! Obviously we've had a ton of new players come in once Cogmind hit Steam, and that means a few new bugs discovered or little QoL feature requests, which ended up being the bulk of my work on Beta 4.

I maintain several different TODO lists, the most important for upcoming releases being the "Top Priority" list and "Near-term Features" list. I originally hoped to burn through both of them for this release, but the Top Priority list had grown so large that I couldn't possibly make it through both without postponing Beta 4 into next year. Obviously yesterday's package was already a decent-sized chunk of features, so I decided to cut it off at the Top Priority list (now completely empty!), add a few extra bigger "flagship" features (e.g. gallery exporting and more robot info), and ship it.

This means the entire Near-term Features list (and anything else "high-priority" that pops up in the meantime) will become Beta 5. This also means we won't yet be seeing the next roadmap feature as part of Beta 5. (Remember that for the past several years I've maintained a public roadmap that gives a general idea of major features to come.) But in its current state I'm sure I can clear the near-term list with one more release to reach that true clean slate I've been looking forward to.

Either way, in general now that we're settled here on Steam it's time to get back into the swing of things with major version updates, hopefully one each month or so for the foreseeable future.

Winter Madness

In case you didn't notice, Cogmind is currently 25% off for Steam's Winter Sale!

If you've read SITREP #4 but not #5 and the discussion surrounding it, you may have not expected that. The discussion has pretty much already played out, but I thought I'd recap here for the greatest transparency possible, and to touch on some related points:

In late November I said Cogmind would only ever be discounted by 10% during EA, as that has always been my plan so I figured I'd make it known. Lo and behold, a mere week passes from that time and someone at Valve contacts me to let me know that they really wanted to feature Cogmind on the main page for the Winter Sale. But they wouldn't do it unless I'd be willing to go from the "typical" 10% I had planned to a higher 25%.

I didn't even think about it I just told them no, since I'd just made a promise to not do that :P

Over the next week everyone I mentioned this to seemed to think I'd gone mad. I refused an offer to be featured on the front page of the world's largest gaming platform during the busiest time of year? Really? The comments started to get me reconsidering, at least finally thinking about it a lot more closely than I did before writing that initial quick response to Valve...

So back in SITREP #5 (and across other social media) I openly requested more input from our current players, and there was resounding support for taking the deal regardless of what I'd just said not long before. Trust is certainly important, and I try to be a reliable person, but as a developer I also have a responsibility to do what's best for the game, and assuming players were in support of it I could see this would be good for the game. I mean sure I could eventually do a -25% sale on my own and net a lot of new players that way, but this is different--Valve could provide a lot of valuable exposure if I'd be willing to do this, exposure Cogmind very likely wouldn't have a shot at later. And in terms of price that honestly wasn't asking too much, which in addition to player comments is why I'd even be willing reconsider in the first place (if they'd said 30-40-50% or whatever I'd laugh). A lot of good indie games even have their base price at $15, and Cogmind has already been available at $18-20 for the past eight months since the story was completed, so it's not at all too soon for what is still a fairly modest temporary discount.

In any case, I'm used to working alone and haven't previously had to consider the potential impact of those outside my own decision-making process, so I guess I've learned an important lesson here xD. As a niche game I fully expected Cogmind to remain relatively obscure and not really appear on Valve's radar as something they'd be interested in promoting, so that possibility didn't even enter my thoughts, but apparently I was wrong!

Sorry for the mistake, and thanks everyone for your support.

Surprisingly one player thought that a slightly bigger discount this soon in EA might mean I'd stop developing. I guess that means I should address this, too :P. Remember that Cogmind has been out for a long while now, and priced at $20 since it was story complete eight months back, so this is not really as quick a discount as it might seem to those only familiar with Cogmind's still short life on Steam.

More to the point, this project is my life. Honestly the real problem will be how to get myself to stop one day, heh. I've been at this for many many hours across years, and at no point was this about making money anyway. I just want to make a good game, and in fact thought I'd like so many others probably just run out of money and have to wrap up the story and be done earlier than I wanted, but so far Cogmind players have been plentiful and generous enough to keep the lights on in the dev studio <3



As stated in the Steam Early Access QA on the store page, I've planned to continue with at least six months of full-time development, but if we can extend that because Cogmind gets a boost of popularity at just the right time, this is good for everyone, current and future players included :)

To further demonstrate, I have a central mega-file in which I organize my lists of past and future features. Check it out below: On the left in green is the public changelog shrunk way down (you can compare its shape by doing the same with the public changelog here) and on the right is my feature TODO list shrunk by the same ratio. Yes, it's gotten that crazy.



The former completed content already behind us (quite a lot!) weighs in at 1,978 lines, whereas the latter collection of fun and feasible ideas I've come up with is a massive 4,517 lines o_O. Don't read too much into the numbers (it's not a very accurate representation of feature count, and definitely not all of that will be done, anyway), but seriously I have a ton of cool stuff I'd love to add if possible. For every mechanic, item, robot, feature, or whatever I implement another two pop up in line behind it xD

Anyway, hopefully the extra exposure will mean good things for Cogmind in the long term (I still imagine it's too niche, but who knows we'll see....). Right now I actually have no idea which day it'll be, but one of these days in the Winter Sale we'll see Cogmind on the front page's lower section.

Itching to Twitch

I'd love to be doing some streaming now, but I'm still coughing a fair bit, plus still spending upwards of 10 hours per week in the hospital so there isn't as much time left after that and all the dev work :(. Also the best time to stream is my morning (evening time in the US), but recently mornings are when I do my hospital stuff, which also ended up being every day of this week xD

I'd probably be streaming around now regardless, just because it's been a little while, but also have family visiting for a few days. I'll be looking to stream in the next few weeks but I still have to prioritize health and dev so no promises there :P

I did finally manage to get Cogmind's "box art" changed on Twitch, though, so instead of a question mark we now get something cooler!



I put this together rather quickly by tweaking some existing assets and could do a better job of it, but Twitch always shrinks this down pretty small and it works fine at those sizes.

Leaderboards

If you're new to Cogmind, know that with each new major version release the leaderboards are reset, so that'll be happening quite soon. The Beta 3 leaderboards will be retired and archived and we can start fresh with Beta 4!

Next week I should also have some stats to share with you. You can see old sets of stats linked from the Archives at the bottom of the leaderboards page, but this time will be extra special because we have all the new stats from Steam players! Who knows what interesting meta discoveries await within...

Happy holidays and see you around!

Since a lot of the relevant SITREP discussion happens on Steam rather than in the forums, for reference here's a link to this same news on Steam. But feel free to post replies here, too :)

13
Announcements / Cogmind Beta 4 "Data Mining"
« on: December 21, 2017, 06:02:31 PM »
Welcome to Beta 4, a properly meaty major version release! Herein we have an improved early game, even greater information transparency, more challenge modes, item gallery stat exporting, and lots more...

