The Sweet Clang Of Success

It’s looked a little touch and go as to whether Neal Stephenson’s crowd-sourced swordfighting game Clang was going to make it. But it has, which means there’s one more game added to the list of titles which we hope and pray can ultimately prove those whole Kickstarter thing is a valid model for independent development. At the time of writing, Clang has $520,000 of an intended $500,000, and $90,000 of that was nine people opting for the $10k tier that gets them a replica weapon and a dev visit. A few hours are left go on the kick-clock, in case you’ve been dithering about how much you want stuff.

So, well done Mr Stephenson and crew. You can now make digital swordfighting dreams real. As long as you have a Razer Hydra motion controller, anyway.

Here’s Neal Stephenson discussing Clang as some men grown and grunt and cartwheel behind him.


  1. jrodman says:

    I am going to pretend that the person to the right behind the painting is actually c3po, who was instrumental in ensuring funding this game.

  2. yabonn says:

    Maybe something I didn’t understand with the controller : you get to use your sword without the weight, and without the enforced delays you can code on button push.

    So everyone ends up rapiering with a two hander ?

    • Chris D says:

      This has been dealt with in some detail in the updates, but basically the game is designed to reward players who use the controller to match how a sword would move realistically.

      • Hoaxfish says:

        better get ready to chop your own hand off when attempting it with a lightsabre mod

    • riadsala says:

      you could partially get around that problem by modelling the character’s grip on the sword. So if you start waving a supposedly heavy sword around as if it were a foil, chances are you’re going to lose your grip on it and drop it.

      and also remember, it’s never going to be able to recreate the feel of a real fight – even with a impossibly perfect weighted/feedback controller, you still have the problem that duels are won or lost with the feet. But, it’s GOT to be better than left clicking on things til they die!

      • JB says:

        “it’s GOT to be better than left clicking on things til they die!”


      • paddymaxson says:

        I don’t know, there was some interesting shit done a long time ago in Die By The Sword with accurate sword swings being mapped to precise mouse movement.

        The major problem with accurate motion controls is they assume the player is competent or can become competent just by playing the game.

        We’ll see how it pans out, but I’m not sure a game that’s based on skill in something that’s very challenging is meant for anyone who’s not already got those skills, and I imagine those guys probably have a better alternative to playing a video game about swinging swords – actually swinging swords.

        Who’s a game about waving a realistic virtual sword for when you get to that point?

        • Phasma Felis says:

          One major problem with mouse-mapping for a realistic sword sim is that mice are 2D. Does pushing the mouse forward mean a vertical slash, or a thrust? I guess these days you could use the mousewheel to extend/retract your sword, but that seems like it would be really awkward.

          Also, a mouse can’t separately control position and angle. There’s no way to distinguish between a high grip with the blade angled downward, and a high grip with the blade pointing at the opponent’s face.

    • gwathdring says:

      Swords are really, really, really light. When you first use them, your forearms hate you, but after a relatively short while, you’ll be swinging that full-length broadsword in one-handed styles and not notice it’s presence. We’re talking a couple pounds tops, here.

  3. zeroskill says:

    So glad they made it. Congrats.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I didn’t back it because I’m not going to buy the hardware to go along with it, but I thought the videos and idea were kinda awesome.

      • Vorphalack says:

        Do we know if there is another competing controller that can do the job of the Razer Hydra for the PC, or is that all we have right now?

        • Teovald says:

          According to them, the hydra is the only controller that fits their needs (high precision, low latency) but it is also possible that Razer is just throwing money their way.

          • Vorphalack says:

            Wouldn’t surprise me. I’d like to see Logitech or one of the other peripheral companies create an alternative at a more reasonable price point. The problem is that if games which support the Hydra continue to be more of a novelty they might not want to invest. Conversely, developers are less likely to develop games for an expensive controller owned by a fairly small number of people.

      • Tinus says:

        I’m using the Hydra for some concepts in the Unity engine, and I can safely say that it is the best thing we’ve got available to us.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Yeah, unsure about buying the hardware for this. Still, good on them.

  4. Jimbo says:

    Baffling, but well done.

    I am going to throw my toys right out of the pram and into orbit if Skyjacker doesn’t make it. Like that Ground Branch guy but worse.

  5. Gundato says:

    This really excites me, but I had to pass. I don’t own a razer motion controller and I don’t intend to get it just for this and Portal 2. At least, not at this juncture in time.

