"There are a lot of shooters out
there that focus on fast-paced arcade gameplay. People who want a more
realistic and deliberate experience are left out by mainstream
developers. Ground Branch is for those people." - John Sonedecker, Founder BlackFoot Studios, LLC
Branch fills the void between unrealistic run-and-gun action shooters
like Call of Duty, Battlefield, Medal of Honor, etc. and complex war
simulations like ARMA, VBS, and Operation Flashpoint. It is the only
spiritual successor to Ghost Recon (2001), Rainbow Six (1998), SWAT 4
(2005), and UT Infiltration (2004) to date. If this Kickstarter does
not reach its goal, we may never see another game of the true
squad-based tactical shooter genre.
Branch is already a playable pre-alpha running on fully licensed Unreal
Engine 3. The Kickstarter goal is the money needed to finish the game
and have it on your PC/Mac by summer 2013. There will be full
multiplayer (objective-based TvT, PvP) and core single
player/co-operation gameplay (e.g. terrorist hunt against bots) from the
start. An intricate full-scale SP/Co-Op campaign and advanced AI will
be added (Free to KS minimum reward backers and up) after release.
big publishers, Blackfoot Studios is an independent developer who
actually cares about their product and their fans. The team consists of
former Red Storm and Valve employees with dozens of AAA titles under
their belt. These guys left well-paid jobs and turned starving indie to
do what they love for the people they love. They mean what they say,
answer all questions honestly, listen to feedback, and don't push any PR
Ground Branch is a team based Tactical shooter specializing in co-op and online multiplayer (LAN play included) gameplay, cut
from the same cloth as the original Ghost Recon. It is being developed by
former Red Storm Entertainment and Valve Software employees, in conjunction
with United States Special Operations Veterans, determined to offer a unique and
immersive experience to disenfranchised gamers that have been marketed to under
the promise of “authenticity”, only to find themselves stuck with so many
similar arena shooters.
Branch, players will take on the role of CIA Paramilitary Operators of the Special
Activities Division. The Special
Activities Division carries out deniable covert operations on
foreign soil and often goes into a situation before anyone else, before
Army Special Forces, before the SEALs.
Players will learn
to respect the lethality and versatility of firearms as death can come quick and health does not regenerate. You are then encouraged
to join a team, in order to test your strategies and abilities against other groups or
clans. Map design is non-linear,
featuring randomized objectives and spawns, so that no two rounds feel
As an Operator, your actions and animations –
such as reloading or weapon switching – will be just as smooth and deliberate as
it is in real-life. To
succeed in battle, you will be required to learn the strengths and
weaknesses of the available weapon platforms, and to be able to adapt to
unforeseen circumstances. Weapons behave as they should and are not artificially balanced. Once players have perfected their loadouts, they can save and name their customized settings for later use. Ground Branch is
about player choices and realistic consequences. Your skill and ingenuity will be what allows you to succeed.
REVIVING A GENRE: We are not creating an arcade game; nor are we
competing with titles
that model "War", like Armed Assault. The closest two working examples
of what we are trying to accomplish are the Unreal Tournament
modification, Infiltration (INF), and the early Ghost Recon titles
(think of our game as sort of the marriage of those two, if that
explains it in a sentence). We are creating a tactical shooter that
focuses on the realistic aspects of player combat and movement. Those
mechanics mean more to us than pure scale (ArmA).
IMMEDIATE ACCESS TO ALL CONTENT (NO KILLSTREAKS, UNLOCKS OR LEVELING): You
will have access to all of the weapons and gear, right off the bat. No
DLC / Content restrictions, ever. The reward for playing our game, is a
genuine sense of accomplishment.
DEVELOPERS THAT ACTUALLY CARE: Every penny will go towards
finishing the title; we are not using this money to setup offices. The
game is designed with consideration in regards to just about everything
we've seen (and dislike) in other games, and we always take the time the
listen to the concerns of our community.
FUNCTIONAL REALISTIC DETAILS:
Weapons and ballistics (including feet per second, bullet drop and
simulated wind) are accurately represented. Certain rounds are capable
of penetrating various materials, and fragmentation grenades actually
produce physical shrapnel, rather than relying upon a generic "kill
radius" circular deadzone that most titles use. These dynamic elements
add a level of strategy to the game, not found in other titles.
GEAR AND WEAPON CUSTOMIZATION: This is not merely cosmetic -- your choices have a direct effect
in game. Some examples include: Varying Levels of Body Armor (provides
protection, but has more weight and bulk); Weapon Suppressors (provide
reduced shot noise but make weapons more unwieldy in close quarters, and
reduce the speed and penetrative capabilities of the projectile).
