Cogmind is a sci-fi roguelike epic in which you play a robot building yourself from components found or salvaged from other robots. Explore a living, breathing world through turn-based tactical combat, or sneak, hack, and fly your way to victory.
Recent Reviews:
Very Positive (13) - 92% of the 13 user reviews in the last 30 days are positive.
All Reviews:
Very Positive (202) - 96% of the 202 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date:
Oct 16, 2017
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Early Access Game

Get instant access and start playing; get involved with this game as it develops.

Note: This Early Access game is not complete and may or may not change further. If you are not excited to play this game in its current state, then you should wait to see if the game progresses further in development. Learn more

What the developers have to say:

Why Early Access?

“Cogmind is already a very complete experience, fully playable, balanced, and generally free of bugs. Thousands of players have been enjoying Cogmind since its pre-Steam alpha debut in 2015. But rather than a full release I've decided to use Early Access to indicate my intention to continue fleshing out the world even further with extra features and content.”

Approximately how long will this game be in Early Access?

“Likely at least six months because there are a good many fun extras I'd really like to add, though there is no strict deadline as it depends on how much support there is to continue with what has already exceeded four years of work.”

How is the full version planned to differ from the Early Access version?

“With the main game essentially complete, there are a ton of optional features to begin exploring, some specific confirmed plans including built-in achievements, lots more challenge modes, more ambient audio, and a more nuanced robot hacking system.

In addition there are plenty of secret potential extras, but I can't promise or talk about them here :)”

What is the current state of the Early Access version?

“Prior to Steam, many players have already logged hundreds of hours of play, as there's quite a lot to explore:
  • Nearly 1,000 different parts to attach, all with their own ASCII art
  • Dozens of robot classes, each with unique behavior in the ecosystem
  • Dozens of procedural map types, many embedded with hand-made areas
  • Extensive machine-hacking capabilities (nearly 100 hacks so far)
  • Hundreds of NPC encounters, thousands of lines of dialogue
  • Seven animated endings (lore and story are done!)
  • Everything has sounds--more SFX than any roguelike, ever

On the technical side Cogmind is extremely stable, with extensive automated testing and a team of private testers keeping release builds almost entirely bug-free. (Even players running on Linux/OSX via Wine also report a flawless experience.)”

Will the game be priced differently during and after Early Access?

“No price change is currently planned on exiting Early Access.

However, if enough time is invested in extra content before full release, among other factors, an increase may be considered.”

How are you planning on involving the Community in your development process?

“The open development process will remain the same as it has been since 2015, with frequent progress updates interspersed with release builds, and direct interaction with players to collect feedback and refine new features. Cogmind wouldn't be what it is today without the very community that enjoys it and aims to help make it an even better, smoother, more exciting experience.

A majority of feedback so far has come through the forums (http://www.gridsagegames.com/forums/), chat server (https://discord.gg/9pmFGKx) and r/Cogmind (http://www.reddit.com/r/Cogmind/).”
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Recent updates View all (21)

February 16

SITREP Saturday #13: 6.81 Seconds

This week I finally finished taking care of all the personal issues I needed to catch up on after neglecting and letting them pile up for the past couple months while I worked on getting the past couple releases out to you all. Now all that stands in the way of Beta 6 is 7DRL and... of course all the remaining Beta 6 work itself xD

So what have I been up to in my travels through the endless world of Cogmind dev...

For one I hadn't played for a bit and it's always good to stay familiar with the experience and mechanics while designing more of them, so I took on last week's seed run and wrote about that on the forums. It was a wheels-only conduct run on which I successfully fought my way into the late-game, but ultimately doomed myself by splitting my long-term strategy between multiple disparate approaches based on some interesting (spoiler) parts I found. It would've been nice to have streamed this one since it was great fun, but I was still over here in Japan. I'm actually heading home today (if you recall I've been working from Japan), though it'll still be a while before I can back to streaming with all this work to do.

If you're interested in the commercial side of things, last week I also posted an article over on Gamasutra about the most recent Steam Winter Sale and the effects of being featured. Lots of data and graphs to pore over :)

Achievements

A good many hours since the last news were spent coming up with the initial achievements list. Cogmind will start with at least a couple hundred achievements, so it's important to get the categorization right from the start and have everything nice and organized.

