A new build of Ground Branch is here and it is gigantic! Partly due to the move to engine version 4.11 and partly due to us just being stubborn and wanting to get things working right before releasing, we went way to long in between builds as well as the first go at a Terrorist Hunt mode with A.I.! The result is this one is packed with a ton of changes and its hard to do this news post without it being a wall of text. So here is the condensed version, with all the fine details at the end……..
We’re hoping to have a new test version out this week (April 19-23).
In the meantime, here is a preview of some recent additions and a information about other areas that may interest you.
As expected, there are some issues cropping up with this initial build that we are working to get fixed. Some may have difficulty connecting to servers or may have an issue with item selections in the Operator menu saving. We knew that opening things up to a larger audience would expose problems we didn’t anticipate so please be patient as we get these problems fixed and an update out in the next day or two. We want to make sure we don’t break more than we fix.
Steam keys for those that supported development by purchasing Pre-Order keys should be seeing an email with their keys(s) in them. The automated process is sending them a bit slow so give it an hour or two to make sure it makes it. Also, if you don’t see it make sure to check your spam folder as well. If you purchased a Pre-Order key and an email does not show up in the next 12 hours then please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get it sorted out. Please be patient over the next few days as we get things setup in the forum and our build update information sorted. We are also going to be bringing a couple more BFS servers online as well in addition to the one we currently have running. Anyone with the build can run a dedicated server so feel free to start your own!
I’m sure all of you will have lots of questions as well so feel free to ask away in our forums. There are plenty of people that have been playing the Operator Edition builds for a while now and have a good grasp on how things work.Here is a good Quick Start guide to help you get going: http://www.blackfootstudios.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=8445&#entry155268
The online store is also setup to use our new provider and should deliver a license key upon purchase by email. So if you purchase a Pre-Order from now forward you won’t need to wait for a key.
We hope you enjoy this early look at things while we move towards our Early Access release. Also, please be fully aware of the current state of the project and that not all of the features that will be in the Early Access are in yet. With so many new people using builds now we fully anticipate some initial issues for the first week or so. There will be lots of additions and revisions over the next couple of months to get us there.
A quick note to let you know that tomorrow (03/25), we will start to send out Steam license keys for those that have supported our crowd funding with buying Pre-Orders. They will go out by email so keep an eye on your spam folders just in case. It will be mentioned a few more times, but be aware that we are not to Early Access yet and the builds are still missing some key features that will be present in the Early Access release. Think of the current state being Early Access Alpha.
Also, at some point in the next 24-48 hours we will be switching the Pre-Order process over to a new storefront provider that will allows license keys to be distributed at time of purchase (in an email) as well as hopefully provide a smoother buying experience for those that have had issues completing transactions with the current provider.
I’m sure there will be bumps along the way, but bare with us and hopefully things will go relatively smooth.
Its time for an update on our progress!
Things are going very well with many new features added and stability getting better with each new build. We just introduced the first pass at 3d positional/proximity VOIP that allows players to talk globally so everyone can hear if within appropriate distance as well as a radio channel that allows teams to communicate when out of hearing range. There have been lots of UI additions and fixes including the ability to change a full array of graphics settings to help fine tune performance. Networking and multiplayer has been getting a lot of work and is pretty stable at this point. Multiplayer matches now feature a full game loop (minus an after action review screen… that is coming) so players are enjoying playing Ground Branch with others and are starting to really see the potential of the game!
So when is the Early Access? Well we still have not set a firm date because we must get it right. There is only one chance for a first impression! We don’t feel it is to far off though, so we have decided to distribute Steam keys to those that have and will purchase the Pre-Order of Ground Branch. This will happen within the next 2-3 weeks and you will get an email with instructions. As mentioned, the game is not ready for Early Access and therefore still missing some key components, but we feel there is enough there to include more people in the process. Once we send these keys out then any Pre-Order purchases from that point on will automatically get a key upon purchase… no more waiting.
Those that purchased the Operator Edition have been enjoying playing Ground Branch for months now and have provided valuable feedback and bug reports. Here are a couple videos and some screenshots from a recent playtest…. thanks to Pepperbelly, WaderTheGamer, Jeza, jankovic and those playing.
