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Neal Stephenson cancels his Kickstarter-funded sword-fighting game Clang

After it raised $526K.

Remember when Snow Crash author Neal Stephenson raised over $526K on Kickstarter to make a motion-controller-based sword-fighting game called Clang? And remember when that project was put on hold indefinitely after Stephenson's company, Subutai Corporation, ran out of money and couldn't find a publisher to fund it further? Well now the worst has come to pass: Clang is cancelled.

Clang's prototype demo.

The reason is quite simple: that additional funding never came. "Members of the team made large personal contributions of time and money to the project before, during, and after the Kickstarter phase. 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," Stephenson said in a Kickstarter post entitled Final Update.

"The team had considerable incentives - emotional and financial - to see Clang move on to the next round of funding. They showed intense dedication and dogged focus that I think most of our backers would find moving if the whole story were told. I will forever be grateful to them. In the end, however, additional fundraising efforts failed and forced the team to cut their losses and disband in search of steady work."

Stephenson admitted that much of the fault laid with him, as he focused too much on the wrong things. "I probably focused too much on historical accuracy and not enough on making it sufficiently fun to attract additional investment," the renowned sci-fi author lamented.

He also said that the project kept changing shape as new ideas were introduced during development. "As all this was happening, new ideas and opportunities presented themselves. These reflect a lot of experience that was gained and connections to the industry that were made during that project," he said. "Although these ideas and opportunities may ultimately wind up in some of the same places we wanted to take Clang, they will do so in non-obvious ways, by starting from a clean sheet of paper in each case, building new teams, and pursuing projects that in some cases have no obvious connection to historical swordfighting.

"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."

Stephenson urged backers to sign up for a newsletter that will inform them about future projects by Subutai Corporation. He said he'd like to give Clang backers some extra goodies related to other projects down the line, but noted that "no guarantees can be made on that front since these projects are just getting off the ground and will likely involve entities other than Subutai Corporation."

Last year Subutai delivered a Clang prototype along with other donor rewards. Stephenson, however, admitted that "the prototype was technically innovative, but it wasn't very fun to play." And so Clang died a slow and painful death. A stab through the gut.

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Jeffrey Matulef


Jeffrey Matulef is the best-dressed man in 1984.


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