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Topics - Kyzrati

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1
Announcements / *** Cogmind Vision 2025 ***
« on: March 31, 2024, 06:47:19 PM »
Not long after the release (and seventh and final patch) of our latest major new version, Beta 13 "Zoom All The Things", I'd like to do something I've never done here before: talk more about the future. This is only something I tend to do with frequent players on Discord, or patrons, and even then only in the broadest strokes or occasional disjointed details since anything is subject to change and I don't want to accidentally mislead anyone or create too much unnecessary hype for things that have no specific timeline. But in my own notes I do always have a fairly clear plan for the future, if one that sometimes still shifts around according to near-term priorities (for example our latest adventures in map zooming and upscaled UI layouts).

Preferring to write and share information about features that are already completed, for many years now I've subscribed more to a "deliver, then describe" methodology rather than "promise, then deliver." That said, over the years I have indeed made a handful of rather big long-term promises, promises that will come to fruition, and we're coming closer to those points in development, so I figure now is an opportune moment to remind folks what these things entail, fill in some of the blanks, and also bring plenty of newer folks up to speed, those who are not steeped in the decade-plus history of Cogmind development and community interaction :P

Let's go.


(animation by Maiker, depicting a particular special type of bot you may know about)

I started giving a general outline back during my typical annual review, the last one in December (our 10th!), but let me use this opportunity to provide a little more color on that. Of course Beta 13 already took care of the zooming and upscaling that was planned, even extending so far as to take us all the way through the final "Phase 4" stretch, but now that that's out of the way, it's time to get back to serious CONTENT. That means bigger expansions...

Expansion 1: Scraptown

This expansion I technically started working on all the way back in 2022 with the extensive Scrap Engine feature which, surprise, is actually not a major part of "Scraptown" after all xD

It was developed as an experiment in semi-controlled randomization of parts to create an assortment of unique and evolving technology, first of all because it could be a fun mechanic (yep, it's neat!), but more pertinently as a potential central theme for Scraptown. It turned out to not be fully suitable, or at least doesn't meet my requirements, so it will live on in its own way as its namesake town features other new things.

As for Scraptown itself, its scope has ballooned significantly (I have a tendency to do that :P), but is now more or less set and is even more than half realized, it's just a case of going through the motions to finish the whole thing.

But I call it an "expansion" because this goes far beyond the original plan years ago of it being just one extra map you might visit to gain some benefits, and is now a whole new story arc for the world of Cogmind spanning three new maps. These maps technically including the recently-released Subcaves which tie into it in several ways, Scraptown itself, and a new late-game Research branch: Protoforge.

While maps are a fundamental unit of expansion, they imply much more since you've gotta have a good reason for those maps to exist! This expansion includes:
  • a new major faction and optional alliance
  • a new major NPC
  • a number of brand new robot classes (new tiles!)
  • masses of new lore and dialogue
  • many dozens of new items, some with wild game-changing mechanics
  • multiple new large-scale events in which to test your skills
  • a new ending, our 10th
This is spread over two remaining versions:
  • Beta 14 "United Federation of Derelicts"
  • Beta 15 "0bPrime"
The biggest chunk is actually coming in that next Beta 14 release, in the coming months, I'd like to say June-ish? The latter version shouldn't take too long either, and while timelines tend to depend on how much other than the primary content I try to pack in along the way, at this point I'm trying to put an extra focus on pure content, especially after our significant UI detour with Beta 13. If not for months spent on zooming and upscaling we'd already have Scraptown out by now, but that was a pretty desirable, timely, and successful detour :)

Anyway, you'll also be seeing Beta 15 this year as well.



I promised this expansion would be added to the development queue once we reached 800 Steam reviews, based on the same premise as the Merchants Guild, which I write about below and actually came in an earlier announcement, but in terms of long-term development organization it's better to build this particular expansion first.

Expansion 2: Unchained

I promised the Unchained as a result of Patreon support. One could say that some funds saved from Patreon have been earmarked as what is primarily powering this particular expansion, which over time has now grown to be even more formidable than initially planned (are you sensing a trend here? :P). I continue to work on its design in the meantime, so when the time comes it will be fairly mature and I can hit the ground running with it.

Who, or what, are the Unchained...

Well, the lore-filled 2020 ARG, which touched upon many of the expansion concepts for the first time (and suggests others not mentioned in this post), had this to say about the Unchained, which is still accurate:



They will become a significant overarching mechanic, albeit mainly a potential threat to players who challenge the status quo in Complex 0b10. If you prove you're not some regular Derelict by repeatedly causing more trouble across multiple maps, or even just being more problematic for the Complex in other ways, you may end up with one of these guys hunting you, and they are not your normal enemy. Almost all of them will have special abilities beyond anything possessed by current robots, including new unique AI and behaviors that will add new dimensions of challenge.

And in some cases you won't be able to simply leave a map to escape their pursuit. They don't care about "alert level," they care about finishing the job, and will eventually track you down.

But don't make too many assumptions based on the above description just yet--these encounters will be varied and challenging, but fair and balanced. Of course some players will never even see them at all. Hone your skills in the meantime to be capable of summoning the wrath of one of these ultimate crazies. Think of them as possible recurring mini-bosses of sorts.

This particular expansion is currently planned to span two versions:
  • Beta 16 "Unchained"
  • Beta 17 "Hexidium"
The first release will include a batch of these new friends to play with, and the second adds yet more unique members to their ranks while enabling you to visit their headquarters for bullets or tea. In the end there won't be just a handful of these guys--while they're powerful and you won't likely see many, or any, in a given run depending on your actions, there will be a wide variety to encounter across numerous runs, most of them adding brand new tech and mechanics.

The Unchained will definitely be worked on this year, and also hopefully completed or at least start to be released this year as well (at the very least on Patreon if they're not ready for prime time). You can already find small bits of lore about them in game--Beta 13 added more, including some that will closely tie into later Unchained-related content.

Patrons tend to be more avid players and many enjoy their punishment, or really the opportunity for extra challenges and therefore potentially even more interesting loot as well, so the Unchained seems a fitting "reward" for them ;) (and of course everyone else gets it as well, since this feature will be integral to the world and updated gameplay balance).

Expansion 3: Merchants Guild

The original promised expansion! This one was always going to be around 1.0, so has sat on the sidelines waiting for that part of the timeline. This promise stemmed from when I said it would be really helpful if we could eventually hit an Overwhelmingly Positive rating on Steam, which would require at least 500 reviews, and although it took us a while to reach that point, once there it has tended to hold for quite a while (maintaining that status does help sales, and therefore means more revenue to sustain development of free content since I always simply reinvest revenue into more development). While we've since occasionally lost that status, many thanks for the good periods where we've had it, and the Merchants will be at your service :D

As for what the Merchants bring to Cogmind, they are probably the most mysterious of the future factions, and for that reason likely the most misunderstood. Although you can already find a few vague references to them in the world, they will not quite be the sort of merchants you have come to expect from other roguelikes.

More specifically though, like the Unchained their addition will involve a new map, and aligning yourself with them for a different sort of run is also a distinct possibility (okay, yeah you'll be able to do that). Beyond a single primary map, their associated overarching mechanics will also likely involve other new sub-map areas, depending on the needs of their final implementation.

I still have to test out one of the potential important new gameplay mechanics I'd like them to take extensive advantage of, but there's still time to slip that in somewhere considering that I don't see development on Merchants beginning until next year (2025).



1.0

I'm not yet sure where 1.0 fits in between all these, but it's, uh... somewhere out there! It could come at any time, though seeing as each of these expansions will be integrated throughout the normal world and gameplay, and all of them have far-reaching impacts, maybe it doesn't come until after all of them are complete?

To reiterate, as is Cogmind is already a very complete experience and has been since it came to Steam in 2017,
with hundreds of hours of content for those who want to dive further and deeper. Despite the size of these future expansions, there will be no DLC or any extra charge--everything is included in the price at which you get it now, though additional support via Patreon is very much appreciated and helps continue to expand the world with yet more options and experiences.

There technically aren't any more significant requirements left before I'd be happy to officially call Cogmind "1.0."
One of my plans in that regard, from years ago, was to at least run new experiments with alternative UI layouts before that milestone, but not only are said experiments now done, we've already got them fully implemented in Beta 13.

So in terms of regular content and features we're definitely set, although one more thing we do need before that release can happen is at least one more major batch of achievements, there being hundreds of great new possibilities related to content added since the first 256 achievements in... 2018 (!). I've got a looooong list, so maybe slip it in after Beta 15? Maybe even make it its own release, since it'll be a lot (thereby pushing back subsequent version numbers, though not adding a significant delay--the new batch could probably be completed with 2-3 weeks of dedicated work). If I did slip that in we'd have to have another batch for 1.0, related to content added in subsequent versions.

Cogmind has been out so long that the percentages shown on Steam for such achievements will be even more deceiving (remaining incredibly low... forever, even if a larger portion of the current player base gets it), but that's not meaningful compared to individual players being able to collect them and reflect another aspect of official completion. (The current percentages are already significantly distorted from reality, but Steam's system isn't designed for games that add achievements long after the initial release of the game itself.)

More?

Those are the main expansions to bring us all the way through 2024 and a good part if not all or most of 2025.

I have several other factions and maps planned, but can't promise anything more at this point, since even what's above will take a while to complete, and I can't be sure Cogmind will be funded that far ahead, but promises are promises, so the these things will be delivered regardless!

In summary, my vision for Cogmind in 2025 is that we'll have at least three new factions and four or more new maps, all of which of course entail new mechanics and items, the core of what makes for unique new builds in Cogmind, so expect a yet greater variety of strategic possibilities.

Looking at the "little" picture instead of the big, as usual we'll also continue getting a number of isolated non-theme-specific features, many of which I know will be in high demand, including for example:
  • Improved large robot behavior. These guys can be really annoying in a number of situations, but the Polymind event made some technical advances in that area which may help in upcoming endeavors to improve that. This applies to both enemies and allies.
  • Now that we have map zooming and new UI layouts with reduced grid dimensions, there's a good chance that I'll complete and release the so-called "overmap" feature I experimented with back in 2020
  • A way to manually replace attached parts with parts from the ground when there's no objective improvement for the automated system to make
  • More visual indicators and/or a way to access ongoing RIF effects on individual bots
These are the sorts of things on my long list of possibilities which get moved around and picked out for development as time permits. The above are relatively important features I know I'll be working on eventually, but I have a virtually endless list of other interesting features, many of which have been inspired by conversations with or among the community on Discord, or just lower priority optional features that keep getting pushed back as more important features or necessary content are often added nearer to the beginning of The List...

The latest stats show that my current primary todo list is about 450 pages long at 150,000 words. Ha. That's just the primary one, but it is the bulk of where I organize things that could be added, except the latest big project, which is the Scraptown arc and has its own separate set of more specific design docs to explain all the finer details. (The main Scraptown design doc is nearing 20,000 words, and it's not quite finished :P)

DISCLAIMER: I can't predict that no bad unforeseen event will happen to me, as it's not like this is a big company and there are people to pick up the slack, so the general timelines given above are assuming I'm okay :P. That'd be another reason I don't like to talk too much about future timelines--life is fickle like that! Health issues have been a significant headwind for me in some previous years, but I'm very hopeful that this year will be better overall. Now off to continue kicking butt...

2024 7DRLs

One more thing: Also in the news, as usual I reviewed a bunch of good 7DRLs from this year's event in order to share them with followers and provide feedback to other devs, so if you'd like some cool games to play in the meantime, you can check out my review list including summaries, screenshots, and videos as well.



Dosh!

Wait a minute, yet one more thing to tack on here that happened after I drafted the above announcement: DoshDoshington has released a great video titled "Cogmind and the Future of Roguelikes." It's really nice to have someone who is more deeply familiar with Cogmind, and roguelikes in general, able to share it with a wider audience of folks that might very well include many who could also enjoy this sort of game.

While it's a good watch even for any of you already playing, I do recommend it as a faithful summary of the experience if you're looking to let others know about Cogmind and what they might like (or not like!) about it.

There are some big plot spoilers towards the end, but he'll warn you and you can stop if so inclined :P

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3b11EA6XW3w

2
Announcements / Cogmind Expansion, Price Increase "Coming Soon"
« on: March 10, 2024, 09:49:25 PM »
It's finally time! For 1.0? No, of course not (that we hit it back in 2017 is just a poorly kept secret), what I mean is raising the price to better reflect what Cogmind is: hundreds of hours of content and lovingly-crafted roguelike adventure and storytelling. I don't explicitly advertise the worldbuilding's diversity and surprises, since that is best left to discovery, but it's been enough to challenge and entertain some folks for even thousands of hours. (Cogmind's screenshots represent only a small fraction of what you'll really find out there, for the reality you'd have to check out spoiler sections of the community, or some videos/streams.)

And the scope continues to grow.

I've dedicated more than the past decade of my life to full-time development of Cogmind. Just me, since it's not like this could support additional folks--it can only barely cover frugal old me :P. I will hopefully, likely, continue to do so for the next couple years. Content is planned out even beyond that, but who knows if it will still be sustainable by then?

That said, as stated before I've never wanted to declare 1.0 then release all my expansions as DLC. Even though that technically makes a lot of business sense and would be significantly more sustainable, I think it leads to a worse player and community experience overall. Instead, I chose to start a Patreon some years ago to help keep the lights on. Although paling in comparison to what DLC would bring in, that has worked out well enough, so once again a special thanks to all of you patrons!

To the point at hand, Cogmind's price will be going up next month. There's only a relatively small window within which to do this without conflicting with other Steam events, and that period is April, so April it is. The new base price will be set to $24.99, and no don't expect that to mean deeper discounts going forward. The price isn't being raised to allow for greater discounts, it's being raised simply to raise the price :P

Some may question the idea of a price increase during "Early Access," but don't worry, the price will likely go up again (!) later and Cogmind isn't really Early Access, anyway, we're waaaay past that. Yes that label does keep some people from buying in since they're skeptical of anything marked EA, an unfortunate side effect of all the poorly planned or executed projects that don't manage it well. Cogmind could've completely skipped Early Access to begin with, or stop development at any point, and be fine in terms of completion.* (Cogmind was publicly released for over two years before coming to Steam in the first place! The date on the Steam page is not Cogmind's actual release date, though many informational sites will assume and repeat that...) We'll open the gates to those folks eventually, but the next couple themed expansions cover at least four more betas before that's even a consideration. The third still-to-come major expansion could be released before or after that threshold (still undecided), it's essentially just a pure marketing decision when to use the "1.0" label.

*that said, I'm super happy, as I'm sure others are, that we've finally been in development long enough, with enough new QoL and engine features, to support map zooming and full UI upscaling--that was BIG

Some historical metrics, for context:


For more historical info and graphs, you can also check out my annual reviews, one from each year for the past 10 years so far.

As for the next expansion, to focus on an important new location, it has technically already begun in part as a portion of Beta 13, and much more than that was completed last year, but that version detoured off into the map zoom and UI upscaling features arena so that more people could join us on this ongoing journey. With all of the new folks on board now, it's time to get this train steaming into exciting new territory again.

We're soon to increase the number of items in Cogmind by nearly 7%, a nice chunk considering we're already over 1,000, along with new maps, new factions, new abilities, yet another large increase in the number of encounters... the works. It'll be like Cogmind alpha content injections all over again, said in the strongest attempting-to-contain-my-hype tone possible :)


So yeah, in summary, price going up next month, and fun new releases coming, too, but... those not quite next month :P. They won't take forever, though--we'll be seeing somewhat faster releases down the line!

Oh yeah and there's still one more discount coming up later this week, so before the increase in price.

Memestrike

Since even after using an abbreviated version of the Beta 13 release notes we still hit Steam's length limit, I didn't have a chance to append any community stuff to our last announcement, so I'll just do that here...

MrMesh shared this wicked painting of a Cogmind scene--such a lively piece that also captures some great details! (via Roguelikes/Cogmind Discord)


A pair of awesome meme videos also dropped recently, including one titled "The Cogmind Beta 13 Experience" by Youngster (not very spoilery, but fun and nicely done!) and another dubbed "Cogmind Slander" by u/dogawesome, which is a good summary of a lot of Cogmind experiences, and in that sense it contains a lot of spoilers, but probably makes relatively little sense to anyone who hasn't actually played, or moreover played a lot. There's a huge number of lore and content references in there though, for those who can relate ;)

After releasing some patches for Beta 13, I also streamed the late-game portion of a run I had started on my own. It was fairly chaotic as usual, by choice :)

Some map-wide sterilization may have occurred prior to the start of the stream, and we know that in Cogmind destruction often begets ever greater levels of destruction, so yeah, continued remodeling was in the cards for a while.


We later used a hidden spoiler area to switch to 100% stealth for the remainder of the run (okay, except for the times our friends murdered everyone...)

That run was able to temporarily take 6th place since the leaderboards were reset for Beta 13, but has already been pushed down to 10th as more folks finish up their first runs with the new version, and at only 64k will probably not even sit within the top 20 for too long :P

3
Announcements / Cogmind Beta 13 "Zoom All The Things"
« on: February 26, 2024, 05:39:10 PM »


WARNING: Upscaled and zoomable Cogmind has landed :D

Beta 13 is here, and with it comes larger text and the ability to double the map tile size on the fly, including a huge range of supporting QoL features. Yeah there's a new map, new items and some new bots, but our primary focus today is expanding the range of displays suitable for playing Cogmind, and one way to achieve that is to provide multiple new UI layouts capable of squeezing the terminal data from 60 rows down to 45.

Before examining the sizeable changelog as a whole, let's jump right in with demos of our main features!

Everything Gets Bigger

Cogmind's original full-size layout is still a thing, now dubbed the "Non-modal" UI layout in the Options menu, and it is in this layout that the new map zoom feature is likely the most useful, as you can see here:



That particular image happens to be 1440p, but if you fullscreen it on another resolution (for example 1080p) you'll ultimately get the same effect. (Many layout images in this announcement can be opened to their much larger form.)

But for those of you who really want everything to get bigger, and a new default going forward, we have the new "Semi-modal" UI layout (1080p sample below, see also 1440p and 2160p):



And yep, if you want to you can also even zoom the map in a modal layout, resulting in this (another 1080p sample, here using one of several new fonts: Tamsyn):



Of course, as you can see reducing the number of rows in our terminal also meant shrinking our map view, to which the answer is our third UI layout option: "Modal," in order to see more map by hiding some windows (1080p below, see also 1440p and 2160p):



Also whenever you want it there's "Modal" zoomed, if you must :)



That should give you a pretty good overview of the new sizing options possible in Beta 13, and you'll also find yet more new font styles to choose from, including some typefaces at sizes they were not previously available at. Support is included all the way up to 5K resolutions.

But there's a lot more to Beta 13, as you'll see below...

Subcaves

Let's take a break from the interface for a moment to highlight the fact that Beta 13 adds a new map! And it's down really really low! That means it's accessible, right? Well, in a sense :P

The so-called "Subcaves" are not recommended carefree adventuring territory, and anyone who isn't aware of this area's existence may not even discover it for a little while, since it's slightly hidden away for that reason (also for lore reasons).

The Subcaves are related to more content to come in Beta 14 (really content that was supposed to be released alongside them before before this whole exciting UI diversion), and will thus become more relevant then, but even now, being a whole new map it is indeed where a good chunk of the new Beta 13 stuff can be found. Inside you may meet some friends, and some not-so-friends, and probably also some wtf-subsub-you-die-now. Definitely some weird stuff going on in there, more of the background to which will start coming to light with the upcoming Scraptown debut.

Modal UI Layouts

How about those modal UI layouts?! There's actually more to them than just looking at screenshots--you'll want to understand a few related new features as well. Although I've added tutorial messages for the really important stuff, it's worth demonstrating some key points here.

First of all, if you change your UI layout setting in the Options menu, remember you'll need to restart for it to take effect.



On restart, this change also resets your font and calculates a new optimal map size for you, so if you were using an alternative font set you may need to select it again, and some of the styles may be different. Everyone loading up Beta 13 for the first time will automatically find themselves in the Semi-modal layout, our new default.

