Sword of the Stars: Ground Pounders is a turn-based strategy war game set in an exciting far-future science fiction universe. We've launched this project on Indiegogo because we want to make a fun beer-and-pretzels war game, complete with old school hex maps and strategic thinking. Ground Pounders is a game about the armies of the far future, with players controlling high-tech tanks, air craft and infantry assets of both Human and Alien factions. The overall setting of the game is a desperate frontier war in the 25th century, where the Human race is fighting tooth and nail for its place among the stars.
Inspired by classic strategy games like Panzer General, our ultimate goal is to create a fresh new twist on an old genre which has been neglected for too long by modern developers. Introducing modern mechanics and making the game playable on multiple modern platforms will give this classic strategy form a new lease on life. This is our chance to introduce a whole new generation of players to the joy of CRUSHING YOUR ENEMIES HEX BY HEX.
Ground Pounders will be enjoyable in both single-player and multi-player modes, and will be able to connect players who are playing on different devices. We would like to set the bar for fun, flexible, portable and easy-to-play war games that nonetheless offer some depth, challenge, and re-playability.
If you've never played a strategy game like this before, why not see what it's like for free? We've made an Alpha Demo of Ground Pounders which features the game's Tutorial and should give you a pretty good idea of how the basic mechanics will work. Please feel free to download the PC version of the Alpha Demo from Gamer's Hell and the Android version of the Alpha Demo at the Google store, and give them a try! Then come back and help us finish the game!
Sword of the Stars is a space opera universe created by Kerberos Productions. Well known for its well-developed alien races and interesting background fiction, the "Sotsverse" has been the setting for three popular PC games over the last ten years.
The first installment of the original 4X space strategy game Sword of the Stars was developed independently by Kerberos Productions from 2003-2005 and released in 2006 by Lighthouse Interactive. The game and its universe quickly became a cult classic among 4X gamers with a taste for its strategic and tactical depth, original design, interesting alien races and gripping real-time combat. The initial release was followed from 2006-2009 by three full expansions and a full-length military science fiction novel, The Deacon's Tale.
A stand-alone 4X strategy sequel, Sword of the Stars 2: Lords of Winter was released in 2011 by Paradox Interactive. The first expansion for SotS 2, The End of Flesh, was bundled for free with the game to become "the Enhanced Edition" of the game in 2012. With the release of the End of Flesh expansion, the SotSverse had grown to host seven playable Imperial Races, each with its own high technology and well-developed interstellar empire, as well as countless smaller independent races, Elder races, and cosmic mysteries. As of September 2013, the SotSverse has produced ten years' worth of concept art and over 200,000 words of background fiction and Lore!
In October of 2012 the developers of Sword of the Stars broke free from the traditional "publisher/dev" model of game development and went fully independent for the first time. Kerberos Productions used Indiegogo to crowd-fund their first self-published game. Sword of the Stars: The Pit was a departure from the previous 4X titles of the franchise, a deceptively cute and brutally lethal science fiction roguelike. Set in the underground laboratory of a genocidal bio-weapons genius, The Pit was a single-player rpg which allowed players to experience the chills, thrills, monsters and mayhem of the Sotsverse as never before.
Development of The Pit was completed on schedule and successfully delivered to supporters of the crowd-funding campaign in February 2013. It has since become an indie hit, and the fastest-selling game in the history of the studio. Mind Games, the first expansion for The Pit, was released in July of 2013 with typical reviews of 8/10 and 9/10.
Sword of the Stars: Ground Pounders will be the second fully independent title developed by Kerberos and crowd-funded via the Indiegogo platform. In Ground Pounders, we're hoping to push the envelope once again and expand the Sotsverse in a new direction, bringing its vibrant high-tech backdrop to the genre of hex-based, turn-based 2D wargaming.
The production team of Sword of the Stars: Ground Pounders consists of ten professional game developers, who between them have over 80 years of cumulative experience in the gaming industry and have contributed to over a dozen shipped titles.