Cogmind Beta 4 "Data Mining" (0.10.171220) changelog:
  • NEW: Export stats for all discovered gallery items to TXT, HTML, or CSV for external reading/processing
  • NEW: Lore and gallery exporting shows destination file name once export complete
  • NEW: Materials maps may have one or two special stockpiles
  • NEW: Added guaranteed Sml. Storage Unit to Scrapyard
  • NEW: Option to automatically attach/collect all parts/matter in Scrapyard and start at the exit to Materials (advanced.cfg only: quickStart)
  • NEW: "Fragile Parts" experimental challenge mode (for now set in advanced.cfg: challengeFragileParts)
  • NEW: "Sticky Parts" experimental challenge mode (for now set in advanced.cfg: challengeStickyParts)
  • NEW: "Simple Hacker" experimental challenge mode (for now set in advanced.cfg: challengeSimpleHacker)
  • NEW: "Trapped" experimental challenge mode (for now set in advanced.cfg: challengeTrapped)
  • NEW: 1 new corruption effect
  • NEW: AI corruption can cause misfires and temporary IFF failure
  • NEW: Consecutive on-map items can be compared in keyboard mode, where previous item remembered for stat comparison as long as no other actions taken
  • NEW: Applicable major NPCs and some late-game robots list immunities under their resistances, including context help describing each
  • NEW: Robots with special effect (e.g. Samaritans) now have a Traits button in their robot info window that gives access to all relevant details
  • NEW: Pacifist bonus score applied for each depth reached with no prior kills, increasing with proximity to surface
  • NEW: Programmers can reset nearby allied robot systems (0b10 variants only) to clean corruption
  • NEW: Super secret hidden door opens in response to relevant NPC's data core
  • NEW: Option to show actual remaining integrity for damaged robot core popups, rather than a percentage (advanced.cfg only: preciseCorePopup)
  • NEW: Operators summoning reinforcements via their terminal also display an on-map ALERT message
  • NEW: Part swap list distinguishes broken inventory items by displaying their names in red
  • NEW: Tutorial message about non-stacking effects when simultaneously attaching two parts that will not combine their effects
  • NEW: Numpad Enter also centers map view on self
  • NEW: WASDQEZC command set
  • NEW: Optional "-nonportable" switch applies to all player file saving, including settings, score sheets, screenshots, and the backup system
  • NEW: Support for custom save paths, specified via "-customFilePath" switch (see manual under Advanced UI > File Options)
  • NEW: Option to hide precise values in part coverage visualization mode even when Tactical HUD active (advanced.cfg only: noPreciseCoverage)
  • NEW: Score sheet Best States also records Energy Generation and Matter Stores
  • NEW: Optional Terminus style map glyphs for size 18 ASCII mode players (see manual under Advanced UI > Fonts)
  • NEW: Added explanation of Vulnerability mode visualization to manual (Advanced UI > Parts Window)
  • NEW: Option to block all vi-key input, to prevent unintended movement by those who don't use vi-keys anyway (advanced.cfg only: blockVi)
  • NEW: All Alpha supporter names registered since Beta 3.1 added to in-game list (see Credits menu)
  • NEW: Robots sending distress signals to an ally out of view temporarily reveal that ally's position with a blinking yellow marker
  • NEW: Robots calling for help or reinforcements from a garrison temporarily reveal that garrison's position with a blinking red marker
  • MOD: Robot info window provides Analysis button with separate access to that text, instead of directly displaying it all (some didn't fit)
  • MOD: 't' button no longer sorts inventory while robot info window open
  • MOD: Robot/machine/terrain damage modifier info display now represented as Resistances, using negative values for weaknesses
  • MOD: "Dispatching garrison force" log message in a certain mid-game branch changed to "dispatching additional forces" to avoid confusion
  • MOD: Masking an area prevents Recyclers from even collecting there, rather than simply blocking item knowledge at a distance
  • MOD: Reduced size of -10/Materials by 44%
  • MOD: Scanalyzers removed from -10/Materials
  • MOD: Reduced number of Terminals and Repair Stations in -10/Materials
  • MOD: Fewer bots in -10/Materials, and Swarmer patrols always 3 bots rather 3-4
  • MOD: Maximum preloaded Fabricator schematic rating bonus increased from +2 to +3
  • MOD: "Data loss" message due to corruption effect more specifically indicates that lost data is component knowledge
  • MOD: Corruption misfire attacks against Demented outside W base no longer cause faction-wide aggro
  • MOD: Bump- and forced-melee attack targets no longer recalled automatically for subsequent attacks
  • MOD: On-map label for object under cursor only appears once if cursor remains on that object
  • MOD: On-map label for multi-cell robots no longer recreated when moving cursor (via kb or mouse) around between that robot's sections
  • MOD: Wall/door destruction value (for alert purposes) now based on depth, reducing it for much of 0b10 though later maxing out at its Beta 3.1 value
  • MOD: Item stat comparison no longer available via Repair Station repair list
  • MOD: Core Stripper effectiveness reduced by one-third
  • MOD: A few corruption side effects require passing a minimum system corruption threshold rather than anything being possible from 1%
  • MOD: Core resets also wipe all intel data
  • MOD: Easier/Easiest mode accuracy bonus now 20%/30%
  • MOD: Hvy. Machine Gun buffed
  • MOD: AM-PH4 propulsion tweaked
  • MOD: A single terminal will only ever explicitly list one Prototype ID Bank
  • MOD: Chance to trigger traps increased while overweight
  • MOD: Removed Ctrl-F1 hotkey for cycling combat log verbosity (legacy 7DRL command now available in options menu)
  • MOD: Cannibalization Units removed
  • MOD: Robots sending distress signals to an ally show no log message if that ally already visible to Cogmind
  • MOD: Lore export button style changed, and keyboard players now access them via T/H/C (upper case) instead of 1/2/3
  • FIX: Chance to avoid self-damage from kicking was calculated per leg rather than per slot, and therefore incorrect for the one multi-slot leg [Valguris]
  • FIX: Network Hubs destroyed outside both view and audible range did not correctly apply effect [Valguris]
  • FIX: Certain bonus points could be earned multiple times, despite intended limits [Valguris]
  • FIX: Potential crash if Borebot destroys itself while clearing an explosive machine [Valguris]
  • FIX: Particle Accelerators only applied effects against on robot targets, not terrain or machines [Valguris]
  • FIX: W might fail to spawn for a particular late-game event [GJ]
  • FIX: Science guy terminal missing a lore entry [GJ]
  • FIX: Holding 'f' before and while dialogue transmission window opening would ignore all commands once window closed [GJ]
  • FIX: Opening super secret hidden door with the proper manual code triggered the security system anyway [GJ]
  • FIX: Crash on a temporary patrol spawning into a map under certain rare conditions [Hopeless Situation Warrior]
  • FIX: Containment Facilitator explosion type context help message missing [Hopeless Situation Warrior]
  • FIX: Core Analyzer effects were checked on the defender rather than attacker, making it useless to attach one [Hopeless Situation Warrior]
  • FIX: Allied Programmers wiped friendly trojans from 0b10 terminals [Hopeless Situation Warrior]
  • FIX: Allied 0b10 Operators revealed friendly derelict traps outside 0b10 [Joshua]
  • FIX: Materials storage cache prefab could in rare cases allow a hostile bot to spawn near Cogmind's entrance location [Joshua]
  • FIX: Easier difficulty modes were getting a higher accuracy bonus than advertised/intended [DeanSherman]
  • FIX: Version number stored multiple times within compressed game.bin metadata (no impact on functionality or data integrity) [kiroist]
  • FIX: 3.1 caused Command internal name misalignment for some commands.cfg entries (no impact on functionality, though) [Raine, JamesVagabond]
  • FIX: Crash on hypermatrix ping effect triggered while simultaneously tunneling deep into earth [dak]
  • FIX: Implementation of tread crushing effect made autoreplacement of some tread types incompatible with the replacement rules [zxc]
  • FIX: Specific Cetus terminal query topic accessible only directly rather than indirectly as a reference (affected keyboard mode only) [ozer0]
  • FIX: Scrolling a repair/scanalyze item list of greater than 26 items resulted in incorrect color coding [Snow_Cat]
  • FIX: Allied programmers could rewire shutdown robots that were otherwise unhackable [Quelan]
  • FIX: Temporary pop-up labels for robots would remain visible and track the robot even after it leaves view if enough turns are passed [Star Weaver]
  • FIX: If the new advanced.cfg noFluffLogMessages option activated, no autogenerated messages would appear in log
  • FIX: Data backup system incompatible with "-nonportable" command line parameter
  • FIX: Score sheet "Absorbed by Shields" data not tallied correctly

Early-game Changes

I've made a number of adjustments to the early game explicitly aimed at 1) making it a little easier for new players and 2) further streamlining it for experienced players. The most significant change is that -10/Materials was almost halved in size. This will make finding exits even quicker, even if you're just wandering aimlessly, having not yet figured out the layout patterns and other clues that tell you where exits are likely located :). Of course the contents (and obstacles! are scaled down correspondingly, so overall your first evolution will come that much faster. Patrolling Swarmers will also never come in 4's, only 3's.



Those changes only apply to -10, whereas all Materials floors will also usually each have one or two special stockpiles with slightly better gear. These are easy to spot.

Even the starting area has been updated, providing a guaranteed Sml. Storage Unit. Carrying spare parts is important for survival, and it's fairly easy to acquire storage units very early on, anyway, so may as well start with one.

This addition also made possible a new advanced.cfg option, quickStart, which automatically collects everything in the Scrapyard, attaches what parts it can, stores the rest in inventory, and puts you next to the exit ready to go. This starts you out with middle-ground Leg propulsion, but carries everything else along too in case you want to switch (or lose something!), and because it's never good to leave spares behind if your inventory isn't full!



Those of you going crazy with explosives in Materials will also (maybe? :P) be relieved to know that the impact on alert won't be as significant as before. Instead of a static value, walls now gradually increase in value the higher into the complex you reach, peaking at the original Beta 3.1 levels for late-game areas. Setting off a chain of reactors will definitely still spike your alert, but not quite like it used to.

Some other features/changes also impact the early-game experience, but are covered in their respective sections below.

Transparency

Cogmind is in general very transparent with its mechanics, and I always aim to convey as much useful information as possible, but there were still a few areas that long sat on the list for improvement which I've finally had an opportunity to address...

Not a lot of robots have traits and outright immunities, and they're usually found late in the game or in out-of-the-way areas, but those that do will now show them in their info window. Immunities are listed right along with Resistances, and as with all stats have context help to describe them more specifically.



Traits got their own sub-window. These are passive effects originally intended to be discovered by observation (or via lore) as they originally only represented non-essential mechanics, but then a couple were added that happen to be pretty important in certain cases, thus it's time to make them all fully transparent.



To make room for this extra info I also gave robot Analysis text its own sub-window. It's mostly fluff and not referenced all that often, so this is a good change that freed up valuable space to fit more important tactical info. (All you really need to know is whether you have the analysis for a given bot, and the fact that the button is visible or not will already tell you that :D)



One of the farthest-reaching gameplay changes to Cogmind with Beta 4: All those distress calls you see are now visible. Notified combat robots are temporarily marked with yellow indicators, revealing their location when otherwise out of view.



