Neal Stephenson's Sword-Fighting Kickstarter Has an Awesome Cameo

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Neal Stephenson's Sword-Fighting Kickstarter Has an Awesome Cameo

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Neal Stephenson wants you to help fund his sword-fighting game.

Now in a perfect world that sentence above would be the end of this article. I'd simply submit it, collect my check and return to drinking, while you scuttle off to give Neal Stephenson as much money as he wants because he's Neal Stephenson. Unfortunately, the recent deluge of Kickstarter projects has probably left you a bit burnt out and leery. Now, even the most promising Kickstarter project needs that special something to ensure it stands out. Well, that's where this promotional video comes in, complete with a very pleasant surprise at 3:04.

CLANG, as the project is called, seeks to capture the exciting back-and-forth of sword duels. Stephenson starts off with a brief monologue, pointing out that video game melee weapons rarely receive the attention to detail afforded to firearms, and that current control systems simply aren't conductive to realistic hack, slash and stabery.

"It's not a sword game if you have to pull a trigger or push a button to swing your sword," he says, shortly before hurling an Xbox 360 controller into a trashcan.

Described as "Guitar Hero with swords," Clang appears to be the kind of in-depth fencing game couch samurais have been dreaming off since motion controls started gaining popularity. Apparently, early versions of the game will use an "off the shelf" motion controller - from the video it appears to be a Razer Hydra. The Kickstarter is asking for $500,000, and has just passed the $150,000 mark.

"In the last couple of years, affordable new gear has come on the market that makes it possible to move, and control a sword fighter's actions, in a much more intuitive way than pulling a plastic trigger or pounding a key on a keyboard," reads the game's Kickstarter page. "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 sword fighter."

Sold.

Permalink

As long as it's not another bloody Game of Thrones adaptation!
Edit: I'm also really glad it's not first person to. If it's going to be all about swordplay, having elbows is a definite plus.

Captcha: Make a bee-line
Stop pressuring Me!

Gabe Newell.
Forging a crowbar.
And saying "These things take time."

This is simultaneously hilarious and depressing.

Twilight.falls:
Gabe Newell.
Forging a crowbar.
And saying "These things take time."

This is simultaneously hilarious and depressing.

Gabe Newell forging a crowbar while Neal Stephenson watches.

I think I've had dreams about that, actually.

I like the idea that they want to make it work, so that other games can use it, just think if we took this and put it into other games were there are swords. or maybe we can make a bow, and a magic want or something and make it like Rock band.

Sword fighting? ahahahah, eat my crossbow. The skills of an archer are superior to that one who can hold a sword.

Sounds sweet but I would rather do it in real life.

Grey Carter:

Twilight.falls:
Gabe Newell.
Forging a crowbar.
And saying "These things take time."

This is simultaneously hilarious and depressing.

Gabe Newell forging a crowbar while Neal Stephenson watches.

I think I've had dreams about that, actually.

Well I kinda figured Gabe for a Renaissance man.

Twilight.falls:
Gabe Newell.
Forging a crowbar.
And saying "These things take time."

This is simultaneously hilarious and depressing.

Starting at 3 Minutes and 3 seconds, hitting the crowbar 3 times and saying "These things take time." for exactly 3 seconds, BOOM your mind has been blown :P

He also likes sharp objects, so it fits:

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They're from his great knife collection: http://www.giantbomb.com/giant-bomb-valve/17-4014/

I will challenge any trash talking kids to fight like men in this game and then we'll see whose moms we are talking about.

I hope they'll have compatibility with the Leap.

EDIT: so, the motivational poster....lemme guess

it says "CLANG in there" doesn't it

Dexter111:

Twilight.falls:
Gabe Newell.
Forging a crowbar.
And saying "These things take time."

This is simultaneously hilarious and depressing.

