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Cortex Command updated with Steam Workshop, squad controls, and smarter AI

Cortex Command

Cortex Command’s cogs don’t fit together, it’s leaking oil, and its motherboard is chipped. Data Realms, the game’s developer, knows this. When they first released the game on Steam, 18 months ago, there was no Early Access system in place, so they released the game saying it was version 1.0 and they’d just continue updating the game as they had in the years of development beforehand.

It’s taken 18 months for the first major update to be released but it should end a lot of grievances players have with the strategy game.

The game’s been refitted to support Steam Workshop. This means that all those mods players have been posting to the Cortex Command forums can now be easily installed through Steam. This makes the whole process easier and gives Steam owners easy access to the mods that fix some of the Cortex’s rough edges.

The next big change is the new AI. Smarter robots, both on your and the enemies’ side, mean that droids navigate the world better and interact with each other intelligently.

Finally is the new squad system. “An issue often brought up about CC’s difficulty is the AI,” write Data Realms, “specifically, how it can direct every actor at once, while the player is limited to controlling one actor at a time.

“To get players on more level ground, we’ve been working on a Squad function activated in the Pie Menu. Once you press it, the actor you’re currently controlling becomes the ‘leader,’ and you can grab allied units within a specified distance around you that will follow the leader.

When the squad is disbanded, either manually by pressing the pie menu button again or having the leader die, the followers will copy the leader’s AI mode at death, so you can direct large number of units to positions without having to set them on Go To one at a time.”

The team also say that the game between Build 30 and Build 31 won’t be as long as 18 months. I hope so, too, because Cortex Command’s always seemed like a great game but the early launch put me right off.

Here’s the patch notes:

Scene Editor Changes

  • ‘Test scene’ pie-menu option no longer crashes the game and start an ordinary Skirmish Defense activity.

  • Units can be equipped in scene editor and build editor.

  • Fixed scrolling bug in build editor.

  • All user-created scenes now saved in Scenes.rte and MetagamePlayable is false by default.

  • You can use objects and bunker modules from ALL .rte modules currently loaded in CC if your scene is located in Scenes.rte.

  • Fixed an upper-left-corner graphical glitch in scene editor.

  • Terrain frostings and debris are no longer duplicated when you save a scene.

Scenario setup changes

  • You can select techs, set initial gold amount and turn fog of war on and off in scenario setup dialog.

  • You can add multiple AI players to scenario activity.

New ini-properties

  • HeldDevice: Loudness (a device is audible from ~Loudness*0.6*playerScreenWidth when activated). Default is 1.0 except tools where the default is 0.5

  • Emissions: InheritsVel (a float value [0..1]). Default is 0.0

  • MOPixels:

    • MinLethalRange & MaxLethalRange, a float value [0..infinity]: ini-property for making pixels lose sharpness over range (for shotguns etc.)

    • MOPixels from guns lose sharpness after travelling ~(SharpAim+ScreenWidth/2)*Random(MinLethalRange, MaxLethalRange)

    • Other MOPixels e.g. gibs lose sharpness after travelling ScreenWidth*Random(MinLethalRange, MaxLethalRange)

    • Default is 1.0 for both values.

  • Round: AIFireVel and AILifeTime properties that override FireVel and projectile LifeTime when the AI calculate how to aim.

  • Craft: MaxPassengers so the AI knows how many actors will fit in the craft.

Lua changes

  • Scene: CalculatePath() and MovePath

  • SceneMan: CastMaxStrengthRay()

  • AHuman: EquipNamedDevice(), EquipDeviceInGroup(), EquipLoadedFirearmInGroup(), FirearmActivationDelay, Jetpack

  • ACrab: EquippedItem, FirearmActivationDelay, Jetpack, Turret, LFGLeg, LBGLeg, RFGLeg, RBGLeg

  • Actor: AimDistance, SetAlarmPoint(), GetAlarmPoint()

  • – ConsoleMan: Clear()

  • HDFirearm: ActivationDelay, DeactivationDelay, ReloadTime, ShakeRange, SharpShakeRange, NoSupportFactor, ParticleSpreadRange

  • AEmitter: Throttle, BurstSpacing, GetEmitVector(), GetRecoilVector(), EstimateImpulse(), CanTriggerBurst()

  • MovableMan: GetClosestEnemyActor()

  • Added API for drawing graphical primitives.

  • Added simple API for file access instead of Lua’s ‘io’ and ‘os’ libraries.

  • Any MovableObject now has UniqueID property which is always unique for every MovableObject in the simulation.

  • Terrain object can be placed via Lua scripts. No Scrap!

  • Added RemoveInventoryItem function to remove an item from an actor’s inventory.

AI fixes and features

  • AHumans in the “Snipers” and “Brains” group now spot enemies quicker and more reliably than other actors.

  • The scripted AI now react to being hit, not just sounds.

  • Humans equipped with diggers can now find a path through any terrain the digger can cut, instead of always trying to move around it.

  • AI shooting skill is set by the activity difficulty slider.

  • Improved AI path following by predicting the jump path when using jetpacks.

  • MetaFight: AI teams get up to a 50% discount when buying units, based on difficulty.

  • Made AI crabs better at using spin up weapons.

Other fixes and features

  • Added a new Brain vs Brain activity that is playable both against the AI and other players.

  • AI controlled actors now have less noticeable sharp aim dots.

  • MovePointToGround(x,y) when x >= SceneWidth gave a funny value.

  • Fixed AHuman:EquipDiggingTool so it only equips diggers.

  • Fixed a wrap bug in the CastObstacleRay return value.

  • Rockets can now use DrawAfterParent on thrusters.

  • Made AHumans and ACrabs lift the fog all the way to the edge of the screen if Perceptiveness = 1.0.

  • Improved an error messages caused by any non-existent copyOf.

  • Fixed a bug when pie-menu sometimes lost its current selection when controlled with gamepad.

  • Weapons with ActivationDelay now properly silenced when actor switches items.

  • Fixed Settings.ini corruption bug.

  • You can now specify CrabToHumanSpawnRatio property in your module to set the crab spawn ratio for your mod.

  • Buy menu now loads default loadouts along with player’s presets in scenario activities.

  • You can tell CC to load some modules earlier than others using the ‘LoadFirst’ module property.

  • You can specify dependencies for your module using ‘Require’ module property. CC will abort anyway, but at least it will show a more informative error message.