This is especially useful when facing Watchers, since their alert range is relatively large. It'll be helpful for new players still learning about the world, as well as tactically relevant to all players since knowing where those signals are headed makes it possible to react by advance repositioning as necessary, or otherwise plan for new company. Cogminds using sensors could more or less already do this, so this change is even more relevant to full combat builds that may not have room for sensors.

Garrisons called for reinforcements will also be revealed, but in red.



As part of this update robots also won't emit distress signals when all they're doing is calling robots already in view. That was always kinda annoying :P

Corruption

There's a new corruption effect! It's a dangerous one, and you can probably tell what it does in this GIF...



Fortunately it's also the rarest one, and also can't even occur while your corruption is low. That's a restriction enabled by a new threshold system--not all effects are possible at all corruption levels, so no more misfires at 1%. The thresholds aren't exactly high so you'll still want to keep your corruption minimal, but it'll be helpful in avoiding ultra-low-corruption mishaps.

EM damage also now comes with another little inherent bonus: Corrupted enemies might misfire, or even specifically target their allies. Oops :P


(this sample image is not indicative of the intended frequency--I recorded during testing with a 100% chance!)

Programmers are also capable of resetting simple allied bot systems to fully purge their corruption. (No, friendly Programmers cannot clean your corruption!)



QoL

Wouldn't be a Cogmind update without some good old QoL!

Operators summoning reinforcements also have a new global ALERT message, meaning they also trigger the on-map alert and sfx. Can't miss it, and you'll also know exactly when that Operator which spotted you (or was even just alerted to your presence indirectly!) reaches its terminal and calls for help.



We get a lot of questions about the damage resistance system in Cogmind, which was implemented more as "damage modifiers," and previously called such. (This was a remnant of Cogmind's origins as a 7DRL based on an X-Com remake.) The meaning of the values was explained in the context help, but it's better to switch over to a more intuitive "Resistances" system found in most modern games. Here positive values represent resistance against damage, and negative values a weakness.



All objects use the new Resistances display, not just robots.



In other QoL, pure keyboard players can now compare two map items against one another, since the first is remembered when its info window is opened. (This was the only comparison scenario not automatically covered under the standard item info retrieval systems.)



A new advanced.cfg option (preciseCorePopup) shows core damage popups as actual core integrity rather than a percentage.



[More!] Challenge Modes

Many of you probably don't even know challenge modes are a thing in Cogmind, but they've been in there for a long while and even have a dedicated leaderboard (at the bottom). They're described in the manual, and we have an ongoing list on the forums, but they don't have their own in-game menu yet so it's not as easy to discover them. For now they can be activated by setting the relevant advanced.cfg variable, but we'll be getting an in-game selection menu eventually--I'm still waiting on some other related features first.

I've added 4 new modes, bringing the total to 12...

"Simple Hacker" mode completely removes the ability to do any indirect or manual hacking.



"Fragile Parts" mode destroys any part that is removed (basically everything acts like a Processor).



"Sticky Parts" mode is an even more extreme variant in which no parts can be removed at all--the only way to get rid of them is for them to be destroyed (think twice before attaching a processor :P).

"Trapped" mode is less a challenge than a different way to play, since you can build specifically to take advantage of this scenario, but it fills most maps with a lot of traps. There is also a +20% chance to trigger a trap.



Item Stat Exports

Time for some data mining! You can now export all your item gallery data, putting the stats in one of three formats, whichever works best for your needs.

Most useful for the average player looking to compare items is the HTML export, with a table of contents linking to each section, where items are divided by slot type and show only the set of stats relevant for that category.



CSV is good for spreadsheet analysis, graphing, or even converting it all into some other format. (This is how our item stats will finally start making their way to the wiki.)



The TXT export is good only because items list only stats relevant to them.



In any case, these offer new ways to explore the items you've discovered so far.

Both the lore and gallery UI also now show the file path and name of the exported file, so you know it happened and where to retrieve the results. The buttons were also redone and for keyboard players are referenced via T/H/C instead of 1/2/3.





More!

You'll find plenty of other little uncategorized things listed on the changelog, but some of it's worth talking about in a bit more detail...

I added support for WASDQEZC movement, but it's not native like vi-keys and the other common movement options. Technically all I did was create a keybinds file remapping existing WASDQEZC commands to vi-keys, so this was possible before, but I'm doing an official one since it's fairly easy and more players might want this. To read more about it, and how to activate it, check out this post on the forums.

I've also added an option to use alternative map ASCII, giving it a more traditional roguelike look with Terminus rather than Cogmind's default square sci-fi font. The main purposes here was to improve readability of the ASCII mode map for those with low vision or on tiny high-res displays. It's not in the options menu, and currently only works at size 18 (our most common font size at 55.3% of players), but I could add it at more sizes depending on feedback. Those capable of using font size 18 can enable this option by opening data/fonts/_config.xt and setting the new Terminus options to 1 in the Available column. The relevant new font set names begin with "18/T+".



It's also worth mentioning that DeanSherman discovered Easy and Easiest mode players have always been getting essentially max accuracy with every shot, unintentionally xD. As I was fixing it so these modes applied the correct bonus, I decided based on the state of the lower leaderboards that for now it would be overkill to nerf the accuracy to intended values. After all, even with a massive accuracy boost players still die in droves, because there are quite a lot of strategic and tactical factors relevant to creating deadly situations (besides simple accuracy), so we may as well keep one of the more easily controllable variables a net positive rather than yet another factor to contend with. So now these modes get a +20/30% boost, respectively. This means shots in certain situations will miss a little more than you might be used to in these modes, and the challenge will go up a bit, just enough to need to pay a little attention to accuracy factors (and make targeting computers actually somewhat useful!).

Beta 4 saves are not compatible with previous versions, but even if you're on Steam and have autoupdates enabled, Beta 3.1 is still available via its own branch and you can roll back to finish a run in progress first if you like.

14
Announcements / SITREP Saturday #6: 8,410
« on: December 15, 2017, 05:10:26 PM »
Another crazy productive week, and the next update is mostly complete! Here's an overview of features that have come together in just the past few days...

Friendly Materials

I'm making some pretty significant adjustments to the first main map. I've considered a complete redesign, but that would take much longer (plus I'm not sure it's necessary given other plans I have for the early game), whereas what I've done with it so far in a single afternoon will already have quite an impact on the experience.

A sample layout in my mapgen design program:


Most notably it's shrinking. By 44%.

Of course the contents are for the most part scaled down correspondingly, the net result being an even quicker floor through which to pass for that first evolution. As a bonus, both that map and other Materials areas will now come with the occasional better stockpile.

A sample -10/Materials in the new style, as seen fully revealed in game:


Crunchy Data

We've been talking about it for a long time, and it's finally happening: You'll be able to export your item gallery collection!



As with lore exporting there are three format options, each more suitable for a different purpose. With item stats available outside the game you can theorize builds to your heart's content, run analysis on the items, or do whatever you want with the data. Data!

Our wiki users are mostly set up to automagically create and update wiki pages based on export data, so we'll finally have an up-to-date wiki without requiring much manual work :). Maybe we'll even get a bot for the chat channels that can draw from the wiki to respond to queries about certain items. We have players who are veritable dictionaries of Cogmind item stats, but they're not always around :P

The TXT export is probably not all that useful, but I included it for completion sake. One benefit is that it only lists values relevant to each specific item, so if you're looking for stats on just one item rather than seeking to compare it to others, the TXT output is pretty good.


CSV is for the data crunchers.


HTML will be most useful for the average player, dividing your items by slot type and showing only the set of stats relevant for that category of items. There's even a table of contents with links to each section :D


QoL, of Course

The main focus of this release has been to clear the todo list of all the high-priority items, many of which involved quality of life improvements. I'm happy to say I've taken care of every single one (whew!). Some of the highlights...

Operator-summoned reinforcements now trigger an ALERT message, meaning it will also appear over the map with the alarm sfx, even if they're out of view. This makes it easier to get a handle on what's happening with regard to that situation.


Also in the transparency and tactical information department, robots calling for help now reveal the location of the robot they're calling! This'll be a game-changer for tactics, as well as helping new players figure out what's going on.


Similarly, calling for help or reinforcements from a garrison reveals that garrison's location.


By request I've added an option to use alternative map ASCII, giving it a more traditional roguelike look with Terminus rather than Cogmind's default square sci-fi font. (This will only include size 18 at first, but I could add more later.)


A new advanced option shows core damage popups as actual core integrity rather than a percentage.


Broken inventory parts are listed in red on the swap menu to distinguish otherwise duplicates.


I finally changed the behavior whereby a robot label could follow a robot out of view. Not that it was something worth abusing, and I actually knew about this and left it that way for the past several years because removing it also sometimes removes semi-valid info, but under extreme circumstances it obviously looks weird :P


As part of this update I also have both the lore and gallery UI actually showing the file path and name of the export, so you know it happened and where to retrieve the results.


Top 100

Cogmind made the Top 100 indies of 2017 over on IndieDB! Thanks to everyone who voted, and if you could, vote again for the final round which is open for a few more days.

Beta 4

I've confirmed the next release is definitely a Beta 4 (not 3.2), although haven't yet settled on a specific day. I can say that I'm wrapping up feature development--mostly just stress testing remains, so it'll probably be done within a week. That said, I'd rather stick to my habit of early/mid-week releases, so I'll probably end up holding onto it until the week after next. In any case, if that happens it'll of course also mean an extra couple days for me to pack in even more stuff :D

Our SITREP for the week is titled after some data shared in my Year 4 of the Cogmind report. For a look at some of the highlights of 2017, and a glance at 2018, check that out if you haven't already.

Since a lot of the relevant SITREP discussion happens on Steam rather than in the forums, for reference here's a link to this same news on Steam.

15
Announcements / SITREP Saturday #5: Clean Slate
« on: December 08, 2017, 05:54:37 PM »
> BOOTING...
> CORRUPTION=LOW
> IDE=ARMED
> STATUS=LOGGING

Feels great to be back, and the rest has done well for my post-concussion issues. Me and my brain have been humming along at full blast all week since returning, and here's what we've been up to :D

As much as I want to get working on major new features right away, my priority is always to address bugs ASAP. Since a number of rare issues were discovered following the new activity on Steam, I had to spend a few days squashing all those.

I'm happy to report I've now moved on to the next phase of pre-major stuff: The near-term feature list. A lot of little feature requests and tweak ideas have piled up, and since many of these are both easy to do and already confirmed in my plans, I'd prefer to get most of them out of the way before moving on so we can start the next big things with a clean state. (Plus medium-priority tweaks and whatnot have a way of piling up quickly when untended across multiple versions, and I don't want that to turn into an endless list!)

Robot Info

I've made a few updates to the robot info window, starting with a list of immunities below any resistances they might have (including context help describing each).

The vast majority of robots have no immunities, but without a few immunities it'd be way too easy to cheese to death major NPCs and some-late game robots by taking advantage of basic combat mechanics :P

For example the most common immunity is against critical strikes, because kinetic crit stacks are a super effective way to plow through enemies. Really this immunity just more or less puts major bots on par with you, since you're not that susceptible to crits either! (Not that this immunity is new--immunities have been around since the beginning, but since they only come into play late in the game most of the experienced players have figured this out. But it needs to be made more apparent so I've been wanting to explicitly show immunities for a while...)

Some robots also have previously hidden "traits" which are essentially passive effects. These are not usually all that important to the game and were originally meant to be something to discover--the lore usually mentions them in one way or another. But their details are now fully revealed and explained in a new dedicated window.


In order to make room for all this stuff, I had to put robot Analysis text in a separate window, too, but that's not really needed all that often, so this was a good change, freeing up valuable space to fit more important info! (also technically a few late-game analyses were so long they didn't fit into the robot's window, so this was going to happen eventually anyway)

(the recording shows an immunities button from an earlier test build--they don't have their own button anymore)

Although there's context help explaining the meaning of resistance values in Cogmind, which uses an old X-Com method of "damage modifiers," to help new players more quickly grasp the data I'm changing all resistance displays to use the more modern and common system of positive values representing resistances and negative values implying a weakness.


So this applies not only to robots, but all objects with a list of resistances:


Coincidentally I wrote a bit about information transparency yesterday over on r/roguelikedev, where you can also read about how it's approached in some other projects.

Corruption

We have a new corruption effect, which is dangerous but more rare than any of the others.

Not only is it rarer, but I'm also adding corruption thresholds for many effects--so no more misfires at 1%--and this new one has the highest threshold.

For extra fun, corrupted bots also now misfire or outright target random bots.

(this sample image is not indicative of the intended frequency--I recorded during testing with a 100% chance :P)

This essentially gives yet another boost to EM side effects, but on the flip side Programmers are now capable of resetting some allied bot systems to fully purge their corruption.




Miscellaneous

As requested, pure keyboard players will now have access to comparisons between two or more items on the map.


I seem to have spotted a bug in the new Programmer corruption purge system that caused it to instead attempt to hack a friend, but I couldn't repeat it so that might still be in there. I'm thinking it was probably the Programmer itself being corrupted and deciding to attack instead of help an ally (under that new mechanic...), which would be fine :P. In any case, it was fun to try to repeat the bug--spawning a horde of allies and repeatedly zapping them all :D


I fixed a bug with the color-coding in the repair/scan item list when scrolling through more than 26 applicable items--the colors are still pretty with a huge and messy inventory, though :)


Player Raine357 has scraped all 30k+ Beta 3 scoresheets into a database to run queries on them, like this one showing average player damage type distribution throughout the game, demonstrating how all the types become equally viable by the end (EM has additional effects and does only about half damage compared to other weapons).


Stream

By the time I got back, my previous stream linked from the last SITREP was no longer saved on Twitch, so the first thing I did was stream the weekly seed.

It was a three-hour winning combat run, pretty straight to the end except for a fair bit of craziness as I approached the end and got sidetracked into a bit of trouble before making a typically epic Cogmind comeback <3

There's a summary here.

I've also (finally) decided to go ahead and upload my streams to YouTube so they don't disappear like that in case some of you want to check them out later!

A Question

So I was approached by Valve recently letting me know they'd like to feature Cogmind later this month on the front page for an extended period.

This is great news, but they also said that to be featured I'd have to do a 25% discount. Technically Cogmind has been available at its current price for eight months now, so even though it's only been on Steam for two of those months, maybe it's about time to allow players to join us at the fairly decent price of $15? That said, technically I also not long ago promised to not do any discounts greater than 10% during EA (at the time not having any idea that Cogmind would be graced with such attention from Valve :P).

So I've already initially refused their offer on the grounds of that promise from a couple weeks back (yes, a lot of people are calling me crazy xD), but am a bit conflicted because it might be the best choice for Cogmind at this point, since an opportunity like this probably won't be available again.

Any opinions?

(Update: Much of the discussion regarding this took place in the Steam news thread, and I've since updated the previous SITREP with a detailed explanation.)

Update When?

Progress overall has been good for a week back at the helm so far, though I'm not yet sure how much I want to stuff into the next release. I think it'll be Beta 4 instead of 3.2, but calling it that implies packing in even more features :P

At least according to my old system... I'm still trying to figure out a reasonable way to adjust my dev cycle and other factors to emphasize more frequent updates rather than packing too much into each, but I've always rather liked meaty changelogs.

Anyway, there won't be a public update next week, but depending on progress over the next 4-5 days I might put something out the week after that. More in next week's SITREP :D

Reminder: There's still a couple days left in the first round to vote for Cogmind on IndieDB!

Since a lot of the relevant SITREP discussion happens on Steam rather than in the forums, for reference here's a link to this same news on Steam.

16
Announcements / Voting Now: IndieDB Game of the Year 2017
« on: December 04, 2017, 04:21:53 PM »
It's that time of the year again...

IndieDB has begun voting for Indie of the Year 2017, so head on over to the Cogmind page and give it a click.



The voting happens in two phases, first (now) just to determine the Top 100 group, then those 100 compete for one of the Top 10 spots. While I don't think Cogmind has the numbers to break into the latter crowd (it's a popularity contest, after all, and Cogmind's audience is pretty niche!), I'm pretty sure we can make the Top 100 again. Cogmind has been in the Top 100 for several years now thanks to fans helping vote it past the first round. Thank you!

Registration isn't required.

I won't be posting a dedicated reminder about the next phase, but will mention it in the news assuming Cogmind makes it past round one.

(Also if you haven't done so yet, for those of you with Cogmind on Steam, leaving a review is really helpful!)

(Also, on IndieDB go vote for your other favorite roguelikes that have an IndieDB page--lots do!)

I'm back from my trip and have started work on the next Beta. More news on that come Saturday! Yesterday I streamed the weekly seed and won--that was pretty fun (details and video links), and the rest of the week will be devoted to preparing the next release.

17
Announcements / SITREP Saturday #4: The Autumn Cogmind
« on: November 24, 2017, 05:16:44 PM »
As announced before, development is on a short pause right now as I take care of some business-side Cogmind issues, plus some time visiting family on the other side of the globe.

To recap, last week Beta 3.1 went out on what was certainly an odd release day I've never tried before. There's not much online activity on weekends, especially Sunday, so it's not a great day to release. This time I didn't have a choice since the new version had to be out before going on this trip, while also leaving enough time to deal with issues should any arise. At least the release went smoothly so that rather than dealing with any issues I could start working on the next few things on my list!

I didn't get started immediately, however, instead streaming some Cogmind on the date of the update. This is something I've always felt like doing in the past, but also always felt like I needed to be ready to react to release issues, or even just comments. I had released privately a couple days early, though, and it was doing fine so I figured it'd be okay to be away for a stream. Plus I really wanted to play, and we have a lot of new players now so it'd be good if I could get in another stream before leaving. I ended up streaming for five hours with the "biggest" turnout ever, peaking at over 30 viewers. It was an unusual day for me to stream, but if I can I'll try again for a weekend stream in the future.

As for the stream, this time I just wanted to try some different crazy strategies, expecting to die and play a few runs in the same vein, but surprisingly that one run went on for five hours and I made it to the last map, anyway, despite all the handicaps from the non-optimal decisions along the way. Was fun :) (I had only a few utility slots to work with!)