Starting at 3 Minutes and 3 seconds, hitting the crowbar 3 times and saying "These things take time." for exactly 3 seconds, BOOM your mind has been blown :P

He also likes sharp objects, so it fits:

They're from his great knife collection: http://www.giantbomb.com/giant-bomb-valve/17-4014/

That picture... it practically screams "If you ask me about the screen behind me...I will fucking cut you."

Grey Carter:

Twilight.falls:
Gabe Newell.
Forging a crowbar.
And saying "These things take time."

This is simultaneously hilarious and depressing.

Gabe Newell forging a crowbar while Neal Stephenson watches.

I think I've had dreams about that, actually.

Sorry double post!

Gray, that video and you have convinced me!

Sold!

Gabe...

What's that screen behind you Gabe?

What'cha doing with that anvil, Gabe?

Why aren't you making Episode 3, Gabe?

Twilight.falls:
Gabe Newell.
Forging a crowbar.
And saying "These things take time."

This is simultaneously hilarious and depressing.

So thats why Episode 3 is taking so long, apparently the combat is melee focused and he has to forge every single crowbar by hand. You see they will introduce a new mechanic where you can throw the crowbar for damage, and you have to find new ones often to replace ones you lost like in Silent Hill Downpour. Silly Gabe, you can visit your local hardware store for more!

... seriously though, get to work you ingenious lazy fat tub of lard.

Well, this is a great idea and all, and as much as I am a fan of the Razer Hydra (YAY, motion controls that's good), I'm not optimistic.

The most important part of swordfighting is footwork.

Dexter111:

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Wait... Did anyone else notice the Half-Life 3 logo in the background..?

Korten12:

Dexter111:

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Wait... Did anyone else notice the Half-Life 3 logo in the background..?

Perhaps Mr. Newell is trying to tell us that Gordon Freeman will now be using knives as well as a crowbar in half-Life 3.

I do like the idea of this sword fighting game. I would donate to it but unfortunately I just bought a new computer.

Danceofmasks:
Well, this is a great idea and all, and as much as I am a fan of the Razer Hydra (YAY, motion controls that's good), I'm not optimistic.

The most important part of swordfighting is footwork.

Lack of feedback of a sword hitting something is a bigger problem. And the motion controller has no inertia, no problem in stopping a fast swing with a 2-hander if we wish.

Looks more like Gabe is... umm, "Un-forging" that crowbar, actually. :P

...and yes - the lack of force feedback would indeed seem the biggest problem.
Properly dosed and balanced mass can be added to the controller, a VR headset and large room would give you mobility, but tactile interaction with the virtual opponent, and I'm not talking just the blade? Hmm...

This is their response to lack of feedback:

"We've been thinking about this for years. It's not in the videos because to try to explain it here would get us hopelessly deep into the weeds. We think we have an approach that will work. It's hard to explain in detail without a very lengthy brain dump. It's not just One Big Awesome Solution. It's a number of separate techniques working together. Some of these are familiar (visual, auditory, and haptic feedback) and others center on some innovative UI schemes. If you allow the controller's position to get out of sync with what is shown on the screen, you get some feedback to that effect and you get UI cues on how to get back into sync.

In general,if you drill down deep enough on the actual sword techniques, the tree of possible outcomes gets pruned way down. It turns out that you rarely have to solve the fully general problem of one sword stopping another sword traveling at top speed at an arbitrary location in space. Which is a hard problem!

If you are "swinging for the fences" with a sword attack---which is to say, if you are assuming a long follow-through---then you're probably doing it wrong. You don't have to cut the other guy in half. You just have to hit him. In most of these arts, you're trained to pull the attack and stop with the sword between you and the adversary. If the attack succeeds, you're done. If it fails, you have stopped with your blade in a tactically sound defensive position instead of swinging all the way through and taking your sword completely out of the action."

If you don't start somewhere, you will never get what you want. For the first time, this looks like an ambitious step in the right direction.

DVS BSTrD:

Edit: I'm also really glad it's not first person to. If it's going to be all about swordplay, having elbows is a definite plus.

