The Kickstarter program has fast become the mecca for game developers looking to get their projects off the ground, and the concept of crowd-sourced funding has proven successful in many cases. John Sonedecker, founder of BlackFoot Studios, has started up a Kickstarter campaign for Ground Branch, a new online tactical first-person shooter for PC and Mac. Sonedecker, having previously worked with Red Storm Entertainment (now a subsidiary of Ubisoft) on several of the Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six titles, knows a thing or two about tactical shooters and stresses that Ground Branch will not just be another by-the-numbers FPS.
What exactly is Ground Branch and why do we think their Kickstarter campaign is worthwhile? The FPS genre is a crowded market with many games doing essentially the same thing, but Ground Branch boasts a wealth of realistic and game altering mechanics that shift the focus towards more tactical gameplay as opposed to the size and scale of battle. The small details will make all the difference, such as wind conditions affecting bullet trajectory, feet-per-second bullet drop, the reaction of a specific bullet type against certain materials and so on. The gameplay itself also presents a more open, non-linear level design that provides opportunities for players to experiment and try different tactical approaches.
Sonedecker emphasizes that this is not just another arcade FPS, rather one that seeks to provide a level of realism that is lacking in many top tier shooters. Regenerating health is non existant, different kinds of wounds affect how you are able to play the game and how you customize your weapons will dramatically impact how they perform. An attachment such as a suppressor might make serve as an effective silencer to help you take out enemies undetected, however this can come at the expense of accuracy. These examples, coupled with the non-linear approach to map design, are some of the features that BlackFoot Studios is hoping to accomplish if they reach their Kickstarter goal.
The money raised through Kickstarter will fund the creation and development of Ground Branch, including the animation, sound design, content and securing licenses, such as the Unreal Engine from Epic Games. The money will also allow them to continue supporting the game after launch with patches to fix bugs and additional content. Some of the perks that Ground Branch also offers is a full mod support for those who want to get creative by producing their own content, as well as the ability for players to host their own servers and customize the settings. As PC shooters go, this one shows a great deal of promise.
Like many Kickstarter projects, the amount you plegde carries with it certain added benefits. The minimum donation to secure a copy of the game is $15, however higher amounts will get you other bonuses such as digital soundtracks, art books, private beta access, your name on the website and the game credits, the ability to give input on the development of the game and even an invitation to the launch party BBQ. Those who pledge $10,000 or more will be able to spend the day with Sonedecker and his friends at a shooting range, where your fantasies of firing high-powered weapons will become a reality, followed by dinner and drinks. As Kickstarter perks go, these guys have certainly gotten creative.
The Kickstarter goal for Ground Branch is $425,000 and it ends on Friday, July 6 2012. As of writing this article, they are currently at just over $60,000 with about 1,100 backers. As with all fundng drives of this type, there is an element of risk since funing does not guarantee that the game will be completed, however we wish them the best of luck and look forward to seeing how this game develops over time. Those wishing to read up on Ground Branch and possibly support it can visit their Kickstarter page for more details.