(1) Martin E. Cirulis is the Lead Designer of Ground Pounders and the CEO of Kerberos Productions. His career in the computer gaming industry spans nearly twenty years, beginning as a professional reviewer for Computer Gaming World magazine in 1994. He worked as Narrative Designer on Homeworld and Ground Control and has since served as Lead Designer on several shipped titles, including Homeworld: Cataclysm, Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon, the original Sword of the Stars and all of its expansions, Fort Zombie, Sword of the Stars 2: Lords of Winter, and Sword of the Stars: the Pit. He is also an old school wargamer, and he has brought his love of the form to this game.
(2) Arinn Dembo has been the Lead Writer of Kerberos Productions since the founding of the studio in 2004. She has worked in the gaming industry since 1994, and contributed background fiction to Homeworld, Homeworld: Cataclysm, Ground Control, and Arcanum: of Steamworks and Magick Obscura before she began working full time at Kerberos. She is the creator of the Sword of the Stars universe and the Fort Zombie universe, and has worked as a designer on Sword of the Stars and its expansions, Fort Zombie, Sword of the Stars 2: Lords of Winter, and Sword of the Stars: The Pit. Her ideas and characters appear throughout Ground Pounders, which covers the planetside battles of the Hiver War, 2408-2436.
(3) Ken Lee has been working in the gaming industry since 1999 and has been a 2D artist for Kerberos Productions since the founding of the studio in 2004. In addition to his work on Ground Pounders, he has contributed the majority of 2D art assets for all Kerberos titles since the founding of the studio, including the original Sword of the Stars and all expansions, Fort Zombie, Sword of the Stars 2: Lords of Winter, and Sword of the Stars: The Pit.
(4) Ryan Blanks is a visual artist with extensive experience in both 3D modeling and animation. He began his career by completing the advanced animation course with honors at the University of Victoria, receiving the Excellence in Animation award upon graduation. After a brief stint providing special effects and animation in the film and television industries, he joined Kerberos Productions in 2007, during the development of the Born of Blood expansion for the original Sword of the Stars. He has contributed 3D art and animation to seven Kerberos releases since then, including all three expansions of the original Sword of the Stars, Fort Zombie, both Sword of the Stars 2: Lords of Winter, SotS 2: End of Flesh, and Ground Pounders.
(5) Shane Lazarus is the Intern, Kerberos Messageboard Cleric, tester, maker of breads, associate designer and wargamer of the team. Ground Pounders will be his first game.
(6) James Goldthorpe is a Level 28 Network Wizard! James began his quest at the tender level of 10, where he began casting spells in the mystical language of Basic to make his first text-based RPGs. From then on he launched a merciless grind with little sleep until obtaining the C++ feat, and mastering the dark arcane magics of network engineering. After attending the Guild of Game Development at the Art Institute of Vancouver, he received a party invitation in 2012 from Kerberos Productions. He has since sacrificed many beasts and prayed to foul gods to help give birth to the Sword of the Stars II: End of Flesh expansion. In his spare time, James enjoys lifting heavy iron things and placing them back down, when not casting code.
(7) Darren “Ddub” Waine graduated from SAIT Polytechnic with a degree in Automated Systems Engineering Technologies (which is building, maintaining, and programming robots, for those who don’t know!). He later pursued studies in video game development through The Art Institute of Vancouver. After graduation, he worked at Electronic Arts on the games EA Sports Active 2 and Fight Night Champion before moving on to join Kerberos Productions. He worked on Sword of the Stars 2: Lords of Winter and became the Technical Lead of the project during its expansion, Sword of the Stars 2: End of Flesh. He is a highly dedicated member of the team, well loved by Kerberos fans, and tends to work on Centaurian time.
(8) Nick “Nextek” Naso began his career in gaming at the Art Institutes of Vancouver and then went on to create, maintain and lead development of a large game-mod and the resulting community, for a title which shall remain nameless. This included the vast amount of database and security knowledge needed to maintain data for thousands of users–experience which he brought with him to Kerberos when he joined the company as a programmer in 2012, with duties ranging from gameplay programming, tools creation and maintenance, UI programming, to data management and customer support. Ground Pounders is his second Kerberos game, after Sword of the Stars: End of Flesh.
