Cogmind - Kyzrati


Our sixth annual review is up!

As usual for annual reviews this one is only available on the blog, and includes topics like dev hours talk, a quick overview of the major releases and special events this year, new milestones reached, and musing on finishing, or not finishing, 1.0 in 2020 (something we gotta do for every new year, right? :P)

There might be a hint of things to come, things in the not-so-distant future...

IndieDB is also voting for GotY again, so if you could, I'd appreciate if anyone can spare a moment to help Cogmind take its place in the Top 100 this year :D (might as well keep the five-year streak going!)
Cogmind - Kyzrati


With 9.2 Cogmind gets Rich Presence on Steam, an explicit colorblind option, Abominations mode improvements, yet more scoresheet updates, plus the usual bug fixes and more.

Although a much smaller update compared to the full Beta 9, there's a fair amount of stuff in here, with good reasons to update. Release notes and sample images below!

Cogmind Beta 9.2 "Robotic Riches" (191112) changelog:
  • NEW: [Steam] Supports Rich Presence, sharing current build, location, and status with friends
  • NEW: [Steam] Option to deactivate Steam Rich Presence (advanced.cfg: disableSteamRichPresence)
  • NEW: Options menu "Colorblind Adjustment" setting to modify certain color schemes to be more colorblind friendly
  • NEW: Option to display remaining integrity in item/robot popup labels (advanced.cfg mapLabelsShowIntegrity)
  • NEW: Option to fully highlight visible cave-in areas rather than the low-distraction default (advanced.cfg highlightCaveinAreas)
  • NEW: Manual explicitly mentions "Ctrl-Alt (Hold)" also highlights areas that can cave in
  • NEW: Manual explicitly documents "Ctrl-+/-" as global volume up/down commands
  • NEW: Scoresheet records current movement-related variables under Cogmind header
  • NEW: Scoresheet relative alert level percentages now also recorded on a per-map basis
  • NEW: INVERT renderFilter variable
  • NEW: [Abominations mode] Explicit log message when Paradox Anomalies repair Cogmind parts
  • NEW: [Abominations mode] Final boss also has unique parse text
  • MOD: [Abominations mode] Fire/Sundering Anomalies won't appear until -7/-8 respectively
  • MOD: [Abominations mode] Negative Anomaly effects no longer applied to themself if affiliation modified via Field Lobotomy Kit
  • MOD: Complex 0b10 capable of remotely opening blast doors under certain additional circumstances
  • MOD: Scoresheet Parts and Peak State lists now align part names taking into account any prefix
  • MOD: AI combat pathfinding and targeting behavior updated, less likely to be blocked by non-combatants
  • MOD: "More Dakka Please" achievement condition more specifically requires kinetic projectiles
  • FIX: New pushing algorithm for machines releasing parts might unnecessarily destroy parts under special circumstances [Valguris]
  • FIX: External issues likely caused by Steam cloud for runs played across multiple sessions could cause incomplete scoresheet achievements list [Valguris]
  • FIX: A8 manual hacking code wasn't reported in message log in a certain scenario, even though properly received [Valguris]
  • FIX: No longer able to enter Proximity Caves directly via large 0b10 bases [Valguris]
  • FIX: Possible crash under extremely rare circumstances involving a controllable ally attempting to attack Cogmind [Gitida]
  • FIX: New scoresheet game number tally incorrect for Rogue mode if previously played Adventurer or Explorer mode [Solar Sloth]
  • FIX: Part autopairs weren't remembered between maps [Benjamin]
  • FIX: New scoresheet system wasn't handing out score threshold-based achievements for current run, instead based on previous run in same session [5taquitos]
  • FIX: New scoresheet "Challenges" subsection did not list applicable challenges [sideriver81]
  • FIX: Field Recycling Units could be used to refine matter into even more matter [NikolayAg]
Saves from earlier versions are incompatible with Beta 9.2, but even if you're on Steam and Cogmind automatically updates, Betas 9/9.1 are still available via their own legacy branches and you can roll back to finish a run in progress first if you like.

Rich Presence

If you play Cogmind on Steam, your friends list status will now indicate not just that you're playing, but also other information including your current build, location, and status.

Friend's list example:



Full status description while on the game over screen:



If you're not sure where these build classes and possible status levels are coming from, I talked about them in Part 3 of the Ultimate Roguelike Morgue File series, features originally developed for mid-run stat dumps. (Build classes are also available directly on the HUD by activating "showBuildType" in advanced.cfg.)

You can read a lot more about Rich Presence and its implementation on the blog.



Steam Presence reporting is active by default, but can be turned off in advanced.cfg (disableSteamRichPresence).

Colorblind Settings

We already have tweakable renderFilters and some players are using those to adjust Cogmind's appearance, but these are sometimes less ideal than an even more targeted solution when it comes to accessibility for colorblindness. So I built a new mode aimed at the more common types of colorblindness.

Cogmind is already designed in such a way that much information is available through channels other than color if necessary, although admittedly they won't always be as convenient, and this new mode will help greatly in that regard. The primary example is the usual green->yellow->orange->red progression for various damage indicators is not easy/possible for some to distinguish, so this mode converts a majority of the game's green to light gray, and most oranges to azure blues instead:



Another with some action:



So far feedback from those who need this mode has been good, although sadly the ESC/game menu doesn't appear great by default in this mode, and I can't really work around that given the architecture, so it's a case of sacrificing the appearance of a lesser-used part of the game for the much more prominent and important main interface. For some players, combining colorblind mode with a separate BRIGHTNESS filter, something like BRIGHTNESS(150) will probably help here and in other parts of the UI as well.

This new setting is available directly in the options menu under Interface, and requires a manual restart for the changes to take effect since it will programmatically alter a lot of internal game data to enable this effect. (A note for patrons who were using this mode prior to today's official 9.2 release: Due to its move from advanced.cfg into the proper options menu, you'll need to turn it on again in order to continue using it.)

Another feature originally intended as part of the colorblind setting but later split off since I imagine a lot of other players might want to use this: you can activate mapLabelsShowIntegrity to show remaining integrity next to all robot and item labels on the map. The above gif has this feature active, though note the integrity is only shown for those objects which are not at 100%.

One more bit of general brightness-related QoL is the highlightCaveinAreas advanced.cfg setting, which simply further increases the brightness of destroyed areas that might cave in.



These areas have always been highlighted in the past, but only faintly and if necessary could/can be manually brightened by holding Ctrl-Alt. They aren't set this bright by default since it could be distracting and possibly make it harder to see other important information :P

(Much) further outside accessibility territory and into "what the hell, why not?" territory, there is now a new renderFilter: INVERT.



This one doesn't take any arguments itself, but you can combine it with other filters for better effects, like inverting a low-contrast mode. For example AUTUMN|INVERT, which results in a more pastel appearance.



New Scoresheets+

The extensive new scoresheets have only been in wide use for a little while, and I really like how they've turned out. Of course they also contain a huge amount of run data so uncovering more issues was inevitable :P. So far there have only been a few, now corrected for Beta 9.2.

In addition to those there have been some improvements as well, including the Movement details under the main "Cogmind" status section (amazing we've gone so long without it, although I guess it only started to seem a little more important now that you can output scoresheets in the middle of a run and some players are using that to ask others for advice).

We've also got a new style for the parts lists (Parts/Peak State), which might take a little getting used to but encodes more information into the layout, enabling faster parsing. Here's a before/after comparison of the basic list style vs. prefix-based alignment:



Abominations Continued...

The Halloween Event has "ended," but as per the instructions there it's technically still accessible in game. As such, I made a few more adjustments to improve it.

Figuring out what the various anomalies really do is part of the fun, but Paradox Anomalies in particular never had any associated log messages and they could really use one when their effect helps you.

Fire Anomalies were also super deadly in the early game where you don't have much access to heat dissipation, or the slots to apply it, and although they could mostly be avoided, they were still clearly the biggest contributing factor in early floor deaths, so not very balanced. Just remember you're probably going to want some cooling come Factory, at least in reserve, and regardless of build ;)

Today's cover art is an "Abomination" by Zyalin, who does great fan art of a number of roguelikes. Check out his website for more.

Also, have a full-sized version modified with their native parts:



Community

Cogmind legend Valguris has demonstrated a branchless extended win you can read about over on the forums. Very impressive, and he even managed to do it with his patented 2-prop flight build! Valguris also wrote a guide to this build, although note that particular variant does rely on branches. (Spoilers abound behind those links, of course.)

Not long after today's release, around 10pm Eastern Time, I'll be streaming
the start of a new run beginning with Beta 9.2, where we'll be doing a heavy combat half-track build, likely based on kinetics and crit-stacking, although I won't necessarily stick to that if we find other fun stuff to play around with :)

If you're interested in player stats, we've got a whole bunch of them from the Beta 8 cycle in this summary I put together.



We're still waiting on the leaderboards to be completed, but again, the data is being collected for inclusion in the meantime, and once operational I'm sure they'll be more robust and feature-filled than the previous iteration. Been nice to see people sharing scoresheets via URL these weeks, though :D

That's all for this release, and thank you for the reviews! It had been ages since I asked for anyone to leave them, but now we've got a bunch of new ones and are close to the next milestone on that so thanks again :D
Cogmind - Kyzrati


Hot on the heels of our massive Beta 9 update, time for an extreme change of pace...

Beta 9.1 "Abominations!" fixes a few new issues from Beta 9, but more importantly adds a special Halloween event that's been in the works for a couple weeks. This event's special mode includes:
  • 20 new robots, most with new capabilities and mechanics!
  • 1 new hidden map, complete with boss
  • other event-specific mechanics
Saves are compatible with Beta 9 so on Steam there's no legacy branch for that release--we're all going straight to 9.1.

As with our several other special events in the past, this one is time-activated (10/31) automatically but you can also force it to activate on any day by adding "-forceMode:Abominations" as a command line parameter when running the game. (On Steam this is handled by going to Properties > Set Launch Options.) If you've done this correctly the message log will show a special announcement when you start the game.

If you want to play a regular run on 10/31 instead of joining the event, you can use the "-noSpecialMode" parameter to prevent it from activating.

(Note that Abominations mode won't activate for anyone who hasn't already finished at least several runs of Cogmind.)

Achievements are not earned in Cogmind's special modes, but you can gain new item gallery entries, and lore technically counts as well (although as you'll see access to lore and plot are very limited in this particular event). As with the Pay2Buy event from earlier this year, Abominations mode could be a good way to add rare items to your gallery that you have yet to discover in regular runs.

