It’s been a few weeks since I’ve covered any Kickstarter projects. It’s not that there hasn’t been a shortage of good projects, but after this spring’s Kickstarter boom it’s become a really non-news worthy way of doing business, so I haven’t focused on it. But then I caught wind of a video game project called CLANG which is attempting to bring all of the visceral and realistic gameplay that is typically associated with guns into the less developed world of digital melee combat, specifically sword fighting. The idea is to offer the same level of ridiculous customization and tactical gameplay to swords in the same way it’s already offered for guns. So I guess instead of “geeking-out” over M16 scopes and skins gamers can get psyched for customizable hilts and blades. Regardless of whether you’re psyched or not it will be interesting to see if the Subtai Corporation (what a menacing name) can pull off the gameplay they’re hoping to.
At the helm of the project is popular fictional novelist Neal Stephenson who is “dissatisfied with how sword fighting is portrayed in existing video games.” He mentions the incredible level of detail and customization that is currently available to players in modern shooters, up to and including grips, color, and magazine size. Yet when it comes to swords there is a distinct lack of customization options, noting that flaming lighting swords don’t really count. Considering that there is already an enormous amount of variety and history dating back hundreds of years, a “galaxy” as Stephenson puts it, there is a wealth of ideas available for anyone who can manage to tame the gameplay. This is exactly what Subtai is trying to do.
As you can see in this video, they’ve been playing with all sorts of real-life swords for a long time, each one wired to give some form of digital feedback to the team. The hope is to collect enough data to recreate some form of realistic in-game swordplay, “Guitar Hero with swords” as they put it. Currently CLANG isn’t really a game so much as it’s a melee combat simulator which is where Kickstarter comes in. They’re hoping to raise the capital necessary to “step it up” and turn their combat simulator into a fully fledged game.
I have to admit when I first found out about this project on Kickstarter I thought it would be really awesome if one of their donation rewards was a real sword. Well it looks like they’re awesome because they are giving away eight of them to those who pledge over $10,000. If you think it’s silly because no one would want a real sword I can say that you’re already wrong as six of the eight they’re willing to make have already been claimed. So far this reward as well as others has helped to net roughly $150,000 to the project which is looking for a total of $500,000.
It may be a niche title, but that’s precisely why they’re making it; it shouldn’t be a niche title. They want to create the technology for making realistic swordplay in games a reality in the hopes that it will naturally widen the market.