Regarding the 3.1 release, one of the main features was Steam Cloud support, but I noticed that even though I'd enabled it in the Steamworks options and it was working normally, the fact that a game has this feature is not shown on the store page unless you manually set that in the page options. I only learned this a couple days later after finally getting a reply from Steam support. I had completely forgotten that was even a setting, because of course it's not on the cloud settings page... Hopefully that didn't confuse anyone, but yeah Cogmind has cloud support.

A couple of fun things following the release...

DDarkray converted one of the greatsword ASCII art pieces to a cursor for use with the new custom cursor feature:


I was reading through a bunch of the reviews and came across this pretty funny section in one of them:

That's one way to put it :P

As usual, I like to record events and report on them, hopefully learning something in the process, so to culminate this fun and informative process of launching on Steam, I put together an in-depth postmortem: "Data and Thoughts from a Month on Steam." Some interesting and useful discoveries were made.

The store page got 236k visitors in the first month...


So if you're interested in behind-the-scenes details like that, check out the post for all kinds of graphs to explore. Cogmind is 10% off for the Steam Autumn sale right now, so it'll be interesting to see how that data compares to what I have so far. (Most people tend to buy Steam games when they're on sale...) Note that while Cogmind will occasionally have 10% discounts during Early Access, they'll never be more than 10%.* (Also, the same discount is available from both Steam and direct from my site--I'll always mirror discounts for DRM-free version.)

(*While I hate to break explicit promises like that, shortly after this news I was contacted by Valve offering some preferred placement on Steam's front page during this year's Winter Sale--the platform's busiest time of the year--if I'd be willing to do a 25% discount. I initially refused, but after opening this up for discussion and talking to players about it for a while, I found that even among current owners support for taking the offer was unanimous. Of course the exposure will be good, and it's true that guaranteed placement on Steam's front page is a hard deal to pass up... While the timing would've been perfect if I'd been able to release to Steam back before summer (the "no injury" scenario xD), technically Cogmind has already been available at $18-20 for the past eight months, so temporarily making it available at $15 seems okay. Note that future discounts will still generally be 10%, at least during EA.)

In other roguelike news, if you're interested in the genre's history, Slashie has done some great research into the origins of the term "roguelike". Read about how someone suggested this genre be called "sucrpgs" :P. He presented his findings at the most recent Roguelike Celebration which unfortunately I couldn't make this year but it's funny because that was only 10 days ago and I am near San Francisco right now xD (I gave a talk at last year's celebration which you might be interested in)

I won't be back for another week, so our next SITREP will be in a couple weeks so I have more progress to talk about!

Since a lot of the relevant SITREP discussion happens on Steam rather than in the forums, for reference here's a link to this same news on Steam.

18
Announcements / Cogmind Beta 3.1 "In the Cloud"
« on: November 11, 2017, 06:20:40 PM »
Our first post-Steam update! Below you'll find a fairly hefty changelog considering it's only a minor version increment, but there's no new content--instead I wanted to get a lot of little feature requests and tweaks out of the way as soon as possible before moving on to bigger things. Beta 3.1 brings us Steam Cloud support, ALERT messages you can't miss, and all maps accessible from any difficulty level...

Cogmind Beta 3.1 "In the Cloud" (0.10.171111) changelog:

* NEW: [Steam] Steam Cloud support
* NEW: ALERT log messages also appear over the map at the top left (adjustable via advanced.cfg: mapAlertDuration)
* NEW: Most ALERT log messages/announcements accompanied by a sound effect for emphasis
* NEW: Triggering High Security is accompanied by a special sound effect
* NEW: Message/combat logs prefix lines with turn numbers in Tactical HUD mode (toggle via advanced.cfg: disableMessageLogTurnNumbers)
* NEW: noFluffLogMessages option to never show purely atmospheric log messages related to some robot actions (toggle via advanced.cfg)
* NEW: Ctrl-RMB on walls/doors for their stats (if a info window already open, simple RMB works too)
* NEW: Custom cursor support (see manual under Advanced UI)
* NEW: Descriptions for all 49 advanced.cfg-only options added to manual under Advanced UI
* NEW: WORKMAN keyboard layout file
* NEW: Partial keyboard layout files for QWERTZ, ABNT2, UK
* NEW: Numpad Enter also closes context help, advances transmission text, and works on game over screen to restart
* NEW: Tutorial message explicitly indicates purpose of matter on first acquiring it (same as item description)
* NEW: Several situational tutorial messages regarding energy management
* NEW: Weapon penetration stat context help explicitly mentions that Huge robots count as a single object
* NEW: "Inventory Autosorting" in options menu toggles automatic type-sorting of inventory items (equivalent to 't')
* NEW: Attached part relative coverage visualization also shows specific values in Tactical HUD mode
* NEW: All Alpha supporter names registered since Beta 3 added to in-game list (see Credits menu)
* NEW: All Alpha item-attribution names registered since Beta 3 added to the item collection gallery
* MOD: All maps accessible in all difficulty levels (most challenging areas no longer blocked off in easier modes)
* MOD: Structural Scanner no longer required to get explosion data in machine info (but still required to know if such a machine has been destabilized)
* MOD: Structural Scanner effect description explicitly states that it <stacks>
* MOD: All keyboard map-shifting commands now jump the map by default (single-space shifting no longer possible)
* MOD: Shift modifier no longer required for keyboard mode to shift map view (Alt-only), except for vi-keys
* MOD: vi-keys no longer need Shift or Alt modifier in dedicated mapshift mode (`), simply hjklyubn will do :)
* MOD: /user/cogmind.cfg split into three files: system.cfg, options.cfg, advanced.cfg
* MOD: "Show Part Range" and "Invert Map Pan" removed from options menu (now in advanced.cfg)
* MOD: advanced.cfg autoSortInventory renamed to matchSortInventory
* MOD: Lowered integrity of all Coolant Injectors
* MOD: Slightly nerfed Mak. Salvage Targeting Computer
* MOD: Tread crushing effect description includes explicit notice of max core integrity to be crushable (50)
* MOD: Removed critical hit stat context help mention of effect on machines, large doors, and barriers (no longer applicable)
* MOD: Walls/doors destroyed by launchers cause alert increase as with other weapons
* MOD: Experimental/pre-release builds no longer warn about version number not matching server records
* MOD: Scan window uses a much quicker, quieter sound to prevent overlap when hovering cursor across groups of items
* MOD: Text printing/scrolling sfx replaced by a more subtle version with lower pitch and volume
* MOD: Doubled matter extraction rate of all Field Recycling Units
* MOD: Save file naming scheme changed to reflect internal save version, and extension changed to .sav
* MOD: Tunneling hack more useful
* MOD: Resource containers no longer have a LOAD setting (since the desired behavior is now automatic anyway)
* MOD: Integrity-wise sorting of inventory now orders by absolute integrity rather than percent remaining
* FIX: Attaching Core Expander from inventory via any means of direct swapping would crash game on subsequent key press [russomatroso]
* FIX: 0b10 Decoder Chip [G/L] crashed on attempting to reveal an item outside FOV dropped on a chip-discovered trap [Darg]
* FIX: Manual referenced older damage modifier for critical strikes against armor (is 20%, not 25%) [zxc]
* FIX: Clicking 'X' button to close robot manual hacking window with code list open didn't also close the latter, and would later crash the UI [Valguris]
* FIX: Potential to crash in the combat log if a certain sequence of messages quickly appeared under rare conditions [LordKee]
* FIX: Using a Reconstructor while affected by a Stasis Beam to move outside the beam range would maintain the hold as long as no new obstructions [DDarkRay]
* FIX: Unidentified prototypes in inventory indirectly revealed coverage and integrity values through respective visualization modes [DDarkRay]
* FIX: Saving files would silently fail if player manually deleted the target directories [The Renderer]
* FIX: Ctrl-CMB to toggle volley range visualization not working under some conditions [Uninstall Wizard]
* FIX: On some Linux/Wine setups online News update feature might occasionally have a trailing 0 causing repeat news content to flash as if new [Joshua]
* FIX: Typo in lore [zill]
* FIX: Unidentified prototype resource containers held in inventory could still indirectly collect and store energy/matter
* FIX: With non-green console border colors, the first item comparison in the gallery would still have two inside corners appear green
* FIX: Removed critical strike stat context help mention of props being destroyable by crits

Cloud Saves

Beta 3.1's main attraction is compatibility with Steam Cloud, allowing anyone playing through Steam to preserve their settings, save file, and metadata across multiple machines, automagically.

This required the somewhat altered config system I talked about a couple weeks ago. As such, there are two important steps to follow if you're going to take advantage of the cloud support:
  • Your settings will only be migrated properly if you update to this version, Beta 3.1, so do that first.
  • Also if you've played Cogmind before, be sure to start playing on the machine with the settings and data that you want to keep! Just running it once should be enough, and then you can use either/any machine.
Note that 3.0 saves are compatible with 3.1, so you can update immediately, even in the middle of an ongoing run, and just keep going.