(9) Chris “Degrassi” Gerspacher is the Art Director of Ground Pounders and one of the founding partners of Kerberos Productions. He has worked in the gaming industry since 2001, and since the founding of the studio he has served as the Art Director and contributed 2D and 3D art assets for all Kerberos titles, in particular the original Sword of the Stars, Sword of the Stars 2, and The Pit.
(10) Christopher Stewart is the Executive Producer of Ground Pounders and the COO of Kerberos Productions. He has been working actively in the computer gaming industry since 1997 and served as a Designer on Homeworld: Cataclysm, Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon and Bully before becoming a founding partner of Kerberos Productions. He has been the Producer of all Kerberos games since the founding of the studio in 2004.
"I’m not exactly a strategy buff, but the pure sensation of moving troops around, outflanking and out-thinking even an AI is addictive. The demo was far more massive than I was expecting and an hour slipped away before I’d really noticed.
--the flavour of the sci-fi universe and my unfamiliarity with the genre kept me interested. In their own way, successful defenses and annihilating strikes were exhilarating, but in a brandy and cigars way rather than a bombastic one. With a bit of patience for rather wordy tutorial, I’d recommend anyone check it out." --Rock, Paper, Shotgun
"Each unit can only attack once per turn, so it’s probably not a bad idea to think about every move thoroughly. When you attack an enemy, the “odds table” pops up which calculates your chance on a victory. Something I found quite cool is that you see your troops actually fighting in two separate windows that open after the odds table. It brings a vivid touch to the fighting.
...It looks like a game where you’ll have to sink your teeth in to really understand it, but it might just be worth the energy. I recommend to the fans of the turn-based war-game genre to give this demo a try and see for yourself if this is the game you’ve been waiting for." - 3rd Strike
"TBS games kick major ass, especially with touch devices. Ground Pounders might not look as pretty as some other games, but its cross platform and asynchronous multiplayer make it more than worthy of being on this list." -- Gameswoof, Top 10 Kickstarters for Android
"I love the SotS universe, with its colorful cast of species (psychic whales, dauntless space ants, to name a couple) and hard sci-fi bent, and the idea of playing Panzer Corps in it tickles me. And it sure would be nice to play it on my iPad instead of having to dust off my Android tablet." --Pocket Tactics
"From what I’ve played of the PC demo that released a while back, Ground Pounders seems like a pretty neat little turn-based strategy game." --Hardcore Gamer
Ground Pounders is currently in Alpha and under active development. What we hope to accomplish with your help is to take the game from its current Alpha state to Beta by November 2013, and to have a complete, polished version of the game ready for release by Christmas of this year.
Yes, this is a fast turn-around time! But if we are able to meet our project budget we are aiming for the following features by the end of December:
- Control one of 2 Armies - Human or Hivers
- 50+ units covering Land, Sea, and Air forces
- Battle across alien worlds on exotic battlefields, including airless moons, lava plains, and meteor blasted wastelands
- Seize orbital superiority and call down Orbital Bombardment on your foes
- Build Airfields, Fortified Areas, and repair/destroy Bridges
- Improve your Unit's experience and abilities over 2 Playable Campaigns
- Unlock and collect Combat Cards for each playable Race
- Build unique Combat Card Decks and tune them for specific Battles
- Choose from over 30 Scenarios, playable in Skirmish Mode or Head-to-Head Multi-player Mode
- Cross-Platform Support for PC and Android-compatible devices
- Create and Trade your own Battles using Scenario and Unit Editors
- Enjoy a SotSdex filled with Lore details on famous Units, Personalities, Battles and Weapon Systems
If this campaign meets or exceeds the original budget, we will still be very happy to provide all of that content for free to all supporters, as the first "Stretch Goal" of the campaign!
Crushing planets is always fun...but we all know that being able to crush your FRIEND's planet is even better.
Ground Pounders has been designed from the start to be an asynchronous multi-player game. This means that play is turn-based, but that you can do your turn any time, and your opponent can get back to it any time.
