Another Kickstarter Game Bites the Dust: Writer Neal Stephenson's Clang Is Dead

"I've decided that it's cleaner and simpler to cut the cord, and announce the termination of Clang."

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Spearheaded by author Neal Stephenson, the Kickstarter campaign for Clang was pitched as thus: "Neal Stephenson wants to revolutionize sword fighting video games." Now, just over two years after successfully wrapping up a crowdfunding campaign that attracted more than $526,000 in pledges from over 9,000 people, Clang is officially dead.

A full year after the last update regarding the game on its Kickstarter page, Stephenson has posted what he describes as the "final update," in which he explains what happened to the project. "Last year, [developer] Subutai Corporation delivered the Clang prototype and the other donor rewards as promised," he says.

"The prototype was technically innovative, but it wasn't very fun to play. This is for various reasons. Some of these were beyond our control. Others are my responsibility in that I probably focused too much on historical accuracy and not enough on making it sufficiently fun to attract additional investment."

"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."

Looking back at the original Kickstarter pitch (you can watch the video pitch above), Subutai wanted to create a one-on-one multiplayer dueling game for PCs, which would in turn be turned into something more expansive. Before getting there, it intended "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."

Stephenson says he and members of the development team "absorbed significant financial losses" as they invested time and money in an effort to keep the project afloat. When "additional fundraising efforts failed," this "forced the team to cut their losses and disband in search of steady work."

He goes on to say "new ideas and opportunities presented themselves" as all of this was going on. Some of these may ultimately use ideas from Clang, and could even offer Clang backers some kind of bonus rewards, but no promises can be made at this point.

"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," Stephenson says. "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. Future announcements can then happen in their own good time, giving any new projects a fresh start."

Refunds totaling about $700 have already been given to people that have requested them in the past, but there's no indication whether additional refunds will be offered. As of this writing, more than 100 backer comments have been posted on the update, many of them requesting refunds of their own. Kickstarter guarantees very little to project backers, so Sabutai is likely under no obligation to refund more backers.

There have been numerous Kickstarter campaigns that have worked out--FTL, Shovel Knight, and Wasteland 2 among them--but Clang now joins the slowly growing list of projects to collapse after being successfully funded.

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