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Author Topic: Released: Alpha 14 - "Hack 'n Slash"  (Read 3016 times)


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Released: Alpha 14 - "Hack 'n Slash"
« on: February 27, 2017, 06:31:17 PM »

Melee multiwielding! Major plot events! Mouse UI++! Adjustable difficulty! Alpha 14 is here! The second half of that "new narrative" introduced with Alpha 13 is now in place, and we're getting awfully close to 1.0. Only one more map remains... (plus a bunch of other non-content-related prep work.)

Aside: Cogmind is currently on Steam Greenlight, so consider stopping by for a vote/comment? (Greenlit!)

Scroll down for the full changelog, or read on for the release notes.

For a visual sampling of some of what comes with Alpha 14, you can browse this couple dozen feature images I put together.

More Melee?!

Melee combat has always been an outlier in Cogmind, with its slow but high-damage low-coverage weapons with special side effects to both balance it against, and differentiate it, from ranged combat. For a long while it's served as a reliable backup when cornered and dying, often driving epic comebacks, and from there it gradually gained enough benefits to evolve into a potential play style of its own.

Well, now it's finally about to enter the mainstream--as one of Alpha 14's flagship features, you can now attach as many melee weapons as you want! Five katanas? Do it. Greatsword followed up by hammers and flails? Check.

Now for balance purposes you naturally can't always outright attack with all your melee weapons at once. Although only one primary melee weapon can be active at a time (as it's always been), other attached but inactive melee weapons have a chance to carry out "follow-up attacks" alongside the primary weapon. In tactical HUD mode, that chance is shown next to each applicable melee weapon. Follow-up attacks are more likely when the primary weapon is slower than a given backup melee weapon.

Multiple follow-up attacks by different melee weapons are possible in the same action. Each weapon is checked separately, and once confirmed any follow-up attack has a +10% to hit the target and only requires half of its normal time delay to attack. Momentum bonuses that apply to the primary weapon all apply to follow-up attacks as well, so charging with all those spears and lances can very well pulverize even a Behemoth in one go.

Even better, if the target is destroyed by an earlier attack, there is a 50% chance to switch to another target in range for any remaining follow-up attacks. Multiwielders surrounded by a patrol in close quarters are going to quite deadly.

In addition to the existing selection of melee utilities, Nanoactuators etc. for speed and Melee Analysis Suites for accuracy, Actuator Arrays increase the chance of follow-ups from all secondary melee weapons. Analysis Suites now also increase the chance of being able to switch to a second target in the same attack, so multiwielders are definitely going to want to have some of these--facing off against Duelists will be a new melee goal :). The benefits of all nanoactuators also apply to every follow-up attack.

I'm sure we'll be seeing some new builds and strategies emerge. Whether or not they'll be OP has yet to be seen, but after toying around with it I can confirm it's fun :)

To go with this new melee update, impact weapons no longer totally suck! Sure they were always pretty scary in enemy hands due to their tendency to smash processors, but they were never a first choice for Cogmind. Impact damage that destroys a part now also generates a sudden EM spike, of course causing system corruption (there was already a precedent for this mechanic in the lore with Compactors). This effect is also filtered through any EM resistances the victim may have. As this is a change to the damage type itself, an important non-weapon side effect worth mentioning: cave-ins deal impact damage and will therefore be even more deadly! Like other EM-based effects, however, Cogmind is less susceptible to the corruption than other robots.


Cogmind core game balance is in a pretty good place. Those familiar with a majority of the mechanics and content, and who have developed effective strategies based on that knowledge, can reliably reach the late game and/or win, but not without a challenge.

That said, there are also people who don't want to play on that level, and for that we have new difficulty options! I shared the thinking behind these new features, as well as details of their implementation, in a recent blog post you can check out here.

Essentially there are two easier difficulty modes below the default, the first summed up as "I can deal with this, just give me a little help" and the second "You've got the wrong robot, I'm just here to shoot things!" For details on the changes each mode makes to the experience, check out the dedicated new section in the manual (as always, accessible both in and out of game).

I'm hoping that anyone who needs/wants the easier settings will provide feedback here (or via whatever channel is most convenient for you). These options are not intended for myself nor many of the other regular players, so we're not the best judges of whether they're achieving their goal until we see how those who do need react to it. Of course, simply continuing to upload score sheets as many of you have been doing will also be a big help, as there are now separate leaderboards for each mode and we can watch how that shapes up.

(Note that difficulty levels will add a new column of data to your long-term scorehistory.txt file, but because that file is not rebuilt from scratch each time, you won't see the new header.)