Content new for Abominations mode is also tweaked by your difficulty settings, a first for a special event. Rogue level is quite challenging, but anyone good at the base game should be able to win as well. That said, the pure chaos of it will make Abominations relatively challenging in all difficulty settings compared to the base game, but... !!!FUN!!! :)

I could entice you with more details about the event, but I'd rather the announcement itself stop short of spoilers. Just know that WEIRD things will happen in this mode, and it's not bugs, just try to be observant and figure stuff out ;)

If you don't mind spoilers and just want to read and know everything, I've written in-depth coverage of this mode, both its content and the entire design progress, over on the blog:


Not long after today's release, around 9pm Eastern Time, I'll be streaming one or more Abomination runs, if you want to stop by to check out the mode and hear me rant about its design as I try to fight my way through it :)

Testers think it's a really fun mode, and I've already played through a good four runs and defeated the hidden boss in one of them, so we'll see how successful I am on stream :P (Anyone who's missed the stream can find it on YouTube the day after.)

Some special UI QoL unique to this event to be aware of: On-map labels for Matter are filtered out the first time you attempt to label (using the normal label filter features), due to the excessive amount of Matter that will eventually appear on the map... You'll see ;)

Sadly the new leaderboard database isn't yet complete so we won't have a contemporary leaderboard for this event, but one can/will be put together retroactively once they're up and running (so submit scores now as usual to be included in the data).

Even if you don't want to play Abominations mode, I strongly recommend you upgrade your Cogmind version to 9.1 as soon as possible since it fixes a nasty new potential crash bug introduced in Beta 9 that can occur if you use a lot of quickloads under certain circumstances.

---

Addendum: It's been ages since I reminded players to leave Steam reviews, and it really shows since they're pretty rare these days and for a long while we've barely been making any progress in that area towards the next goal. (Again, no paid DLC is planned for Cogmind, but free DLC in the form of a large update is totally an option :D. Patreon has been a great help in sustaining development, but it hasn't reached that level yet!)

Thanks everyone for your support!
Cogmind - Kyzrati


Cogmind's 9th major beta release, "Wizardry," is a big one where you can
  • upgrade with permanent bothacking abilities!
  • become a mobile fortress with siege mode for treads!
  • pore over greatly expanded scoresheets!
  • make use of optional quicksaves!
  • enjoy tons more QoL!
  • etc! yes! more!
In the works for more than half a year, this release brings us pretty close to 1.0, at least based on the fact that there's little left in terms of "must-have" features on the roadmap.

Lots more details can be found in the release notes and sample images further below, but first, the changelog...

(Note: Beta 9 is far too large to fit the entire release notes on Steam--their system doesn't support it... so I've had to share the changelog here as an image rather than text. For a normal view of the full release notes, see this same announcement on the forums!)



RIF Abilities (permanent bothacking upgrades)
One of the highlights of today's release is another big expansion of the Relay Interface Framework, the new bothacking system introduced back in Beta 7 ("Hack the Planet"). Beta 9 now allows you to also install permanent bothacking upgrades, either enhancing existing abilities or granting entirely new ones!

I have a blog post going over how RIF upgrades work, but in short you'll gain a new ability for every additional RIF Installer you use. So yep this requires you visit a bunch of Garrisons, but hey bothackers are right at home inside Garrisons, yeah?

That said, the new system makes it very tempting to visit every Garrison you possibly can, even if it's possibly a bad idea at the time xD (speaking from personal experience here, as one of my Beta 9 streams demonstrated...)

RIF was already decent on its own (still is!), but for each new ability you get you'll probably be that much more effective (the abilities are mostly randomly handed out, and may not synergize with your immediate build/plans/tactics), eventually reaching pretty epic proportions. Abilities include features like getting more out of your Relay Couplers, using Phasewalls, and making allies immune to Programmer hacking.

The new RIF abilities UI for listing learned abilities and their effects (to open click on the HUD's RIF button, or Shift-Alt-f):



Check out the blog if you don't mind spoilers and want to read up on the full details.

Robot hacking also got a cool new hack option, amplify_resonance, which essentially turns a robot's power source into a proximity bomb that will detonate when near another power source. This can truly wreak havoc on squads, and is a lot of fun. overload_power still has its place (and is cheaper), but also more challenging to control (and slower) if using it to take out groups of targets.



And for those with or without RIF, if you're using a Datajack to run parse_system hacks on unique NPCs that might report special text to let you see their thoughts, those will now also add their unique parts to your gallery, so you don't have to murder them (or try to find a way to get them killed) just to get those IDs :)

Siege Mode
If the silent approach isn't your thing, there is also a new way to make an even deadlier statement with your firepower: siege mode.

As most other forms of propulsion already do, all multislot treads now have their own special effect when "overloaded" (toggled a second time), transitioning them into siege mode in which you exchange your mobility for combat buffs, becoming immobile but gaining bonuses to accuracy and coverage, with even some damage resistance.

Entering and exiting the mode does take some time, as you can see in this demo here:



During the transition only the negative effects are in play, so when to activate and deactivate are even more tactically relevant decisions.

Treads also have a new Siege stat in their info window where you can access the context help and learn all the specific details.

Robots entering siege mode temporarily show as a flashing a yellow X on map, so yeah, enemies can do this, too, and you probably already know which ones ;). Yeah, it's kinda scary, but it also might give you a better opportunity to reposition or escape!

Siege treads originated as a new mechanic voted for by patrons during Beta 9 development, and were expanded from there. You can read a lot more about the process behind designing siege mechanics on the blog here.

Sample info page for Hvy. Siege Treads, one of the new dedicated parts especially effective in siege mode:



The Evasion window explicitly shows the negative avoidance modifier for being immobile:



Advanced.cfg comes with some new tread-related options, too. Set autoDeactivateSiegeModeOnMove to 1 to have siege mode automatically start transitioning out of siege mode if you try to move while in the mode, which is quicker than toggling the treads manually. And set autoActivateTreadsOnAttack to 1 to automatically switch to treads when attacking (for the accuracy boost and anti-recoil properties), which also automatically switches back to the original propulsion once moving again. This second option is quite useful for "halftrack" wheel+tread builds:



Scoresheet 2.0
Cogmind's scoresheets have been pretty awesome over the years, allowing players to see and share a large number of statistics from each run, but as we approach the end of Beta development it was finally time to make them even awesomer, so now we've got an insane variety and level of detail with per-map stats for all those many hundreds of values, a complete history log, an ASCII map of where the run ended, a more detailed breakdown of robot types destroyed, specific cause of death (if the run ended in a loss :P), relative class distribution and dominant class per map, and so much more...

I've written an in-depth four-part "Building the Ultimate Roguelike Morgue File" series on the blog starting here, which covers a range of topics around the design and content of these new scoresheets.

But wait, Cogmind doesn't have "classes," what do you mean by "dominant class"?! As part of the new scoresheet development I devised an automated system for categorizing your build based on your current loadout and sometimes other factors. You can choose to display your current build classification (dynamically updated!) directly on the HUD with the advanced.cfg option "showBuildType". Here's a combat build supported by infowar utilities, called a "Skirmisher":



In terms of scoresheet data we'll be able to see how builds evolved over a run:



As well as which build was favored by the player over others based on total relative time used:



It'll be really cool to examine these new stats later :D

The performance stats which count towards score ended up mostly unchanged, but were expanded slightly with the addition of Regions Visited. Rewarding exploration is a good way to encourage it, so a set amount of points are earned for reaching each new map. In the early years points for "Evolutions" served that purpose well enough, earned at each new depth, but back then the world was narrower, whereas players can now spend up to a half or even three quarters of a run inside branches, exploring horizontally. While it’s true there are also bonus points to earn in branches, not everyone may actually earn those anyway, and it’s worth recognizing that they still made the trip.

Some sources of bonus points were removed, but that's because they were originally piggybacking on the bonus point system as a kind of makeshift "history log" throughout Alpha/Beta, whereas the new scoresheets actually have a full history log containing all the notable events during a run.

There are currently several hundred different types of history log messages, and reading the log is like reading a pretty decent summary of the run. Here's a short example:



With history logs we'll be able to see more specfically what special encounters players found, and how they made their way through each floor, more in word form rather than all the number-based stats (although I'm sure the turn counter will in some cases be pretty elucidating, too).

I wrote a bunch about designing and building the history log here, which includes more samples.

So as you can see these scoresheets are jam-packed with fun and useful stuff, and you also don't even have to wait until the end of your run to have access to one! Mid-run stat dumps can be created using Shift-Alt-s in the main UI, or via the Records game menu:



Dumps are great for sharing with other players, or checking on the details of your progress.

Sample causes of death recorded while I was testing that system (demonstrating a variety of sources):



Sample ASCII map of final surroundings (more on its visual design in the relevant blog post):



Over the years all of Cogmind's player scoresheets have simply been uploaded as text files, then each day I'd copy the files and run a program that produces the leaderboards and some stats, but those days are behind us now. All the new stat uploads will instead be entered into the brand new database!

This database will power the new leaderboards (among other public stat uses), which aren't currently set up, but the data from new Beta 9 runs is being collected so don't worry--as long as you've got uploads enabled, it'll all be included later.

You can even already see your run data on the server by using the URLs appended to your local scoresheet, which look something like this:



The TXT form will be an identical copy of your scoresheet, stored online, and the JSON format is one way to represent the server's internal data for that run (sample). With the new scoresheet format, a long run can end up with literally tens of thousands of data points!

Thanks goes out to Will Glynn for being instrumental in getting that up and running. So I updated the credits menu :)



Difficulty Modes
Difficulty modes have been rebranded! They've now got names--Explorer/Adventurer/Rogue, and are no longer hidden in the options menu. We've had these settings for a while now, but they're underused since who knows how many people didn't seem to know they even existed xD (among other reasons discussed in the relevant blog post which goes into more detail).

Now it'll be impossible to miss them since the first time you start up Cogmind you'll be presented with a new menu that appears even before the title screen, asking which difficulty setting you want to choose.



The balance changes for each mode are more or less the same as before, as described in the manual, though there have been a few tweaks, most notably the removal of Alarm traps from Materials in Explorer mode, keeping Operators out of sight of the Materials starting locations so they don't call reinforcements right away in Explorer/Adventurer modes, and outright removing them from -10/Materials in those modes. Altogether these factors tended to significantly compound the dangers of the early depths and contribute to a lot of deaths from being overwhelmed, which doesn't really have a place in the early game for easier difficulties. (These factors are expected challenges of the traditional Rogue mode and remain unchanged.)

A bigger change to Explorer/Adventurer modes is the optional quicksave feature. So yep, permadeath is technically not enforced in those modes, allowing you to save/load to your slot at any time via Ctrl-F7/F8, or via new buttons on the game menu.



The game over window also includes a new button that allows you to load back to your last restore point instead of dying (and if you never manually created a restore point, it'll lead to an automatic quicksave made at the beginning of the current floor):



Non-permadeath/loaded runs will not be uploaded, however, and therefore not included in the leaderboards. You can see whether your current run has been loaded before, and how many times, via a new indicator that appears in the top-right corner of the HUD:



You can read my thoughts on permadeath and this feature on the blog under "Quicksaving and Restore Points," as well as in the manual under a new section titled "Saving/Loading."

