Neal Stephenson’s Making A Game, Called CLANG

By John Walker on June 9th, 2012 at 11:46 pm.

Seriously.

Bam. Neal Stephenson, the author of science and historical fiction like Snow Crash and The System Of The World, has just announced he’s making a game. In fact, he announces he’s been researching how to make a game for years, and now he’s ready to make it. A sword fighting game, that will address his frustration with how sword fighting has been portrayed and delivered so far. With a Kickstarter video. With Gabe Newell in it. You need to watch this pitch video, below. CLANG!

At first built for PC, the plan is to create a game that rethinks how sword fighting is portrayed in games, and it appears the way to figure this out is to have dozens of people hitting each other in a large room, and then get one of the most famous men in the industry to be your blacksmith.

I shan’t spoil it any further. This is insane.

It’s an incredibly frank pitch, and a frankly incredible pitch. It really does seem like the depth of research he puts into his books has gone into this project too, with a genuine desire to realise sword fighting in a far more meaningful way. Astonishing amounts of work has already gone in, and many experts have been brought in during their research over the last few years. They’ve even invented new tech. Quite what this will be I’ve yet to pin down, but I reckon we’re talking Johann Sebastian Joust meets proper swordsmanship. They appear to be beginning with an off-the-shelf controller that presumably does a good enough job to appease Stephenson (maybe a hacked Wii controller or PS3 Move?), initially creating a two-person duel simulator with a two-handed longsword. Stephenson talks more about combat in games in this video:

Seriously.

Minutes in and they’re already at $25,000 $35,000 with an aim for an absolutely enormous half million. But you know what – I don’t doubt for a moment this one’s going to get there.

CLANG!

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186 Comments »

  1. Robert Yang says:

    For your reference, here’s another Source Engine game about swordfighting duels or something: http://www.blade-symphony.com/ — I think where Source is weaker than Unreal or Cry in other areas, the animation systems are among the strongest. (Or at least that’s what animators tell me.) Makes sense for a game design so dependent on character animation.

    • kwyjibo says:

      Blade Symphony is clearly the premier sword fighting Kickstarter project. We should all support that one and ignore this one.

      Unless a Clang representative turns up to the RPS Social Club and buys a round that is, obviously – that would change everything.

      • Alexander Norris says:

        It’s true; I’ve yet to see Neal Stephenson buy drinks at the RPS Social Club.

      • cassus says:

        From what I’ve seen, Blade Symphony will appeal to a completely different audience than this. The video for blade symphony clearly portrayed a hacky slashy god of war clicky click type game where this is more of a sword fighting simulator. It’s like comparing some arcade shooter, CoD, say, to ArmA. Blade Symphony didn’t interest me at all. Beautiful, though. Just don’t want to run around mashing buttons to do insane 10x speed insta spin attacks all fighting game style.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Huh, thanks for the plug, Mr Yang. :)

      I might end up getting shouted at for saying this but our lead designer/lead programmer actually works for Subutai (and appears in the Weeds video at ~5:05).

      Clang looks super interesting, and anything that makes for better swordfighting games is awesome by our books. Hopefully, awesome things come out of this. :D

      • dsi1 says:

        When I was watching the bit with the in-game stuff the sword trails looked mighty familiar :p

    • dE says:

      To be honest, I’m a bit wary of them. In their previous mod – Dystopia (one of the best mods by the way) they handled personal issues in a particularly poor fashion. Things like getting into heated flamewars with clans. Did they get better with Public Relations?

    • aethereal says:

      Blade symphony! It’s made by the same guys that made Dystopia, one of the best FPS source mods.

  2. LionsPhil says:

    KANE LIVES!

  3. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    “He makes a point”

    PUN INTENDED

  4. Monkeh says:

    I do dislike how they don’t mention Mount&Blade, but it does sound very intriguing. Let’s hope the controller won’t be too expensive. :P

    • Vexing Vision says:

      I strongly dislike how there’s no mention of War of the Roses, which does indeed allow full customization of different sword-types. At least according to the Alpha Footage.

      I am more disappointed that there is no mention of Die By The Sword, which is exactly the same thing they’re doing right now only without the motion controller, because those things didn’t exist back then.

      Also, you should all buy Die By The Sword. http://www.gog.com/en/gamecard/die_by_the_sword_expansion

      • Premium User Badge

        felisc says:

        i played the demo of diebythesword a thousand times back when it came out. i had lots of fun.
        i wonder how it feels now, i guess gog-ing it might be a good idea.

      • Gonefornow says:

        For some reason I already own Die by the sword on GoG.
        Bought it on sale I suppose.

        Now I’ll have to give it a swing.
        I did enjoy combat in Severance after all.

      • int says:

        The game play certainly reminds of Die by the Sword. I still have the game box left.

        Fun fact, the game was made by Treyarch who made COD: World at War and BLOPS.

