The full ambient soundscape is here, and it's not alone! In Beta 10 we also have expanded bothacking abilities, two more alternate endings, many more types of drones, and of course lots of other features to improve the overall experience.
Full notes and demo images are further below, but first we have a screenshot of the extensive full text changelog, which you can read on the forums here:
Saves from earlier versions are incompatible with Beta 10, but even if you're on Steam and Cogmind automatically updates, Beta 9.6 is still available via its own legacy branch and you can roll back to finish a run in progress first if you like.
You can now fully hear the world of Cogmind!
Cogmind has always had a ton of sound effects that help bring the world to life, but as far as continuous tracks go, for many years we've only had a few ambient sounds emitted by special machines and sample mapwide tracks in a couple maps as a test. Now all named machines have their own audio, as do all the maps!
Hear an array of Construction Platforms at work in the Factory, the rumble of a Megafabricator in the distance, Plasma Injectors down in the Mines, the hum of Power Conduits, busy Mainframes echoing throughout the Research branches, and so much more.
Aside from thematic mapwide drones that meld everything together, when you're not blasting robots and using the interface the audio experience is primarily defined by environmental factors, yet another new facet of Cogmind's emphasis on immersion.
Here's a debug shot visualizing the variety of machine audio across a Factory floor, where each unique sound is associated with a random color:
Any gaps or areas where no specific local machine can be heard will generally have a higher-volume mapwide ambient track to unify the floor's audio and maintain the theme, as you can see here in this visualization of mapwide ambient volumes (brighter is higher volume):
I wrote an in-depth article about the content and process behind Building Cogmind’s Ambient Soundscape:
Related to the expansion of Cogmind's audio content we have an important new advanced option, muteAudioOnFocusLoss, which you might want to turn on if you do a lot of Alt-Tabbing and prefer that Cogmind not continue playing its audio while you're in some other window. We might want that to be on by default, but it's off for now since I need to make sure it doesn't mess anything up first :P (it seems okay so far, anyway--I've been using it for a while now, but that's just me).
The soundscape is also fully accessible in text form as well, a new feature that will benefit both those who can't turn up the volume or simply want the extra visual reinforcement enabled by being able to also "read" all the audio sources. This is made possible via a new Audio Log, off by default but toggled in the options menu.
See the Audio Log in the top-right corner, listing all heard ambient audio sources and their relative volume as heard from the current location as I walk around a Materials map:
Here's another demo showing ambient sound sources alongside sound effects and the visual sound effect system as a battle rages outside this room:
There's a summary of Audio Log features and behavior in the manual, or if you want an even more in-depth look at how the system was built you can check out the article I wrote on the topic: Audio Accessibility Features for Roguelikes.
The install size of the game has definitely gone up as a result of all the new audio, by a whopping 50%! It wasn't exactly huge to begin with, but with Beta 10 we're going from 30MB to 45MB.
We have two new endings, bringing us to a total of nine different ways to win! I won't spoil the new ones here except to say that they're both a part of the extended game, and to point out the obvious, that yes the "expanded Warlord arc" indicated in the changelog is what you've been waiting for if you're one of us Warlord fans. Warlord forever! (Hopefully...)
Each of the new endings presents new challenges beyond what was already in the game, and of course as with the other seven, they each come with their own unique animated ending sequence. A ton of work went into these endings as a whole, and based on initial feedback from patrons they seem to have turned out pretty well. I even had to add a whole new type of UI window to enable you to trigger access to one of the new endings--you'll know it when you see it ;)
On a related note, I've also expanded some NPC interactions that people have wanted to see over the years. Under the right circumstances it's been possible to get certain major NPCs to meet each other, but in the past they wouldn't take notice or otherwise react in any way. Now they do, usually with consequences :P
Drones and AI
There was a decent list of optional features to consider for Beta 10, and this time patrons voted to prioritize a drone mechanics rework together with a significant expansion of the types of drones available. It's turned out pretty nicely, resolving what I saw as some longstanding issues while adding fun new options at the same time.