Know that this won't always be the case in the future--major versions and any updates that add new content do break save compatibility. That said, beginning with this release Cogmind stores saves under a new filename that reflects its internal save version, and what I plan to do is leave prior versions of Cogmind available as separate branches on Steam, so even if you do update (perhaps by accident), you'll still be able to rollback your install and play an unfinished run on a previous version if you like.

Difficulty

Difficulty hasn't been significantly altered with this update, though do be careful with those explosives. They're lifesavers in a lot of situations, but now they also piss off the Complex more than they used to. Each wall and door destroyed by non-AOE weapons has always raised alert by a small amount, but explosives were exempt from that rule until now. Obviously collateral damage with AOE weapons is much more likely, so the consequences are now more in line with their power.

A few items were nerfed, the only really notable category being Coolant Injectors, which have always been pretty OP since they were introduced--now they might not last you forever :P

I buffed the secret hack that everyone loves to hate. Now you'll probably want to use it a lot more often if you're planning a specific route through the world.

The biggest change to difficulty comes outside the default Roguelike mode, since there are no longer any limits on where Easier and Easiest mode players can visit. This is the way it was early on when I first implemented these modes, but the active community was much smaller then and almost no one was really playing the easier modes anyway, so there was a stronger cry to gate the most secret lore behind the regular difficulty. Now it's all open again :)

Beware though, the other half of the reason I thought it was a good idea to close off some maps was that they are disproportionately challenging even on the easiest mode! Cogmind's world was balanced for the default difficulty, so on the easier modes it's possible to wander into what are still very deadly areas. But hey, at least it's definitely easier than what you'd face on the regular mode, and it gives you access to all the lore.

(Currently fewer than 10% of players are using either of the easier modes.)

Accessibility

As described last weekend, Cogmind now supports custom cursors. The manual shows how to do it--it's super easy. While I fixed most of the odd behaviors caused by enabling optional software-rendered cursors that Cogmind didn't originally account for in its architectural decisions accumulated over the past four years (:P), there could be some undiscovered issues if I missed any UI combinations during testing. Let me know if you end up using a custom cursor and find anything fishy.

3.1 also includes more keyboard layouts, which I tried to support to the best of the ability of the system. The thread for how to use those is here.

Feature Images

A collection of demos from this release...

Optional automated inventory sorting:


On-map popups for important ALERT log messages:


Numbered log lines:


Example 2:


Explosive machine details are now freely available (without Structural Scanner):


Ctrl-RMB on a wall or door to inspect it for armor and resistance info (or just RMB if window already open):


Coverage visualization includes precise numbers:


[Non-serious] custom cursor in action!


Further differentiated config files:


Ctrl-CMB also toggles volley range visualization:

19
Announcements / SITREP Saturday #3: YAQOL
« on: November 10, 2017, 05:29:20 PM »
Anyone who looks back through Cogmind's release history will see that I've always placed a lot of importance on maintaining good QoL. I love adding content and mechanics (and have oh so many plans...) but the priority is always to take care of the little things that help improve what we already have, and since we have a lot of new players now--over 1,000 on the leaderboards (counting only named players), it's natural that the influx has brought with it a lot of requests we can reasonably accommodate.

So that's much of what I've been working on this week.

Beta 3.1 is around the corner, and focuses on quality of life among other small changes and features (including of course the Cloud support I talked about last time).

Small features like optional automated inventory sorting:


I was actually going to release earlier this week, but kept postponing it because there was a really odd bug which didn't make any sense given the source code, so I thought it might be the compiler and couldn't confirm that, and basically had, and still have, no idea where it's coming from. An old game file I no longer use (and since deleted) kept popping up out of nowhere, recreating itself when there is clearly no code in the game to do that. This file affects the operation of the game so it was rather important to figure out, but it's completely random. I thought it was the compiler using old code but rebuilding from scratch didn't stop it. Anyway, I filled an entire page with notes about this bug trying to figure it out, as I encountered it a few times each day, adding more and more tests in between working down the list of other features that we wanted eventually anyway. I never did find the bug, but release can wait no longer so I coded a workaround that will at least prevent it from screwing things up should it appear again. Strangely enough, this file didn't appear at all in the past day...

Progress

Other progress from the week, best demonstrated in images:

New on-map popups for very important ALERT log messages!

These are accompanied by a very obvious alarm sound, because despite being so bright in the message log ALERT messages were still easy to miss, but they often have serious implications for survivability. If you want to keep the good old "what where'd that assault ARC come from?!?!" experience, there is a way to turn map alerts off :P

Coverage visualization graphs are now accompanied by their specific percentages in Tactical HUD mode:


In case you don't want to use the 'v' key/button, Ctrl-CMB now works to toggle the volley range visualization:


Explosive machine details are now free. No more Structural Scanner required, just inspect the machine:


The mouse can also now inspect walls and doors via Ctrl-RMB (or just RMB if the info window is already open).

Good strategy sometimes calls for knowing what it'll take to create new doors. (Though know that unless it's a special wall, melee weapons and non-EM cannons are usually enough to do the trick.)

More Coverage!


  • Cogmind got two pages in the November issue of Canard PC, the "leading video game magazine in France, Belgium and Switzerland." They rate it "Sans Danger," meaning it's safe to buy even though it's in Early Access :)
  • I did an interview for Indie Hackers, where I answered questions/wrote about things like marketing, revenue, creativity, advice for others, and Cogmind/my background. (This is a site for entrepreneurs, so it's not really about the game itself.)
  • I also did a little interview for Goomba Stomp. This one's more about Cogmind, and also roguelikes in general.

Upcoming Schedule

Beta 3.1 is coming very soon (like this weekend soon), about which I'll have a separate post covering the changelog and release notes.

Then there are some things coming up which will slow development for a bit. I have to spend yet more time at the hospital (the situation worsened recently, but there are new leads and therefore hope to get rid of this problem for good), and in addition to that I'll actually be out of country visiting the US for a while. I have to head over there for Cogmind-related business reasons (of all things...), but decided since we have family over there celebrating the holidays I may as well bring everyone along and stay a little longer. Trips that far are expensive, anyway, might as well make it more worthwhile! Everyone's always asking us to visit but I've always been too busy working on Cogmind to make the trip xD

I'd prefer to not be away having only recently released the Steam version, but perhaps finally being somewhere I'm not tempted by my full workstation here would be good for the recovery, too! In any case, during this period I'll certainly be available online as usual, just not able to reply nearly as fast as I normally do :P

Unless something really interesting happens, since there won't be as much progress I will probably skip the next two SITREPs before returning to our normal weekly schedule.

Really looking forward to December, when I'll push through all the remaining high-priority and near-term items so we can move on to much more significant features!

Since a lot of the relevant SITREP discussion happens on Steam rather than in the forums, for reference here's a link to this same news on Steam.

20
Announcements / SITREP Saturday #2: Cloudy with a Chance of Saves
« on: November 03, 2017, 07:02:42 PM »
A 100% chance! Cloud saves (and settings) are coming to Cogmind soonish.

I chose to go with Steam's "Autocloud," which doesn't require any code changes. Instead it's just some backend settings that specify which files to migrate between machines. The cloud itself was really easy to set up.

Testing a cloud-enable version of Cogmind:


Using the Steam console to ensure the proper files are being synced:


After which I started up the game on my old laptop to make sure it resumes where it was with all the same options... Yes! I was actually worried at first that this would be a process full of headaches because I followed the (simple) instructions and... it failed to notice any files to sync :/. Then I just tried again and it worked fine. So yeah, um, I guess it works.

The whole process only took a couple hours, but I'll test it some more to make sure it'll be stable. In any case, Cogmind also keeps multiple backups of your /user/ files for emergency recovery purposes, so nothing to worry about :D

When the time comes, you'll want to update to Beta 3.1 first, and also be sure to start playing on the system that has the original files! (Don't worry, I'll remind you in the patch notes.)

Although Steam Cloud is simply a setting I can flip on now, I won't be enabling it until the next update because there was another much more involved change required for proper cloud support: adjustments to the config file. I already talked about that bit last week, but that requirement means I'll need to push an update before activating the cloud. (In the meantime, I also finally added to the manual a description of what each advanced.cfg setting does, since their names can only hold so much information.)

Features

In terms of Cogmind itself I've just been handling some little bug reports, with a lot of other stuff piling up on the near-term TODO list since I'm still too busy to deal with it.

As it turns out, Cogmind's default hardware cursor doesn't work on one particular player's 2160p setup, so I added support for custom "software" cursors, which basically means it's now possible to wrest control of the cursor's appearance from the OS and make it look like anything :)

Custom cursors can be made to different shapes, colors, or even sizes in case you enjoy crushing tiles:


It's as easy as drawing a little .png and dropping it in the right directory.

This scary guy was helping me debug the new system...

...but I had to destroy him in the end.

BUGS!

When you use a custom software cursor on top of a display system relying on dirty rectangles, the cursor has to save what's behind it as it enters a new position, and redraw the background when it moves again.

Otherwise it just becomes a big mess :P


Yesterday I slipped in one of the recent features requests... probably not hard to spot which one :)

Log messages can now come with turn numbers! This is the default in Tactical HUD mode, though new advanced options can be used to turn them off if you don't want them.

