Funded! This project was successfully funded on July 9, 2012.

Update #41

The State of CLANG

We've hit the pause button on further CLANG development while we get the financing situation sorted out. We stretched the Kickstarter money farther than we had expected to, but securing the next round, along with constructing improvised shelters and hoarding beans, has to be our top priority for now. We hope we'll be able to make an announcement on that front soon. In the meantime, if you're still interested in helping the next generation of swordfighting games move forward, have a look at the STEM Kickstarter now being run by our friends at Sixense. We've contributed to an update on their Kickstarter that will explain some of the reasons we are excited about what they're doing.

Now, a lot more detail for those who are interested.

THE FINANCING PICTURE IN GENERAL

Loyal donors may be curious as to why an apparently promising game is difficult to finance. The answer has a lot to do with the current state of the video game industry. While we have been working on CLANG, two major video game publishers, THQ and LucasArts, have gone out of business. Others have fallen on hard times. The current generation of consoles is coming to the end of its life cycle. Rather than invest in innovative new titles, the still-surviving publishers tend to keep their heads down, grinding out sequels and extensions to well-worn AAA franchises.

The overall climate in the industry has become risk-averse to a degree that is difficult to appreciate until you've seen it. It is especially bemusing to CLANG team members who, by cheerfully foregoing other opportunities so that they could associate themselves with a startup in the swordfighting space, have already shown an attitude to career, financial, and reputational risk normally associated with the cast members of Jackass.

To a game publisher crouched in a fetal position under a blanket, CLANG seems extra worrisome because it is coupled to a new hardware controller. Not that you can’t play it with mouse and keyboard--you can--but we’ve been clear from the beginning that the swordfighting problem can’t really be solved without new hardware. Coupling the success of CLANG to concurrent developments in hardware adds an additional element of perceived risk that is off-putting to the small number of people who are still willing to even consider funding games.

Which is why supporting Sixense’s STEM project is the most effective way to help CLANG: it will get the next generation of hardware out on the market, reducing the element of perceived risk and, we hope, clearing the way for us to pursue our own quest to find financiers who have steady nerves and other anatomical prerequisites. Moreover, it embodies a number of upgrades that we specifically asked for and that will improve CLANG in specific ways.

CLANG and STEM

OUR STANCE ON UPDATES

As some of you have quite reasonably pointed out, we have gone a long time without updates. This doesn't reflect our ideal of how to go about communicating with our donors. It is a consequence of the very nature of fundraising. Even in favorable circumstances, the search for funding can last a staggeringly long period of time. At any given point in the fundraising process, one or more conversations is underway with possible funders; each of these conversations tends to spread out over a span of months and to turn into its own separate drama complete with moments of hope and reversals of fortune. The dreaded term "next week" makes frequent appearances in emails. All of those interactions are, of course, confidential. Sending out a vague update about inconclusive, ongoing conversations with potential investors doesn't seem nearly as attractive as waiting a couple more weeks for a deal to actually come through, and then making a triumphant announcement of that. We have been in exactly that holding pattern since early 2013 when we began the fundraising quest in what we believed was a timely fashion, i.e., long enough before the exhaustion of the Kickstarter funds that we believed we had a healthy safety cushion.

WHAT WE CAN SAY ABOUT OUR CURRENT STATUS

Is the CLANG project dead? At what point do you put a toe tag on an indie game and call it finished? Opinions on that might vary, but in our opinion, the project doesn't die simply because it runs out of money. Projects run out of money all the time. As a matter of fact, game industry veterans we have talked to take a blithe attitude toward running out of money, and seem to consider it an almost obligatory rite of passage.

The project isn't dead in dead-parrot sense until the core team has given up on it and moved decisively on to other projects. Other events such as declarations of bankruptcy can also serve as pretty reliable markers of a project's being dead.

In the case of CLANG, none of this has happened yet. When a couple of promising leads fell through for us in a short span of time circa May, it became obvious to us that our essential people would have to find other ways to keep body and soul together during an upcoming span of time, of indeterminate length, during which the CLANG project would be unable to pay them. They chose to find temporary work in the Seattle area, rather than giving up on CLANG altogether and seeking permanent jobs.

We are working on CLANG as an "evenings and weekends" project until such time as we get funding for a more commercial-style reboot. Paradoxically, we feel better about the future of CLANG now than we did when the clock was ticking down. Then, we were feeling under pressure to make decisions that might not have been in the project's best long-term interests. Now that the pressure is relieved, however, we can operate more calmly and look for ways to set this thing up in a sustainable way. Meanwhile, the publishing side of Subutai continues to fulfill its obligations and transact business normally.

