On September 19, the developers of CLANG - the motion controlled swordfighting simulator game that was the subject of a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012 - released a statement explaining that the game development had been "paused" while the developers seek further funding.
This statement was very rapidly followed by a virulently negative opinion piece by Wired's Chris Kohler, which generated a flurry of similar posts on other websites and blogs.
The major point that keeps getting missed in the current furore is that the Kickstarter project was explicitly to fund a playable prototype game (which is what actually happened - see below). That prototype would then be used to attract backing for the full game.
This is explained both in the pitch text on the Kickstarter site:
The next step is to build a functional proof of concept in the form of an exciting prototype we can share with you and use to achieve our next level of funding
and at 2:26 in the original pitch video:
"Our goal is to produce a game prototype and toolkit that others can use to make UGC fighting content of their own."
The alpha playable prototype game was, in fact, completed and released, about two months after the originally estimated release date. Here's how it plays:
It isn't flashy, but it absolutely is what was promised; a motion controlled swordfighting simulator game, using an original game mechanic rather than just modifying existing tech, that allows players to fight with historically and martially accurate techniques. For comparison, here's some two-handed sword sparring performed by skilled combat athletes:
The less-then-scandalous "news", which was explained in great detail in Stephenson's "State of Clang" update and has now been reinforced in his interview with Kotaku, is that the developers have not yet been able to attract the next phase of funding, which will have to come from corporate backers as it will reach into the multi-millions. If that next phase doesn't transpire, the plan is to open-source the prototype for further development by the gaming community.
In the short term, the CLANG developers are urging people to support the cutting-edge STEM motion tracking system, which will accelerate the entire process:
Just to reinforce this point; the ultimate aim of CLANG is to create a toolkit that can be used to create truly realistic martial arts combat games using motion sensing technology. The additional UGC content could potentially include Bartitsu stickfighting, kenjutsu, rapier and dagger fencing, escrima, Chinese broadsword fighting, etc.
Imagine playing a game as Sherlock Holmes taking on a ruffian in the back-alleys of Soho circa 1900, using historically accurate Bartitsu combat techniques. Picture yourself rapier fighting as Mercutio against Tybalt in a Veronese plaza, with techniques taken verbatim from 16th century swordfighting treatises. The sky's the limit once the tech is in place.
CLANG will be awesome ...