Sunday, October 11, 2015

Episode 109: Cogmind

This is episode 109 of Roguelike Radio, where Darren Grey and Mark Johnson  interview Josh Ge (aka Kyzrati) about Cogmind.

You can download the mp3 of the podcast, play it in the embedded player below, or you can follow us on iTunes.

Topics Discussed:
  • The original 7DRL version of Cogmind (still free to download)
  • The development history of the game, and Josh's work on X@COM
  • Future plans for Cogmind, including many many new robots
  • The alpha release process and how well the game has been received
  • Pricing and living off the income from Cogmind
  • Josh's surprisingly brief roguelike history
  • Graphics design, visual style, ASCII vs graphics, UI design
  • Future plans, including some big ambitious ideas
  • Josh's high activity in the r/roguelikedev community and the FAQ Fridays he organises
  • You can buy Cogmind in alpha state now for $30, or look out for full release at a lower price next year on Steam and GOG.

Join us next time when we interview the designers behind Invisible Inc.


  1. While the focus of this interview is on Cogmind, we did touch on X@COM, a project that's been paused for a couple years now and something I wasn't at all prepared to talk about =p

    I should elaborate by saying that X@COM/XCOMRL is being approached from a completely different angle than Cogmind. The aim in that case is to produce a generic engine that can be used by players or other developers to create their own complete tactical squad-based roguelike (while also making it easy to create expansions for the core game itself). You can see this even in X@COM's prototype stage with the number of mods available, both from myself and other developers.

    By comparison, despite its expansive world Cogmind is meant to be a very specific type of experience backed by heavy (but optional) story elements and little to no modding support. For one, this latter point ensures that many secret elements stay secret until players uncover them.

    Anyways, I'm here if listeners have any questions or comments about Cogmind or my other work!

    Thanks to Darren and Mark for the interview :)

  2. I've recently discovered the podcast and Cogmid and think both are great. I've played about 15 (unsuccessful) runs of Cogmind and keep finding things I enjoy about it. The UI is probably one of the best I've ever seen in a roguelike (though I'm knew to the genre, relatively). I was waffling on spending 30 bucks on it, but I really think I've already gotten more playtime in cogmind than other games I've spent similar (or less) on.

    Funny enough, after listening to the interview, had I already not purchased Cogmind, that would have pushed me over the edge. Did a great job "selling" the features and got me really excited about seeing what is to come.

    1. Hi Chris, thanks for your support!

      While I don't actively encourage others to get in on alpha (only those who are really interested in helping fund development and/or play along as the world expands), as a full-time developer you really have to constantly "sell" the idea to yourself to keep from going mad at the insanely long dev cycle, so I've had lots of practice with that :P

      Just have to keep the Grand Vision in mind, and take step after step in that direction, repeating the phrase "One day!..." (Actually, the more often repeated phrase is "oh my god still so much work to do!")

      And Roguelike Radio is great--there's literally nothing like it for your roguelike listening needs. It's the one thing that makes me wish I had to commute to work (that's when a lot of listeners I know tune in, quite convenient ;)). But no, I have the privilege of sleeping next to my dev laptop and starting work within minutes of waking up, hah.

  3. Great to hear you on the podcast, Kyzrati!

    Cogmind is so much fun, it is beautiful in ASCII, very dynamic in combat, effects and char creation. Love it! Still no win to report from my side, though, haha.

  4. Was lots of fun to be on the show! I've listened to Roguelike Radio since the beginning--it started back around the time I was just getting into roguelikes--and after beginning development of my own I would occasionally think to myself "one day I bet I could be on that podcast..." :P

    Two big projects and four years later, and here we are :)

    Always glad to hear from more players who are enjoying the game as much as they are in its current state. Winning at least one way or another will likely continue to become gradually easier as more content is added, but we don't want it to be too easy in the short term (early alpha) while there are still fewer primary routes through the game :). In terms of difficulty, each release so far (Alpha 1~3) has gotten progressively easier, though Alpha 4 will probably put a pause on that with a new garrison mechanic which is really going to mix things up.

    Right now you can actually sneak your way through almost the entire game, which is the easiest win, but it takes a special kind of determined player to not be enticed by all the crazy items you start to see later on ;). (Or at least you can try that method, to get a feel for what's out there, then start engaging hostiles more frequently. It's a good way to learn how the enemy behaves overall before trying to fight too much. In effect, "scouting" out the world. A number of good guides have started popping up on the forums, too, though be warned none are spoiler-friendly!)

  5. Whenever anyone claims that the idea of building some kind of a machine out of parts (instead of equipping a humanoid) is original, I miss an obscure shareware PalmOS roguelike Dungeoneers, from 1998 [1]. I have only played the demo version, but it was very nice.

    There was also Scrap from 7DRL 2005, and (somewhat different) GearHead which was once popular, but nobody seems to remember it today.


    1. I don't think anyone claims (or claimed in the interview) it's original, although I believe Darren may have made a comment to that effect on the world/setting. In fact, since releasing I've gotten comments from players saying it brings back memories of some really cool games from the 80s that were based on the same principle--in fact there's one, I've forgotten the name now, for a retro console that apparently has a lot of the same mechanics themes, e.g. gathering parts to attach, balancing resources including power etc.

      GearHead is actually mentioned quite a lot on /r/roguelikes, often in the same threads as Cogmind. The main problem with that one was that the first was never really completed, in favor of starting a second from scratch, which was then abandoned :/

      My own inspiration came from Battletech, which I've played since the 80s, and is, yep, the same thing--building robots from parts. (Since the 7DRL I've indicated as much on the RogueBasin page.) I was going to make a Battletech roguelike for 7DRL2012, but didn't have the right engine and wouldn't have enough time to complete it, so made my own game instead :D

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  9. Cogmind is great and I love Josh's awesome updates diving into his development process and stats.