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Are you stuck at home? Want to play some Cogmind but with extra social interaction? How about taking on Complex 0b10 with a friend?*

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Are you stuck at home?

Want to play some Cogmind but with extra social interaction?

How about taking on Complex 0b10 with a friend! Don't worry, NO REAL FRIEND NECESSARY, we'll provide one for you!

Welcome to Cogmind Beta 9.5...

This April 1st, just fire up a run and leave the Scrapyard to join forces with Player 2 on the adventure of a lifetime :D

Use the superior firepower of TWO COGMINDS to teach the Unaware that they should've stayed a safe distance away from you.*

*WARNING: This process is known to attract a lot of attention.

Your brand new friend comes with

  • new AI behaviors
  • most of your same capabilities and will evolve and manage their own build and inventory
  • over 600 lines of situational dialogue to keep you company on the way

More info about this special release after the changelog...

Cogmind Beta 9.5 "Player 2" (200401) changelog:

  • NEW: Unique AFD mode for 2020, automatically activates on 4/1 for anyone who has played at least three runs
  • NEW: Command line argument "-forceMode:AFD2020" (or "-forceMode:Player2") to enable the AFD mode from 2020, regardless of system date
  • NEW: [Player 2 mode] Join forces with Player 2, another Cogmind with most of your same capabilities
  • NEW: [Player 2 mode] Adds a special interface displaying Player 2's class and movement data, with persistent access to their loadout (toggle w/'9' or LMB)
  • NEW: [Player 2 mode] Cogmind and Player 2's core integrity levels are linked
  • NEW: [Player 2 mode] Multiple smarter AI behaviors for Player 2
  • NEW: [Player 2 mode] Over 600 lines of situational dialogue
  • NEW: [Player 2 mode] 1 new unique superweapon
  • NEW: List of item schematics during manual hacks darkens any that are already known
  • NEW: Option to block achievement earning while in challenge modes and special modes (advanced.cfg: onlyRegularModeAchievements)
  • NEW: Manual "Difficulty" section includes explicit subsection for Rogue setting
  • NEW: Manual part list data visualization descriptions further clarify meaning of heat mode values
  • MOD: Part autoreplacement feature compares items based on based on current integrity rather than percent integrity remaining
  • MOD: Part autoreplacement feature never swaps in known faulty or broken parts
  • MOD: Advanced option "ignoreAscendConfirmation" no longer prevents warnings about leaving allies behind
  • FIX: Size 36 fonts had become unusable on 4K screens [mudshark]
  • FIX: [RPGLIKE mode] Pressing '0' with an open ally order list would open RPGLIKE upgrade menu [NikolayAg]
  • FIX: [RPGLIKE mode] Protomatter might have a negative value under some conditions [Terminus, Rumbl3]
  • FIX: Part autoreplacement feature was sometimes making undesirable swaps with regard to relative integrity [sunqingyao]
  • FIX: Automatic waypoint recall for guided weapon attacks had stopped working [Valguris]
  • FIX: Changes for RPGLIKE mode broke Sensor Arrays and Visual Processing utilities, allowing them to stack [Kerapace]
  • FIX: Beta 9.5 prerelease bugs hunted down by: [CaptainWinky, Xii, lsend]
  • FIX: [Pay2Buy mode] Hotkey for closing CogShop was still '0' rather than the newer '9'
  • FIX: New "Broken" prefix for non-functional parts did not automatically update until part changed in some other way
  • FIX: New "Broken" prefix for non-functional parts was included in log messages regarding that state change
  • FIX: [Abominations mode] Abominations more effectively switch between propulsion modes when more than one available
  • FIX: Since AI modifications to support autonomous weapons, disarmed combat bots might continue chasing targets rather than fleeing after loading a save
  • FIX: Regular map exit warnings were not displayed if attempting to exit while somehow already on top of stairs
  • FIX: Starting XP for RPGLIKE mode was added to score data even outside that mode

Saves from earlier versions are incompatible with Beta 9.5, but even if you're on Steam and Cogmind automatically updates, Beta 9.5 is still available via its own legacy branch and you can roll back to finish a run in progress first if you like.

