Posted by Data in Cortex Command - December 22nd, 2010

Hey all, here’s a rundown of what’s new in the new Test Build 24 of Cortex Command, which was launched in the Humble Indie Bundle:

Unexplored cave.. what awaits inside?

  • Support for an unseen (unexplored) obscuring layer of the Scene, per team. This enables a lot of interesting game mechanics where the players of the same team share the knowledge about a Scene they’re playing in. Only by having one of their bodies or ships literally ‘seeing’ an area will what’s there be revealed. This should make digging for treasure, hidden bunkers, and fossils much more interesting in the future. It will also be integral for the Metagame, where collected intel about a site or enemy base on the planet is key to winning.
  • Scripted logic for revealing the entire surface of a scene by way of a “scan from orbit“. Naturally, while this scan reveals everything in the airspace and the surface of the planet, it doesn’t penetrate far into the ground and thus leaves everything subterranean a mystery to the team. See the “Prospecting” activity for a work-in-progress example of this in action.
  • The Lua interface documentation in the CC Wiki (coming back online shortly!) is now updated automatically by scanning the source code of the game and harvesting the extensive comments we’re written for all the classes, functions, and member variables.
  • The animation of the arms and legs of characters in the game are now much improved when their bodies are tossed around. They will cartwheel out as an approximation for centrifugal forces of a ragdoll flying through the air.
  • Upon loading a terrain, the algorithm for randomly placing terrain debris like boulders and gold nuggets now take a lot more care in not placing these things floating in underground caverns and spaces under overhangs.
  • The effectiveness of jetpacks has been reduced, but will be rebalanced a bit upward again by the next build. Got a little carried away..
  • Landing and objective HUD cursors are now red for friendly, and green for enemy (sounds a bit backwards, but works well in the game’s color palette).. this is to accommodate more than two simultaneous teams playing at the same time.
  • Any of the four players can now control the mouse cursor in any of the general or shared menus, like the Main Menu and all the editors etc. This also applies to the gamepad/joystick players, so one doesn’t need a keyboard/mouse to navigate the menus anymore. (yay for couch-friendly play)
  • Added quit confirmation dialogs so hitting esc doesn’t make you accidentally lose game progress (especially important for the metagame).
  • Teams can now have custom, mod-addable flags/icons, which will show up in-game instead of the previously hard-coded heart icons. This is important for the metagame as well.
  • Speaking of changes regarding the teams in preparation for the metagame, there can now be FOUR teams vs the previously hardcoded two. Also, there can be ‘gaps’ in both the player and team numbers in a game. This is very important to note for poeple who script Activites.. take note at how all the included Activity scripts now iterate through all players and teams. Failing to accommodate this change will break any game that has, for example, team 1, 3, and 4 playing in a game. (note the gap in enumeration)
  • Completely new Scenario Battle mode and menus, which replaces the old now obsolete Skirmish menus and setup GUI.
  • Activities and Scenes are now decoupled, so that you can first choose an Activity (brain match, last man standing, CTF, whatever else we/you wanna script) to play, and then all compatible Scenes are presented where you can play it. The compatibility is determined by any named Areas used in the Activity in question, like spawn points, landing zones, flag areas etc. The Scenes will be automatically scanned by the engine to check if they contain all these Areas used by the selected Activity, but the script writer can also specify custom requirements as well.
  • An almost entirely new set of general Scenes whose terrains match their different geographical sites on the planet. For example, the ones placed in the desert on the planet actually look like a desert landscape when you play them, etc. These will make up the bulk of gold-rich sites you fight over for the Metagame.
  • New hand-pixeled backdrops by Simon “Snake” Stafsnes Andersen of Owlboy fame.
  • A set of new Activities (with proper winning conditions!) to play on the above scenes, including “One-Man-Army”, “Harvester”, “Survival”, etc.

Campaign play - not a mockupSo, what happened to the Metagame/Campaign mode we’ve been previewing in previous posts? Well, most of the effort since the last build went into getting this up and running.. however, as we worked on it, it became clear that many changes (like support for four teams, etc) were necessary to the engine to accommodate the types of battles that would happen during a Campaign.

Then, as the deadline for the Humble Bundle loomed, I realized that all these changes to the engine had fundamentally broken the previous Skirmish mode and its menus for setting up games. It quickly became clear that we had to abandon the hopes of finishing a first playable revision of the Metagame in order to rebuild and have ANY kind of playable modes working in time for the Bundle timeframe. That’s why this build’s Campaign button is disabled; we couldn’t ship it in a half-baked and confusing state to all the new people (now ~200k and counting!) who would be exposed to Cortex Command for the first time through the Bundle.

