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Neal Stephenson wants to revolutionize sword fighting video games.
Neal Stephenson wants to revolutionize sword fighting video games.
9,023 backers pledged $526,125 to help bring this project to life.

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Hi, Neal Stephenson here. My career as an author of science and historical fiction has turned me into a swordsmanship geek. As such, I'm dissatisfied with how swordfighting is portrayed in existing video games. These could be so much more fun than they are. Time for a revolution.

In the last couple of years, affordable new gear has come on the market that makes it possible to move, and control a swordfighter's actions, in a much more intuitive way than pulling a plastic trigger or pounding a key on a keyboard. So it's time to step back, dump the tired conventions that have grown up around trigger-based sword games, and build something that will enable players to inhabit the mind, body, and world of a real swordfighter.

CLANG will begin with the Queen of Weapons: the two-handed longsword used in Europe during late medieval and early renaissance times. This is a well-documented style that has enjoyed a revival in recent years thanks to the efforts of scholars and martial artists worldwide.

At first, it'll be a PC arena game based on one-on-one multiplayer dueling (which is a relatively simple and attainable goal; we don't want to mess this up by overreaching). Dueling, however, is only the tip of the sword blade. During the past few years, we have been developing a rich world, brimming with all manner of adventure tales waiting to be written--and to be played. In conjunction with 47 North, Amazon.com's new science fiction publishing house, we've already begun publishing some of those stories, and we have plenty more in the hopper. Once we get CLANG off the ground we intend to weave game and story content together in a way that'll enhance both the playing and the reading experience.

"How will this be different than SoulCalibur?" you ask. .....

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

Depth: Roundhouse swings and crude blocks just aren't enough. Real sword fighting involves multiple attacks delivered from different stances, pommel strikes, grappling, feints, and parries.

Expandability: Implementing the longsword style will oblige us to construct a toolkit that can then be used--by us, or by others--to create other examples of what we're calling MASEs (Martial Arts System Embodiments). If your thing is Japanese kenjutsu or Viking sword-and-board, then in principle CLANG should support it.

Raising an army (or, in this case, building an enormous story-driven video game) is an expensive proposition and can take a number of years. In keeping with the scrappy, ragtag band of adventurers model, we are building this larger vision one step at a time. The next step is to build a functional proof of concept in the form of an exciting prototype we can share with you and use to achieve our next level of funding--which will enable us to provide more character models, more environments, and more MASEs. Which is to say, other weapons and styles from other places and eras. We are building a framework that can be expanded as far and as deeply as possible. We have, after all, several thousand years of martial history to draw from.              

In Which Neal goes into detail, as is his wont, regarding Clang:

Please read Technical Update #1 for details on CLANG design elements such as MASEs and In/Out of System movements.

Technical Update #2 covers our plans for the combat UI.

In Technical Update #3 Neal discusses timing, lag and tachypsychia.

Technical Update #4 goes more deeply into Sword Sync and Force Feedback.

Video update for reaching 50% of our goal. In this video, Neal takes you on a further tour of our secret facilities and introduces you to two very special characters.

Video update: It is all in the memo.

From the video archives of the Top Secret Sword Lab

Thanks to:

Mike Yahn, Stunt and Fight Coordinator

Dan Mahon    as Olaf

Kevin Joyce   as Mr. Cartwright

Seattle Knights

Nanda

Dave Clay

Kevin Inouye

3ric Johanson, Nathan Pegram, and Hackerbot Labs

Rusty Oliver and Hazard Factory

Bungie

Valve

SANCA

Guy Windsor

Tony Wolf

John Lennox

Razer

Jack Mcfarland as The Hipster

And an extra special thanks to Brady Hall, video director and editor.
bradyhallstuff.com

Mr. Stephenson's Bartitsuit was tailored by Duchess, Clothier

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

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    PDF of illustrated Clang fighting manual. Includes all preceding rewards.

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    T-shirt with CLANG/Subutai Kickstarter campaign graphic. Includes all preceding rewards (add $15 for international shipping).

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    Print edition of illustrated CLANG fighting manual. Includes all preceding awards (add $15 for international shipping).

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    Motivational poster signed by the team. OMVI patch. Includes all preceding rewards (add $20 for international shipping).

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    Print version of the illustrated CLANG fighting manual signed by the team, copy of the Deluxe Edition of The Mongoliad Book 1, signed by the writers. Includes all preceding rewards (add $15 for international shipping).

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    Complete Mongoliad trilogy signed by team plus invitations to company parties in Seattle. Includes all preceding rewards (add $15 for international shipping).

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    Name a character in a future Foreworld story, the alternate history in which The Mongoliad (and CLANG) is set. The name may be modified as necessary to fit the milieu. Includes all previous rewards.

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    Name a character in the large world Foreworld game project. The name may be modified as necessary to fit the milieu. Includes all previous rewards (except the $1241 level reward).

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    Your face on your exclusive character! We will have you send us a few photos and we will make you character that only you can use, with your face! Includes all previous rewards (except the $1241 and $1294 level rewards).

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    Original concept art plus invitations to company parties in Seattle. Includes all preceding rewards.

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    Steel longsword based on a design by noted sword-smith and Foreworld contributor, Angus Trim. Studio tour and lunch with the team! Includes all preceding rewards.

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    THE WAR KNIFE VERSION: Gotlandic war knife based on a design by bladesmith Jeff Pringle (a wootz and pattern welding specialist). These are replicas of 8th century weapons, not unlike what would be carried by the OMVI from Týrshammar in our Foreworld stories. In those days, "war knife" meant something akin to "short sword" rather than "pocket knife." This reward also includes a studio tour and lunch with the team, as well as all preceding lower-tier rewards (except the $1241 and $1294 level rewards and the sword).

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Funding period

- (30 days)