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Topics - Kyzrati

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1
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.

2
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)

3
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 :)

4
Announcements / Cogmind is officially "Coming Soon" on Steam!
« on: September 27, 2017, 05:30:40 PM »
Things are in motion! Cogmind is officially coming to Steam, with a new store page already set up and everything.


The official launch is set for October 16th, 6pm PDT.

Check out the Coming Soon page for more info, and to wishlist it if you'd like to be notified by Steam. (I'll of course be posting my own announcements everywhere.)

As mentioned before, Cogmind is coming to Early Access so it's technically not a "full launch." Cogmind is already a very complete experience--fully playable, balanced, and generally free of bugs, filled with tons of content and even seven endings to discover. So why EA? Basically I have a lot more stuff I'd like to add if possible, including major extra features, and declaring it EA is one way to signal that.

The full EA spiel as seen on the Steam page:
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

In the meantime, I'm working on putting together a Steam build, and all the other required announcements, marketing stuff, and whatnot. Let me know if you have any favorite streamers/LPers in mind that would be appropriate to contact about playing Cogmind. I have an old list I'll be referencing, and some have contacted me already, but I'll be on the lookout for more in the days to come.

Thanks everyone for your support so far, and I'm hoping when the time comes you'll review Cogmind on Steam to help convince prospective players that it's a project worth supporting! More support means more features :D

Spreading the word would be a great help as well!

Release News:

Our final pre-Steam version, Beta 2.2 "Shields for All," came out earlier this week. Glance at the changelog:
Spoiler: Beta 2.2 (click to show/hide)
or check out the full release notes and images here.

The first Steam version will essentially be the same as this.

Here we go!

5
Announcements / Update 170922 - The Button
« on: September 22, 2017, 12:08:51 AM »
I've hit a certain button around here...


Yep, it's time.

Release should be some time in October, but I still have plenty to take care of before then and can't yet set a specific date. Note that it'll be "Early Access"--as mentioned before I think it's worth just putting it out like that and continuing to add some new features rather than finishing up the last little bits of polish that must be done before I'd call it 1.0 and doing a full release first.

Pretty soon I'll see about putting up a Coming Soon page on Steam to help raise awareness. That'll be announced here (etc.) when it happens.

In other preparations I finally replaced the two-year-old gifs on Cogmind's main page. The content is similar to what was there before, though at least with the better font and faster FOV response, along with being somewhat busier:




This weekend I'm also submitting to IGF 2018. Not much chance of Cogmind being recognized there (too niche!), but it's something I've always wanted to do so why not :D

I'll be submitting... the newest build, actually, which is coming next week! It's Beta 2.2, and it's got some nice stuff for you (especially for combat builds). More on that when it comes out, but I'll mention now that it also comes with a new collection of Survival Tips, which will be useful for helping beginners avoid the scrap pile. (Probably a good thing to have before it hits the Steam masses :P)

6
Strategies / Proposed in-manual list of "survival tips"
« on: September 18, 2017, 11:56:17 PM »
Starting with the next release, I'm adding a "Survival Tips" section towards the beginning of the manual. It's basically a collection of important and useful strategies that some players are slow to learn and therefore have trouble getting past the early game. I've compiled it from other guides and simply the kinds of things that we find ourselves repeating to new players a lot. After new players die a few times, on starting a new run the tutorial messages will point out that this in-game guide exists, and repeatedly remind them each time until they actually go open it :P

The current content is as follows. Any opinions? Suggestions?

(As of Beta 2.2 this is included in the in-game manual, and I'll be leaving it here for reference as well.)



-----------------------------------------------------------------
 Survival Tips
-----------------------------------------------------------------

If you're having trouble surviving the early floors, below is a collection of spoiler-free beginners tips that will greatly improve your effectiveness.

Note some of these tips can and will be ignored by advanced players for various reasons, and you'll eventually be discovering your own play style and strategies, but in general terms they apply for new players and will help get you past early-game areas to the real challenges and fun stuff!

 Items
-------
Prefer higher-rating parts. At first the number of parts will seem overwhelming, especially if you feel the need to compare every detail to decide which you want to keep or use. While the item stat comparison info will help here (seen as red/green numbers after opening info for two items in a row), if you're having trouble deciding between two items or don't want to examine all the stats, there's a much faster method: Just compare their ratings. Ratings appear near the top of item info, and also as a number displayed next to the item name in the on-map labels, making it fairly easy to get a general idea of whether an item is worth it without even opening the info page. Prototypes, indicated with a *, are better than regular items of the same rating.

 Builds
--------
Legs are the best form of starter propulsion. They move fast enough, have a relatively high integrity, and you can salvage spares off enemy grunts fairly easily. Avoid using wheels if possible. And generally avoid mixing propulsion, since you can't activate multiple types at once, anyway.

The safest first evolution is two propulsion slots, since an extra two legs will help block shots, and you won't have any problems carrying any amount of mass you want. If you're running out of propulsion parts to fill your slots, temporarily keep even deactivated propulsion attached (especially legs and treads), because they don't count against movement but can block shots. For later evolutions pick whatever you want, except Power is not usually necessary until you find yourself frequently running low on energy.

Almost all robots have static loadouts, therefore if you're looking for certain parts to put together or maintain the kind of build you want, one approach is to hunt down robots you know to use them. For example, Watchers carry sensors, and Sentries use treads and armor.

 Inventory Management
----------------------
Keep a full inventory whenever possible! Even if you don't need surplus parts right away, before long you'll need replacements as yours are destroyed. There are usually parts lying around, especially after a battle, and since inventory contents do not count against movement or have any other negative side effects, leaving it partially empty is an unnecessary waste.

Also don't leave empty part slots when possible, because filling them, even with parts you don't need or won't use, will at least help block incoming fire and protect your core.

One of the safer ways to play is to carry at least one Storage Unit, preferably a larger one, to allow for carrying more spare parts in inventory. Make sure you have an extra power source and weapons, and probably spare propulsion, too. The 't' key, or button under your inventory, is useful for type-sorting your inventory to help ensure that you have the right amount and types of spares.

 Combat
--------
Avoid unnecessary combat. It's fun to shoot everything, but until you have a better grasp of the consequences, and how to excel at combat, fighting too much only puts you at a disadvantage. That said, once you've engaged enemies in combat, try not to run as you'll probably end up running into more enemies and the situation will continue escalating.

Positioning is extremely important. At the start of combat against multiple enemies, reposition to a less-exposed position, preferably diagonal to the inside of a doorway, or a narrow corridor that can serve as a bottleneck. It's even worth taking damage in the process of repositioning, as you would likely take even more damage continuing a fight from a bad location. Fighting in the open is dangerous when not properly equipped to do so, but if you have a launcher, then by all means do it in the open!

Retreating to fight in more isolated areas also has the advantage of avoiding additional patrols that might happen upon a battle in progress. Even when not in combat, hugging walls while moving is a good way to stay less exposed and make access to nearby doors and corridors easier when necessary.

Attach replacement parts even in the middle of battle, in order to better protect your core from damage, and stay at maximum effectiveness. Attaching and swapping parts is a quick action.

 Other Robots
--------------
Shoot at Scavengers once and they'll go away. Sometimes this is a good idea even in the middle of combat, if you want to have any loot left to salvage when it's over.

