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Author Topic: Cogmind Beta 2: "Legend has it..."  (Read 1778 times)


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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).

Update 171213: As of Beta 4, the -nonportable switch fully applies to all user-related file saving, including settings, scoresheets, screenshots, and the backup system. There is also a -customFilePath option to set it to use any relative or absolute path. Details are in the manual under Advanced UI > File Options.

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.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2017, 04:48:22 PM by Kyzrati »
Josh Ge, Developer - Dev Blog | @GridSageGames