For those of you looking to increase the difficulty, there are options for that, too! But they're not explicit difficulty settings. Instead we have challenge modes, a way to make some aspect of a run more difficult in exchange for some amount of extra points. This feature will eventually be accessible via an in-game menu, but that will come when more options have been added (the current set is a small-scale experiment). For now challenge modes can only be activated via user/cogmind.cfg:
  • challengeUnstableEvolution: You have no control over which slots you evolve; each of your evolutions is randomized, though the chance of evolving a power slot is weighted lower while utility slots are weighted higher.
  • challengeScavenger: There are no part stockpiles in the main complex, and any lone items strewn about are damaged. Everything else must be salvaged from other robots, stolen from haulers, or fabricated.
Multiple challenge modes can be active simultaneously. If you have more ideas for challenge modes you can contribute to the discussion here.

Also regarding greater difficulty levels, those players hitting the maximum alert level and then proceeding to farm for points will have a new mechanic to contend with: High Security. We'll see if it's enough to stop the dedicated combat hackers devoted to taking over the entire complex ;) (zxc's epic 26-hour farm to end all farms will go down in Cogmind history--276,549 points! (warning: score sheet contains spoilers, especially the bonus breakdown))


Keyboard input has gotten a lot of love and extra features for several releases now, but seeing as a majority of players stick to the mouse, it's about time for improvements on that front! Lots and lots of improvements...
  • Now when attempting to pick up on object via left-click while Cogmind's inventory is full (a fairly common situation!), it will automatically apply smart inventory management rules. This originally required a ctrl-click, but now there's no keyboard involved, at least in this case.
  • Empty slots are also clickable, bringing up a list of all applicable parts for that slot to choose from (this was also originally only possible via ctrl-click).
  • Mouse users also get new "[CYCLE]" buttons for propulsion and weapons to simultaneously toggle all their states (this feature, even more helpful for keyboard players, has been available for a while via the ; and ' keys). The buttons only appear in tactical HUD mode.
  • It's kind of annoying trying to see what's going on during an attack when clicking on things and there's a cursor in the way, especially at smaller tile sizes, so by default the cursor is now hidden for the duration of your attacks. If you'd prefer it stay visible, you can change this setting in cogmind.cfg via cursorVisibleDuringAttack. There is also a second related option, cursorAlwaysHiddenWhenInputBlocked, which can be activated to hide the cursor any time input is blocked, most notably when others are attacking as well (but I didn't want to take the default that far).
  • It's now possible to actually pick up traps without the keyboard! I hadn't realized that when you were standing on a trap item, you may want to actually pick it up. That was only possible via keyboard since clicking on yourself when standing over a trap installed it! Right-clicks now install the trap underfoot, whereas left-clicks will pick them up as with interaction with other items. (However, this does mean that trap info is unavailable purely via mouse if you're standing directly on top of an extracted trap, but that's much less important than being able to pick it up and move it in the first place.)
  • The right-click on walls to enter targeting mode option (cogmind.cfg: rmbWallsToTarget) is now on by default. Any mouse users migrating an old cfg file are encouraged to activate it, as it's quite useful when you want to shoot a machine or wall while there are no robots around and you're too lazy to hit the 'f' key :P
  • While mouse users have access to smooth map panning, it has always required holding the shift key. There is now a new option: just right-click on a spot outside your field of vision and the map will pan over to recenter on that location.
Did I tell you Cogmind's mouse input just got even better? :)

Another QoL note: Cogmind will now silently autosave for you once every five minutes, but only if you're idle for a few seconds (so it shouldn't interrupt anything you're doing). You can change the interval in cogmind.cfg via autosaveInterval. Setting it to 0 turns the feature off, though as usual it will continue to autosave on reaching each new map.

Still Hacking Away

Unlike our last release, hacking has not undergone any major shifts, but there are a number of little changes here and there to be aware of:
  • Reason #6 to carry some kind of Datajack: they now allow faster rewiring, a 50% chance compared to the standard 10% no-Datajack chance. Even better, that means Remote Datajacks can be used to rewire without being adjacent to the target. By extension this also provides a way to instantly reboot disrupted allies from a distance.
  • Terminal trace feedback now works properly, meaning it can fry hackware (though defensive hackware will be able to prevent it), another reason to seriously consider whether a trace is worth it when relying on hackware benefits.
  • Terminal traces at Materials depths are no longer certain of triggering an investigation! The chance gradually increases as you approach the Factory, where it then becomes 100%. This should somewhat cut down on the amount of seemingly endless patrols that especially new players face in the low depths, while giving a little extra incentive to experienced players to go for extra info without caring about being traced.
  • I've added a some sfx to reinforce that a robot hack was repelled by a programmer, or failed to penetrate in the first place (there's also a new log message for the latter). This should make it easier to figure out what's going on during combat hacking. Programmer repelling is also checked for before even opening the hacking menu, since choosing an option is pointless if a Programmer is just going to block it!
  • For the professional hackers out there doing Garrison Access redirects, know that they will no longer work forever.