For those Explorers/Adventurers who want to remove the temptation to make or use quicksaves, the feature can be entirely disabled in advanced.cfg by setting noManualSaving=1. All the relevant buttons will disappear and the hotkeys won't do anything :)

Balance
There have been quite a few balance changes, partially a result of this release taking a while to make it out there, but also because we're closing on the end of Beta so it's time to iron out a few things.

Assault squads can be a bit more powerful now, and high security dispatches grow increasingly deadly with each dispatch, changes which mainly just affect those who are out there repeatedly farming these opportunities for points--they really weren't deadly enough :P

One of the extended-game fights had also become easier than intended, so that's been rebalanced.

Research branches are somewhat less scary because the results of being scanned by a Researcher are different by area, rather than always calling in, uh, death on wings. This might have something to do with the Q-Series loadout algorithm being rewritten for Beta 9 to make them more formidable opponents ;)

In other good news, crit builds are back in business! Crit-stacking was amazing back in Alpha, but eventually got nerfed by giving the most dangerous enemies immunity to critical strikes, making it hard to fully rely on crit tactics when dealing with tougher challenges, and leading people away from those builds in general. Now almost all the bots with Critical immunity have been converted to a new "Coring" immunity, which only gives their core immunity to critical strikes, but all their parts are fair game, so it's possible to use a good crit build to strip even a powerful target, just not outright destroy them purely from critical strikes alone.



If you've been having some bad experiences with thieves, that was a bug, oops xD. Regular thieves you can run into in the caves are pretty annoying, but they shouldn't be downright evil like Master Thieves are--the code for the latter new type was accidentally also applied to the former in Beta 8, giving them all the ability to both steal from your inventory and always pick your most valuable parts! Regular thieves now once again only steal the first thing they can get their grabbers on.

The largest area of balance was part stats, and I won't go over every single one mentioned in the changelog, but some of these deserve a bit of discussion...
  • Quantum Capacitors have finally been switched to occupy two slots rather than one. It's always been far too good at one slot considering the powerful low-weapon builds it enables, so now requires a bigger utility slot investment in exchange for that power. And it's still really good! Weapon Cycler effects have also been capped at a lower amount (30%) to maintain their balance against capacitors.
  • Humpbacks were made somewhat irrelevant with the comeback of Hcp. Storage in Beta 8, so they've once again got their niche back and store even more parts at an even higher mass cost (!).
  • Burnout rates were effectively negligible on hover/flight units due to the types of builds people have been using them in, so those rates are now high enough to be worth taking into consideration now--the extra speed should come at some cost :P
  • Beta 9 is the great armor mass nerfening, mainly because good flying builds were sporting way too much powerful armor, which when combined with ridiculous speeds made them practically invulnerable. It'll be harder to put together an all-around OP build like that now, while combat builds won't have much trouble supporting the extra mass so the changes don't affect them nearly as much. Light armor mass is unchanged, but medium and heavy armors are 30% and 50% heavier, respectively. Powered Armors in particular are an outlier and weighed almost nothing so had their mass increased significantly (their original balancing factor in the design was rarity, but it's not that hard to acquire them! I'd like to preserve their current availability but make it so that it's more likely combat-focused builds will use them, rather than flight builds for which they are far too good with their amazing coverage and damage reduction).
  • Beta 9 will also be known as the great EM nerf. Every single electromagnetic weapon was adjusted to consume twice as much energy per shot. This includes guns, cannons, launchers--all of them. Despite the change, EM weapons are still great, but will require a little more support from other parts (power sources and/or batteries) to use extensively. They're definitely more balanced now.
  • High-rating Phase Shifter effects got a significant nerf as well. They're still good, but not insanely so as they were before. This change also indirectly nerfs one of the toughest hostiles in the game, so there is a silver lining here ;)
  • Early-game sensor utilities got a bit of a buff to make them somewhat more useful (before they're of course quickly replaced by better versions anyway). This includes Sensor Arrays, Imp. Sensor Arrays, Terrain Scanners, Imp. Terrain Scanners, Mak. Terrain Scanners, Seismic Analyzers, and Terrain Scan Processors. So maybe give them a second look if you're already used to ignoring them :P
  • Piercing weapons got a buff to their special effect, doubling target core exposure rather than multiplying it by 1.33. The original figure sounded large but the way it's calculated made for almost negligible gains--the new value is significant enough to matter against the average target.
  • Hover units will be easier to find and use to maintain a build throughout an entire run, especially with the addition of two new varieties of hover, including some very high-end stuff. The main drawback of hover as a propulsion choice in the past was difficulty in restoring or replacing older/damaged units, but not anymore.

Useful Stuff
Surprise (not really), there are lots more little QoL features in Beta 9!

Machine hacking got some nice upgrades, probably the coolest being the one voted for by patrons during Beta 9 development: expanded autocompletion with a menu based system.



This is especially useful with part schematics, listing all those valid at the current machine given the current depth, with partial name matching of course, and tab autocompletion.



As you can see in the demos above, the new behavior uses a two-step process treating the command and variable separately, rather than treating the entire string as one for the purposes of autocompletion as before. As a result, using Ctrl-Backspace only erases back to the previous open parenthesis if there is one, rather than always clearing the command.

Note that changing the system's behavior also required limiting autocomplete to the Tab key, rather than allowing either Tab or Spacebar.

Manually hacking a machine target which is already listed as a direct hack no longer incurs the usual indirect hacking penalty, either, for those who just want to type and not worry about first checking what already might be available.

And there are several new hacks to discover out there...

Because we can never have enough ways to facilitate part management, here's another: Swapping back and forth between two parts is now even easier via the new autopair system that remembers which parts have been swapped. You don't even have to think about it or look for a specific part in the list, because it's always assigned to 'Y' in the swap menu.



Notice the tick mark to the left of parts that have an autopair, as a reminder.

Parts ejected by machines now push away other parts, rather than rolling the ejected part over others. This is to ensure the newest part is actually placed instead of possibly being crushed due to lack of space.



Player-dropped parts crushed for that reason are now explicitly reported in the message log so they don't seem to disappear mysteriously (although technically they have always played special sfx and the parts list animation for destruction).



Inventory type-wise and mass-wise sorting also subsort by integrity (high-to-low) for otherwise matching items:



Prop explosion data is now shown in the scan window, making this more apparent without having to open the full info window:



I hope you enjoy Beta 9, a big release which is really like two major releases in one :P. Although the new leaderboards aren't ready yet, be sure to activate uploading in the options menu (and set your desired player name!) if you want to participate in them when they do go live. Next up I'll be sharing some stats from the lengthy Beta 8 period, as usual.

Saves from earlier versions are incompatible with Beta 9, but even if you're on Steam and Cogmind automatically updates, Beta 8.2 is still available via its own legacy branch and you can roll back to finish a run in progress first if you like.

Cogmind - Kyzrati


Siege mode is here! Wait what? Siege mode?

Yeah, this concept kinda came out of nowhere because suggested by patrons who came up with a bunch of ideas and voted on the new mechanic they wanted to see in Cogmind. The full list and voting results are here:



I like the idea of having a "siege mode" for treads since we already have conditional "overloaded" functionality with some other propulsion, but before now treads didn't have this and it provides new tactical options depending on your situation and capabilities.

In short, you exchange your mobility for combat buffs, becoming immobile but gaining bonuses to accuracy and coverage, with even some damage resistance.

Here's a demo of some of the relevant interface bits, showing how it takes time to enter/exit the mode (and during that transition you're more vulnerable):



And yes there's cool transformation sfx when you fully enter siege mode ;)

There'll be a blog post that goes into more detail about the design process behind siege mode, all of the mechanical aspects, and even a discussion of the tactical implications, but I'm still working on that so I'll link to that in the next announcement.

This week I did already start streaming a new run using a nearly-complete version of Beta 9 to show off some of the latest features, including siege mechanics! So naturally it's a heavy combat run, that in combination with a so-called "crit-stacking" offense, which I've wanted to try for a while, and now is a good opportunity because enemy crit immunity has temporarily (?) been toned down for Beta 9 as an experiment.

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

Part 2 will be coming next week.

The Good Stuff

Also as voted for by patrons (albeit from a list of potential features I provided) manual hack autocompletion got an overhaul to bring its behavior more in line with regular editor consoles, including even a selection menu to see the available options.



And my favorite part: it even works with schematics, listing all those valid at the current machine given the current depth, with partial name matching of course, and tab autocompletion.



On the part management QoL side of things, in order to facilitate swapping back and forth between two parts (which some people like to do before/after combat with certain builds), after a part swap between the inventory/attached lists, those two parts are remembered ("paired") so if you want to swap back that's always possible via the 'Y' menu option:



Here's a demo of the autopair swap feature in action:



And I don't imagine it'll get a lot of use but it was one of those "do it because I can" things: All remembered autopairs can be swapped simultaneously if you really want to!



The Unbroken Stuff

I've already fixed all the known bugs from Beta 8--it's been a while so a lot of little things had piled up, but as always part of getting the next major release out the door means cleaning up any reports from the previous one!

The Terrain Scanner activation animation was unintentionally revealing the positions of traps via little blips. In fact, it was technically also revealing some internal script trigger points as well, which was how one player first discovered this! And then another player on Twitter mentioned that they thought the trap revealing was a feature xD. No this is totally not a feature, please use the other available means to detect traps rather than this rather tedious and non-Cogmind-like method! You see the blips in there?



Oops, the scanning list was revealing non-scannable prototypes by color even when unidentified. Fixed:



The Random Stuff

Lots of other little improvements here and there as well as I cleared out my TODO list for this release.

Inventory type-wise and mass-wise sorting also subsort by integrity



Parts ejected by machines now push away other parts, rather than rolling the ejected part over others.



Prop explosion data now shown in the scan window, making this more apparent without having to open the info window.



And we can always use new explosions.



30,000 Data Points? Yes, Please!

You know how Cogmind's extensive scoresheets have always contained hundreds upon hundreds of data points to paint a fairly detailed account of that run's highlights? Well let's multiple that by... a lot.

The scoresheet format has been revamped in a big way, reorganizing all those many stats into more (and better) categories, adding a range of entire new categories, and significantly enhancing each scoresheet's ability to paint a clear picture of the run with history logging, automated build class identification, an ASCII map of the final surroundings, and even separating all those data values out into their per-map stats!

I've given this topic new "meta feature" in-depth coverage on the dev blog, writing a massive dedicated 4-part series on it, and as you'd expect, each article is packed with samples, diagrams, and detailed explanations.

Building the Ultimate Roguelike Morgue File, Part 1: Stats and Organization - Examining the process of developing Cogmind's scoresheet and its content as it evolves into its final form.



