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It's the end of another year, Cogmind's 10th, and to celebrate we have another special event that turns the world on its head for an extremely different experience: Polymind!

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It's the end of another year, Cogmind's 10th, and to celebrate we have another special event that turns the world on its head for an extremely different experience in an otherwise familiar environment: Polymind!

Ever want to roleplay a Worker bot? Okay maybe not... What about a Behemoth? That's more like it... Well, in this version you may feasibly consider each option for their respective advantages, and many many more :)

In Polymind you can take control of almost any other robot--in more typical roguelike/game terms you can think of it as essentially "possession" mechanics.

This version is so non-Cogmind that you can't even attach or remove parts (say goodbye to inventory paralysis!), you don't even evolve slots! Instead you're entirely dependent on your host's capabilities.

The first thing you'll notice is the event-specific info panel that appears in the bottom left:

This allows you to reference the name of your host there at the left, your current Protomatter stores (45 in the example), get access to more info via the button (or the '9' key), and also keep track of a dynamic suspicion meter which we'll get to later.

As you can see, Protomatter is back. Originally introduced for our Winter 2019 RPGLIKE event/mode, it serves a different purpose in Polymind, functioning instead as your resource for taking control of an adjacent target. Collect Protomatter from among the salvage of some destroyed combat robots, or if you're really desperate you can eventually gain some by ramming other bots.

Pwned by Polymind

The cost of controlling a given robot is shown in its label as "p-X," where X is how much Protomatter you need. It shows as "N/A" if control is impossible, but very few are completely out of reach :)


When you have enough Protomatter, simply moving into an adjacent target will take control of them.


Releasing control, which you can do at any time, is handled by what is normally the "Purge All Parts" command from the special commands menu (Spacebar).

These instructions are available via the mode info button, as is other robot-specific information when you have a host:


Most of the robots and their functionality are pretty straightforward, but a handful of those with special functions are more complicated than others, so be sure to check out their info in the new panel when learning about new host types.

This mode will likely also help provide intimate experience with various other robots in terms of familiarizing yourself with their capabilities and limitations, including for example damage resistances/weaknesses, all of which are pretty important for improving play in the regular game.

Suspicion

Now why might you want to larp as a Recycler? Or a Worker? Or some other maintenance bot? Well if you look like a native of Complex 0b10, and aren't flagged as a suspicious system, they'll ignore you!

So you can walk right past patrols, or sneak right up to a particularly dangerous bot and just assimilate it. That said, generally speaking keeping your distance from too many potential hostiles is still the better option when possible, especially those you might imagine are likely to be especially suspicious, to avoid blowing your cover.

If undetected you can also swap places with Complex 0b10 bots as if they're normal allies. Overall you have a lot of freedom when not suspicious, so some players may often try to stay that way as long as possible. At the same time, the only way to get more Protomatter in order to switch control to other bots is to harvest it from combat bots, so you may need to do some fighting (or encourage their destruction some other way).

As long as you're not at or above very high suspicion, you can even dodge all targeted dispatches, meaning newly-dispatched Programmers and assaults will not even be sure where you are. You might notice the messages are different when that applies, along with their resulting behavior.

While in a host and unsuspicious, you'll have much darker UI borders to reflect that status (there are also audio cues):


If you want to take control of a true ally such as a derelict or fabricated bot (which as you might notice also has a cheaper cost), because they are allied you won't normally be able to move onto their position since the default behavior is a swap. For this you'd need to use a force melee/ram "attack."

Because not every input method has an easy time trying to force melee a target (and in fact diagonal force ramming has always been impossible with arrows/vi-keys), this was the perfect opportunity to finally add in a very important new feature for general Cogmind use: toggleable force melee mode!

Force melee mode is toggled via the Spacebar actions menu, under 'e', so a quick spacebar-e will get you ready to do this, or shut it off (Shift-Alt-e also works, as all other commands on that menu).


While active, a "FORCE" indicator pops up at the top of your parts list, and of course the usual attack/ramming warnings will apply to help you avoid making unnecessary mistakes.


Yep, everyone will now have easy access to force meleeing a target compatible with their preferred directional keys.

Despite the helpful warnings, I still suggest you toggle force melee on only for as long as you need it, then off again when done, because otherwise it could lead to unexpected behavior later on once you've forgotten about it! I predict many people unintentionally slamming into objects until the lesson is learned (I know this because it has been happening to me since I'm still not used to it :P).

Note that with the mouse you also won't be able to initiate an attack on a normally hostile 0b10 combat target while unsuspicious, since for movement purposes they are considered allies and you can walk to/through them, so if you want to start hostilities using mouse controls, you'd have to begin targeting mode through some other means, such as clicking on a wall first, or using 'f' to enter that mode. Or if your intent is to ram or take control of them, use a force melee action.

A new force melee option will be helpful in all runs, but is clearly especially useful for Polymind.

Polybonus!

This is a pretty big mode and I won't cover all of its nuances, but aside from the basics introduced above there are a few other features I'd like to mention.