As much as I like third-person games, I might have to disagree with you on that one. This could just be a personal thing, but having been a competitive fencer for several years, I think I'd get very confused trying to judge distances/anticipate an opponent's movements looking from a viewpoint other than my own eyes.

Danceofmasks:
Well, this is a great idea and all, and as much as I am a fan of the Razer Hydra (YAY, motion controls that's good), I'm not optimistic.

The most important part of swordfighting is footwork.

Yep, exactly this. To be honest, I think if people want to have some idea of real swordplay they should take up fencing, or kendo (I know there are other martial art styles using swords, but those are the only two I've done myself), or a medieval combat club of some kind. One of those instances where actual reality is better than the virtual kind. . .

Except those sports are really really expensive, not to mention it requires physical activity and well yeah stereotype.

I will still not be backing though, if the Hydra is used that means a nice 121 price tag will be put on top of this game just to play it. That's to much for me at this point and I wouldn't even be able to afford such an expensive after I got my paycheck.

So sorry, but if you find a motion controller for 60$ let me know.

Korten12:

Dexter111:

Wait... Did anyone else notice the Half-Life 3 logo in the background..?

As another poster aptly put it, the picture is daring anyone to ask about the screen behind him... And, predictably, you did. Now Gabe will stab you show your innards his knife collection.

I think it's great that more and more teams are trying to create accurate ways to use swordfighting in games.

I don't even care about swordfighting games, but I watched both of their videos like 5 times. I love Stephenson's deadpan character.

"That's ok Sir Galahad, I'll go twentieth-century on your ass later."
These don't come cheap, because we need to bid against the people who made Farmville... and Angry Birds..."
"This is not a sword! It's not even a knife!"
"It's not gonna be a big open world where you can wander around killing badgers and harvesting magic weeds, because... those things are expensive."

Didn't recognise Gabe at first with his beard, even though I knew about it.

So long as the controller has an insane amount of Feedback, enough to make you drop the thing the first time two swords meet, I'll be happy.

Never heard of Neal Stephenson, nor any of works listed on his wiki...

Snow Crash sounds interesting. Paying devs to make a game engine, does not.

PC version of the Playstation Move? No thanks.

newwiseman:
So long as the controller has an insane amount of Feedback, enough to make you drop the thing the first time two swords meet, I'll be happy.

consider the force related to loosing your sword like that can lead to injury, trying to simulate it ainīt smart, itīs still suppose to be a entertainment product.

Sober Thal:
Never heard of Neal Stephenson, nor any of works listed on his wiki...

Quick summary:

Snow Crash - awesome first few chapters, tails off a bit
Diamond Age - awesome until the last few chapters, falls completely to bits
Zodiac (co-written under a pen-name) - great fun but pure fluff
Cryptonomicon - Mind-blowingly good, interspersed with boring as fuck
Baroque Trilogy - Great but... Jesus... Help Me... 500 more pages to go... must... keep... reading
Anathem - Takes a few hundred pages to really take off, then goes insane and turns into a completely different book. Finally managed to complete it on the third try! Worth the effort.

That's all I've read. He's certainly one of the most original authors you'll ever read, and you never know what the hell you're going to get!

Sober Thal:
Never heard of Neal Stephenson, nor any of works listed on his wiki...

Snow Crash sounds interesting. Paying devs to make a game engine, does not...

Yeah, I came to the same conclusion; it seems less of game and more of a game-engine project.

Alex Cowan:
... This could just be a personal thing, but having been a competitive fencer for several years, I think I'd get very confused trying to judge distances/anticipate an opponent's movements looking from a viewpoint other than my own eyes.

Not to mention that your own character is obsuring some of the target area from your view.

While they were demonstrating disarms, parries etc. with the actors, all the game footage seemed to be of attacks to the head/torso. Maybe it is something they'll get to later, but there didn't appear to be any tactically-advantageous non-lethal hits going on in the game itself. That should have all the jammy Epeeists upset.