LESSONS LEARNED

--Kickstarter lock-in. Kickstarter is amazing, but one of the hidden catches is that once you have taken a bunch of people's money to do a thing, you have to actually do that thing, and not some other thing that you thought up in the meantime. In our case, what it meant was that in April of 2013 we were still executing on a strategy that we had come up with at the beginning of 2012. A conventionally funded company would have changed course several times during such a long span of time, adapting its strategy to what was happening in the market. --the Neal Stephenson fan obfuscation hypothesis. The potential financiers most likely to talk to us are Neal Stephenson fans. Once they have actually met Neal and gotten their books signed, it turns out that they are not really that interested in our project. But they don't want to make Neal Stephenson feel bad and so they don't give him any useful feedback; instead they just go dark. In the meantime we have wasted a huge amount of time on them. We were slow to cotton on to this. --we don't match the profile, or the timing, of their fund/investment strategy. VCs have extremely specific requirements and generally cannot color outside those lines. --we simply haven't talked to that many potential investors yet. It is time-consuming and a small number of people can only do so much of it. --they assume we don't actually need the money. This might actually be a variant of the Stephenson fan obfuscation hypothesis. We frequently encounter a sort of wall of incredulity that Stephenson could really be having trouble obtaining funding for a swordfighting game project. --the prototype/demo is underwhelming in its current state. We always knew that this would be the case, but there is little to be done about it since we are trying to build a new game play mechanic from scratch, not just re-skin a familiar mechanic. In other words, this is not a failure of execution our part, but some might consider it a tactical mistake, arguing that we should have put more into gameplay and less into fundamentals. We're comfortable with the direction we went, since without fundamentals we don't really have anything new to offer. --the "fruit fly among the elephants" problem. A small startup can be founded and pass through its entire life cycle, including death, during the time that it takes a large entity to make a decision and draw up the legal documents. It is almost impossible to get large company employees to feel even a mild sense of urgency about anything. --Potential investors/publishers are worried about our team. This hypothesis is the one we hear most frequently from sympathetic people within the industry. Video game investors are extremely team-conscious. Our team punches above its weight, but the amount of the KS raise wasn't sufficient to staff up a full-sized group, leaving us vulnerable to the criticism that the team is missing certain elements. Of course, the answer is "we'll hire some awesome people once we get funded." In the climate of anxiety that seems to pervade the industry now, however, any perceived risk factor is sufficient to torpedo a pitch, and so all such discussions end up following the template of the justly famous "Tesla pitches VCs" video.

Why bother to keep trying at all then? Because the advent of new hardware in this market is soon going to make the existing blockbuster game franchises look old and tired, at which point people will be looking for something fundamentally new to make buying that new hardware worth it. What will our approach be, now that we've bought ourselves some time? We doubt it is productive to subject CLANG to comparison shopping before the jaded eyes of generic VCs. Our approach needs to be more selective. But it is almost impossible for a small group, focused on making a game, to obtain the sort of Olympian perspective on the game funding landscape that is needed to identify the right sorts of investors quickly enough to be of any use. Our only efficient choice is to keep doing what we're doing and wait for the right investor to come along. The right investor for CLANG is one who has some pre-existing interest in what we are doing. This might be as simple as a personal fascination with swordfighting or sword games, or something more strategic such as a connection with a hardware-based strategy within the video game industry. Finding people like that takes time, which is one reason we ran out of it. Some team building might help, but, keeping in mind video game publishers' extreme focus on all-star teams, the only people who could really help us in this department would be ones with truly first-rate credentials--people whose mere association with a project can bring in investment dollars--who are willing to take a chance on something that might or might not get funded and work without pay in the meantime.

What can people do to help? Probably not that much, unless they happen to be qualified investors or superstar game programmers looking for an adventure. If you are one of our Kickstarter donors, then probably the most helpful thing you can do, as far as the CLANG team is concerned, is to be patient. We always knew that this was going to take a while and that we'd hit some bumps along the way. And we feel that the decision we've made is much better than the alternatives which were to [a] quit, [b] panic and sell out, or [c] get into a bad relationship with the wrong investor.

Sincerely,

The CLANG team

Comments

    1. Cusman_techvolition.small

      Creator Cameron Usman on February 12

      I am glad I wasn't a high-dollar backer on this one. I do hope that whatever tech/tools did get into working order now get shared with the open-source crowd to grow and use and incorporate into other games that hopefully do have funding to actually end up in player hands.

      Don't string this project along on the nights and weekends plan when you could just make your efforts available to a broader set of possibly enthusiastic and talented developers that may find a way to make consumable use of those efforts.

    2. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Jesse on January 24

      I'm a little disappointed in all the long-winded explanations of why the project fell through. I didnt really expect much from it, but the apologies on the dev team's side seem so artificial, and force-fed. Anyway, IMO, i love games with swordfighting. I love strapping on armor and practicing Fiore with the Schola. Yet I feel that the two should stay in their own ballparks.

    3. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Douglas Moran on December 15

      "--the Neal Stephenson fan obfuscation hypothesis. The potential financiers most likely to talk to us are Neal Stephenson fans. Once they have actually met Neal and gotten their books signed, it turns out that they are not really that interested in our project. But they don't want to make Neal Stephenson feel bad and so they don't give him any useful feedback; instead they just go dark. In the meantime we have wasted a huge amount of time on them. We were slow to cotton on to this."

      I'm sorry, but I have absolutely no idea what this means. I'm almost certainly one of those people. I gave you money in the hopes you would develop a game, and I guess I "went dark" in the sense that I didn't constantly ping you for updates, send you ideas as to what I wanted in a game of this type, regale you with my sword-fighting expertise and how I think sabre fencing might be more applicable then the Florentine style or whatever; I left it to you guys. So I understand neither what you mean by "going dark", nor how you "spent a huge amount of time" on me. Other than your irregular email updates, I wasn't asked for my opinions about things, asked to do game design, or whatever. Why on Earth should I be? I just chucked in some funding money in the hopes it would pay off in a cool game.

      In all honesty, this sounds an awful lot like "blame the victim" mentality. I'm out the amount of funding that I put in for you guys--it's clearly gone gone gone. But somehow I'm to blame because I "went dark" in some strange, unexplained fashion? You somehow "spent a huge amount of time" on me (without my noticing it, I might add), and therefore the game didn't get developed along the proper lines? WTF? You realize that doesn't make a whit of sense, right?