Importantly, the new additions are not simply "drone with guns A, drone with guns B, etc.", or even drones using just standard tech, but instead come with unique features or behavior that can enable special strategies, or at least just be really fun to use--launch decoys, self-guided bombs, your own posse of thieves, drones that do your hacking for you, and more!
Drone Bay Basics
The most fundamental change with respect to drones is that you must have an attached and functional matching type of bay in order to use them. The bay does not actually need to be active, however (activating a bay is simply a way to launch drones). There are a number of implied changes connected to this one, including:
- Releasing a drone directly from a bay on the ground (e.g. with '>') can only be done if a functional matching type of bay is already attached
- Zionite Recon dispatches now arrive as a Z-Drone Bay (since you can't have drones without a bay anymore :P)
- Drone bays never autoactivate on attach, regardless of part autoactivation settings
If you remove the necessary drone bay (or it's destroyed xD), all related drones will take on the new "Unconnected" status and shut down. You lose the FOV info, but can gain it back again immediately by attaching an appropriate bay.
Drone connection demo:
Drone FOV connection demo:
This requirement really opened up the drone space for more possibilities and was pivotal in making the new drones much more interesting since the bay becomes a part of the requirement for using them, meaning we can get more powerful/numerous drones because the bay itself can be huge or heavy as a balancing factor to compensate :)
One surely welcome QoL under this new system is that if you have multiple matching drone bays and the attached one is full, drones can actually return to those which are currently in your inventory, as long as one has sufficient space.
Overall there'll be less micromanagement involved with drones, and in some cases other allies as well, with the biggest change being the complete removal of the GOTO order! That feature just encouraged a lot of micromanagement to get the most out of allies, especially drones which could then be carefully moved around to explore manually in some cases, and would often be optimal but tedious (i.e. not good). (Even after the removal you can technically still get them generally where you want by using a combination of movement, waiting, and STAY orders, though this incurs a time cost which can be prohibitive except when very important.)
This encouraged me to make some improvements to the AI as well, most importantly that unarmed followers will slightly trail behind rather than gathering around your current location. And they'll be smart about retreating ahead of you if you're retreating, too, generally keeping them out of the line of fire (unless you're suddenly ambushed from behind, or surrounded, in which case good luck :P).
Implementation: Instead of following your precise location, unarmed followers will target a point lagging behind you, as demonstrated here during debug mode (you can't normally see the point itself):
Drones and all allies will also really do their best to avoid stepping on known traps now. It turns out that although they would never path through traps, they might sometimes decide to stand on one if you were hanging around near it long enough.
Fleeing drones will now always RETURN automatically, rather than running around wildly, so it'll be easier to get them back and they'll be much more likely to survive longer. By extension, any disarmed combat drones will also automatically return, possibly improving their lifespan as well. The potential drawback here is that they might lead enemies right back to your position! Of course if you're not there when the enemies finally arrive then it's all good anyway... (or you can choose to sacrifice the drone by removing the bay to disconnect it and then you'll be fine, too)
One long-requested new feature is the ability to have the map view follow a drone as it moves. You can easily cycle through your drones using the normal Enter key (or center mouse button), which highlights them and their FOV. You can just use this to more easily check where they are, or even pass turns while focused on them and watch as they explore even distant areas.
Drone cycling demo:
Drone following demo:
When active drones are offscreen, you also get a blue 'n' marker like the one you get when Cogmind is offscreen:
And there's a new type of dedicated intel marker to record the location of a drone that was destroyed when that happens outside your remaining FOV:
The allies menu system got some upgrades, too:
- Opening an ally order list via the Allies console centers display on that ally if they are outside the map view
- Accessing the ally order list via keyboard displays it adjacent to the ally rather than below the Allies console
- Fleeing controllable allies appear differently in the allies menu, and explicitly refuse orders with a warning message
New ally order list location:
Returning drone cannot be ordered:
A majority of the new drone bays are available in the early game, although every single type except for one is a unique part, so you won't be seeing all of them in the same run. Less unique drones with similar mechanics might be available in the future (for example via Merchants!), but there's currently no good place to add them yet so I decided it would be better to make the bays unique so they could be especially useful or fun.