1337mokro:
Except those sports are really really expensive, not to mention it requires physical activity and well yeah stereotype...

Most fencing clubs, here in the UK at least, have plenty of clothing and equipment for beginners since we recognise it is an equipment-heavy sport, so please don't let the 'expense' put you off. As for the physical activity, yeah, that just comes with the territory ;)

IndianaJonny:

1337mokro:
Except those sports are really really expensive, not to mention it requires physical activity and well yeah stereotype...

Most fencing clubs, here in the UK at least, have plenty of clothing and equipment for beginners since we recognise it is an equipment-heavy sport, so please don't let the 'expense' put you off. As for the physical activity, yeah, that just comes with the territory ;)

I would still have to fly to the UK, find a house and a job there before I could even profit from those facilities. So yeah still a big price tag :D

Anyway, this game in my eyes is more of a step forward to gaming as a whole then an actual game. You have to look at it like this. After YEARS of wii mote, sony move and of course the kinect. How many decent sword games have we gotten?

How many game that accurately use motion in their gameplay are there? The answer is One. Dance games, even among the dance games though it can still be like night and day between games.

So for an accurate sword fight game to be released is more of a "This is how you do motion controls" rather then a sword fighting game in my opinion. If they can create an interesting and engaging world around it with the extra money or when they release the dev tools and some crazy modder creates a gigantic world for free then the game becomes an actual game on it's own.

1337mokro:

Anyway, this game in my eyes is more of a step forward to gaming as a whole then an actual game. You have to look at it like this. After YEARS of wii mote, sony move and of course the kinect. How many decent sword games have we gotten?

How many game that accurately use motion in their gameplay are there? The answer is One. Dance games, even among the dance games though it can still be like night and day between games.

So for an accurate sword fight game to be released is more of a "This is how you do motion controls" rather then a sword fighting game in my opinion. If they can create an interesting and engaging world around it with the extra money or when they release the dev tools and some crazy modder creates a gigantic world for free then the game becomes an actual game on it's own.

I think this is a great way to sum up this project. If it works, this game will be one of those legendary revolutionary occurances in gaming history, and while in itelf it may not have the writing of KOTOR, the open world of Skyrim, or the graphics of Crysis, it will directly cause a huge boon in any sword-based game that comes after it and uses it's technology. Imagine if this was the sword combat in Skyrim, or Mount and blade, or the next Star Wars game!

It is a platform for innovation that would boost the quality of these types of games hugely, and could even lead to other similar innovations in other games, like having your body transferred into the game world through the Kinect for dodging and ducking.
It's another step towards a better, more immersive gaming experience that would add a new layer of awesome to our games, and that must be supported.

Also he kinda looks like Kane from Command and Conquer:

Well, there is a market for arena-based multiplayer FPS games, so I guess a comparably well-developed swordfighting simulation could also have enough content in that format, without a big RPG world.

Little2Raph:

Danceofmasks:
Well, this is a great idea and all, and as much as I am a fan of the Razer Hydra (YAY, motion controls that's good), I'm not optimistic.

The most important part of swordfighting is footwork.

Yep, exactly this. To be honest, I think if people want to have some idea of real swordplay they should take up fencing, or kendo (I know there are other martial art styles using swords, but those are the only two I've done myself), or a medieval combat club of some kind. One of those instances where actual reality is better than the virtual kind. . .

Yeah, I'm lucky enough to have a local fencing studio with an instructor who teaches 15th century longsword (with occasional forays into pole ax and 13th century sword and buckler). I love the idea of this game, but in no way shape or form do we have the videogame tech to simulate fencing. So much of it is about footwork as well as sensing the strength and direction of the opponent's blade through yours.

Flight sims have the advantage of trying to simulate mechanical controls operated by a person sitting in a chair. Sword fighting? Not so much.

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