      Look guys: You burned through more than $500K and have very little to show for it. It happens in the software biz all the time, and on Kickstarter all the time too, I would bet. It sucks, and I'm disappointed, but why some of the blame for this failure is being sent back my way specifically I'm completely baffled by. YOU mismanaged the project; don't go blaming me and the other people who are now *out our investment*. Not reasonable, not cool, and not okay.

    4. Missing_small

      Creator strat77x on October 2, 2013

      Neil Stephenson- way to steal half a mil for your buddies.

    5. Missing_small

      Creator Zarlan on September 25, 2013

      @Lyndon Fletcher Well, to be honest, the people who pledged 25$ or (like me) 40$, haven't gotten their rewards either. But yeah... Providing the illustrated fighting manual to all the lower tiers may seem generous, but it also screws over everyone who pledged at the higher tier to get it, meaning that, their higher pledge, is therefore made in vain
      ...not to mention that having it only be 7 pages, is pretty much a rip off, for something that was supposedly worth an extra 25 dollars of backing.

    6. Missing_small

      Creator Lyndon Fletcher on September 25, 2013

      It looks like we were answering each other in sort of real time so things got jumbled. So to go over what seems to have been said.

      The rewards at the $75 and $150 level were for "CLANG illustrated fighting manuals" in PDF and print format respectively. Since these were at a $25 and $50 premium over the previous pledge levels I assumed this was something more substantial than the operating manual for the game, especially since it would be expected that the game would ship with documentation.

      It seems that at some point you decided to merge this "Fighting manual" with the game instructions. This is probably just as well because the sword fighting section of the game manual is only 7 pages long, which would probably have been a disappointment to people that had selected the higher tier to get it.

      You then shipped this game manual to everyone effectively removing the $75 tier without substituting a different reward. Since there is no game concept art to download for the $50 tier someone that pledged $75 got exactly the same reward as someone pledging $40. Even had the art been available it effectively makes the $50 and $75 pledge the same.

      I'm not going to keep on about it because it seems a little late now, but there were 567 of us at the $75 level that in effect did not get a reward at that level.

    7. Missing_small

      Creator Lyndon Fletcher on September 25, 2013

      Oh I see. So in effect you gave everyone the rewards that some people had paid a $35 premium to get. What was substituted as the reward for the $75 level?

    8. Missing_small

      Creator Lyndon Fletcher on September 25, 2013

      I'm sorry I got a little confused I thought $25 got you 2 copies of the demo not one. The rewards I was refering to was.

      Pledge $25 or more --- Download of the game (motion control hardware not included), as well as a thank you credit on our website and within the game.

      Pledge $75 or more -- PDF of illustrated Clang fighting manual. Includes all preceding rewards.

      Is base documentation really a different tear of reward? Did lower pledge levels come with no manual?

    9. Clang_logo.small

      Creator Subutai Corporation on September 25, 2013

      The manual does include a section on sword fighting written by Neal. The one you are referring to is the print version, which was not cheap to print and mail, hence its inclusion in a higher reward level.

    10. Missing_small

      Creator Lyndon Fletcher on September 25, 2013

      Doesn't the manual for a game would come free with the game? I'd expected the "Fighting Manual" to be a sword fighting book of some kind to warrant it being offered as a premium reward for having donated three times the amount needed to get two copies of the game?

    11. Clang_logo.small

      Creator Subutai Corporation on September 24, 2013

      To be more specific, we decided that the illustrations were so beneficial that we wanted to include them for all reward levels.

    12. Clang_logo.small

      Creator Subutai Corporation on September 24, 2013

      Lyndon, it is the same as the illustrated game manual.

    13. Missing_small

      Creator Lyndon Fletcher on September 24, 2013

      I'm curious where I can download the "Clang illustrated fighting manual?" I am assuming this is something different than the manual for the game since it and the print version constitutes 2 extra levels of rewards?

    14. Missing_small

      Creator Zarlan on September 24, 2013

      Aside from the text on the main page, that talks of a prototype, which as I've explained, pretty much has to be a finished game, to do what you said it would, and also the fact of the pledge reward being the game and not a mere demo...
      There is also the initial video, introducing the project:
      2:43 "Don't worry, were gonna make game"
      3:26-32 "It's taken us a few years of sparring and experimenting and scratching our heads over this thing, to get it to the point, where, it's ready to hire the talent that we need, to produce a simple playable game"

      There is a lot of talk of making a game.
      Nowhere is there ever any mention of making a demo, or anything like that.

      We were promised that our money would go to making a game. It didn't.

    15. Missing_small

      Creator Zarlan on September 24, 2013

      @Neal Stephenson It's nice that you apologise for the tone ...but given that you are writing these comments, with much the same tone... the apology isn't really worth much.

      As to fund-raising, it is true that you stated from the start, that you would use what you developed using the Kickstarter, to raise further funding, and thus build on it further.
      HOWEVER, this was stated to be done AFTER the project was done.

      Any of the money or time and effort funded with said money, was NOT to be used for such a purpose, until after the project was finished. Then and only then, could you use any money that was left, for other purposes.
      Furthermore, you stated that you would raise further funding, after the prototype was made, but now you say that you were doing it from the start?
      That is not what you told us!
      That is not in accord with Kickstarter, either. What you do AFTER the Kickstarter is one thing, but this?
      There is no balance to be struck here:
      You were not supposed to do any fund-raising, until after the game was done.

