Stephenson’s Kickstarted Sword Fighting Game Out of Money

Turns out sci-fi author Neal Stephenson won’t be the one to bring us the next generation of sword fighting games. At least not for the foreseeable future.

In July 2012, Stephenson secured more than $526,000 on Kickstarter to create a “revolutionary” motion-controlled game that would allow players “to inhabit the mind, body, and world of a real sword fighter.” The project is called CLANG, and for all intents and purposes, it’s never going to make its way out of its scabbard.

Posting an update on the CLANG Kickstarter page, Stephenson revealed that the money has run out and his Subutai Corporation design team has not been able to secure additional funding or publisher backing.

“We always knew that this was going to take a while and that we’d hit some bumps along the way,” Stephenson states. “And we feel that the decision we’ve made is much better than the alternatives which were to [a] quit, [b] panic and sell out, or [c] get into a bad relationship with the wrong investor.”

Frankly, it sounds like Stephenson was in completely over his head. Somehow, though, CLANG is still clinging to life. Well, kinda sorta. Stephenson said he is unable to pay the dev team, they’ve moved on to paying gigs, and CLANG is now an “evenings and weekends” project “until such time as we get funding for a more commercial-style reboot.”

Stephenson did say he is optimistic upcoming next-gen motion controllers, namely the STEM system from Sixense, will enable the type of realistic sword fighting gameplay CLANG was designed for. So maybe, just maybe, if STEM catches on, a publisher or investor will tap Stephenson for CLANG.

What can the more than 9,000 people who contributed to CLANG do? Nada. Your money is gone, and CLANG is nowhere near completion. It’s a real risk that comes with backing any crowdfunded project, and the type of outcome that led our own Ron Whitaker to declare he’s done with Kickstarter.

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6 Comments on Stephenson’s Kickstarted Sword Fighting Game Out of Money

Red Menace

On September 20, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Have any of these noteworthy Kickstarter games actually made it to market?


On September 21, 2013 at 2:26 am

Shadowrun Returns has made it to market, and is apparently doing quite well. I wish more companies had the skills of Harebrained Schemes. So sad that a lot of really respected people with a lot of goodwill from the community are all that it due to failing in their projects to stay on time, or at least on budget. Shadowrun Returns is heaps of fun, and has huge replay value (especially the fan stories/missions!).


On September 21, 2013 at 2:30 am

looks like Gamefront garbled my post? I meant to say “…with a lot of goodwill from the community have no longer got it due to…”. I hope this paraphrasing will let the text stay undeleted/whatever…


On September 21, 2013 at 9:41 am

did you guys notice gabe newell in the video? he’s the smithy with the crowbar.


On September 22, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Wasteland 2 will release in october. I just kickstater people could at least come close in how much money it would cost to make the game. If the game went like 10 percent over budget im sure more people would contribute. most of this crap is like their goal is 10 percent of what they need.


On September 29, 2013 at 12:18 pm

The backers can do nothing?
Utter and complete bull!

Subutai are legally bound to their promises.
If you are officially taking someone’s money, in return for a product/service, then you are legally bound to keep your part of the bargain.
Besides, any and all Kickstarter projects HAVE to keep their promises. That’s part of Kickstarters rules. They are very clear about this.
Subutai promised a game. Not a demo. The 25$+ pledge reward was the game, not a demo.
Subutai have neither made the game, nor have they made a good faith effort to do so. They have lied to their backers, haven’t kept their promises and are utterly unapologetic about the whole affair.

Google the words “Kickstarter” and “lawsuit”, if you want, and you’ll see that Kickstarters have been sued before …and there is no such finished lawsuit, which hasn’t gone in the backers favour.
Check the Kickstarter project’s comments section, and you’ll see that pursuing a class action lawsuit has been mentioned as the only logical next step, if Subutai doesn’t change their tune soon.

As to Red Menace’s question, about whether or not any noteworthy Kickstarter games have made it to the market… Yes. Yes they have. Google it.