  5. Premium User Badge

    stahlwerk says:

    I can’t wait for them to take a stab at this.

    • Craig Stern says:

      It does sound sword of awesome.

    • man-eater chimp says:

      It doesn’t look like they’re going to cut any corners.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      Knife. Some excellents wordplay there.

      • lith says:

        Man, everyone’s so on edge about this.

      • The Random One says:

        I don’t see any ‘excelent’ puns. The RPS readership did a real hack-job this time, and I’m not going to cut them any slash.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I wonder if they’ll be able to compile a useful design document out of that corpus of research, though. I can GCC offering fine control of sword positioning without the footwork to match causing them some problems.

      • Premium User Badge

        stahlwerk says:

        It is hard to stay objective, see? I’ll try not to get up in ARMs about that.

        • LionsPhil says:

          When it comes to crowd-sourcing, a little enthusiasm can be a plusplus, especially when it’s not just another game following some standard template.

          I just hope nobody takes exception to the virtual destruction.

    • Premium User Badge

      el_murph says:

      That’s what sheath said!

    • westyfield says:

      RPS commenters demonstrating their classic rapier wit.

    • TyrOvC says:

      This is only going to work through the use of cutting edge technology.

    • NailBombed says:

      Looks like this could provide a decent amount of pommelling.

      • ColOfNature says:

        Stephenson is clearly a mage. I reckon this is all just epee-nis envy .

    • ColOfNature says:

      Stephenson is clearly a mage. I reckon this is all just epee-nis envy.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I don’t know. I’m on the fence. I sword I would be more careful about Kickstarters.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      I’m parry excited about this one.

    • Fuzzball says:

      I need to get home, katana computer, and donate!

    • Crane says:

      Another damn pun thread? I’ll make you epée for starting this nonsense!

    • roryok says:

      I hope they have the mettle to see this through

    • hilltop says:

      I think a lot of people have been claymouring for something like this.

      This post has got me riled up like a katana hot tin roof.

    • Grargh says:

      Sadly, it looks like none will be speared.

  6. Tuggy Tug says:

    so rawsome

  7. Moonshine Fox says:

    As someone who actively trains medieval fencing, those moves in the background are authentic. That is REAL swordfighting right there.

    • Docslapper says:

      As someone who has done dark-age re-enactment for years, I keep wanting someone to actually use a shield

    • vivlo says:

      you mean, they really went into the medieval age to import some real sword fighters ? Wow, they weren’t lying about inventing new technologies !

  8. Dozer says:

    This looks fantastic. There’s a downside though – I like sitting passively at my desk and moving a mouse around to aim a gun, but never really liked the dancing-around-the-sitting-room gameplay of the Nintendo Wii. For one thing, it makes me sweat.

    If I wasn’t teetering on my overdraft limit I’d go and buy some of this guy’s books now!

    • Jay says:

      That’s not really a downside though. The whole basis of the thing’s revolving around more immersive control systems to cater for those who might enjoy it. I don’t see it as any different from needing a wheel & pedals setup to get the most from a good driving sim. Of course it’s not going to be for everyone, but for a certain few it might be the best thing going.

      Really excited by this. I’ve been clamouring for someone to pick up where Die By The Sword left off ever since motion controls started to break through into the mainstream. Simple though it was, I greatly enjoyed Skyward Sword’s recent stab at it (arf etc) and thought it added immeasurably to the experience. And with some serious work being put into these systems, then can only get better from here.

      • Bhazor says:

        Except it won’t work because of the basic problems with motion control.
        i) You can’t walk “off set” so any movement has to be abstracted into hand signals/leans etc so you can’t circle an opponent for example or do a diving roll like the stunt people were doing.
        ii) Theres zero impact/feedback which in a sword fighting game is essential. As it is your hit will be blocked but your arm will continue the swing causing all kinds of wonkiness as the game tries to work out where you are.
        iii) You are very limited over what you can do to the player character which means no knock downs, no throwing, no pinning and no grapples

        I’m guessing they’re trying for 1:1 control but that won’t work and they’ll have to abstract the controls anyway. So they’re both abstracted but personally in this case the old fashioned system is probably better.

        • Jay says:

          Even with those issues you mention, I still find games like Skyward Sword to be much more immersive and enjoyable. Sure, it’s far from perfect and there’s all kinds of tricks and things bodged together there, but it works remarkably well. I’ll admit that’s about the simplest possible example, but I’d absolutely like to see how far a few sharp folks with a keen interest in the subject could take those basic motion control concepts.

          And anyway, even if it ultimately fails, I’m still more than happy to throw a few quid their way to help them give it a try.

          • Bhazor says:

            “simplest possible example”

            Thats just it. It uses the vaguest waggles to convey simple fast paced actiony combat. There was no follow through on sword swings, an auto lock-on, movement was with a control stick and combat was very methodical with enemies warning you seconds in advance before attacking.