These different effects are all based on real-life properties without
any artificial balancing. Players also get to completely customize the
look and function of their characters, right down to the number (and
type) of pouches and the amount of ammunition they want to carry. The
only "limitation" is that teams will be assigned a camo pattern by the
server admin, on a per-map basis.
TACTICAL REALISM (A DEPENDABLE SET OF RULES): We
have a group of actual combat operators assisting us with nailing the
design. No bunny-hopping tactics, dolphin-diving headshots or
dual-wielding arcade gameplay. There is no "Hip Fire", and you can
cancel a reload cycle at any time to switch to your secondary weapon.
Movement is restricted by real-world limitations and things like gear
weight and fatigue are taken into consideration.
METHODICAL GAMEPLAY: Players
must work and train together, learn to identify friendlies from tangos,
communicate over VoIP, and adapt to unexpected scenarios (grenade
physics are a blessing and a curse), and learn to respect their
opponents. Training maps and exercises will be provided to address many
of the scenarios players will face in the combat maps.
NO ARTIFICIAL BALANCING: Weapons
and gear are implemented, indiscriminately, and their respected
real-world pros and cons will be modeled (see our NORG section). For
example: while a M249 LMG provides an "unfair" advantage to a M4 in
terms of amount of ammunition and pure firepower, it is extremely heavy
and unwieldy, making it unfavorable to use in CQB, and inaccurate while
standing and moving. We have a saying "Bring the right tool for the
job": we are focused on the effects of the weapons platforms on the
player (Is their view restricted? Is it difficult to carry?).
NO SERVER-SIDE "CLASS" RESTRICTIONS": Players won't be fighting
over the "Sniper Slot", and teamkilling / griefing someone over a
weapon. Clans are encouraged to create their own squads, with the
correct roles for the right situation. We are not imposing limits in
respects to gear.
NON-LINEAR GAME DESIGN: No scripted "monster closets" or on-rails
shooting. Maps have open designs and include plenty of explorable
terrain, as well as structures/buildings with multiple entry points and
routes. We are even working on game types that will randomly block or
allow access to certain routes, so that no two back-to-back rounds are
identical. The matches will be as dynamic as your strategies allow.
REALISTIC HEALTH SYSTEM: No regenerating health here. Our system
allows a player to bandage a non-life-threatening wound. However, you
will not be able to regain health at any time in a match -- only stop it
from getting worse. Respawns will depend on the game mode and server
Not everyone comes out clean. Depending on what kind of projectile hits
you, the speed of it, your body armor coverage, or the location of
impact in your body (vitals, non-vital areas), your player will be
effected. Wounds modify in-game abilities by various degrees. Adverse
effects like stumbling if shot while running, staggering and limping
when wounded, directly effect your combat effectiveness in game.
MORE THAN DEATHMATCH: Not everyone cares for basic deathmatch, and needs a bit of strategy to have fun. Good News: Our main gametype is a variation of "Assault",
where one team defends and protects a series of objectives, while the
other attacks and attempts to gain ground. This gametype is included to
provide a challenge to players, by forcing them to come up with dynamic
strategies against a dynamic opponent.
SERVER TOOLS: Players
will be able to host servers however and wherever they want. Admins
will have control over camo patterns, gear availability, allowed
weaponry, and basically every other setting we can think of or support.
We miss this amount of player customization, and we support it. Period.
MOD SUPPORT: As
far as we're concerned: modding is the lifeblood of PC gaming. Full
modding support will be available very soon after launch. We are
committed to supporting the mod community to the best of our abilities,
for the lifetime of the product, and look forward to the content our
community will create. We will not only support it in the sense that the
engine is capable of it, but we will go out of our way to provide
various asset libraries, and we will showcase quality mods on our
THE TECHNOLOGY BEHIND THE GAME: We are a FULL licensee of EPIC Games Unreal Engine 3 and utilize the the
most up-to-date builds. We have also licensed Speedtree from IDV,Inc.
and a licensed AI solution is planned.
WHY BLACKFOOT STUDIOS
name is John Sonedecker and I am the Founder of BlackFoot Studios. Being an original
member of Red Storm Entertainment was a true pleasure and honor for me. We had
some incredible developers, and we made some great games, for which I am very
proud of. Those 'Classic' realistic tactical games are my personal favorites,
and I have always loved making them, just as much as I loved playing them. This
genre is my motivation; my driving force in this industry. Since leaving Red
Storm in 2002, I have dreamt of one day revisiting that classic style of
gameplay that is so close to my heart. Today is that day.