Aside from the smaller map view, one of the major differences in using these other layouts is that eventually you will be playing with a modal inventory, as in the inventory window is hidden from view, as you can see here in the bottom right:



However, this change doesn't occur until you have evolved enough part slots that the UI space is needed, and there is a lot of QoL to make your modal inventory experience as effortless as possible. For example many actions with even just the potential to require inventory interaction will automatically open and close it for you, such as grabbing a part to drag-dop it with the mouse:



The example above also shows further interactions after manually using the new INVENTORY button, and you can choose to open the inventory and leave it open while doing other things if you like, such as consecutive manipulation of a group of nearby parts. The GIF upload gets kinda messed up a bit at the bottom for some reason, but you can also see that any time an item is added to the inventory, even while it's closed there is a new indicator down there to show the addition.

As usual, using the typewise direct swapping menu is also a convenient way to achieve that goal without opening the inventory at all:



Note: Keyboard players can use the 'i' key to toggle the inventory. How convenient!

In order to keep your inventory visible/non-modal for as long as possible, by default your part category headers will also disappear for a couple floors in the mid-game as you first evolve enough slots to otherwise cause the inventory to hide. They are replaced by bars along the sides to indicate the slots for each of the four categories (which are also labeled by type when empty), and the bars themselves double as the CYCLE buttons specifically for mouse users, as you can see in this demo:



If you end up not liking that feature and would prefer your inventory instead simply disappear earlier, there is an advanced.cfg option to toggle this behavior ("condenseSlotTypeHeaders").

While the Semi-modal layout is called such because you have immediate access to all windows for at least part of a run, as you saw earlier the Modal layout starts with multiple hidden windows. These would be the informational windows that normally appear above the map, and accessing them should be pretty intuitive--it's the same old buttons and keys, and you may not even need to open them much of the time since messages can temporarily appear over the map.

Using the extended log will even give you two columns of log messages:



There are advanced.cfg options if you want to adjust the number of messages, or how long each remains visible.

For lots more demos and related modal UI features, see Part 5 of my Full UI Upscaling series on the dev blog, or to learn all about the design and implementation from start to finish, begin with Part 1 which covers the history and theory before continuing through all the mockups and engine features that made it possible.

Map Zooming

A tutorial and flashing notification will make sure you know about the map zoom if you don't find it yourself, but it's probably fairly obvious with the all-caps ZOOM button staring at you from the top of the map (unless you're a pure keyboard player with the cursor off, in which case that unnecessary button is hidden and you get to use the 'z' key, how convenient!). Holding Shift while using the mouse wheel is another way to zoom, convenient for anyone who happens to be looking around the map via mouse-based Shift-panning.

A quick demo of panning around the map and zooming in and out (this is just in a small window for sharability's sake, mind you--yours will be larger):



Because zooming reduces how far ahead you, the player, can see, you now also have the option to manually designate a new view centerpoint, useful if you're more interested in a particular direction. Mouse users hold the right mouse button to do this, while keyboard players can use 's' ('s'et centerpoint) in examine mode. To restore the centering behavior to normal, just do the same at your own location.

Mouse centerpoint demo:



Keyboard centerpoint demo taking advantage of cursor jumping:



Because doing this via keyboard is somewhat less convenient, in keyboard mode there are also algorithmic approaches that will automatically adjust the centerpoint depending on movement direction and the surroundings, like so:



This behavior normally only applies if zoomed in while using the Non-modal UI layout (which has a larger map to begin with) and there are multiple algorithms to choose from (or deactivate completely, but I've found that once you get used to it the default algorithm can be pretty useful). You can also temporarily set a manual centerpoint to override it. These features and more related options are covered in detail in the manual's new section on "Map Zooming" under "Accessibility."

The other primary drawback to being zoomed in is seeing so much less of the map at once--given a square map view, 2x zoom means you're seeing only a quarter of the normal area you could see before. In a ranged combat environment like Cogmind that was designed with large maps, lots of potential threats, and correspondingly far detection and attack ranges in mind, that means a lot of potentially important info is not in sight at once. Although panning the map, utilizing centerpoints, or occasionally zooming out are useful for proactive management of situational awareness, good QoL can save us quite a lot of time... Bring on the QoL!

Map zoom QoL mainly comes in two categories: markers and responses...

There are offscreen markers for visible robots (here using drones to help expand FOV for demo purposes):



There are offscreen markers for newly-spotted-but-not-yet-labeled items:



There are offscreen markers for sensor data (GIF's not uploading right but you get the idea):



And where it's important, the map view will automatically shift to show offscreen events of importance, like a new threat:



Autoshifting will respond to Watcher reporting, Operator spotting, Heavy active sensor sources, special machine pings... basically the kinds of things you will almost certainly want to see. A lot of this behavior can also be customized via advanced.cfg.

Over on the dev blog I did a whole multipart blog series on map zooming, and in the concluding QoL segment you can see lots more about the above features, plus others, or read back through the entire development process.

Changelog

We still have yet to get to the actual changelog and its many secondary features, which is another of those really long ones I decided would be easier to digest if more finely categorized.

Cogmind Beta 13 "Zoom All The Things" (240227) changelog (excerpt):

Highlights
  • NEW: Increased text/tile size by ~33% via 45-row UI layouts, affecting map view area and window modality (new default setting, adjust in Options menu)
  • NEW: Zoom the map view, toggling via 'z' key, the <ZOOM> mouse button just above the map, or the scroll wheel while panning the map (Shift)
  • NEW: While map zoomed, or if using modal UI layouts, many objects outside view area that would normally be visible are reflected via offscreen markers
  • NEW: Branch map "Subcaves"
  • NEW: 35 new items (including new mechanics)
  • MOD: Optimized audio asset loading reduces game startup time by up to 40% on some systems [Luigi]
  • MOD: Optimized rendering increases maximum FPS by 50% or more, especially in tiles mode during heavy movement or animations [Luigi]
Content
  • NEW: 18 new encounters
  • NEW: 3 new Complex 0b10 map events
  • NEW: 3 new derelict robot classes, each with new AI
  • NEW: 2 new robot tiles
  • NEW: 2 more unique named NPCs
  • NEW: 2 new trap types
  • NEW: 1 new turret variant
  • NEW: Multiple lore entries related to new content
QoL / UI
  • NEW: Multiple new font sets based on three new typefaces: Tamsyn, Swanston, Cherry
  • NEW: Numerous additional font typefaces and variants for higher resolutions based on autoscaled low-resolution options
  • NEW: Support for 5K screens (multiple size 48 font sets, or size 64 for modal layouts)
  • NEW: <HOSTILES> button just above map view while hostiles in FOV, includes tally and clickability to shift view and highlight enemies
  • NEW: While map zoomed, or if using modal UI layouts, if new hostiles to label enter FOV but are currently out of view, view shifts to include them
  • NEW: If certain events occur while out of map view (Watcher/Operator/machine ping/etc), view shifts to include them (advanced.cfg: shiftViewForEvents)
  • NEW: Hold RMB on map to set custom relative view centerpoint (centering map view focuses on that position instead, including while moving)
  • NEW: While in examine mode, press 's' to set custom relative view centerpoint (overrides automated relative view shifting, set on self to reset)
  • NEW: While non-modal layout map zoomed in keyboard mode, view centerpoint auto-adjusts to show more in direction of exploration (see manual for options)
  • NEW: Hidden modal inventory automatically toggled open during relevant 'p' part management options and modal drop process (keyboard mode)
  • NEW: Adding '!' anywhere in item tag forces it to require confirmation to attach
  • NEW: Operators preparing to lock Terminal due to IFF handshake failure temporarily flash a marker at their location, or last known location on leaving FOV
  • NEW: Mines infestation event includes input block when triggered, to ensure time to respond even when playing fast
  • NEW: Long-range pathfinding avoids cave-in areas outside FOV based on location's last known state
  • NEW: Option to block all pathfinding through areas with cave-in potential, even if no other route (advanced.cfg: blockCaveinAreasForPathfinding)
  • NEW: Optional warning when move might cause a cave-in (advanced.cfg: warnOnCaveinMove)
  • NEW: Adding item to a large inventory autosorts by type and scrolls to location in list, momentarily highlighting it
  • NEW: Removing item from a large inventory, or other changes to inventory contents, retains scroll state as best possible
  • NEW: Modifying specific inventory items highlights and centers on them, for example repairing broken parts, drones returning to inventory bays, etc.
  • NEW: Select items with lengthier descriptions may include a More button in their info window that gives access to additional details
  • NEW: In modal UI layouts, primary Advanced Commands list split into two pages
  • NEW: Option to force message and audio feedback on startup and upon entering -1 if scoresheet uploading is inactive (advanced.cfg: uploadScoresReminder)
  • NEW: Option to have map item labels specify size of unidentified items if greater than 1 (advanced.cfg: itemLabelAddUnidentifiedSize)
  • NEW: Option to adjust maximum number of lines visible for on-map message log in Modal 45-row UI layout (advanced.cfg: mapMessageLogMaxLength)
  • NEW: Option to adjust maximum duration on-map message log messages in Modal 45-row UI layout (advanced.cfg: mapMessageLogDuration)
  • MOD: World map fully opens almost instantly instead of tracing route
  • MOD: Removed inventory sorting by integrity and mass
  • MOD: Map intel mode toggle key changed from 'z' to 'm'
  • MOD: Advanced Commands help for parts window no longer lists a number of simple commands already found on Basic commands page
  • MOD: Gameover screen once again reports score upload status in real time
  • MOD: Updated overall formatting of some font set names
  • MOD: Increased timing leniency of various repeat input required to confirm an action, especially with regard to part manipulation
  • MOD: Increased accuracy and smoothness of map panning via Shift+mouse
  • MOD: Interface feedback messages use different text typing sound than regular message logs (advanced.cfg: muteTextSfx setting applies to this as well)
  • MOD: Intel markers in map view that overlap known sensor data blink instead of showing persistently
  • MOD: Options menu font set selection menu ordered from largest applicable set to smallest, in windowed mode
Mechanics / Items
  • NEW: Salvageable matter may merge with existing free matter when dropped
  • NEW: Plasma Cutters reimagined with new abilities
  • NEW: Tractor Beam effect includes animation and SFX
  • NEW: Repair Stations may release functionality level-appropriate backup parts on taking damage
  • NEW: Transport Network Coupler places sabotage intel marker at location of third-party cargo convoy interruption if active at time of report
  • NEW: Bonus points for completing transforming item quests
  • NEW: Rigged power sources now show their status as RIGGED and provide relevant context help to explain related mechanics
  • NEW: Component Analysis Suite explicitly indicates it cannot identify alien technology
  • NEW: Shielding utilities' effect data explicitly indicate they cannot protect against overflow damage, as implied in manual
  • MOD: Ramming no longer explicitly increases target salvage potential
  • MOD: All melee weapon sever crit chances increased by approximately 25% of original value
  • MOD: Reduced falloff of all electromagnetic launchers by 1
  • MOD: Increased range of all 12-range electromagnetic launchers to 14
  • MOD: Guided projectiles using waypoints compare cumulative range against maximum weapon range, rather than absolute range
  • MOD: Throwing Claymore stacks reduced in size
  • MOD: Multislot propulsion no longer fabs in pairs
  • MOD: Sterilization system takes longer to melt objects in maps which start at colder ambient temperature
  • MOD: Sterilization system prevents further accumulation of machine destruction value towards score
  • MOD: Search patrol responses converted to assault dispatches in extended game area C
  • MOD: Newly spawned robots start with full energy reserves instead of base energy amount
  • MOD: Some friendly NPCs that go hostile on being attacked are more lenient to allow for an accidental hit
  • MOD: Non-0b10 Mechanics/Surgeons or those with explicit AID order use shorter ranges when searching for repair targets
  • MOD: Allied Researchers unable to identify more types of non-0b10 tech
Combat Log
  • NEW: While combat log detail set to High or above, manually scrolling contents away from bottom automatically opens and scrolls expanded combat log view
  • NEW: Combat log inserts "???" where the source of an attack effect is unknown
  • NEW: Setting combat log detail to High or above includes victim name when part or core hit or destroyed
  • NEW: Setting combat log detail to High or above reports triggered traps, disruptions, projectile penetration, and some critical effects
  • NEW: Setting combat log detail to Full reports all critical effects, immediate meltdowns due to thermal transfer, and most terrain destruction
  • NEW: Combat log explicitly identifies melee followups, sneak attacks, and Cogmind gunslinging target switches where applicable
  • NEW: Programmer hacking attempts/results also reported in combat log
  • MOD: CALC window renamed COMBAT
  • MOD: Combat log friendly hit/miss messages displayed in shades of white/gray instead of green
  • MOD: Multiprojectile weapons merge all projectiles into single combat log entry for hit tally reporting
  • MOD: Combat log no longer includes hit part/core coverage/exposure value, regardless of setting
Help
  • NEW: Automated saves on map entry in Adventurer/Explorer mode do not occur if more than one-third of your part slots were empty on leaving previous map
  • NEW: Updated manual section on "Accessibility" to reflect new layout options and map zooming features
  • NEW: Added new combat log features to Advanced UI > Combat Log Window manual section
  • NEW: Contextual tutorial message about moves that may cause cave-ins
  • NEW: Tutorial message about map zooming feature, and flashing button reminder
Scoresheet / Data
  • NEW: 23 new scoresheet entries (total = 1,058)
  • MOD: user/meta.bin file renamed progress.bin
  • MOD: Leaderboards display different locations based on win type rather than "Ascended"
Bugs
  • NEW: Fatal error screen gives full details of internal error message, as found in run.log
  • FIX: New crash as of Beta 12 while animating one of the rarer ending sequences [MTF]
  • FIX: [RPGLIKE mode] New Beta 12 caves encounter crashed map on first turn after entry [Infomantis]

So that's, uh, part of the changelog. The full thing is more than twice as long, a bit excessive to include here, so the less important bits were relegated to a separate extended changelog which as usual you can find packaged with the game or online here.

Saves from earlier versions are incompatible with Beta 13, but even if you're on Steam and Cogmind automatically updates, Beta 12 is still available via its own legacy branch and you can roll back to finish a run in progress first if you like.

Combat Log

For Beta 13 the combat log has been significantly expanded, including almost every possible detail when set to the highest level. Patrons have consistently put lots of votes towards seeing this happen, and while it never quite topped the list, that consistency and a contingent of really persistent optimization-loving fans convinced me it was about time to do it. If you like logs, drop by Discord and thank those folks :)

Simply scrolling the combat log also opens a full-height version that's easier to read if you want to examine a greater number of attacks/turns:



For a range of visual samples and explanations of what you can find in the new combat log, see SITREP #51.

One sample you won't find there (because it was just added recently) is a new explicit indicator for when the source of an attack is unknown:



More!

You may notice that Cogmind Beta 13 starts up more quickly. Of course it's not exactly instantaneous--there's a lot of resources to prepare and the game loads most things it could possibly need right from the start. Definitely faster, though, by up to 40%!

This is actually the doing of Luigi, one of Cogmind's biggest supporters over the years, so a big round of applause to Luigi for his work with the open source libraries my engine depends on. And it doesn't stop there! Luigi has also contributed optimizations to SDL itself, improving Cogmind's rendering performance by 50% or more.

These are some insane numbers.

Luigi you're amazing.

(Part of Luigi's impetus here was to get Cogmind running smoothly on the latest Apple hardware--he is also the creator of mods to make that possible, instructions and links for which are available here, if interested.)

So you're still here, eh?

I guess let's round off this announcement with a collection of random stuff from the changelog I happened to record along the way :)

You'll find a few items now have a [M]ore button, generally avoided and not needed, but in a handful of cases where we have a weapon (which already mostly fill their stats page to begin with) that also possesses a more involved special ability we need some extra room for the description. (This button may apply either to an item's Effect section or description at the bottom.)



The world map was rebuilt to animate instantly on being opened rather than tracing your route!



The Plasma Cutter has a completely different use now, instead for safely cutting up explosive machines, or making it through almost any blast door given enough time.



I discovered that simulated debris from destruction out of sight and not nearby you was only working in ASCII mode, not tiles, leading to somewhat cleaner environments in the latter case even where a previous battle took place. Here's a comparison before and after the fix, showing what a room looks like after a battle between some derelicts and 0b10 forces also destroyed a nearby machine:



Obviously if there happen to be any Workers nearby they'll clean it up anyway, but still, it should be there until then! (or it's a map with no Serfs, or they're all far away or whatever)

Mass and Integrity sorting were removed from the inventory window, leaving only type sorting (forward and reverse), so that button looks different now as well:



This was to regain the keys m/i for easy keyboard access to zooming (after also moving the original 'z' intel to 'm'ap intel) and modal inventory, our new UI features. Most people purely rely on type sort anyway, the largest inventories have shrunk since Beta 11, and the mass/integrity info can be relatively easily obtained and parsed by switching to the appropriate visualization mode anyway.

Your inventory will now maintain the same scroll position during manipulation, such as dropping parts, allowing more rapid dropping in succession:



And adding a new item to your inventory automatically sorts the list, scrolls to the new item's position, and highlights it for a moment:



(The original behavior was to always scroll to the end of your inventory list and put it there.)

The leaderboards now more explicitly indicate the location of each win (as originally reflected in the scoresheet) instead of showing all wins as simply "Ascended."



Once your score is uploaded (if you have opted in), the game over screen will also show the leaderboards URL for those who may not be aware of it. (As usual the full scoresheet still includes direct URLs to your online scoresheet data as well, at the end.)

Guided projectiles are finally capable of checking their cumulative travel distance against the weapon range, rather than using absolute range from the firing origin, so you'll be a little more limited in what weird stuff you can do with these types of weapons nearby your position, assuming you had enough waypoints :P



While using Refit at a Repair Station is usually going to be an easier option if that's your goal, in the interest of fun environmental interactions, destroyed Repair Stations may now randomly spill some of their backup parts:



Matter salvage is now capable of merging when it drops! See how this Recycler's destruction simply grows the original matter pile below it:



Similarly, matter spilled on top of a collection of parts and matter will sometimes attempt to instead combine with nearby existing matter. Across larger battlefields this can result in somewhat more concentrated matter and a little extra room for salvageable components that might otherwise be pushed further away, or crushed outright due to floor space being taken up by excessive matter. This had became somewhat more common given the newer ability of kinetic cannon strikes to blast usable matter off targets (even though that effect was already capable of matter merging).

Speaking of matter, Tractor Beams also now come with an animation and sound effect as they do their sucking (sorry for the smaller recording, a lot of these were done in my test environment just to have a record :P):



Many of the new items I described or alluded to in the months before embarking on the UI Quest are completed and still waiting on the sidelines for Beta 14, but the Subcaves and new bots and encounters already added in Beta 13 do of course include a decent chunk of them--35 new items in all, so nothing to sneeze at. More than half of these are pretty special, just a taste of the increasingly unique items and build possibilities to come.



Beta... 14?

About that Beta 14, I hope to release it sooner rather than later. This will not be the same kind of wait as seen for the previous releases, in part because a decent chunk of its content is complete, and in part because I did split up the Scraptown expansion into multiple separate versions to keep them more reasonable. If you recall from my Year 10 of the Cogmind annual review, we've already got general plans out to Beta 17, and I hope that each of these releases won't be quite so huge so they can be delivered in a more timely manner.

Due to reorienting this version towards new interface options, some other features I've previously mentioned as slated for Beta 13, like updated movement behavior for large robot AI, have been moved back to Beta 14. This also includes the Scrap Engine's proper location, so that can still be found simply lying on the ground at the entrance to Recycling for now :P

Thank you for your support, currently no plans for 1.0, just more free expansions (10th different ending coming up!), hope you enjoy the new UI layouts and other features, leave reviews :)

4
Announcements / SITREP Saturday #55: Upscaled Modal Interface
« on: February 23, 2024, 05:12:32 PM »


Early this month I introduced Cogmind's first new upscaled layout option, then immediately followed up with development of our second new option! While the other option (to become the new player default) is "Semi-modal," we'll now have a third and even more extreme "Modal" layout which, as you can see in the sample above, hides away the top-side consoles in order to reclaim more of the map view.

That sample screenshot happens to be taken with optional map zoom activated as well--although I think the upscaled grid size across the board means modal layout players are less likely to need or want to zoom the map, the function is of course available and the new zoom-related QoL will come in especially useful.

With the top-side consoles hidden, message/combat logs can be opened and read in full as usual, but for convenience they'll also show temporarily over the map (adjustable count and duration), as seen here with two columns of message log data:



A mix of message log (left) and combat log (right):



Above the map are the familiar buttons for interacting with what is normally visible in those consoles:



See below for some additional sample screenshots from the Modal UI layout (open images to full size if necessary).