The good news is that while the work on the Metagame’s menus and mechanics aren’t visible in this build, it is quite far progressed already, and we are excited to get the last remaining phase of the turn-based mechanic running so the whole thing can actually be played, round after round! We intend to have a first revision of the Metagame up and playable (albeit still rough and unfinished) in the next build.

Last note: for everyone who has bought the game directly from us prior to the Bundle, check the previous post below for instructions on how to get Build 24. We are planning some very interesting things in terms of updates and DRM (or lack thereof) in future builds 🙂 Rest assured that you won’t regret having bought a license before these changes…

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43 Responses to “What’s new in Build 24, and what about the Metagame?”

  1. Tomaster - # December 22nd, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    First post. Lovely explanation of everything. I can’t wait for the next build (as usual).

  2. Ragdollmaster - # December 22nd, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    FIRST etc

    Anyways, to be frank, thank you for finally writing this up, Data. Only took like a week 😛 Better than expected.

    I do like the new Scenario selections, where each scene is shown on the screen and described before you actually begin a game there, but of course I’m a bit disappointed that the campaign’s not here. Hopefully, all of the new exposure to CC might inspire/motivate some more work on the game, in terms of both first and third party content.

  3. Jay - # December 22nd, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    These new change are great news.
    The random thread-freezes of B24 not-so-much.
    Would a quick fix update be feasible?
    I had to revert to B23 to be able to enjoy the game.

  4. Whiskey - # December 22nd, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    Thanks for getting back to the community, Data. It’s posts like these that make me feel good about buying the Dev Support version.

    Please keep it up (and keep us appraised). You’re doing a great job.

  5. Hyperkultra - # December 22nd, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    Hey look, this is up.

  6. Geti - # December 22nd, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    Cheers for the clarifications on exactly what’s changed, Dan.

  7. Airburst - # December 23rd, 2010 at 12:32 am

    Good to know

    I look forward to seeing the campaign

  8. Cody - # December 23rd, 2010 at 12:37 am

    **** yeah. Nice job, especially with explaining what happened with metagame. Understandable.

  9. MaximDude - # December 23rd, 2010 at 2:24 am

    Thanks for the info, Dan.

  10. Dauss - # December 23rd, 2010 at 5:11 am

    Thanks Dan, this really is all we’re asking for from you. We just want to be kept up to date on what’s going on. The majority of the outrage was because we were promised metacampaign, among other things, and with no explanation at the time, it didn’t come.

    If you fill us in, we’re quite happy to wait, we just want to know what’s going on.

  11. Natti - # December 23rd, 2010 at 7:29 am

    Hey wow what’s this, you finally wrote it?

    Cheers, Dan.

  12. Petethegoat - # December 23rd, 2010 at 7:57 am

    Sweet, this is encouraging.
    “If you fill us in, we’re quite happy to wait, we just want to know what’s going on.” – This. Definitely this.

  13. Footkerchief - # December 23rd, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Thumbs up, thanks for the info.

  14. Raintail99 - # December 23rd, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Yeah, let’s go. I’m already pumped for 25.

  15. Tobeh - # December 23rd, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Holy crap, that’s a lot of stuff :O

  16. PlasmaNova - # December 23rd, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    A nice long post full of info.

    just the way I like it

  17. TheLogan - # December 23rd, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    First of all I apologize for my reply to the last blog post, I’m really happy to know that I was right in believing that there was stuff in the background that just wasn’t quite ready yet.
    I really would like to emphasize on what Dauss said, quote:
    “If you fill us in, we’re quite happy to wait, we just want to know what’s going on.”

    Being in the dark just makes us jump to all the worst conclusions.

    I’m glad that you have finally started to fill us in even if it did take a week =)
    Keep up the good work old chap

  18. ToonyMan - # December 23rd, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    Huzzah, new CC build. Should probably say that here too.

  19. greyyo - # December 23rd, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    oh finally. i was begining to worry bout the meta game. great to hear from data!!!

  20. Exalion - # December 24th, 2010 at 12:48 am

    Good stuff, but it still only uses one core of the CPU and nothing else, so it lags more than most 3D games on the market. That’s pretty lame…

  21. Jorje - # December 24th, 2010 at 7:22 am

    DATA, please, make builds as Notch(minecraft programmer) that’s better then 1 build in year!! I like CC SO MUCH! You do this build for last year, without ANY news, last month I think CC not release in this year :C! That’s not good! Make people knowledgeable! And good luck!

    sry for my bad english…

  22. J1MB3AN97 - # December 24th, 2010 at 9:05 am

    Now, the only question that I have is how NPCs will react to darkened areas. Would they have an independent field of vision, or if one person uncovers a part, it uncovers for everyone?