I also had to decide how to handle the icons, so I started doing some sketches in REXPaint and came up with a style that will work nicely. Preliminary tests:



Still more work to do there, including the final pass (and then also automating the creation of JPGs required by Steam--would much prefer PNGs...). And of course I'm using ASCII. Though naturally I want to (:P), there's also not much of a choice anyway since these aren't just Steam achievements--they'll also be displayed in game and must fit the theme and UI. Cogmind also doesn't use the Steam overlay so when you earn them they'll have to be rendered via its own terminal display.

It's been fun working with the symbolism, drawing on characters, colors and more aspects utilized in the creation of Cogmind to convey the idea of an achievement in a little 3x3 grid.

My current intention is to have all achievements available across all difficulty levels, avoiding the bloat of having separate versions for every difficulty. Almost everyone plays the default difficulty the game was designed for anyway, and for the rare case of players who want to move up from a lower difficulty level I'll add a way to reset your achievements. Unfortunately this particular feature will only be available to offline players because Steam does not support it.

Optimization

In case you didn't notice (you've probably noticed xD), Cogmind can take a while to start up. This is because pretty much all data is loaded right at the start, which for years was fine, but it's continued to grow all this time and sequentially loading everything was starting to be quite a drag, made all the more noticeable by the fact that I have (and prefer to keep) a blank screen while the game starts. Windows might even decide pop up a nice little "this program is not responding" notice.

I'll deal with that message separately later, but more important is that it shouldn't really take so long to get into the game, so I took the three largest chunks of data and multithreaded them. Fortunately this was quite easy to do since each is mostly raw data that in this case really doesn't care about the existence of the others. The three chunks are GUI particle scripts, map particle scripts, and sound effects. (The only exception was particles that needed to reference sound effects, so for that I added some code to link them up after all the threads completed.) Highlighted profiling data for some potential optimization candidates:



So what kind of savings are we looking at? In my test build scenario, startup took 19.13s, including 6.27 for GUI particles, 3.98s for sfx, and 2.31s for map particles. That's 12.56 seconds for three things that can essentially be loaded in parallel. Post-multithreading profiling:



The main thread sleeps for 6.81s, meaning that basically the steps that previously took 12.56s were instead crammed into 6.81s. So startup time on many machines has been cut by approximately one-third... Nice :D

Here's a graph demonstrating what Beta 6's multithreading looks like, the first such case in Cogmind:



There's more optimization that could be done, but this was the easy stuff and most other work would have significantly diminishing returns so isn't worth it right now. I also left all the old sequential loading code intact so that I can switch over to that with a debugging option in order to properly debug any loading issues, just in case. It's not the kind of thing that usually has issues, but if it does it'll be nice to keep it single-threaded because multithreaded debugging is just asking for trouble and confusion.

Miscellaneous

You might have noticed among the guides that we have a new one! Last week Suizin/tamagotaso helped translate Cogmind's manual into Japanese. Quite a feat considering it's currently 60 pages / 17k words. Many thanks there <3



I've also made the TXT version available next to the English version on the site.

This week Jazzer reported finding a special Storage room that had no access from the rest of the floor, so I'll take this opportunity to point out that you can find rare instances of the map generator doing stuff like this. It won't affect your progress, can be a fun discovery to make by blasting in there (or via sensors/hacking), and can reflect "glitches" in the 0b10 system, either benign or perhaps intentionally influenced by crafty enemies of the Unaware. Or maybe they're just not done remodeling :P. As another example you'll sometimes find hidden doors that lead nowhere--they haven't gotten around to digging out the target room yet.

Here's Jazzer's Storage room as seen in the debugger:



The left one was built first and originally connected to a corridor, but later they decided to add another at the end of the corridor and filled in part of the corridor when they shifted the room rightward. Again this is quite rare, and not something I'll be addressing so you might just come across it one day :)

Another find by fpsbossfight, something which is definitely a bug but unfortunately not really worth the amount of time it would take to address considering how pointless this is during normal play: If you fill an entire map with Dirty Bomb Traps and set them off in a one-turn chain reaction, the game will crash around the 400th explosion xD

Rather than show the image here, I'll just link to it because it's spoilery if you have yet to find Zion. (Yes he was finding creative ways to murder everyone...)