Building the Ultimate Roguelike Morgue File, Part 2: ASCII Maps - Designing the ASCII map style for Cogmind's new scoresheets.



Building the Ultimate Roguelike Morgue File, Part 3: Mid-run Stat Dumps - Why and how I'm including accessible character dumps in Cogmind, including automated build classification and a situation analysis system.



The Ultimate Roguelike Morgue File, Part 4: History Logging - Exploring the structure and content of full-run history logs as a way to record notable events in a roguelike.



While on the subject of blogging, I wrote another article about Special Game Modes in a Roguelike Context, talking about stuff like their value and types.



Hard Still Means Hard

Another big change coming to Cogmind is the rebranding of difficulty modes, which I hope will help a lot of people. No more automatically defaulting to the hardest mode and calling the other two options "easier" and "easiest"--from now we have Explorer, Adventurer, and Rogue!

A lot of people don't even realize Cogmind has difficulty modes, and has for a couple years now, so that option will be front-loaded into a new menu seen the first time the game is run, before even the title screen:



Explorer/Adventurer modes even come with a convenient quicksave/load system, which I hope will help a lot of people better enjoy the game (Rogue mode will continue to enforce permadeath).

There is of course a blog post on this change, Rebranding Difficulty Modes, talking about design, reasoning, and player expectations. Another one specifically about the save/load feature will be coming as well!

Flying and Hacking

Last time I reported that I'd begun streaming a flight run, which was eventually finished and made it into super spoiler extended-game areas. There were five parts in total, with the second starting here (you can find the rest from there):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2JSDWtz--o

I also did another streaming series of a run using the new upgradable RIF abilities. That starts here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciCC37FuFac

Zyalin drew our late-game build there <3


And at one point earlier in the run I was also crazy enough to continue along with rather high corruption and ended up causing a misfire to destroy the exact thing I was after--Zyalin sketched that scene, too xD



Of Course We Have More Art

Zyalin drew Tone's massive-storage late-game bothacking borg build, with allies in tow.



He also drew this...



...which makes more sense when you learn where it came from, the time in chat where I was fooling around with making Cogmind a 2x2 bot by changing a single value in the game, and... it actually sorta worked and was playable though the sprite became a conglomeration of several other non-combat bots as well!



Zyalin's imagining of a "combat version" of that particular NPC everyone loves to murder for their amazing hackware.



And I really love this piece, a huge thief-inspired bot that rips parts off:



Zyalin has finally set up a website for his fan art of various games, including Cogmind, so if you want to see some of his other great work, and a lot of his past Cogmind pieces, check that out here. (Today's opening art is also a work by Zyalin, giving his impression of siege treads)

PlasticHeart, originator of the idea of "cogmics" (the 4-panel Cogmind comics now created by a number of players) has also collected a bunch of their past work on a new DeviantArt page here.

For his own "work of art," in July JakeThyCamel announced he'd been doing some wonderful work on an online HTML-based version of Cogmind's manual, filled with links and supporting screenshots. The conversion isn't quite complete (I'll bring it up again when it's done), but it's definitely getting there and worth checking out.



Oh look, there's some of my art, too. Stuff coming to a Beta 9 near you :)



Platforming

If you hadn't hear, this week Steam launched the new Library beta, and for that purpose all us devs had to make new assets to fit the new format. So if you opt into the beta you'll notice a couple things, one being the fact that quite a few devs have not updated their assets so the games don't show up very well, but assuming you own Cogmind you get to see this new box art in action :D



I made this and other new stuff a few months back when Steam first announced the upcoming changes, then totally forgot about it. It wasn't until players started showing me the game standing out in their libraries that I realized it was live :P



More recently I certainly remember the headache of suddenly having to go back through and migrate old announcements to the new system because I couldn't live with Steam automatically classifying all of Cogmind's previous updates as "small patches" :P. Cue hours of figuring out the system and creating new images in the right format! In the end it's at least a little more modern and less clunky than it was before (if we ignore the fact that comments are now harder to reach and see...).

Here's a couple excerpts from the editing view when I was working on that:



I'm quite happy that Steam integrated Proton and for a while now it's become even easier for Linux players to enjoy Cogmind via Steam Play. Cogmind is now rated Platinum in ProtonDB, so keeping the software super minimal and fixing those Wine-specific issues was definitely worth it :)

In less good news, the newest macOS is dropping support for 32-bit apps, which will mean those on the new system might have a harder time running Cogmind. I believe it'll technically still be possible, but you'll have to approve it or something like that? Or maybe because Mac users are already running it under some form of emulator anyway it might work? Not really sure about these things I guess we'll see.

Wizardry on the Horizon

Beta 9 is coming.

No date for you yet, but the only feature remaining before it can be released is the database and leaderboards side of things,
and while not every one of its features needs to be ready immediately, 1) it's important to lay a good foundation and 2) the basic version definitely needs to be functional for the Beta 9 release because I want to see the initial usage of the rebranded difficulty modes given the new menu and related features.

I can't be too sure about the timeline because I have someone else helping build it--I normally work alone but this is outside my area of expertise so that wasn't really an option here if I wanted it done well :P

In any case, regardless of when Beta 9 is done, a longer dev cycle just means more time to throw in extra little features and content before it's out!

A note about SITREPs: These are occasional progress updates where I share features coming to the next release, but that aren't actually in game yet. Public releases get their own dedicated news announcement and changelogs/release notes, for example with Beta 7 and Beta 8.

There may be other relevant discussion of this SITREP on the GSG forums or r/Cogmind.
Cogmind - Kyzrati
Beware, the bothackers cometh!



Hacking robots has gotten a lot more interesting since Beta 7, and although there were some buffs after that, the strategy was still somewhat lacking in the late game, at most serving as a supplementary capability rather than holding its own. So now we've got... permanent upgradable RIF abilities!

I've written a full explanation on the new system over on the blog: "Robot Hacking: Upgrades"



You can read all the details there, but in short, you'll be able to seek out new abilities at RIF Installers, eventually becoming a bothacking powerhouse if you can brave that many Garrisons. Abilities include stuff like upgrading your Relay Couplers, using Phasewalls, and making allies immune to Programmer hacking.

Using the Robot Detection ability to see nearby enemies:



Walking through Phasewalls:



The new RIF abilities UI for listing learned abilities and their effects:



In this week's stream I also demonstrated RIF abilities (along with some other upcoming features) in a Beta 9 preview:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJx43CtfdXM

Zyalin drew our bothacker build :D



Me? On a flight run?

I took a month off streaming Cogmind to review a bunch of 7DRLs, but have since gotten back to Cogmind streams and did a complete flight/thief run. Part 1 is here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BFzE5wXp0c

The original goal was just to steal from the Exiles and evade all the inevitable thieves, but the epicness continued for much longer than that. I wrote up a full summary of the run with links and images, though note it does eventually get into extreme spoilers.

I won't go into details here, but one of the epic events was getting two major bots to fight each other. I can't not show it because Zyalin drew this awesome depiction of us flying around with our friend, who is having his nuke intercepted by that much bigger non-friend.



Pay2Buy2Win

Before that I also streamed a couple weeks of Pay2Buy mode, the new version released for April 1st.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VVNZBiqAuc

A list of parts purchased throughout that run :)



After some time had passed, I put together a special leaderboard to record those who'd participated in the 4/1 event (and opted into uploading)



That and a bunch of related stats can be found on the forums here.

Writing and Doing

Following my article on level design, I added a pair of related pieces:

"Roguelike Level Design Addendum: Procedural Layouts"



"Roguelike Level Design Addendum: Static or Procedural?"



More recently I posted an in-depth look at the evolution of Cogmind's turn time system:



In little features I worked on, we're getting specific death messages for the scoresheet. Check out some samples from that system at work here:



I took a few-hour detour to add all the commands to the manual. Commands have always been available in game, but some people prefer to reference them externally in the manual. The list there was always incomplete since I'd approached it differently--only showing an alphabetized list of keys with their effect, rather than organizing it categorically as you find it in game. Now it's organized and complete.



This of course also means that the in-game manual includes the list as well, even though they're already available via a separate explicit help menu :P



Also have a red mapgen visualizer:



Art from 2243

A new gallery of works for your perusal...




Storage Jammin', by Zyalin




A multitreaded combat bot, by Zyalin




EM Cogmind, by Zyalin




Mni. ARCs?! by PlasticHeart




Unsafe branch spawns, by PlasticHeart




A randomly trapped Fabricator, by PlasticHeart




Storage shopping, by PlasticHeart




ECM Sweet, by JackNine




March leaderboards, by 8FPS

The Great Server Outage of 2019

At the end of May the servers were, um, "updated" by the host and this broke a bunch of stuff. The blog and wiki were both down for five days, and for two weeks the in-game news/version checking feature as well as score uploading and error reporting were all broken. Sadness.

Fixing this took quite a lot of work, no thanks to the host service who had no idea what was going on. Fortunately we have lots of web devs in the player base and I got some tips and ideas that eventually helped get everything up and running again.

As of last week our leaderboards are once again accepting new data \o/



As part of the fix I was forced to update Cogmind itself, so I put out a quick and relatively unannounced Beta 8.2 earlier, which has all of one line in its changelog :P

Saves are compatible with the previous version (so there's no legacy branch on Steam), it was just a modification to how COGMIND.EXE connects to the website for the optional online functionality.

Going forward Beta 9 will be running on a different db-based leaderboard system, so would no longer be affected by availability or reachability of the website itself, and will also feature multiple attempts, in case a score cannot be uploaded for some reason at the time a run ends (for example no active internet connection). Too bad that wasn't in place yet when this even occurred, but we'll get to it soon enough!

The 9th Circle of Betas

Speaking of Beta 9, when and where is that, anyway?

Well, it's going to still be a while yet. As we approach Cogmind 1.0, there have been a few major meta systems remaining to work on, and all of these happen to be features that need to be released simultaneously, making this by far the longest release cycle to date as I get everything in place.

The first is the revamped scoresheet, which is now complete, and also awesome--I'll be writing about that for the blog next. It's been a massive project that alone took more than a month.

The second is a new leaderboard system. The current one is pretty nice, but it's not fully automated and also has no internal database, limiting the kinds of things that can be done with it.

And the third is rebranded difficulty modes, which won't be changed in too many fundamental ways, but will get a new selection UI and hopefully be more useful to new players while also better at setting expectations.

Plus on top of all that we of course need other fixes and features that make releases interesting, like the RIF abilities :D

So Beta 9 is a big one, even if a lot of it is internal work. But it must be done, so I'm doin' it.

I was hoping to have it done by mid-June, when I'll be out of town for a few weeks, but there's been too much extra work involved so unfortunately I won't be able to finish it until after that, which means some time in August.