Still VERY much pre-alpha but enjoy!
Hey everyone, welcome to a new year! Lots going on with us here, especially with Ground Branch. We’ll get to that but first I would like to draw your attention to something we have partnered on with FragOut Studios named Sniper Tactical.
As some of you may know we partnered with FragOut Studios to help with the Weapons and Animation work for Ground Branch. Through that relationship we decided to lend them a hand in bringing some smaller less hard-core titles to market. The first of those titles is Sniper Tactical, a lemmings type puzzle game with sniper shooting mechanics mixed in. The gameplay revolves around bringing hostages to safe-zones which in turn is done by shooting enemies in correct order. Your job is to clear the path for your allies on the ground by taking out targets, bearing your own safety in mind. As enemies display various behavior types, it is up to you to learn how they will react and find a solution to each level. Hostages will move after you fire a shot so delivering accurate hits on the bad guys is not optional. Act quickly or slowly – depending on the situation.
Sniper Tactical is available as a Steam Early Access title on January 8th, 2016. While the experience isn’t the same as Ground Branch, the price is right for an enjoyable experience that is easy to pick up and play, but still takes skill and patience to master. Give it a try and let the developers know what you think.
Now for some Ground Branch news…… Things have been moving along quite well recently. We have closed out sales of the Operator Edition and are getting some great testing, feedback and collaboration from those who decided to make the purchase. Multiplayer connectivity is finally getting to the point where matches can be played and even in its very rough state people are enjoying the experience. Tremendous work has gone into the UI and the work needed to make our unique customization systems work as needed in both a single player and multiplayer environment.
Gameplay is still very rough and there are lots of bugs and graphics glitches, but here are a couple videos of some Operator Edition owners giving the latest build a go. Please remember you are watching a VERY early development build with LOTS of known issues and unfinished stuff. 😉
This one is played on a small developer test map that is used for various systems development/testing so the graphics are pretty basic. Its not a pretty map, but the video actually does a good job of showing off some of the fun gunplay you can have in small spaces. The players in the video seemed to have fun at least!
And last but certainly not least we have had some nice work going on AI recently. Zoombapup made a news post in the forums this week that I think warrants a news post. http://www.blackfootstudios.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=8310
The latest video shows the current progress on the Ground Branch AI, specifically the basics for movement, cover and engagement. Lots to do still, but its good to finally get things to a point where they are actually working in the Ground Branch main branch. Hopefully we will be able to get a first pass of our Terrorist Hunt style mode out to the Operator Edition users soon.
So hopefully everyone has a great 2016 and we hope to see you playing Ground Branch soon!
We would like to try posting regular updates in between the more major news items, giving you all a feel of where we’re at. So here is a small update!
Phil (zoombapup) is currently busy with the cover system for AI as some of you might have read in the dedicated AI discussion forums. It’s on the edge of being usable at the moment. Next step is implementing a cover spot reservation system, to make sure several NPCs don’t try to take cover in the same spot and start arguing about who was first. This cover system is an important milestone as it’s needed to further develop the squad code.
So when the basics of the cover system are implemented Phil will focus on squad behaviors and give them some love soon. Right now the squads have no concept of actually being in cover. An NPC for instance doesn’t know if the guy he is firing at is in the open or not. Hopefully we will see some interesting squad behavior in the next months. Phil hopes to get additional squad code written and have the first pass terrorist hunt ready for the New Year, but we’ll have to see how it goes. The day job is demanding so Phil’s slammed for the coming weeks with Uni related work and development is mostly done during the weekends.
Kris has been hammering away at multiplayer issues in order to create a smoother MP experience. Improving the Steam integration, providing a better server browser and better loadout & appearance replication. So yeah, lots to do on the multiplayer side of things!
The new UI developed by Costa (Scopey) is being implemented step-by-step and is coming along nicely. Besides the technical challenges, real life catches up as well, so Kris might go back to his system of waking up at 2-4am to work on Ground Branch before the day starts *shudders*. Plans for next weeks are to get some good night’s sleep, fixing that annoying bug causing client side items to detach from dying players and debugging everything else like crazy. And shoot at John some more.
That’s it for today. We’ll try to give you a new update soonish, thanks for reading!