Since Double Fine’s landmark Kickstarter campaign brought in an unprecedented amount of dollars to fund their upcoming Adventure title, we can’t go even a week without hearing about the apparent next big thing to crowdfund. Now, it seems, the Internet is abuzz with CLANG, an ambitious initiative from novelist Neal Stephenson promising to deliver true one-to-one swordplay like you’ve never seen. Tim Schafer himself posted his support for the project through his Twitter account today, and with a cameo appearance by the legendary Gabe Newell to represent everyone’s favorite game company, the forum crawlers and news hounds are eating this up. It’s a novel idea, to be sure, but should we even want this thing?
Aren’t guys with goatees supposed to be bad?
I find this entire idea akin to Guitar Hero. That series wasn’t awesome because it was realistic and replicated a true guitar-playing experience, but thrived by providing a fun alternative that did enough to stretch the player’s imagination and make him or her feel like a guitar god. Despite the many attempts of a younger me, I am not musically talented. Still, I was obsessed with Guitar Hero for a time, and would have been significantly less invested if I were required to play actual power chords and master magnificent solos to progress.
Similarly, I have no formal training in medieval warfare and weaponized hand-to-hand combat. So, how am I supposed to fight in a world with enemies who are?
The CLANG Kickstarter is currently sitting at just over $190,000 of the half a million dollar goal (!!) needed for it to move forward, but if the people pony up the remaining cash in the month before this thing ends, I envision two potential outcomes to the game. Neither are pretty.
- The developers don’t care about babies like me and strive to set up a game with perfect one-to-one swordfighting mechanics. Wicked-difficult in design, the game attracts a strong but small cult following (think Dark Souls, but to an even more alienating extreme [is that even possible??]). OR!…
- Combat is dumbed down to compensate for players who chose not to be knights for a living (see also: all of us). This mass-market appeal poses an opposing problem of a game that’s too easy (in contrast to Dark Souls, think every other PlayStation Move sword simulator on store shelves). Here, the creators have eliminated the need for one-to-one control mapping in the first place, and the play style is now nothing more than a novelty.
Again, this is another situation where I would love to be proven wrong. Whether in agreement or violently against me, sound off in the comments below and tell me the truth.
[I really do adore creativity and innovation within the industry. If CLANG has you sold, head over here to contribute to the Kickstarter.]