    That being said, if CLANG ends up half as awesome as it looks, I’ll probably end up shelling out for a controller when I can get the game on sale (or vice versa. Preferably vice versa).

    Shame this isn’t for the PS3 though. Especially since the hydra looks like a ps-pen-errr, PS Move. And I have a PS Move…

    • Teovald says:

      Their explanation here is that the latency for the existing mainstream controllers like the move or the wii nunchuck is simply too high for a swordfighting game.

    • Xerian says:

      The hydra is ALOT better than the move, aaaand it works for more than Portal 2 and Clang… I know of atleast 25 games it works for – Theres an API aswell, derp.

      • Shooop says:

        Does it let you map custom keybinds yet?

        • Xerian says:

          I believe so, yes. Am not entirely sure, one of my mates has one and I reckon you can… I’d ask him if he wasnt on vacation atm :|

        • Vandelay says:

          As a Hydra owner, I can say it does map to keyboard and mouse controls, so you can set it up for any game. The software from Sixense (they made the controller, Razer just stuck their brand on it,) comes with bindings for well over 100 games and is a simple process to make your own, particularly now they have made a GUI to do it from.

          I play pretty much all single player games with the hydra now (excluding RTS, but including Torchlight.) It really is a fantastic device and I am kind of surprised that the similar Move has not made it big on the TV fun box.

  6. Flukie says:

    Bet Razer are happy.

  7. 13tales says:

    Well, worth keeping in mind that they’ve said there will be a basic mouse-keyboard mode, if only as a hang over from development. But really – it’s “guitar hero for swords”; without the pseudo-realistic controller it just doesn’t make as much sense.


    Been pulling for this one all the way through.

  8. caddyB says:

    I love the idea, but not going to buy a device just so I can pretend to swordfight in a computer game. If only there were more uses for that thing that I’m interested in.

    • MistyMike says:

      Baseball batting?

    • gwathdring says:

      I’m waiting for better software support to match the Sixense hardware. When that thing is being fully utilized and when it’s more adaptable to more games? Wireless would also be nice. I’ve never bought a gaming mouse or keyboard and I’ve never bought any peripherals at all over $40 … so I’d be willing to get one eventually. Probably well after the game is released, though. If they bundle it with a game I’m interested and don’t own, I’d also be more willing to go for it. Alas.

      Also I’ve limited my annual game budget to a fixed sum, so getting the Hydra is essentially two slightly discounted AAA titles I can’t buy, or two board games off Amazon. : So even if the device is worth the price of entry it’s still a really tough purchase to make.

      But I’m definitely not going to buy on just for CLANG. I’m glad I supported the project because it’s the sort of thing I would love to do if I had the cash and resources to put a game company together. But actually playing it is a longshot at this point.

    • stvornikus says:

      Well using montion sensor for sword fighting game is the core of the idea.

      Its like guitar hero, having dedicated controller will hopefully improve experience.

  9. JFS says:

    Why do they all look so strange?

    • Teovald says:

      They are swordfighting geeks. By that standard I think they look almost too normal.

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      Bluerps says:

      The guys in the video? They make their living with swordfighting, in the 21st century. You have to be a little strange for that, I think.
      (Not that there is anything wrong with swordfighting, or being strange)

      • JFS says:

        No, of course not. I’m just a little creeped out at how they all look like aged versions of the Three Musketeers in black ballet-like dresses, fronted by Mr. Victorianpunk Stephenson. It is an unusual congregation, that’s for sure. Doesn’t seem to hurt his marketing, though :)

  10. Shooop says:

    I don’t know how I missed this. The nuances of realistic medieval combat are criminally neglected and this game may set the order of the universe right.

    The video about the Combat UI demonstrating the stances and counters for counters has me sold. $25 well spent.

  11. Skabooga says:

    Best sword fighting in any game: the original Prince of Persia.

  12. Captain Joyless says:

    Just goes to show: even multi-millionaire authors with numerous top-selling books can make it through crowd-sourcing!

    • gwathdring says:

      Think of it this way. Before bringing this thing all the way home and going to town on it, they can make sure people are actually going to buy it. They get to gauge interest They get to use some of their future earnings now instead of having investors back them now and effectively owing interest later. It means the whole operation can do very similar things for less money.