            The way he’s pitching it implies a level of simulation. In which case the issues I mentioned are magnified ten fold.

        • El_Emmental says:

          hm… my 3 cents

          i) Movements will indeed be abstracted, however if these abstracts movements are carefully chosen it is possible to not break the immersion that much (like you said, leaning and stuff). It is just impossible to make a full-sim of sword fighting, you had better join a club and fight with non-sharpened/wooden swords with other sword-enthusiasts.

          ii) The lack of actual feedback can be countered using a rumble pack, and forcing the player to keep his controller at (approx) same position as ingame, a) to stop the rumble pack from vibrating b) to not lose grip/power ingame. It’s far from perfect, but the player would still make (most of) the movements displayed on-screen.

          iii) These specific moves could be activated using a specific movement of the controller (with a button to push on the controller to activate such moves, to avoid triggering it accidentally) when the character is at the right position. So you’re still mimicking the movement, but never activate it just because the automatic-movements-detection system screwed up.

          I still don’t know if and how they’ll pull this off, there’s so much difficult problems to tackle.

        • InternetBatman says:

          Some of the feedback problems can be ameliorated through judicious use of a rumble system. If it got more intense for jarring blows etc. Also, all we can do is seek to be better, not perfect.

        • gwathdring says:

          Fair points. I have a bit of legitimate western martial arts experience, and a LOT of experience with something much fluffier called Dagorhir (we’re sort of like paintball as imagined by ex-SCA members or if you aren’t familiar with the SCA, medieval LARPing without the RPing and taking the fun-first-safety-second-realism-third approach that paintball takes to guns). Medieval combat games can be brilliant fun and tactically interesting, but they just don’t capture even the right genre of tactics. It makes sense that gaming struggles with the tactics of martial arts and close-quarters combat. Range combat relies much more on macroscopic positioning and awareness which can be more easily mimicked in games in a way that is very satisfying. How well you understand the limitations of your gear, how well you anticipate the locations and tactics of your enemies, how accurately you aim, and so forth–it all comes into play very nicely.

          But in a classic sword-and-buckler duel, one needs to be able to swing the sword from various angles, parry from various angles, change the height of the swing and body posture separately, make at least a couple steps in every direction, grapple, kick, and use the buckler both offensively and defensively. These are just the basic elements of the form. The same goes for any close-quarters fighting style, including modern military martial arts. Field position is replaced by body position, and that transition alone is really hard to make satisfying in a game that is accessible through a pick-up-and-play control scheme.

          But it isn’t impossible. There’s a game called Torribash and a lot of similar games that attempt to answer this problem, albeit from a completely different direction without any sort of realism. In Torribash, you step into a slow-motion world, controlling the contraction or extension of various muscle pairs and the rotation or flexion of various joints on a rigid body model. You have a short amount of time to respond to your opponent’s positioning and a little ghost that outlines what will happen to both of you if nothing changes … then your turns resolve simultaneously and a mad world of flying limbs and tasteless bloodsplatter ensues.

          I’m really not sure what the best way to make this kind of combat work in real time is, though. I honestly feel that motion capture is the best way. With clever design, I’m confident there’s a way to make the tactical decisions inherent in sword combat present in a game. It doesn’t need to allow you to perfectly replicate all the moves involved in sword combat, just to replicate the genre of tactical decisions involved in a manner comparable to what we’ve seen with gunplay and modern warfare so that it can excite the similar neurons without resulting in damaged furniture. I think it’s an attainable goal.

          P.S: Also, real swords of a quality that can withstand regular training are expensive and hard to find. Wooden swords are overly hard, rigid, brittle and sometimes too heavy. They absorb very little shock (one’s elbows protest parrying profusely), but they work reasonably well and aren’t too expensive. Foam weapons of a good quality that give any sort of satisfying response to someone who’s used the real thing are time consuming to build, not particularly cheap, but much safer and cheaper than sparing with real or wooden swords (very little protective gear is needed).

          Really, even to enthusiasts and hobbyists with access to one or more of the forms of practice/fun mentioned above, this sort of game would be an enormous boon if it works.

          • egg-zoo-bear-ant will e 91 says:

            Well said. Also Bushido Blade! for it’s health system and some other features.

          • Gandaf007 says:

            For what it’s worth, this can be found in the FAQ

            How are you going to handle sword on sword collisions with regards to 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.

        • Felix says:

          Your third point is untrue. You should be able to grapple, pin, etc. another character with motion controls.

        • Azdeus says:

          Would’nt the Novint Falcon be pretty good for these type of things? Don’t remember if it actually supports rotation, but it’s got force feedback for you atleast, wich is loads better than the more common rumble.

  9. Easy says:

    Pretty high on the weird-yet-awesome scale. Mmm, interesting (strokes goatee)…

  10. Premium User Badge

    Diziet Sma says:

    An entire game based around a frontend for c/c++/objective-c particularly with the llvm compiler? That sounds really really niche but on the bright side it will be easy to compile for macs and ios devices. .

    watches the video..