If a Watcher doesn't send out an alert, that means there are no enemies coming, otherwise be prepared!

Destroying Haulers might provide you with relatively powerful parts to attach. Other non-hostile bots are also good targets to salvage if you're low on parts or need spares to fill your inventory. They won't be good, but you never want to be without a backup power source, for example.

 Hacking
---------
Hacking machines is not too important for beginners, but as you start to get into it, be aware that if you are fully traced it's likely more units will be dispatched to that area to investigate. If you don't want company, always quit hacking a machine before the trace ends! Being initially "detected" is fine, so you can always safely hack a new machine until at least that point.

 Difficulty
------------
Lowering the difficulty setting is not likely to help teach fundamental strategies, but an alternative approach would be to set a manual seed (in the options menu) to some phrase, and repeatedly play the same world to focus on getting the hang of the mechanics, rather than dealing with so many unknowns. When you feel more confident, turn off the manual seed.

(This approach is not recommended right away. Instead, consider it after having read the other tips and tried to apply them in regular random worlds.)

 More Info
-----------
For other tips, bother spoiler-free and otherwise, see the Strategy section of the forums. Links to more resources will continue to be added there in the future.

In the end, know that once you're familiar with all the mechanics and possible strategies, Cogmind is not a heavily luck-based game, and skilled players streak wins repeatedly.



Spoiler: old version 1 (click to show/hide)

7
Announcements / Update 170908 - Something Stirs
« on: September 08, 2017, 08:22:43 AM »
I'm back! Well, sort of and mostly :P

A couple weeks ago I was getting desperate and had exhausted all the other approaches I could think of, so the next step was to try Chinese medicine. Hell yeah for Chinese medicine. And needles.

This was me for a bit (only yeah not so much like the body of Neo the porcupine and more on my head :P)

And actually still every other day, but this and the medicine are keeping my brain in semi-functioning order. After the first week of continued rest to more effectively compare the effects to the results of my previous health-related experiments, I decided I'm good enough to begin some serious work.

So this week I started moving forward again (not at full speed, but we're definitely moving). Resting longer would be nice, but this okay-but-not-quite-okay state could very well continue for months or years, and money's not okay around here right now, so I need to forge ahead. At least I can think again! It sucked barely having any time during the day when I could concentrate on more than the simplest things. (I was mostly putting that time to use on our roguelike Reddit subs when I had it :) )

In forward progress, unfortunately I discovered some more business-related hurdles this week while running around talking to various government offices, and that ate up a ton of time and energy. In any case it was a necessary annoyance and now have a clear understanding of how to proceed.

I noticed recently that someone started a little Cogmind stub on Wikipedia. Yay, we have our own page! The release date is off, but overall it's a good start <3.

And because it's been a while since I showed anything, I had the idea to do some fun "alternative wall" images. No these aren't in the game or anything, but it's pretty quick and easy to see what Cogmind looks like with differently-styled walls, so we may as well try it out :P

First we have your regular small blocks:


Then larger ones:


And completely solid walls:


Solid walls without any floor dots:


And I even found the old X@COM wall code still sitting in the Cogmind code base, so here we have oriented narrow line walls:

(Mixed in there you can also see the earth still represented as # within the walls.)

I wanted to see what some wall-related animations might look like as they interact with the different cells, so I tried an Exp. Terrain Scanner on the solid walls:


And then also on the line walls:


Pretty neat, eh? (Cue endless requests...)


It still might be a bit quiet around here in the meantime since I will be working towards the Steam release as the next step, rather than any major update. Of course I'll post updates as available, though much of the progress over the next few weeks will likely not be newsworthy or worth showing around (if there's anything to see at all :P).

8
Announcements / Update 170813 - Down to Business
« on: August 13, 2017, 02:05:25 AM »
Good news first! Following intermittent research and consultations since the previous update, I've finally figured out the business and tax side of all the Steam stuff. Whew. This means that whenever I'm ready I can hit the button and (following another 30-day delay imposed by Valve) put Cogmind on Steam.

The bad news being I can't hit that button just yet because I'm still not better xD. The concussion from April has left my vision impaired, such that I can't look at a computer screen for long... (As I'm sure you're aware, spending a lot of time staring at screens is a rather integral part of gamedev :P)

I'm doing everything I can to solve this, but part of the solution might simply involve time. That and mostly avoiding whatever exacerbates symptoms (e.g. computer work!), so that's what I've been up to for the past few weeks, and will continue to do through at least the end of August. Also see more doctors, I guess, though I'm pretty doctored out after having dozens of appointments and tests in recent months.

As far as future plans go, I'd rather not release around the turn of the year, and factoring in the release delay required by Valve, if I don't start the process in September, it could end up being pushed back quite far, like Q2 next year. That would suck, so I'm considering releasing it sometime in October regardless of my situation. Of course I can't guarantee that I'll be back to normal then, so I also worry about the negative consequences of releasing more widely only to then be unable to (initially) maintain the frequent updates that I've been known for over the years. Anyway, we'll see. I'm trying not to think about it too much right now because worrying would just make healing more difficult.

I'd like to take a moment to thank everyone who's been patiently waiting through this tough time, and who continue to provide support and help spread the word about Cogmind :D. I'm looking forward to the day when I can return to sustainable development and start adding new features again!

Sucks that it happened this way, but I'm glad I at least got the big Beta out the door first, before things got really bad :P (although I'm now pretty sure that the pressure and long hours put into it are the very reason things went downhill and my vision got screwed up--there's a lesson in there somewhere)

In other achievements, Feedspot included the Grid Sage Games dev blog as #26 among their list of Top 50 Game Development Blogs. (Warning: Link is kind of a spammy web page aimed at drumming up more users, but at least it's a legit list of popular gamedev blogs.) I was looking forward to putting out a higher rate of posts this year, but it doesn't look like that's happening anytime soon xD


I'll update you all once something notable happens, like when we can get this show on the road again :). As usual I'll still be available on email, Twitter, Reddit, and here on the forums to respond to people, just not doing any proactive work for the time being.

9
As per mungomongol8's discovery, Cogmind crashes if you trigger a trap while your sound card is disabled. (This has been the case for years, but as one might expect, it's not too common to be playing Cogmind without an audio device so we've never heard of it until now :P)

For anyone who needs to play without an audio device, the next release will handle this situation normally, but until then you can patch your .exe by overwriting it with this version.

(This patch only works on Beta 2.1, so if not using that version yet, you'd have to update before applying it. Saves are compatible. Note that the only change this patch makes is with regard to the audio device checking, so if you are always playing with a sound card active (zero volume or mute settings don't matter), there's no need to patch!)

10
Announcements / Update 170725 - Beyond the Beyond (+b2.1)
« on: July 25, 2017, 12:48:03 AM »
Well I wasn't going to release more updates prior to Steam, but that could be a while and the manual bug introduced in Beta 2 could be quite annoying for new players who pick it up between now and then, convincing me to put together a package worthy of a minor patch. Thus we have Beta 2.1 "0b10 Decoder," which includes some new parts, item stats in the gallery, and a batch of tweaks and fixes.