Early game (zoomed, 1080p):



Late game (not zoomed, 1080p):



The same scene as above, but in 1440p and using one of several new fonts added to Beta 13 (Tamsyn):



If you want to see the Modal layout in action, earlier this week I streamed a run making use of it, actually the conclusion to my last stream that began with the other/Semi-modal layout:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XolIIvhIta0

All three UI layout options are available right from the top of the Options menu (requires a restart to take effect):



More information, as well as a summary of the Semi-modal layout, can be found on the dev blog in Part 5 of the the "Full UI Upscaling" series, "Completion and Demos."


-
If you're itching to try these new layouts yourself, the good news is... they're coming next week! The results of testing have been very positive, and Beta 13 release is now scheduled for February 27th :D

5
Announcements / SITREP Saturday #54: Map Zoom QoL
« on: February 16, 2024, 04:13:17 PM »


I recently finished my Adventures in Map Zooming series over on the dev blog, and the most recent and final part covers what is from a player perspective the most important zooming-related topic: QoL!

You can read the full article for every detail, but this being a set of vital new features I figure it's worth providing a quick summary here in announcement form as well.



Before we get to that, another important notice: Since last week's introduction of a new fully-upscaled UI layout, I also had the opportunity to stream that layout and demonstrate it in action while talking about its various features:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nf4pS_sph2Q

Work on modal layouts has continued this week, including the addition of our third even more modal variant I know some you have been looking forward to as well. Yep, the "Phase 4" UI is already on the way... I'll be featuring that one in my next stream.

Movement QoL

Spinning the mouse wheel is normally a convenient way to wait for turns to pass, and we wouldn't want to take that away, but many folks are already using the mouse to pan the map view around while holding Shift, and Shift-Wheel is not taken, so provides us a natural alternative for toggling zoom state rather than always requiring usage of the ZOOM button or 'z' key.



That’s low-hanging fruit, though. We’re going to need much more powerful QoL...

Beginning in Beta 13, you'll be able to manually adjust the map centerpoint to keep more focused in a particular direction of interest (important while zoomed in because the visible map area is smaller):



Non-mouse players can similarly set a manual centerpoint via keyboard, which is still fairly fast if you're familiar with jumping the examine cursor:



Keyboard players can also take advantage of several types of algorithms for automatically adjusting their centerpoint while zoomed, trying to shift the view without any manual input in order to keep interesting features visible (it seems weird and takes some getting used to, but at least in the non-modal UI layout it works as a pretty nice supplementary feature):



Offscreen Object QoL

Once you’re zoomed in on only a quarter of the normal map area, it’s literally impossible to always see everything you might need to see in every situation. We need new indicators for important objects outside the current map view, especially those which are still within FOV (and probably even attack range!).

While manually panning the map or designating a centerpoint to keep an eye on a particular direction is useful, and temporarily zooming out to get a general idea of the surroundings is another option, to save time there are a variety of new markers that can appear at the edges of the map view to denote objects in that direction. You’ll see markers for offscreen hostiles, non-hostiles (both neutral and friendly), new items, and sensor data. Each marker category uses its own unique background color, and in the case of sensor data is also darker and blinks in and out to reflect the fact that it is not a directly visible object like the others. Items are only marked until automatically labeled for the first time after entering view.

A demo of flashing offscreen zoom markers for visible robots (I have some drones out here to help demonstrate):



Threats appear on a dark red background, while non-hostile robots use dark-green. As usual, the colors used are different if colorblind mode is active.

Flashing offscreen zoom markers for new items, which use a dark gray background:



Dark offscreen sensor data markers with a low-frequency blink out effect:



Indicators are great, but still not quite enough. After all, what do you generally want to do when a new threat comes into view? A quick visual check! What exactly are they, what’s their status, do they have company, what’s the surrounding environment like... These can be important questions to answer before making your next decision, and by default Cogmind already pauses for a moment in these situations in order to let the player have a moment to take it in (and avoid accidentally wasting valuable turns), so why not also use that opportunity to automatically shift the view over to spot the threat?

Automatically shifting the view a bit more to the left as soon as a Sentry is spotted down at the end of a corridor:



Another autoshifting example, in this case simultaneously spotting enemies down two different corridors and shifting to put them all in view:



The full article has other samples, such as shifting the map view to highlight a Watcher reporting a threat to nearby allies, or entering a Heavy's potential sensor range. Automated shifting can also be applied to useful situations such as machine pings (RIF Installer discovery, Zion Terminals...).

whether zoomed or not, another new feature that became more desirable with the advent of zooming is the new HOSTILES button that can appear above the map. This serves as a reminder that there are enemies in view, and is also clickable to center on said enemies (or back on oneself):



There you have it, anyone planning to stick with the original 60-row UI layout and combining that with map zooming will likely be making heavy use of many of these features, which will also come in handy even when not zoomed in if using a new modal layout.

Progress has been so good that unless there are too many unexpected discoveries during ongoing testing, Beta 13 might just release a lot sooner than later... this month even? (I do hope that we can get some more reviews going--been a slow... years in that regard :P)

Again I'll soon be streaming further playtesting of the modal layouts, including the newest one I have yet to properly introduce. Sharing that will probably be a good opportunity to finish my other run, the melee-crab-turned-flier :)

Aside: While there's no Community section to today's announcement, I feel it's worth pointing to a recent masterpiece by u/dogawesome. They've been posting a lot of memes to r/Cogmind lately, and recently concluded with a video meme compilation that summarizes a lot of Cogmind experiences in a pretty funny way. While one could say it contains a lot of spoiler references, they're almost all so esoteric and indicated by acronyms such that you only know if you know, so maybe not really that spoilery after all. In any case, consider checking it out here for some laughs :)

6
Announcements / SITREP Saturday #53: Full UI Upscaling
« on: February 02, 2024, 05:09:00 PM »


With map zooming and lots of other work already complete and ready for the upcoming Beta 13 release, early last month I began building the optional new UI layout to make everything larger! I first shared the specifications last year, and more recently have been writing about them as relevant architectural work got underway in earnest.

That series began with the new year, where you can read in Part 1 about the history and theory behind Cogmind's UI layout, where it's been and where it's going.



The current layout will continue to exist as an option, generally being the most efficient way to play, but we'll be getting a new default layout that increases the size of everything across the board by 33%. In other words, for example those of you using size 18 fonts and tiles (the majority of players), will instead be using size 24 under the new layout.

Here is a sample screenshot of the 1080p 45-row terminal layout:



And the intro image at the opening of this post can be opened to full size for a side-by-side comparison of the 1080p resolution appearance before and after the changes.

More on this project further below, but first...

Map Zooming COMPLETE

First of all a quick update for those who might be interested in the separate map zooming feature and haven't been following the blog: it is now fully implemented and works great. (This is different from the UI upscaling, which applies to the entire interface--the map can be further zoomed in addition to that.) I've documented the work behind that process in a series of articles on the blog--lots of engine work, testing, and new feature development.

The coolest part is all the related QoL that helps mitigate the drawbacks of a zoomed map view so that it's actually decently playable, which I'll be sharing in more detail later this month (the blog is kinda overflowing with content lately :P). I already demoed a lot of it in that earlier video, but it wasn't a concentrated demo, and when that info comes out in article form you'll be able to browse all the features more easily, with many samples.

However, what I'm actually working on now could in many cases make it so that you will not even need or want to to zoom the map :)

Full UI Upscaling

A couple times before, including most recently as part of my Year 10 of the Cogmind update, I shared this diagram (to scale) of my UI layout plans:



To summarize, Phase 2 is complete, and I've been making very good progress on Phase 3. As I work on it, I'm also starting to lean towards going all the way to Phase 4 with this right now, if only because it will probably be more playable overall than Phase 3, though doing so will of course take longer. It's going to happen eventually, so may as well do it now while the UI iron is hot, yeah?

Phase 1/3/4 would each represent different UI options, with Phase 2 work representing map zooming, a feature technically available regardless of layout.

If you'd like to read more about the implementation details, I've been sharing it across several articles so far:

Full UI Upscaling, Part 1: History and Theory: Background and summary of the intent and plans behind building Cogmind's fully upscaled semi-modal interface layout.

Full UI Upscaling, Part 2: Holy Mockups!: Revisiting many of Cogmind's windows to make adjustments enabling everything to fit into fewer rows for the semi-modal UI layout.


Full UI Upscaling, Part 3: Dynamic Terminal Swapping: Figuring out how to get Cogmind's many 60-row ending animations to play nicely with a 45-row terminal layout.


There's no specific timeline for completion of this project (I don't want to offer up any dates because my preference is to prioritize the addition of even more unexpected features when opportunities present themselves rather than striving to hit particular deadlines), but I will say that I hope to get this out there as soon as possible since it's already delayed what I was originally working on (the expansion proper), not to mention the last Beta release was a while ago. Unfortunately the sheer scope of this UI project has had a lot of architectural repercussions, requiring a lengthy testing process to ensure the stability and quality Cogmind is known for, as well as eventual knock-on effects like requiring me to finally redo a significant portion of Cogmind's media screenshots and info prior its release.

Anyway, quite an undertaking, and I really look forward to getting back to the Scraptown/UFD expansion when this is done some time in the next couple months. Oops, I said a date.

In the meantime, more info will be coming to the blog and elsewhere, as usual :)

Upscaled UI Demos

That's not all! You want details! I haven't recorded absolutely all the new stuff in action, but below you can see some highlights. The first 1080p screenshot I shared above was before the inventory becomes modal, which doesn't occur until you've evolved enough slots to need that space for your parts list (this isn't generally until you reach -5/Factory). Here's another scene after the inventory has switched to its modal form, accessed via that button down there at the bottom:



(All of the following images were recorded using a 1080p interface, so open them to see at their true size if necessary, and of course if you actually play using a resolution even greater than that, everything will be scaled up accordingly in use, as usual.)

Once modal, adding an item to your inventory, whether from the ground or detaching it, has a new indicator to show it went there:



Drag-dropping works normally, and you can even drag attached parts directly onto the inventory button to send them there without opening it:



We have related QoL, like situations where the inventory is automatically opened and closed for you, for example when using corresponding relevant functions of the modal 'p' part management menu:



In the above example, hitting 'p' to activate the part management menu, then 'a' for attach, automatically opens the inventory, from which '2' is selected for the Transmission Jammer, attaching it then automatically closing the inventory again. For other keyboard input options, besides toggling the inventory with 'i', simply using any key for inventory sorting or scrolling will also automatically open it.

Of course the regular old swap menu also works just fine, even when the inventory is modal, meaning opening the inventory is often not even necessary:



The inventory-first keyboard swap system has also been modified to remain compatible with a modal inventory, with automated opening/closing if necessary:



Once you've evolved enough slots, in order to keep the inventory visible for as long as possible the parts headers will also be removed to condense the list into a new format. The sidebars are clickable just like the regular CYCLE buttons, so that mouse users can retain access to that functionality if they need it:



Secondary UI windows that were in most cases designed for at least 50 rows (and to fit in the map view area, like when hacking machines), now occupy the entire height of the program, and were adjusted to fit into 45 rows as necessary. Like for items the best solution was to move their art off to the side:



Likewise, item searching has to cover the entire HUD, as well as reduce its help text area, but there's still enough room down there to show the essentials (huh, Imgur seems to have messed up the final frame of this gif xD):



The added height pressure meant that in a handful of rare cases it might be possible for robot info to not fit in 45 rows, though in all such cases the info fits if we apply the "More" button to resistances (functionality originally added to support longer descriptions for items in Beta 13):



Multiple changes were required across the content of game menu pages, which in most cases turned out as described in the earlier mockups I shared. Here's a demo of the new basic commands/button layout, and two-page access to advanced commands:



All three types of collection UIs (gallery/lore/achievements) were reworked specifically for this layout, for example achievements:



Although in the new layout those windows occupy the entire screen, they don't normally extend to all edges in the full/original layout, nor do the supporter/patron lists do so in any layout, so I've finally taken the opportunity to rework the archirtecture such that the background can be darkened while these modal windows are open (something I've wanted to do for years):



As with other secondary windows, in this layout the world map view also occupies the entire program height, and was somewhat condensed in order to fit within the limitations, but the good news (for everyone!) is that I also took this opportunity to do something else that I've wanted to do for years: speed it up. Although I started with this fun vision of a map animating the route you took to get where you are, while not too problematic in Cogmind's early years, the continued addition of new areas and potential for lengthier routes could make it a bit of a slot to view the full map in the late game, so I've rebuilt it to appear in its entirety almost instantly :D



As described in Part 3 of my series on terminal swapping, here's a demo of the new 45-row layout temporarily switching to 60 rows for the end game sequence and final screen (which would include any win animations)--the corresponding font goes from size 16 Terminus to size 12 Terminus, which I've recorded in a 720p window (though of course further shrunk here for display--open for full size):



This new "semi-modal" layout for Cogmind will likely become the new default, and can be changed in the options menu (though taking effect requires a restart):



There's a good chance that I'll be taking this development all the way to "Phase 4" right away, the even more modal layout hiding the top-side consoles as well in order to restore much more of the map view. That would become a third optional setting.

Stream

If you want to check out these features live, and ask questions, listen to dev talk, or just hang out with other players, I'll be playtesting this layout on stream next Monday (Feb. 5) starting around 7:30 PM EST for likely a few hours.

After that you'll be able to find it archived here.

UPDATE 240205: I was about to stream at the announced time today and suddenly discovered that I'm locked out of my Twitch account for about the next week xD

I tried to see if it could be resolved quickly, but no go. And I was all ready to do that stream, too :/

I'll have to reschedule the demo stream, maybe for the same time next week, but we'll see (it'll be announced separately in the forums and elsewhere...).


UPDATE 240212: Alright, as of now I'm back into my account and will schedule this upscaled stream for the same time this week, so in about 12 hours: Monday (Feb. 12) starting around 7:30 PM EST!

The results of the stream are now archived here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nf4pS_sph2Q

Wiki Replaced

Wiki links now instead to lead to this new front page with lots of links to useful information, including a separate community wiki database and tools that people have been redirected to for a while now anyway:



Beta 13 is on the way! Probably won't be more than one SITREP before then, if any, though I may put one out to highlight some of the map zooming QoL, just to once again drive home what's coming so that folks are aware :D. Oh right, Phase 4 would likely be something worth sharing in advance as well... I'm super curious what ratio of players will end up wanting to use the new layout(s), and will be eager to examine and share those stats with you all when the time comes.


7
Strategies / Survival Tips for new players
« on: January 11, 2024, 10:02:07 PM »
Cogmind's manual includes a section on Survival Tips, some basics to help newer folks get ahead without too much frustration, and the only recommended reading from that manual for a new player, so I'm putting a copy of it here as well, for reference:



-----------------------------------------------------------------
 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, as long as you're not hovering or flying you should 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 nearby, 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, both 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.

8
Announcements / REXPaint 1.70 released!
« on: January 09, 2024, 08:51:02 PM »
Progress on Cogmind has recently led to numerous engine improvements (and a few bug fixes), so combined with feature request patches from the past few years we're getting an official release for the new and improved REXPaint!

Big items this time around include autoscaling of font bitmaps, .gpl (GIMP) palette support, and even better .ans (ANSI art) support--for the first time REXPaint can automatically import a format other than its own!

First, the full changelog...

REXPaint 1.70 (240110) changelog:
  • NEW: Support for automated upscaling of font bitmaps (see manual under Custom and Extended Fonts)
  • NEW: .ans file automated importing and conversion (ANSI art)
  • NEW: .gpl (GIMP) palette support
  • NEW: Ctrl-v during active file naming dialog or Text tool pastes text from system clipboard (single line only)
  • NEW: Reopening REXPaint recalls the last glyph index and brush foreground/background color in use
  • NEW: Remap all layer colors to closest from current palette (Shift-Alt-p, or Ctrl-Shift-Alt-p for all unlocked layers)
  • NEW: Added full list of valid color names to skins.xt file for reference
  • NEW: Command line support for creating new image files (see manual Appendix H)
  • NEW: Command line support for opening REXPaint with specific image selected (see manual Appendix H)
  • NEW: Command line support for exporting specific image as PNG (see manual Appendix H)
  • MOD: .ans export format optimized for reduced file size
  • MOD: C:DDA image exports now also reference custom Unicode glyph assignments in cases where users may want a custom font layout besides CP437
  • MOD: Updated installation instructions with new MSVC DLL download location
  • MOD: Manual Appendix H rewritten to encompass multiple types of command line options
  • MOD: Manual Appendix I changes official C:DDA font reference to reflect switch from Unifont to Terminus, provided on website Resources page
  • FIX: Reloading all images via Browse window blocked further mouse interaction with some popups like Resize window
  • FIX: Potential rare crash due to multithreaded logging
You can download REXPaint here, and note that as of 1.04 it's also available on itch.io.

.ANS Importing!

While REXPaint has had .ans exporting for many years and could therefore be used to create traditional ANSI art, only art created from scratch using REXPaint's native format could be used to do this. Now .ans files can be imported as well!

Simply drop any .ans files into the /images/ directory structure, and on startup if REXPaint does not see any corresponding .xp files by the same name, it will automatically convert them for editing access. Although REXPaint only edits .xp files directly, you can re-export to .ans at any time. Original .ans files remain unchanged unless you choose to overwrite one with an export.

REXPaint will import and view .ans files even when ANSI mode is not active, though properly exporting to .ans again would require that mode to be active as usual. (Note: REXPaint strips SAUCE metadata when it converts .ans to .xp, and therefore does not contain any on export, either.)

Animated .ans files are beyond the scope of REXPaint and ignored--only static ANSI art is compatible.

Here is a demo of .ans conversion:



We've had text and image file importing for a while, but those are more fiddly, while this automated feature was a much bigger production. I spent a while researching the format in order to enable imports, and as a result was also able to optimize REXPaint's .ans exports to reduce the resulting file size.

(Note that one of these optimizations involves giving "cursor" instructions to skip over empty space, but if you're intending to use REXPaint's .ans exports with Discord's ```ansi feature, know that Discord's implementation of ANSI is pretty terrible and incomplete so you'll probably have to set the new ansOutputNoCursorShift cfg option to make images containing that sort of empty space compatible over there.)

Some other new features in action

Import .gpl (GIMP) palettes, for example from here, by dropping them into the data/palettes directory:




Have a tiny font that you want to increase by a whole number scaling factor? No longer do you have to manually create a separate set of bitmaps for it! Just add a new line in the font configuration file and let REXPaint do the rest:




The system clipboard can now be used to copy-paste text from another program into REXPaint's text entry tool (although this currently only supports a single line of text):




The UI will recall the glyph and colors in use when last closed, if possible:




Over a decade since the first release and REXPaint is still going :)

I've still got lots more planned, including huge features, but, you know, when I get to it :P

9
Announcements / Annual Review: Year 10 of the Cogmind
« on: December 22, 2023, 01:05:05 AM »


Well then, we're well into Cogmind's 10th year now xD

As is tradition I've put up an annual review over on the dev blog, looking back over this year's milestones and also giving a heads up about what's to come. Check that out for more details about larger fonts, map zooming, the Scraptown expansion and more.

Worth extracting here is the video from my stream this week, in which I do the first real playtest of map zooming and related features:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eB4NV3UzyaY

(Unannounced impromptu stream, and I was playing in the dev build, so in that sense not quite a typical stream, or even typical play since I was just fooling around, but... still didn't die despite doing a bunch of random stuff and wasting turns demonstrating features or causing chaos, was fun :P)

10
Announcements / SITREP Saturday #52: Zoom In
« on: November 24, 2023, 05:04:10 PM »


In the last SITREP (Another Big Bang) I already gave a general intro to the expansions coming to Cogmind, including Subcaves, Scraptown, the improved combat log, and lots and lots of new tech embodied in more than 100 items to come. Since then I've been working on implementing more of that stuff, specifically having completed over 100 of those new items, some of them incredibly involved--there's definitely something in there for everyone :)

Over on the dev blog I've been picking out a select few mechanics to write about and tide you over until all the new toys are in your hands, so I thought I'd offer a quick summary of those progress updates here to let you know. (Also there's a surprise at the end :D)

"Post-Balance" Cogmind Item Expansion

This article introduces the series with info about where Cogmind item development goes from here, a review of balancing levers, and a new lever in the form of "chargeable" items.



More art samples from among the newer (and crazier) items I've put together since last time:



I just like looking at latent energy:



Also reasons :)

Teleportation Mechanics

Teleportation Mechanics is kinda spoilery, but yeah there are several ways to teleport in Cogmind, and more are coming.



