Things are moving along pretty nicely lately, though everything is still taking longer than we would like. Kris is working really hard on making sure one of the cornerstones of Ground Branch, the character and weapon customization, has a rock solid foundation to build on. This has proven more challenging than originally anticipated, but we think its finally working to our standards. It isn’t currently pretty…. but she’s got it where it counts!
As I mentioned before, we will be releasing what we are calling the Ground Branch Tech Preview soon. This will be a small slice of Ground Branch to give people a general idea of where we are going with the project, though there is no gameplay specifically. The purpose is to give people a small taste of what to expect from the project as well as give us a platform to gather valuable feedback on crashes, system specs, performance and general stability of the project. The Tech Preview will not cost anything and we encourage people to pass it around, share, do videos, post screenshot and whatever else they want to to help promote the project.
The next step after that is to move to Early Access on Steam. We want to make sure that the game is as rock solid and polished as can be at that time. To do so, we have decided to make some things available for purchase to help fund our drive to Early Access and beyond.
The Ground Branch OPERATOR EDITION is a way for people to help financially support our efforts very early on as well as provide valuable feedback through testing and using weekly development builds.
» Immediate access to Pre Early Access development builds to help us design the game around your valuable early feedback
» A private forum area to discuss the game and ideas with other OPERATOR EDITION users and the game’s developers
» An Early Access Steam key when available
» Forum badge showing that you are a Ground Branch OPERATOR EDITION supporter
» The initial full release of Ground Branch on steam when available
» A Ground Branch T-Shirt
» Plus a special in game aesthetic upgrade item!
AI is still a bit out, but Epic is doing some really nice things with their built in AI solution. Its not just bots anymore.
We certainly plan to have our AI react as humanly possible given our resources and time though.
We are not setting out to make a huge arsenal of weapons. Modders will take care of that for sure. We will have a pretty standard set covering Pistol/SubMachineGun/AssaultRifle/Shotgun/LightMachineGun/Sniper/Explosive
We don’t plan on including any “active” reload situations or random fouling sorts of things. Yes, that stuff does happen in real life, but we feel its just an annoyance in a a game and just frustrates people for no reason. Attachments will have actual impact on the weapons/ammo as well. They won’t be just for show.
We are planning on having extensive breaching capabilities for doorway entry…. including breaching shotguns, charges, kicking and other. We have even prototyped a way to allow players to block doorways from being breached. Not sure if that will make it in or not.
What we probably won’t have much of is arbitrary wall breaching and things like that. That isn’t an area we have the resources to tackle.
Mission Planning is up in the air at the moment. For CoOp, the plan is to have a pre-mission planning phase where live players can work out their “x’s and o’s” together, but planning for SP a’la Rainbow Six may be out of the scope of GB for now.
I’m not sure if we will have the budget to record different sounds, but we definitely have environmental settings that process sound based on indoor/outdoor. It all depends on how much funding we can get.
I guess that’s up to you and how you play I think. Ground Branch is not designed as a run ‘n gun game simply by the shoot/move mechanics and the way weapons work. We aren’t a sim though so we strive to make things as streamlined as possible. We don’t want you thinking about controls and key combos during play.
Yes there will be plenty of diversity. There will be locations all over the world…. think R6 in this respect.
And now some art.
We have a few art assets that has been around for a while, so I thought it a good time to start updating some things. Ground Branch will have frag, smoke and flashbang grenades…. even with various colors of smoke.
As some of you know, one of my good friends Tom (our very own MONOLITH on the forums) is a very good writer. He has taken upon himself to do what he can to help our soldiers that are deployed away from home. Tom has started a project called Words For Warriors to send free books to those service members.
Please take a moment and help Tom out if you can.
If you are still with us, and why wouldn’t you be…. welcome to 2015 with BlackFoot Studios! We have a feeling its going to be a really great year around here so we hope you keep hanging on and enjoy the ride. It’s going to start gaining some speed here soon.
John starting working on the official Ground Branch Steam store page today! That is actually a pretty important milestone as it signals the start of moving into more of a public phase for Ground Branch. On that note, we are looking for some professional (either actual experience or work quality) to help out on the graphics side of things for the page. It’s going to be important to start off with a professional appearance so I’d like to do it right. If you think you would be able to help for reduced rates or even barter a bit, let us know as soon as you can.
We have also got around to setting up a public bug tracker so people can help out by submitting bugs once the demos are available. That is getting tested out by a private group as I type this.
On the game side of things Kris has been busting ass with getting things stable and features more completely implemented. He has also got the first pass of character and weapon configurations in and working. This includes the in game UI and saving/loading out actual constructed configs.