Spoiler: Beta 2.1 Changelog (click to show/hide)

I'm probably going to start working on Steam stuff before long here, simply because I don't want it to drag into the end of the year (bad time to release!), though it'll still take a while to get far with it. Of course I'll update everyone once I know more about that.

(Oh yeah, almost forgot to mention that I was going to put some of that process in motion last week, but took my son to the beach on Monday where I managed to get a jellyfish on my eye, which swelled the skin around it to literally the size of a golf ball and I was having trouble seeing for a few days--oops xD. Now I'm back to the post-concussion, pre-jellyfish days of just being unable to focus on things very well, so at least everything seems to be headed in a positive direction again, haha.)

Over on the blog I finally finished putting together a retrospective on Cogmind development from Alpha to Beta, examining the many features not mentioned in the design doc and why they were introduced. It got, um, really long, but hey I guess that reflects how much good Alpha did for the dev process :D

11
During prerelease testing for Beta 2.1, Sherlockkat encountered an apparently bug with the new item gallery info feature, being unable to Esc out of some opened item info (while in keyboard mode), quite possibly as a result of Alt-tabbing out of Cogmind (borderless fullscreen) and back in while info was open.

Neither of us could repeat it, so this bug is still in there somewhere... If anyone encounters this and can offer more possible details, or, even better, find a reliable sequence of steps to reproduce it, that would be great.

12
Announcements / Update 170712 - ART2DATA.EXE
« on: July 12, 2017, 04:15:59 AM »
Progress! We're not back to normal yet, but things are at least looking good...

My son was worried about me not being able to work lately, meaning fewer people would buy Cogmind, and in order to help he decided to make ads for me to hand out, which was pretty funny:

(Note we're fine, he's just being cute.) There is a green square there because, as he puts it, "you make your game out of green blocks." Right :)

On the issue of health, I've managed to raise my working hours to about 35 per week, but that's a far cry from the 60 or so I prefer. The human in me says I should not push it just yet because I'm doing better but still not better, and the robot in me says "ALERT: Extreme inefficiencies detected, programmers dispatched to enforce milestones." Or something like that :P

The result is that I can't work on any major features (including the Steam release) because there's a danger of being stopped in the middle of something important, not to mention the more demanding schedule to begin with.

Instead I've been continuing to just pick away at little stuff when I can, and will release a Beta 2.1 next, most likely within a week depending on what I decide to include with it. One thing I know is included (because it's already done!) is the much-requested item info access via the gallery:


Before starting I came up with a better concept for how to provide this information, but it'd be a major feature so I simply implemented this as part of the gallery for now, as expected. This way it "only" took six hours. :P

(Note that keyboard-only players can access the info via numbers which only appear in that mode.)

One of the important reasons to release Beta 2.1, especially for new players just getting into Cogmind, is that a new feature added in Beta 2 bugged the in-game manual, removing special characters and making some parts of it look weird. (For now I recommend using the manual.txt file or online version.)

But Beta 2.1 will also come with some other little fixes and balance tweaks as well. As a minor release, it'll appear in the Beta 2 thread.

In other news, one of Cogmind's earliest LPers from 2015, Sabouts, has started a new series recently (but has gotten really really rusty after being away for a couple years, as you can imagine), so maybe offer some tips if you see where he could use them. We've also got a couple relatively new players doing LPs as well, Nuzcraft and Johnny Jockomoco.

Myself and several others have done the weekly seed already, with a few wins and a lot of screenshots and some videos, so check those out if you want to see how others are doing in the new Beta :D

13
Fixed Bugs & Non-Bugs / [Beta 2] Manual missing special punctuation
« on: July 06, 2017, 12:26:01 AM »
Oops, the method of filtering out foreign characters from the in-game manual, meant to keep players from adding foreign language notes to it and thereby crashing the game, accidentally removed a number of special punctuation marks as well! A pretty annoying bug, but not quite worth a hotfix.

If you want to spend more time reading the manual and in its proper form, until the next update you can use the external text version (which can also always be found online here).

14
Announcements / Cogmind Beta 2: "Legend has it..."
« on: July 04, 2017, 07:31:16 PM »
It's Beta++! The huge Beta 1 release already finished up the story and included some major content updates, while Beta 2 is all about QoL, gameplay tweaks, and making a bunch of (mostly tiny) fixes.

There's a visual summary of many new features, as usual, and you can scroll down for the full changelog, or read on for the release notes.


Item Adjustments

Beta 2 doesn't add any completely new items (850 is good enough for now :P), though a number of existing items have been modified or gained additional features:
  • Triangulators have always offered some interesting effects, but never really felt worth a slot compared to other items. I can definitely see a space for them now with their energy cost reduced to almost nothing and even a third function thrown in: the ability to see where enemy AIs are planning to move.
  • Also in the stealth/evasion department, the underutilized Cloaking Devices have gotten a buff that makes them more attractive under the new spotting rules I'll discuss later.
  • As part of the long-term focus on stat transparency, thermal weapons display their exact heat transfer value, making it easier to optimize the ultimate melty build. (Weapon comparisons will also compare them as values, rather than categories.)

There have been a few nerfs as well:
  • One player (GJ...) finally started taking advantage of Plasma Cutters, to great effect, so those are slower to use now, bringing them in line with other special tool-weapons. They're still good and worth using in the right situations, but at least their effect comes at a more reasonable cost.
  • Stasis Traps can no longer be used as infinite shields. Their reusable nature was intentionally left in there for the past six months as a secret, a strategy only recently discovered by our new master trapper DDarkRay, but had to be nerfed pretty quickly before people started using it in earnest :P (letting players rely on one would be somewhat tedious anyway!) These are still quite useful, but no longer infinitely so.
  • Transmission Jammers are still great, and work even better against Alarm Traps now, though some of the most advanced bots are immune to their effects to avoid cheesy tactics such as easily splitting up otherwise very dangerous squads. (Note that the most advanced bots are/were already immune to a number of special effects, but the precise list is not yet available in game--that will be coming later with an addition to the robot data window.)
  • Some special end-game "integrated consumable" items that only a handful of players know about have been nerfed as well. They were a little too good in a broad sense, such that there was a massive difference in strategic leeway between having and not having them. It was important to flatten that out a bit, though there may be further tweaks later on depending on end-game player performance down the line.

Off-turn Spotting

One of the bigger changes that will have some impact on tactics throughout an entire run (unless you never flee from anything!) is the new off-turn spotting behavior. Previously AIs could only spot you on their own turn, meaning you could whiz by really fast, or pop in and out of a room, and if they didn't take a turn then they never saw you. As far as they're concerned you were never there.

Now when simply passing through an enemy field of vision there is a chance for them to at least partially notice you. That chance varies by robot--common Grunts aren't as likely to react, whereas Watchers and Sentries are always on the lookout and therefore much more likely to see something.  When "partially spotted" in this way, however, it's not the same as being truly seen. The AI can't track you far, and will simply investigate the nearby area "where what they think they saw may have gone."

In a general sense I didn't want to implement this, since the system as it existed before was simpler and allowed for perfect stealth given sufficient speed, but it also allowed for completely free (zero-risk) peeking into rooms and around corners if you knew how to game it. The results of the change are at least interesting, though, with both benefits and drawbacks:
  • The first implication is that even if you duck out of an enemy FOV before seeing the '!' spotting indicator, it no longer means you're definitely safe. The only way to be sure is to rely on sensor information, or just leave the area immediately before they search around and find you anyway.
  • Sentries often embedded in room walls are more likely to react to your presence.
  • You'll be able to more easily lure Sentries off exits or out of a bottleneck without being fired upon.