I founded BlackFoot Studios in 2004
to be a contract for hire group and have consistently been able to do so ever
since. We have done work with various start-ups and established studios to
create some truly unique gaming experiences. I have even been tasked with
reviewing initial design pitches for a large publisher for possible
'greenlighting' as well. My gaming credits cover over 15 titles with most being
in the Classic Tactical Shooter genre.
Along the way, I also spent time working for the US Special Operations Command
at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, Ft. Bragg. I was part
of starting a cell that utilizes cutting edge gaming technology for Special
Operations training and mission rehearsal applications. These experiences help
me to bring a truly unique perspective and insight into developing the
resurgence of the Classic Tactical Squad-Based Shooter.
WHY USE KICKSTARTER
Ground Branch started as an idea in 2007. We spent 2 years searching for
publishers and investors with no success. People either didn't believe
that this particular genre was still viable for enough sales or wanted
it to be the next 'Blockbuster Hollywood Experience'. This would have
been a complete compromise of our vision, and was more out of interest
in the brand name. In the end, it came down to dollars over
Unfortunately, our financial realities won out over sheer will and heart to
move the game along. This has been a very tough road to go down and ultimately
led us to the conclusion that it was a vicious cycle of stop/start development
that we simply could no longer sustain but no matter what we would not let the
Using our own savings and income we've managed to build a solid
pre-alpha build as a proof of concept with the foundation for most of
the systems that make the game unique in place. Now is the time that we
need proper financial resources to complete this project.
One philosophy of BlackFoot Studios is that when looking for people to give you
funding support, you yourself must have obligated a significant investment as
well. John has put in his personal savings and, with others, countless hours of
hard work. We are dedicated to completing this project on greatly reduced
salaries; any financial rewards will come from the sales of the game.
the backer, our main goal is to simply have a game that we can play for
ourselves and that others enjoy. The money will go directly to the
development of Ground
Branch so that we can provide the PC/Mac gaming communities with a game that fills a sorely missed genre.
APPROACH TO REALISTIC GAME DESIGN
Natural Order of Realistic Gameplay
is basically a series of common sense, realistic, rule sets for gameplay
issues, such as mobility and weapon balance. It is a philosophy of game
design that guides us by using principals from
the real world. It is not a simulation of all things (you're never going
to need to eat, or go to the bathroom), but taking the core mechanics
the real-world gives you and making those the foundation of the game
design. However, there are technical, resource and playability
limitations that limit the depth that you can go. No one wants to field
strip and clean a weapon in game and that is not what NORG is about.
It is about not imposing artificial limitations on players, and
therefore, forcing them into an artificial outcome.
quick example: if you find yourself trying to navigate through a
doorway, while aiming a long rifle, your weapon will clang against the
door frame and make movement awkward and dangerous (potentially getting
the player killed because of the mistake). The solution? Bring the right
tool for the job: shorter weapons are designed for a reason (CQB).
Conversely, you wouldn't want to take a short weapon (like an MP5 or
other SMG) into an environment with longer engagement ranges (wooded
areas or open areas).
HOW WILL THE MONEY BE USED
It is very important to us is that the funds generated here go
towards making the actual game and that we present an accurate goal that
will allow us to make a quality product.
Animation: We have been fortunate enough to be able to generate
quite a few animations to this point (including our unique motion
capture sessions with an actual Special Forces Operator), but are still
in need of many more to complete our feature list. And while what we
have is nice, they still lack polish and the necessary touch that
professional animators can provide. We refuse to ship a game where
anyone familiar with the subject matter is offended by an incorrect
animation or procedure. We are committed to authentic weapon handling.
Content Creation: A Level Designer and 3D Artist position will be
added to the team. For everything else, we will be using a few
individuals that we have worked with in the past to supplement our
content needs. These are
professionals here in the U.S. that routinely contract with game
Sound Design: This is one of the hardest things for independent
developers focusing on realistic titles to do; not to mention, an indie
studio focusing on firearms. Proper sound requires professional talent
and our sound designers understand our structure and unique needs. If
we exceed our goals on KS, we will record a sound library of unique
sound material (individualized gun sounds, down to the shell casing and
the material it falls upon) which will be accessible for our modding
community, for use in implementing community-made weapons. Other studios
throw around the word "authentic", much to our chagrin -- we're
actually serious about it. As it stands, we've already recorded an
obscene amount of highly-detailed source sounds for some of the weapons
we have now; down to the accurate safety toggles and bolt releases.
We've recorded magazine surface impacts for six different surface types
(concrete, gravel, woodland, grass, wood, carpet) with the appropriate
magazines and magazine build types (polymer versus steel). Most games
have one or two sounds for all of those conditions; and we're still not
satisfied with our list. Source sounds matter -- we want to prove it.
