Neal Stephenson, the science fiction writer² responsible for the crushingly brilliant Cryptonomicon, has launched a Kickstarter project for an arena-based sword-fighting game called CLANG.
This is not a sentence we ever expected to type.
Neither is this next one.
The launch video features cameos from a slew of blockbuster video game creators in fencing gear, including a wonderfully self-depreciating quip from Valve Software’s Gabe Newell.
Stephenson explains: “My career as an author of science and historical fiction has turned me into a swordsmanship geek. As such, I’m dissatisfied with how sword-fighting is portrayed in existing video games. These could be so much more fun than they are. Time for a revolution.”
CLANG’s emphasis will be on realistic sword-fighting, as the author explains: “CLANG will begin with the Queen of Weapons: the two-handed longsword used in Europe during late medieval and early renaissance times,” before listing a bunch of way in which it’ll differ from Namco’s arcade classic “Soul Caliber [sic]“.
This brings to mind Square-Enix’s PlayStation game Bushido Blade, which took the hyperactive feudal Japan fighting of SNK’s Samurai Shodown series and slowed it to the tempo of reality.
Its grand innovation was to make fighting more like fighting, dispensing with the health bars that had long been a shorthand read out for a fighter’s well-being (since Henk Rogers’ Black Onyx) and instead rendering damage as a drooping, broken arm or limp, useless leg.
It was a curious and brilliant game, but one that failed to take root in the video game landscape. Could CLANG be its spiritual successor?
It’s unclear exactly who Stephenson’s company Subutai Corporation (founded in 2010 to create stories, games, graphic novels and filmed entertainment in an integrated style) will be working with to bring the project to life – although he lists Bungie and Valve in the credit list for the trailer, so he’s not short on talented buddies.
Stephenson is looking for $500,000, with a minimum pledge of $1 per funder. Head along to CLANG’s Kickstarter page here to get involved, and read more details.