I'll still be chipping away at it while on the road, and updating the blog and Patreon, but four weeks from now when I leave I'm pretty sure there'll still be a little more work left to do on Beta 9, and I don't want to rush it out.

That said, even though it's incomplete, patrons can fool around with a prerelease version of Beta 9 (the one I streamed earlier this week), which already has the fully functional new scoresheet features and RIF abilities.

With Steam revenue falling lately, patrons are now clearly responsible for keeping development going without having to worry about wasting dev time advertising or wrapping up Cogmind to switch to another project, so many thanks to them <3



I mean it's true I've been working on Cogmind for six years now and continue expanding it without charging for the extra content, so this trend is inevitable xD

Patrons have also put in their votes for their choice of feature to focus on going into Beta 9:



(So yeah, yet another thing to work on!)

While we're talking money, here's your notice that Cogmind is having a weeklong 10% discount from June 17th through 24th, both on Steam and the website (where you can also get a Steam key and it's a lot more helpful for the bottom line).

I'll leave you with our favorite cheer (courtesy of Zyalin).



A note about SITREPs: These are occasional progress updates where I share features coming to the next release, but that aren't actually in game yet. Public releases get their own dedicated news announcement and changelogs/release notes, for example with Beta 7 and Beta 8.

There may be other relevant discussion of this SITREP on the GSG forums or r/Cogmind.
Cogmind - Kyzrati
!!! ALERT: SPECIAL MODE DETECTED !!!



It's that time of year again, when all sorts of fake things appear on the internet... But I've become a fan of using this opportunity to make crazy unprecedented things that are true, so Cogmind is going P̶a̶y̶2̶W̶i̶n̶ Pay2Buy! Well, for a day, anyway ;)

Get the latest Cogmind update and fire it up on April 1st, and anyone who's past the tutorial starts and has been playing the regular game will automatically have new runs start in Pay2Buy mode!

I'll talk about that more below, but unlike last year's event, I've combined this one with an actual release, which includes a number of fixes for Beta 8, as well as some balance-related tweaks. There's also a bit of new content as well:

Cogmind Beta 8.1 "Pay2Buy" (0.10.190401) changelog:
  • NEW: Unique AFD mode for 2019, automatically activates on 4/1 for anyone who has played at least three runs
  • NEW: 1 new unique superweapon
  • NEW: Special NPC encounter under certain circumstances
  • NEW: Additional improvements to reduce turn delay when holding wait key or moving at extremely high speeds
  • NEW: Command line argument "-forceAFD2019" to enable the AFD mode from 2019, regardless of system date
  • NEW: Command line argument "-forceAFD2018" to enable the AFD mode from 2018, regardless of system date
  • NEW: [AFD 2019] Includes a special interface for "purchasing" items with CogCoins, an event-specific mechanic
  • NEW: [AFD 2019] Earn CogCoins by raising the alert level
  • NEW: [AFD 2019] Other event-specific mechanics
  • NEW: [AFD 2019] Score sheets include list of all purchased items at the end
  • NEW: Any AFD mode scores can now be uploaded as well for aggregate stats and potential special leaderboads, but are still excluded from main leaderboards
  • NEW: Added Phase Armor and Phase Redirector mechanics to manual's Attack Resolution section
  • NEW: List of patrons added via Credits menu
  • MOD: Tweaked various Exiles scenario reactions
  • MOD: Master Thief behavior changed to make them more dangerous
  • MOD: New internal turn system, harder to game for free peeking around corners
  • MOD: Dropped items/salvage allowed to fall to other side of map exits (on same map)
  • MOD: Overloaded Fabricator effects no longer count as Cogmind kills, or for alert purposes
  • MOD: Signal Generator only works in 0b10-controlled areas
  • MOD: Firepult damage reduced
  • MOD: Keyboard's Pause key no longer has an effect
  • MOD: Alpha Supporters shortcut command changed from '0' to '9'
  • MOD: Lore no longer has '9' as an optional shortcut (access via Records page)
  • MOD: AFD runs no longer added to scorehistory.txt
  • FIX: An active Stasis Generator brought into a new map has no effect unless toggled off and on again [Joshua]
  • FIX: Ejecting couplers from certain unlocked Garrison Access instead destroys them [Joshua]
  • FIX: "Batter Up" achievement description did not specify melee impact damage only, despite kinetic cannons now being capable of knockback as well [Joshua]
  • FIX: Gallery CSV/HTML exports were missing a header for the new propulsion Drag stat [Mx. Eldritch]
  • FIX: Rare crash on an allied Mechanic seeking a repair target after robot it was following is destroyed [Horse]
  • FIX: In rare layouts a special hidden area of a certain map might be slightly disconnected from the rest of the map [8fpsbossfight]
  • FIX: Possible to crash the UI by switching into the game menu extremely quickly while also switching pages [geedmat, Horse, 8fpsbossfight]
  • FIX: Crash on hitting a controllable ally with a Field Lobotomy Kit [ApolliniaD, alice_fexa]
  • FIX: Manual seeds could be applied incorrectly in some cases, resulting in different seeds producing the same world [Suslik]
  • FIX: Combining any Thermal Generator and Cryofiber Web could show a net negative energy readout in HUD, even though still positive [lsend]
  • FIX: Advanced flashProjectileVictims option could in some locations cause flashes outside of combat as well [Puzzlebark]
  • FIX: Integrity Redistributor could result in the wrong effect if core integrity near 50% of a total value greater than 1000 [mtf]
  • FIX: Crash on accessing the Z-Roster if earlier on same map summoned a hero and in the turn immediately afterward a new hero was added to roster [Rumbl3]
  • FIX: Fixing a separate issue in previous release broke schematic list highlighting while hacking a Fabricator [Malthusis]
  • FIX: Typo [mindcog]
  • FIX: Scrollable lists containing multiple keyboard ASCII colors may not align properly with list items when more than 26 items, after scrolling
  • FIX: Hacking Prototype ID Banks did not immediately update identified inventory items if any happen to be matching unknown prototypes
  • FIX: Multiple Stasis Generators being used at once may not always remain active depending on relative toggle states

Pay2Buy

AFD 2018 was a last-minute joke implemented and deployed in just an hour on 2018.4.1. This year I put a good bit more time into it, spending several days over the past week building some new UI features, designing and balancing systems, and surprisingly increased Cogmind's core code base by 0.6% for Pay2Buy alone (excluding all the other work that went into bringing you Beta 8.1).

So what's this mode all about...

The Cogshop is open for business! No, this isn't the Merchants Guild expansion I've touted as one of my Patreon goals, it's a new AFD mode that significantly changes the Cogmind experience.

Skip this section if you want to go in blind, or read on for more details.

In Pay2Buy mode there are no parts lying around, and no salvage from kills, either. In a few very rare cases items may still be available via the usual special means, e.g. Relay Couplers, but for the most part you'll have one source of new parts: the Cogshop.

Access the shop by clicking on the Buy button in the bottom-left corner, or via the number '0' on your keyboard. There is no item info available for shop items--there wasn't enough time to add that, although I did add the short item stat summary after each one so you can reference that to help make purchasing decisions.



Earn CogCoins by doing almost anything that raises alert, i.e. get in fights -> earn coins -> buy parts -> get in more fights (or go around sabotaging machinery as your source of revenue ;)) and so on.

Eventually you might notice there's a bit of a market economy going, with you as its only customer :P. Prices will fluctuate a bit, more so depending on what you do and don't buy. Item types you don't buy will get lower in price, while those you do will get increasingly expensive.

There are also Loot Boxes! Because of course there are :). If you've got coins to spare or want to take a risk, test your luck and buy some. You might also see some special discounts or other shop-related announcements as you play.

Interestingly the Pay2Buy experience is kinda like typical character creation at the beginning of a run, as well as ongoing throughout the run, only with even more control than you normally have. It's a pretty unique Cogmind experience :D

As for other AFD-related tweaks, you do not have access to any Storage Units, but start with ten inventory slots for free, instead of the usual four. Your score sheet at the end of the run will include a full list of all of your purchases, and the prices you paid. And in a very first for one of our Cogmind special events, score sheets can actually be uploaded! (assuming you have the option enabled) Of course they won't be included in the regular leaderboards, but Pay2Buy runs could get their own dedicated event leaderboard, at least for those who play in the near term.



AFD 2019 normally autoactivates for new runs on 4/1, but if you want to play on another day, rather than having to change your system time like before, I've added a new option you might prefer, the "-forceAFD2019" command line parameter. (In Steam this is Cogmind > Properties > Set Launch Options...) If you don't want to play this special mode on 4/1, the "-noAFD" switch will block it.

Still Exiled

Beta 8.1 brings with it a fair number of Exiles tweaks, if you remember them from their explosive Beta 8 debut ;)

Yes, as many in the community feared, I did nerf their Firepult just a bit, but it's still an amazing and terrifying weapon. More importantly, Master Thieves are a good bit scarier now. They're still a challenge that can be overcome, but... you really would do better to not attract them in the first place. (I also changed up the dialogue just bit so that it makes sense they can still come after you if you went all evil murderer in the lab.)

You know that scenario where the Exiles have prematurely departed? Well there's a new potential reward in that case, and a clue about where to get it...

There were various other EX tweaks as well, mostly small stuff.

8.1 Miscellany

One of the other big changes under the hood is probably not so big to most players, but the entire turn system has been replaced with a new type of queue. I'll be covering this more on the dev blog later, but the main impetus was to prevent free corner peeking, which a tiny handful of players were taking advantage of as an optimal tactic made possible by gaming the original turn time system. Now the system is more fair, and directly related to movement speed, rather than specifically when during a turn the move action is taken.

In the process of making the above change I also optimized the turn queue handling, which will speed up the game by up to 10% in some scenarios.

Behind the Scenes

Beta 8.1 includes a bunch of fixes, as usual (mostly to new stuff), and as part of my debugging work I finally added an engine-level visualization so I could see which subconsole is currently receiving mouse hover messages:



This helped track down a particular new bug that wasn't highlighting the current schematic at a Fabricator, for example:



It turns out this bug was caused by a separate Beta 8 fix for a completely unrelated issue xD

On the blog I've shared an addendum to my level design article, this one discussing how I approach layout planning for procedural maps, with an eye towards level design goals.



Another addendum, looking at the usage of static, procedural, and hybrid maps, is currently available to patrons here.



In good hardware news, I successfully cleaned out my dev laptop, as well as recovered all parts taken by Recyclers that escaped from the Cogmind source in the process.



(I shared the process on Twitter.)

Community

Zyalin has shared some cool new fan art, this piece titled "Storage Jammin'"



It depicts a beat up Cogmind build rampaging through Storage, indeed a dangerous map with very tight confines. Also of course there are friendly drones nearby :)

JackNine did another cogmic in his style:



Over on the forums muxecoid started a poll for the most hated combat enemy class, and Hunters won by a fair margin. Swarmers came in second place.