  23. Generalidea - # December 24th, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Goooooooooood soup 😀

  24. carpetninja - # December 24th, 2010 at 11:18 am

    bout bloody time

  25. Chezzo - # December 24th, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Hey, this is the best Worms type game/sidescroller ever. I am playing it instead of the stuff I bought the Humble Indy Bundle for.

    Lord I wish it was turn based, so I could play with my wife on one computer. I read your explanation as to why it wasn’t. Can’t wait for that!

    Also, you’re right, you made the jetpacks suck! I’m playing Zombie Caves, and I can’t get anything bigger than a blaster in there. Maybe that’s on purpose.

    Is there any way to make the jetpacks stronger through the console?

  26. Cody - # December 25th, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Merry Christmas everybody 🙂

  27. BloodyHell - # December 26th, 2010 at 5:13 am

    First off, congratulations to the B24 release, but I have a question / finding I’d like to share / ask.

    In Data’s forum post ( the B24 is downloadable for all, even unregistered users and seems to be usable with all of B24’s features.

    However, it quite often contacts the IP “” which is “” and seems to be hanging itself up during some of these attempts.

    I guess that’s the “coming DRM” version of CC, which requires an active internet connection, but that’s just my guessing (some strings in the EXE also hint to that).

    Not sure if Data is aware of that, it may just be a marketing gag to attract more users for CC with this version and then force them to register and buy the game later on (currently the “execrypt” seems to have no limit on number of usages and no “trial” count).

    Now my question – If I was to buy this game (or “sposor” development of the unfinished version), will I be able to play offline and without these nasty crashes or will an active internet connection be needed anyways ?

    Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely would like to pay for it and understand the “demo” move to attract customers, I’m just a bit puzzled about the DRM to be used and the licensing in general.

    An answer is appreciated (blog mods can also email me at the given address), thanks.

  28. Data - # December 26th, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Without prematurely revealing our plans, I can assure you that future versions of the game will NOT require an internet connection to play, and will in fact be completely DRM free.

    The residual code existing in the latest build was left behind accidentally, and are holdovers from the old DRM system, which we intend to phase out permanently.

    You will only need a connection to the internet to update the game in the future..

  29. truekaiser - # December 26th, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    bought via humble bundle 2 linux version. hope you improve it because as it stands now it is playable but you have some stupid bugs like. killing crabs automatically segfaults the game with a openal error.

  30. Tokochiro - # December 26th, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    What about the HIB people like me?Will you send a special version to the HIB site so people can download new builds there?I heard that the revenge of the titans devs are doing that

  31. VladDracul - # December 27th, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Ogod,I just knew they’d finally add it! My hopes and dreams for a fog-of-war(see just about every RTS war-game(Starcraft/Warcraft/Total Annihilation/etc)). Finally, surprises mid-battle will be possible!

    Now, I’m ernestly hoping someone’ll mod a horror scene, which involves fog-of-war, but move a certain distance, and it’ll return. Using a flashlight(or other source of light), would offer a better view, but only so far. Or maybe differenting time of day that would influence the degree of fog-of-war.

    Anyway, this is a fantastic update, Data. Glad to see you’re still around and making more updates. <:

  32. greyyo - # December 27th, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    hey data, when is the wiki gonna go back up. im rather excited for that.

  33. alex der clonk - # December 28th, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    the fog of war is a nice idea

  34. Asmageddon - # December 29th, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    You might want to know, Data: Running Windows version using WINE is almost 2x faster than running the native linux version…
    You gotta bash the person responsible for the port…

  35. Joe - # December 30th, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    The new lack of DRM software makes CC ridiculously easy to copy and steal. You might want to look into whipping up some code that detects if the user has copied CC from an existing CC program (or something like that).

  36. Duh102 - # December 31st, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    Joe: That’s the definition of DRM, making sure that the user is allowed to use it. One of the conditions of putting a game into the HIB is that it cannot have DRM. Thus, any game in the HIB is ridiculously easy to copy and steal, but that’s how they want to do things, trust the user to respect the author’s copyrights.

  37. ZevN47 - # December 31st, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    Wait a minute… Did I just miss my chance to get build 24 or did I misinterpret something? Can we still buy the bundle?

  38. Carp - # January 1st, 2011 at 12:26 am

    @^: See last devlog post.

  39. ZevN47 - # January 1st, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Thanks missed the little note at the bottom.

  40. Tokochiro - # January 3rd, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Will the new build be called 24.5?Because 24 didn’t have that much stuff we were expecting for.

  41. Lizard - # January 3rd, 2011 at 11:33 am


  42. TheLogan - # January 16th, 2011 at 11:45 am

    So, any news on when we can expect the next build? like 2 weeks time? 8 months? 10 years?

  43. macattack - # May 28th, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    Wait i’m confused… I bought CC years ago but now build 24 is only available to people who bought the game now for a reduced price?