This project's funding goal was not reached on July 6, 2012.
About this project
Higher Resolution Video - http://youtu.be/0Ju66BqaUr4?hd=1
"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
- Ground 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.
- Ground 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.
- Unlike 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 bullsh1t.
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.
In Ground 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 identical.
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.
WHAT MAKES GROUND BRANCH DIFFERENT
- 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 settings.
- WOUNDING SYSTEM: 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 website.
- 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
My 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 design.
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 project die.
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.
Like you, 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.
One 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 studios.
- 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 their help.
- 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.
BlackFoot 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 here!
- 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 team.
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.
Yes, we will support TrackIR in the initial release. We will look into support for other similar products post release as well.
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."
We will be providing two executables:
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!
Gamespy is no longer being considered.
- (35 days)