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Neal Stephenson Reinventing Computer Swordfighting, Via Kickstarter 151

New submitter toxygen01 writes "Neal Stephenson, sci-fi writer mostly known for his books Snowcrash and Cryptonomicon, takes on revolutionizing virtual sword fighting with help of crowdfunding. Inspired by the little-known fictional universe of 'Mongoliad,' an interactive book he is collaborating on, his company is trying to develop hardware (low-latency motion controller) and software for realistic medieval sword fighting. From what is promised, it will try to be open for other developers by having API and SDK available for further modding." Very few Kickstarter drives have a steel longsword as one of the rewards for investing.
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Neal Stephenson Reinventing Computer Swordfighting, Via Kickstarter

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 10, 2012 @01:32PM (#40275819)

    I said that, too, till I realized the recreational uses of motorbikes, boats, etc. are really all just games requiring very expensive proprietary hardware.

    When you think about it that way, the question (in my mind) becomes "does it require proprietary hardware that can't be used for other stuff" -- if it has the same flexibility to come up with your own uses (as demonstrated by the kinect (not that that's proprietary to one game), and as I'm sure this will be) as sporting goods, it might be worth it. If it's only good for that game, whether due to true uselessness for any other conceivable activity, or evil lock-down measures, then I'll pass.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 10, 2012 @01:37PM (#40275863)

    Everyone who bought a Rock Band or Guitar Hero controller disagrees with you.

  • by 0111 1110 ( 518466 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @03:47PM (#40277021)

    What do you have against Kickstarter? It's not fundamentally different from gambling or the stock market? Of course some people are going to use Kickstarter for take-the-money-and-run scams. That's just the nature of the beast. When you gamble sometimes you lose. An excellent reason to only invest in projects run by people you are familiar with and who you feel you can trust to complete the project and not just take the money. And before you complain about the word 'investment' the returns are not monetary. The return on the investment is some kind of creative project getting completed that would not otherwise have been.

    I believe that Kickstarter is a new paradigm. People are overly optimistic now. I think as more and more people get burned they will be far more cautious about which projects they choose to invest in. It won't kill the crowdfunding paradigm. It will just remind people not to be so stupid and gullible. And some dishonest people are going to make enough money to move to an island somewhere and never work another day in their life. People hold up liquor stores for a few hundred bucks. A Kickstarter scam is more like robbing a bank. So, yeah, there are going to be scams and they will get more and more sophisticated as time goes on. Caveat emptor.

  • by wootest ( 694923 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @04:09PM (#40277199)

    As someone who's currently reaping the rewards of both projects I sponsored on Kickstarter, I reject the insinuation that many or most Kickstarter projects are frauds.

    There are crooks everywhere. Kickstarter, by making it easier for people to collect money, makes it easier for those people just as much as the legitimate users.

    I understand where their position on refunds comes from even if I probably wouldn't be very happy about being in that situation. It's up to local law enforcement to deal with fraudsters, and as long as they've done reasonable due diligence (to the extent that they even can), I wouldn't be more comfortable if they suddenly had more power available to them.

    If you want to raise complaints about Kickstarter, why not complain about their policy of blaming the stalked woman for being stalked []? Their reaction and their policy is entirely under their control.

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @04:19PM (#40277263)

    Let's say Stephenson is worth $5 million in reasonably liquid assets. Ok, fine, he could clearly afford to fund $500k for a project BUT that is 10% of his total funds. Not a trivial amount. Think about if I asked you to put up 10% of your liquid assets to something that might not make any money, would you be interested in doing so?

    Part of actually staying rich, once someone becomes rich, is not just blowing through money. No matter how much you have, you can easily spend it all in a short amount of time on shit if you try.

    Goes double if you aren't in something where you have guaranteed income. He's made a lot of money because people liked his books. However maybe he never releases another book that sells well. In that case, his money needs to last. A million dollars is a lot when you are talking a yearly salary, however it is not a lot when you are talking trying to live on it for a long period of time.

    There probably is a business aspect to it as well but just understand that a half million dollars is a lot of money to someone with a few million dollars much as a thousand dollars is a lot of money to someone with ten grand. Yes it is money you could spend but it is a significant portion.

  • by farrellj ( 563 ) * on Sunday June 10, 2012 @04:22PM (#40277281) Homepage Journal

    But they are not very realistic. In sword fighting, that slight twist of the wrist makes all the differnce between a kiling blow, and a glancing blow, and that would translate well to, for example, golf or hockey. A small twist of the wrist when swinging a golf club makes the difference betweeen a shot that goes onto the fairway, or into the rough. Most golf games only measure the swing, not the angle the club hits the ball at. That would be the same for hockey as well.

  • by geminidomino ( 614729 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @07:19PM (#40278319) Journal


    You're one of those guys who railed on for days on end about how people who enjoyed playing Guitar Hero should just go learn to play the guitar, aren't you?

    I wish I lived where you do, since it's apparently crawling with fencers, too.

  • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @07:42PM (#40278419)
    Kickstarter isn't about gambling. It's about giving away your money. It's not investing. It's not loaning. It's giving away money. There's nothing wrong with it, but it's pretty shocking to see the amount of money dumb people are willing to just hand over to other people.

    A Sci-fi author for 20 years? He doesn't have a$500K to invest in his own business? Riiiight.

    And here's a little secret for you, too: if somebody can't borrow money to start a business, then there's probably a good reason.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 11, 2012 @12:08AM (#40279673)

    For instance, FIE (Olympic) sport fencing?

    It's certainly fairly different than with real sharps (you will be far more fearless obviously) but it can be instructive.

    Sport fencing originated as practice for actual swordsmanship---swordsmanship for one-on-one dueling combat, and not large-scale military melee which is completely different. For a game like this, it seems that simulating the 1-on-1 era (say 1600's-1700's with rapiers etc--personal weapons of the wealthy) would be a goal. As point weapons, they were quite sharp and very effective.

    If you've actually fenced some, you learn some things pretty quickly. Too many people's idea of combat seems to have been influenced by "theatrical swordplay" on stage & film. In theatrical swordplay, the combatants are too close together and the goal appears to be clanking their weapon against their opponents weapon in synchronized acrobatic fashion, instead of actually trying to hit the opponent.

    Things you learn from actually fencing:

    a) keep the pointy bit pointed at your opponent, not the air or the ground.
    b) don't flail around with your sword arm, you expose target area which a skilled opponent will hit, because he is keeping his pointy bit pointed at you and ready to strike.
    c) fencing is 80% legs and timing moving back and forth. Champion fencers win because they have stamina and explosive leg power and the ability to gauge distance appropriately. Sign of a master is one who can play with an opponents timing and distance, getting a rhythm and setting up the opponent's expectation, and then suddently strike explosively with an uncomplicated
    d) it's *very* tiring.

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