"Player 2"

The key theme for this update is a new event and special mode, "Player 2," featuring your very own buddy with which to take on Complex 0b10. And they will mostly definitely be with you until The End because you can't leave a map without them, and your cores are permanently linked! When you take core integrity damage that same amount is applied to their core, and vice versa.

So you've got to look out for each other and it can sorta feel like an escort mission, although both of you can kick robot butt, and exactly who is escorting who might change from time to time :P

Fortunately they're not exactly helpless, with the ability to seek out and attach new parts they need or want, often in a fairly smart way overall. Just like you they can also increase their inventory size and carry spares, and may even be willing to share if you're in really bad shape ;)

Player 2 upgrading their build:


That inventory view, opened by clicking on the "[Player 2 (9)]" button (or just pressing the '9' key), can remain persistently open as you play to keep tabs on their build, or toggled off as necessary if and when it's getting in the way. Below it is the persistent info tab displaying their current build, movement mode, and speed. (Remember you can turn on your own automated build analysis system by setting showBuildType in /user/advanced.cfg to 1.)

Player 2 mode opens up a lot of new strategic considerations and tactical challenges. Your runs with Player 2 will tend to end up more combat-oriented, although with the right build you could probably keep them out of the full amount of trouble they'll otherwise be getting into since they... like to shoot things (unlike other allies, however, they'll hold back if you've spotted an enemy in the distance before yourself being spotted and haven't opened fire yet). You can sometimes choose to instead play a more supporting role, or prefer a front-line build to work alongside (or ahead of) theirs, at times considering your friend's loadout to determine what it is you'd like to build for.

A screenshot of us in a Research run, one of many because 1) this mode is really fun, and 2) it took a lot of testing to get the behavior right and work out kinks in the AI, which as you can imagine is far more complex than any other AI in Cogmind so far:


In your travels you might notice a number of other new behaviors Player 2 is capable of. For example here they are helping me destroy and loot a Hauler:


We destroy an Energy Cycler together:


And they certainly won't ask for an invitation to share their thoughts. They've got hundreds of lines of dialogue and are happy to give out tips and info and exhibit rampant sarcasm as they comment on the surroundings, events, or status.

Technically there's also a new superweapon added by and for this mode, and you can get it in your gallery, but I imagine this particular weapon is going to be very hard for most people to actually find. There are a couple clues, but still. Anyway, don't worry about it too much since it's also quite possible I'll eventually add another way to acquire it in the regular game as well.


Player 2: Access and Notes

AFD2020/Player2 mode will automatically activate for you on new runs started on 4/1 if you've played at least 3 runs before.

If you want to play on another day, you can still force it by adding a command line parameter when running COGMIND.EXE: "-forceMode:Player2". (Within Steam this is handled by going to Cogmind > Properties > Set Launch Options.)


If you want to play a regular run during the event, you can suppress date-based event triggering by adding the "-noSpecialMode" command line parameter.


Sorry but special modes are not compatible with one another, so you cannot combine RPGLIKE and Player 2.

Reminder: As of Beta 9.3, there is a new requirement specifying that regardless of settings, special modes and challenge modes can only be activated if the game starts up without loading a save. Even restarting/self-destructing won't work in this case, because some modes actually modify the underlying game data, which cannot be reloaded while the game is running.

Although it probably doesn't matter as much in today's new mode as something like RPGLIKE, note that you can set onlyRegularModeAchievements in /user/advanced.cfg to block the earning of new achievements in special modes or challenges modes because you'd like to preserve them for when you're playing the regular game. Otherwise, as per the Beta 9.3 update you can now earn achievements in this mode as well.

2-Player Stream

Not long after this announcement goes up, I'll be streaming a Player 2 run no later than 9 PM EST (Tuesday 3/31), and continue it one week later at the same time (or do another if we bite the dust :P). As usual, if you miss it it'll be up on YouTube later.

Non-Special Stuff

The main focus of work recently has been on the AI required to be able to play like Cogmind (complicated!!!), but a few other things have made it into this release.

