The first person shooter is generally a game running very quickly around multi-tier levels, shooting at people who have six-foot vertical leaps and pinpoint accuracy. It’s a good system that’s worked for quite a while, but one indie developer is working on creating a more grounded experience in their shooter.
Called War of Rights (official site) Campfire Games’ project is as much an educational tool about a specific slice of the American Civil War as it is a multiplayer shooter. Players will take on roles in Union and Confederate infantry, artillery, and cavalry units, from the rank of private to major general, and play out large-scale battles that occurred in the Maryland Campaign of 1862.
According to the official website, the game is being built in CryEngine and will feature as much realism as possible, with accurate maps of Harpers Ferry and Antietam recreated with era-accurate buildings and terrain features, realistic weapons, and detailed uniforms and unit insignia for each faction.
Clark Morningstar, an Oregon-based history scholar and Civil War reenactor, said the team is drawing from military maps available from the Library of Congress and photographs taken during the war in order to make the game as historically accurate as possible.
“We’re targeting a pretty niche market,” Morningstar said. Indeed, War of Rights looks much less Call of Duty and more Total War, with its clear focus on the Napoleonic infantry tactics used at the time.
But Morning star stressed that the game is open to anyone, and certain concessions have been made to make War of Rights an enjoyable experience – something that the Maryland campaign decidedly was not. When Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s invading Army of Northern Virginia clashed with Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan’s Potomac Army at Antietam Creek, the single bloodiest battle in American history broke out, with combined casualties of more than 27,000.
Morningstar said War of Rights will encourage players to behave like the infantrymen of the time by clever use of game mechanics.
“If you’re nearby an officer, there are buffs you get to your reload speed, and to morale,” he said. “And there are no individual kill-death counts. There are unit-level kill-death tallies, to help inforce the idea that you are part of a team.”
Those buffs will prove important, since War of Rights also plans on having your weapons degrade as the battle wages on – the painstakingly-modeled Remingtons and Colts will become fouled with carbon and dust as you use them, making them harder to reload and more prone to misfires.
Currently, War of Rights has two planned modes. One, “Historical Battles,” will be large-scale engagements over “the largest maps allowed in CryEngine” at 16 square kilometers each. While no definite number has yet been set, Campfire says the goal for player counts in these will be “hundreds.” Players will be automatically assigned to one of four factions – two corps each for Union and Confederate armies.
In “Skirmish” mode, the four main maps are sectioned off into specific, smaller-scale engagements that include Burnside Bridge and the Maryland Heights.
Morningstar said the game has been in development for three years now by a 17-person team, led by the Denmark-based duo of Mads Larsen and Emil Hansen. They’ve launched a Kickstarter seeking £70,000 (that’s $106,917 U.S.) in order to hire additional programmers to accelerate the development process, which they hope to have ready by next November. As of Monday morning, they had raised more than half of that sum. The Kickstarter ends November 14, and includes reward tiers including game keys. The finished game will retail for $29.99 USD.
“My personal goal for this is educating the public,” Morningstar said. “It can be incredibly hard to teach children about the Civil War, to show them why it’s relevant to them. We want to create educational tools that expand our list of means to engage them.”