This is pretty much old news now in internet terms, but it's just too cool to leave alone. Neal Stephenson, author of a tonne of books including Snow Crash, Anathem and Reamde, has just settled into a ready stance for his new Kickstarter project, a sword-based PC game called CLANG, that will use 'a commercial, third-party, off-the-shelf controller that anyone can buy today."
This is super exciting for a whole mess of reasons.
Stephenson's a great author, for one thing, and the shared world he's been working on for a while, which has had its first book released recently - The Mongoliad - is going to be the setting for the game. I've nbot read it yet, but I've not been disappointed by him yet; in fact, if I had to list a top five action scenes in books, one of his, from the second book of the Baroque Cycle, would have to rate pretty damn high.
And it's packed with cool sword stuff.
Stephenson's also quite the swordsman himself, and he's got a lot of metal-weapons buddies working on the project as well. These guys are serious, too; they want to design a basic system for inputting all kinds of sword forms into the game. According to Stephenson on the Kickstarter page, "If your thing is Japanese kenjutsu or Viking sword-and-board, then in principle CLANG should support it."
As a proponent of the aforementioned sword and board style, this now has my complete backing.
Stephenson's also seems to have some pretty heavy support from PC gaming veterans, Valve. Gabe Newell makes a cameo in the video intro to CLANG, trying to beat a crowbar into a sword, and commenting that good games take time... It could just mean they're buddies, but if you were going to make an experimental PC game, having Valve backup would not hurt in the least. At the very least, it's definitely releasing on Steam.
The concept itself, too, of motion-based game that rewards real technique rather than mere button-pushing is pretty attractive. It reminds me of Red Steel 2, actually, the one Wii game I've actually enjoyed. With a Motion Plus controller it did a wonderful job of converting proper movement and technique into a real advantage in-game; I'd love to see what PC-processing power, and a dedicated controller could add to the mix.
But most of all, it's great to see someone with Stephenson's passion and mix of skills decide to get into games development. It's obvious to anyone who's read Reamde - which touches on MMORPGs - that he has some fascinating ideas about gaming; that he might now be able to work on that is pretty exciting.
If you want me, I'll be in shipping container, practicing with my redneck katana in preparation.