For one, I did actually make it possible to control multitile bots. It was a crazy amount of work and almost delayed the entire release, but so worth it for obvious reasons :D

By nature they are more limited in what they can do, like they can't operate interactive machines, but they have a distinct advantage in terms of movement in contrast to how, I'm sure you know, smaller bots tend to have trouble moving around them. Large bots can basically wade through crowds of other non-large bots, pushing them out of the way (hostile or not!), so don't worry about that part, just worry about how to navigate areas with tighter tunnels ;)

They do have one other quirk as well, in that they can only interact with one space on the ground, specifically the one under their top-left cell. This is something I would explore addressing if it were important now, but you can't even do much with items in Polymind anyway, so just know that's how it is--they'll always pick up from (and drop to, or operate on) that location.

Controlling a multitile bot is also missing a few pre-movement warnings, though I tried to fit in what I could in the time available.

I have some cool gifs of multitile bots doing stuff, but let's call them spoilers and worth challenging yourself to explore on your own adventures :)

Taking control of different 0b10 bots can also give you useful intel! Both combat bots and non-combat bots alike will provide you with information corresponding to their normal duties, in most cases akin to the sort of informaton you can extract from them via RIF hacking. The types of intel are listed on their info page, for example that earlier Scavenger screenshot I shared indicates that it will mark a Recycling Unit for you (the nearest one, if you don't already know about it), which you can also see marked just to the north of where it was controlled.

And you thought controlling a Watcher with it's speedy movement and sensor package would already be decent enough, well how about free route data on host acquisition?


Engineer wallhacks.


Okay this one's not intel, it's simply being able to use all the parts found on different bots, like the Mechanic's Machine Analyzer because hell yeah rainbow chip.


There are also various bits of QoL to help you be a good Polymind, and in addition to those already mentioned, you'll also notice highlighted areas designated by 0b10 for your host to operate where it wouldn't otherwise be obvious. This way you can be a good Tunneler and get all the cookies.


For some gameplay QoL, you also automatically get the analysis of any bot type you take control of, for those that have them, which will help fight against others. (There's a log message about this when you control a new host that didn't yet have an analysis for.) Technically this is also a new way to collect them for your personal lore record purposes.

As usual I did add also some mode-specific tweaks for the easier difficulty settings, the details of which have been added to the respective lists in the manual.

In this mode the scoresheet also got a new dedicated Polymind section towards the bottom, which records a number of relevant stats.


Some of these stats and others from your run will also contribute to your Polymind-specific bonus score, which will likely be a significant component of your overall score, so we can do the normal event-specific leaderboard thing like with Player 2, RPGLIKE, and more. I haven't set it up yet (coming soon), but by extrapolation I would expect the leaderboards to appear here when ready :P

As with RPGLIKE, regardless of your showBuildType setting your current host class will be shown at the top of your parts list, and instead of the usual approach to build classification the scoresheet records will purely be using your host class instead of loadout, which should make for some interesting post-run analysis, not to mention comparisons across runs once everyone starts submitting run records. (Remember, the submission feature is off by default and you have to turn it on manually in the options, and set your player name, in order to participate.)

As in the past I'll be sharing data from the event later, probably on the dev blog along with other information about Polymind.

There's quite a lot of room to bring crazy ideas to life in Polymind, so I'm looking forward to the fun stories to come out of this event. As with regular Cogmind there's both ends of the spectrum, from a really aggressive approach to a super stealthy one, and everything in between, but Polymind provides many new tools to achieve either goal, and lots of new strategic and tactical considerations throughout, so I also look forward to putting in some real runs myself. I've been so busy lately trying to bring it together in time (and keeping this huge array of changes and new mechanics from falling apart at the seams xD) that I haven't even had a chance to just enjoy it!

How to Play

As a timed special event, Winter 2022/Polymind mode will automatically activate for you on new runs from 12/24 through 1/7 if you've played at least 10 runs of Cogmind before.

On days outside that range, or even if you haven't played that many runs before, you can still force it by adding a command line parameter when running COGMIND.EXE: "-forceMode:Polymind". (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 event date triggering by adding the "-noSpecialMode" command line parameter.

Important: Special events can only be activated if the game starts up without loading a save. Even restarting/self-destructing won't work in this case, because it requires modification of underlying game data on startup, which cannot be reloaded while the game is running. So if you have another run in progress, be sure to finish/end that first and launch Cogmind without any save in progress.