Many are available in the Mines via a new prefab encounter, and the rest are scattered about in other plot areas. One is a regular 0b10 prototype bay.
For all the Botlord builds out there, the pool of potential robot hacking abilities has been expanded from 9 to 15. Half of the new ones can be obtained multiple times to increase their effectiveness.
(Skip this section if you want to discover them on your own!)
Here's an overview of what's new...
- Hotswap allows you to automatically swap in additional matching Couplers in sequence from your inventory when the effective code value of current attached Couplers is insufficient for the desired hack. (No this doesn't mean hacking directly from inventory Couplers, but it does reduce the need to free up utility slots and attach additional Couplers mid-combat, while also allowing you to more easily get the most out of your existing Couplers.)
- With Command Fork you have a chance to duplicate each hack, also applying it to the visible applicable target nearest to the initial target, at no extra cost! It's compatible with most hacks, excluding generate_echo, map_walls, map_earth, map_route, or those that would have no meaningful effect. This is super useful because you can hack a combat bot and have the same hack affect a nearby different type of combat bot for which you don't even have a Coupler--very powerful under the right circumstances!
- Threat Obfuscation reduces all influence increases by a certain percentage (depending on your ability's level).
- Signal Jamming blocks local transmissions from visible hostiles while you have a matching Coupler attached, making it impossible for them to share information about your current position. Also prevents calls for reinforcements, and suppresses alarm traps. Basically against bots it's like having a targeted Transmission Jammer, a nice little bonus for having a given Coupler.
- Zone Cloak causes extermination squads to take longer to pinpoint your position for dispatching, essentially the same effect as taking out Garrison Access points, but you get it for free.
- With any [NC] Coupler attached, Watcher Feeds makes it possible to tap into the visual feed data of all 0b10 Watchers within a range of 24! This basically gives you temporary access to free drones that can maintain visual contact with enemies without themselves being attacked. One less reason to destroy Watchers :P
Demo of a link_fov fork:
Demo of forking overload_power and streamctrl_high:
Demo of the Watcher Feeds effect (while applicable, the link range is highlighted in faint yellow):
You can ram walls and machines now! Doing this is will mess you up pretty bad and there are warnings against it, of course, to help prevent you from smashing your face into that adjacent nuclear reactor, although if you're getting really desperate and squads are gathering around, this might actually be a good idea ;)
So it's there if you need it. This also provides a last ditch way out of escaping situations in which you've accidentally allowed Engineers to entomb you without any weapons to escape :P
Ramming like this uses the same old force melee commands.
We also have a more controversial mechanical adjustment in terms of using melee weapons in dug out spaces. For a number of reasons being able to safely dig winding tunnels could be pretty cheesy, even more so using them to fight pursuers. Projectile weapons could cause instant cave-ins when used like this from within unstable areas, but not melee weapons. Now all weapons are treated the same in this regard. The chance of melee attacks causing a cave-in are lower than, say, a kinetic cannon, but it is no longer completely safe to do so.
In terms of tunnel combat I imagine the effect of this change is less of an issue for players since that practice probably wasn't as widespread, though this does also affect the ability to dig consecutively through multiple spaces with a melee weapon, which will no doubt cause concern for some stealth builds which will need to consider alternative options if they can't risk a cave-in.
In any case, we'll see how things turn out, but stealth is already super effective and melee digging in particular was only one small part of that effectiveness.
Trackers have been nerfed. See the multiple changelog lines regarding them :P
The changes essentially mean they'll be a bit slower to catch up to you, and also have to be within view before they can open fire. Technically this is also an indirect nerf to builds that liked to farm Trackers and take their OP gear to turn it agaist 0b10, but players who could do that were few and far in between (in Rogue mode, at least xD).
We also have some OP weapon nerfs, specifically the Firepult and Guided EMP Blaster. Both are still good, but were definitely way too good earlier. The Firepult nerf in particular was planned to happen eventually, but don't worry, it's still quite good, just can't be used indefinitely because the idea behind most EX-tech was that it's stuff which is fun and effective to play with through the early/mid-game rather than become something you stash away to help crush the extended game :P. Some other Exiles parts will likely be revisited in the next release for updating as well (they were intentionally made OP when first introduced basically just for fun, since you can't get them every run anyway).