  11. Dominic White says:

    The description makes it sound like it’s going to be compatible with a current market-available motion controller. My guess would be the Playstation Move, which is effectively the Wii Remote V3.0 (Wii MotionPlus is V2.0). It’s a solid, quite accurate controller with visual tracking too, so it could work. It’s a standard Bluetooth device with USB support and there’s already PC drivers available for it.

    • Premium User Badge

      stahlwerk says:

      IMO, what Microsoft need to really pull off windows 8 is a wii-mote-esque controller. It would be a perfect fit for using metro as a 10 foot interface. The Kinect (if not used for voice control) is a dead end.

      Edit for actual point: so if they’d somehow cooperate with sony (ha!) and license their PS-Move tech, this could be the killer app for that.

      • kud13 says:

        No, to pull off Windows 8, M$oft needs to give users an option to NOT need to treat their PC as a tablet.

      • egg-zoo-bear-ant will e 91 says:

        Use Kinect and Move at once on PC! But the move wand doesn’t have analog sticks…

      • Text_Fish says:

        They should make a mouse/wii-mote hybrid, really. But that’ll never happen because they’ll piss all their money in to the next toybox and change the topic any time PC Gaming enters the conversation.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Durkonkell says:

    That… is the most awesome gaming related video I’ve ever seen that hasn’t originated in Valve. Although of course it IS based in Seattle, Washington (Location of Valve HQ) and it does feature someone moderately important within that company. Hmm.

    Also: [Insert conspiracy theory re: Gabe Newell working on a crowbar]

    EDIT: My gods, one of the limited edition $10000 rewards is gone already. Good GRIEF!

  13. sakmidrai says:

    “These things, they take time”

    HL3 announced.

    • rebb says:

      Funny enough, that bit happens to start pretty much at the 03:03 mark .

  14. Kdansky says:

    I like it, but I also liked Storybricks, which tried to do something similar, except for sword-fighting, they went for “more interesting quests”, and their kickstarter failed miserably. Their video wasn’t as ridiculously good as this one though.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Crimsoneer says:

    I’m not hugely optimistic. I’ve been fencing for 15 or so years at this point, and I just don’t see how you can re-recreate anything vaguely similar without a ridiculous amount of movement. Distance and footwork are 90% of fencing. But hey, I’ll happily try it when they release something :)

    • Kektain says:

      I see where you’re coming from, but I enjoy shooting games despite knowing from experience that firing a rifle is nothing like moving a mouse around and clicking.

      The key is to find a good abstraction, which swordfighting games just haven’t yet. Mount and Blade is probably the closest, but it’s still ludicrously distant. Sadly this looks like it’ll just be another not-Wiimote waggling game.

    • El_Emmental says:

      I did a few “discover what is fencing” sessions a few years ago, it liked it a lot (I don’t know why I never joined a club) and yes it was all about distance and footwork, even when you’re fencing for the first time.

      I think this game will be about mastering cool sword moves, not actual fencing.

      And I’m really ok with this, I enjoyed the hell out of Severance: Blade of Darkness (just imagine Severance and this sword system combined…)

      • FunkyBadger3 says:

        *All* hand-to-hand combat is about distance and footwork.

  16. zoombapup says:

    Wasn’t DETERMINANCE already made?

    I’m confused here. Why does a rich guy like Neil Stephenson need to use kickstarter? surely he can fund a prototype himself. If an indie dev can finish a game without any money, why does an international author need to use kickstarter at all?

    Sure, the video is good and yes they might make a new controller, but frankly people hack crap like that all the time without putting out the begging bowl.

    Call my cynical if you like, but something smells “off” to me.

    • kwyjibo says:

      Kickstarter is, and has always been, an avenue for promotion. Why shouldn’t a business take loads of money in pre-orders without any guarantee of a product, or have to give away any equity?

      Obviously, loads of people want to give other people money, so why not take advantage of it?

    • Premium User Badge

      Wisq says:

      I dunno, “rich science fiction author” seems like an oxymoron.

      • Merlkir says:

        Exactly, I’m not sure NS is that much of a Scrooge McDuck, diving into pools of coins.

    • El_Emmental says:

      Determinance is the reason why you can’t make a good sword-fighting game without proper funds, devs and specialists.

      ps: “Die by the Sword” (1998) already did the “move mouse around, it moves the ingame sword around”.

      ps 2: oh, it’s on gog.com ( http://www.gog.com/gamecard/die_by_the_sword_expansion )

      • zoombapup says:

        I’m not sure I follow. They were able to at least try a new input method. You can argue it doesn’t work to your taste, but my point was that they did it without having to use kickstarter money just fine. Plus they weren’t backed by a well known author.