If you have yet to be blessed by NEM, you're in for a treat one day.



Special Events Give Back, and Perfect Stealth

The ID Mask will no doubt be a hot item if you can get your hands on one. Plus talk about using special modes as design test beds.



You can do that?



A Simple Approach to Player-Designed Robots

Read all about the Botcube. Have no friends? Do the HoZ hate your guts? Well you'll just have to make your own. You want the Botcube.



o_O



Projectile Deflection

Who said projectiles must go straight? Guided projectiles already tell us that's not necessary, and the new projectile deflection mechanic adds a bit of chaos to the mix. It's only a matter of time before Cogmind has you swatting away projectiles with your energy blade. Even better is swatting them into nearby enemies ;)



Missile go thataway...



We Zoomin'

I've always wanted to experiment with optional scaled interface designs. and although the plan was to do this sort of thing more around 1.0 (an arbitrary designation at this point :P), most recently I've put content development on pause to run some of these experiments to see where they lead.

Check out map zoom toggling in action:



Doubling the map size is the only option there, since it must still obey all the rules of the terminal architecture. That sample is using the base size 12 font, so is only a 720p window, while most people are playing at a higher resolution than that (not that resolution actually matters in Cogmind anyway--the point is each map tile occupies four times its original screen area).

Here's a crisp version of the cover image scene, also from a 16:9 720p window.

Results are promising so far and I'm hopeful this will be an optional feature for the next release.

Perhaps even more unexpected, I'm thinking of fast tracking the longer-term concept of full UI scaling with a new layout design, offering the option of sacrificing some data and convenience for size. However, trying to build and release these features sooner than originally planned will delay much of the new content, since we've got these 100+ items and dozens of new robots ready to go, but their homes have yet to be fully constructed!

Anyway, more info on this design direction will be coming to the dev blog soon.

11
Earlier this year I got a report about this one, fixed for the next release but thought it should be mentioned here in more detail since someone else came to me with the same issue more recently as there hasn't yet been a release since to include the patch.

A new encounter added in Beta 12 was apparently not compatible with RPGLIKE and outright crashes it if that encounter is generated in the Proximity Caves and you pass your first turn in that map.

The player who first reported it provided a save and I was able to easily find the cause, to be fixed with the next release, but until then if anyone has this issue I can fix your save file and allow you to continue/finish the run if you want! The easiest place to contact me and handle that would probably be the Cogmind Discord.

12
Announcements / SITREP Saturday #51: Another Big Bang
« on: September 01, 2023, 05:39:13 PM »


The world is expanding, again! Beta 13 is adding more maps, and that means... more lore, NPCS, and lots (LOTS) more tech. Nearly 100 new items are coming, together with multiple new bots, new AI behaviors, dozens of new encounters... all the sorts of things one needs to keep new maps interesting and replayable.

I'm glad at the decision to have released Beta 12 as a standalone when it happened (Scrap Engine, Garrisons, ECA, etc). Even though some of it was technically not yet fully integrated into the lore, it would otherwise have been quite a long wait for all this stuff without much in between to keep it fresh, except perhaps the possibility of special events, but I'm avoiding such detours for now in order to be able to focus on this sizeable expansion, Cogmind's largest to date.

Consider it a major post-1.0 expansion (with its own complete arc), just without the 1.0 part ;)

Today I'm here to share with you a little mid-cycle update to give you an idea of what's up. I've streamed the first major prerelease version of Beta 13, but other patrons have been doing that much more frequently in recent months, over on the Roguelikes/Cogmind Discord server. (Other than making an exception that one time, due to health reasons I've not been able to keep streaming for a while now, but I'll get back to it eventually.) Anyone interested in the latest news can find me hanging out with the Cogmind community every day over there, and I also post some updates on Patreon regarding upcoming features, but checking out other streams or player reports is another good way to see how new features are taking shape.

Subcaves

The first new map has been mostly completed, found right at the first depth and essentially offering an alternative start that skips some early floors, but can also be quite dangerous.

It was when I put out that prerelease that I did a one-off stream to fool around there and see how it plays:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EP9NKqVwNgM

To avoid spoiling the explorers among you I won't be detailing what you'll find within, but for those interested in more information, the video above visits a couple times as an introduction, naturally along with commentary.

I will say it's a fairly large map, and rather different from other caves in a number of ways, most importantly featuring several new types of inhabitants.

A debug shot showing encounter classifications as distributed across a particular procedurally generated Subcaves map (connections between encounter areas not visible):



Combat Log 1.5

As a common request by patrons during past feature voting, Beta 13 includes a revamped combat log. I was considering writing a blog article about it, but never got around to doing that beyond what was posted to Patreon, so since I can't point you to the blog, I guess I should at least run down a summary of main points here.

The combat log update is a decent one, but I wouldn't call it a 2.0 because this isn't a major overhaul, per se. The format is essentially the same as before, just lots more info is being added, alongside an important new functionality. I admit the results are growing on me, despite not being a "combat log user" myself, but no, this will not get me to start taking it seriously as part of my own play :P. The main goal is still to not require use of the combat log, just maintain it purely as a tool for those who want to more deeply analyze some specific encounter or setup, or just really like poring over ever more log data.

For quite a while I wavered back and forth between expanding the existing combat log content or completely rewriting the architecture from scratch to possibly support new features, even starting some work on the latter idea which showed promise since it would theoretically result in something easier to debug and modify, not to mention allow some even more special functionality, but I noticed it would encounter some of its own unique roadblocks so gave up on that approach and decided to just deck out the existing combat log with most of the relevant data people would like to see there. It's looking nice.

The combat log still supports the original five different detail levels, though this update is mostly for players who prefer the "Full" detail setting, so I'll be focusing on that here.

Of course, with all that extra potential information to display, we're ideally going to have a new way to view it, more than the mere 6 lines of log space we normally have (a limitation that made me less eager to greatly expand it in the first place). What I did to facilitate searching back through longer sections of intense combat is have the main/normal combat log itself serves as a scrollbar for an expanded view that appears when and only when the combat log is manually scrolled back.



You'll still have access to the expanded and configurable automatic on-map version of the combat log, as the action is playing out, though this new feature is more for further exploration of details after the fact, which is clearly what you're after if you're scrolling back through the log anyway. Scrolling to the bottom of the combat log, or performing any other action, automatically hides that view again so you can get back to playing.

(By the way, I also renamed that top-center multiconsole mode from "CALC" to "COMBAT," to reflect the fact that it really is a combat log these days--it's original purpose, when added by request, was simply to allow players to see all the factors included in hit calculations! A bit of Cogmind dev history there from, oh, a decade ago...)

As for the contents of the combat log, when set to Full it should be a good bit easier to follow the entire flow of a battle as you know it, details and all. I won't claim that it's perfect, an unrealistic goal in part because you don't always have perfect information anyway, and how to display such situations in an understandable manner gets incredibly complex.

Here's a sample expanded combat log pointing out some of the new data:



First of all you'll probably notice that separate turns are easier to differentiate due to how only new turns are marked with a number (though I did not extend this feature to other logs or standard combat log presentation, just this one).

Drilling down into the details, the rest should be pretty self-explanatory. All critical effects are now indicated where applicable, as are disruption, penetration, heat-triggered meltdowns, and more.

Melee combat is also more detailed, explicitly indicating sneak attacks and follow-ups.



Also terrain destruction!

As you can see, for combat purposes there is much less need to mentally merge the regular log and combat log to get a clear picture of what happened during an encounter. The combat log was originally designed purely as a supplement, providing additional information not present in the main message log to avoid doubling up between the two and thereby keeping the combat log short, but now that there are ways to see more of it at once, pretty much the entire process can be followed in the combat log when desired. In the interest of keeping the main log self-sufficient for those who don't want to bother with a combat log, there is indeed now duplicate messaging in some cases (although sometimes appearing in a different form).

The updated combat log also actually does multiprojectile weapons properly, and in a nice format, giving you a tally of the portion of shots that hit followed by what is hit:



In the past multiprojectile weapons were not even compatible with the combat log at all, with additional projectiles past the first just appearing scattered in between later messages, since it wasn't originally built to support them.

Another new addition to the combat log: programmer hacking.



Overall Beta 13 has a lot of nice QoL updates, the combat log just being one of the more expansive projects in that category.

New Tech

There are so many new toys in Beta 13, toys that enable whole new types of builds, or support existing ones.

As usual I'll be leaving the details to your discovery, but sharing the art for some of them couldn't hurt ;)



71 new items have already been added, with plenty more on the way. Of course the majority of these exist because new enemies and friends alike need them to operate, meaning you'll be finding new bots to salvage for material, perhaps whether they want you to or not :P

For example the new Multitool that Artisans use to build and reconfigure their creations, in your hands can also be used to repair damaged machines and restore them to functionality, among other capabilities:



On that note, a handful of item abilities are a bit more extensive and need more space for a complete description, so that's handled by the QoL department which has inserted a convenient new button to access it if necessary:



After Beta 11 did a good job of finalizing the core parts, I've again taken to using the helpful spreadsheets put together during that period to continue balancing in the same vein, like with this propulsion data I was using to add several new types:



Scraptown

I'm currently working on a major new faction, one mostly concentrated in a new map of their own, but with the potential for significant reverberations throughout the world. The United Federation of Derelicts might like to meet you. Or not, depending on what kind of Cogmind you are :)

Depending on how long Scraptown and all the other related features take, there's a good chance I may end up deciding to release this expansion before its full story arc is complete, since it will require a third new map (a new Research branch) and that would of course extend the production time. We'll see just long it takes.

That's all content to come, though. In the here and now, note that the leaderboards now more explicitly indicate the location of each win (as originally reflected in the scoresheet) instead of showing all wins as simply "Ascended."



Beta 11 Stats

It's been a while since they came out, but there were no other announcements in which to mention them since, so some of you might not be aware that earlier this year after Beta 12 released I did the normal survey of select stats from the previous version, Beta 11. As usual there are tons of charts, graphs, and data to pore over, things that were relevant to look at after that transition. It was a particularly interesting one considering the rebalancing that occurred in that release.



Thanks for all your support! It's been great to hang out with all the wonderful folks in the community, really keeps me going and looking forward to introducing the UFD in all their derelict glory :D

13
Announcements / Cogmind Beta 12 "Encrypted Comms"
« on: March 02, 2023, 03:56:43 PM »


Welcome to Beta 12! Embrace the new Scrap Engine to create unique parts by feeding it other items, and explore significantly expanded Garrisons with major new rewards.

With the huge Beta 11 already completing our full balance pass and turning out quite well, Beta 12 is just the first step towards many new features to come in what is essentially our second "post-1.0 cycle." Although originally planned to include one brand new map, the Beta 12 concept was then expanded to two maps, then three maps, and in the meantime patrons voted for a Garrison expansion... That became a big deal on its own, so what I've done here is package up a separate Garrison + Scrap Engine update to release early, allowing you all to play with these features while I get back to working on all the content related to the new faction(s?). Technically I've already built a sizeable chunk of one of the new maps, but want to at least offer it together with a second map which has yet to be created.

But enough about the future, let's talk about what's playable now in Beta 12!

Expanded Garrisons and ???

The first stop on our so-called "detour" I mentioned in my announcement last October is the new Garrison design. There's a whole article about those I've pointed to before, detailing how they're put together, and some of what that design means for gameplay.

Hacking a Garrison registry to get All The Intel (yes, Garrisons can even have hackable Terminals in them now!):



The core layout should be familiar if you've set foot inside one before, but aside from a few new base layouts, the focus is really on integrating a variety of localized encounters, some good, some not so good, some risky. Sometimes you may even stumble across big events in there...

In the past, RIF (bothacking) builds have always been the most likely to visit Garrisons, often infiltrating many across a single run, so that alone is a good enough reason to improve Garrison variety. And in that vein we have new robot hacks (now up to 72), a new RIF ability (Code Merge, mmmm...), and even a new type of coupler (I won't spoil the surprise on that one, but it's huge).

But now aside from RIF builds I'm sure we'll be seeing just about any type of build willing to go into a Garrison under the right circumstances as part of new meta strategies, since doing so can earn favor with one of the other major factions. I've always wanted to make that connection, and expanding Garrison was the perfect opportunity to do just that, hence the introduction of the new utility after which this release happens to be named: Encrypted Comm Array (ECA).



Whether it's just one or two Garrisons, or many of them, getting in there and destroying stuff will make a certain robot very happy (if you know who I mean), and this will in turn open up new doors as you progress... One of the most obvious direct benefits you'll get is access to allies who you can track down and join up with to aid you in various ways, be it fighting at your side, repairing your parts, or even hacking terminals.

My most recent stream happens to be doing an "ECA run," although due to a royal screw up on my part we don't acquire the necessary tools until the end of that particular stream, which I'll be continuing next week. (Another screw up: The audio balance on that stream was completely off for the first segment, having accidentally used the wrong settings from a previous setup and only later being notified and adjusted it to achieve proper results xD) It also happens to be a full melee run, albeit a very non-optimal one, but evading and bashing things is fun? :D

For the RIF challenged, new types of Garrison intel could come in handy assuming you can't bring down a Phase Generator to use your own infowar utilities, like locating all the Phase Walls:



The Scrap Engine

It's here.



Now you, too, can feed the engine in an attempt to influence what parts it creates for you, right on your core. The Scrap Engine introduces a whole new build type, and as such requires new strategies aimed at taking advantage of your strengths while avoiding exposing your weaknesses. It is very strong, but getting the most out of it requires a high level of "dedication" in your build--at the extreme end, become an almost unstoppable force of metal and might at the expense of funneling your build into a narrower set of tactical options.



In short, it vacuums up many types of parts to generate "constructs" in your empty slots, so picking what to feed it, and when, are key to success. There's a lot to learn about guiding its creative potential...

You can read a lot more about its features in the dedicated article. All you really need to know now, however, is how to acquire this thing in the first place.

The way you will normally find the Scrap Engine has not yet been added, so for now it spawns on the floor right at the entrance when you arrive in Recycling (sounds fitting, yeah? :D). It appears there because Recycling will indeed be the map in which it's found later, albeit not right at the entrance. Currently there is only one reliable route to reach Recycling, via Storage, so in this version you'll have to head that way if you want to try your hand at building constructs, but soon there will be a new second route to access that area... all of that's coming in Beta 13.

Other contents of Recycling itself have also changed, in preparation for what else is coming off in those parts... For one, the Spotters are gone o_O

Among the QoL things you'll notice while using the Scrap Engine, "edible" resources intermittently blink white while in view and the engine itself is in COLLECT mode:



And a list of your Scrap Engine's current contents (the items it will use to build new constructs) appears over the left side of the map any time you toggle it, or feed it a new item:



Effective use of the Scrap Engine will require experimentation and observation, especially when you're just starting out. I suggest you feed it some armor sooner rather than later ;)

RIF and Bothacking

As said, of course RIF users will enjoy the added variety on their many Garrison visits, making diving more fun and interesting both with new challenges and rewards. You'll quickly note that RIF Installers may be a little harder to find since they can appear anywhere now:



At the same time, once you've found the first, subsequent installers won't be so difficult to locate since you can ping them from a distance:



(...assuming you're doing it to actually install the RIF system rather than... *gasp* blow them up)

And in the rewards category, you can even find more than one installer in the same Garrison!

I'm sure bothackers will also enjoy the new coupler type and RIF ability, and can rejoice at the removal of [ARC] couplers, which had their slots in the pool replaced by [Specialist] (those being more common now given Heavy activity) while ARCs can now be hacked using regular [NC] couplers, and even fully controlled (including their contents!) if you have that much power.

purge_threat was also restored to its original (cheaper) cost (10, yay!), now that I had more time to implement the true intended effect of repeatedly using it: diminishing returns.

Little and Not-so-Little Things

So that brings you up to speed on Beta 12's key content, but there's more! Actually there's still the full changelog so let's have a look at that...

