Monday, 11 June 2012 08:48

New Kickstarter Project from Neal Stephenson Pushes For More Realistic Sword Based Games

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clangintroOver the weekend we heard about an interesting project on Kickstarter that has caught our attention and imagination (while they are hoping to catch some of your money). The project is the brain child of science fiction writer Neal Stephenson and is a motion based sword combat game with the apt name of Clang (anyone else hear the black knight from Monty Python getting hit on the head?) The game will delve into the long sword fighting style as an arena combat game.

In this entry on Kickstarter Stephenson expresses his dislike of the way sword combat games are portrayed in existing titles (in a rather funny video). One of the biggest issues with reality buffs is that in many combat games (ok almost all combat games) you can sustain massive injuries that simply would not be possible. As many have already commented the game Bushido Blade was an amazing game that focused on realism and technique, but many gaming fans were disappointed by the fact that you could be killed with a single stoke. There was no life gauge so if you were not ready and your opponent was quick… it was game over for you (like in real life).

Now what makes things very interesting is that Clang will be a PC game at first and then extend to the console market. We are not sure that this is the right idea here and are hoping that it is a typo. I cannot see many people standing in front of their PC hacking it out with someone (in my office that would be almost impossible). Pushing for the PC also ignores the effect of the big screen on gameplay after all more people will have 40-inch + displays for their console than will for their desktop.

It is also interesting that the project refers to;

Low-latency, high-precision motion controller: Critical to a satisfying sword fight is fast, accurate response. This is especially important for CLANG given the depth and complexity of moves that are used in real sword arts. Initially, CLANG will make use of a commercial, third-party, off-the-shelf controller that anyone can buy today.

Which one they are talking about exactly we are not sure, but Razer did have the Hydra (we were not able to find it in stock anywhere though) which we saw at CES two years ago, but this particular controller did not really take off like many thought it would with Portal 2 (they even had a special bundle that included extra levels that only worked with the Hydra). Maybe this is the controller that Clang will be using, but as of now we just do not know.

After the amusing into video there is another one with much more detail about this project. Stephenson touches on many valid points. There are many first person shooter titles with vast amounts of detail put into the realism of the weapons, the terrain, physics etc. In sword based combat games there is none of that, as he puts it, you are in jail, with limited moves or in some fantasy world where physics does not count. This is one of the motivators for Clang, but it is not the only one. Stephenson also says clearly that he is interested in the evolution of the story. Where will the novel be in a few years’ time when it is delivered electronically? Who immersive will it be? That is another motivator for Clang; to see what the next steps are for the development and distribution for novels and other stories in an immersive electronic world.

Subutai Corporation (the actual company behind this and with Neal Stephenson at its head) will also be developing a tool kit which will allow others to add to the game. With the tool kit new fighting styles, weapons and other items can be added to the game to make it more complete. This is an exceptionally smart move on their part (as is choosing off the shelf hardware) and is one of the things that might help to push the funding through. Stephenson directly comments on the use of crowd sourced funds as he says this allows direct user input and also helps companies maintain creative control (something that is an often repeated theme on Kickstarter).

Clang looks like an interesting project, in addition to the one-on-one fighting Stephenson mentions that they can always add on a game world later (because plot and character development it what they do). There are still some lingering questions about the game though that makes us wonder if it will make it. Right now the funding level is around $181,000 with 28 days to go to reach the $500,000 level so Clang does have a chance of getting funded, in many ways we really do hope this one gets through.


Visit Clang’s Kickstarter page

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Read 2639 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 13:00

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