Programming: We have contracted the 3 person team at Digital
Confectioners as our main programming 'go to' partners to add to our
small but experienced team. DC is headed by veteran programmer James
Tan. James has many years of experience with Unreal Engine 3 on both the
C++ engine side as well as extensive knowledge of getting the most out
of Unrealscript. He has also been tapped by EPIC Games,Inc. to write
official documentation on Unreal Engine 3, for their Unreal Developer
Network. These are some of the most knowledgeable and gifted Unreal
developers out there. We are confident in their skills and believe the
game can be finished in an extremely reasonable amount of time with
License Fees: There are a few license support fees that we will
need to take care of, but this is not a large amount. This is not for
engine licensing as we have taken care of that our self already.
Support Reserve: We firmly believe in supporting our product. We
have planned ahead so not to put ourselves in a position where we use
all of the development funds, and then have no money to be able to
support the game, post-release, while we wait for sales revenue to start
coming in. We have no intention on developing annual sequels, and we
dislike the current DLC 'schemes'; we come from the philosophy that a
product can be sold, enjoyed and supported by the community and the
developers for multiple years. We want to develop significant
expansions, to extend and supplement the life of the core product.
Studios is also an active supporter of the Special Operations Warrior
Foundation and plan to donate 10% of the first week's profits (not
Kickstarter funds) from the sale of Ground Branch. We have the utmost
respect for those that go into harm's way and this is a small way that
we may give back.
Some people may wonder why there are no physical rewards for the $15
and $25 tiers. Simply because we feel that it would cost too much to
actually produce and fulfill the rewards at those dollar amounts. Simple
honest answer. It would be very difficult to have manufactured, package
and ship something physical at those price points while still retaining
money for development of the game.... which is really why we are all
Digital Copy of Game: A CD-Key for Ground Branch, once it is available on Steam.
Art Book: Expertly crafted and professionally designed, digital
art book, showcasing some of the concept and development images from
Ground Branch. A few interesting tales and facts will be woven in
throughout, for those of you wondering what it takes to create a modern
game. Digital version available in PDF format and formatted for printing
(in the event that you want a hard copy for when Skynet goes live, and
declares war on humanity).
Tactics Field Manual: Our Special Operations Contributor team is
building a detailed manual that will show the player basic methods of
staying alive and winning in combat that directly relate to the game.
This Field Manual will also include detailed information about each
weapon, ideas and guidance on possible character/weapon customization,
Intelligence on each map in the game and some unique and colorful
stories only one of these individuals could provide. Digital version
available in PDF format and formatted for printing.
Soundtrack: The entire original professionally mastered musical
score for Ground Branch, composed by Jeffrey Hyatt. Available in both
(DRM-Free) 320CBR MP3 and FLAC Lossless Audio.
Collector's Edition: Includes both PC/Mac Game Disc (DVD) and Digital Copy
(Separate Keys), Soundtrack CD and Digital Copy (saves you the trouble
of ripping!), 11x17 frameable print, Printed and Digital copy of Art
Book, Printed and Digital copy of Tactics Field Manual along with a
Ground Branch unit patch.
Launch Party BBQ: We haven't decided where this event will take
place, but we will provide the food and the experience. Many of our
devout forum-goers have often teased about this, but now, it is a very
real possibility. On the eve of our retail launch, we will be
celebrating by roasting meat and exchanging stories over dinner. This
will be an invite-only event for our die-hard fans and the development
BlackFoot Studios proudly supports the Kick It Forward initiative.
Right now, the game will not have a standard single player story driven campaign. We just do not have the resources to do it right. However, we do want to do it and have one designed and will be looking to add it sometime post launch.
Ground Branch will be on PC and Mac from the start.
We would like to be on linux as well, but unfortunately, that ball is more in Epic's court. I am sorry to say that it is not currently part of our budget to port the game to Linux (Mac support is fairly new, if you can believe it); however, if the opportunity ever arises, we have no reason or personal qualms in deciding not to support the platform. For us, It's more of a question of availability of the tech, and costs, than it is an intellectual belief. So for the time being, I suppose the answer is "No."
1. A Steam Release (which uses Steamworks for online features such as matchmaking, VOIP and Mod Distribution through the SteamWorkshop) and...
2. A DRM-Free version of the game, which can be played without an internet connection, and used for gamers with LAN-only setups or that want to play the solo portions of Ground Branch without connecting to the internet.
