Sci-Fi Legend Neal Stephenson’s Game Is All About Swordfighting

Sci-Fi Legend Neal Stephenson’s Game Is All About Swordfighting

Stephenson, a self-confessed “swordsmanship geek”, must have played his fair share of Bethesda games. So intensely dissatisfied is he with the way they go about the gentleman’s art of blade stabbing that he’s decided to have a go himself. Forget all that role-playing nonsense, Stephenson’s aptly-named CLANG will be all about the metal.

“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.

Stephenson at first sounds like he’s talking about the PlayStation Move, Kinect and the Wii Remote, but he quickly mentions keyboards and regular controls and later, a custom controller. No consoles here though, at least initially. It’ll be a “PC arena game based on one-on-one duelling”.

“How will this be different than SoulCalibur?” Stephenson asks rhetorically on the game’s Kickstarter page. Easy — CLANG will not only feature a custom “low-latency, high-precision motion controller”, but plenty of depth as well. He explains that swordfighting isn’t just about banging weapons together — there’s a bit of punching and kicking involved too. Apparently “different stances, pommel strikes, grappling, feints and parries” will all be modelled and modding capabilities will allow players to add their own weapons and moves.

At the moment, the game has just over $US50,000 of its $US500,000 goal, though 29 days remain before the funding deadline. I don’t know if he’ll reach his target, but there’s certainly something romantic about a swordfighting game with Stephenson behind it.

CLANG [Kickstarter, via RPS]


  • It is, with what might be a HL3 reference.

    Stephenson: “Is that about ready?”
    Gabe, working on a crowbar: “These things, they take time.”

    • Pretty sure this video was definitive proof that Valve will use the APIs they are making here to have deep tactical crowbar combat in HL3!

  • I really like this idea, I just noticed one thing they need to improve. With the 3rd person view you can’t really see what’s going on in front of you. In the game footage when they were duelling there were too many moments when the enemy was completely blocked from view, which would make things difficult if you’re supposed to block and parry in real time.

    • I noticed this as well. Looks like something that can easily be fixed by moving the player character slightly to one side, or moving the camera around in some other way so you can see the action. I’m sure they’ll figure it out.

  • There is never enough collission detection in sword based games. I don’t understand why this has been left behind – Skyrim could have been amazing with it.

  • I thought you weren’t covering kickstarter’s anymore. Or is it just the ones you like that get covered? Way to maintain your journalistic ethics guys.

    • I don’t remember saying anything of the sort. I certainly haven’t been informed of such a policy change.

      I also think a Kickstarter video not only featuring Neal Stephenson, but Gabe Newell, is worth posting about.

  • hmmmm…. not sure i’m interested….but think I’ll have to back it anyway in the hope Neal makes a sci-fi game next…

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