No staring at the screen waiting for your opponent to move in Ground Pounders! Just do your turn, and then maybe play some single-player until your friend does his turn. The game will let you know when your opponent has finished his turn, and it's time for you to play again.
Even better though, Ground Pounders will be multi-player capable across MULTIPLE PLATFORMS! Are you stuck at work with no gaming device but your pad, while your friend across the country is already home on his PC? No problem! Ground Pounders will let you play together, regardless of the fact that you're on separate platforms. And you will be able to switch platforms on the go, so that when your friend needs to go out for dinner later in the evening, he can just switch to his phone-based version of Ground Pounders and continue the game!
Our current plan to to release the game in December for PC and Android-based phones and pads. Would you like to see Ground Pounders supported on more platforms? Check out our Stretch Goals! With extra support from you, we'll be able to get the game out for Mac, iOS and Linux right away, and everyone who supports the campaign at the Early Bird level or higher will get access to all available platforms for free!
If the campaign does not reach its higher Stretch Goals, the process of converting the game to other platforms will be much slower, and we will only be able to offer our supporters the two platforms we have planned for initial release: PC and Android.
What do you get for supporting the development of Ground Pounders? Well, a lot of things. Primarily, you get to bring a cool new game into the world and revive a genre which could use some new blood, new ideas, and access to all of the exciting new platforms for turn-based wargames in the modern era.
Beyond that, by supporting Kerberos and other truly independent studios, you will be helping to create a better world for all gamers and all developers! Crowd-funding is a healthier, more transparent and more democratic system of game development than all previous models, and although it may not work for every genre and style of game, we believe that it will work extremely well for games that do not need a huge budget to produce a fun, playable product.
In addition to the most important Perks, though, we've tried to come up with a variety of reward levels which will offer a good value for supporters on any budget. We've scaled back the budget of the game and the physical items we offer to make the project more economical, but if the campaign does well and people really want them, we can add any Perks that you miss! Please leave us a comment with your suggestions.
Backer's Only Forums - All Supporters of the Ground Pounders campaign at any level will have access to a password-protected Backer's Only "Officer's Club" forum and will be able to download special Backer's Only wallpapers, forum avatars etc..
Early Bird Price - Supporters who jump in early will be able to get their downloadable copy of the finished game on release for a special Early Bird price of $13. Just a little extra Thank-You for your support of our crowd-funding campaign!
Game Credits - All Supporters at $20 and above will have the option of being listed in the game's credits.
Buddy Pack - Supporters at this level will get TWO copies of the game for one low price upon release, allowing them to immediately bash heads against their favorite opponent in multi-player for only $25.
Digital Bundle - Supporters at $30 and above will receive an exclusive set of Wallpapers, concept art and Backer's Only digital goodies focused on the Units, Combat Cards, Battles, Characters and Lore of Ground Pounders.
Beta Access Bundle - All Supporters at $45+ will receive exclusive Backer's Only Beta Access in November, in addition to the Digital Bundle and Listing in the game's Credits. And to top it all off, the Beta Access Bundle comes with a free download code for our first indie game, Sword of the Stars: The Pit, and its first expansion, Mind Games! Just our way of saying Thank You for your support, and giving you something fun to tide you over while you wait for the Ground Pounders beta to begin.
Play Against the Lead Designer! - Up to 50 players can add five dollars to their Beta Access Bundle and be guaranteed a head-to-head match against the game's Lead Designer, Martin E. Cirulis! A rare opportunity to beat the developer at his own game. Remember, fame and fortune are fleeting...but bragging rights are forever.
Sword of the Stars Dice - All Supporters at $50 and above will receive a beautiful set of special edition six-sided dice! Each set contains six dice in the six vibrant colors above, marked with emblems from the major empires of the Sword of the Stars universe in the years 2408-2508. Human, Hiver, Tarka, Liir, Zuul and Morrigi empires are all here, ready to play. These are suitable to any table-top game. Please add $10 to ship items outside the USA.
