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:
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:
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.
Before that I also streamed a couple weeks of Pay2Buy mode, the new version released for April 1st.
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:
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...
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[www.gridsagegames.com] (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).