      • fanganga says:

        I remember playing some weird demo with floaty swordsmen on the basis that having detailed sword fighting seemed really cool and failing horribly at it – that was Determinance – thanks for reminding me of the name.

    • Saldek says:

      “If an indie dev can finish a game without any money, why does an international author need to use kickstarter at all?”
      If an indie dev can finish a game without any money, why does anybody need to use kickstarter at all?

      “[...]frankly people hack crap like that all the time without putting out the begging bowl.”
      Using Kickstarter is putting out the begging bowl?

      Cynical, perhaps. Confused, certainly.

      • zoombapup says:

        “If an indie dev can finish a game without any money, why does anybody need to use kickstarter at all?”

        Good question there. Kickstarter has become the new “we are shit scared our product will be rubbish, so we’ll mitigate the risk by giving it to everyone else”. I’m not a fan of that mentality.

        “Using Kickstarter is putting out the begging bowl?”

        Well, put it this way, you pay money, you get? Nothing, perhaps. Its basically the same as Kiva, in that you are giving your money in the hope that it does something useful. But there are no guarantees, so its a lot closer to charity than it is investment. And begging bowls are charity too.

        “Cynical, perhaps. Confused, certainly.”

        Not confused. Jaded perhaps.

        I guess nobody noticed that they already HAD a prototype in that video? so why where they asking for money to fund a prototype?

        This looks like some weird form of promotion. As someone pointed out, kickstarter is more a vehicle for marketing. Which is kind of sad as it might have actually been useful to really struggling developers before it became a fashion statement.

        • drdss says:

          They have a very rough prototype, but it looks like they want to make that into an arena game. This will then allow others to add to it via the APIs etc. etc.

          As to why Kickstarter, well, it appears that they’ve already put quite a bit of their own money in and want to stem the haemorrhage a little? Or maybe they’re using it as a sounding board – get X amount of money, equate that to how interested people are in this sort of thing, get someone like Valve to commit to it.

        • 357SIG says:

          My god I’m half naked! You’ve just made me realize the octodad 2 T-shirt I’m wearing and the art on my walls don’t exist! I’ve gotten nothing, Kickstarters are absolute shams!

        • Shuck says:

          Sure, an indie dev can make a game “without any money” if we assume an indie dev’s time and effort are “free” and that they have all the skill-sets necessary to do the programming, art, sound, music, etc. themselves and that the marketing will cost nothing. (Most Kickstarter campaigns for games are to pay for one of those things.) And why should devs work without any money? Who can afford to go for months without income?
          The $500K being raised for this project amounts to less than a half-dozen people working in some office space for no more than a year, so it should be no surprise they already have something done – that amount isn’t going to pay for a full game of this scope.

  17. Brosepholis says:

    I wonder if it uses LLVM as a backend?

  18. FunkyBadger3 says:

    I bet it’s about 8 times longer than it has to be and completely unedited.

    • gwathdring says:

      The Baroque Cycle was frustrating. The characters and scenarios were engaging, and at times the writing was quite snappy and legible. But it simply told too much to tell enough of a story. I wanted to love it, and some passages went into my little collection of pages to remember, but I just couldn’t slog through it anymore after halfway through the second book.

      Snow Crash, however, is one of the tightest, slickest, novels I’ve ever read. It clips along, doesn’t take itself too seriously, goes some really wild places, and really punches above it’s weight class in terms of impacting the way I think about science fiction landscapes. It’s the first time Cyberpunk really mattered to me as a reader–as a tabletop and video gamer, I’ve always been fond of the genre. Have yet to really be moved by cyberpunk film … I was particularly disappointed by the highly recommend Ghost in the Shell which was, for me, a complete dud set in a fascinating world.

      Anywho, unfortunately for me he seems to prefer the longer form that I just don’t enjoy as much in his style. Even within The Baroque Cycle and Cryptomnicon I felt he was at his best when he was blunt, rough, and slightly surreal.

      • FunkyBadger3 says:

        Snow Crash. Tight?

        Did you forget the 200 pages of Num-Shubb of Enki that his fecking robo-butler info-dumps into the middle of the book?

        Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the individual chapters were brilliant, but man, he needs an editor.

        • YourMessageHere says:

          No, that was what made the book great. Gibson’s like a fever dream – a collection of magnetic and unforgettable visions, fascinating and memorable, but completely isolated from reality. Stephenson researches and shows his work, and the result stays with you because it’s credible as well as cool.

        • gwathdring says:

          I thought it was quite well contained. I mean … he’s not as concise as Gaiman and as mentioned above there’s an inherent fuzziness to his writing. The words and imagery are crisp, but they’re often attached to something wibbly and amorphous. It worked for me in Snow Crash for the same reasons it often fell flat in the Baroque Cycle. It gave everything a zany, feverish feel. I felt like that book clipped along pretty fast.