On the art side the existing training maps have received one more pass for visuals and some more detailing work. John has also started working on the main demo map that will be used to show off various gameplay features to get people interested in the upcoming Early Access. Sort of a ‘try before you buy’ for the Early Access. It’s a reworked version of the warehouse map that was shown in the UE3 screenshots and videos. We will use this map as a “proving ground” for gameplay types and features throughout development.
So we hope everyone had a great holiday and safe New Year. It’s time to get back to work!
John & Kris
As you can see we have overhauled the site to be a little more streamlined. As we start to move into the next phase of the life of Ground Branch we thought it appropriate to give everything a “fresh coat of paint”. We will begin to update the content in the near future as well.
We would like to thank our contributor Zoog for all his hard work!
– John & Kris
WARNING: Contains ~11 minutes of two idiots running around and carrying on, shooting at each other and missing a lot. The audio is poor and some chest bumping occurs.
I’ve been having a terrible feeling of déjà vu this week. Spent most of it working on the UI and some of it rigging up a system to keep maps and missions organised properly.
Originally we were using a CEF based system with support for HTML5, CSS and the like. This all changed once we had a go with the UMG in the preview version of Unreal Engine 4.4. The ability to create what we need in-editor and hook it up directly to the scripting won us over.
Now that I’ve had a decent amount of time to learn the system, I am able to come up with functional, if ugly, screens, buttons and other UI elements easily.
There have also been a lot of UI related C++ changes too,
with future developments in mind.
i.e. Operator screens.
Just to make one thing clear: Ground Branch does not have a fully dynamic time of day system. And to be honest, since it has bugger all to do with movement and shooting, it is way down on our list of priorities.
That said, we do have a time of day system of sorts – it just isn’t dynamic.
It’s a bit of throwback from the UE3 version. Maps are split into pieces to keep things organised and allow the same base geometry to be combined with different lighting and other changes to support different times of day, multiple missions etc.
For the sake of organisation, we’ve gone with a basic system that defines the basic info about a map in one file and mission info in one or more other files.
It requires more work to automatically include child game modes with their parents and other such trickery, but its a good start.
A big thank you to everyone who continues to follow, support and encourage us.
And to those who have been testing out the upcoming tech build for us – hugs and kisses on all your pink bits!
So we are getting pretty close to releasing something public….. No really!
We plan to release a sort of tech demo in the next few weeks to serve a couple of purposes. First is to allow us to figure out the “packaging” process for a public release and to make sure we can deliver a public build that works. UE4 is a lot different than UE3 in many ways so there is a lot of learning on our part still. Secondly is to get an idea of performance characteristics with various performance settings and to see how an area with specific design characteristics works on various machines.
To be clear, this is not Ground Branch the game. There is no “game” in this release. It is a small purpose built area that shows off the density of map design, foliage density, lighting setups and various effects. You can walk around and shoot a weapon, but there is no purpose or “mission”.
Here is a screen from the editor of part of the area:
We really want to have solid and playable releases for Ground Branch. This is the first step in getting there and an actual playable build….. and that isn’t to far away.
I know we seem to be going slow (We are ), but I thought I’d show something I’ve been working on lately….. Ground Branch will use the concept of a ‘Team Room’ as a place to start the game from. It is here where you will customize your gear, set up missions, receive and go over intel as well as hang out with teammates before, during and after MP and co-op missions. There will also be oppurtunities to customize your Team Room as well.
One part of your Team Room is the Operations Room that is shown here. This is where the Intel/Mission magic happens and every one of these monitors/screens will be interactive for various purposes. This is a clean unaltered screen grab from the editor and I’m sure you can get an idea of what some things do just by looking around.
We know the pace is slow… much slower than we would like, but we are still here and still committed to Ground Branch!
We are proud of the community that we have built here at BlackFoot Studios. We have people from all over the world contributing and being active on a regular basis. Many types of personalities and backgrounds come together and are generally pretty civilized.
I have had the pleasure of personally meeting some of these people over the years and have become good friends outside of just BFS and game development. One of those is our very own MONOLITH and his family….. Tom Reinhart is an exceptionally talented individual who, much like myself, has decided to follow a dream. His dream is writing and as it turns out he is damn good at it. Not only is he good at it, but he is a true creative. By that I mean that he doesn’t write just to write, but he writes and develops stories and characters from the heart. Every word he puts on paper has meaning. They just are not stories, but honest feelings.
I’ll admit, I am not a big reader. But Tom’s stories are engaging and keep me going until the end. They are easy reads but full of depth and complexity. Take a minute and check out what my friend Tom has been up to…. you won’t be disappointed. I sure haven’t been!