Although there's no "official" support for it beyond answers I hand out when interested people occasionally ask about superficial mod support, a number of people have actually modded Cogmind. Most recently Ape3000 has shared their mod that mixes ASCII with graphical walls from the tileset. Here's a sample of how that looks:



As for myself, on my Twitch channel I've been streaming a bunch of 7DRLs for reviewing lately, but will get back to Cogmind soon. In fact, it won't be this week because I have family visiting, but next week we're gong to play with Pay2Buy mode! As usual the videos will be up on YouTube afterwards.

Patreon

Patreon is going okay, the one I announced last time as part of the Future of Cogmind update.

So far patrons have been submitting suggestions for my Cogmind TODO list prioritization, to decide which major QoL system they'd like to fund for Beta 9, and also more recently for the new item/mechanic they'd like to see in the next release. These things are collaborative so we'll be doing some voting in April.

What's Up Next?

Well my near-term plans have somewhat changed due to this whole Pay2Buy event. I was originally planning to release a Beta 8.1 with fixes and some new hacking content, but Pay2Buy got big enough that it pushed back the other stuff (and 4/1 is a hard and fast deadline, after all xD), so my earlier 8.1 plans are likely being folded into Beta 9 instead (along with all the other Beta 9 stuff).

So the next release will likely be Beta 9, though it's too early to say when that'll happen since there's a lot to do. That said, Beta 8.1 is pretty big for a "minor" release, and the new mode adds yet another layer of replayability, so I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone thinks of it.

Enjoy!

Beta 8.1 saves are not compatible with previous versions, but even if you're on Steam and Cogmind automatically updates, Beta 8 is still available via its own legacy branch and you can roll back to finish a run in progress first if you like.
Cogmind - Kyzrati
About a year ago I put out an announcement dubbed "The Future of Cogmind," and seeing as another year of updates has gone by, plus there's a new development transition afoot, it's about time for another status announcement on this! (There was also a recent question about the duration of Early Access in the Steam discussion boards, though note that I do keep the EA info on the store page up to date.)

The good news is that even though the main content has been complete since 2017, and lots of free expansions have been added since, there are still plenty more to come. The bad news is I've got a lot of health issues (over 100 doctor visits last year alone xD), including a hearing problem which is still preventing me from finishing up the last bit of audio required for 1.0.

But postponing 1.0 isn't really too big a deal since I'm happy to continue providing new features and content, anyway. What is a big deal is that even though they'd be able to easily pay for themselves, I have no plans to release any updates as DLC--free updates only, but since sales revenue naturally falls over time (plus Steam and taxes take half the revenue :/), at some point there needs to be a way to pay for the work.

Don't worry, there is no immediate danger of discontinuing updates, and yes, 1.0 will certainly happen one day. Not quite this year, mind you, but one day ;)

As is I'm still working on Cogmind full time, halfway through the sixth year now, and I've decided to try something new to see how it works out in terms of enabling more updates in the long term. Large-scope roguelikes can continue development for quite a while, especially with such an active player base behind them, so it's always good to be ready for that long term :D

More specifically, the recent Beta 8 has been a lot of fun, and I'd like to do more of that in the future.



I've got plans for the Merchants Guild, more factions, the Unchained, many new maps, new game modes, intrinsics... basically a ton of stuff that I could work on for years.

So on that note I've started a Patreon:



It's completely optional--everyone still eventually gets the new Betas which will be released to Steam and the DRM-free system as per normal. It's also technically not purely for Cogmind--I do a bunch of roguelike-related stuff and it's really just to support me in everything, although as you can see on the page it clearly involves Cogmind-specific interaction and benefits :P (I mean, this is by far what I spend most of my time on so this makes sense!)

After talking about it with frequent players and taking suggestions, this seems like a suitable route to explore in order to maintain a healthy future for the game. The good thing is it's flexible--more support equals more extra stuff, period :)

Along with this new facet of development, there will be some other changes as well, including:
  • fewer progress announcements (the SITREPs that I've been doing) and instead having smaller progress announcements (with slightly different content) on Patreon, as well as a greater number of dev blog articles
  • earlier prerelease test builds, giving more time for feedback and adjustments before the official release goes out
Thanks to all you players who've joined with me on this adventure so far! I'm looking forward to the years to come :D

(In near-term version news, I've planned out most of the details for Beta 9, but am not working on that just yet because before that we're going to get a Beta 8.1 with some adjustments and a bit of new stuff :D)
Cogmind - Kyzrati
Beta 7 stats are in :D



You can read all about general stats, wins, run length, RIF use, and robot hacks over on the forums here.

Exiles and Golems

My new stream series has found its title, and we're in the middle of an Exiles Golem run. Unlike many of my past runs, this one's kinda spoilery if you've never been to the Deep Caves :P

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FVDs5ElcBc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3y5bbEs92pw

On that note, Valguris posted a new guide for a 2-propulsion flight hacker golem (included the extended game). It's a pretty extreme build and I'm not doing that--mine's more of a traditional blow-everything-up golem, but we're certainly seeing a lot of really unique builds recently, especially after the Beta 8 content expansion.

MTF has been streaming a lot of Cogmind, too.

and Rylan over on Discord drew a great depiction of MTF's Beta 8 "swarmer build" (another crazy new build!) being chased down on stream in Cogmind's extended game. This new build based on some Exiles tech really chewed through the end game though. (The pink one is a powerful ally.)



Dev Stuff

This week on the blog I posted a huge article on level design in Cogmind, taking the Exiles map as an example to share a complete rundown of the process and explain how it integrates with gameplay.



A Change of Pace?

I've been strongly considering starting a Patreon to accept subcription support, but I'm very undecided at the moment...

I think having something like that in the long term will be important for future Cogmind development seeing as I do a lot of extra releases without putting them into some kind of DLC, though the original plan was to maybe start that after 1.0. That said, it would take a while to build up a Patreon (or even see whether it's viable), so it might make more sense to start now.

In fact, it could even enable development of more features before 1.0, which might be better in the long run than leaving some of my ideas for later, when they're potentially less likely to happen. I have a lot of fun plans for Cogmind which I'm sure you'll enjoy one day, but I can see it also being advantageous to have all this extra stuff in the game before it reaches 1.0, if only because it'll be better received then, right? :)

In the end, I may be a commercial dev but I don't run my "business" in a commercial fashion, so that'll start to hurt in the long run. (The smart money-oriented approach would've been to release Cogmind as 1.0 by now, and collect content updates into one or more large DLCs, but I want to avoid DLC!)

So I'm thinking about possibly discontinuing the normal SITREPs and instead changing up the format in which I do things, with ideas including:
  • splitting out some some special design and progress topics to put them on the blog instead of hiding them in SITREPs
  • giving patrons advance access to blog posts
  • including extra dev stuff I don't normally talk about, for example even more future plans rather than always talking about features after they're already implemented :P
  • possibly some voting/polls
  • possibly some little rewards
  • free access to older Cogmind builds?
It'd also be less spammy than repeatedly posting public updates to Steam and elsewhere :P

I'm not really a fan of gating content, so maybe it could even just be a completely open/public thing with no gating at all, although I imagine this would mean less potential support. Starting simple could be nice, though.

I mean, it's almost cliche to think about it, but if only a portion of Cogmind owners pitch in just $1~2 each month, it really adds up and great things are possible :D

Anyway, still just thinking about it, wondering what others think...

PS: I wonder how many readers get the SITREP title :P

A note about SITREPs: These are regular progress updates where I often share features coming to the next release, but aren't actually in game yet. Public releases get their own dedicated news announcement and changelogs/release notes, for example with Beta 7 and Beta 8.

There may be other relevant discussion of this SITREP on the GSG forums or r/Cogmind.
Cogmind - Kyzrati
!!! ALERT: FORBIDDEN SCIENCE DETECTED !!!



Beta 8 has landed, and with 38 new special items and a new mini-faction with long-term strategic implications, it's like we're back to the good old days of Cogmind Alpha where there's plenty of new content to explore and you're not always quite sure what's out there waiting :D

At this point even if you've found everything there was to see as of Beta 7 (though very few have), once again you'll be making new discoveries every run for many more to come.

Even better, most of Beta 8's features are accessible from the early game, so everyone can get to the new fun stuff right away.

But first, grab a snack and prepare yourself for The Changelog...