      As to the AI issue... Well I an certainly see the problem (I certainly would have difficulty finding opponents, unless you'd have a "match up with a random person online"-thing), but... This was not supposed to be a great game with everything.
      It was supposed to be a basic framework, that you can then add more elements to.
      You could leave an AI, as the first additional element to put in ...or possibly adding it in, as part of the project, if time/resources allowed.
      That seems a lot more sensible.

      ...and of course: You promised us a product that you could then add additional elements to.
      A mere demo is not such a product.
      Furthermore, the pledge reward for 25$ is the game. Not a demo. The full game.
      You promised us a full game.
      Not a mere demo. A proper good beta, though technically not what was promised and required, would have been acceptable.
      Sure, it'd be a game that would be bit lacking in such things as characters, environments, any story/narrative... (and there was not really much expectations of great graphics) but nevertheless a fully made game.
      You have not even tried to make it, however
      ...and you have not even come close to so much as an apology, or even acknowledging the issue.

    16. Missing_small

      Creator Neal Stephenson on September 24, 2013

      TIME

      Aaron Ritter, "wasting a huge amount of time" was imprecise phrasing on my part. What I really meant was "allowing many weeks and months to go by." Of course, I also wasted some time in the sense of attending meetings that didn't produce results, but check out the post immediately below, "ALLOCATION," for more info about that.

    17. Missing_small

      Creator Neal Stephenson on September 24, 2013

      ALLOCATION

      Martin Seeger asks a very reasonable question about how much of the Kickstarter money was allocated to the process of seeking the next round of funding. What this really boils down to, in my view, is "did we hire someone just to perform that role?" Which answer is correct depends on your basic attitude toward the project. There is a case to be made that, if the project's success is dependent on securing the next round, then someone should be hired just to work on that. But obviously this would subtract from the actual game development effort, since there is only a finite amount of money. And so some donors might be opposed to it, and insist that all resources be devoted purely to game development.

      But it has always been a part of our plan to use the prototype as a way to secure a next funding round, as we state clearly on the main Kickstarter page. So I will try to provide you with a picture of how we approached this aspect of the project.

      We were lodged in a video game incubator space that provided a small rent-free office and a shared conference room where we were able to have meetings with potential investors and with people who gave us advice on fundraising. The whole purpose of this incubator is to foster small game development teams, and it has links to the local (Seattle) video game industry. This enabled us to run our pitch by experienced advisors before we took it out to actual funders. Those advisors gave us a lot of feedback that seemed quite useful. We also reached out to other friends in the industry for advice in the same vein.

      Since it was obvious that asking the game dev team for too much of their time would detract from actual game production, I took a significant hand in the fundraising process. I was not on the CLANG payroll, except in the following, purely nominal sense: our payroll processing company required a certain minimal "keep alive" payment to keep me on the books. This payment, a two-digit salary paid every two weeks, was split fifty-fifty between the CLANG and non-CLANG sides of the company's budget.

      So, getting me involved in fundraising was a way to move that process forward with less impact on game production. Of course, salaried members of the CLANG team had to participate in fundraising activities too, but we felt we were striking an appropriate balance. Given the results so far, it's fair to question whether fundraising is really my strong suit, but anyway that is how we did it.

    18. Missing_small

      Creator Neal Stephenson on September 24, 2013

      STARTUP

      Subutai Corporation was founded 3 or 4 years ago, well before we had even contemplated doing a Kickstarter, and has been working on various media projects since then. It will continue working on those projects regardless of what happens with CLANG. So, this is not a case of creating a startup company from scratch as part of a Kickstarter. This is, rather, a way for a pre-established, albeit small, company to support a project it couldn't back out of its own resources. It's not entirely clear to me why some people are expressing misgivings about the idea that this is somehow a startup. There is nothing unusual about the idea of using a Kickstarter round to get a new company into a position to obtain successive rounds of financing, and indeed the very name Kickstarter suggests as much. More recently, the "Kickstarter as preorder service" model has become more popular, but it's not the only model.

    19. Missing_small

      Creator Neal Stephenson on September 24, 2013

      FOSS

      A key part of what we would like to accomplish with CLANG is to create a situation where third-party developers can create new functional MASEs that will run on the same code base. That implies a degree of openness right off the bat, at least in the form of documented APIs and so on. It can also be expensive, however, in that it is somewhat useless without good, up-to-date documentation and some form of developer support. Anyone who has ever tried to write code using poorly documented and unsupported APIs will probably know what I mean.

      From there the spectrum of open-source possibilities runs all the way to a complete open source release. When everything is open, developers may not have a support department to call on, but they can inspect the code themselves as needed.

      Our own inclinations run toward open source. The only reason we have not committed to doing this yet is, again, the unresolved state of the search for financing. It would be unfortunate if we open-sourced everything and then heard a week later from a backer who was otherwise interested but who felt (rightly or wrongly) that open source conflicted with their business objectives.

      A few people have suggested that if we have not achieved financing after a certain date, we should throw in the towel and open source the results. We certainly agree. If that comes to pass, we will open source all of the assets. I will be happy to place my other projects on hold long enough to produce a white paper containing any information we think might be useful to future developers who want to work on this sort of thing. And if there is a need to pay developers and other contributors for their work on the release, I'll do that, within reason, from out of my own personal funds.

      Exactly what that cutoff date is we haven't decided yet, but there is a limit to how long people can cope with temporary jobs and so it is unlikely to drag on indefinitely.