Once again I'll schedule the next SITREP for two weeks from now, so March 3rd, while I continue forging ahead with the Great Achievement Update and also spend some time finishing up my plan for the upcoming 7DRL. I haven't had any time to think about that for a while, and I prefer going into a timed project with a clear plan so none of that precious time is wasted :)

Also notice that Cogmind is on sale both on my site and on Steam to coincide with the Lunar New Year sale. After this one ends in a few days, the next sale should be the Beta 6 release, for which I'm thinking I'll do an out-of-event one and some promotion since we're getting all these achievements :)
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February 2

SITREP Saturday #12: The Next Big Thing

Hope you're all enjoying the latest Beta 5! I'm of course already getting busy with Beta 6, but there's plenty of other stuff to cover today, too...

Stats

As usual following a major release, the leaderboards were reset. We're already seeing a lot of good runs this Beta, including a ++ extended end-game win which we didn't get to see last time:



Old leaderboards and scores have been archived, accessible at the bottom of the page, e.g. the final top scoring runs at the end of Beta 4:



Overall we're seeing significant improvement among newer players. I've also done a lengthy summary of stats for Beta 4, including highlighting certain achievements and an overview of general player performance and meta data.



(If you're interested in this kind of data you can also scroll back through the thread for stats on previous Betas since I don't always cover the same things.)

Beta 6?

So right now I'm in Japan to visit relatives for Chinese New Year (my son's on holiday so we can get out of town). We've been here for the past week and will remain for the next couple weeks, but it doesn't have much of an impact on progress. In fact, my workstation here is pretty much identical to my home setup.



That said, for a number of reasons Beta 6 will definitely take longer than the last couple releases. I have a bunch of family/personal stuff I've been neglecting lately to get Betas 4 and 5 out, so I'll have to work on that, but more importantly this year's 7DRL is coming up and I'm planning to participate. I could try to rush out Beta 6 before then, but double rushing (my normal speed is rush :P) is usually a bad idea, plus this particular release is going to add a rather big new system so it needs to be done right! I also shouldn't push my head too hard--I'm still spending 8 hours on treatment each week (when at home) for that concussion back in April, but it's stopped improving.

As for 7DRL, which is technically optional, I've already skipped the last five years worth of them as I focused on creating Cogmind, but I'm really interested in putting some new projects out there, and this time even though it'll slow down the Beta 6 release this particular 7DRL idea is something I know fans of Cogmind can get into so it'll definitely be worth it :D

Also with regards to progress in general, recall that in a past SITREP I talked about Beta 5 giving us a "clean slate" by finishing up all the near-term must-have features. Well, in the latter weeks of Beta 5 work I kept piling on so much new stuff and pushing others further down the list that it'll take another release or two to finish off those things after all :P. At least that's good in that we'll have plenty of little things to work on, too! In any case, the next release will of course be mostly about moving ahead with major features...

Next Big Thing

As per the roadmap, up next is... Achievements!

Yes, we're finally doing one of the things listed there rather than all the other secret/unlisted stuff I'm always throwing in xD

I've marked this one feature alone as taking three weeks, and I've heard some surprise at that number so may as well take this opportunity to give a rundown of what's involved. It's quite a lot of stuff!

On the surface it appears quite simple, and technically if you're just adding a handful of achievements for Steam it's really quite easy, yeah, but Cogmind's particular situation is going to include a lot more achievements, and a lot more moving parts, than your average game.