Certainly not all the new issues slated to be fixed for the "next major release" have been addressed for 9.5, just some that were incidentally addressed, or really important to get in there now. Among them are some crazy effect stacking bugs introduced by code reworked in order to enable support for RPGLIKE mode abilities.

Stacking visual sensors to be able to see at ridiculous ranges down a corridor? Check!


You could even do this with Sensor Arrays!


Certainly not intended, and long-time players didn't really notice these new behaviors since stacking these is not something you'd normally do (their descriptions also clearly indicate they don't stack), but newer players who've only joined us in recent months definitely noticed, so I'm glad that recently got reported and fixed xD. Thanks Kerapace.

In QoL land, the part autoreplacement system got some updates and fixes as listed in the changelog, and item schematics you already possess are now darkened in the manual hacking menu, like so:


And another previously-working-but-later-broken feature has now been restored as well: automatic guided waypoint recalling so you don't have to keep reentering the same waypoints on subsequent turns to repeatedly follow the same path. After restoration:


The annoying negative Protomatter bug in RPGLIKE was also finally tracked down and eliminated \o/

Writing

I did eventually write the promised RPGLIKE design article if you want to read up on how that was put together. It's full of data and reasonings:


I also did a detailed writeup of Cogmind's "Battle Royale" mode, which I was originally going to release for AFD this year but later changed my mind.


Although playable (I released that version for patrons here), I ended up replacing it with the Player 2 event, which was built on the AI foundation created for Battle Royale.

I'm currently working on a lengthy new article about multitile creatures in roguelikes, more of a survey and technical how-to with design tips as well.

Videos

Since last time I posted an update I've streamed several RPGLIKE runs, including...

The RPGLIKE intro stream on release day:


A "no-crutches" kinetics run:


And a 4-slot "Babymind" run:


Switching back to regular Cogmind, I also streamed an imprinted heavy combat run (a pretty tough type of run...):


And a pair of speed runs which resulted in a 908-turn win :D


On the subject of AFD modes, another of the runs I streamed was Cogmind's very first special mode ever, "Launchers" from AFD2018:


Although not directly related to Cogmind (unless you count the fact that Cogmind was once a 7DRL, or that I converted it into a second 7DRL a couple years ago (!)), I've most recently been streaming some 7DRLs to help out the r/RoguelikeDev community. The video descriptions contain game info and timestamps for each (lots of the devs joined the streams as well):

Day 1:


Day 2:


I'll be streaming more 7DRLs when the official reviews are out probably some time next month, but for now it's time for more Cogmind! Again, my first P2 stream will be starting not long after this release goes out.

Other News

Sadly the leaderboards still sit very close to completion while progress on them has completely stopped due to complications from coronavirus, which has caused lots of headaches for the developer (reminder: I'm not the one building that external system). Good news is that, as usual, scores from opt-in players are of course still being uploaded* to the server to be included once it goes live.

*In rare cases it might say the upload failed even when it did not, which is kinda weird. You can always tell if it succeeded or not by checking whether the scoresheet contains the URL at the end. And if it truly failed Cogmind retroactively retries the upload on subsequent startups anyway.

Datawise, as you can see here we've had a clear shift in the number of people playing easier difficulty modes now that the option is part of an explicit pre-game menu.


Most still go for the typical hardcore mode, but hopefully with the new menu it's more likely that people are finding the mode that works best for them. (These modes have existed for years, but obviously a lot of people did not realize it!)

Another bit of data I was curious about is the ongoing usage of RPGLIKE as a permanent mode of play, since that was one of the goals in creating it, giving people a way to enjoy Cogmind as if it were a bit more like other roguelikes when they were otherwise having trouble getting used to the unique mechanics and strategies involved. Some have stuck with the mode to this day, although the rate of use is currently only around 5% of the runs per day, down from 30~50% in the month after the event was over. We may get more people into it again once there's an in-game reminder/notice that it exists. I've also been thinking it would also be nice to include anonymous players in the data, but the system is currently opt-in only. That said, the ratio is probably not a whole lot different.