Cogmind Beta 12 "Encrypted Comms" (230303) changelog:
  • NEW: 30 new encounters
  • NEW: 11 new items (including new mechanics)
  • NEW: 1 new derelict robot class (multiple variants)
  • NEW: 3 new Terminal hacks
  • NEW: 1 new unauthorized Terminal hack
  • NEW: 1 new RIF ability
  • NEW: 1 new Relay Coupler type
  • NEW: 2 new robot hacks: emergency_deploy, formatsys_deep
  • NEW: 3 new build type descriptors
  • NEW: 1 new corruption effect
  • NEW: 1 new scoresheet entry
  • NEW: 1 new ambient machine track
  • NEW: 25 new sound effects (total = 1123)
  • NEW: Multiple lore entries related to new content
  • NEW: Expanded Active Sensor Suite activity paths to include all maps and prefabs
  • NEW: Exposed earth cells make use of background color to help differentiate from walls in ASCII mode
  • NEW: Garrisons redesigned with new map generation algorithm including many encounters and events
  • NEW: Major new way to use Garrisons to interact with a particular faction, without RIF (new mechanics and effects across multiple maps)
  • NEW: RIF enables pinging of nearby RIF Installer locations
  • NEW: Pinging a new special machine location via RIF or other capabilities automatically blocks movement for a moment
  • NEW: Recycling entrance area includes free access to Scrap Engine (placeholder acquisition method)
  • NEW: ECM Suites also prevent alert increases caused by 0b10 pursuers losing track of Cogmind
  • NEW: Derelict Wizard class includes terminal hacking AI behavior under certain circumstances
  • NEW: Additional AI behaviors during particular large-scale battle in Research
  • NEW: Extended game major NPC data core contains additional map information
  • NEW: Some derelict classes capable of moving through Twisted Machinery
  • NEW: Item info window explicitly lists Chunk count for AOE damage, which may not always be 1~3
  • NEW: Gallery data exporting includes explosion arc values for applicable weapons
  • NEW: Tearclaw descriptions indicate they ignore armor
  • NEW: On-map popup shows in white when attached part rejected due to system corruption
  • NEW: More detailed old save incompatibility detection and help system
  • NEW: Options for reporting on botnet effectiveness (advanced.cfg: reportBotnetSupportedSuccess/reportBotnetInsufficientFailure)
  • NEW: [Polymind mode] Hosts require 1~2 turns to reboot after being released
  • NEW: [Player 2 mode] Additional situations with more dialogue lines (total = 789)
  • MOD: RIF Installers placed randomly instead of always near Garrison entrance or exit
  • MOD: Having RIF installed no longer immune to "Garrison interior compromised" alert
  • MOD: Alert increases from Garrison interior compromised effect slower to kick in, but rate increases over long term
  • MOD: purge_threat cost decreased (15->10), has diminishing effect with each successive use on a single map
  • MOD: Removed Relay Coupler [ARC]
  • MOD: Relay Coupler [Specialist] more common
  • MOD: Relay Coupler and Authchip descriptions listing multiple robot classes now order them alphabetically
  • MOD: Heavies no longer call sensor-based reinforcements while aware of Cogmind's precise position
  • MOD: GOLEM Unit activation never triggers within 5 turns
  • MOD: Deep Caves wall more proactive if chambers disturbed
  • MOD: Removed one potential Shearcannon source
  • MOD: ARC storage type changed from Large to High-capacity
  • MOD: Mechanic class built-in inventory capacity increased from 10 to 12
  • MOD: Mass info no longer listed for unidentified items
  • MOD: Some multislot treads not quite as common
  • MOD: All VSS Leg coverage reduced (60->50)
  • MOD: Imp. Q-Thruster support increased from 8 to 9, base speed reduced from 35 to 40
  • MOD: Cmb. Linear Gravjet support reduced from 17 to 14
  • MOD: GOLEM parts and installation of backup parts do not trigger Lightpack effect
  • MOD: Wall/door destruction at a depth of -10/-9 in 0b10-controlled areas increases influence by 1
  • MOD: Ranged robots no longer proactively back away from melee-equipped hostiles while standing in an open doorway
  • MOD: Scrapyard renamed to Junkyard
  • MOD: Adjustments to certain Mines layouts
  • MOD: Operators/Mechanics no longer always start immediately adjacent to their assigned interactive machine
  • MOD: Research branch firing range encounter no longer allows victims to attack one another if only some assimilated
  • MOD: Zion more reactive to potentially hostile actions
  • MOD: Zion defenses no longer infinite
  • MOD: Data Miner now has Disruption immunity
  • MOD: Propulsion of the same category may not always have the same Mod/Extra speed modifier (updated stat context help)
  • MOD: Recycling defensive measures replaced
  • MOD: Updated several lore entries to reflect changes to Recycling
  • MOD: Expanded conditions under which Decoy Drones might self-destruct
  • MOD: Latent Energy Streamer special behavior indicated as part of description in part info window, rather than under Effect header
  • MOD: Several events with disabled bots no longer include possibility of Programmer class
  • MOD: Updated large robot AI around blocking terrain
  • MOD: Part auto-replacement system allows power sources of different subtypes to be swapped with each other if swap is desirable for other reasons
  • MOD: Updated "Rincewind" achievement description to be more specific in light of NEM artifact
  • MOD: Switched Toggle part auto-activation hotkey from F10 to Ctrl-F10
  • MOD: [Player 2 mode] Player 2 ignores Fusion Compressors
  • MOD: [Player 2 mode] "Corrupted" prefix not shown for items listed in Player 2 loadout
  • MOD: [Polymind mode] Suspicion reduction from attacking 0b10 enemies restricted to more reasonable applicable scenarios
  • MOD: [Polymind mode] Stasis bubble strength transferred between host and Cogmind where applicable
  • FIX: Wall/door destruction in -10/-9 increased influence by 3 instead of 0 due to regression in Beta 11 [aoemica]
  • FIX: Particular broken NPC might be given a line of dialogue in a certain extended game scenario (spoilers) [aoemica]
  • FIX: Crash during rare Shearcannon-related NPC event if targeting its own position [aoemica]
  • FIX: Scoresheet Last Messages section could include player notes [aoemica]
  • FIX: [Polymind mode] Gunslinging by 0b10 bots could choose to target Cogmind even if unsuspicious [aoemica]
  • FIX: Ablative armor flashed while at 200 heat, despite its description stating it doesn't take effect until rising above that level [aoemica]
  • FIX: Interactive machines in extended game map were locked instead of disabled after major event [aoemica]
  • FIX: Beta 9 update unintentionally dumbed down extended game major NPC during certain combat situations [aoemica]
  • FIX: Swapping positions with stationary FOV-sharing drones did not update their FOV until a later visible action forced an FOV update [R-26 Lightspeed]
  • FIX: [Polymind mode] Assimilating targets via hacking-capable host caused them to always share FOV with Cogmind [R-26 Lightspeed]
  • FIX: Fabnet effect audio played globally regardless of map position [R-26 Lightspeed]
  • FIX: Beta 11 Watcher Feeds AI targeting update also caused hostiles to ignore assimilated Watchers [R-26 Lightspeed]
  • FIX: Item search window scrolled in opposite direction if using LMB on darkened item [ktur]
  • FIX: Item search window could crash while attempting to scroll in some situations [ktur]
  • FIX: Scoresheet could increment Reinforcement squad tally even if none was able to be dispatched in a certain extended map [leiavoia]
  • FIX: Using full or partially loaded Trap Extractors moving over free nonmatching trap items would attempt to collect them [leiavoia]
  • FIX: Prefabs might create door into adjacent room, which could later be blocked by a different prefab-placed machine [gammafunk]
  • FIX: In rare cases certain actions during the Mines cave-in event could cause numerous excavation squad dispatches over a long period [Lumberblack]
  • FIX: Context help for robot DORMANT state still indicated hacking was possible [nogimagogi]
  • FIX: Context help for weapon Arc stat reworded to clarify projectile mechanics [Benkyo]
  • FIX: Derelict-infiltrated ambush traps could exist in Research branches [Infomantis]
  • FIX: Updating from certain older versions to newer versions with a run in progress could delete an older primary save file, leaving only backups [2zz423]
  • FIX: Hard Hitter achievement could be earned indirectly by triggering Z-Power destruction [Paperbell, DeadlyBlueApples]
  • FIX: Mechanics could complete repair tasks on target no longer affiliated with them if conditions met prior to faction change [CaptainWinky]
  • FIX: Repairing or Scanalyzing a Broken part at a machine could break it again [JackNine]
  • FIX: Crash due to replicating Broken LC Capacitor [Boris]
  • FIX: In rare cases a patrol initially present on new map may remain stationary until certain unlikely conditions met [Youngster]
  • FIX: Typos [Eltons Kuns, aoemica, lyra]
  • FIX: New Control(Release) special hack missing from scoresheet records affected recording of some other extended-game spoiler hacks
  • FIX: Relay Coupler [NC] description missing Minesweepers from list of applicable targets
  • FIX: Attached broken multislot parts fixed by a Recalibrator did not update their "Broken" prefix for additional slots automatically
  • FIX: Potential crash during system corruption IFF burst if passing turns while Cogmind offscreen near right/bottom map edges
  • FIX: DSF deliveries could stack a cache on top of existing items
  • FIX: Dying to a Fire trap caused game over screen to report death by cave-in
  • FIX: [Polymind mode] Crash on taking control of Programmer host while default info panel already open

Saves from earlier versions are incompatible with Beta 12, but even if you're on Steam and Cogmind automatically updates, Beta 11.2 is still available via its own legacy branch and you can roll back to finish a run in progress first if you like.

Regarding save compatibility, Beta 12 actually comes with a more helpful detection and notification system which will display a log message like so:



(If you're not using the Steam version it would leave out the Steam-specific part, since updating is manual anyway.)

Cogmind always keeps your old save files, even in the event of an automatic update on Steam, so finishing a run from an earlier version is as simple as switching your branch to the one indicated (as read from the save file version). For example:



In pretty picture updates, the Active Sensor Suite first introduced back in Beta 11 alongside a bunch of other new infowar utilities has had its "desire path" data fully fleshed out!



All the main 0b10-controlled maps already had the majority of their paths set based on existing procgen content, but many outlying branch maps rely on heavy use of prefabs which, even though placed procedurally, also needed to specify just what kinds of realistic paths they might contain, and therefore how they might link to other parts of the map. This process involved revisiting hundreds of prefabs to manually place markers in order to help define paths that reflect the activity one might expect in these areas.

It's now done, making the Active Sensor even more useful than before, while also helping bring outlying areas to life from a different viewpoint.

The above example shows full Active Sensor data for a larger Proximity Cave base linked to an 0b10 outpost deeper in the caves, and below you can see an interesting scenario I came across that shows path activity generated for a small Warlord outpost linked to some of their guards nearby in the caves:



As one might expect, there's room for environmental storytelling out there, too.

ASCII mode also got some prettification in the new rendering style for earth cells, which make use of a background color, although technically the impetus there wasn't aesthetics, but a need to visually differentiate cave walls from earth in that mode. (Tiles didn't need this, since that mode uses separate tiles for each anyway.) See here:



Doing various things to expose or view earth tiles:



Okay where we really needed the distinction was in the caves:



There weren't many more item adjustments in Beta 12, since Beta 11 took care of that with a comprehensive review, although we have a few stragglers that got tweaked. ECM Suites were buffed for stealth-minded Cogminds, while one of the top-tier flight units (Imp. Q-thrusters) got a 12% increase in support, and the only top-tier non-prototype hover (Cmb. Linear Gravjet) had its support dropped by 18% to bring it in line with the tech behind it. (Use the lower-tier Cmb. Antigrav System to fill the more heavy-support hover role, albeit without the linear hover speed.) Another notable propulsion update: Late-game multislot treads were way too commonly found just lying around, especially given how much they've been buffed over the years as even more types were added (technically increasing prevalence further), so they are generally a little more rare now to bring them back in line.

Overall balance is looking good, though, which is great because it confirms the foundation is ready for yet more exploration of interesting new mechanics :)

Beta 12 also brings a fair number of AI modifications, some specific to certain areas or events, but also a few applied more generally. Of particular note, robots fighting in doorways will no longer back away from melee-using enemies, so to use automatic doors as a convenient temporary shield you'll just have to rely on impact weapons to send targets flying back out the door ;). You can even hook up with AIs capable of hacking machines, something they can go off and do on their own before returning to report what was learned.

In the general QoL department, if system corruption rejects a part, in addition to the several other sources of warning feedback you'll now also get a popup on the map showing the name of the item:



Note we've always had the cogmindPartLossMapIndicator advanced.cfg option which could do this, but this new behavior uses a different color, and is always active.

You might enjoy one or both of the two new botnet-related settings in advanced.cfg, in order to know when your previously-installed botnets were what enabled you to succeed at a given hack, or inform you that you were close enough that you would've been successful with just a slightly bigger botnet, altogether useful for assessing how that ability fits into your overall hacking strategy (but entirely optional, and off by default).



Wiki on Cog-Minder

aoemica's ultimate Cogmind tool Cog-Minder, including robot/item/hacking/lore reference materials and a battle/build simulator, has more recently been expanded with a great wiki full of strategy info and useful tips. There are tons of screenshots showing various encounters, supporting diagrams, and more.



Most of the maps are in there, with a great level of detail, but there are also plenty of wiki links and other topics that could be filled out with more info. Consider contributing if you have something to add!

Have fun playing around with Encrypted Comms! And in the meantime I appreciate the help with leaving reviews since the December Polymind update (after forgetting to remind everyone for so long xD), very helpful! I'll be analyzing Beta 11 stats to share soon enough, as usual, then be getting back to work on Beta 13. That expansion already includes several brand new robot classes and 25 new items, most with new mechanics, and that's just some of its tangential pieces--the real meat is going to be exciting stuff, as one would expect from a new major faction :)

A preview of more to come...


14
Apparently it's possible for the inventory to display multislot items incorrectly.

I've been exploring this bug for a while now, off and on, examining numerous code changes over the past year for any clues on what may have changed to cause it, if anything (maybe it's older?), and it still defies all attempts to find a root cause. This is a display issue, so doesn't have other impacts besides temporary confusion, and resorting one's inventory (or performing some other action that resorts it) will fix the issue, but obviously it'd be nice to get rid of this.

I'll document it here for now so that others know it's a thing and could maybe provide more input. It seems quite rare, and would of course also take someone really observant who also remembers and can report all their inventory-affecting actions prior to it appearing in a way that it could be repeated. I've done a lot of testing, as well as comparing code across versions to see just how new it is or where it might originate, but no luck repeating it yet, and until I can do that I'm out of ideas for solving this one until more evidence comes to light.

The initial report came from the first Beta 11.1 build (220422), from Valguris watching an MTF stream:



As you can see the second slot of the Core Stripper (still in inventory) was still displayed in inventory slot 2 despite the Gravjet having been moved to the former location of its first slot (with the CS having been moved to the end of the inventory). MTF later shared with me the exact contents of his inventory at the time, which is what I've attempted to use to recreate the issue:





Later Youngster sent me a screenshot from their Beta 12 prerelease (X4) run in which a two-slot GOLEM Unit somehow ended up appearing to occupy 3 slots:



I'm guessing that's related to the other example, so am including it here...

Anyway, any clues anyone can offer would be great, implying some way to recreate the issue so I can fix it :)

15
Announcements / Polymind: This holiday season you are NOT the Cogmind
« on: December 24, 2022, 05:28:02 PM »


It's the end of another year, Cogmind's 10th, and to celebrate we have another special event that turns the world on its head for an extremely different experience in an otherwise familiar environment: Polymind!

Ever want to roleplay a Worker bot? Okay maybe not... What about a Behemoth? That's more like it... Well, in this version you may feasibly consider each option for their respective advantages, and many many more :)

In Polymind you can take control of almost any other robot--in more typical roguelike/game terms you can think of it as essentially "possession" mechanics.

This version is so non-Cogmind that you can't even attach or remove parts (say goodbye to inventory paralysis!), you don't even evolve slots! Instead you're entirely dependent on your host's capabilities.

The first thing you'll notice is the event-specific info panel that appears in the bottom left:



This allows you to reference the name of your host there at the left, your current Protomatter stores (45 in the example), get access to more info via the button (or the '9' key), and also keep track of a dynamic suspicion meter which we'll get to later.

As you can see, Protomatter is back. Originally introduced for our Winter 2019 RPGLIKE event/mode, it serves a different purpose in Polymind, functioning instead as your resource for taking control of an adjacent target. Collect Protomatter from among the salvage of some destroyed combat robots, or if you're really desperate you can eventually gain some by ramming other bots.

Pwned by Polymind

The cost of controlling a given robot is shown in its label as "p-X," where X is how much Protomatter you need. It shows as "N/A" if control is impossible, but very few are completely out of reach :)



When you have enough Protomatter, simply moving into an adjacent target will take control of them.



Releasing control, which you can do at any time, is handled by what is normally the "Purge All Parts" command from the special commands menu (Spacebar).

These instructions are available via the mode info button, as is other robot-specific information when you have a host:



Most of the robots and their functionality are pretty straightforward, but a handful of those with special functions are more complicated than others, so be sure to check out their info in the new panel when learning about new host types.

This mode will likely also help provide intimate experience with various other robots in terms of familiarizing yourself with their capabilities and limitations, including for example damage resistances/weaknesses, all of which are pretty important for improving play in the regular game.

Suspicion

Now why might you want to larp as a Recycler? Or a Worker? Or some other maintenance bot? Well if you look like a native of Complex 0b10, and aren't flagged as a suspicious system, they'll ignore you!

So you can walk right past patrols, or sneak right up to a particularly dangerous bot and just assimilate it. That said, generally speaking keeping your distance from too many potential hostiles is still the better option when possible, especially those you might imagine are likely to be especially suspicious, to avoid blowing your cover.

If undetected you can also swap places with Complex 0b10 bots as if they're normal allies. Overall you have a lot of freedom when not suspicious, so some players may often try to stay that way as long as possible. At the same time, the only way to get more Protomatter in order to switch control to other bots is to harvest it from combat bots, so you may need to do some fighting (or encourage their destruction some other way).

As long as you're not at or above very high suspicion, you can even dodge all targeted dispatches, meaning newly-dispatched Programmers and assaults will not even be sure where you are. You might notice the messages are different when that applies, along with their resulting behavior.

While in a host and unsuspicious, you'll have much darker UI borders to reflect that status (there are also audio cues):



If you want to take control of a true ally such as a derelict or fabricated bot (which as you might notice also has a cheaper cost), because they are allied you won't normally be able to move onto their position since the default behavior is a swap. For this you'd need to use a force melee/ram "attack."

Because not every input method has an easy time trying to force melee a target (and in fact diagonal force ramming has always been impossible with arrows/vi-keys), this was the perfect opportunity to finally add in a very important new feature for general Cogmind use: toggleable force melee mode!

Force melee mode is toggled via the Spacebar actions menu, under 'e', so a quick spacebar-e will get you ready to do this, or shut it off (Shift-Alt-e also works, as all other commands on that menu).



While active, a "FORCE" indicator pops up at the top of your parts list, and of course the usual attack/ramming warnings will apply to help you avoid making unnecessary mistakes.



Yep, everyone will now have easy access to force meleeing a target compatible with their preferred directional keys.

Despite the helpful warnings, I still suggest you toggle force melee on only for as long as you need it, then off again when done, because otherwise it could lead to unexpected behavior later on once you've forgotten about it! I predict many people unintentionally slamming into objects until the lesson is learned (I know this because it has been happening to me since I'm still not used to it :P).

Note that with the mouse you also won't be able to initiate an attack on a normally hostile 0b10 combat target while unsuspicious, since for movement purposes they are considered allies and you can walk to/through them, so if you want to start hostilities using mouse controls, you'd have to begin targeting mode through some other means, such as clicking on a wall first, or using 'f' to enter that mode. Or if your intent is to ram or take control of them, use a force melee action.

A new force melee option will be helpful in all runs, but is clearly especially useful for Polymind.

Polybonus!

This is a pretty big mode and I won't cover all of its nuances, but aside from the basics introduced above there are a few other features I'd like to mention.

For one, I did actually make it possible to control multitile bots. It was a crazy amount of work and almost delayed the entire release, but so worth it for obvious reasons :D

By nature they are more limited in what they can do, like they can't operate interactive machines, but they have a distinct advantage in terms of movement in contrast to how, I'm sure you know, smaller bots tend to have trouble moving around them. Large bots can basically wade through crowds of other non-large bots, pushing them out of the way (hostile or not!), so don't worry about that part, just worry about how to navigate areas with tighter tunnels ;)

They do have one other quirk as well, in that they can only interact with one space on the ground, specifically the one under their top-left cell. This is something I would explore addressing if it were important now, but you can't even do much with items in Polymind anyway, so just know that's how it is--they'll always pick up from (and drop to, or operate on) that location.

Controlling a multitile bot is also missing a few pre-movement warnings, though I tried to fit in what I could in the time available.

I have some cool gifs of multitile bots doing stuff, but let's call them spoilers and worth challenging yourself to explore on your own adventures :)

Taking control of different 0b10 bots can also give you useful intel! Both combat bots and non-combat bots alike will provide you with information corresponding to their normal duties, in most cases akin to the sort of informaton you can extract from them via RIF hacking. The types of intel are listed on their info page, for example that earlier Scavenger screenshot I shared indicates that it will mark a Recycling Unit for you (the nearest one, if you don't already know about it), which you can also see marked just to the north of where it was controlled.

And you thought controlling a Watcher with it's speedy movement and sensor package would already be decent enough, well how about free route data on host acquisition?



Engineer wallhacks.



Okay this one's not intel, it's simply being able to use all the parts found on different bots, like the Mechanic's Machine Analyzer because hell yeah rainbow chip.



There are also various bits of QoL to help you be a good Polymind, and in addition to those already mentioned, you'll also notice highlighted areas designated by 0b10 for your host to operate where it wouldn't otherwise be obvious. This way you can be a good Tunneler and get all the cookies.



For some gameplay QoL, you also automatically get the analysis of any bot type you take control of, for those that have them, which will help fight against others. (There's a log message about this when you control a new host that didn't yet have an analysis for.) Technically this is also a new way to collect them for your personal lore record purposes.
      
As usual I did add also some mode-specific tweaks for the easier difficulty settings, the details of which have been added to the respective lists in the manual.

In this mode the scoresheet also got a new dedicated Polymind section towards the bottom, which records a number of relevant stats.



Some of these stats and others from your run will also contribute to your Polymind-specific bonus score, which will likely be a significant component of your overall score, so we can do the normal event-specific leaderboard thing like with Player 2, RPGLIKE, and more. I haven't set it up yet (coming soon), but by extrapolation I would expect the leaderboards to appear here when ready :P

As with RPGLIKE, regardless of your showBuildType setting your current host class will be shown at the top of your parts list, and instead of the usual approach to build classification the scoresheet records will purely be using your host class instead of loadout, which should make for some interesting post-run analysis, not to mention comparisons across runs once everyone starts submitting run records. (Remember, the submission feature is off by default and you have to turn it on manually in the options, and set your player name, in order to participate.)

As in the past I'll be sharing data from the event later, probably on the dev blog along with other information about Polymind.

There's quite a lot of room to bring crazy ideas to life in Polymind, so I'm looking forward to the fun stories to come out of this event. As with regular Cogmind there's both ends of the spectrum, from a really aggressive approach to a super stealthy one, and everything in between, but Polymind provides many new tools to achieve either goal, and lots of new strategic and tactical considerations throughout, so I also look forward to putting in some real runs myself. I've been so busy lately trying to bring it together in time (and keeping this huge array of changes and new mechanics from falling apart at the seams xD) that I haven't even had a chance to just enjoy it!

How to Play

As a timed special event, Winter 2022/Polymind mode will automatically activate for you on new runs from 12/24 through 1/7 if you've played at least 10 runs of Cogmind before.

On days outside that range, or even if you haven't played that many runs before, you can still force it by adding a command line parameter when running COGMIND.EXE: "-forceMode:Polymind". (Within Steam this is handled by going to Cogmind > Properties > Set Launch Options.) If you want to play a regular run during the event, you can suppress event date triggering by adding the "-noSpecialMode" command line parameter.

Important: Special events can only be activated if the game starts up without loading a save. Even restarting/self-destructing won't work in this case, because it requires modification of underlying game data on startup, which cannot be reloaded while the game is running. So if you have another run in progress, be sure to finish/end that first and launch Cogmind without any save in progress.

