Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Neal Stephenson Hits Up Kickstarter for Realistic Sword-Fighting Game

Author and geek god Neal Stephenson is obsessed with sword fighting; so much so he apparently runs a massive “top-secret sword lab” full of dueling medieval fighters, flying knives, motion capture sets, artists and animators.

Or at least that’s what’s depicted in this pitch video, which Stephenson and his Seattle-based Subutai posted to Kickstarter this weekend as part of a campaign to raise $500,000 to develop Clang, a PC-based dueling swordsman game, as well as a set of tools for other game makers to incorporate realistic sword fighting with motion controllers.

“Guitar Hero with swords” is how Stephenson described it.

So far, Clang doesn’t seem to have quite gone viral on Kickstarter; it’s raised $150,000 of its $500,000 goal. That’s totally respectable, given it only launched this weekend, but it could reflect some skepticism that someone like Stephenson really needs donations from Kickstarter to fund his pet projects. (Indeed, Subutai’s pre-Kickstarter investors include Bezos Expeditions, the Kennedy/Marshall Company and Valve founder Gabe Newell.)

“Sure, it’d be great to raise tens of millions of dollars and make a huge AAA, open-world game,” Stephenson told potential backers. “But there’s a price you pay for taking lots of funding upfront and that price is loss of creative control. We think that the approach we’re taking here — crowdfunding and building around a kernel that we control — is going to be better.”

If this prompts questions for you like “How will this be different than SoulCalibur?” or “How much do I have to donate to meet the author of ‘Cryptonomicon’ in person?” there’s a lot more detail on the Kickstarter page itself.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus