Novelist Seeks Half a Million for 'Guitar Hero with Swords' Game

CLANG Kickstarter Project
Author Neal Stephenson hopes that half a million can help make a motion-controlled sword-fighting game. (Image credit: Subutai Corporation)

Anyone who loves arguing about the sword-fighting styles of a Japanese samurai versus a European knight someday could take their verbal duels into the virtual arena. Author Neal Stephenson wants to make such geeky battles possible with a new sword-fighting video game with a unique motion controller.

Stephenson's interest in real-life swordplay and a collaborative fiction project set in the time when the Mongols threatened to conquer Europe, in the 13th century, spawned his idea for a video game. The author hopes to raise half a million dollars for the "CLANG" video game project on the crowd-funding website Kickstarter — money to hire artists, animators and sword experts for a game that translates real-life swordplay styles into virtual arena matches.

"We've got geeks in suits of armor, we've got geeks in front of computer workstations," Stephenson says in the Kickstarter video. "We've got a lot of people out there who like to play games with sword fighting in them who might be ready to step it up to something a little more interesting."

Appealing to swordplay geeks may sound odd from a business standpoint. But millions of fans have tuned in to watch HBO's medieval fantasy series "Game of Thrones" and eagerly anticipate a film version of the "Lord of the Rings" prequel, "The Hobbit" — so perhaps now is the time to strike while the iron is hot. [Why Fire Rules Water in 'Game of Thrones']

Stephenson is known for books ranging from the "cyberpunk" science fiction themes of "Snow Crash" (a story that popularized the use of the word "avatar") to the historical fiction of "The Baroque Cycle" trilogy. His latest work as chairman of the Subutai Corp. includes "The Mongoliad" trilogy, which began as an online series and has expanded to the "CLANG" video game project.

The "CLANG" idea – a "Guitar Hero with swords" – would expand on the limits of today's video game controllers. Pulling the trigger on an Xbox or PlayStation controller has worked well for shooting games such as "Call of Duty", but motion-controlled systems such as the Wii or Kinect have just begun imitating the swings of tennis racquets or swords.

Stephenson envisions "CLANG" as a simple, online arena game that features battles between long-sword-wielding PC players. There won't be a huge virtual world to explore or deep story to follow. But he also wants to allow players to create their own user modifications ("mods," for short) that could expand the game setting to, say, the Viking era or feudal Japan.

Such a game could follow the success of keyboard PC games such as "Mount & Blade," featuring swordplay, knights with lances and archery. "Mount & Blade" players already have created mods to change the medieval-setting game to Roman warfare or feudal Japan.

This story was provided by InnovationNewsDaily, a sister site to LiveScience. You can follow InnovationNewsDaily Senior Writer Jeremy Hsu on Twitter @ScienceHsu. Follow InnovationNewsDaily on Twitter @News_Innovation, or on Facebook.

Jeremy Hsu
Jeremy has written for publications such as Popular Science, Scientific American Mind and Reader's Digest Asia. He obtained his masters degree in science journalism from New York University, and completed his undergraduate education in the history and sociology of science at the University of Pennsylvania.