      • FunkyBadger3 says:

        For cyberpunk reads – have you read Burning Chrome? Absolutely Gibson’s best work.

        Then Neuromancer, of course…

        • gwathdring says:

          Haven’t read burning chrome, no. I’ll give it a go. Thanks. :)

      • Toberoth says:

        Snow Crash was indeed excellent. IMO The Diamond Age was Stephenson’s best, and I’d highly recommend taking a look at it. Again, it’s extremely discursive, but never distractingly so. Rather than feeling like there’s too much stuff in there, as some of his other books do, it’s more the case that it’s a book to get totally lost in (which is surprisingly apt considering some of the motifs of the story).

      • Unruly says:

        Which Ghost in the Shell did you experience? Was it the manga, the 1995 movie, the 2004 sequel to the movie, or the TV series from 2002-2004? The reason I ask is because they all differ and one may not work for you but another might. I’ve read some of the manga, seen both of the movies, and seen the TV series. Personally I find the TV series the best, because it expands on the world, develops the characters, and keeps everything at a nice pace. And it does it without really dumbing the series down.

  19. wodin says:

    Hmm, what was the game though? Sounds more like a tech demo of sword play or something. Also the AI will be a bitch to programme to react your attacks etc.

  20. Axess Denyd says:

    People keep wondering if they are going to adapt the Wii or Move controllers…..It seems more logical to me that the Razer Hydra would be the basis, especially since Valve has already made custom Portal 2 content for them.

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/01/09/razer-hydra-gets-own-portal-2-version/

    • Hoaxfish says:

      might also be interesting if it could combine with the PC version of Kinect that is supposedly around somewhere

      Of course you’d probably have to let users hold a substitute object to get that whole “I’m holding a sword” thing, rather than just making empty stances.

    • TychoCelchuuu says:

      Good call on the Razer Hydra guess. From their first FAQ that just went up:

      This isn’t a binding commitment, because plans can always change, but: we are big fans of the Sixense technology as embodied in the Razer Hydra controller. The engineering team at Sixense has found a way to make an extremely high-resolution, low-latency controller by making ingenious use of simple and inexpensive components. We intend to make CLANG work on any hardware that supports the same protocol.

    • ColdSpiral says:

      Pretty sure that the wireless controller they’re using in the videos is the Sixsense prototype, which became the Razer Hydra. It would make sense for what they’re wanting to do with it – low-latency and not reliant on line-of-sight, for a start.

      • Premium User Badge

        Vandelay says:

        I immediately thought it would be the Hydra, but didn’t recognise the controller in the video. Now you mention it, it does look like the dev version.

        I would be happy with that, already having one, but I’m not sure how widespread they are. It would probably be easier for more people to get hold of one of the alternatives at a significantly cheaper price, even if it did require some fiddling to get it to work on a PC.

  21. MrEvilGuy says:

    Wow. Neal Stephenson is my new god.

  22. Armante says:

    OMG. how could you NOT fund this?
    Neal’s a total win (love the books)
    It has Gabe (what.does.that.mean??)

    valve is looking into hardware/bio-feedback..
    there are a lot of real people involved, obviously have been working on this for some time,
    and now they’ve reached the point where they want to crowd-fund.
    If wii-mote’s and kinect are the first steps, this could be the next. and this.. this looks interesting.
    I’m in

  23. caddyB says:

    That’s a ridiculously good pitching vid. I don’t think I’ll ever play it, but I’m going to back it. I think I’m hypnotized.

  24. Bhazor says:

    A game built entirely around motion control?
    Oh. Well.

    What this means is that nothing you saw in the background would actually be possible at least certainly not 1:1 like he seems to claim.

    • El_Emmental says:

      So basically you’re not excited because it’s not going to be 1:1 ? Well, even ArmA II isn’t 1:1 when compared with real-life (even with the add-ons), and it’s still a great “mil-sim” basis.

    • Premium User Badge

      Vandelay says:

      The Razer Hydra is the most likely device for this and it is 1:1 movement.

  25. Chris D says:

    Some of you may know that I occasionally use sarcasm or hyperbole to make a point, or perhaps an ill judged attempt at humour.

    Not today. Sometimes, perhaps only once in a lifetime, we come across something that is above such sophistry, something that demands only to be spoken of with the utmost sincerity. So believe that I am absolutely, deadly serious when I say.. OMG THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER!!!!!

  26. Quatlo says:

    So… Die By the Sword : Wii Edition? Clunky mouse controls were probably only downside of this now forgotten classic. That was closest thing to swordfight we got, because mount and blade is really just about “get the fastest weapon”, as at high skill level you just can’t be hit if you know how to block.

    • FakeAssName says:

      I was just about to name drop Die By The Sword, mostly because their demo footage looked a like a high rez version of it.

