Science-Fiction writer Neal Stevenson wanted to revolutionize sword fighting video games by developing a game called Clang. Clang was not only meant to revolutionize sword fighting games, but also have a custom engine that others could use for their own projects. Stevenson started a Kickstarter campaign asking for $500,000 and by the time the Kickstarter ended had raised $526,125 by 9,023 backers. I know what you’re thinking. He raised over half a million dollars for a sword fighting game. How could you screw it up? Well you are reading a Gaming Graveyard segment, so you already know it’s going to end very badly.
To create a game engine and a completely different style of game capable of doing all the things promised is extremely expensive. Even if you have the time and staff, it will still set you back over $500,000. The fact that he also had to pay the staff didn’t help his case. The team ran out of money very fast. Although they did end up releasing a demo to all backers, it never got any better than that. At the time, the game looked impressive graphically, but was deemed to be extremely boring by those who got to play it. Shortly afterwards, Neil paused development of the game and after not being able to get any outside backers to continue the project, he insisted that Clang was only meant to be a “prototype”.
There is actually some good things to come out of this…sorta. All the physical rewards promised to the Kickstarter backers were actually delivered. Stevenson also provided an update saying that the fault of the project ultimately ending was his fault. Stevenson claimed that development spent way to much time on historical accuracy and not on the gameplay itself. This obviously upset many backers with some of them being members of the development team. Also if you did back the game, you can get a refund of all the money you put into it, but sadly not that many people are aware they can.
With all of these Kickstarter fails with developers running off with money only to never be heard from again, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we would eventually get around to covering one here in the Gaming Graveyard.