Another example:


This has been on my TODO list for a very long time, but the "best" implementation I was planning would take a while (and no one had been requesting it in recent years), so I kept deprioritizing this one. Then another request came this week and I decided fine, I'll just do it the easy way so it's at least in there as an option! I like how the extra numbers make it appear nice and computery, too :)

Videos

This week I finally got to stream again! Thanks to everyone who showed up, it was a lot of fun (especially once I actually got OBS to recognize my mic again xD).

I haven't played much over the past several months, and got a little overconfident and died after about an hour, but then started a new run and at least made it to the late-game before, again, dying :P. I make a lot of different decisions while streaming than I normally would (I won the run I did before streaming, really!), but it's all fun so no matter :D

There are still a number of others recording Cogmind content, too, including newcomer LuckyLuckLuc who is getting good fast and just recently streamed his first win. Shobalk is continuing his intro video series.

Since a lot of the relevant SITREP discussion happens on Steam rather than in the forums, for reference here's a link to this same news on Steam.

21
Announcements / SITREP Saturday #1: Getting Steamy
« on: October 27, 2017, 06:26:31 PM »
What a launch week! Thanks for your continued support, and welcome to all our new players!

Our leaderboards are now packed with over 700 unique Cogminds fighting their way to the surface. We've got lots more players and data than that, but note that you have to set your name in the game options menu in order to appear. (Even if you weren't aware of that, this week I changed the leaderboards code to retroactively associate you with your old anonymous scores if you do choose to name/rename yourself.)

With help from streamers, some articles, and no doubt the launch discount, Cogmind lingered at or near the top of a number of Top Sellers charts, even making the Steam front page for a little while. Gonna have to save that screenshot for history :)


Cogmind was pretty prominent in the Early Access category, and even did very well in the Indie and Strategy categories alongside mostly no-EA games. For the first week Cogmind also sat on the first page of popular games tagged "rogue-like" (along with a very nice lineup of... roguelites xD)


I was occasionally taking screenshots and recording performance data, which I hope to later use to write some kind of article on the process, but honestly I didn't have much time to really follow that stuff closely. Throughout the first ten days of release I was completely buried in emails, various forums, and social media, responding to players and others with questions or wishes.

Coverage

Cogmind has been recently played by a number of LPers, among them:
  • quill18 streamed some Cogmind and has been uploading it to YouTube
  • Aavak has an ongoing LP series
  • Nookrium does as well

Some of Cogmind's regular players have been uploading videos, too, which you may find helpful:
  • Shobalk recently uploaded a Getting Started Tutorial
  • nuzcraft (who records all our weekly seeds, too :P) also shared some quick Survival Tips
  • zxc, one of Cogmind's best players, recorded a full combat win with Beta 3
  • I'll hopefully be streaming next week--I always play combat (and currently hold #5 on the leaderboards, so I'm not terrible :P)

On the publication front, there haven't been too many pieces yet, although a number of websites are planning to do something in the coming months, and Cogmind will even appear in a major gaming print magazine in Europe next month.

I did an AMA on r/gamedev last week if you want to check that out.

Progress

There's still more to do in the transition from non-Steam to Steam development, so progress will be a little slow for a bit here, but there is a ton of game in there for everyone to explore, and it's been through years of expansion and polish so that should keep you occupied for a while ;)

As one would expect with exposure to any sizeable new group of players, the top priority is to address any little accessibility needs as possible, so that's primarily what the first update will entail. (Fortunately there aren't too many of those!)

For those of you who haven't previously been following my work, know that I had a serious head injury about half a year ago and it has been an obstacle ever since. That's the reason Cogmind came to Steam a little later than planned, but I wouldn't have released on Steam if I wasn't already on the mend. While still not back to normal, I have at least finally found treatments that are working (and most importantly enable me to work at all! :D). I have no idea how much longer it'll take--brains are weird like that, but for now I still have to spend about 10 hours per week in the hospital and that eats into potential dev time. I've still been managing a good 45 hours or more per week, and that's enough to keep things humming along.

This week dev time has been spent organizing plans for content and features for the earliest updates based on feedback so far. That's in addition to the already extensive plans I had already prepared xD.

Now that we're on Steam, because it's not too hard to implement and I presume a number of players want it, the first thing to see to is Steam cloud support.

One cloud prerequisite is that I split Cogmind's configuration file into at least two parts, so I did that yesterday. In fact, it's now three files.


Two of these, system.cfg and options.cfg, are comprised of automated settings or those controlled from the in-game options menu. Advanced.cfg is the one that contains special toggles or tweaks only modifiable via that file. With the next release I'll also be including descriptions of what each of those advanced options actually does :) (quite a few have been accumulated over the past couple years, mostly used by players who've been around for a long time, or asked for them in the first place)

Anyway, it's all the same stuff we have now, just stored in different files to facilitate user-friendly cloud saving.

I'll be updating you with informative SITREPs at this time each week--see you around :D

Since a lot of the relevant SITREP discussion happens on Steam rather than in the forums, for reference here's a link to this same news on Steam.

22
Stories / nero4983 and the Garrison
« on: October 21, 2017, 07:45:30 PM »
Ok, so I got into a few sticky situations but I managed to survive for two evolutions. Right after my second evolution I find a grey terminal with a G which piqued my curiosity so I check it out. There's a command to open the Garrison door and I had a 50% shot so I figured why not and I succeeded on my first attempt and lo and behold a door opens right on the other side of the terminal! So I go through the door and it's a different floor, but everything is red. I end up finding an axe and figure why not, I'd like an axe. Earlier I was wondering who would use a melee weapon in this game after reading about them in the manual but holy shit did it come in handy. I had five enemies coming after me and I was holed up in a small room diagonal to the door and I killed every one of them in one hit as soon as they entered the door. Later I end up crossing a big room and triggering an alarm and two enemies are set after me. In the chaos of the battle another alarm is triggered and several other enemies start aggroing on me. I'm a sitting duck in this large room and everything starts breaking until I'm just a hovering core with an axe and take out all but two enemies. At this point I just want to run and I stumble onto the stairs to the next floor! Holy shit, I might actually live! So I bump into the stairs to go to the next level, praying for an evolution to save my ass, only to find out the stairs are locked down, I'm assuming due to the alarms I triggered. So I had no choice but to wait there for the last two guards to finish me off, ramming into them as a last act of defiance.

Holy fuck I love this game

23
Announcements / Cogmind Released on Steam
« on: October 16, 2017, 06:44:59 PM »
It's finally happened. After over four years and more than 8,000 hours of work, Cogmind has just been released on Steam :D

"Released" but Early Access. Some say that as soon as you release on Steam, EA or not, that's it--you only really get one launch and the "full release" won't make as big a splash later. That's fine, since Cogmind is a very complete experience and it's time for anyone who's been waiting for this opportunity to jump in.

There are of course a lot of people who don't have much faith in Early Access games, but as long as they're interested in the concept of Cogmind I don't think it'll be too hard to win them over while we spend the coming months adding optional features and content, especially considering the amount of development already allocated to ensuring maximum polish.


Break out the fireworks! (Or missiles, depending on how you look at them :P)

Thanks to everyone who's helped make this possible! Cogmind has come way beyond what it would have been without as much support as everyone's provided over the years, be it financial, spreading the word, or offering feedback and suggestions. A few months back I shared a lengthy rundown of features that didn't have to happen but have certainly made Cogmind better for it, features that you all made possible.


A logo image recently put together while preparing for Steam.

Cogmind feature highlights, as it launches into the wild on Steam:
  • Build and modify a unique robot from nearly 1,000 parts, whether found or salvaged from other bots
  • Highly dynamic character development without XP/grinding
  • Dozens of robot classes, each with unique behavior within the ecosystem
  • Mechanics and environments that enable one of the most compelling stealth experiences in a roguelike
  • Extensive hacking systems--nearly 100 machine hacks so far
  • Procedurally generated world, including dozens of map types into which hundreds of hand-made areas are mixed
  • Hundreds of NPC encounters and thousands of lines of dialogue form a rich story
  • Seven different animated endings to discover
  • Fully destructible environment
  • Nearly 1,000 pieces of ASCII art
  • Huge range of particle effects like never seen in a terminal (except my other project :P)
  • Everything has sounds--more SFX than any roguelike, ever
  • Advanced terminal interface, with numerous built-in input options and tons of information at your fingertips

Composite demo of various Cogmind features.

Other interesting points regarding design and development:
  • Cogmind is all about atmosphere--there isn't even a main menu, the player is dropped right into the game world
  • Cogmind was designed entirely in CP437, with aesthetics conforming to limitations imposed by a two-colors-per-cell grid-based display (nothing breaks that rule)
  • There is a tileset available by default (since approximately 75% of players prefer to use it!), but even that was designed to mimic the ASCII aesthetic so as to not ruin the style
  • Despite the limitations, Cogmind's UI explores many features never before seen in traditional roguelikes
  • A niche game like Cogmind managed to raise more than $100,000 from players to fund alpha development, which was how it could keep expanding for over four years :)
  • To help build Cogmind I created REXPaint, a free editor now in use by a large number of artists and gamedevs

Cogmind inventory management demo with bonus ASCII destruction and repair :)


Alpha Supporters
I've sent out emails to alpha supporters who bought back when a Steam key was promised as part of those tiers. So check your inboxes (and spam, just in case) and email me at gridsagegames@gmail.com if you were supposed to receive a key but did not. Note that my response time might be a little slower than usual due to a much higher volume of activity around release time.