Both versions are free of install limits, and we are not using services like SecuROM. The Steam version can be used for offline LAN as well, but must use Valve's "Offline Mode" if you plan to be without a connection. Either way, all current and future backers have access to both, in the event that they need to be away from the internet! This is great news, if you're deployed, or just want to more easily host a LAN party and play our game!
We get it -- not everyone can part with $25 that easily. So this is here for those of you who can't afford to part with more cash right now. But we ask that you please send your friends, family and colleagues our way to help out.
SUPER-FAN EDITION: Signed Collector's Edition (See Description) + Private Alpha & Beta Access w/ forum + Your Name on Our Web Site Founders Wall & in the Game Credits + T-Shirt. (Please add $15 for shipping outside the US & Canada)
ULTRA-FAN EDITION: Invitation to the Launch Party BBQ (food and good times will be provided - how you get there and where you stay is on you) + Signed Collector's Edition (See Description) + Private access to monthly builds starting 6 months from completion of Kickstarter w/ forum + Your Name on Our Web Site Founders Wall & in the Game Credits + T-Shirt + Kickstarter Supporter Challenge Coin. (Please add $15 for shipping outside the US & Canada)
KICKSTARTER VET EDITION: Invitation to the Launch Party BBQ + Signed Collector's Edition (See Description) + Private Access to our post-launch Dev Server (be in our pool of names to offer feedback, test new weapons, maps, and just enjoy a game with the team from time to time) + Private access to monthly builds starting 5 months from completion of Kickstarter w/ private forum + T-Shirt + 2 more Ground Branch unit patches + 2 Additional Digital copies of the game + Your Name on Our Web Site Founders Wall & in the Game Credits (under an exclusive "KS Vets" tier) + Kickstarter Supporter Challenge Coin. (Please add $15 for shipping outside the US & Canada)
RED TELEPHONE EDITION: Sit in on select Skype calls with the developers during design sessions (offer feedback, make suggestions -- if your ideas are used, you will be credited) + Invitation to the Launch Party BBQ + Receive a week's worth of In-Game Special Training from the Devs, as well as our Special Forces Contributors (Squad Up with us!) + Signed Collector's Edition (See Description) + Private access to monthly builds starting 90 days from completion of Kickstarter w/ private forum + T-Shirt + 2 more Ground Branch unit patches + 2 Additional Digital copies of the game + Your Name on Our Web Site Founders Wall & in the Game Credits ("KS Vets" tier) + Kickstarter supporter Challenge Coin.
RICH UNCLE SPONSORSHIP EDITION: A unique one of a kind in-game billboard, graffiti tag or business sign (your choice, so long as it is not obscene) named after you and custom designed with your input + Invitation to the Launch Party BBQ + Signed Collector's Edition (See description) + Private monthly builds starting 60 days from completion of Kickstarter with private forum + LIMITED EDITION (10) original Ground Branch print from Dogfight Ink hand signed by the artist and BlackFoot Studios developers + T-Shirt + 2 more Ground Branch unit patches +Your Name on Our Web Site Founders Wall & in the Game Credits ("KS Vets" tier) + Kickstarter supporter Challenge Coin + 3 additional Digital Copies of the game.
OVER 9,000 EDITION ("THE NOTCH"): A VERY unique and one of a kind experience. You will receive the Signed Collector's Edition of Ground Branch + Invitation to the Launch Party BBQ + A Special showcase in the game credits + Private access to monthly builds starting 60 days from completion of Kickstarter with private forum + An extra 4 digital copies to give away to friends + A ONE OF A KIND framed Ground Branch print from Dogfight Ink, hand-signed by the artist and BlackFoot Studios Developers (You decide what weapon is used so each of the 3 is unique. We won't even have one of these babies!) + A unique one of a kind in-game billboard, graffiti tag or business sign (your choice) named after you and custom designed with your input + Your Name on Our Web Site Founders Wall & in the Game Credits ("KS Vets" tier) + T-Shirt + A pile of Ground Branch unit patches to give to your friends + Custom Kickstarter Supporter Challenge Coin + BUT THE BEST PART is spending a day with John and a few of his Army Special Forces buddies on a personalized tour of Ft. Bragg, home of Special Operations. We will then spend the afternoon on the range shooting a variety of modern weapons with personal instruction and range time with Special Operations veterans. Once we expend all our ammo we will head over to one of our favorite restaurants to enjoy your cold beverages of choice, over a sit down dinner to end the day. I can guarantee you there will be no shortage of tales to be told!
Must be able to provide transportation to the Raleigh or Fayettville, North Carolina. Age 21 and over only. Accommodations provided. We can possibly work around schedules to provide trip portion in 2012 if desired as well.