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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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  • There's been a bit of a transition in the use of Kickstarter. Initially the idea was to provide seed funding, to cover expenses for a project that someone wouldn't be able to do otherwise unless they got conventional funding (e.g. grants or angel investors). So, for example, $5k for supplies and a few months' rent to support an art project. Then there were perks just as thank-yous to supporters.

    It seems to be slowly transitioning to a pre-order system where the perks are the point, though. Neal Stephenson is a multi-millionaire; he does not actually need this seed funding to pay his rent and expenses. If he wanted, he could self-fund the entire project. So why would he use Kickstarter? My guess is to get early buy-in from potential customers, to validate the idea's appeal, to build buzz, etc. Essentially a business-strategy use of the platform rather than a seed-funding use.

  • by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @01:43PM (#40275915)
    This has already been discussed to death on Slashdot. I'm not going to dig for a link, but some other poster came up with a good solution. If you wildly swing through something physically, when your virtual sword has stopped, your character becomes staggered until they physically reposition their weapon to sync up with the virtual representation. Eventually you'll become good enough at recognizing how your virtual sword will interact with the enemy's virtual sword (or body) and you won't be wildly swinging through as though you could slice through them. Eventually you'll train your muscles to anticipate the impact of the virtual swords and stop mid-swing (at the point where the virtual swords would clash) and begin the next move, possibly pulling back for another strike or pushing forward to knock back the enemy. Hell, add the Kinect so that you can kick or so the game can incorporate other body movements as well.
  • by cowboy76Spain ( 815442 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @01:59PM (#40276053)

    My thought was: how realistic will it be if I do not have to worry about my adversaries really hitting me and killing me?

    Also, I am not sure the public wants this degree of realism. A real sword fight (even in training) can be very tiring..

  • Eventually you'll train your muscles to anticipate the impact of the virtual swords and stop mid-swing (at the point where the virtual swords would clash) and begin the next move, possibly pulling back for another strike or pushing forward to knock back the enemy

    Of course, doing that means the movements become stunted and artificial -- because the idea is always to swing *through* your target and not *at* your target -- thus defeating the purpose of making a realistic swordplay game...

  • by pjt33 ( 739471 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @06:14PM (#40277981)

    That's with a katana. Japan aside, swords in general weren't that sharp, and your aim was to knock down and injure the opponent. Better than blunt weapons, sure, but you didn't need to worry about them going partway into a bone and getting stuck.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 11, 2012 @02:21AM (#40280251)

    First, learn that there is no such thing as a broadsword (well... there are the scottish basked hilted broadswords, but they are quite modern to the ones you probably refer to), then you may actually get some credibility discussing this.

    The knightly single handed sword is better known as an "arming sword" (they are similar to Viking age blades and Roman Spathas, but with better balance, better steel, and a larger cross guard).

    The arming sword could be used with a shield (e.g. a buckler) and there are preserved books from the 13-14th centuries that detail how to fight with them. When armor had improved so much that there where no longer a need for the shield (yeah, full plate armor stops about any edged attack you can think of) the longsword (sometime known as a bastard sword) became popular, which was primarily intended to be used with two hands, but could be wielded with one hand for some moves. For the longsword (which gradually replaced the arming sword), a martial arts tradition that lasted for a couple of hundreds of years arose in Europe, this tradition was documented in fighting books and manuals, sometimes with enormously beautiful illustrations. At the end of the longsword era, the weapon had become mostly used for sports in various sword fighting contests as it was rapidly becoming obsolete with the introduction of gunpowder.

    There is a sport known as Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA), which is attempting to revive the fighting styles used in medieval Europe for the sword and buckler, messen (single edged german one handed swords), longsword, dagger and hand to hand combat. For the longsword, there are two types of combat that evolved and are being explored, one dealing with how to fight unarmored and one how to fight fully clad in plate.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.