Here's a high-level TODO list of what it'll take to bring Achievements to Cogmind:
  • Research Steamworks docs for achievement specifications
  • Create and organize a list of achievements
  • Do an achievement UI mockup
  • Test how Steam achievements work in other games, and how they're presented on the player and community side
  • Create the achievement data, including names and descriptions
  • Implement an achievement handler, and check for each achievement at relevant points in the source code
  • Implement the Cogmind-side dedicated achievement interface
  • Decide how to integrate achievement notifications into several different existing UI systems
  • Find solutions for a number of tough achievement-related issues
  • Create icon art for every achievement (in both acquired and non-acquired form)
  • Test a selection of achievements in a non-Steam build
  • Build a system to communicate with Steam regarding achievements (prioritizing game-side data, rather than Steam-side like most games do it)
  • Add achievement data to Steamworks backend
  • Live test the achievement system on Steam, including syncing of old data on either end
  • Fix the inevitable oversights and bugs in the system before they reach players
  • Actually release it :P (after adding a whole bunch of other stuff that should go in the release, too!)
Oh my I've only barely started working down that list and writing it all out like that is making me go O_O. Heck there might be items I overlooked... Many of these steps certainly include numerous fine details, so the overall workload is not to be underestimated, but in the end we'll have a system that's robust, works for both Steam and non-Steam players, and can be easily expanded further in the future with even more achievements.

At least the art needs will probably be relatively easy to deal with. Because the achievement icons must be displayable in game (not just Steam), they must conform to the game's grid-based style, meaning the only real choice is ASCII like the rest of the in-game art. These icons also have to meet Steam's dimension requirements (64px), so this means they'll probably be fairly small and simple in order to still be somewhat readable at that size. I have yet to do any tests so we'll see. I'm still working on the achievements list at the moment.

I'll have more to share on this topic over the next month. Note that we have an ongoing achievements suggestion thread on the forums from which I've been taking a number of ideas to combine with my own.

Meta

nuzcraft, one of Cogmind's most prolific Let's Players, got his first win recently and shared his writeup over on the forums (he plays all the seed runs so you can play along as well if interested).

Over on r/Cogmind, GDFKTT shared a writeup on their first win as well, and a pacifist run no less.

Yesterday over on r/RoguelikeDev I shared some of Cogmind's debugging features that I use for development, so check that out if you're interested in some more behind the scenes sort of stuff. Some examples:

Highlighting map encounter prefabs, colored by their type (fluff/reward/danger/risk-reward...):



Visualizing squad routes:



Visualizing ambient sfx propagation:



Watching entity (robot) time values:



Checking cellwise cave-in factors as affected by explosions:



#13

The next SITREP will be February 17th so that I have more to show for it, since a lot of the current work is behind the scenes, but as usual I'll be hanging out on the Discord every day. Stop by!

(Note that also around that time there's the annual Steam CNY sale, so for those few days expect a 10% discount.)
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Reviews

“Cogmind is an impressive merging of old and new school game design.”
Rock, Paper, Shotgun

“Cogmind is a wonderful thing, carefully and intelligently constructed, and with a gorgeous ASCII aesthetic.”
Adam Smith, RPS

“Cogmind swaps the traditional fantasy setting of most turn-based adventurers in favour of science-fiction, and finds plenty of interesting features in the mix.”
Graham Smith, RPS

About This Game

Experience sci-fi tactical combat and exploration in a procedural world that combines traditional roguelikes with an immersive modern interface like no other. Build yourself from components found or salvaged from other robots. Attach power sources, propulsion units, utilities, and weapons to become a slow tank bristling with weapons, or a fast-moving flier zipping past enemies before they even have time to react, or a stealthy sword-wielding assassin/hacker, or whatever else you can come up with from the salvage you find. The situation can quickly change as you lose components and rebuild yourself from enemy remains. You are the Cogmind. Discover what that means as you explore a living, breathing world ruled by robots.

KEY FEATURES

  • Build and modify a unique robot from parts found, or enemies defeated
  • Dynamic character development without XP/grinding
  • Dozens of robot classes, each with unique behavior within the ecosystem
  • Procedurally generated world combined with hand-crafted content
  • Seven different animated endings to uncover
  • ASCII evolved: Most advanced terminal interface ever
  • Thousands of particle effects and SFX
  • Fully destructible environment

PROGRESS


Although currently in Early Access, Cogmind is mostly complete. There are over two-dozen map types, nearly a thousand items, thousands of sound and particle effects, multiple plot lines, hundreds of hand-made locations and encounters, thousands of lines of dialogue, and seven different animated endings to discover. That said, there are many plans to continue expanding the world with features and content, so for now we'll just call it EA :D

(Cogmind has been in full-time development for over four years.)