    • Jay says:

      Not forgotten either, you can still pick it up from GOG with the expansion thrown in, it was among the very first games they (re-)released. ‘Classic’ might be pushing it a bit but I won’t deny it’s an absolute riot, and a game I have more affection for that it probably deserves.

    • jamur says:

      DBTS has horrible control. But for me, the fun and sense of freedom it gives the player is matched by very few games. Every enemy is a welcome canvas of free form amputation.

  27. Urthman says:

    I’m not really that interested in a sword-fighting game, but if there were a Kickstarter to fund Neal Stephenson making more videos like this, I’d throw money at it.

    • Angel Dust says:

      Agreed. I’m not a big fan of Stephenson’s writings (I prefer the likes of Wallace & Pynchon for my self-indulgent brain dump fix) nor am I particularly into sword fighting games but that was an awesome pitch video.

  28. Premium User Badge

    Petethegoat says:

    CLANG

    What the fuck was that?

  29. otaku4225 says:

    I wonder what the sword research and such was about before he got the idea for a video game.

    • darkath says:

      The point was to be able to realistically depict sword fighting in various media, it’s started with a book published chapter by chapter called the Mongoliad and set in an alternate history setting. I guess it involve a lot of sword fighting.
      Now they want to expand the concept to movies (They have this big hollywood producer in their investors), and games (they have this big Valve CEO in their investors).

      Oh and for the book parts, Jeff Bezos is involved too…

  30. InternetBatman says:

    Thank god. I was afraid the many brilliant innovations of the wiimote would be thrown away with its flaws. But a Neal Stephenson motion control game on Steam is better than I could have asked for.

  31. Hoaxfish says:

    Neal Stephenson presents Gabe Newell: Knife-Fighter

  32. Cosmonaut Zero says:

    OMFG I know what this is. This is a Western version of Bushido Blade with motion controls. Sign me the fuck up.

    • El_Emmental says:

      I just watched some Bushido Blade gameplay on youtube, that’s pretty amazing for PS1 game (hopefully we have emulators nowadays…)

      • Premium User Badge

        jrodman says:

        We do indeed.
        http://www.zophar.net/psx.html

        My favourite is pSX, not because it’s good but because it’s a low-hassle setup.

        I will warn you though, epsxe requires a *least* a pentium 200mhz, and recommends a 1ghz chip for best results. A card capable of some form of 3d graphics is also required.

    • Emeraude says:

      Bushido Blade was a fascinating experiment, from a period when Square soft was one one of the most interesting and creative studios around (a time where even their failures would be at worst interesting and educative – and I mean that in a good sense).

      The first person view – if anything – was incredible.

      • Toberoth says:

        Bushido Blade was absolutely ace. I’m all about the sledgehammer.

        • FunkyBadger3 says:

          Drunken post-pub winner-stays-on Bushido Blades festivals.

          Oh yes.

        • Arglebargle says:

          Bushido Blade! I wasgood with both the Naginada and short sword. Maia, distance judgement for entering combat’ was paramount. Fond memories.

    • shitflap says:

      Thank you!
      I didn’t want to be the first person to go “Someone should mod in Bushido Blade, cos it’s a gem most people missed, actually made me cry at one point, and was a model that has been woefully neglected.”

  33. gwathdring says:

    Those videos were pretty awesome.

  34. Premium User Badge

    golem09 says:

    I want to play games like this, yes.
    Problem is, there is no way to stop my physical blade controller when ingame I “clank” with another sword. It’s an empty move that take pretty all immersion for me away.
    So as much as I want this, it can’t work.

  35. trjp says:

    Great video – but I’m afraid the idea is doomed to failure…

    You can’t make a realistic sword-fighting game anymore than you can make a realistic driving game or skiing game or whatever. You can’t get the weight of the sword, the feedback of swords clashing, the position of the person (and the opponent) and all that jazz – just like we’ll never feel G forces or snow density or that stuff – you have to work around that.

    Years ago someone captured the essence of computer gaming for me when they contrasted FIFA/PES and Sensible Soccer. FIFA/PES try their level best to be like ‘real football’ but actually only end-up LOOKING like it wheras SS plays how people THINK football is played and is a far better game because of it.

    Summary: if you love sword fighting, go fight with swords. If you want a sword fighting game, look for one which behaves how you THINK a sword fighting game should work but shun the “plastic stick” bollocks cos you’ll be bored in an hour (and you’ll probably break stuff in that time too).

    • wodin says:

      Ohhh Sensi Soccer…played the lif eout of that on the Atari ST with my mates back in 91 stoned. Then bought 2for the Amiga 1200 and the manager game. Loved it.

  36. The_cake_is_a_lemon says:

    Half-life 3 reference at 4:24 :D Yeah I know everyone’s probably noticed that already :/

    I’ll show myself out now…

  37. Muzman says:

    As an aside: he was talking about the depth of simulation available in shooters. But is there really?
    There’s a ton of gun porn, sure. But how many games really try to simulate wind, bullet drop, encumbrance, kick (better than shaking the reticule), velocity, ammo management, or even proper reloading?