Cogmind Beta 11.2 "Polymind" (221224c) changelog:

  • NEW: Special event for Winter 2022, automatically activates between 12/24 and 1/7 (inclusive) for anyone who has played at least 10 runs
  • NEW: Command line argument "-forceMode:Winter2022" (or "-forceMode:Polymind") to enable the Winter mode from 2022, regardless of system date
  • NEW: [Polymind mode] Blend into Complex 0b10 as one of their own!
  • NEW: [Polymind mode] Cogmind does not evolve slots, and cannot attach or remove any parts
  • NEW: [Polymind mode] Collect Protomatter from destroyed combat bots and use it to take control of almost any other robot
  • NEW: [Polymind mode] Gain the form and functions of the controlled robot, and consider taking advantage of their capabilities to remain unnoticed
  • NEW: [Polymind mode] Performing class-related actions keeps suspicion low, but be wary of especially suspicious enemies
  • NEW: [Polymind mode] Once detected, either fight it out or try to lose your tail and blend in again by getting back to work as a local
  • NEW: [Polymind mode] Robots from other factions will always recognize you for what you really are, regardless of your current form
  • NEW: [Polymind mode] Extra "Polymind" section in scoresheet containing mode-specific stats
  • NEW: [Polymind mode] Significant bonus points awarded for various Polymind-related performance factors
  • NEW: Force melee mode, a new way to repeatedly force a melee/ramming attack (toggle via Spacebar+e or Shift-Alt-e), also compatible with vi-keys
  • NEW: 0b10 Mechanics assigned to Repair Stations eventually resupply with backup parts from a station if available
  • NEW: HUD Core/Energy/Matter readout uses higher contrast colors with Colorblind Adjustments option active
  • NEW: Accessibility section of manual detailing ASCII map fonts, closed caption audio, colorblind mode, color customization features, and more
  • MOD: Non-Cogmind-controlled Mechanics capable of carrying out full range of repairs, including allied robot cores and part integrity
  • MOD: Non-Cogmind-controlled Mechanics can no longer engage in repairs if self or target in combat, as with Cogmind-controlled Mechanics
  • MOD: Robot Size context help includes reference to that value's effect on lines of fire
  • MOD: Toggle Sound default hotkey (F11) changed to Ctrl-F11
  • FIX: Mechanics were capable of fixing even broken parts normally outside valid rating limits [MTF]
  • FIX: Stat values referenced in manual's Coverage/Exposure example calculations reflected data from earlier versions [aoemica]
  • FIX: Slow startup time on some M1 systems allowed muteAudioOnFocusLoss=1 to crash the game while alt-tabbing during loading [needausername]
  • FIX: noAudio=1 advanced.cfg setting no longer always worked, might crash program on startup [Luigi]
  • FIX: Using global audio toggle (Ctrl-F11) combined with muteAudioOnFocusLoss=1 still allowed audio to restart on returning to program from another
  • FIX: Now compatible with all versions of Steam Deck software

This release does not include all the big stuff I've been working on this year for Beta 12, which is a separate big expansion.
I did, however, backport a few things that would be helpful to have as soon as possible, so the changelog includes more than just Polymind stuff.

I didn't realize the noAudio setting was broken for a long time (nor that anyone might actually want to use it, but they do!), and fixing it means you really can tell Cogmind to not even load sound files on startup, effectively dropping its required disk size from 48 MB to 13 MB. Outright delete the /data/audio directory and it will still work with this setting. But... then of course there's also no sound effects.

I also made an adjustment to the built-in colorblind UI mode which recolors the HUD to rely more on contrast than shades:



Community

Some time next week I'll be streaming some Polymind, talking mechanics and strategy, though I'm not sure when. I've been pretty sick and extremely medicated for over a month now, hence the complete lack of streams since my health is just not up to it. Although I was hoping for a return to normal before starting again, it's been so long (plus there's an event!) that I'd like to try... (and also finish the final leg of that Zorbus run xD). If you want to check out my stream later on, it'l be archived with my other videos on YouTube.

In the meantime, folks on the Discord have been streaming Cogmind literally every day for the past couple weeks, so I imagine they'll keep doing that and some Polymind will be involved as well :)

If you missed it before, early this month I did my annual review taking a big-picture look at the past year and what's to come.



The current main project is following through on my promise to bring a significant expansion to Cogmind in the form of a new faction and corresponding maps/lore/NPCs/etc as a result of hitting one of our Overwhelmingly Positive threshold milestones on Steam a while back. We have since lost that status, but work is already well underway and it is happening nonetheless! (as will the promised Merchants expansion, but that one is likely a big post-1.0 thing, with only bits of them showing through via lore at present) On that note, it's been a very long time since I reminded folks to leave reviews, and it shows xD. Not something I really like to bother with, but they are certainly helpful for indie devs, especially those who work on their game full time like I do.

Lastly, a reminder to any of you in Argentina or Turkey: As described in an announcement on the Steam forum earlier, Cogmind's price will be adjusted next month. Sorry about the mixup. Valve's currency system is not to be trusted xD

Oh yeah there's also the Steam Deck thingy mentioned in the changelog. Naturally it's not really recommended playing on the device itself with tiny screen and no suitable control scheme, but I know some of you wanted to experiment with it, and others wanted to use their deck as a console hooked up to external devices (and are already doing so with the specific versions that do work), so it should now at least be compatible with all versions of the SD software. Have at it!

Surprise!!!



Saves from earlier versions are incompatible with Beta 11.2, but even if you're on Steam and Cogmind automatically updates, Beta 11.1 is still available via its own legacy branch and you can roll back to finish a run in progress first if you like. To be extra clear, even in the event of an automatic update on Steam, none of your saves would be deleted--older save files simply wait in your user data for the proper version to start up, so you can even safely try the new event out and roll back to finish an earlier run on the previous version.

16
Announcements / Annual Review: Year 9 of the Cogmind
« on: December 03, 2022, 06:04:45 PM »


Time for another annual review! 2022 saw Cogmind's 10th anniversary, celebrated by its largest-ever release, and Beta 12 is still in development but getting quite large itself... Read about Year 9 of the Cogmind on the dev blog, concluding with the usual look at the months ahead.

17
Announcements / SITREP Saturday #50: The Detour of Detours
« on: October 04, 2022, 01:16:23 AM »


Beta 12 development is well underway at this point, though I regret to inform you that it will contain even more than originally planned ;)

The idea was mainly to add a new map and new faction (in fact the one promised as part of this announcement if we got enough reviews), plus of course all the related features and content implied by such an addition. So, um, I haven't actually started on that just yet, and instead finished a huge Garrison expansion, a whole new multimap mechanic for interacting with one of the existing factions, and a crazy new randomized item system that seems to work, with plans for an actual three new maps, that new faction (and friends!), and a whole new ending (Cogmind's 10th!).

I've been summarizing some of the major features on the dev blog, but here's a shorter summary to fill you all in on progress.

Garrisons 2.0

The first order of business in Beta 12 was to implement what patrons voted for, an expansion of Cogmind's Garrison interiors, and it got waaaay bigger than expected :P



Overall the article provides a background on Garrison design, both the old and new, giving the reasoning behind the expansion and corresponding methodology.

Definitely one of the more time-consuming aspects was adjusting the unique map generation for compatibility with Cogmind's normal encounter architecture, so that we can greatly increase the variety of localized encounters. Here's an example of potential encounter rooms (dark gray) to expand upon a randomized original Garrison layout:



And a final Garrison layout after various encounters have been inserted:



That already looks quite different, with a greater potential for variation, than the original Garrisons, but there's more!

For years I've also wanted to tie Garrisons to one of the major Derelict factions (one in particular), and saw a revisitation of Garrison design as an opportunity to do just that, so expect more in that regard... In fact, most importantly the new mechanic I'm referring to (which I won't spoil here) offers a reason for non-RIF users to consider entering Garrisons as well! (aside from other possible normal reasons, which in fact there are even more now because Garrisons often contain even better loot)

Among the less surprising new features included with a Garrison expansion are a redesigned clock, several new Terminal hacks, and possible mapwide events to mix it up even more.

There are many other details covered in the full post.

The Scrap Engine

Those of you who have played Cogmind before will know that there are quite a lot of items (>1000, actually!), and without exception all of them have static stats. True there are a handful of items which can be transformed into something else, but item stats always remain the same from run to run, allowing you to build an understanding and expectations of what is available from various sources, and in the end meaning less time spent figuring out how good something is and more spent planning and adapting your build based on past knowledge.

This fact won't change on a large scale, but in another major detour for Beta 12 development I did spot an opportunity for a true exception to the "all items are static" rule, built it, played it alongside patrons, and it seems to be interesting and compatible with the rest of the game :pogmind:

As part of the background for this topic, on the blog I wrote about "Item Variants and Randomization in Roguelikes" giving a brief history of non-static items in past roguelikes, all the way back to Rogue itself.



This is quite the Angband randart:



The post includes screenshots from a variety of roguelikes while demonstrating how randomized items evolved over time.

Then it goes into depth about how items being static is of fundamental importance to Cogmind's design, in a number of respects.

Then there's this collage of ASCII art for ~800 of Cogmind's items, because it's cool-looking :P



Getting back on topic, considering that Cogmind was built over a decade while assuming that items are all static, obviously it could be problematic trying to edge some randomization in there, so the latter section of that post covers the architecture and design that would make it possible to realize this goal. I wasn't confident that it would even work well enough to justify including in the end, but it was interesting to at least try if the end result would be fun and make sense.

In short, by imposing just the right limitations on the system, combined with some creative workarounds, it is indeed possible!

The result is a whole new mechanic and build style designed around a new utility: the Scrap Engine.



This utility is pretty amazing, collecting power sources, propulsion, and guns/cannons to create "constructs," basically Frankenstein parts that draw on various attributes of the component items, for better or worse. Continuing to eat more items further modifies existing constructs, and repairs them in the process, in the long run turning Cogmind into a true monstrosity of evolving scrap, one that might sometimes be a little on the weak side, and other times an unstoppable beast firing some giant multiprojectile penetrating cannon that rips through entire armies.

You know you want it:



(yeah the heat was challenging--I ran this for a while during one of my streams, but a couple of injectors were usually good enough, sometimes retreating for a moment when necessary)

In any case, playing with this thing really calls for a whole new approach to many aspects of play, and can get pretty chaotic and surprising for those who enjoy that sort of thing. Honing and testing one's skill at adaptation has always been high on Cogmind's list of strengths :)

With the Scrap Engine it's DIY exoskeleton time! (sketch by Zyalin)



Quite a lot of work went into fine tuning the Scrap Engine, perhaps evidenced by the number of related mechanics you can read about in the full article, including armoring itself, part repairs, multislot constructs, construct stacking, and of course the unavoidable amount of underlying number crunching to get something like this operational.



Inevitably there are also some new UI and QoL features to support more effective use of the Scrap Engine, including a popup list of previously consumed parts it can currently use to create or modify constructs:



Feed it well and it will (likely :P) do good things for you!

Up next: A new cave branch found waaaay down low, a new faction that makes up in spirit what it lacks in cohesiveness, and a new late-game map (MAIN.C isn't one to be left out of all the fun).

18
General Discussion / 3D Printed Cogmind Bot Models by Runia
« on: July 19, 2022, 10:14:02 PM »
Full set included in an album here (spoiler warnings for the later ones).

Commission details:


Overall a really great job of bringing Kacper's tiles into 3D. A number of players have ordered some over previous months, and I'm getting mine printed now :D

19
General Discussion / Custom cursors by Maiker
« on: April 02, 2022, 02:15:26 AM »
Maiker on the Discord shared a set of custom cursors, in some cases here with different designs for different factions/alliances.

The manual describes how to load custom cursors (search for "Custom Cursors").

Edit: Removed old set.

20
Announcements / Cogmind Beta 11 "Mechanical Renaissance"
« on: March 17, 2022, 05:51:48 PM »


Today on Cogmind's 10th anniversary, I'm excited to announce the release of a massive update, in the works for more than a year now. Inside you'll find a huge array of new challenges, more fun mechanics, and most importantly an extensive rebalancing aimed at improving every aspect of the experience. Beta 11 has been heavily playtested across a dozen large prerelease versions by patrons helping fund its development (HUGE THANK YOU <3), and having played a lot of it myself, I agree that it's by far Cogmind's best version yet. Time to share it with everyone!

Cover art by Zyalin, feast your eyes upon the 1080p version for more detail.

This release is so massive we're going to deviate a bit from Cogmind's normal announcement format, starting with a summary of major features and changes existing players will want to be aware of, followed by a changelog excerpt listing only the more important entries, then the usual feature details and demos.

The Big Picture

Before we get into details, with Beta 11 it'll be helpful to have a simpler guide through the most important balance-related aspects of this mammoth release, especially for those of you who definitely aren't going to read much beyond the first bits of this announcement or the articles backing it (there is a lot of writing behind the development of this release over on the dev blog).

Have some bullet points!
  • Easily the biggest paradigm shift in Beta 11 is giving all storage units the <no_stack> tag, and redesigning storage capacity around this idea. No longer will you be potentially allocating numerous utility slots just to expand inventory size, freeing up those slots for more interesting utilities, of which you'll find many in Beta 11! :D
  • Hover and flight were too similar overall, with the latter form of propulsion in particular capable of surprisingly powerful builds despite also having the ability to easily reposition or avoid danger. Lowered mass support has now shifted them more towards the intended evasion/hacking role, at which they also do a better job due to lowered energy costs. This is part of the wider efforts to further differentiate builds and parts in general in Beta 11.
  • Ground-based propulsion overweight penalties were also adjusted to make it somewhat less desirable to shrug off that drawback with insufficient consequences, while doing so remains a viable strategy for some builds.
  • The number and types of challenges in the main Complex 0b10 areas have increased, and that also generally means greater difficulty, though Cogmind now also has even more tools at their disposal, alongside a greater number of better balanced options that might not have been as viable before. As usual the alternative difficulty settings (Adventurer/Explorer) have been updated to make adjustments to new content so it's less punishing for players looking to reduce the challenge there (adjustments listed in the usual place in the manual).
  • Fabrication was redesigned such that each Fabricator can only be hacked to build something once, unless using Authchips (which also avoid the new consequences of successful fabrication). Fabrication is still a useful supplementary tool, though unlikely to be able to create almost complete builds from scratch as before.

I'll be discussing some of these topics in greater detail further below.

Cogmind Beta 11 "Mechanical Renaissance" (220317) changelog (excerpt):