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with companies that might be able to use traditional avenues using crowd funding.

  13. InternetBatman says:

    I’m so glad they made it. I want this to succeed. I want good motion control hardware to come out because I believe that better input for games than either the mouse or controller is around the corner if people keep pushing it.

  14. schachmatt says:

    Nobody ever mentions Die By The Sword, in which you could simulate sword-fighting moves with your mouse; it was possible to configure moves and bind those to a button.
    It certainly was more proper than anything I’ve seen since then.

    But in the end I mostly used one move, a simple slash, either diagonally or horizontally.
    If you’re attacking first and the enemy has no shield that theoretically takes care of practically anything. Especially if you don’t have to hold a real, heavy sword.
    Let’s see how this will turn out.

    • Jay says:

      Lots of people have been mentioning Die By The Sword every time this project comes up, myself included, as it’s one of the few projects to really try something different as far as swordfighting goes. Fun, quirky anomalies are what PC Gaming’s all about.

      I had some very fond memories of that game, but coming back to it recently, it’s aged very badly. The VSIM animation system is locked to a very low framerate and your blows have little real weight or force to them, lending a rather bizarre feel to the action with your and your opponent stroking each other with your swords until bits start falling off. The indie effort Determinance, which gets dismissed off-hand even by DBTS fans for some reason, actually does the whole mouse-fighting system far better. I never could get behind the whole flying swordfights thing, but the actual swordplay itself is certainly stronger.

      Personally, I’d say Bushido Blade is still the gold standard as far as swordfighting in games goes. It might’ve been more stylised, but it definitely felt like a proper fight. Get beyond the shonky graphics and it still puts up a decent scrap. Honourable mentions to Severance and Dark/Demon’s Souls too.

      • schachmatt says:

        Ok, so there are other people that play DBTS. I myself played it just a few years back and thought it was utterly engaging.
        Determinance on the other hand I couldn’t get into. Possibly also because of its really cheap feel.
        I have to still hunt down Bushido Blade.

        Also a lot of fun are the Jedi Knight games. It had a lot of swordmoves and duels were very tactical if you knew what you were doing. I’m sure someone will make a JK-mod with Clang…

        • Jay says:

          I used to really love DBTS and sang its praises all the time, but the last time I played it a few weeks ago it just seemed to have lost its lustre for me. Maybe I’m being overly harsh on it.

          I think Determinance would be remembered a lot more fondly if they’d kept the characters on the ground. Adding an extra axis of movement along with the mouse-gesture combat system was too much for most people, I think. And some of the best parts of DBTS were the crazy, lethal environments, which you just don’t have when you’re flying through clear skies.

          Good call on the Jedi Knight games. I’d forgotten about those, but there was definitely some quality swordfighting to be had there. I remember playing the JK2 demo to death, just for the duel at the end.

      • Qwentle says:

        One fairly overlooked game for fighting is the Deadliest Warrior game (the first one, not the sequel) on the 360. Doesn’t really go in-depth with the actual mechanics of sword fighting, but it’s a brutally fast paced arena fighter where one-two good hits will likely kill, or at least dismember (with bleeding out following shortly after).

  15. Demiath says:

    Once it hit $300,00 or so I knew it was going to succeed, despite the unwarranted fretting of RPS writers and my own previous predictions that it wouldn’t reach its target. In my own person opinion it’s a real shame a thing like this gets produced using the real money of real people, but Kickstarter is Kickstarter and if people are genuinely excited about it – and don’t just happen to like that surly hairless dude in the videos – then so be it. There is still plenty of time for much-needed (indeed, ethically compulsory) outbursts of schadenfreude; if for slightly different reasons than I might have preferred.

  16. Farsearcher says:

    I helped fund this, I’m very very happy to see it succeed. I’ve wanted a proper sword fighting game forever, even the most complex close combat I’ve found in other games has never fully satisfied me.

    Speaking of which any suggestions of games with really good first or third person close combat – excluding beat em ups.

    I have Dark Messiah of might and magic and oblivion can be fun with mods. Any others?

  17. subshell001 says:

    Clang + Oculus Rift = what we all imagined VR gaming would be like in the early ’90s

  18. Josh W says:

    I love how as some writers get older, they turn into versions of their own characters, so that Stevenson is slowly turning into a neo-victorian making educational simulation games.