Cloaking Devices reduce the chance of being partially spotted, so they've become an even more attractive option for those who don't want to be seen (makes sense, right? :P).

UI Stuff

A rundown of some of the hows and whys of Beta 2's UI features:
  • Apparently mouse users couldn't fire guided weapons into empty space without using the keyboard for the final action, so new behavior was necessary to keep parity there :). Clicking on the last waypoint, or on any space after having set the maximum number of waypoints, automatically fires now. To make it a little easier to notice when that limit is reached, in addition to the waypoint counter at the top of the map the last waypoint itself is also colored yellow rather than green.
  • The newly-added "please I want to live remind me not to fire in front of a Researcher" system only worked by performing the detection on entering targeting mode, which doesn't even happen if you decide to do a melee bump attack! So the latter is now included and you should always be temporarily blocked when accidentally performing a hostile action that could get you into a lot more trouble than you expected :P
  • There is also melee confirmation required against neutral or inactive bots, to prevent a number of accidental kills if running around with your sword out. I decided to have this off by default since it might get annoying, but if you'd like to use it set ignoreNeutralMeleeConfirmation=0. There may be special situations where it doesn't work as expected so let me know if you find any, but there is definitely some gray area in there due to all the different reasons a robot can be neutral or inactive so I can't guarantee it'll be perfect for everyone's needs.
  • Sometimes rewiring a hostile robot can take a while, and you're tempted to just hold down a movement key to do it, but that can also lead to wasted turns once you succeed and then go running through their position :P (especially true when you find groups of disabled bots and want to rewire them all via keyboard). It's now possible to simply hold the movement key and it'll automatically stop once you've succeeded. It only blocks for a second though, so you still have to pay attention and let your finger off the key when you hear the beep or see the (final) robot has been assimilated.
  • Resource containers get a fair bit of use, so we may as well tally their contents up next to your current energy/matter total, giving you a convenient single spot at which to check your true reserves without scrolling through an inventory. (This requires Tactical HUD mode, because it adds yet more numbers to the HUD and we don't want to totally bury new players in data xD)

Scoring Adjustments

As always, we have some changes to score factors.

The most unexpected is probably Cogmind's first use of negative points. (Devolution was technically the first, but that's a challenge mode and not part of the regular experience.) Negative points are now applied for friendly fire. It's one of several adjustments made over the past couple versions to dissuade players from intentionally attacking allies. While this won't put a stop to the practice (can't stop the ultimate optimizers! :P), these dishonorable actions will at least usually come at a cost! I talked more about this issue in an earlier thread.

We also have more positive bonus points for combat runs--the high alert kill bonus is both raised and the minimum threshold is now only alert 2 (when assault dispatches become possible). The ally kill bonus is higher as well, so even non-combat builds can get extra points for taking on threats.

Specific to challenge modes, the main game's fast win bonus has been removed there. Currently many of the challenge modes give rewards per depth, and it's not too hard for fast Cogminds to avoid everything and simply zip through to the surface, raking in the extra points at little to no risk. Instead, all challenge wins get an additional 7,000-point bonus (so 10,000 in all).

Lore Exports

A number of players have asked for a way to read discovered lore outside the game, and you can now do just that with new buttons at the bottom right of the lore collection UI. The chosen file format is output to your /user/ directory. Aside from standard text, there's also the more navigable HTML version with colors and a linked table of contents. And for those who want to process the lore into another format there's the CSV export option. Another convenient aspect of exported lore is that you can then use your browser or word processor to search for specific terms. For export purposes the terminal lore is reorganized into subcategories, as opposed to the purely topic-based alphabetization seen in game (the latter works that way because it enables easy navigation by letter keys).

Note that TXT and HTML exports include spaces for still-undiscovered lore--just like in game they'll tempt you with "???", whereas CSV currently does not.

Rebinding and Keyboard Layouts

Cogmind finally comes with (limited! experimental!) support for some non-QWERTY keyboards and command rebinding! I'm not sure how useful it'll be in its current state, but I'm glad to have finally spent some time exploring if it's even possible, or worth it. What's there was a lot of work already, so we'll see how it turns out...

It's experimental so for now I've decided to have the system require a config setting to gain access. There's a whole thread for discussion and learning how the system works here.

No More Migrating?

The normal way to update to a new version of Cogmind (without losing your personal history data) is to download it, extract, and copy over your previous version's /user/ directory. Now there's another option, the -nonportable switch.

If you run the game with the -nonportable command line option*, migrating in the future becomes a tiny bit easier, though it could also be more annoying since files you may want to access are no longer stored with the game, but instead found in C:/Users/<username>/.Grid Sage Games/Cogmind/.

(*Aside: You can do this by creating a shortcut to the .exe, right-clicking on it, selecting Properties, and adding -nonportable to the target field after COGMIND.exe)

At present I've only taken the system half way, since screenshots and score sheets still go to their respective local directories. I'm not sure how many players will actually want it to be non-portable vs. completely portable, but full support for the former is harder to achieve. In any case, the system is also not compatible with foreign language OS account/user names (ASCII only!).

This feature is in flux at the moment and where it ends up could depend on my future experiments with installers (yet another annoying I guess "real games" are expected to have xD).

Steam Reminder

This is about the time we were originally going to get a Steam release, but my injury has put that development track on hold for an uncertain amount of time. I'm still not better, but seem to be slowly getting there, so here's hoping things can get back to normal! As usual I'll keep you up to date, and the next step is probably to start chipping away at some of the prep work for that anyway.


The full Cogmind Beta 2 (0.10.170705) changelog:

* NEW: Export discovered lore collection to TXT, HTML, or CSV for external reading/processing
* NEW: "Lore Collection" and "Item Gallery" manual subsections under Advanced UI, explaining the seek feature and more
* NEW: Support for alternative keyboard layouts (foreign kb support incomplete, but includes presets for Dvorak and Colemak)
* NEW: Command rebinding (currently supported via cfg only, see forums)
* NEW: Battery-based non-part items display remaining power in both inventory list and in on-map name labels
* NEW: Active Stasis Trap fields absorbing damage also have their field strength reduced, and the value is carried across extractions and reinstallations
* NEW: Scan window, item info, inventory info, and on-map labels report field strength of Stasis Traps in item form
* NEW: Optional confirmation required for melee attacks against neutral or inactive targets (on by default, toggle via cfg: ignoreNeutralMeleeConfirmation)
* NEW: HUD energy and matter readouts show total resources stored in inventory containers (tactical HUD mode only)
* NEW: Mouse users can fire guided weapons at open spaces and non-FOV locations without using the keyboard by left-clicking on last waypoint
* NEW: Using up all guided weapon waypoints automatically fires on selecting the next target location, regardless of contents
* NEW: When a guided weapon's waypoint limit is reached, the last one placed appears yellow instead of green
* NEW: Hostile AI may sometimes partially spot targets off their own turn (details in manual)
* NEW: Cloaking Devices also reduce chance of being spotted by hostile AIs when not their turn
* NEW: Sentry AI investigates most recent target's last known position before returning to post (they used to cut out early)
* NEW: Additional Triangulator effect allowing prediction of hostile AI paths
* NEW: Added transmission jamming immunity to some prototype robots and NPCs
* NEW: Transmission Jammer capable of suppressing any visible alarm trap within range, regardless of how it was triggered
* NEW: Weapon stat comparisons show numerical difference between EM spectrums, rather than abbreviations (still colored white because subjective)
* NEW: Thermal weapon info displays precise amount of heat transfer
* NEW: Several more score sheet entries
* NEW: Optionally have program store /user/ data in your OS user directory ("-nonportable" command line option)
* NEW: 1 more Trojan() hack (secret)
* NEW: All winning challenge mode runs get additional 7000 bonus points
* NEW: Successfully rewiring a robot/trap blocks further input for 1s (i.e. safely hold a move key) (deactivate via cogmind.cfg: noRewireRepeatProtection)
* NEW: Attempting a bump melee attack in view of a Researcher temporarily blocks the attack with a warning message, highlighting all Researchers in view
* NEW: Negative score adjustments for friendly fire
* NEW: A few straggler Alpha supporter names registered since Beta 1 added to in-game list (see Credits menu)
* MOD: All grenades' accuracy increased, range decreased
* MOD: Triangulator and Structural Scanner energy cost lowered to 1
* MOD: Plasma Cutter delay increased from 20 to 100
* MOD: Weight Redist. System (both variants) mass support increased by 1
* MOD: worldSeed value in cogmind.cfg ignores ` character in case entered manually
* MOD: Added explicit info to manual notes section about incompatibility with foreign language characters
* MOD: Potential Cannons' info displays both projectile and explosion stats
* MOD: Adjusted 0b10 responses to jamming or attacking a Garrison Access point
* MOD: Score sheet "Fabricated" list no longer includes parts built automatically
* MOD: Index(Machines) difficulty slightly increased
* MOD: Enumerate(Maintenance) hack always excludes Operators
* MOD: Tweaked robot demographics in Materials
* MOD: Reclamation Units now provide a static amount of matter rather than at a rate based on integrity
* MOD: "Central database compromised" effect reflected by a new global ALERT, and investigation
* MOD: Updated some A7 dialogue to better reflect newer lore
* MOD: Severing-type attacks now work on Backup parts
* MOD: Drones and fabricated robots no longer cleanly drop severed parts
* MOD: Player-reprogrammed and -installed traps will also target hostile derelicts and other non-0b10 enemies
* MOD: Reduced effectiveness of some "integrated consumables" (vague because spoilers)
* MOD: Win speed bonus not applicable if any challenge modes active
* MOD: Major NPCs immune to part stripping and Blade Traps also now immune to Segregators
* MOD: Increased "High Alert Combat Kills" bonus score rates, and lowered threshold to alert level 2
* MOD: Increased "Follower Combat Kills" bonus score rate
* MOD: Critical hits on props no longer automatically destroy them (no special effect)
* MOD: Ramming and melee attacks against adjacent targets from a stationary (momentum-free) situation made at 0 momentum rather than 1
* MOD: Moving diagonally to the direction of current cumulative momentum reduces it by 1 rather than resetting it
* MOD: Kill streak counter now only counts enemies towards tally
* FIX: A certain random dialogue referenced a pre-change version of an NPC name [MTF]
* FIX: Score sheet "Damage Taken" was including damage sustained by all robots, not just Cogmind [zxc]
* FIX: A certain major NPC's terminal records appeared out of order in lore collection UI [zxc]
* FIX: Was no additional extermination dispatch delay benefit from disabling more than one garrison [zxc]
* FIX: If devolution challenge mode removes storage unit, inventory contents could temporarily exceed capacity on entering a new area [zxc]
* FIX: Despite Beta 1 fix, was still one condition under which a dropped Storage Unit causing inventory overflow would be dropped on another item [zxc]
* FIX: Typo in Log L.VFLK3RLK entry [zxc]
* FIX: Exp. Field Recycling Units in inventory would show a value in parenthesis, suggesting what it is [zxc]
* FIX: Zhirov encounter score sheet entry stopped working in Archives [zxc, GJ]
* FIX: Infinite intercept squad dispatches possible if waiting during the turn they are dispatched [zxc, GJ]
* FIX: Stasis Generator glow effect for affected robots would draw to other sections of map if panned robots out of view [GJ]
* FIX: Stasis Generator may still affect target around a corner given certain layouts [GJ]
* FIX: Message log crash if final shot of an entropic weapon consumed by a misfire [GJ]
* FIX: Toggling between two guided weapons in targeting mode after setting waypoints would enable more waypoints beyond weapon limit [GJ]
* FIX: Targeting a non-FOV space with guided weapons in mouse mode revealed whether it contains a blocking object, e.g. robot or closed door [GJ]
* FIX: Killing two special NPCs via a unique method allowed them to reappear at a later plot point [GJ]
* FIX: Activating even non-weapon items automatically deactivated an active guided launcher [GJ]
* FIX: Disruption-capable weapons could "deactivate" non-togglable parts [GJ]
* FIX: Last line of Imprinter Dialogue 1 cut off in lore collection record [Gexgekko]
* FIX: Hacking UI crash if defensive hackware protects against an effect, but is then itself destroyed by a secondary feedback effect [Sherlockkat]
* FIX: Item schematic list was no longer dimming name prefixes [Sherlockkat]
* FIX: Manual crashes in game if foreign language/non-ASCII characters added to file manually (now ignored) [Gobbopathe]
* FIX: Attempting to trigger already active stasis trap at current position would show warning message, even though impossible [DDarkRay]
* FIX: Three typos in manual [DDarkRay]
* FIX: Trojan to reduce fabrication matter drain was not fully effective [Rylan]
* FIX: Spellchecked complete lore export and fixed a number of typos
* FIX: Entering targeting mode with autoloaded waypoints for a different guided weapon retained them even if count exceeded new weapon's limit

As before, any subsequent minor updates will be dropped in the discussion thread rather than this Announcements board.

15
Discuss the latest release! (Beta 2 release notes)

Any opinions on new mechanics or features? Any experiences to share?

Note that if smaller updates are made to Beta 2, they will be announced in this thread rather than the announcements board!

Update 170718 / Beta 2.1 - "0b10 Decoder"
Update 170926 / Beta 2.2 - "Shields for All"

16
As of Beta 2, Cogmind comes with a way to use some non-QWERTY keyboards as well as rebind specific commands if necessary.

However, the system is currently considered experimental because although I've tested it pretty thoroughly, no one else has used it yet, nor does it live up to the user-friendly standards you'd expect from a Cogmind UI feature.

It's also pretty limited: 1) The settings are only accessible via external text files, 2) alternative US101 keyboard layouts work well but foreign keyboards are not fully supported, and 3) the underlying key labeling system is not 100% intuitive (I based it on the way SDL keycodes work).

As such, to prevent inexperienced players from running into too many issues (or thinking it's better than it is) and getting frustrated, even exposing the bindings requires setting a config option: open /user/cogmind.cfg and set exposeKeybinds to 1.