      If we do get commercially funded, I will be an advocate for as much openness as possible, but it won't be entirely my decision at that point.

    20. Missing_small

      Creator Neal Stephenson on September 24, 2013

      Lafazar, clearly you're one of the donors for whom the tone of the update came across as terrible, so I'll reiterate my apology for that.

      However, it is not actually the case that "We were in over our head"or "We miscalculated/underestimated the cost/time." Our group delivered a playable prototype within roughly the time frame we had estimated. Opinions vary through an extremely wide range as to whether that prototype delivered good value for the money. We hear from some who didn't even donate to the project because they considered $500K much too small an amount to actually do anything with, and we hear from others who were clearly expecting much more to be done with it.

      If you are one of the people who believes that not enough was accomplished, then I would ask you to consider the following analogy. In its current state the CLANG prototype is more like an early version of Flight Simulator than it is like a modern aerial combat game. A lot of engineering had to go into Flight Simulator in order to make it work at all. Early versions of it probably looked like they were delivering poor value for the money, if "value" means being a fun game. But as development continued, that engineering base was able to support more full-featured game content.

      We could have allocated our resources toward making the prototype more immediately fun, but a future financier performing due diligence on that code base would have seen pretty quickly that there was nothing new in it. What we have instead is something that I believe lays the groundwork for MASEs and the other features mentioned in our Kickstarter, but that is limited in terms of gameplay.

      I hope that this helps explain some of our thinking on the matter, and I hope that we may earn back some of your affinity with the project.

    21. Missing_small

      Creator Neal Stephenson on September 24, 2013

      EVENINGS AND WEEKENDS

      We are not trying to over-sell what can actually be accomplished by people working evenings and weekends. James Diss is right about that.

    22. Missing_small

      Creator Neal Stephenson on September 24, 2013

      HYDRA

      Jasper Brown, our support for the STEM system doesn't mean that we won't continue supporting the Hydra. Since we already have that working, and since a lot of people own it, to drop support for that system would be senseless.

    23. Missing_small

      Creator Neal Stephenson on September 24, 2013

      Obviously there are a lot of separate issues being raised in this thread. I'm going to begin addressing specific topics one at a time. This doesn't mean that I am ignoring the others.

      TONE

      I am sorry that the tone of the update strikes people as whiny. This certainly wasn't the spirit in which it was written, and so if it reads that way it is a failure of communication on my part. The intent here was to fill in some background and to try to make up for a few months in which we did not post.

      To cite a specific example, there is a line in the update where I talk about delivering what you promised. Readers have construed that in a few different ways. The point I was trying to make was that we WERE mindful of that commitment as we put the Kickstarter money to work, and we took it seriously whenever we considered making any changes to the prototype.

      For example, in the original plan we intended to make it a PvP game, but as we got deeper into the project we became concerned that the initial group of users might have difficulty finding partners to play with, given that there would only be a few thousand of them in total. Clearly, it would be frustrating to own a PvP game and not be able to play it because of the lack of a partner, and so we made the decision to have the opponent be an AI. We considered it to be the obviously correct decision from a game design point of view, but even so we thought long and hard about it before making that change.

      The other remarks about the general funding environment are simply statements of fact as we see them. The main purpose of this update was to explain why we have been forced to hit the pause button, and the funding environment in which we are operating is what it is. We thought that some donors would find that interesting background. I am sorry if it struck the wrong tone.

    24. Jamie.small

      Creator Corrodias on September 24, 2013

      Those look like pretty valid points. You're right; i don't think the pitch says anything about "wasting a huge amount of time" on additional investors.

    25. Missing_small

      Creator Zarlan on September 24, 2013

      @Aaron Ritter Exactly what they themselves have admitted to doing, in this very update:
      The money, time and effort, that was promised to be used to make the game, has instead been used to find investors for the project.
      This falls WAY outside of the scope of the project, and goes against the whole idea of using crowdfunding ...and, indeed, the rules of Kickstarter.

      Also, please keep in mind that the time and effort, used by the Subutai team, is financed by said money. People can't just spend months on a project, without money. (not full time, anyway)
      Thus the squandering of time and effort, is also a squandering of the money we've given.

      Subutai did mention that they would look for investors to build further, on the game, but that was to be done AFTER the Kickstarter project was finished. They were very clear on that.
      Also, Kickstarter doesn't allow you to make a project where you get half-way to a product.
      You are required to have a project to make a product, and you have to actually finish it. So even if they HAD said that they'd just get half way, and then get further investors, that would mean that they were in breach of Kickstarters rules. When one backs a project on Kickstarter, one of the reasons one can feel safe in doing so, is that one knows that they will be abiding by Kickstarters rules. Subutai haven't.

      ...and for all the excuses that Subutai have come up with, they DID say that they would make a finished (if lacking) game. That, and the fact that they included the finished game in their pledge rewards, meaning they promised to make it, within the time of the Kickstarter project, as per the, very clear, rules of Kickstarter.

    26. Jamie.small

      Creator Corrodias on September 24, 2013

      You're talking about THIS project? What purpose to you believe the money has been put toward that is outside the scope of the project pitch?

    27. Missing_small

      Creator Zarlan on September 23, 2013

      @eXoScoriae I'd like to correct you a bit. I didn't really that concerned with getting the game for myself. Sure, that was part of it, but mainly I backed this to get the game made.
      Subutai promised to use the money to get the game made. Explicitly, and by including it as a pledge reward.
      I didn't care about the game being to my taste, being particularly good or anything, but I wanted to see it done, and I donated money towards that.
      Not towards what they actually have done.