      

ROGUELIKE?


Cogmind is a turn-based roguelike, very traditional in many ways (permadeath procedural dungeon crawler built with ASCII in mind...), but at the same time innovates on the genre in terms of both design and accessibility features.
  • Within you have full mouse control--and full keyboard control! Use only one or the other, or both, and all common roguelike movement methods (mouse, numpad, vi, arrows) are enabled out of the box, no configuration required. Mouse users get drag-and-drop inventory management, and the keyboard is even faster with its multiple command schemes and built-in automation features.
  • Stealth play is just as viable as straightforward combat, using hacking and information warfare to outsmart the Complex. The lack of an XP system means you only have to use whatever means you can to reach new areas and find new gear to advance.
  • The world is alive with many types of robots, most of which are actually not hostile to you and have their own duties to carry out.
  • Map objects are labeled as they come into view, making for less tedious play and allowing you to instead focus on tactics and survival. A large number of other options and useful features are available to customize the UI.
  • While the most skilled players can reliably win the default mode, easier difficulty settings are available for those with less experience, or less time on their hands :) (advanced players can also attempt to take on the extended end-game!)
  • Accumulate knowledge across multiple plays, collecting info about previously used items in the ASCII art gallery (over 800 pieces of art!), and collecting lore about the world as you discover its inhabitants and guess at their potential motives, and true capabilities. While there's a rich story to uncover over many runs, know that it doesn't get in the way if you prefer to just strategize and min-max through your roguelikes.
  • Take on built-in Challenge Modes for a different kind of experience, or to prove just how good you really are.

WARNINGS


Not every game is for everyone, so there are a few things to point out that may affect your interest in Cogmind.
  • No Hand-holding: Although very accessible and there's both context help and a quick tutorial to teach all the fundamentals, Cogmind invites you to explore a completely unfamiliar world. Observant players will come to internalize many of that world's rules naturally, and as you reach new areas you'll also discover in-theme explanations for everything, seamlessly integrated with the lore. As part of that process you'll often be faced with the post-death challenge of figuring out where things went wrong and why, until you eventually reach a point where you can see danger before it even materializes.
  • Rampant Item Destruction: Every item in Cogmind can be destroyed, and many of your items will be destroyed. At first this may be discouraging, but once you figure out the basics you'll generally be replacing old and broken parts with much better loot even before you lose it anyway. Building and, more importantly, rebuilding, is a vital part of the experience and what keeps the game dynamic and interesting throughout. Adaptability is key, and amazing comebacks are commonplace.
  • No Classes, Skills, Etc.: Unlike many other roguelikes and CRPGs in which you may form a sort of attachment to your character class and the levels, stats, skills, and equipment they've acquired over time, Cogmind is defined almost purely by items. And as mentioned those items will be destroyed, so there's not much chance to form that kind of attachment. However, this also leaves room for great flexibility during a single playthrough, flexibility you might want or need to rely on to maximize your chances for survival depending on what locations you visit.
  • A Different Kind of Game: As a whole Cogmind is quite different from pretty much everything out there, a fact that turns some people off, but others rather enjoy it for that same reason. It can also take a little while to get into, but once past learning the basics and how to reliably overcome early-game areas, the world and its opportunities really open up.
  • Not Suitable for Small Screens: Due to the game design, the screen is always divided into a minimum of 80x60 spaces that make up the "terminal grid." This means when played on a physically small screen, such as that of a laptop, each space will be relatively small and some players could have trouble comfortably seeing the details. Zooming is not supported by the engine. You can test what Cogmind will look like on your screen of choice here: http://www.gridsagegames.com/cogmind/ui_preview.html (Note that ASCII mode is easier to see at smaller sizes, but it's understandable that three-quarters of players prefer the default tiles mode anyway :P)

System Requirements

    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows XP SP3+
    • Processor: 1.8Ghz or faster
    • Memory: 500 MB RAM
    • Graphics: Anything
    • Storage: 30 MB available space
    • Additional Notes: Minimum resolution: 1272x720. STRONGLY RECOMMENDED TO first check how Cogmind will look on your screen of choice here: http://www.gridsagegames.com/cogmind/ui_preview.html (there is no zooming!)

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