The next time you run the game it will create two files:
  • /user/keyboard.cfg lists the result of pressing each physical key on the keyboard, in terms of letters, numbers, punctuation, etc. It is referenced when entering text in game (e.g. typing hacking commands) and also used to automatically generate the next file below by converting the internal command defaults over to the alternative keyboard layout.
  • /user/commands.cfg lists all commands recognized by the game, and the key combinations to trigger them. Technically the contents of this file simply override the defaults, so individual lines of unimportant commands can be freely removed to leave only the commands you care about changing. Notice that the commands are divided into multiple groups ("domains")--a single domain cannot contain more than one command with the same definition, e.g. CMD_DOMAIN_COMMANDS cannot also assign the '5' key to access the gallery, because it already accesses the game menu (the latter would have to be changed to something else first).

Because you probably don't want to mess with all the little details, I've included presets for the most common use case that works nicely: switching to an alternative US101 layout. In the /rex/ directory you'll find Dvorak and Colemak presets. Delete any existing keyboard.cfg/commands.cfg in the /user/ directory, and copy the preset you want to /user/. Rename the preset file to "keyboard.cfg" and start the game, which will automatically create a commands.cfg based on that keyboard. No more configuration necessary (although again, be sure to set exposeKeybinds=1 first! otherwise it ignores these files).

Other notes:
  • Changes to default commands are not currently reflected in the in-game help.
  • To avoid conflicts, remember that if you bind a command to a new key, you'll want to also rebind the other command in the same domain that was originally bound to that same key (if there is one).
  • Deleting both/either file will cause the game to recreate them with defaults again (QWERTY w/the usual commands).
  • If you'd like to make changes in the keyboard file itself (such as describing a custom keyboard) and have those changes applied automatically to all appropriate commands, you'll want to delete the commands.cfg file and have the game generate it based on the new keyboard layout.
  • This system only supports keyboard commands; mouse commands cannot be changed.
  • SDL keycodes are kinda weird, so things like Shift-3 are actually represented by a single "HASH" (#), without the Shift modifier in the commands.cfg file... (this won't matter if we eventually have an in-game rebinding system, since that'll take care of these odd conversions automatically, but if you want to edit some commands you'll need to be aware of it)
  • Unfortunately I don't think foreign/non-English keyboards can be perfectly supported by this system, nor would Cogmind be able to display the non-ASCII characters necessary to describe a command in the game itself (due to how its bitmap-based ASCII fonts work).

So... yeah :P. I'm glad to have finally gotten somewhere with keybinds, though having already put a lot of work into the system so far and seeing how much more would be necessary (a lot!) even though it would never be perfect, makes me unsure of whether or not it'll be revisited later. There are a number of factors suggesting it wouldn't be worth the huge amount of work required (like probably porting to a more modern engine) to go further:
  • Cogmind is an English-only game, so non-US101 users are a small minority
  • Lots of foreign/non-QWERTY users already have their own external keyboard solutions
  • Cogmind cannot display non-ASCII characters
  • All UI features are mouse-accessible, and three-quarters of players use the mouse

Anyway, we'll see what happens, but hopefully those who can already take full advantage of the system (Dvorak/Colemak users) will enjoy this new feature!

Feel free to ask any questions or leave any feedback on rebinding here in this thread.

17
Announcements / Cogmind Beta 2 Preview
« on: June 30, 2017, 01:45:07 AM »
What's this? Beta "2"? While the last update said to expect a 1.3, in the time since then the changelog has ended up rather... long xD. Altogether it's become more of major release than a simple iteration on Beta 1, so calling it 1.3 simply wouldn't do it justice! (Aside: Calling it Beta 2 also frees up the score sheet to get some new entries as well as pave the way for a leaderboard reset and stat summary.)

Beta 2 doesn't come with a huge content expansion, instead focusing on accessibility and gameplay tweaks (and combating cheesy tactics ;)). [Update: Beta 2 "Legend has it..." released! Full release notes and changelog here.]

Full release notes will be available next week with the release, and until then you can get a taste with the following visual summary:

Mouse users can fire guided weapons at empty spaces without the keyboard:


Placing the final/max waypoint for a guided weapon shows it in yellow:


An active Triangulator now also predicts AI paths:


Traps Cogmind installs can now trigger on non-0b10 hostile robots:


Thermal weapons also display precise heat transfer values:


Comparison between EM weapons show spectrum differences using numbers rather than cryptic abbreviations:


Transmission Jammer blocks the effect of all Alarm Traps within range (not just those you trigger):


Items with internal power sources now show remaining power next to their name:


Stasis Traps now have a finite amount of power, also shown in their info and next to their item name:


HUD resource displays also show total stored in inventory containers when applicable:


Warning before melee attacking an already disabled target:


Central database lockdown alert message displayed in log, along with its new response!:


Exposed keyboard rebinding functionality (preliminary experimental feature), with presets for QWERTY, Dvorak, and Colemak:


Exposed command rebinding functionality (preliminary experimental feature):


Lore export feature w/buttons for various formats:


TXT export sample:


HTML export sample (includes a table of contents w/links):


CSV export sample (for easy processing/converting into some other format):



And now it's time to use the final window to add a few more features! :D

18
Ideas / Consequences for attacking allies
« on: June 27, 2017, 08:06:10 PM »
Technically in some situations you can attack allies, even powerful ones, and they won't fight back. This won't do much for Cogmind in the number of situations where there are many allies around, as they'll turn on you en mass, but a lot of individual encounters and random allies are susceptible to murder.

While this is not something a lot of players do, either for immersion/roleplaying reasons or because they'd rather have the ally/allies alive and don't really need to salvage whatever their buddies happen to be using, a minority of players looking to gain every possible advantage they can have turned to allycide :P.

I don't really mind it in general, though it feels a little wrong that doing so has no consequences. I've been thinking of doing something about it for a while, but none of the best solutions are likely worth it (costly implementation!), so I've been coming up with a longer list of ways to address it and getting closer to a response.

Here's a list of some of the approaches I've been thinking of:
  • Have allies turn on you. The game's architecture isn't built to support this at an individual robot level, and while it's possible to have groups turn on you there are going to be numerous complications. So this approach is the one that, while more realistic (and therefore the first approach I'd consider), is not really worth implementing.
  • Have a global counter of Cogmind's "evil" actions, and becoming too evil (especially too quickly) will cause permanent/long-term attitude changes towards you, generally meaning attacking you on sight. This type of system is already implemented, but only on a local scale for certain special areas where it was deemed incredibly important for the story and immersion. But on a global scale this would be pretty complex to implement, since it would impact the huge number of encounters, probably causing a good many confusing negative side effects and/or lead to lots of issues to fix down the line.
  • Something like the global counter, but it only applies to the current map. This is easier to do, but still has to take into account lots of potential encounters and the emergent problems would be very time consuming to deal with.
  • Reduce salvage potential of friendlies Cogmind attacks. This is a pretty gamey/unrealistic solution, but does hit right at the heart of the main reason anyone would attack allies in the first place--good salvage. (To be more specific, in doing so you can use the right weapons to ensure better salvage results, rather than letting enemies take out your friends and picking up what's left.) It's easy to implement this, though it's unintuitive and causes divergent core mechanics purely for meta reasons, which is best avoided when possible. I'm on the fence with this one.
  • Negative points for friendly fire. I was strongly leaning towards the friendly fire score adjustment with the initial writing of this post, as it's easy to implement and just adds a consequence which doesn't impact gameplay at all, but in terms of scoring will at least somewhat level the playing field between those who do and do not take advantage of this behavior. That was implemented in Beta 2.
  • DDarkRay has suggested using the "slips into the shadows" mechanic to have allies you start attacking suddenly leave you, even potentially affecting other allies nearby. It's doable, but will require a fair bit of work (though at least not as much as having allies turn hostile).