      More importantly however, they said they were going to use the money for one purpose, but they have been using it for a completely different one.
      This is lying. This is getting money of false pretences.
      This is fraud.

      James Diss is saying that the best we can get is an apology, but it is very wrong to claim that to be the case. People who make Kickstarter project can be sued for not delivering what they promised. This has been done in the past.
      Successfully.
      They are legally obligated to fulfil their promises. That is not just a basic of law, but it is clearly stated in the rules of Kickstarter, which clearly explains the legal obligations.
      It's generally not something that is done to people who fail, after genuinely trying to get their project done ...but in this case Subutai have admitted to having spent the time and money of the Kickstarter project, on things that have nothing to do with the project.

      As I've said, due to my remaining good will, I am waiting to see if they will change their tune, and preferably reimburse everyone (or at least anyone who asks) ...and/or maybe to actually show some decent attempts to finish the project.
      ...that and, of course, a very big apology.

      @Karl Schneider I agree that 500k was a low budget.
      Sure one of the reasons that the game industry has gotten into so much trouble, is that they use far too large budgets, but...
      Sure CLANG wasn't supposed to be that well made (to begin with), but given that they'd need to do pretty much everything from scratch (and that they indicated that they'd need to find the talent, rather than having it already)...
      Mighty No.9 is a project to make a fairly conventional platform game, and they already have a very skilled team to make it, and even they asked for 900k (sure, they are trying to make a game that is far more well made and polished, but still).
      I've heard someone comment that they only back video game projects done by people who have made video games in the past, as they tend to know what kind of budget is reasonable. Probably not a bad policy.

    28. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator eXoScoriae on September 23, 2013

      @James Diss - the updates says nothing about them working on it during weekends. Where did you derive this from? They specifically state they have not been working on it, and until they have more funds, development is paused. Do not speculate and make stuff up simply to defend.

      I respect those that have stated they did not expect a full game, and instead backed this to back an "idea". That is a perfectly acceptable reason to back. But it does not discredit those who backed expecting a game as the rewards promised. Zarlan, and several others, backed this with the expectation of playing Clang!. To fault them for wanting a finished product is daft. To state that just because you backed the technology. and therefor others should have the same expectations as you... well, that seems incredibly narcissistic.. as it would assume the whole world should see things exactly as you do.

      Also, it is against kickstarters terms to ask for money for an "idea". You must have a tangible, finished, product at the end of the cycle. You can not simply pitch and say, "I would like half a million dollars to develop sword fighting technology in video games - who knows how far we will get". So defending this project by stating that is all you wanted is not only ignorant of what was promised, it is actually a defense for a project that never would have cleared kickstarters standards for posting.

      Neal, and various other members of the team, wen dark from April until this update. That includes ignored direct messages, no updates, no press releases, etc. They have since admitted that communication was poor. I agree with others, this project needs deadlines in order to maintain goodwill. No project can live in "needs funding" hell forever. There is a point where Subutai and Neal have to say, this is dead - forget it. Whether that time frame is next Spring, a year from now, etc... Whatever it may be, it should be defined. Asking over nine thousand people to simply sit around and wait an undefined amount of time is silly.

      As I stated in the main comment thread, at this point, if the team has no faith in finding an invester (or if the deadline passes), then there should be refunds (even if prorated to account for physical rewards and the demo) for those who ask.

    29. Missing_small

      Creator Karl Schneider on September 23, 2013

      I would like to believe the half a million (that is to say, half a million minus kickstarter expenditures and taxes and so forth) went almost entirely to the staff to work on the game, or to purchase the necessary equipment to get development up and running.

      I don't think $500k was a good 'minimum budget'. Because I don't think that's enough to develop the kind of game Clang stood for. Having backed a few kickstarters now, I think I can claim some wisdom here - that games are very expensive to develop. If you're going to not develop any new technology, $500k can get you a modest RPG or fighting game. At a million or two, you might be able to afford a modest RPG or fighting game PLUS some modest technogadgetry. But $500k for both?

      Shadowrun Returns wanted what, $400k minimum? And look how SR:R turned out - they never would have made even a playable sprite game at $400k, seriously, they were just lucky they got so much fan support. The same goes for Obsidian or Wasteland 2 - if either of those developers had reached their minimum budgets, would they be able to make anything at this stage in development? Of course not. They'd be throwing out a demo around now, like Clang had to do, apologizing that they couldn't succeed.

      You need a lot of money to make a tried-and-true game, but you need even more to make new technology to go with it. I think the minimum budget here was poorly chosen, but perhaps it was done so out of fear that there wasn't going to be support above the minimum budget, which appears to be the case.

    30. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator James Diss on September 23, 2013

      @Panos "In this case, development has merely slowed. They are working on it weekends and evenings. Relax."

      If you're a developer, you'll know what this is actually worth. From day to day, you'll tend to be shooting for 40 hours per week, minimum. More realistically you'll actually be producing for around 45, plus any commute that you might have to make. Call it 50 hours on the outside. At that point, when you come home at night, you might have 2 hours you can work. Even the most dedicated person really doesn't want to do more than 16 hours on a weekend, So you're going from around the 40 hours mark to around 26, if you're lucky and if people can be motivated. Where's the motivation? Money's gone, and unless they try for another kickstarter, the alternative is VC funding...VC don't fund games

      "If you are one of our Kickstarter donors, then probably the most helpful thing you can do, as far as the CLANG team is concerned, is to be patient."