In terms of review numbers, we almost lost Cogmind's Overwhelmingly Positive status on Steam this month, but surprisingly regained it in less than a day since at the time we were just missing one more positive review. Anyway, that still shows we're on the brink of losing it so be ready for that eventuality, likely some time this year xD. Reminder: If we can maintain it for the next couple hundred reviews, I've promised a new map and derelict faction. Because holding that status is helpful for sales, of course, which means making more money to fund additional content without DLC :) (which I refuse to do)

After 9.5 comes Beta 10, which could take a while considering everything it needs to cover. It's too early to share details on that just yet, although I can say that as voted on by patrons it will at least include a bunch of drone-related updates and features, along with modifications to ally AI. Results from the latest round of voting on optional features:


Thanks

Special thanks to Zyalin for that wonderful "The Daily Derelict" magazine cover shown at the opening of this post! (Also to zxc and other fans for helping coming up with its content.)

Zyalin now has a Twitter account, so you can follow him there for Cogmind and other roguelike art. Some of his great Cogmind works that I've shared over the years:


I leave you with 8R-AWN and his armored bellybutton (sketch by Zyalin, of course).


Comments
Habbadax
Habbadax

God I hate april

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Kyzrati Author
Kyzrati

I love it because for me it always means experimenting with something wild and new to share :)

Yes the post title is definitely over the top (for the occasion :P), but I did actually build an AI that can play Cogmind and kick butt with you. They collect their own parts, put together their own builds, carry their own spares to perform maintenance and upgrades, make their own evolution decisions... They also have quite a lot of situational and dynamic dialogue to share.

It turns out to be a lot of fun to have "another player" to adventure with!

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brunocar
brunocar

this feels like when they made a first person joke mode for nuclear throne, fascinating, but utterly idiotic

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Kyzrati Author
Kyzrati

I dunno, players are having a lot of fun with it so it doesn't matter :)

Also there's a tradition in the roguelike genre of having bots capable of playing a game, so this is just one more step in that direction. I've always wanted to do that but didn't think it would ever happen, yet now through three different modes developed over the past 6 months it's actually starting to gradually take shape piece by piece... may even happen one day?

(Though I don't see how it really relates to the Nuclear Throne example since that's taking a game and turning it into an extremely different game, whereas in this case having allies is a perfectly normal and common thing to do in Cogmind, including powerful NPCs, and the main difference is that this just happens to be an NPC with a heck of a lot more abilities and smarter AI.)

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brunocar
brunocar

I know, i was more so making a joke, as the first person mode was so messy it was unplayable so it got removed in an update, i still dont see how 2 players on a game of this sort can be comfortable :P

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Kyzrati Author
Kyzrati

Oh, ha, did not get that since I'm not very familiar with roguelites xD

But remember, this isn't *really* two players--the second is AI controlled so it plays plenty smoothly, I wouldn't bother making a true multiplayer traditional roguelike since I don't think it can really be done and still keep the roguelike flow.

Also it's just an optional mode (/special event) for fun anyway, not a permanent thing most people will usually be playing after a while. (I.e. it's not a regular part of the game--I've added over a dozen optional modes over the years, extra content aside from the "regular" game which also gets it's own ongoing development!)

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brunocar
brunocar

oh so the bot isnt just so you can give the mechanics a try? there wont be actual multiplayer, i misunderstood, i thought the idea was that it was to test the mechanics and balance, rather than the bot being the mechanic itself

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Kyzrati Author
Kyzrati

Nope, not a testing thing, this is just the whole mode--I do an especially crazy event every year for April Fools, but they don't get additional work beyond that except for the occasional bug fix. (Though it stays accessible in the game after the event is over since some people might want to play it another time.)

There actually aren't really much of any unique mechanics to test here. Aside from the AI and its dialogue (which is where almost all the code went) the only truly unique mechanic is that their core is linked to yours, and that's really easy to do in the code. Absolutely no other balance changes were made, either, nor are they necessary, because the game already rebalances itself automatically when you have allies, scaling up the defenses over time because the alert level rises faster.

So really this build was just creating a new AI to play with.

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