Challenge Coin! - The Ground Pounders challenge coin is a replica based on the official Sol Force challenge coins which are issued to survivors of every successful Ground Forces campaign. Backers at the Challenge Coin level will also receive a set of lovely SotS dice and all the assets of the Beta Access Bundle, including free downloads of The Pit and Mind Games. Please add $10 to ship items outside the USA.
Sword of the Stars Premium Lore Book! - This giant compendium of Sword of the Stars fiction and art was one of the most popular Backer rewards of a previous crowd-funding campaign. This limited edition, over-sized hardbound book is over 300 pages long, and includes never-before-seen illustrations and fiction from the entire Sword of the Stars universe, from 2004-2013. Includes never-before-seen concept art and insider interviews with the team. Backers at the Lore Book level will also receive a set of SotS Dice and all the assets of the Beta Access Bundle, including free downloads of The Pit and Mind Games. Please add $20 to ship items outside the USA.
The Special Edition Kerberos Stick will come to you loaded with the assets of your Digital Bundle, plus an assortment of extra art, teasers and goodies from Kerberos Productions! Backers at the Stick Pack level will receive a 16GB USB drive as well as a set of SotS dice, a collectible Challenge Coin, and all the items of the Beta Access Bundle, including free downloads of The Pit and Mind Games. Please add $15 to ship items outside the USA.
Ground Pounders Playing Cards!
The Ground Pounders playing cards are a Spotter deck used by Sol Force troopers in the barracks. The cards feature the silhouettes of common enemy units and are designed to improve the speed and accuracy of Hostile Recognition in the field. This is a standard full-color 52-card deck with Jokers, featuring Sword of the Stars art on the front and back of each card. Backers at the Gambler's Pack level will receive two decks of collectible cards along with the Challenge Coin, a set of SotS dice, all Items of the Stick Pack, and all the items of the Beta Access Bundle, including free downloads of The Pit and Mind Games. Please add $25 to ship items outside the USA.
Ground Forces T-Shirt!
The Campaign T-Shirt for Ground Pounders features the official shield symbol of the Ground Forces division of Sol Force, with the Ground Forces motto in Latin. Tell the world you were Born to Brawl with the slogan Hi Mundi Custodiemus - "We Will Watch Over These Worlds". Supporters at the Barracks Pack level will receive a Ground Forces t-shirt in sizes S-4XL, a Challenge Coin, a set of Sots dice, the items of the Stick Pack, TWO decks of Ground Pounders playing cards, and all the items of the Beta Access Bundle, including free downloads of The Pit and Mind Games. Please add $25 to ship items outside the USA.
Design a Character!
Supporters at this level will collaborate with Arinn Dembo, the Lead Writer of the Sword of the Stars franchise, to add a Character permanently to the Lore of the Sword of the Stars universe. Character Designers will receive official recognition for their design contribution in the game's credits, and in the Acknowledgments of any books, stories, or future games in which the Character may appear. Character Designers will also receive all the digital and physical items of the Barracks Pack. (Please note: Kerberos Productions reserves the right to veto any Character Design if it violates the intellectual property rights of another person or company, or if it violates the company’s policies regarding hate speech, harassment or age-inappropriate content.) Please add $25 to ship items outside the USA.
Design a Card!
Supporters at this level will collaborate with the Ground Pounders design team to add a unique Combat Card to the final game. Card Designers will receive official recognition for their design contribution in the game’s credits, as well as all the physical and digital items of the Barracks Pack. (Please note: Kerberos Productions reserves the right to veto any Card Design if it violates the intellectual property rights of another person or company, or if it violates the company’s policies regarding hate speech, harassment or age-inappropriate content.) Please add $25 to ship items outside the USA.
Design a Unit!
Supporters at this level will collaborate with the Ground Pounders design team to add a unique Unit to the final game! Unit Designers will receive official recognition for their design contribution in the game’s credits, as well as all of the physical and digital items of the Barrack's Pack. (Please note: Kerberos Productions reserves the right to veto any Unit Design if it violates the intellectual property rights of another person or company, or if it violates the company’s policies regarding hate speech, harassment or age-inappropriate content.) Please add $25 to ship items outside the USA.