19
General Discussion / Rylan's 3D item art
« on: June 26, 2017, 07:06:42 PM »
Over on our RL Discord, Rylan has been designing 3D impressions of Cogmind's ASCII item art. Very neat stuff!

Shock Maul:


A recolored Disruptor Cannon:



20
General Discussion / High Score List Generator (python script)
« on: June 22, 2017, 05:13:08 AM »
DBrickShaw over on r/Cogmind has built a python script you can use to generate a high score file from all your score sheets. It's kinda like the existing scorehistory.txt but orders based on score, includes some different stats, derives some interesting metrics, and also comes in a colored version <3

Samples text output:


Sample colored HTML output:

21
Announcements / Update 170621 - In a Bind
« on: June 20, 2017, 09:30:08 PM »
Hello [Cogmind] World!

In my last update I was pretty vague, mainly talking about having pushed myself rather hard in the first half of the year leading up to Beta, despite some recent "injuries," and that had led to some consequences preventing me from working altogether. In good news, I'm now no longer completely unable to work! And now that I'm feeling a little better, and somewhat stable enough to provide an accurate picture of what's going on, here are some more details:

As some of you may have heard I had a concussion--that was over two months ago now. I basically just took some medicine and worked as usual, but then I got sick and there were... complications. Basically it got really bad, to a point where literally thinking about anything complex started my head hurting. Sheesh concussions are weird. Then my vision got blurry, which is as problematic as you can imagine...

Overall the symptoms have gotten better over the past couple weeks, and current tests have come back to show there doesn't seem to be anything super wrong, it's just Post-Concussion Syndrome. I still have symptoms, though, they're still interfering with a lot of my work, and they could technically last a while.

As such, because I'm worried that it'll once again get serious while I'm in the middle of preparing, or shortly after, a Steam release (not to mention the associated pressure itself could worsen the problems), I think the best plan is to stay off Steam until I can fully recover, and continue taking it slow while working on little projects.

While I'm disappointed this had to happen now (or at all :P), I guess there's at least some good to come of it: Since I can't work for long periods, I've decided the best approach right now is to work on the pile of Cogmind side projects that I don't usually want to work on--extra stuff that I would probably have to do eventually, but have repeatedly been waiting to address.

If I can't work on something for too long, I may as well pick things I don't want to work on for long! Heh. These are a bunch of features that Cogmind technically should have, but that compared to working on the game proper are not so much fun or even meaningful on a wider scale.

The first I decided to tackle is keyboard layouts and rebinding. Cogmind has nearly 500 commands (internally--not everyone needs or uses all said commands, because there are many duplicates):


As of yesterday I managed to implement a basic handling system for both keyboards and rebinds, and created a config file that allows Dvorak users to do everything, commands and text entry, natively.

Testing with the Windows on-screen keyboard seems to have it working perfectly:


There's still a lot more to do (next is to test whether this system will work on foreign keyboards...)

Also, because I don't want to leave everyone hanging, instead of waiting until Steam to release the next version as planned, it's been long enough that I should probably do a 1.3 instead! I've been doing a little bit of debugging on the side, along with some content tweaks, so I may as well release them for those of you who are currently Cogminding :)

No date on that yet, as I'd prefer to add in some new stuff as well, but we'll see. In any case, expect a 1.3.

And in case you didn't see the news, r/roguelikedev is running a summer code-along series where you can join others in learning how to create a roguelike from scratch (it's not that hard!). Check it out :D

22
General & Off-Topic / Come learn how to make your own roguelike!
« on: June 13, 2017, 10:52:32 PM »
I know we have some interest among the player base when it comes to roguelike development. We've certainly got a bunch of seasoned devs with their own games around here, but there are also those who'd like to dabble but simply haven't had the right impetus.

If you're interested in easing your way into building your own roguelike alongside other beginners, check out the upcoming r/roguelikedev event, to start next week: RoguelikeDev Does The Complete Roguelike Tutorial!



Part of the tutorial resources--the FAQs--are a reference series I run and also use to share how I address each dev topic for Cogmind. Any language and/or tutorial can be used, but the main tutorial will be the standard libtcod python one.

23
Announcements / Cogmind Alpha Year 2 Sales Data (Pre-Steam)
« on: June 13, 2017, 09:33:19 PM »
Like last year, I've posted an update and analysis of our financial status, "Cogmind Alpha Year 2 Sales Data (Pre-Steam)." Within you'll find a summary of Cogmind's second year of alpha (early access) sales data, including revenue, pricing effects, and a breakdown of development time. In short, it's doing okay for now, thank you all <3

Lots of interesting graphs to check out...



In other news, I was notified on Twitter that Russia Today, with its account of 2.6m followers, tweeted out an article link for which they used the April Fool's gif I made with Cogmind last year :P



How funny is that? I don't believe this resulted in any sales, but it certainly made a few additional potentially interested people aware of Cogmind.

24
Announcements / Update 170531 - Hard Times (+b1.1)
« on: May 31, 2017, 05:38:22 AM »
Well, it's a good thing that I already made it past the major Beta milestone, because it looks like I have no choice but to take a little break here...

Last month I really pushed myself too hard, working 231 hours despite some serious injuries, and then forged ahead with the May milestones after that. Over the past couple weeks my condition's been getting increasingly worse, and has currently reached a point where I'm actually no longer capable of working until I can recover. I admit it hasn't helped that this entire year so far I've only taken a few days break :P

This kinda sucks because I was just gearing up for the jump to Steam, but I know that's going to require yet more concentrated, sustained effort, and want to make sure it turns out as good as possible, so that's not something I should tackle until I'm at 100% (rather than, like, 10% xD).

I guess it's also about time I took a little break, anyway, before breaking myself permanently, and get all this health stuff sorted.

In the meantime I'll still be checking email and social media real quick on a daily basis, and dealing with any questions or other player needs as usual, though it may take me a little longer to reply (a few hours rather than minutes, hehe).

To be more specific, I'm not talking about months off development here, more like a week to see if that's enough to deal with this, then go from there.

I'll of course continue to keep you all updated as I always have, and hope to get past this soon enough!



In progress news, consider this the official reminder that Beta 1.2 is out (it came out for everyone after the last update was posted, in the Beta 1 update thread).

Last week I also did a writeup for my Super Gauntlet challenge mode run, the first attempt at what is Cogmind's hardest mode. It went surprisingly well.

I also almost won the Pure Core challenge that I streamed shortly after that.

And for anyone following along who hasn't happened to buy Cogmind yet, know that I recently managed to get the distributor/payment processor to remove the address requirement from the purchase form (which was only there in the first place as one of several anti-fraud measures, not for collection purposes), so if that might have been keeping you from buying, that particular roadblock has been taken care of :D

Looking forward to bringing you many more updates--thank you all for your support!

