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Wotta Clanger: Neal Stephenson's CLANG Is Dead

While not quite the most-funded failed Kickstarter – that dubious honour belongs to the disastrous Yogventures and the $568,000 that didn’t result in a videogame – sword-fighting title CLANG isn’t far behind at $526K. Of course, we already knew that the steel-clashing brainchild of author Neal Stephenson was in trouble, having been put “on pause” this time last year when his studio ran out of funds. He had, however, maintained that the motion-controlled game of blades would continue in some form, at some point. Today brings the not entirely unexpected announcement that this will not be the case. CLANG is dead.
Money remains the smoking pistol here, as reportedly the ambitious project did not attract the additional investment it needed to become a reality – it was one of those where Kickstarter was only ever going to get it rolling, not over the finish line.

“Members of the team made large personal contributions of time and money to the project before, during, and after the Kickstarter phase,” writes Stephenson in a new, and final, update on the Kickstarter page. “Some members, when all is said and done, absorbed significant financial losses. I am one of them; that has been my way of taking responsibility for this.”

Apparently the CLANG project morphed repeatedly behind the scenes over the last year, but “I have delayed talking publicly about these projects for a long time because I kept thinking that at least one of them would reach a point where I could describe it in something other than generalities. I apologize for that delay. But now a year has passed since the last update and I’ve decided that it’s cleaner and simpler to cut the cord, and announce the termination of Clang.”

In retrospect, he feels that last year’s prototype build “probably focused too much on historical accuracy and not enough on making it sufficiently fun to attract additional investment.”

Refunds have been sent to those who’ve asked, which was apparently a couple of dozen at the time of the update post, and he claims there’s a possibility of future backer incentives from other projects he may or may not work on. There’s a mailing list to find out more about those, if you like.

I think it’s too much of a generalisation to say that we’re now in the hangover after the great Kickstarter party of 2012 and 2013. There were always going to be some casualties, and right now they are outweighed by games that did come to fruition. It’s very hard to imagine Kickstarted games ever bringing in the sort of money they did around the time of CLANG, however.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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