Cogmind Beta 8 "Forbidden Science" (0.10.190212) changelog:
  • NEW: Branch map "Exiles"
  • NEW: Special sensor ability obtainable early on, with long-term effects
  • NEW: 5 more unique named NPCs
  • NEW: 3 new robots
  • NEW: 38 new items (mostly uniques, many with completely new mechanics) (total = 936)
  • NEW: 2 more alien artifacts
  • NEW: 18 more sound effects (total = 890)
  • NEW: 29 new score sheet entries (total = 799)
  • NEW: Several dozen more lore entries
  • NEW: Potential random NPC encounter in Materials and Mines
  • NEW: Regular doors hit by EM now malfunction, remain open
  • NEW: DISPOSABLE weapons have a unique log message when expended
  • NEW: Quantum Capacitor and Weapon Cycler effect descriptions indicate incompatibility with autonomous weapons
  • NEW: All treads grant +2% accuracy per slot
  • NEW: Added random NPC encounter in Storage
  • NEW: Flight/hover speed now slowed by attached inactive non-airborne propulsion parts (see new "Drag" stat on treads/legs/wheels)
  • NEW: The fabled Hcp. Storage Unit has returned!
  • NEW: Activating Transport Network Coupler reports the number of Haulers across the map, and the number currently in view
  • NEW: -8/Mines map (inaccessible from -8/Materials)
  • NEW: Manual explicitly indicates heat-based accuracy modifiers only apply when heat is positive
  • NEW: Maximum Security, for times when High Security simply isn't enough
  • NEW: Option to disable Cogmind self-destruction (activate in advanced.cfg: noSelfDestruct)
  • NEW: Option to stop drag-dropping inventory item to non-slot location in parts list from applying autoequip assist (advanced.cfg: disableDragDropAutoEquip)
  • NEW: Option to replace per-move HUD net energy display with turnwise value including movement (advanced.cfg: hudEnergyPerMoveTurnwise)
  • NEW: Option to replace per-move HUD net heat display with turnwise value including movement (advanced.cfg: hudHeatPerMoveTurnwise)
  • NEW: Option to show real-time clock on HUD (advanced.cfg: showClock)
  • NEW: Option to show real-time run timer on HUD (advanced.cfg: showRunTimer)
  • NEW: Option to show per-weapon accuracy chances in parts list only while cursor over a robot (advanced.cfg: disablePersistentAccuracyInfo)
  • NEW: Option to have Scan window only show object info while cursor/examine marker is over an object (advanced.cfg: disablePersistentScanInfo)
  • NEW: Option to silence all sfx played for non-plot-related global alerts with on-map indicators, such as assaults (advanced.cfg: muteGlobalAlertSfx)
  • NEW: Part swap menu lists any currently disabled parts in orange, and known faulty prototypes in red
  • NEW: Part swap menu includes a removal option (button or 'z') as long as source is not an empty slot
  • NEW: Robots hacked with streamctrl_low/streamctrl_high now display a ring around themselves, inside which control can be maintained
  • NEW: no_distress robot hack also blocks calls for local garrison reinforcements
  • NEW: Item gallery export data marks non-repairable items
  • NEW: Three new advanced options for on-map indicators for Cogmind part loss (see cogmindPartLossMapIndicator in manual)
  • NEW: Right-click on machine hacks (or Shift-a~z) for context help describing the function of each (total = 95)
  • NEW: RMB over machine Hacking or Results window closes the hacking interface
  • NEW: Recycling Units automatically process parts once their contents exceed a certain threshold
  • NEW: Even when outside FOV, machines processing fabrication and repairs display their on-map countdown timer, and report completion to the message log
  • NEW: Having RIF installed removes one of the requirements for one of the special endings, and also affects the animation for that ending
  • NEW: RIF enables 100% chance to seal any Garrison Access
  • NEW: Closing an active robot hacking UI using any method other than the close button requires confirmation to avoid accidentally forfeiting the hack
  • NEW: Advanced option to automatically activate all non-launcher projectile weapons on detaching an active launcher (advanced.cfg: autoUnreadyLauncher)
  • NEW: Added a helpful alert message during a Warlord-related plot event
  • NEW: Scan window shows solid terrain armor value if cursor or examine marker stationary for 500ms
  • NEW: Scan window shows machine/prop armor value under name if sufficient space
  • NEW: Recalibrator info explicitly states inability to repair alien technology, and prototypes above rating 8
  • NEW: All Alpha supporter names registered since Beta 7 added to in-game list (see Credits menu)
  • NEW: All Alpha item-attribution names registered since Beta 7 added to the item collection gallery
  • MOD: Advanced option showMapBorders now activated by default for new players
  • MOD: Core reset also clears any known manual hacking codes
  • MOD: Maintenance intel markers changed from green to dark gray
  • MOD: Reduced delay on all stasis weapons
  • MOD: Instead of automatically opening adjacent Garrison Access doors, RIF gives 100% to open via Unlock Access command
  • MOD: Recycling Unit matter cap and other parameters differ by security level
  • MOD: First central database lockout check ignored, guaranteeing at least one successful indirect database hack (more guarantees on easier difficulties)
  • MOD: Z-hack mapwide cutoff threshold higher on easier difficulties
  • MOD: Treads minimum ability to escape stasis increased 50%, legs increased 25%
  • MOD: All armored treads slowed by 10
  • MOD: All tread coverage increased by 40, and base tread overweight penalty dropped from 30 to 20
  • MOD: Investigators don't start accompanying some high security assaults until -3/Research
  • MOD: Transport Network Coupler only works in 0b10-controlled maps, and ignores any inactive Haulers
  • MOD: DISPOSABLE part label includes number of uses remaining, which may be greater than 1 for some weapons
  • MOD: Can no longer swap positions with immobile allies, will push past them instead
  • MOD: Immobile allies no longer follow to another map, or into chutes, nor warn about leaving them behind
  • MOD: "The Most Popular Achievement" renamed to "First Step to Greatness"
  • MOD: "Explosive Specialist" achievement renamed "Launcher Specialist"
  • MOD: "Hehehe" achievement description explicitly indicates Datajack requirement
  • MOD: "Wheee!" achievement description more specific
  • MOD: "Curiosity Killed The Cat" achievement description less specific
  • MOD: "Brute Force" achievement awarded even for the one Force() hack that has a second test which might fail
  • MOD: Plasma Storm info displayed using same format as Potential Cannons
  • MOD: Warp Cannon eventually breaks down
  • MOD: Datajacks always disarm Alarm and Ambush Traps rather than have a chance to also reprogram them
  • MOD: Item info window no longer repeats part name across the bottom unless there is a prefix to expand, also now appears in parenthesis
  • MOD: Succeeding at hacking machine targets with an exact 0% chance no longer possible
  • MOD: Manually entered schematic hack targets simply indicate "unknown schematic" if N/A, rather than distinguishing between two possibilities
  • MOD: Attempted attachment of a Faulty part warns about that before most other potential issues
  • MOD: Phase Shifter part list info ('q') mode ability abbreviation changed from CLOK to SHFT
  • MOD: Intercept squad composition and behavior changed
  • MOD: Garrison Access Trojans have no effect on Prototype bots
  • MOD: Momentum damage modifier displayed in status window now rounded rather than truncated
  • MOD: Zion generation parameters slightly more constrained to improve layout consistency
  • MOD: Advanced renderFilter values for SHIFT_HUE now automatically wrap negative values to be within range
  • MOD: Manual updated to reclassify Cogmind core movement type
  • MOD: Manual clearer on conditions for increased detection chance when accessing an interactive machine multiple times (must have been previously hacked)
  • MOD: Thermal Generator effect now reflected in HUD net energy readout (though may not be completely reliable)
  • MOD: Traps manipulated via Terminals now count towards various trap-related score sheet stats
  • MOD: Options menu "Log Calc. Detail" renamed "Combat Log Detail" (existing player setting reset!)
  • MOD: Line-of-fire and explosion AOE visualization not shown on map while any info windows open
  • MOD: Autosaves no longer take place while machine hacking or evolution UI open
  • MOD: Autosave system restores game to turn prior to exiting a map if restoring a run that was force quit during evolution UI
  • MOD: Robot info page Integrity and Temp stats prefixed by "Core" instead of "Est."
  • MOD: Mass support range is inclusive before overweight penalties beyond the first penalty
  • MOD: Bonus points for fast wins reduced overall; curve is steeper and only awarded below 6000 turns
  • MOD: Keyboard examine mode no longer replaces weapon info ('q') mode with per-weapon accuracy readouts (only occurs in firing mode)
  • MOD: Updated context help for broadcast_data/disrupt_area robot hacks to indicate their effect stacks when installed on multiple bots
  • MOD: Removed Datajack Penetration from score sheet
  • MOD: RIF Influence readout in HUD moved below Location
  • MOD: Relay Coupler [NC] rating upped to 4
  • FIX: Derelict logs providing exit/entrance intel might end up identifying the wrong access points [Valguris]
  • FIX: Pre-learned intel for machines would not show log message on entering an applicable floor if no locations currently within map view [Valguris]
  • FIX: Beta 7 broke score sheet hit/miss streak tallies [Valguris]
  • FIX: Part list info ('q') mode did not update melee weapon damage display in real time while toggling propulsion when momentum positive [Valguris]
  • FIX: Fusion Compressors and Desublimators not factored into HUD net energy readouts [Joshua]
  • FIX: Random traps could spawn in special encounter rooms [Joshua]
  • FIX: Recycling Unit hacking interface crashed if attempt to list contents while more than 50 parts [Joshua]
  • FIX: Robots could still leave scan signal markers within FOV under rare circumstances [MTF]
  • FIX: Achievement threshold achievements not earned until completion of subsequent run if threshold was reached via a subset of run-end achievements [MTF]
  • FIX: "Guerilla Style" achievement could be earned via certain unintended means [Raine]
  • FIX: Watcher map_route hack did not ID exits under easiest difficulty mode [Raine]
  • FIX: Rare condition could allow armed hostile patrol to spawn within view at Materials depths on entering map [UlyssesB]
  • FIX: Crash while using an applicable Data Core and sabotaging an explosive machine which destroys the active Terminal [UlyssesB]
  • FIX: Opening part info via keyboard before hacking list appears while connecting to interactive machine superimposed item info over targets [Mojo]
  • FIX: Layout(Zone) Terminal hack did not ID exits under easiest difficulty mode [Mojo]
  • FIX: World seeds could randomly diverge for individual maps if a schematic or similar player-held data were also present on the map [kiedra]
  • FIX: Disabled/rebooting/shut down 0b10 bots might summon reinforcements from a nearby Garrison Access [PlasticHeart, kiedra]
  • FIX: Some renderFilter values for SATURATION advanced customization option could decrement by 1 when saved on exit [Bravo]
  • FIX: NPC dialogue referred to traps triggered on 0b10 robots raising alert, which was no longer the case since adding Trap Extractors [KernelPanic]
  • FIX: Melee attacks against aware targets still considered sneak attacks if true base hit chance is 120% [GJ]
  • FIX: Some types of map labels could appear below the HUD on certain resolutions [JackNine]
  • FIX: Certain renderFilter combinations could cause map to blink while accessing machine hacking UI [yoggo]
  • FIX: Performing a certain action within a few-turn window during a special event would result in an unintended line of dialogue (spoiler) [Decinym]
  • FIX: Allied robot info inventory list did not distinguish between faulty and non-faulty version of same prototype if contains both [Pimski]
  • FIX: Possible crash on exiting game while temporary popup info still visible on map [XenoFiery]
  • FIX: Potential crash if Borebot destroys itself while clearing an explosive machine [Tone]
  • FIX: Ramming a hostile bot off an exit with allies in tow but outside transfer range took the exit without warning about leaving them behind [whitenitro0]
  • FIX: Potential oddity during a particular extended game event interaction (spoiler) [lsend]
  • FIX: Original Wizard analysis text inconsistent with new robot hacking-related lore [Heavyrisk]
  • FIX: Simply targeting bots would aggro them even if outside range or the line of fire and sight are obstructed [Terminus]
  • FIX: Colemak keyboard configuration included an incorrect key assignment [ericmoyer]
  • FIX: Typos [Raine, Snelheid]
  • FIX: Auto-replacement skipped the usual warning when attempting to swap in a Faulty part directly from the ground
  • FIX: Ctrl-RMB and examine mode ('x') would not show info for open doors
  • FIX: Updated weapon cycling system introduced for Beta 7.1 incompatible with advanced autoReadyLauncher setting
  • FIX: Knockback resulting in triggering traps was excluded from some score sheet stats
  • FIX: Part swap menu failed to include manual item tag for unidentified items
  • FIX: A certain (spoiler) launcher's explosion radius visualization showed incorrectly when targeting positions near edge of map view
  • FIX: Imp. Core Analyzer art contained an extra character revealed only by animation
  • FIX: AI ignored additional time cost of attempting to escape various forms of stasis (Stasis Beams etc. now somewhat more effective)
  • FIX: An item on a newly-unlocked Garrison Access door or newly-created shortcut exit would be inaccessible (now pushed away)
  • FIX: wipe_record hack did not prevent ARCs from deploying

(Demo images no longer look crisp in Steam announcements, so consider viewing these release notes on the GSG forums.)