Those of you migrating from DRM-free to Steam can import your settings and metadata as usual. After installing via Steam, open the Steam-installed local files and copy over your old Cogmind /user/ directory into the new one. That's it. It will automatically update from then on for subsequent versions.

A little Beta 3 was put out last week to coincide with this Steam launch, so anyone not on Steam will want to update manually. See the announcement for notes on that.

For those of you who bought ages ago just to support development and are only now being reminded you own the game but never registered your copy, therefore your name doesn't appear in the supporters list (or more importantly the art gallery if you bought that early), go back to your original download email and use the linked form to register. There are still quite a few unclaimed items in the gallery, mostly because a lot of you probably didn't notice the form link (just a couple quick fields to fill out, otherwise I don't know what name you want to use!). After some time on Steam I'm going to have to reallocate remaining unclaimed items to other players!


Purchase Options
Although Cogmind is now available on Steam, it will also always be available for sale from my website as well, and the DRM-free version will continue to receive the same updates (though technically the two versions are slightly different packages).

In the near term, however, as has been indicated on the buy page for a little while now, direct purchases will NOT include a Steam key.

A big part of the reason is to encourage purchases from Steam to help push up the overall review score. Everyone playing Cogmind on Steam please take some time to leave reviews! They're vital for encouraging more sales, and more sales is how we're going to get more features!

Further down the line this key policy could change, but it depends on a lot of factors and we'll have to see how things play out. So if you haven't bought Cogmind yet and are interested in doing so to play on Steam, buy from Steam. For a DRM-free non-Steam version instead buy direct here.

GOG I'm not sure about, because despite proactively expressing interest in Cogmind they haven't responded to my later emails, so for now I've decided to shelve that route.


Coverage
There hasn't yet been a whole lot of advance press coverage about Cogmind's Steam release, partially because I requested that most influencers hold off on their coverage until on or after the actual release date, though I'm still not sure what kind of reception we'll see since Cogmind is pretty niche, after all. Some pre-release happenings:
  • Purely coincidentally, leading up to this release PC Gamer published an article full of praise for Cogmind, and despite his short time with it the author did a great job of understanding and conveying the essence of the game.
  • Well-known roguelike let's player Aavak has started a Cogmind series which has been pretty popular.
  • Two Credits has a quick summary of the launch news, but otherwise there's not much out there just yet.
Gonna have to rely on word of mouth and continued updates to get attention! :D

If you have any favorite LPers/streamers you'd like to see try Cogmind, or a reviewer who's opinion you'd like to read, let them know! I've already written to several, but I can't possibly find them all (and I imagine lots probably won't notice my email anyway, but if some of their fans let them know that can be even more powerful than me self-promoting my way into their inbox).


Cogmind combat demo with particle effects.

24
Announcements / Cogmind Beta 3: "Steam"
« on: October 09, 2017, 03:37:58 AM »
It's the most minor major version release yet! :P

Beta 3 is here, and while unimpressive in and of itself, there are several good reasons for us to advance that number (as opposed to the original plan to just bring a 2.3 to Steam):
  • We're going to Steam with this version, and it would be nice to have the next batch of stats be able to distinguish more clearly between pre- and post-Steam, rather than awkwardly straddling the transition.
  • Any initial issues and/or little features or adjustments specific to Steam, made in the near term after release, are better handled as minor updates to a new "this is Steam" major branch.
  • Betas 2.1 and 2.2 together added the equivalent of a major release's worth of updates anyway.
Also, Beta 3 was going to go out simultaneously with the Steam launch next week, but since it's ready now there's no real reason to wait on it, especially since it fixes a pretty nasty bug added by 2.2. Oops :P


Update ASAP

If you're currently playing Beta 2.2, I strongly recommend you update now. ...Here I was trying to be nice and have multislot parts all gain automatic immunity to severing, without realizing that the way said immunity was handled meant that this across-the-board change would completely prevent multislot parts from being dropped as salvage at all. Across the board xD

So for Beta 3 I expanded the implementation to support enough nuance that multislot parts can keep their newfound immunity and still drop. But this also means that in 2.2 you'll have more trouble acquiring these parts (i.e., good luck trying to salvage double-slot treads and heavy armor).

Note: Saves are compatible with Beta 2.2 if you want to transfer over.

Note: If you were using the manual key rebinding system, or had even activated it, before updating you should delete your /user/commands.cfg, then apply your rebinds again after the updated version creates a new one. If you don't this your Escape key won't give access to the game menu. I wasn't aware anyone was really using this system and a change made for the Steam version sorta borked one of the command entries, making it read the old settings file incorrectly. (I'll have to be more careful with that next time, because obviously people are using the system!)

New Scoresheet Default

From Beta 3 Cogmind will now default to uploading scoresheets, instead of requiring manual activation. This will allow us to see data for more players who never bother to look at all the options, and it's also pretty normal these days for games to collect play data (without even an option to deactivate it...). As usual there is no personal information collected--it's just your run statistics and some of your option settings, and you can see everything transmitted in your scoresheet text file.

Note this change of defaults won't affect any of you who are using an existing options config file from a previous build (in fact, for all old players who never activated it, it will remain off). It'll only upload by default for new players/installs, and it can still be deactivated manually in the options menu, as before.

I imagine this will result in a lot more Anonymous (default settings) submissions, so going forward I'll probably be excluding those from the leaderboards (set a player name!), though all scoresheets will still be on record for data analysis.

Steam Integration

In my recent blog post I talked about the process of preparing for Steam, including the dedicated Steam build, where you can read more about the details. But where Beta 3 is concerned I'll mention here that although Cogmind is not compatible with the Steam Overlay, you can however use the standard method of uploading screenshots.

F12 (or PrtScn) will take a screenshot and allow you the option of uploading it as with the Overlay:


These screenshots will even be tagged by location:


And everyone's screenshots, including non-Steam players, will use new more descriptive file names:


Note: The Steam and DRM-free versions are actually not identical--the latter isn't capable of hooking into Steam to take advantage of its features like screenshot uploading (and more in the future, although Achievements will be available to all players regardless of platform).


Cogmind Beta 3 (0.10.171017) changelog:

* NEW: Basic Steam integration
* NEW: [Steam] Overlay-free screenshot uploading via standard Print Screen key
* NEW: [Steam] Screenshots uploaded to library are tagged by location
* NEW: F12 also takes screenshots (in addition to PrtScn)
* NEW: Scoresheet records include "Steam" indicator under Options
* MOD: Scoresheet no longer contains "X=" string
* MOD: Leaderboard submissions on by default (can still be manually deactivated in options)
* MOD: Screenshot filename format changed from simple counter to "cogmind_[YYMMDD-HHMMSS]_[LOCATION]"
* MOD: Core Stripper buffed
* MOD: [Steam] No download email reminder when new versions are available
* FIX: Opening info for a map object while in kb mode, then toggling off that mode and closing the window, would cause cursor to jump [DDarkRay]
* FIX: Multislot part sever immunity added in previous update also indirectly prevented them from being salvaged [GJ, lsend]
* FIX: Subatomic Replicator could cause a subsequent crash if used on a certain plot item which was then picked up [lsend]

(Yes, that's all there really is. If you want to have fun reading a long changelog go check out Beta 1 xD)

25
Announcements / Update 171007 - Horizon Green
« on: October 06, 2017, 10:31:00 PM »
Cogmind itself is good to go for the next big phase :D


Pre-release testing is done, and it was pretty funny how simple and clear-cut the Steam players country graph was for a while there :P


Last week we had the store page approved, and this week was the second and final step, build approval:


Over on the dev blog I shared details about the entire preparation process, so check that out if you're interested in what goes on behind the scenes before a game can be released on Steam.

All that's left is notifying reviewers/LPers/streamers and writing all the announcements and other boring stuff. Now that's a short sentence beginning with "all that's left," but trust me this stuff is extremely time-consuming xD

Even before beginning that task, though, PC Gamer ran a flattering article about Cogmind, CoQ, and Unexplored this week. Perfect timing on that :)

Other announcements:
  • DDarkRay has written up a useful new strategy guide on positioning, super important stuff for any players focusing on combat to consider.
  • The Announcements board here on the forums now supports replies! I should've done that a while ago, but didn't have a mod that would retain post order even when others comment. Now that's settled and this particular board might not seem so lonely :P. (Plus there won't be a need to make separate discussion threads when there's some announcement-related topic to discuss--just reply here in the announcements.)

This will likely be the last update before... you know :). I'm off to continue preparations!

Note: Some time before (or at) the launch I'll be sending out emails with keys for those who want to switch over from the DRM-free system to Steam. They might end up in your spam box so if you don't have one by Steam launch, look there :)

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