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Author Topic: SITREP Saturday #7: Betas Forever  (Read 107 times)

Kyzrati

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SITREP Saturday #7: Betas Forever
« on: December 22, 2017, 05:33:04 PM »

Well the big news of the week is already out there--Beta 4. That being released just yesterday, the patch notes already cover most of what I did this week (for example the addition of new Challenge Modes), so I won't have quite as much flashy content to share today :P

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

Beta 5

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

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

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

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

Winter Madness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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

Itching to Twitch

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

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

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



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

Leaderboards

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

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

Happy holidays and see you around!

Since a lot of the relevant SITREP discussion happens on Steam rather than in the forums, for reference here's a link to this same news on Steam. But feel free to post replies here, too :)
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Josh Ge, Developer - Dev Blog | @GridSageGames