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Author Topic: SITREP Saturday #50: The Detour of Detours  (Read 2968 times)


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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).
Josh Ge, Developer - Dev Blog | @GridSageGames | Patreon