      Is there any alternative at this point? Money's spent, and the best I can get for my admittedly small 'donation' is a decent explanation of the thinking that got us to this point and an indication of where the money actually went. Too much to ask for?

    31. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator James Diss on September 23, 2013

      What did you actually spend half a million on? Any chance of a quick spreadsheet, and possibly an apology?

    32. Missing_small

      Creator Andrew Pearce on September 22, 2013

      I see a lot of excuses in this update. And that line about one of the hidden catches of Kickstarter being that you have to actually do what you promised to do... that takes the biscuit.

    33. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Monica Gaudio on September 22, 2013

      I am disappointed - not only in the apparent failing of this Kickstarter, but with the tone of the latest update and its terrible delivery to its backers.

    34. Missing_small

      Creator Zarlan on September 21, 2013

      @Lafazar Exactly.

    35. 5ifoc.small

      Creator Lafazar on September 21, 2013

      One important reason I originally backed this Kickstarter was the frankness of the pitch video. This latest update has none of that and instead is full of whining and trying really hard to shift blame on anyone except Subutai.

      All you had to say was "We were in over our head", "We miscalculated/underestimated the cost/time", etc and I would have understood and had no problem with that. This happens all the time and that is the risk we take when we back a project at Kickstarter.

      But the wording of this latest update leaves a REALLY sour aftertaste and as a result I feel not much investment in this project anymore.

    36. Missing_small

      Creator Zarlan on September 21, 2013

      @Ho-Sheng Hsiao
      They themselves stated that they would make a prototype that they would then add more characters, environments and stuff to.
      The demo is NOT something that you just need to add characters, environments and the such to. You need to complete it first, before you can add those things.
      Furthermore, as the full game is part of the pledge rewards, they have therefore they made a legally binding promise to complete the full game, as part of the Kickstarter project.
      Not AFTER the Kickstarter project (and the search for extra funding and subsequent additions to the game, is clearly stated as efforts to be done after the completion of the project)

      I don't care about the fact that I don't have a copy of the game, or that some of my money has been taken, without anything having happened.
      It's the lies that I'm angered by, as well as the denial of those lies, in the face of clear evidence to the contrary.
      If Subutai keep denying the issue, then maybe they NEED to be sued for fraud. (for me, at least, it would cost far more than the money I've given ...but as I said, it's not about the money)
      Due to my remaining liking for them, and my wish for CLANG to be made, I haven't looked into such things, as of yet.

    37. 1.small

      Creator goettel on September 21, 2013

      Screw the cash, just hoping Clang keeps moving forward.

    38. Missing_small

      Creator Jasper Brown on September 20, 2013

      i have a question regarding the controller for this assuming progress continues. i bought the razer hydra for this game, is that still the intended controller for the final product? if so what is the STEM thing?

    39. Missing_small

      Creator Vim on September 20, 2013

      @Panos Dionysopoulos > "ctually think they're the fans that are being referred to in this update"

      ah. thanks for pointing that out. I had to re-read the above twice to make sure, but I do believe you're correct.

      The bit about book signing and shaking hands generated strong assumptions regarding context.

    40. Mesuit.small

      Creator Panos Dionysopoulos on September 20, 2013

      wow there are people here who actually think they're the fans that are being referred to in this update? Err... no. He's talking about big-time investors who will be able to put up the remaining funds. Not everything is about us, guys.
      Also, with every Kickstarter project you are investing in it, you are not actually purchasing the final product, despite it being offered as a 'reward'. There is always the possibility that it cannot reach fruition. In this case, development has merely slowed. They are working on it weekends and evenings. Relax. This was an incredibly informative and detailed update. They cannot survive on air and coding. Good luck with the rest of the project, guys, and I hope to hear good news about a new investor in the next few months.

    41. Missing_small

      Creator Bogus on September 20, 2013

      Thanks for the update--I thought you guys had thrown in the towel entirely after releasing the demo. CLANG is easily the riskiest and most ambitious Kickstarter I've backed so I do understand the state of the project, but I also see where guys like Zarlan are coming from because so far Subotai hasn't done a very good job of explaining how what we have compares to the intended deliverable and at what point the Kickstarter goals are deemed completed and focus shifts to "version 2" that uses the technology but is its own project(s). I'm sure I'm not the only one who got the demo followed by months of radio silence and thought, "so this is it?"

      I tend to agree with the folks saying FOSS should be considered, or at least some kind of shared-source thing like MS sometimes does where volunteers can help push it along. This may cause legal issues w.r.t. Kickstarter goals but it would be better than the project being thrown into the abyss if nobody is willing to finance it. I'm sure I'm not the only one who would be willing to pony up a couple of while loops if that's what it takes. Grassroots open-source is basically how Blender came to be.

    42. Missing_small

      Creator Ho-Sheng Hsiao on September 20, 2013

      @Zarlan Chill man. I had never expected the prototype to be a "full game". I had expected the prototype to prove that you can use real-world sword mechanics in a simulated environment, and although it needs a lot of work, I can see its potential. For me, this was an investment in an artform I love. The question is, why did you expect a full game, and why do you feel so cheated? And why do you feel that receiving additional funding is also cheating?