Design a Battle!
Supporters at this level are invited to pick their favorite historical battle, from ancient times to modern, and collaborate with the Ground Pounders design team to model a unique Battle which will be added to the final game! Battle Designers will receive official recognition for their design contribution in the game’s credits, all the physical and digital items of the Barracks Pack, and a signed copy of the Premium Lore Book. (Please note: Kerberos Productions reserves the right to veto any Battle Design if it violates the intellectual property rights of another person or company, or if it violates the company’s policies regarding hate speech, harassment or age-inappropriate content.) Please add $30 to ship items outside the USA.
Backers at this level will receive complimentary copies of every game released by Kerberos Productions for the next ten years! Additionally, backsers at this level will receive TWO Ground Forces t-shirts in sizes S-4XL, a complimentary Stick Pack, and a special VIP card, personalized with your name. Holders of the Kerberos VIP card are granted insider-only access to the company’s games in development, and free entry to any Kerberos public event, including those that would normally be Press Only.
True Believers also have the right to cast a vote when choosing the company's next project!
Please add $25 to ship items outside the USA.
Do we have Stretch Goals? Yes we do! Our primary goal for this campaign is very simple, just enough funding to keep the lights on and keep the team working while we take the game to its Beta phase and final phase over the next few months. But if we manage to raise more than the basics, we've put together a few Stretch Goals that we believe will increase the value of the game for all Backers of the project.
35K - BRING BACK THE TARKAS!
Our first Stretch Goal will be to expand the game to include the Tarka, a third playable faction! This expansion would include a full-length playable campaign from the Tarka perspective, a set of Units and unique Effect cards, and a larger number of scenarios in all three playable campaigns.
45K - MAC VERSION!
Our second Stretch Goal is to release the Mac and PC versions of Ground Pounders simultaneously. If we reach this goal, all Backers at the Early Bird Level and above will receive both the PC and Mac versions of the game for free.
60K - iOS VERSION!
Our third Stretch Goal will be to make Ground Pounders available on all Apple-compatible pads and phones. Again, if we reach this goal, all Backers at the Early Bird Level and above will receive the PC, Mac and iOS versions of the game.
68K - LINUX SUPPORT!
Never to be forgotten are the Linux users! If we make our fourth Stretch Goal, we will make a Linux version of the game available to players who prefer that platform. All Backers at the Early Bird Level and Above will have access to the Linux version.
75K - CARD BOOSTER PACK!
Our fifth Stretch Goal is a Booster Pack DLC which will add 15 new Combat Cards to the base game. If we reach this Stretch Goal, all Backers at the Early Bird Level and above will receive the Booster Pack DLC for free.
80K - HIGH DEF MAP PACK FOR MOBILE USERS!
If our campaign reaches the lofty goal of 80K, we'll release a second DLC, a High-Definition Map Pack. All Backers at the Early Bird Level and above will receive the Map Pack for free.
Well, we did give the other popular crowd-funding platform a fair shake this time! But Indiegogo was our first choice on on our first successful crowd-funding campaign for Sword of the Stars: The Pit, and Indiegogo will allow us to move forward with a version of Ground Pounders that is scaled to the level of support from our player base.
We will continue to use Indiegogo in the future whenever possible, both for its flexibility and because it remains the best platform for many of our European supporters, and for many backers who prefer it over Amazon payments.
A lot of our Supporters have asked this question! We have been delighted and humbled by the player response to our crowd-funding campaign for this game so far. We realize that that not everyone is able to make large cash contributions and pick up a lot of fancy items, but every dollar counts--and so does every Share and mention of our campaign!
Please continue to spread the word about Ground Pounders, and let potential supporters know that we have moved the campaign to Indiegogo! This extra phase of the campaign will be very short, with just a few weeks for those who really wanted to jump in to support the game and the team, and pick up some cool collectible Perks before they are no longer available. The campaign will end at the end of October, so grab your game and gear while you can!
BORN TO BRAWL! GO GROUND POUNDERS GO!