Impact weapons got a situational buff across the board, since all walls and reinforced barriers are now weaker against them.
I made some changes to the Access garrison situation, namely removing the original extremely deadly result of visiting one, a nasty surprise for anyone doing it their first time that was probably not survivable for most builds. The origial effect (instant Max Security!), was my first reaction to Pimski trying to loop indefinitely since it was an easy way to use the game's existing content to mostly discourage or outright block that possibility. Now there's a much less deadly result specifically for that situation.
Going inside that garrison itself has gotten more dangerous, however--I mean it's Access, right?! :)
Our favorite three-letter combo around here!
We've got some useful new protective warnings, including most importantly a warning if you're attempting to attack from a position that might cause a cave-in as a result, since it can be easy to that accidentally in the heat of battle. (This warning also includes melee attacks, as per the earlier mechanical change mentioned earlier.) There's also a warning if your attempted line of fire is blocked by another robot, since a fair number of people don't seem to notice that as readily, especially if the situation is changing as a lot of bots are moving around during combat (note that the LOF indicator also changes color).
Previously used guided waypoints can now be recalled even if some were outside FOV:
By request, as long as you have Tactical HUD mode active, parts that have been damaged for whatever reason (like... being shot :P) now retain a box around their integrity display in your parts list until your next action, so that you can more easily recall what has just taken damage:
I've activated this behavior by default, but if it bothers you you can deactivate it in advanced.cfg using partDamageIndicatorsRetained.
Also by request, we now have the ability to add custom log notes!
Log notes could later be expanded in a number of ways depending on player needs, but the primary purpose behind its current form is to allow you to leave in-game notes about what you were doing at the end of a play session, making it easier to pick up where you left off next time.
This feature is currently only accessible via Shift-Alt-z, but we'll be later getting a new menu system for easier access to all Shift-Alt key combo features, including mouse accessibility.
And no, your notes do not appear in the final scoresheet at this time (they're excluded from log output and only appear in game).
I've updated any Mines reward encounters that required randomly visiting a hidden location, which encouraged the optimal tactic of scouring every inch of the Mines in search of them, especally in the hope of uncovering the famous early Exp. Sensor Array:
As you can see, the event is now triggered by rifling through some visible Scrap. The original behavior was meant as a placeholder until there was a better solution--now we have one :)
We've got a couple little special mode updates as well. First of all a dedicated indicator for when your built-in sensors are being jammed, since the normal indicator was attached to sensor parts, which you may not even need in RPGLIKE mode :P
Player 2 now displays their parts with raw integrity values rather than as percentages:
I've been doing a lot of streaming over the past months, about half of it Cogmind-related. In fact, I started a new run this week as soon as Beta 10 released, to be continued next week.
Past streams are archived on my YouTube channel, including the relatively recent Magneto run where we go for that achievement, some RIF runs, and others checking out the new ambient audio, including one dev testing stream.
For those of you out there interested in the latest flavor of cheese, Pimski has put together an Exiles Kill Guide demonstrating a new pastime among Cogmind's more brazen and greedy (and evil!) players:
As per the announcement last month, the leaderboards are back in action and better than ever. I'll be continuing to expand their features down the line.
The next leaderboard reset will come tomorrow now that Beta 10 is out! All the current scores are from the Beta 9 builds (although the separate patron leaderboards include some Beta 10 and prerelease runs).
The Road to More
Thanks to all patrons and players for your support!
We've still got that OP rating, so the next goal still stands. Keep the reviews coming :D
Reminder: There will eventually be a big free expansion happening that adds Merchants (in fact there are a growing number of references in the game foreshadowing their arrival, including more in this release ;)), though I haven't yet decided for sure whether it will be before or after 1.0.
Regardless, we've got lots and lots of plans, both small and large, still out there just waiting for some attention...