    It’s completely beside the point, I know. But there aren’t a lot of games striving to do guns properly either.

    • YourMessageHere says:

      About fifteen years ago a friend and I started planning out a theoretical ideal FPS in idle moments at school. Proceedural open levels, hundreds of different weapons, emergent gameplay, all that sort of thing. One thing that stuck with me was the phrase “the Gran Turismo of gun games”. I honestly thought someone would have done it by now.

  38. dethtoll says:

    Wow. Neal Stephenson is making a game.

    Can he make a book worth reading? ‘Cuz his track record on that has been pretty shit.

  39. Demiath says:

    CLANG? I’m sorry, mr Stephenson, but TANG (This Ain’t No Game) is a much better description. With all the awesome full-fledged indie game projects out there asking for a lot less than this bloated campaign needs to even get its incredibly geeky simulation niche off the ground, does this guy really expect us to cough up half a million for a simplistic arena title? At the end of the day, unless you’re one of the three people on Earth who are really excited about some sort of peripheral-based computer representation of sword fighting you’re getting a whole lot less bang for your buck out of CLANG than just about any of comparable big budget Kickstarter project.

    No, sir, I certainly do not this one ever reaching 500k…

    • TychoCelchuuu says:

      They’re 14% there already and it’s been… a few hours. So we’ll see.

      • zoombapup says:

        Proof that kickstarter is all about fashion and marketing and not about making great creative content. This WILL get funded because of the person who is marketing it.

        Makes me kind of sad to see. But that’s celebrity for you.

        • LionsPhil says:

          It’s both, oh angry man.

        • Toberoth says:

          Why can’t it be about fashion, marketing, AND great creative content? They’re not mutually exclusive you know. And this looks pretty interesting to me regardless of the fact that Stephenson is marketing it, not because of.

    • JackShandy says:

      “does this guy really expect us to cough up half a million for a simplistic arena title?”

      No, he expects you to cough up 25 dollars.

      Unless you’re going for a kind of holistic “We are all one” thing.

  40. Emeraude says:

    Very conflicted.

    On the one hand, I have absolutely no desire to play such a game.
    On the other, I love the idea that one such game would exist.

    Will probably be part of the last hour rush if part at all of this.

  41. freduardo says:

    Stephenson is cool and knows his craft (definitely writing and quite possibly swordfighting), but when it comes right down to it I’m in the ‘Go big or go home’ camp as far as controllers go. You want realistic swordfighting but don’t have anybody to murder? You need feedback, proper footing detection, the possibility of multiple weapons, empty hand techniques, etc. Otherwise I’m absolutely happy to just use a keyboard and mouse and not mess with extra dedicated peripherals.

    What I’m saying is: this is a glorified Wii game system. It’s conceptually pretty neat, but I’m not convinced it’s especially better than a bigger budget studio could/would do had they the interest.

  42. JackDandy says:

    The video’s funny, and the cameo by Gaben is nice, but I’m not at all excited for this.

    A rule of the thumb for me is to never get excited by games that require extra peripherals.

  43. Tei says:

    Mele in FPS games has alwais ben hard, on most games the weapon is rendered with a different FOV than the world, so you can have a enormeous minigun and you can touch a wall with your head, and the weapon don’t touch the wall.

    But mele in TPS games has ben done right, … M&B represent a good way to do it right, and the Jedi games represent another way. In M&B works because every movement is slow and matter (can get you killed if is badly timed), in Jedi works, I think, because the laser make these fire trails on the wall, so is very fisicall, plus the lore allow for the jedi to jump heights and do acrobacies and that add a lot to the swordfighting.

  44. Merlkir says:

    Keep in mind they mention that mouse and keyboard will STILL be usable as controls for the game, this is NOT a controller-only game.

    Very excited about this, pledged.

  45. ziusudra says:

    Well iam excited, if the combat is complex and fluid, starting with an arena system is okay with me. Bushido Blade with Die by the Sword or severance Dark messiah combat? I want it. I used to bet with friends in Bushido blade, happy times

  46. Dark Malady says:

    well. that was great, and realism can be nice…

    But I want a game that makes me feel like Errol Flynn.
    Make me feel like Errol Flynn and Someone will make you a millionare.
    Speed, Agility, Sauve, Debonair, swash-buckling, Knightly FUN!
    but maybe not the tights…

  47. wodin says:

    I enjoyed the sword combat in the first Risen. It was alot better than Skyrims anyway.

  48. killmachine says:

    gabe fucking newell.

  49. Premium User Badge

    bear912 says:

    The Gabe Newell cameo made my week. So excellent.

  50. Premium User Badge

    Big Murray says:

    I’ll pay $1,000 to this if Gabe Newell shaves off whatever the hell is on his face.