A Bug and a Secret

First of all, sorry to the handful of you who experienced crashes, a few of you repeatedly. It turns out that Alpha 13's targeting overhaul introduced a bug which you'd think was kinda rare, but ended up hitting a few people: "using 'f' to enter targeting mode with only a melee weapon active while adjacent to unarmed robot in sight of armed robot." Most bugs are pretty easy to track down with a simple report, but this one was pretty convoluted, so thanks to GJ for help in discovering the exact circumstances. If your game crashed, that was probably it and it's been fixed.

Now this other UI bug... was actually pretty fun, but no one knew about it! And it's been there for years. I only discovered it by accident as I was spending a lot of time working with guided weapons to fix up their waypoint system. Cogmind technically allows you to change your volley composition while you're in targeting mode, making it possible to easily compare resource costs, recoil vs. accuracy, and other factors. It turns out that if you are targeting with a guided weapon, set a few waypoints, activate other weapons then deactivate the guided weapon, you can fire the entire volley along the same path, non-guided weapons and all! Pretty hilarious to watch any old weapon turn the corner there--I was floored when I hit fire (completely by accident) and saw everything take off.

No one would really think to do this, and it's discovery was mostly prevented by the fact that attempting to fire a full volley including a guided weapon would still only fire the guided weapon, as expected. Turning off the guided weapon after setting the waypoints was crucial.

Anyway, the implications of being able to fire entire volleys around corners and other obstacles was pretty interesting :P. You could even create your own guided Remote Datajack and hack robots around corners as early as the mid-game, rebooting patrol/investigation leaders and stopping the whole group in their tracks. This also confirms that "guided" plasma cannons sure do look cool, so that should eventually become a feature :) (well, as of this release there is one thing...)

Remember to migrate from an earlier release by simply copying over your /user/ directory to the new game directory.

The full Alpha 14 (0.10.170228) changelog:

* NEW: Branch map "Deep Caves"
* NEW: Multiple major plot events
* NEW: 5 new robots (2 with new art)
* NEW: 25 new items (6 new component mechanics)
* NEW: Easier difficulty modes available in options menu
* NEW: Score sheet displays difficulty mode at top
* NEW: Separate leaderboards for each difficulty mode
* NEW: Color of parts list divider lines reflects difficulty setting for current run (green/gray/blue), for easy differentiation in screenshots
* NEW: Game over screen uses different highlight colors for each difficulty setting
* NEW: Score sheet filename reflects difficulty with a new digit inserted before score (0/1/2)
* NEW: 0b10 has a deadly "High Security" state above Alert Level 5
* NEW: Score sheet now records cumulative play time across all runs
* NEW: Manual expanded with a new section on Difficulty
* NEW: "Unstable Evolution" experimental challenge mode (for now set in cogmind.cfg: challengeUnstableEvolution)
* NEW: "Scavenger" experimental challenge mode (for now set in cogmind.cfg: challengeScavenger)
* NEW: Dedicated score sheet section for challenge mode list
* NEW: Score history appends challenge modes active for a given run
* NEW: Message log reports what slots were just evolved on entering a new map
* NEW: Additional behavior related to a reset core and special Zionite builds, for lore reasons
* NEW: IMP:G-0014175/C-0630194 now includes ambient sfx
* NEW: Another beneficial random encounter in Mines
* NEW: Relative coverage percent for owned items that would otherwise be displayed as a rounded "0%" instead show a fraction (tactical HUD mode only)
* NEW: Melee multi-wielding
* NEW: Melee Analysis Suites also increase chance of follow-up attacks switching to a second target if first destroyed
* NEW: Melee sneak attacks and follow-up attacks tallied in score sheet
* NEW: Trojans already installed on target machine will not appear among autocomplete options for manual hacks
* NEW: Hacking feedback effects and results mirrored from hacking UI to the message log
* NEW: Melee Datajacks' item info includes description of how to use one to disarm or reprogram known traps (originally only in manual)
* NEW: Mouse users with full inventory standing on an item can simply left-click on self to invoke smart inventory management rules (same as Ctrl-LMB)
* NEW: Mouse users in tactical HUD mode have access to new parts list CYCLE buttons that toggle propulsion/weapon states (like keyboard ;/' commands)
* NEW: Cursor hidden while Cogmind attack animations play out (can override via cogmind.cfg: cursorVisibleDuringAttack)
* NEW: Option to hide cursor whenever input is blocked for any reason (config.cfg only: cursorAlwaysHiddenWhenInputBlocked)
* NEW: Right-clicking anywhere out of sight automatically pans the map to center on that location
* NEW: Empty slots are clickable to pull up a list of all applicable parts for that slot (no Ctrl required)
* NEW: Sound effect played to indicate robot hack failure because repelled by Programmer
* NEW: Non-stackable utility effects now have an explicit description label, "<no_stack>"
* NEW: Destabilized explosive machine countdown timers now visible on map when Structural Scanner data available
* NEW: Dialogue indicators in scan window, robot info page, and on-map flashing '?' all appear in gray if you've already collected that lore
* NEW: Data Miner more helpful
* NEW: Impact damage causes system corruption as a side effect of destroying a part
* NEW: After an Access(Branch) hack that found nothing, calling up exit labels reminds you there is no branch access from the current map
* NEW: Structural Scanner also highlights areas in view which are susceptible to cave-ins due to instability caused by collateral damage from explosives
* NEW: Score sheet records total damage absorbed by shields
* NEW: Lab contains a new Warp Cannon (replaces Warp Gun)
* NEW: Autosaves occur silently every five minutes (interval adjustable in cogmind.cfg: autosaveInterval), though waits until idle for five seconds
* NEW: Multiple instances of Garrison Access redirects may be discovered and have local consequences
* NEW: Added manual section "Salvage" (under Combat)
* NEW: Remote Datajacks can be used to restart disabled allies from a distance
* NEW: Any Datajack can be used to rewire disabled/disrupted robots at a much higher chance (50%) than standard rewiring (10%)
* NEW: Datajack penetration failure accompanied by log message and unique sfx
* NEW: All supporter names registered since Alpha 13 added to in-game list (see Credits menu)
* NEW: All item-attribution names registered since Alpha 13 added to the item collection gallery
* NEW: ESC key access to game menu disabled by default in keyboard mode (can allow by setting allowEscMenuAccessKeyboard in config.cfg, or just use ?/F1)
* MOD: Option disableEscMenuAccess (cogmind.cfg) renamed to disableEscMenuAccessMouse, only applies outside keyboard mode
* MOD: No scorehistory record or score sheet produced for suicides below -9
* MOD: \\ZION hacks only accessible from Terminals
* MOD: Infested traps and Garrison Access points now spawn allies if core reset
* MOD: Garrison post-attack effect on patrol size no longer capable of completely eliminating lone Hunter patrols at low depths
* MOD: Garrison Index and Fabricator Index hacks no longer appear on Materials terminals
* MOD: All Trap Extractor ratings lowered (-2) so they may be found earlier
* MOD: Toggling the Tutorial option off also skips the alternative scrapyard layout
* MOD: LRC Insulator effect description more explicit regarding non-stackability
* MOD: Option entries split out from other game meta data into its own new section in score sheet
* MOD: Only a single guided or any number of non-guided weapons can be active at once
* MOD: Undoing a guided waypoint in keyboard mode automatically targets that location, to facilitate building a new path from that point
* MOD: Switching from a guided weapon attack to a direct attack in keyboard mode no longer auto-targets the first guided waypoint