I divided the changes up categorically this time since it's... long :P

Content
  • NEW: 1 new intermap area "DSF" (Distributed Storage Facility)
  • NEW: 61 new items (including new mechanics)
  • NEW: 49 new sound effects (total = 1089)
  • NEW: 2 new types of Storage Unit
  • NEW: 6 more alien artifacts
  • NEW: 2 new unique superweapons
  • NEW: 2 new common 0b10 combat bots (6 variants) and related mechanics
  • NEW: 1 more Hauler variant
  • NEW: 4 more Specialist variants
  • NEW: 1 new derelict subvariant
  • NEW: 2 new prototype robots
  • NEW: 13 new encounters and events
  • NEW: 45 lore entries related to new features and content
  • NEW: 12 unique critical strike effects for different weapon types
  • NEW: 3 more unauthorized hacks
  • NEW: 1 new non-RIF robot hack
  • NEW: 1 new type of build class modifier
  • NEW: Unique new late-game build type with special access conditions and effects on some major NPC interactions
  • NEW: Alternative non-assault response due to rising alert, depending on reasons behind alert increases
  • NEW: New type of squad dispatch in some areas
  • NEW: Sterilization process capable of melting more objects
  • NEW: Researchers carry random Schematic Archives
  • NEW: Additional major NPC data core available for retrieval (special effect)
  • MOD: Garrison patrol composition adjusted in some cases
  • MOD: Increased Behemoth core integrity
  • MOD: Broadened variety of Specialist spawn pool at each depth
  • MOD: Updated many bot designs to account for changes to parts
  • MOD: Some areas might sterilize more quickly than others
  • MOD: Data Miner schematics now mostly randomized
  • MOD: Reworked Network Hub response event
  • MOD: Lab sensor count reduced
  • MOD: Command garrison composition adjusted to reflect new dispatches
  • MOD: Deep Caves wall more easily disturbed
Mechanics / Items
  • NEW: Legs increase evasion while moving but decrease accuracy, where degree is based on current momentum
  • NEW: HUD Movement readout displays "Running" instead of "Walking" if current momentum is leg-based
  • NEW: Kinetic cannon projectiles blast matter off target robots based on salvage modifier
  • NEW: Most machines and walls penetrated by projectiles failing to destroy them might eventually collapse
  • NEW: <half_stack> item tag allows second best part of matching effect to contribute half of its value (applied across eight different utility effects)
  • NEW: Trap Extractors can hold multiple traps, cycle to DROP mode for placement
  • NEW: Trap Extractors also prevent user system corruption from accidentally triggering a trap at current location due to movement
  • NEW: Triangulator also pinpoints tracking hostiles outside FOV, within a certain range
  • NEW: System Guard converted to Processor, given new effect: reduces effective system corruption
  • NEW: Corruption Screen converted to Processor, given new mechanic: degrades to block new system corruption
  • NEW: Structural Scanner identifies cells behind visible solid cells
  • NEW: Phase Generators also scramble all structural and terrain scanning effects
  • NEW: Robots corrupted by EM damage drop Corrupted salvageable parts, which cause side effects when attached
  • NEW: Waste EMP discharge less likely to fry parts, but may also corrupt them
  • NEW: Integrated Mediator may now also prevent negative effects of attaching Corrupted parts
  • NEW: Cogmind power sources susceptible to EM-induced chain reactions from AOE sources
  • NEW: Power Shielding protects power sources from EM-induced chain reactions
  • NEW: Dirty Datajack redesigned with new stats, effects, and lore
  • NEW: Seismic Analyzer renamed to Seismic Detector, converted to Device and given new functionality
  • MOD: Kicking a target never damages self, regardless of leg count
  • MOD: Storage Units can no longer be stacked
  • MOD: Adjusted stats of all Storage Unit variants, increasing both capacity and mass
  • MOD: Cogmind base inventory capacity increased to 5
  • MOD: Mass support utilities can no longer be stacked
  • MOD: Multiple Exiles items rebalanced with new mechanics
  • MOD: Integration Mediators converted to artifact with corresponding permanent effect
  • MOD: Energy/dissipation artifacts reworked
  • MOD: Integrity Redistributor exchange ratio reduced
  • MOD: Removed Stasis Generator
  • MOD: Increased overweight speed penalties for all ground propulsion by varying degrees
  • MOD: Flight propulsion rebalanced for lower mass support and reduced energy cost
  • MOD: Hover propulsion rebalanced for lower mass support and reduced energy cost
  • MOD: All flight array integrity increased
  • MOD: Reduced capacity of energy storage utilities
  • MOD: Sensor Array range progression tightened, ratings increased
  • MOD: FarCom detection range reduced from 20 to 18
  • MOD: Terminal-based tracking ranges reduced
  • MOD: Structural Scanner no longer identifies unstable machines
  • MOD: Increased rating of most Signal Interpreters, Terrain Scanners, Optical Arrays, and some Terrain Scan Processors
  • MOD: Coolant Injectors degrade twice as fast
  • MOD: Lowered all Hardlight Generator coverage
  • MOD: Mid/high-tier Shielding utility integrity reduced
  • MOD: Armor Integrity Analyzer success rates reduced
  • MOD: Damper Plating size increased (3->4)
  • MOD: Increased shot count for most vortex weapons
  • MOD: Mni. Smartbomb Launcher weakened
  • MOD: Salvage Targeting Computers incompatible with multiprojectile guns
  • MOD: Removed treads accuracy buff
  • MOD: Increased integrity of most thermal weapons
  • MOD: Decreased coverage of most thermal weapons
  • MOD: 0b10 Decoder Chips variants given different discovery rates, some faster than before
  • MOD: System Restoration Module mechanics reworked to operate faster but deplete their integrity over time
  • MOD: Any system corruption side effect can occur at any level, thresholds removed but relative corruption-based likelihood of each type unchanged
  • MOD: Removed potential negative weapon accuracy mod due to system corruption
  • MOD: Restricted number of situations in which system corruption causes misdirections
  • MOD: Misdirections caused by system corruption no longer happen if attempting to move into a solid object
  • MOD: Missed shots far less likely to accidentally hit an intended target due to random luck
  • MOD: Many weapon crit chances updated for compatibility with new variable type system
  • MOD: Electromagnetic launcher ranges decreased by 2
  • MOD: Impact damage overflow now also uses slot-based targeting instead of coverage-based targeting
  • MOD: Slashing damage part severing side effect removed (replaced by equivalent critical effect)
  • MOD: Core Analyzer effect changed to simply increase target core exposure for all coverage-based hits
  • MOD: Piercing damage side-effect changed to match new Core Analyzer effect
  • MOD: Critical and Coring immunities on a robot no longer confer immunity to Core Analyzers
  • MOD: Rebalanced various thermal cannon stats, including Hvy. Plasma Cannon, Matter Neutralizers
  • MOD: Rebalanced various EM cannon stats, including Hvy. Proton Cannon, Com. HERF Cannon, Hpw. Disruptor Cannon
  • MOD: Rebalanced various kinetic gun stats, including Gauss Rifles, Coil Guns, KE Penetrators
  • MOD: Rebalanced various kinetic cannon stats, including Com. Linear Accelerators
  • MOD: Kinetic gun base range reduced from 22 to 18
  • MOD: Removed meltdown side effect of weapon overloading; strengthened heat surges, weakened energy bleeds
  • MOD: Rebalanced all melee impact weapons: doubled integrity, increased coverage 50%, increased damage 50%, delays reworked, given -salvage modifiers
  • MOD: Differentiated melee impact weapons with additional stat adjustments
  • MOD: Metafield Generator integrity decreased (100->80), coverage increased (8->30), upkeep reduced (20->15)
  • MOD: Kinecellerators allowed to buff weapon's minimum damage beyond maximum
  • MOD: Force Booster momentum mechanic replaced with direct melee damage buff, accuracy malus
  • MOD: Force Boosters mass, integrity, coverage increased, upkeep decreased, no longer as rare
  • MOD: Stasis Canceller reduced to one tier, rating reduced (8->5)
  • MOD: Stasis Canceller effect simplified to completely ignore all stasis effects, including both immobility and defensive benefits
  • MOD: Transmission Jammer ratings and upkeep increased, effects buffed at lower tiers
  • MOD: Hardlight Generator thermal resistance increased to match kinetic resistance
  • MOD: Hardlight Generator effects increased 25~50%
  • MOD: Mobile Assembly Unit production time reduced (50->10), in turn reducing matter cost
  • MOD: Matter Drive converted from Utility to Power
  • MOD: Matter Drive no longer a guaranteed find
  • MOD: Fusion Compressor type converted from Utility to Power
  • MOD: Fusion Compressor energy generation increased (15->20)
  • MOD: Trap extraction consumes 5 matter per attempt
  • MOD: Chance of AOE EM damage triggering allied traps reduced to match chance of triggering hostile traps
  • MOD: Door autohacking utilities also work on those requiring manual unique codes
  • MOD: Non-explosive projectiles reaching max range no longer affect open ground
  • MOD: Programmers can clear corruption on a wider range of bots
  • MOD: Improved internal uniqueness of multiprojectile AOE weapon signatures to prevent overlapping explosions from sometimes inflicting less damage
  • MOD: Drones may now trigger cave-ins
  • MOD: Trackers now immune to coring
Hacking
  • NEW: Additional method to build schematics at Fabricators, via Authchips
  • NEW: Schematics list accessed via Fabricator includes alternative color and text indicators when applicable Authchips available
  • NEW: Manually hacking robot schematics/analyses and loading schematics can also match case-insensitive partial substrings (e.g. "troop" -> "G-47 Trooper")
  • NEW: Scanalyzer list of insertable items includes inventory tags
  • MOD: Removed explicit central matter system for part fabrication
  • MOD: Complex 0b10 use of Fabricators follows same build process utilized by players rather than random sudden spawns
  • MOD: Complex 0b10 use of Fabricators to produce parts no longer follows stockpile rules, instead producing extra amounts of single item type
  • MOD: Fabricator Network(Status) hack given different functionality under new fabrication system
  • MOD: Fabricator Trojans reworked for new fabrication system
  • MOD: Fabricator loaded schematic cleared once the build completes
  • MOD: Parts produced via preloaded Fabricator schematic now automatically identified on completion
  • MOD: Trojan(Siphon) removed (no longer applicable)
  • MOD: Modified Complex 0b10 response to Reprogram hack
  • MOD: amplify_resonance hack effect ends immediately after affecting a single active power source on target
  • MOD: Command Fork RIF ability description explicitly states matching Relay Coupler requirement
  • MOD: Limited-function 0b10 Terminals no longer affected by Zion integration
Allies / AI
  • NEW: Expanded Watcher chasing AI behavior block to include greater number of ally types
  • NEW: Assign custom names to controllable allies (see button/command in info window)
  • NEW: Message and history logs report number of allies that failed to survive the journey between maps
  • MOD: Combat AIs now prefer to avoid dangerous terrain in more cases
  • MOD: Allies ignore Watcher targets if Cogmind has Watcher Feeds RIF ability
  • MOD: Increased area within which active drones and controllable allies will follow to a new map
  • MOD: Mostly removed hard caps on number of allies that can follow to a new map
  • MOD: Allies following to new maps will not always start as close as possible
  • MOD: Hacking Drone no longer able to perform indirect hacks at door/special terminals
  • MOD: Ally transfers between maps give additional priority to those carrying items in inventory
  • MOD: Zionite followers given somewhat more freedom during engagements
QoL / UI
  • NEW: Special Commands window accessed via Spacebar, allows context help and alternative keyboard/mouse access for many special Shift-Alt commands
  • NEW: Find known/remembered items on map via new realtime search interface (Spacebar+f or Shift-Alt-f)
  • NEW: Ruler overlay mode for quickly measuring ranges from any position to any other position (Spacebar+x or Shift-Alt-x)
  • NEW: Map commenting mode (Spacebar+c or Shift-Alt-c)
  • NEW: Filter on-map item labels by category (all/power/propulsion/utility/weapon/nonpart) while mass labeling (cycle category with Tab \ -/= \ KP+/-)
  • NEW: Volley visualization ('v') now also highlights visible destructible terrain in Tactical HUD mode (see manual under Advanced UI > Volley Window)
  • NEW: Warning on attempting to fire through terrain, as with robots
  • NEW: "Analyses" button in Status window to access known list
  • NEW: Exiles give second warning about accessing Research branches with FarCom on entering Research
  • NEW: Matter/Protomatter labels outside FOV now include their last known amount
  • NEW: On-map popup labels for critical effects where applicable, including part severing
  • NEW: DISPOSABLE and UNSTABLE weapons also append remaining uses to name while in inventory, or on open info page
  • NEW: Dedicated sound effect for low core warning
  • NEW: Input blocked on game over screen for 2 seconds to prevent accidental presses after a sudden death
  • NEW: FPS counter also shows at top of HUD when active, setting stored in system.cfg to recall between sessions
  • NEW: Second threshold when attempting to move at extremely slow speed, with different warning message (advanced.cfg: extremeSlowMoveSpeed defaults to 600)
  • NEW: Asset loading progress reported on screen during startup
  • MOD: Recolored Data Core tiles/ASCII to reflect the variety of categories
  • MOD: Gradually expendable utilities (Injectors, System Restoration Modules) have unique SFX on depletion
  • MOD: Minigun and Barrage Gun SFX shortened by removing spinup and some spindown
  • MOD: Assault ALERT announcement more clearly distinguishes singular vs. plural dispatches
  • MOD: RIF ability hotkey changed to Shift-Alt-i (also compatible with new menu with Spacebar+i)
  • MOD: "Clear/Previous message" keybind switched from Spacebar to 0
  • MOD: "Go naked" command now referred to as "Purge all parts"
Help
  • NEW: More specific descriptions added to some items, including some drone bay types, Exiles prototypes, Datajacks and Relay Couplers, and non-part items
  • NEW: 0b10 Decoder Chips effect description lists potential data types
  • NEW: In Tactical HUD mode, info page for power sources also includes chain reaction explosion details
  • NEW: Watchers explicitly list Sensor Jamming as a trait
  • NEW: Unique context help for robot info page "ID" entry depending on current state
  • NEW: Unique context help for item info page "State" entry depending on current state
  • NEW: Unique context help for machine info page "State" entry depending on current state
  • NEW: Manual section "Salvage" (under Combat) expanded to describe Corrupted parts
  • NEW: Manual Kinetic/Impact damage sections give details on chance of knockback to displace a second robot, and the damage inflicted
  • NEW: README now includes info about requiring restart on changes to desktop resolution or pixel scaling
  • NEW: README includes troubleshooting entry referring to manual section on Custom Cursors for resolving cursor display issues
  • MOD: Adventurer/Explorer mode include tweaks to make new content and mechanics less difficult (added to manual list)
  • MOD: Add your personal notes in user/notes.txt rather than in the last section of manual.txt
  • MOD: user/game.bin file renamed meta.bin
  • MOD: Updated context help for immunities and critical strikes to reflect new rules
Scoresheet / Data
  • NEW: All patron supporter names registered since Beta 10 added to in-game list (see Credits menu)
  • MOD: Destroying robots with no score value also no longer counts towards Robots Destroyed total
  • MOD: Score from robot value and destruction counts capped for replenishing bot variants on a per-map basis
Bugs
  • FIX: Melee sneak attacks tripled damage rather than doubled damage as intended and indicated in manual [aoemica]
  • FIX: Super Gauntlet challenge now blocks all branch access in Materials, to avoid shortcuts to other branches, and prevent FarCom use [CaptainWinky]
  • FIX: Single alarm trap array could in some cases trigger multiple times if caused by an EM explosion [zxc]
  • FIX: Engineers under influence of ignore_repairs hack might call for reinforcements if attacked while incidentally moving towards repair location [zxc]
  • FIX: Sentries did not respond to generate_anomaly [Heavyrisk]
  • FIX: Propulsion Burnout stat context help did not explain how overloadable propulsion could break normal max speed restrictions [breylinlee]
  • FIX: Modal part management menu (d)rop command did not automatically bypass inventory as intended [NikolayAg]
  • FIX: Patrolling ARCs were no longer emergency deploying on destruction like assault ARCs
  • FIX: Save file sizes might get unnecessarily large across a long run, padding with an extra 30-50% empty score data
  • FIX: Melee impacts on certain materials did not play any sound for the impact itself

The full changelog is so long that I decided to split it in two, where the above is actually less than half of its actual content, but includes all the more generally important updates, the kinds of entries I would normally highlight in past changelogs. Experienced players interested in additional details (and options) will probably want to also check out the full changelog included with the game, or available online here.

Saves from earlier versions are incompatible with Beta 11, but even if you're on Steam and Cogmind automatically updates, Beta 10.2 is still available via its own legacy branch and you can roll back to finish a run in progress first if you like.

Rebalancing Cogmind

One of the cornerstones of this version is the comprehensive review and subsequent rebalance of many items and mechanics, about which I wrote a lengthy article on the dev blog, conveniently titled "Rebalancing Cogmind." It's not a complete list of changes or anything (although it does include links to spreadsheets :P), but it does cover a lot of the whys and hows while sharing the entire process behind it.



It also links back to previous in-depth design articles written about related subtopics such as propulsion, weapon mechanics, storage units, and fabrication.

Power sources, propulsion, utilities, weapons... no category went untouched, and lots of individual items and mechanics were tweaked to better balance them in the bigger picture of the game Cogmind has evolved into over many years, especially focusing on weakening clearly overpowered parts, or in more cases increasing the viability, desirability, and fun of otherwise previously subpar items. As a result, some old strategies may need to be rethought, though the overall results feels really good once you get used to the changes, with more tradeoffs to consider and more ways to get creative or augment your abilities, made even easier by the storage rework ;)

With so many changes large and small, I recommend that long-time players reset assumptions about many items since they may no longer hold true. You'll likely find that something you ignored earlier is now perfect for your preferred strategy, or some other kind of build you've been considering. Hopefully you're not too paralyzed by all the juicy new possibilities, not to mention all the chaff that was removed to leave room for good stuff, or turned into the good stuff itself!

Major UI Features

We've got yet a ton more QoL features, including some major ones that people have been looking forward to, like the dedicated item search UI. (I described the related features in more detail on the blog here.)



It even supports all kinds of filters for more customizable searches, with help text right there in the interface. And selecting an item (listed by distance from your position) shows the fastest open path to that location, and can also be used to move there automatically.



Similarly, it can be convenient to tab through different categories when viewing item labels on the map, e.g. all weapons, all propulsion, etc.



Anyone with a distaste for Shift-Alt commands (or just anyone who has trouble remembering the command when they actually need one :P) will be happy to know there's a new Spacebar menu specifically for special commands. (We've got an article about this one, too. Because of course.) Just hit Spacebar followed by the letter key (or use the mouse) to use one of these helpful features, several of which are new to Beta 11.



Content Highlights

We have a new class of combat bot! The "Heavy" can be pretty tough because they have a powerful cannon, cloak other combat bots, use sensors to eventually pinpoint hostiles snooping around their defensive zone, and summon more allies to reinforce the area. Scary! Fortunately they telegraph their location due to their powerful Active Sensor Suite, allowing you to generally avoid them if you must, or want to, though they tend to guard important locations so you'll likely have to deal with one sooner or later.



That's not to say everyone will want to avoid them, since they are a pretty great source of good gear, if you can salvage it after tearing them to pieces.

They have a great line of destructive new heavy kinetic cannons.



They also have a whole set of very useful utilities, among them the very sensor suite they're using to find targets, one that you can also take advantage of to penetrate all forms of cloaking and sensor blocking (though at the cost of sometimes giving away your position).

The suite is even capable of analyzing the environment for tracks to determine pathways that likely lead to points of interest, like machines and exits (there's a whole article on this sensor type as well).



Friends called in by the Heavies to look for hostiles are not very nice, involving either a random Specialist variant (of which Beta 11 has added 4 more!) or another brand new combat class, which carries one of these and will do a number on you if they can get close (fear the SFX!):



There are lots more details about the Heavy class in an article about "area denial".

Note: The Active Sensor Suite environment data for non-Complex areas was not actually completed in time to be included with Beta 11, but it's still already very much worth using.

Heavies generally aren't moving around (well... not usually ;)), so you don't often need to worry about staying out of their path, or that they'll suddenly show up and ruin your plans, but cargo convoys will definitely ruin your day if they surprise you. (The article with lots of details about convoys is here.)

Imagine lots and lots of really good loot, and that loot is on the move and being escorting by lots and lots of dangerous bots, not to mention held inside an armored freighter armed with its own autonomous laser system. That's a convoy, and ambushing one is quite an accomplishment and extremely rewarding, but also makes you think twice whether you're really ready for it!

They'll enter a main map, travel along a predetermined route, then leave. As you can imagine if you're familiar with intercepting Haulers, you can use various means to determine their cargo and intended path, so you can try to hit them at just the right moment. Get creative :D

Mmm, a Modified TNC from the Exiles shows us the loooooot... (the loot is also significantly out of depth, so you can get late-game experimental gear in the mid-game)



Sample convoy route:



Newly active convoys are announced globally, so you'll at least know there's one on the move when it happens, and can consider reacting accordingly.

If that's not enough risk reward for you, you can try raiding a DSF (article with more details). "Distributed Storage Facilities" have been in the lore since the beginning, but they were never a place you could visit, at least not until Beta 11 :)

We have Garrisons, and Waste, and together with those we now also have DSFs, the third kind of small map-between-maps. These store tons of good loot inside, as you might expect, though of course it's also guarded, not least of all by a Heavy stationed in the middle, plus a rapid sterilization system engaged when things get hot (to make them... hotter? :O).



You'll see entrances to these all over Factory and Research, but the only way to actually get in is to hack it open before any combat bots on the floor have even spotted you (or any other threats, for that matter).



Strategically these can be a great place to get a whole new build (or buff up your current one) if you're confident, although doing so also gives up any potential branch rewards at that depth since their exit leads up to the next depth.

New Toys

There's plenty more new toys than I'll cover here (including many which are big spoilers and a lot of fun), but let's highlight a few of the more common ones.

Machine Analyzers reveal machines networked to the machines currently in view, super useful for tracking down similar interactive machines, or even just knowing where other non-interactive machines are located to help learn more about the map's layout.



This new processor also let's you know when an explosive machine has been destabilized, and when it will blow, functionalities which used to belong to the Structural Scanner.



For its part, the Structural Scanner itself is technically now "new," but it's certainly been redesigned with a more focused purpose, and offers a great new bit of intel, telling you about the terrain immediately behind each wall. Great for quicker navigation through labyrinthine areas where making your own doors is probably faster!



(Machine Analyzers and the revamped Structural Scanner were covered in more depth here along with other infowar work.)

Because you can never have enough intel, we also have Seismic Detectors, one of the six (SIX!) new sensor technologies added to Beta 11. These offer a wide and very interesting cross-section of data since they'll tell you info about distant machines, robots, and certain events, but only those which generate seismic readings, brighter for stronger signals.



They're also pretty easy to acquire--I'm sure your neighborhood Excavator would be happy to oblige if you just blow them to pieces.

It won't help you avoid airborne patrols, but with the right knowledge you can deduce a lot about the signals you're seeing on the cheap. Big brain utility right there.

(The end of the Rebalancing Cogmind article has more Seismic Detector details and demos, and more design info about... Trap Extractors).

TRAPPER BUILDS ARE HERE!

So yeah for a while we've have a number of trapping-related parts, but most are either uniques you have to luck into finding, or hard to build around as a primary strategy. Inventory space was the biggest limiting factor when it came to extensive trap use, but the redesigned Trap Extractor solves that by allowing it to also store and deploy traps that you've hacked or acquired through other means.



Carry more extractors to load up on additional trap types, and watch disarmed enemies run around like headless chickens, or on fire, or just explode into tiny bits.

The new Trap Scanner might also come in handy for trapper builds, or just anyone who wants to speed around without suddenly getting blasted, chopped, or sucked into a chute.



The completely redesigned Force Booster is an example of a rarely used (or confusing/hard to use) mechanic that has been given new life, and why you might want to reassess your opinions that may have formed over previous runs as to which items you like and which you avoid. It now simply increases max melee damage.



It actually also has a clear drawback to using it (one of the first such utilities to do this), in that it decreases accuracy, but if you can overcome that (or ignore it), Force Boosters sure can make already deadly melee weapons that much more devastating.

Force Boosters are also one of the new utilities to take advantage of a new tag halfway between <no_stack> and <stacks>, called... yes, <half_stack>. So you are allowed to simultaneously use a second one to add half its bonus, increasing damage even further (for example the best one gives a 40% damage boost, so half-stacked it's +60%!). Some items with effects that could not be stacked earlier are actually allowed to partially stack now! Another point to review :)

Look, Target Analyzers can be half_stacked, too!



Like I said before, a bunch of new toys fall into what I would consider spoiler territory (go out there and discover things!), but I'd add least like to point out here that a few of the new toys resulted in adding engine support for new twists on old mechanics, especially in the projectile department, and along with that we now have support for "directional explosions." So instead of explosions always projecting outward in all directions, we can get them exploding in an arc, like, oh I dunno, claymores? ;)

Here's a sample of the mechanic in action, where this wide explosion technically doesn't actually blast Cogmind or the Terminal (this was an engine test--there is no weapon exactly like this):



With these kinds of things having engine-level support, I'm sure we'll see some more real examples in the future.

To end this section we have not a new toy, but a new feature for an old one: Autohackers can now hack through doors that require manual codes, too, making them somewhat more useful (and of course aligning with what one might expect them to be capable of!).



Mechanics

There are a ton of little mechanical additions and changes, which is what the changelog is for (well, except where I left out a ton of new stuff because it's more fun to just find it), but anyway there are some bigger changes that deserve a bit of discussion. Let's go over some of those mechanical highlights...

There has always been a player tendency to want to build up a massive inventory capacity and hoard items like there's no tomorrow.

I mean yeah, there are indeed a lot of useful parts out there, and you're also going to lose parts and need replacements, but when the hoarding starts getting so out of hand that many of your utility slots are taken up by inventory-expanding parts
and it cuts into your actual ability to fight, or use intel, or... have a real build, then that's a bit of a problem where the game design needs to come in and save players from their own tendencies (as a player I, too, am guilty here xD).

Having huge inventories also leads to inventory management annoyances, and there's always going to be an inventory management aspect to Cogmind gameplay, but we literally had players with 10 pages of inventory items... like... wow. Okay so that's an extreme example and a more common number might be 40-50 or so on a heavier build, but still.

The solution was to only allow you to use one storage at a time (so basically add the <no_stack> tag to all storage units). And of course this change isn't made in isolation--all storage units get a redesign towards this new goal, meaning capacities increased and mass updated etc. Basically we decided what a reasonable cap would be for inventory size, and extrapolated a reasonable scale for the units under this new system, taking into account both build balancing needs and the desire to avoid going overboard on inventory management.

It feels great.