Cogmind Beta 11.2 "Polymind" (221224c) changelog

  • NEW: Special event for Winter 2022, automatically activates between 12/24 and 1/7 (inclusive) for anyone who has played at least 10 runs
  • NEW: Command line argument "-forceMode:Winter2022" (or "-forceMode:Polymind") to enable the Winter mode from 2022, regardless of system date
  • NEW: [Polymind mode] Blend into Complex 0b10 as one of their own!
  • NEW: [Polymind mode] Cogmind does not evolve slots, and cannot attach or remove any parts
  • NEW: [Polymind mode] Collect Protomatter from destroyed combat bots and use it to take control of almost any other robot
  • NEW: [Polymind mode] Gain the form and functions of the controlled robot, and consider taking advantage of their capabilities to remain unnoticed
  • NEW: [Polymind mode] Performing class-related actions keeps suspicion low, but be wary of especially suspicious enemies
  • NEW: [Polymind mode] Once detected, either fight it out or try to lose your tail and blend in again by getting back to work as a local
  • NEW: [Polymind mode] Robots from other factions will always recognize you for what you really are, regardless of your current form
  • NEW: [Polymind mode] Extra "Polymind" section in scoresheet containing mode-specific stats
  • NEW: [Polymind mode] Significant bonus points awarded for various Polymind-related performance factors
  • NEW: Force melee mode, a new way to repeatedly force a melee/ramming attack (toggle via Spacebar+e or Shift-Alt-e), also compatible with vi-keys
  • NEW: 0b10 Mechanics assigned to Repair Stations eventually resupply with backup parts from a station if available
  • NEW: HUD Core/Energy/Matter readout uses higher contrast colors with Colorblind Adjustments option active
  • NEW: Accessibility section of manual detailing ASCII map fonts, closed caption audio, colorblind mode, color customization features, and more
  • MOD: Non-Cogmind-controlled Mechanics capable of carrying out full range of repairs, including allied robot cores and part integrity
  • MOD: Non-Cogmind-controlled Mechanics can no longer engage in repairs if self or target in combat, as with Cogmind-controlled Mechanics
  • MOD: Robot Size context help includes reference to that value's effect on lines of fire
  • MOD: Toggle Sound default hotkey (F11) changed to Ctrl-F11
  • FIX: Mechanics were capable of fixing even broken parts normally outside valid rating limits [MTF]
  • FIX: Stat values referenced in manual's Coverage/Exposure example calculations reflected data from earlier versions [aoemica]
  • FIX Slow startup time on some M1 systems allowed muteAudio to crash the game while alt-tabbing during loading [needausername]
  • FIX: noAudio=1 advanced.cfg setting no longer always worked, might crash program on startup [Luigi]
  • FIX Using global audio toggle (Ctrl-F11) combined with muteAudio still allowed audio to restart on returning to program from another
  • FIX: Now compatible with all versions of Steam Deck software

This release does not include all the big stuff I've been working on this year for Beta 12, which is a separate big expansion. I did, however, backport a few things that would be helpful to have as soon as possible, so the changelog includes more than just Polymind stuff.

I didn't realize the noAudio setting was broken for a long time (nor that anyone might actually want to use it, but they do!), and fixing it means you really can tell Cogmind to not even load sound files on startup, effectively dropping its required disk size from 48 MB to 13 MB. Outright delete the /data/audio directory and it will still work with this setting. But... then of course there's also no sound effects.

I also made an adjustment to the built-in colorblind UI mode which recolors the HUD to rely more on contrast than shades:


Community

Some time next week I'll be streaming some Polymind, talking mechanics and strategy, though I'm not sure when. I've been pretty sick and extremely medicated for over a month now, hence the complete lack of streams since my health is just not up to it. Although I was hoping for a return to normal before starting again, it's been so long (plus there's an event!) that I'd like to try... (and also finish the final leg of that Zorbus run xD). If you want to check out my stream later on, it'l be archived with my other videos on YouTube.

In the meantime, folks on the Discord have been streaming Cogmind literally every day for the past couple weeks, so I imagine they'll keep doing that and some Polymind will be involved as well :)

If you missed it before, early this month I did my annual review taking a big-picture look at the past year and what's to come.


The current main project is following through on my promise to bring a significant expansion to Cogmind in the form of a new faction and corresponding maps/lore/NPCs/etc as a result of hitting one of our Overwhelmingly Positive threshold milestones on Steam a while back. We have since lost that status, but work is already well underway and it is happening nonetheless! (as will the promised Merchants expansion, but that one is likely a big post-1.0 thing, with only bits of them showing through via lore at present) On that note, it's been a very long time since I reminded folks to leave reviews, and it shows xD. Not something I really like to bother with, but they are certainly helpful for indie devs, especially those who work on their game full time like I do.

Lastly, a reminder to any of you in Argentina or Turkey: As described in an announcement on the forum earlier, Cogmind's price will be adjusted next month. Sorry about the mixup. Valve's currency system is not to be trusted xD

Oh yeah there's also the Steam Deck thingy mentioned in the changelog. Naturally it's not really recommended playing on the device itself with tiny screen and no suitable control scheme, but I know some of you wanted to experiment with it, and others wanted to use their deck as a console hooked up to external devices (and are already doing so with the specific versions that do work), so it should now at least be compatible with all versions of the SD software. Have at it!

Surprise!!!


Saves from earlier versions are incompatible with Beta 11.2, but even if you're on Steam and Cogmind automatically updates, Beta 11.1 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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