Author Neal Stephenson 'Hits The Pause Button' On Successful $500,000 Swordfighting Kickstarter

by Mike Futter on Sep 19, 2013 at 11:38 AM

You might recall that author Neal Stephenson lead a successful Kickstarter project for a sword-fighting game called Clang. The hook was that the title would use Razer's Hydra, which uses Sixense motion technology. It's been a while since we heard anything from Stephenson's Subutai Corporation, and now we know why. The project is on hold after raising more than $500,000.

While the team claims the project isn't dead because the company hasn't declared bankruptcy and principle team members haven't moved on, development has slowed. Members of the team have taken on temporary projects since the Clang initiative can no longer pay them. 

Work continues on what the team calls an "evenings and weekends" basis. Subutai continues to conduct its business as a publisher of books.

The SDK and simple arena game were supposed to be delivered in February 2013. That deadline has clearly been missed.

The team claims that Clang's success still relies on "new hardware." That has shifted from Razer's Hydra to Sixense's own Kickstarter for something called STEM. You can read the entire update on the Clang Kickstarter page. For more on Kickstarter and best practices, you can read a piece we published recently.

[Source: Clang Kickstarter]


Our Take
There is one line in the Clang update that makes my skin crawl. "Our team punches above its weight, but the amount of the KS raise wasn't sufficient to staff up a full-sized group, leaving us vulnerable to the criticism that the team is missing certain elements." In short, Subutai did not ask for enough money in order to meet its Februrary 2013 delivery date.

Furthermore, the majority of the post reads as a litany of excuses for poor communication, the lack of interest from publishers, and the failure to find further investment. I would be shocked if backers ever received anything for their investment at this point.

"Evening and weekend" development is a precursor to one or more key team members getting a job that precludes them from working on Clang. This project sounds like its on death's door, and if I were  a backer, I'd be asking for a refund.