There is indeed more inventory pressure since you can't just keep expanding it to accommodate more (aside from upgrading to a larger, heavier type of storage, up to the limit), but if you were a hoarder before you now have so many more free utility slots to actually use interesting parts and also increase your build effectiveness at whatever it is you're doing, be it evasion, hacking, intel, combat..., and this actually results in 1) a more engaging experience along with 2) likely less part attrition in the first place!

Even bothacking builds are fine, one of the first setups I was eager to test under this new system, since I like running them and traditionally they relied on a huge inventory. But all those extra utility slots meant I could actually attach a bunch of couplers and better use them in combination with RIF abilities. Botlord, indeed.

It might take a little getting used to, but your builds are going to be a lot better for it, and... if you must, there are some newer very large and heavy storage units, but the extra slots come with increasingly diminishing returns in terms of mass. So far most people testing the game haven't really gone for the largest possible inventory size anymore. Enjoy your new utility slots ;)

As part of the storage changes, Cogmind's base inventory size also increased from 4 to 5 slots, without any storage utilities at all.

Oh yeah, of course there's a whole article on this topic here with lots more details.

Your choice of storage is important when coming up with a build theme, and so is propulsion, which also saw some fairly big adjustments. This, too, is where experienced players are really going to have to suppress expectations and reevaluate strategies.
  • Treads: Treads lost their innate accuracy bonus, as they're clearly quite good now and can eventually take advantage of siege mode for that accuracy (and other benefits) if they need it, not to mention using some of those freed up utility slots for optional targeting computers. Their overweight penalties increased because it was too easy to ignore the slowdown in exchange for all the extra support it offered, though for some people/builds the penalties are still within acceptable/usable limits. That's always my goal with balancing, to make it so that some people will make use of a particular approach or mechanic, but not everyone or most people. So treads nerfed a bit but still very good at what they do: support combat builds that blast everything in sight while taking a beating and laughing it off.
  • Legs: Legs are carving out a bit more of their "mobile but pretty combat-capable" niche with a new momentum-based mechanic that increases their evasion with momentum, but decreases their accuracy at the same time. So they're now even better at repositioning while under fire, though suffer if they try too much running and gunning while out in the open. On that note, by extension this also improves legs as a choice for heavy melee combat--chaaaaarge!
  • Wheels: Wheels didn't change much, already serving their niche pretty well as the propulsion known for being fairly fast, supportive, and easily acquired but also easily shot off. They just got a little bit of an overweight penalty nerf.
  • Flight: Flight builds definitely got a mix of buffs and nerfs, trying to reorient them away from having such crazy combat potential, especially in the late game. They're already super fast, they don't need to be super powerful at the same time? xD. They're still just as good at scouting, escaping, hacking, and anything that benefits from speed and can rely on lightweight gear, though flight unit mass support was reduced, making it that much harder to fly around with bulky stuff. It's still possible to get creative and make a decent flying build that can fight if it has to, though its effectiveness won't be as extreme as it once was. Energy costs were also reduced, making it easier to power the core of a flight build, or easier to stack more units for even faster speed.
  • Hover: Hover is the new (old) flight. It's pretty fast, and it can definitely still support some of those combat builds flight was running before, but doesn't have the flight advantage of being able to hop enemies and get out out of almost any scenario without actually destroying anything, so at least more balanced in that respect. Hover is still basically filling that "jack-of-all-trades but also challenging to maintain" role.

Obligatory propulsion article.

Like propulsion, damage types in Cogmind have undergone a fair number of updates over the years, and Beta 11 is easily the most balanced they've ever been. They've all got their proper niche now, and more importantly are all worth using if you want to build around that niche, or have a situation that calls for one type or another. For all the details check this article.

Thermal weapons were too easy to lose before, so were outright buffed by increasing their longevity via a combination of increased integrity and lower coverage (as balanced it's a niche since they're less likely to be hit than other weapons, but still have lower integrity, meaning if well-protected they will last even longer, but will be lost more quickly if not protected).

Kinetic cannons were very hard to sustain as a long-term build solution because they didn't leave much if anything of targets to salvage (most importantly matter!), but now they blast matter right off victims with each hit.



EM got nerfed, uh, again :P. Who would've thought that being capable of bypassing almost all defenses would require so many counterbalancing drawbacks!

The new tradeoff is pretty interesting, where EM creates "corrupted" salvage, which adds to Cogmind's system corruption when attached.





There are ways around this, for example preventing or getting rid of the corruption via other utilities, or evolving it away,
but it does often mean that salvage (which EM is actually otherwise quite good at obtaining) obtained like this may not be immediately usable without some extra drawbacks.

As you'll find, Beta 11 actually comes with several new utiltiies for dealing with corruption. The System Backup Module mechanic (actually since merged with "System Restoration Modules" for Beta 11) was also changed to have them operate more quickly but damage the module in the process, which is overall a better design approach that avoids require tedium.



Be aware that point blank AOE EM tactics can actually now cause a chain reaction in Cogmind's power sources, in the same way as it could for other robots. There's no log in this recording, but you can clearly see the secondary explosion and screenshake!



You don't need to worry about other bots doing this to you, which would be sorta unfair, so it's always your fault if it happens :P. Power Shielding also protects against the effect, so at least that's one way to more safely use this strategy.

Impact melee got buffed (AGAIN!), and having used it in my stream earlier this week I must say it's pretty formidable. Those weapons were totally redesigned and despite their unusual targeting mechanics can really pulverize a robot good...

Prior to Beta 11 there was only ever one meaning of "critical strike" in Cogmind, and it meant destruction of the target part/core, but we've now got 12 of them! This is good both for further differentiating weapons as well as adding new tactical options. The in-game context help will be useful here as you examine weapons to learn more about them.



The Blast crit, generally found on kinetic cannons, can blast parts right off of a target:



See all your (and their) critical effects reported right on the map, too:



So that's all the general weapon-related topics I wanted to cover here, but know that lots of individual weapons got tweaked, too, so be on the lookout for changes :)

Fabrication is another area that got a big shakeup. (There's an article for that: Fabrication 2.0.)

Gone is the central matter system and its seeming vagaries, but Fabricators lock themselves and call for an investigation after a single build using the traditional method (hacking). At the same time, you have safe access to an unlimited number of build orders as long as your supply of (consumable) Authchips lasts.



There are many ways to acquire them (and more will be added in the future), but the DSFs mentioned before are one of the guaranteed sources.

Beta 11 also removes or repurposes hacks that were no longer applicable under this system, and adds some useful new ones, which can come in especially handy since Complex 0b10 also now uses Fabricators in the same way you as the player do, loading up schematics, starting builds, etc, and you can tap into that to potentially hijack something, or steal its schematic, or something else creative :)

The overall result of switching to the new system is to generally reduce the number of potential fabrications for most runs.

QoL

Tons of QoL, as usual. What I'll be doing here is mostly just running down a list of those I have a demo for to share that.

Map comments (article) are now a thing.



The map comments system is even integrated into some of the other new features, because the game can add comments for you automatically in some cases (shown in a different color), for example in response to the new find_dsf non-RIF hack:



We have a map ruler! (for the measurement lovers out there) (article)



Volley visualization mode has a new coloring scheme! (article) Red walls/machines if you are capable of destroying them with your active weapon(s), yellow if capable of destroying them with some weapon(s) in your possession, otherwise no highlight.



Like Trap Extractors mentioned above, Field Recycling Units have a third toggle state (COLLECT) which makes it safer to operate them so you're less likely to eat an item you actually need :P



Disposable and unstable weapons append their remaining uses directly next to their name while in inventory or in their info page.



Machines/robots/items now have state-specific context help for each of their different values, to give more targeted information about what those mean.



Custom {} tags are also shown in the Scanalyzer item list, especially useful when you've got a bunch of artifacts and have a general idea of what some of them are/aren't based on where you acquired them, and therefore know which you might want to scan to confirm.



Case-insensitive partial string matching for hacking specific robot variant schematics/analyses and loading schematics.



Descriptions were added to all unique items that did not have one, in some cases giving mechanical details where important, although in a small handful of special cases the descriptions remain vague. Some examples:



As described at the end of the manual, it can be extended with personal notes that will also appear in the in-game version, which some people have done in the past, but unfortunately updating to a new Steam version will overwrite the manual and erase those notes (and even outside Steam it would require manually copying the notes out of your old version of the manual). To make this feature more user-friendly, personal notes tacked onto the in-game manual are instead drawn from an optional user/notes.txt file.



Cogmind now supports system clipboard integration, which might come in handy for copying text from outside the game, for example copying a seed rather than typing it out. Just ctrl-v in any text entry field.



A while back several people found the active terrain scanner animation distracting, so I added the disableTerrainScanAnimation advanced.cfg setting for them to turn it off permanent, but I suggest that anyone who did so at the time consider turning it back on, since the default behavior has now been updated to only highlight newly discovered (or changed) spaces, rather than highlight any space that it is scanning on a given turn. So the animation will not be a lot less distracting while at the same time providing only useful info.



Other Details

Projectile mechanics were originally designed such that "misses" could still randomly hit the intended target if you were lucky, which I thought was fun, but it was also confusing to some people while (far more importantly...) others had even started abusing this mechanic in combination with certain weapons to significantly increase their potential damage output. So yeah I rewrote the miss mechanics so that misses will generally actually miss the target. Sad, I know :P

Because allies in Cogmind live such long and prosperous lives at your side (narrator: they did not), you can also use a new button on their info page to give them a custom name. This way you can get all personal with them, like "there goes Fred again, walking straight into an ambush no matter what I say..."



So you're not faced with a blank screen for however long it takes Cogmind to start up on your machine, wondering if anything is happening (or sometimes waiting for your OS to start thinking Cogmind has stalled xD), we now have an actual startup process shown right there in the bottom left corner! \o/



The shutdown sequence is much faster, usually completing in a couple frames, but let's also animate that for good measure :D



Notice: As you can see there have been a lot of item changes, including a few removals (or conversions), so if you were a founder with item attribution and yours was removed, congratulations you probably got (randomly) reassigned something more interesting!

Community

For those of you just starting out, leiavoia has put together a nifty guide to Cogmind, one which avoids any major spoilers. It's got pictures and everything!

As always, aoemica's Cog-Minder is a useful Cogmind reference and theorycrafting tool for advanced players, or just someone who wants to look up stats for some robot or item.

And leiavoia's Dataminer offers a great alternative way to examine your scoresheets or those other players have uploaded.

The leaderboards will finally be reset tomorrow now that we have a new major version out!!!

I've been streaming Beta 11 prerelease versions throughout the past year (archives), and look forward to continuing with more runs in the completed Beta 11, and of course yet more prereleases as we eventually head towards... Beta 12 ;)

But let's not get ahead of ourselves...

Up Next

Having just dropped this huge update it's a little early to go into depth about what's to come, but in short, I imagine we'll next see an 11.1 with some more fixes and tweaks, especially some little stuff I wanted to include in Beta 11 but didn't have time for (also that Active Sensor Suite data for non-0b10 areas). Then after that we'll be on the way to beta 12 and 13, each of which will be adding another new faction ;)

Eternal Cogmind Updates: Powered by me and the patrons. Thanks for your support!

21
Announcements / Annual Review: Year 8 of the Cogmind
« on: December 04, 2021, 05:49:51 AM »


As Cogmind enters its 9th year of continuous development, let’s once again take a look at the past year of progress in our typical annual review, now available on the blog! Beta 11 is approaching completion, Patreon support is looking (really) up, and we've finally met the requirements for two new factions to come this year :D

22
Announcements / SITREP Saturday #49: A World Rebuilt
« on: October 08, 2021, 05:29:43 PM »


So what has Grid Sage Games (and by Grid Sage Games I mean me :P) been up to in recent months... Those who follow the dev blog, my streams/YouTube, or Discord will be familiar with most of what I'm writing here today, but I know some of you prefer to get your news here, so let's catch you up!

In the last SITREP wherein I half joked about this being "Cogmind 2," the summary of our next major update is still just as relevant:

Quote
"Beta 11 is indeed shaping up to be the sizeable overhaul we always wanted to get to one day (talked about since like 2015 xD), one that revisits lots of parts and some mechanics with an eye towards tweaking and rebalancing to better integrate them into the whole that Cogmind has become--redesigning some, removing others, as well as introducing new ones to smooth everything out where necessary. Basically we're further improving on the experience in so many areas. And although new content isn't the focus of Beta 11, yeah we're definitely getting some of that, too ;)"

Since then the previously mentioned revisiting of storage capacity, overweight mechanics, propulsion balance, and damage types have all gone smoothly, and as promised I covered each of those topics on the blog.

Design Overhaul

On the blog this series is filed under "Design Overhaul," pretty significant game-changers coming to Beta 11 which you can read about in their respective articles:

There's Design Overhaul 1: Capping Inventory, which might sound like a nerf when framed with just those two words, but in practice ends up being a buff in most cases due to how things were changed ;)



Design Overhaul 2: Propulsion took quite a while to nail down due to that topic's complexity and far-reaching implications of any changes, but eventually settled on a significant flight and hover rebalance, leg upgrades, overweight penalty changes, and other tweaks here and there.



Design Overhaul 3: Damage Types and Criticals would have to be the one which boils down to the most "pure fun," adding a wide variety of critical strikes and other new related mechanics to further differentiate weapons and their damage types.



In with the New

On the new stuff front, for Beta 11 I finally got to add something I've been imagining for years: a way to view a sort of historical robot traffic data as a form of potentially useful intel. I go into how this data is calculated and presented in "Desire Paths" for a Robot World.



A WIP screenshot (the path system later became purple in practice):



The whole "desire path" thing came about as part of yet another infowar expansion, the Active Sensor Suite. Yes we already significantly expanded the infowar game in Beta 11, but you can never have enough infowar? :P

Active sensors have a number of big advantages and big drawbacks which you can read about in more detail here.



Just follow the purple brick road...



Even the content of primary maps is getting a bit (okay a lot) of love in this version, the first such addition being freighter dispatch events, which I detail in Spicing Up Primary Maps 1: Cargo Convoys.



As part of that article, to explain some concepts I put together a sample Cogmind world map in which 1 pixel = 1 cell. It's just one permutation, of course, since there are different possibilities for a number of these connections, plus the ability to revisit other versions of the same map in a single run etc. (The map is also incomplete since it leaves out a number of areas considered redacted-level spoilers, though a full spoilers version is available via a link in the article.)



As if escorted convoys weren't enough, we're also getting more classes of 0b10 combat bots, because what's better than having new types of hostiles trying to stop you? ...perhaps aside from finding new toys to deal with them, but don't worry we've got that covered, too ;)

Right now I'm in the middle of reworking the fabrication system, which is looking promising and should add more strategies to the mix.

Cogmind Three

So what do we do once Cogmind Tw--I mean Beta 11 is finally done? Well, first of all of course we release it :P (no I still don't know when that'll be)

But seriously, that's going to be the beginning of a period of pure expansion, and mark a return to more reasonably-sized updates that don't take ages to complete xD

At this point I can announce that thanks to support from patrons, Beta 12 will feature a new mini-faction, the Unchained, which have appeared in the lore in a few places, and were further described in last year's Forbidden Lore ARG.

And assuming we reach the review threshold I mentioned back in 2019, which now seems possible, as promised that will trigger a new content update which will become the focus of Beta 13, built around a new faction of derelict scrappers with unique tech :D (another of those mentioned in the ARG)

(Note the Merchants Guild is still waiting on the sidelines, but they will happen as a much bigger expansion later on.)

Community

As usual I've been streaming Cogmind runs to introduce and test these new features, among them

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tkY0Jwykoc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhCYve2wASc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ws-vORyIEkg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gw1_BezQqQ

Some patrons have also been streaming their experiences, and will likely be sharing more, including Tone, Luigi, Plexion, Runia, Vectis.

Tone and MTF in particular did a co-op stream all the way into the extended game playing through a sort of tailored ARG which filled in a bit of hidden lore that people didn't uncover in last year's ARG. It was epic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQ3aEfsZpvM

aoemica has been busy continuing to improve Cog-Minder, the Cogmind reference and theorycrafting tool.

Most recently aoemica added part comparisons:



And a build simulator with link sharing:



Also a heads up for some of you who might be interested: Runia is offering unofficial-but-sanctioned third-party merch in the form of 3D printed bots! Having discovered pretty much all the in-game bots and converted them to 3D form, he's been honing his craft and polishing his Fabricator over the past months, and it's been fun to see the results of this work (including printing these while streaming Cogmind :P)



An older shot from a few months ago showing some of Runia's bots (some since refined, and more added):



You can find Runia with us on Discord (where I also hang out every day as I work on Cogmind).

Now it's back to work on the fabrication mines...


23
Announcements / SITREP Saturday #48: Volatile Times
« on: April 01, 2021, 02:19:24 AM »


A SITREP?! But it's not Saturday! Feel free to wait until Saturday to read it, but it's here now so let's just all pretend it's Saturday.

Haven't done one of these updates since switching to generally only announcing releases, but it's been a while and there are plenty of people who probably don't check other sources of Cogmind news so they have no idea what's going on... Let's bring everyone up to speed :)

Say Goodbye to 2020

Following our Forbidden Lore ARG from last year, I wrote a post-mortem if you're interested in how that event was designed and panned out.



There's even a complete ARG walkthrough filled with spoilers, though it does offer a good shortcut to just obtaining all the Cogmind lore locked behind puzzles.



Congratulations to those players who managed to solve the entire ARG!

We also have Beta 9 stats summarizing the data submitted throughout that release series, including many new topics such as build types and causes of death as enabled by our expansive new scoresheets.



Cogmind 2

Just kidding, of course we're still on Cogmind 1 here, but Beta 11 is indeed shaping up to be the sizeable overhaul we always wanted to get to one day (talked about since like 2015 xD), one that revisits lots of parts and some mechanics with an eye towards tweaking and rebalancing to better integrate them into the whole that Cogmind has become--redesigning some, removing others, as well as introducing new ones to smooth everything out where necessary. Basically we're further improving on the experience in so many areas. And although new content isn't the focus of Beta 11, yeah we're definitely getting some of that, too ;)

This year so far I've been testing out experimental features with patrons, keeping the most successful concepts of the bunch while continuing to stream runs in these builds to explore the effects of changes. For example this latest crazy one looking at new infowar utilities (after having made other changes to existing ones in builds prior to this):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-oDntMLB3w

Others can be found on my YouTube channel.

So far we've revisited storage capacity, overweight mechanics, propulsion type balance, and plenty of specific part changes, with plenty more to come. Next up over on the dev blog I'll be covering some of the major changes, beginning with the adjustments to storage and propulsion, followed by a rework of some damage types.

Already though the blog has been covering some of the new stuff coming to Cogmind, including...

Item searching and filtering:



...perfect for finding just the right part (patrons voted for this one--lots more details and related features demoed in the article).



A map ruler and other overlays:



For the min-maxers out there: No more need to count cells or guesstimate the distance between two positions :)



New infowar utilities mentioned with regard to the stream above:



Dedicated Trap Scanners:



New Structural Scanner behavior:



And the almighty Machine Analyzer:



This is just the beginning...

There's no set schedule for Beta 11's release, since it's by far the most sprawling of any update before it, with less concentrated work in one or two major areas and instead lots of modifications and additions across the board, many of which need to all be integrated into the same update for best effect, but it's hard to say how long that will take given the scope.

Recent Events

More recently, I've been a bit sidetracked by doing a bunch of official 7DRL reviewing for this year (related streams now archived on YouTube), raising a little more money for development, and also doing a bunch of forced website updating due to a huge PHP upgrade by the host. Unfortunately the latter has made some parts of the wiki inaccessible for now (in particular info for some parts), but aoemica's Cog-Minder has you covered there :)

Last but not least, you may have noticed we have a little build update for Beta 10.2 available, but there's no changelog for it ;) ;) ;)

24
Everything POLYBOT-7 / GJ Omega Test win (video)
« on: December 27, 2020, 08:23:41 PM »
GJ, the only known player to have beat the hardest mode, did it again, and this time recorded it :)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_zn0_Ep2wE

Impressive work, and even takes advantage of the hidden build room on the last map.

25
Announcements / Annual Review: Year 7 of the Cogmind
« on: December 03, 2020, 06:59:51 PM »


Time for the annual annual review! This is the seventh, now available on the blog. There's the usual discussion of dev hours, an overview of releases and events from throughout the year, and confirmation that 1.0 will not be released in 2021, among other news :P

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