CLANG Kickstarter: Do We Really Want One-To-One Swordplay?

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.

  1. 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!…
  2. 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.]

Written by: Luke Frazier

Gaming industry addict. Twitter fiend. Unabashed lover of Kingdom Hearts. Other favorites include The Legend of Zelda, Portal, Bioshock, Journey, and peanut butter & banana sandwiches. Also, oatmeal. Let's be friends. @LukeAFrazier – Steam/PSN: GodAlliz

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  • TechnoSphere

    Why would every game need to cater to your kind of “fun”?

    Your question really hints at this.
    I really don’t get were you are going with this.

    You adore innovation yet you question it when it arrives.Not everything can be aimed at every person.

    Otherwise the mainstream games would already cover it.

    Or is it because the big name backers and the feeling of being left behind?

    • Nick Cane

      Well, I for one side with the author. I don’t see this having a happy ending. It’s not a thing pubs will get behind. Sure Gaben and Schafer are behind it but, even if they earn 500k, it’s not enough. Maybe they squeak a PSN/XBLA game out of it. But still a game doesn’t cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to make, they cost millions.

      Now, I’m not saying I don’t support this. I will throw my money at anything that looks ambitious (In fact, i think I’ll back this, really putting my money where my mouth is). Just saying it look’s too risky and too niche for success, fiscally or critically.

    • I guess the essence of my argument is really the comparison to Guitar Hero. Shortly after its launch, so many people complained that it would be better if it was more realistic, yet they still whipped out those plastic instruments among friends and had a dandy time. In response, games like Rocksmith were released using actual guitars…and nobody cared.

      Video games, in my eyes, are an escape. They allow the player to become something he or she isn’t, to do things he or she cannot do in real life. Whether that be a space marine or a hero from high fantasy, we can do anything. I feel an important part of this immersion into another role is actually augmenting your real-life skills. Kids play Call of Duty daily, yet they could never shoot as well and avoid fatigue like that in real-life combat.

      I don’t want to have to learn to be an expect swordsman before I can have fun in a swordfighting game, and I wonder if everyone else would feel the same.