Late last year, sci-fi author Neal Stephenson had bad news for the thousands of people who’d supported his CLANG project on Kickstarter: Despite making its funding goal, the project itself would be placed on indefinite hold.
CLANG (9,023 backers on Kickstarter, contributing $526,125) was a video-game platform that—had it seen the proverbial light of day—would have allowed players to duel like medieval knights, using a hardware controller to swing a virtual sword.
In a September 2013 update, the CLANG team blamed the game’s moribund state on the broader gaming industry, which they blamed for refusing to take risks on anything that wasn’t yet another first-person shooter or Candy Crush clone. “The overall climate in the industry has become risk-averse to a degree that is difficult to appreciate until you’ve seen it,” they wrote.
At the time, the team still expressed an unwillingness to abandon the project, despite the desperate scramble for additional funding. The developers downshifted to working evenings and weekends on the underlying technology, while Stephenson and others sought an open-minded investor. “The right investor for CLANG is one who has some pre-existing interest in what we are doing,” the team added in last year’s posting.
But now the team plans on abandoning CLANG for good. “I’ve decided that it’s cleaner and simpler to cut the cord, and announce the termination of CLANG,” Stephenson wrote in a new posting on the project’s website. “Future announcements can then happen in their own good time, giving any new projects a fresh start.”
Before it disbands, however, the CLANG team plans on trying to make its Kickstarter investors a little more whole. “By combing through comment threads and emails we have identified around two dozen CLANG backers who have asked for refunds,” Stephenson added. “Those have already been processed; those people have their money back (about $700 altogether).” Backers can also join a new mailing list that could one day “yield bonus rewards for CLANG backers,” although Stephenson isn’t willing to make any guarantees on that front.
Stephenson and team are taking a somewhat unusual step in trying to maintain the relationship with their backers, considering how many Kickstarter projects end up abandoned without so much as a “Goodbye.” But given the number of years that CLANG spent in development, and the amount of money donated, they probably want to mitigate as much negativity as possible.
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