    43. Missing_small

      Creator Terrell Gibbs on September 20, 2013

      I donated, but not because I expected the project to be successful. There is a big gap between a simulation and a game, and I remain skeptical as to whether it is possible to come up with a system without the element of actual weapon contact that both captures the richness of sword fighting and is enjoyable to play. But it's a worthy endeavor. All I personally expect as a Kickstarter investor is for the team to make a worthy endeavor. However, if it does fall through, I hope that the team will produce an account of what was done and what was achieved--and what the remaining challenges are for anybody who chooses to pick up the project.

    44. Missing_small

      Creator Zarlan on September 20, 2013

      From Kickstarters FAQ:
      "Is a creator legally obligated to fulfill the promises of their project?

      Yes. Kickstarter's Terms of Use require creators to fulfill all rewards of their project or refund any backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfill. (This is what creators see before they launch.) We crafted these terms to create a legal requirement for creators to follow through on their projects, and to give backers a recourse if they don't. We hope that backers will consider using this provision only in cases where they feel that a creator has not made a good faith effort to complete the project and fulfill."

      I was promised a game. Not a demo. A game.
      In fact, I was promised two copies of the game.
      I don't have it, and you admit that you haven't really been trying to make it.
      There is a problem there.
      One for which Subutai is legally responsible.

    45. Missing_small

      Creator Ting Hsu on September 20, 2013

      The Clang fighting manual, is that available as a PDF download yet?

    46. Missing_small

      Creator Zarlan on September 20, 2013

      @Dustin Hill
      I do not really understand what you mean.
      I tend to follow Hanlon's Razor:
      "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity"
      ...to which I add my own corollaries "never attribute to stupidity that which is adequately explained by ignorance" and "never attribute to ignorance that which is adequately explained by misunderstanding". And I try to apply this to every word.
      As the Wikipedia guideline states, you should start with an assumption of good faith, much like a court of law assumes innocence.

      But...
      They were clear enough about what the Kickstarter would be used for.
      A "prototype".
      This would then, AFTER the Kickstarter, get funding for further development, to get more characters, environments etc.
      It was furthermore quite clear that said prototype would need to be a finished game. A game that is a bit lacking and bland perhaps, but nevertheless a full game.
      As I said, it wouldn't really be at the level where what you would then add, would be such things as characters or environments. Even a beta release would be acceptable. Not strictly speaking what was promised, but good enough.
      The demo is not enough.

      Furthermore the pledge rewards are things you get, that get made by the Kickstarter project, not something that is made by the Kickstarter and further funding. You need to make them with the Kickstarter, or they aren't valid pledge rewards.
      Kickstarter are very clear on that.
      ...and my pledge reward is the FULL game (two copies, actually). Not a demo.
      Thus, whatever is written here, or is said in the videos, Subutai have, very clearly, promised to use the Kickstarter funding to make the full game, and not just a demo. A legally binding promise.

      You should start with an assumption of good faith, but... Even if they are acting on good faith, and are just utterly incompetent (including being incompetent at expressing themselves, which would be strange, given the nature of Subutai), they are still guilt of having deceived their backer and having gotten money off of them, on false pretences ...and having not just failed to hold their promised, but to not have tried to uphold it. Indeed they have admitted to having actively gone against it, by using money that was promised to be used for the game, on trying to get other funders.

      I don't mind delays or financial problems. But not actually trying to deliver on the promise is unacceptable. To then turn around and claim that the promise wasn't made, or to try and claim it was fulfilled when it clearly wasn't, is even worse.
      They've dug their own grave, and instead of trying to get back up, they are getting bigger shovels.
      That is not dignified behaviour.
      I expected a LOT better.

    47. Clang_logo.small

      Creator Subutai Corporation on September 20, 2013

      Thank you, Dustin. I agree we could have communicated much more clearly.
      -Karen

    48. Davidope10.small

      Creator Dustin Hill on September 20, 2013

      I see where Zarlan is coming from. This update kind of made me take a step back and reassess my expectations for this project. After reading the front page and initial updates I think the problem lies on both sides. I think you guys posted a lot of "hey, we really hope we get to do this stuff at some point in the future" in a manner that came across as "hey, this is all going to be in a product that you guys are fully funding".

      In the end, I think your communication could have been better much better but I don't feel like you were being dishonest.

    49. Missing_small

      Creator Zarlan on September 20, 2013

      @Subutai Corporation
      As Martin Seeger points out, you did mention that the funding would only be for a first step, after which you would strive for creating more stuff
      ...but there was no mention of creating a startup company or just making a demo.
      The plan was to make a small, relatively modest, game.
      Once that games was made, using the Kickstarter funding, you would then use that game to, as you say in what you just quoted: "achieve our next level of funding--which will enable us to provide more character models, more environments, and more MASEs"
      In other words, you promised to make a little game using the Kickstarter funding.
      A game that you would then use to get funding to create more characters, environments and such things, as well as eventually adding in more stuff like story and the such.
      There was no word about just making a flawed demo (not even a beta version), nor was there any words about using the Kickstarter funding to get further funding.
      In fact, it is fairly clear from the wording that the prototype cannot be just a demo. You can't just add more character models, more environments, and more MASEs, to a demo. A demo would need tons more, before you get to that stage. (as is evident from the released demo, I've heard. I haven't bothered downloading it myself, as I thought I'd wait for the finished product I had been promised)

      If you had been completely honest about everything from the start, then I would probably still have backed it (though a lot less of the other backers would). However, I would then have backed it, knowing what I was paying for.

    50. Missing_small

      Creator Zarlan on September 20, 2013

      @Subutai Corporation
      In what way, does any of that address anything I mentioned?

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