The Exiles

Wow, the last time we got a new map was back in May 2017! That was when the story was completed and the many locations planned for Cogmind 1.0 were all already in place. Apparently one of the post-1.0 plans has leaked into the world early ;)

The highlight of this release is the Exiles, a new mini-faction with which you can align yourself to obtain some benefits (and drawbacks, of course--this is Cogmind after all and there are tradeoffs everywhere!). They have their own map, which you can find hidden off the Mines. It can only appear at one depth, however, so if you don't find it at -10 it'll be on -9. I highly recommend visiting them, so try not to pass up exits to the Mines (but remember, also try to bring a Grenade Launcher along with you, to make the Mines... safer :P).

Having been working on systems and peripheral content for a long time, it was really exciting to get to add another map, and this time around I'll be doing something a little different as well: writing an in-depth blog post covering the entire map design and creation process. I haven't shared the entire process behind creating specific maps before, but this one presents a particularly good opportunity since it's not as spoilery, being at the beginning of the game while still hooking into all sorts of other content and strategic implications. (Update: Said article is now available here.)

That'll come soonish, but if you don't mind minor spoilers (stuff you'll discover before long in the new early-game map anyway) I'll at least cover some basics here to introduce the Exiles. Otherwise skip to the next section to continue with the rest of the release notes.

Upon entering the Mines containing access to the Exiles location, you'll see a log message about "something scanning the area." If you get that message, a thorough search of the map will eventually reveal the entrance. Inside you'll find many of the new NPCs and lore, as well as some new strategic options...

For one they can give you a form of "permanent sensor" ability called FarCom that's incredibly helpful since it identifies distant threats without taking up any of your precious utility slots. Beta 7 nerfed regular sensors a little bit with expanded Watcher jamming, but FarCom is an optional way around that :D (as well as some other sensor blocking mechanics). Although designed to help new players navigate and survive Complex 0b10, it does come with a serious drawback in certain optional late-game areas, so experienced players may not always want it.

That said, the Exiles also have something that both new and experienced players alike can appreciate: crazy advanced technology, some of it very... experimental.







Many of these parts have completely new mechanics. I'll leave you to discover most of them on your own, though I did previously share info about the PSU Rigger, which turns any power source into a proximity mine:



And here's an animation from a particularly powerful item which itself took three days to build!



Several of the new items actually took multiple days each because they really break the normal game rules or otherwise have rather unique effects.

In all, I think you'll enjoy working with the Exiles...



(Unless you're one of those prerelease testers who have clearly decided it's fun or worthwhile to make enemies of them xD)

There are a number of long-term strategic combinations you can work out with regard to the Exiles, but I'll go into more of those details for the blog post. Generally speaking, Beta 8 is about fun and tradeoffs, as many big decisions in Cogmind are, and the Exiles offer ways to trade an easier early game for extra mid- or late-game challenges, depending on your choices.

Beta 8, especially the Exiles, is kind of a preview of what I'd like to do a lot more of after 1.0 if there's enough support for it--add all kinds of more "extreme content" and yet more peripheral content including additional mini-factions that tie into various aspects of the world. A number of these potential elements are already referenced in the lore ;)

Mechanics

Beta 8 includes a few new mechanics and tweaks which are sure to affect some strategies.

All wheels, legs, and treads now have a "drag" stat which slows overall move speed while airborne, so the old "propulsion armor" strategy (as cheesy as it was) is no longer very effective. Here's a demo:



This will make certain stretches of speed runs (and some other types of runs) somewhat more challenging since slapping on tons of propulsion armor used to be the easiest way to protect your core and parts while flying straight for the surface, but at least core movement has been reclassified such that it isn't impacted by the drag effect, so that much is still an option, and still a potential life saver when things go south and you need to make a run for it after taking a serious beating.

On that note, the fast win score bonus formula has been tweaked again:



The bonuses were getting out of hand considering how good players have gotten at speed running. It now ramps up more quickly, but generally to a lower bonus overall, and doesn't even kick in until under 6,000 turns, so you have to be moving pretty fast to get anything, as opposed to even earning a bonus for a non-slow combat run.

If you want to read more about the drag mechanic and its background, I wrote about this topic for SITREP #41: Be The Tank.

That SITREP also covers another direct result of drag: better treads! In addition to their recoil reduction, treads now give an accuracy bonus and have improved coverage, helping them put all that integrity to good use serving as protection for other parts. Treads have always been good, but their slow speed still puts them at a significant long-term disadvantage in a lot of cases (compared to other propulsion types), so further improving their combat capabilities to make up for it is warranted. Technically this also counts as a buff to Sentries and any other bots out there on treads, many of which are already dangerous, so look out!

RIF builds continue to get improvements, too, and the latest buff for Beta 8 gives them a 100% chance to seal any Garrison Access (any security level! no hackware required!). I've been playing around with it and FarCom+RIF is a pretty neat new combination.

Quality AND Quantity

So many new options... I just noticed Cogmind has well over 100 adjustable features now! I've received a lot of requests for options over the past months, many of which now have a home in advanced.cfg for anyone else who'd like to use them.

You can find the full list in the changelog above, and below is a collection of previously demoed new options...

Machine hacks now have context help via the usual right-click or A~Z:



This puts the system on par with the item/robot stat info and the robot hacking system in terms of QoL, and could be useful for new players or infrequent players who may have forgotten certain effects :)

By request, the part swap menu includes a remove button:



With that we now have five different methods of removing a given part, because having options is nice!

The part swap menu also now shows disabled parts in orange, and includes manual tags added to unidentified parts (which originally only showed in inventory and the item info page):



The advanced autoReadyLauncher option has been super useful since introduced in Alpha 12, and now there's its opposite, autoUnreadyLaucher, to reactivate all weapons when a launcher is removed:



It's a common tactic to only attach a launcher to deal with a specific situation, then swap it out after firing--together these options remove most of the other commands involved in that process. You can generally just attach a launcher, fire, then detach the launcher, and it'll work as desired.

Active streamctrl_ robot hacks display a range within which you should stay to avoid losing control of the robot:



We've got three different advanced options for how to display Cogmind's part loss directly on the map: blinking red, blinking red 'X', or part's name in red:



Currently there is no explicit on-map display for that information to avoid potentially interfering with other indicators or tactical information nearby (plus we already have that info reflected in the log, sfx, and parts list), but this could be a pretty useful feature for some players, especially given that the majority of the combat focus has been designed to center around the map view.

Countdown timers for fabricator and repair station processes remain visible outside of FOV! \o/



There's also a log message reporting completion if not in view. Originally the machine would only showed this info while in view, but sometimes it could take a while to finish and players often prefer to leave the area and come back later, but would then be forced to calculate out the approximate turn on which it would be finished. Certainly always showing the info is better, though this wasn't done originally because it's a lot more work to separately record and display hypothetical information! I.e., the machine could be disabled or destroyed but you're not supposed to know that unless it's in view, and it has to keep displaying information as if it were still processing.

Quite a few times I've received requests for an in-game real-time clock. I've held off on it for a while since I wanted to be sure of where it could work in the HUD, and now it's found a home:



It's optional (off by default), and there's also a separate option to show a real-time run timer, for the real-time speedrunners out there.

Energy-adjusting utilities now factor into the HUD's net energy readout:



The Scan window also got some updates, including a new option to have it only show what's currently under the cursor (or kb marker), rather than the usual behavior of retaining the last object shown.



This is not default behavior, however, since keeping persistent data visible has the advantage of not losing that reference info simply by moving the cursor to perform other actions. Not to mention persistent robot scan info will update their heat/integrity values as they change, if they're still present in the window at the time, without having to put the cursor back over them or use some other method to check.

Speaking of easier access to object info, you'll no longer have to open solid terrain info to check its armor value, which appears under its name in the Scan window:



I didn't do this originally because constantly updating the Scan window as the cursor moves around would be really distracting, but later realized I could both avoid that annoyance and provide the info by only loading the terrain info after a short delay! So the cursor/keyboard marker has to be stationary for 500ms before it will show armor for that space.

Machines and other props will also show their armor value in the same place! Remember that you'll probably still want to take resistances into account before attempting to destroy something, but this is a good general reminder and should save some time.

Maintenance intel markers were switched from green to gray, so that they can be easily distinguished from Terminal markers:



I originally chose green since all the maintenance bots themselves are green, but Terminals are also green so if you have both types of intel it can be hard to spot the Terminals unless you deactivate the maintenance intel. In any case, gray is also a reasonable color for a neutral party.

Note that anyone using a higher detail level for their combat log will need to visit the options menu to reset their value on starting a Beta 8 run, because everyone's value has been reset since the option itself was renamed from the very-old-and-not-entirely-obvious "Log Calc. Detail".

Back in Action

The last few weeks of Beta 8 dev were completed while I was out of town, so it's been a while since I've been able to stream. I'm back now and clearly it's time to change that! This week I'll be streaming about 24 hours after this release announcement goes up, before returning to the normal Monday evening scheduled streams next week. Lots of new toys to play around with in Beta 8, and I wanna try out the new treads, too. Also RIF, I'm eager to do more RIF runs since I'm sure it's even cooler after the buffs in 7.1 and 7.2, plus this update.

I hope to be able to do even more releases like this in the future, though will have to focus on getting to 1.0 first and see if there's any money left to keep going! Certainly there are lots of plans to draw on, though :). In the meantime I'll be shifting gears to work on 1.0 necessities, which I'll talk more about in future SITREPs.

Special thanks to all our Beta 8 prerelease testers, who've helped ensure a smooth and balanced full release.

And thanks to everyone for your Steam reviews! In case anyone missed it, there's a pre-1.0 medium-term goal you can help with which could affect the future of Cogmind development. Check out the original announcement for more info. Reviews are very helpful for increasing Cogmind's visibility on Steam and by extension make it possible to keep bringing the updates :D

There is a week-long 10% discount on Cogmind to coincide with the Beta 8 release, available immediately on the website (includes DRM-free plus Steam key), but not until 2/13 on Steam due to limitations on their platform settings. As a heads up, this is the largest discount Cogmind will have during Early Access unless at some point Valve decides to again offer exposure for a larger discount like they did in December 2017, in which case I might take them up. (But I'm pretty sure that won't happen again.)

For Linux users, Cogmind may now be installed through Steam. Read more in the last section of SITREP #35.

As usual, this weekend will not have a SITREP so soon following a new release. The next will come the week after when we'll take the usual look at player stats from Beta 7, the huge robot hacking update with 65 hacks.

Beta 8 saves are not compatible with previous versions, but even if you're on Steam and Cogmind automatically updates, Beta 7.2 is still available via its own legacy branch and you can roll back to finish a run in progress first if you like.
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