* MOD: Last set of previously used guided waypoints remembered even if other direct fire weapons fired in between guided volleys
* MOD: Cetus combat encounter now uses a much more reliable form of counting the trigger requirement, never fails regardless of tactics
* MOD: Garrison exits that link to other maps now always lead to 0b10-controlled areas
* MOD: ASCII art no longer displayed for unidentified alien artifacts
* MOD: Layout(Sector), the secret debug Terminal hack that only a few players knew existed, removed from game
* MOD: Score sheet critical hit stat tallies now player-only
* MOD: Thieves flee more quickly
* MOD: C-40 Crusher better capable of dealing with high heat
* MOD: Mining Laser/Welding Torch/Plasma Cutters converted from Special Melee Weapons back to Special Weapons; can use more than one at a time
* MOD: Mining Laser/Welding Torch ranges upped to 2
* MOD: Plasma Cutter ranges upped to 3
* MOD: Tri-rail Accelerator damage increased 50%
* MOD: Removed "Walls Built" tally from score sheet (no longer applicable)
* MOD: rmbWallsToTarget option (cogmind.cfg only) now on by default
* MOD: LMB picks up trap items instead of installing at current position; RMB installs traps
* MOD: Adjusted set of score sheet stats displayed on game over screen (replaced four of them with newer stats)
* MOD: GRD and some other potential forms of special attack that wouldn't incite a hostile response from targets now do
* MOD: Programmers remotely defending against a datajacking attempt now do so immediately on penetration rather than after choosing a hack
* MOD: Controls(Machine) replaced by a new brute force hack
* MOD: Length of shortcut to Zion capped at 3 depths
* MOD: Robot rating calculations use new formula, taking into account special cases
* MOD: Ally transfer to a new map no longer prioritizes controlled allies over non-controlled (is pure level comparison)
* MOD: Full traces while hacking interactive machines at Materials depths don't always trigger investigations
* MOD: Allies excluded from some basic score sheet entries such as Value Destroyed
* MOD: "Fusion Cannon" renamed "Hardcell Cannon"
* MOD: "Thermal Defense Suite" and "Beam Splitter" name swap, latter now better
* MOD: System Mapper/Ghost Barrier no longer randomly found in the wild, nor can they be fabricated, but may appear in specific locations
* MOD: Core Stripper max damage reduced, faster attack time, tripled integrity
* MOD: Core Cannon integrity +75%
* MOD: Disintegrator integrity +25%
* MOD: Falloff -1 for Hvy. Shock Bomb Launcher, Hvy. Proton Missile Launcher, Com. Tesla Bomb Launcher
* MOD: Increased base power for both Gamma Bomb Array variants
* MOD: Increased accuracy of player idle time calculations for run lenth reporting
* FIX: Item gallery not recording Scrap collection (incrementing Derelict Logs instead) [Amphouse]
* FIX: Zionite Guard Positions hack displayed incorrect message when none found (referring instead to emergency access) [Amphouse]
* FIX: Typo in new Thermal Converter effect description [Amphouse, DDarkRay]
* FIX: Terrain scanning the same position more than once would reveal whether there's an item/trap there, and its name [zxc]
* FIX: Trying to fire guided weapon beyond its range might give incorrect message "No active guided weapon" [zxc]
* FIX: Typo in new manual section [zxc]
* FIX: Art gallery intro text referring to personal items misaligned [zxc]
* FIX: Redirecting certain dispatches and then seeing them later would flash a '!' when they appear even before they spotted Cogmind [zxc]
* FIX: Integrity Redistributor effect description the reverse of actual effect [Sherlockkat]
* FIX: Post-imprint Mutant escort wasn't following into Proximity Caves as intended [Shobalk]
* FIX: Borebot capable of destroying stairs [Shobalk]
* FIX: A particular cave encounter with Minesweepers could have them extract a trap from an exit, destroying the exit itself [Shobalk, Raine, buthix9]
* FIX: Crash on using 'f' to enter targeting mode with only a melee weapon active while adjacent to unarmed robot in sight of armed robot [GJ]
* FIX: Crash on retrieving Zionite intel Emergency Access results on a non-square map [GJ]
* FIX: Randomly placed Scrap piles in Zion might be covered by machinery along the walls [GJ]
* FIX: World map not highlighting current location if in a Factory floor following a visit to Waste in keyboard mode [gammafunk]
* FIX: Recycling Units might contain an actual matter item (with value = 0) [Snuffsquee]
* FIX: Evolution screen left an extra '0' after slot counter when decrementing from 10 (impossible now anyway due to Zion shortcut changes) [Xanthos]
* FIX: Setting guided waypoints then activating non-guided weapons allowed entire volley to follow the same waypoints! (undiscovered for two years, hehe)
* FIX: Interactive machine hacking feedback on full trace includes the potential for hackware destruction as intended
* FIX: Interactive machine hacking feedback wasn't being blocked by defensive hackware
* FIX: Scan window integrity indicator and colored on-map item labels weren't using the same value scale and would sometimes appear mismatched
* FIX: Toggling volley weapons while in targeting mode recalculates line of fire in case visible factors changed, e.g. penetration capabilities
* FIX: During inventory-to-parts direct keyboard swapping (/) in sprite mode, the color-inverted item instead appeared as two left halves of the tile
* FIX: Comparing a Plasma Cutter to a non-melee weapon misaligned the resulting salvage stat difference
* FIX: Z-Series change to Q-Series in Alpha 13 was not accompanied by intended corresponding ASCII change (Z > Q)
* FIX: Imp. KE Penetrator art assigned incorrectly (was using same as KE Penetrator)

(As usual, if you haven't already, Prime Tier supporters and above remember to use the form linked in your original download email to provide the name you want to use in game. Attribution/names are added with each major release.)
« Last Edit: May 08, 2017, 03:08:10 AM by Kyzrati »
Josh Ge, Developer - Dev Blog | @GridSageGames