Edit: Again, thanks so much to everyone, and for all your comments. I hope to be back in action as soon as possible, but I'll also make sure it's on the best terms possible, too. Gotta ensure a sustainable long term since there's still so much cool stuff to do! For now have fun with the Beta :)

25
Stories / Cogmind's First Super Gauntlet Run
« on: May 21, 2017, 07:01:35 AM »
So as of Beta there are a bunch of new challenge modes, and not all of them have even been attempted yet (really because everyone's still getting into the new regular content!). After winning my first 1.1 run last week, I decided it was time for something a little different: I wanted to see just how hard the hardest challenge mode really is :)

The challenge modes thread covers all the types (with some sample images), but in short, Super Gauntlet requires that you pass through garrisons to ascend each depth, and blocks off all but one garrison, meaning you have to actually find the (randomly determined) one you can ascend through! Not an easy task :P

Fortunately the gauntlet only starts once a map can actually contain a garrison, so you have a bit of an opportunity to get prepared in lower Materials, where there aren't any. I got lucky in -8, where there might be one garrison, but in my case there wasn't so I could escape all of Materials normally.

Of course, Materials isn't as tough in that regard because it's relatively small. Factory floors, on the other hand, are massive and you end up trekking forever to hit all the garrisons which are spread across the entire map. Get lucky and the first garrison you find will let you in; unlucky and you have to explore a hundred rooms and corridors before you find the right one! (It's also kinda funny that in this mode you're actually trying to hit the things that in a normal run you might want to steer clear of :P)

Strategy

I played the run a lot differently from my normal runs, partially influenced by what other players have been doing lately, wanting to try out some new tactics, and partially because this challenge is definitely in a league of its own in terms of difficulty.

First and foremost, as pretty much guaranteed long travel times are going to make the attrition extra unforgiving, I decided that tons of inventory space would be essential. You'll see I was running for 4 Lrg. Storage for much of the game (even in Materials!), something I wouldn't normally do. In terms of slots I made up for that by sticking with only two weapons, later three. (Note: To be honest a heavy flight/hacker bot could've had an easier time finding the right garrisons overall, significantly cutting down on attrition, but then it's hard to fight through garrison interior itself like that so that would be a different kind of challenge... Anyway, something for others to try.)

Despite being a combat bot I also dedicated utility slots to infowar, sometimes two or three, in fact, for things like sensors, terrain scanning, and sometimes hacking. This was also to cut down on attrition and locate garrisons more quickly. I installed botnets on every floor and indexed garrison access as a top priority.

In terms of weapons my aim was to use launchers as much as possible. I got lucky in this regard, finding an early stockpile of Grenade Launchers, and later when those were running low a huge stockpile of Lrn. Missile Launchers <3. To make sure I wouldn't too easily run into matter problems I carried lots of pods, sometimes having up to 600-700 in reserve.

Shock absorbers helped a number of times where I'd just point-blank launcher squads that had gotten too close, though I actually spent about half of my fights using three conventional guns, sometimes cannons, where it seemed more tactically appropriate.

The Run

Here's where I thought I was about to head into my first garrison, on -7/Factory, only to realize that this one's locked--that's what the darker central G implies... (yes, I'm new at this :P)


A couple thousand turns later I found the right one.


The interior wasn't too hard. Having tons of matter and opening up with launchers is quite effective in garrisons, especially since there aren't any other bots to aggro or reinforcements to be called in... This is where the reinforcements come from, haha, so just blast everything.

I didn't take any images on -6, which was a lot like -7. You know, just thousands of turns trying to find the right garrison and blowing everything up along the way!

-5/Factory is where things got really hairy. There are four garrisons access points on a Factory floor, and I had to visit every single one before finding the unlocked one.

I started out in fairly good shape.


And was growing pretty confident with all those missiles :D


The ARCs were getting pretty persistent after a while, though!

(Note: That Chainsword helped me out for thousands of turns as I did a lot of shortcutting through walls and sneak attacking Recyclers and Operators.)

Quite a few times things were looking pretty bad.

There was as good chance I was going to lose, or at least not be able to recover, from that battle, being completely surrounded, but I went all out with launchers--starting with the east (which caused a chain reaction and took out the southern Swarmer, too), then gunned down the north and west bots. I did, however aggro that (locked) garrison to the west and had to deal with a couple more Sentries, which I totally wasn't equipped to deal with by that point... so I retreated east, towards the last garrison on the floor (I'd indexed them earlier and was visiting them one by one).

The sentries followed, picking up another couple friends along the way, and I thought this was going to be the end (184 core!).

The plan was to overload that Fabricator and zap them all, but that plan was ruined the very next turn when a Hunter shot right through me and took it out :P. So I instead used the corridors and three projectile weapons to gun them all down. The cycler and integrity analyzer did an excellent job! I killed them all with 140 integrity to spare.

And still had to make it... all the way over there to escape.

I'd just picked up a stash of thrusters, so I figured the only way to make it was to get there as fast as possible. I packed away some of the storage, which was no longer essential since I'd used up so many spares, and picked up speed to try to reach the garrison before more assaults were dispatched.

And wow I actually made it both into and through the garrison! With only 140 core! Hehe.

I destroyed every single robot in that place, in the process managing to run out of matter just as I took out the last squad. (Launchers did most of the work, though I resorted to guns and sometimes my Axe when I could as I noticed matter getting dangerously low.)

Here I am having come out the other side :)

No matter and Programmers on the way!

I axed them to death and took both their matter and that of the Recycler which then came by to clean up. Back in business! (Who said wheels are terrible? Okay, me, but I have no choice here :P)


But considering the alert was perpetually high, and I was getting assaults immediately on entry, I had zero expectations of making it out of -4 alive.

Pretty quickly found some better propulsion, at least:


I searched around a good bit and found two locked garrisons in my corner of the map, which happened to be pretty isolated so by the time I'd finally confirmed that and made my way towards the center of the map, it was really hard to avoid fights every 25 steps. At least I escaped from a Behemoth that was alerted by a passing Grunt... This main corridor got messy, and it became more difficult to handle open fights without explosives, so for example here I chopped my way back into the room at the east and took out pursuers with melee instead.


Then I did a lot of room hopping to the south and west, with engineers in tow, to try to cover ground quickly without exposing myself. Without armor I was starting to take a lot of core damage, though, and kept getting pincered by assaults.


I did find an armor cache shortly after that, but it was too little too late--by then I had squads coming from all directions and a horribly indefensible position...


And that's where I went down! It was a really great run, though, considering the odds!

Spoiler: Score: 36,618 (click to show/hide)

Addendum

I almost had what may have been an opportunity to make it to a -4 garrison (or at least increase the chances) when I came across a huge stash of awesome flight units, but even though I stuck to non-explosives for that fight, someone else's stray shot took out a nearby reactor that trashed them all :/

And although most of my tactical decisions worked out okay, getting myself out of serious trouble again and again, one critical error lost me a lot of parts on -5: To take out a Swarmer squad I chose to hit the power conduits they were filtering through with a missile at point blank range, but I forgot to equip my own EX resistance right before doing that, so I was basically at the epicenter of like 5-6 explosions all at once xD. Yes they were all dead, but man did that hurt!

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