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A compendium of four joyfully fun local multiplayer games for PlayStation 3 and home computers.
A compendium of four joyfully fun local multiplayer games for PlayStation 3 and home computers.
4,146 backers pledged $152,451 to help bring this project to life.

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Happy New Year! A Heartfelt Thanks

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Happy New Year!

2014 is almost over, and so is the Sportsfriends project. Now that we’ve finally released the game on Mac, Windows, and Linux, we wanted to take a moment to reflect.


The majority of the Sportsfriends games were prototyped as early as 2011. We’ve come a long way since then! The idea that we could commercially release these games – on console, no less! – still strikes us as pretty radical. Nothing about Sportsfriends – the development, the marketing, the user-interface design – was straightforward. But we really believed in the games, as well as the broader movement of local multiplayer, and so we knew we had to do something to get them to the wider public.

It’s true, we probably could have just released our prototypes for free (in fact, Bennett did) and moved on with our lives. Instead, by "finishing" the games, binding them together, and releasing them on PSN, Steam, and Humble, we were able to introduce them to players who never would have heard about them otherwise. We’re proud of all our rave reviews – people "get" what we were trying to do!

The original Pole Riders at Wild Rumpus in San Francisco, 2012
The original Pole Riders at Wild Rumpus in San Francisco, 2012

A bunch of other excellent local multiplayer games have been released since we started Sportsfriends – Samurai Gunn, Nidhogg, and Towerfall, just to name a few. We’d like to think Sportsfriends has contributed positively to this movement. Bringing people together to play games is as important as ever these days, and we hope Sportsfriends will help do so for many years to come.

None of this would be possible without all of you backers. Cheesy as that might sound, it’s the truth. These days, it seems like there are so many armchair critics of Kickstarter and of crowdfunding more generally. It’s smart to be discerning about what projects you back, but we urge you not to succumb to cynicism. Kickstarter has made such an impact on us, on our games, and on the whole videogame industry. Weird games like Sportsfriends won’t ever be funded by traditional publishers, and so it’s still tremendously exciting that crowdfunding makes this kind of project possible. We hope you’ll continue to back other game projects that excite you, that mean something to you.


There are so many people, even beyond our backers, who went above and beyond to make this project possible. Appropriately, Sportsfriends was truly a community effort, and we’re both humbled by and grateful to everyone who made it possible. We tried to provide a full list in the game’s Credits section, but we’d like to single out a few folks while we’re getting all sentimental here.

We’re tremendously grateful to all our collaborators – musicians, illustrators, programmers, and so on. All of them were total professionals and delivered stellar work, even in the face of sometimes difficult conditions. We’re especially grateful to our lead programmer Jonathan Whiting, who persevered in the face of major technological hurdles. It isn’t easy programming this kind of game, especially when you’re working from a remote office. We couldn’t have done this project without him.

Speaking of programming, we’re also heavily indebted to the folks at Choice Provisions (formerly known as Gaijin Games), who licensed us their multi-platform engine, Atrophy. We’re especially grateful to engineer Andrew Hynek, who provided support along the way. Choice Provisions letting us test-drive Atrophy is a perfect example of indies helping other indies – not because they necessarily stand something to gain, but because they want to see other cool independent games out in the world.

We benefited from other software projects, too, including the open source psmoveapi as masterminded by our friend Thomas Perl. Johann Sebastian Joust would not have flourished without that API, and in fact we still use it in the final Mac and Linux versions of Sportsfriends. We’re extremely fortunate that Thomas decided to open source the project, and maintain it as well as he (and others) have.


Sportsfriends could also not have been completed without the support of Nick Suttner, Brian Silva, and their team at Sony America. Nick in particular championed Sportsfriends within the company, and stepped us through the entire process of publishing on PSN. Nick really cares about videogames, and, more importantly, the people making them. He is a goddamn videogame hero.

We’re also indebted to the folks at Humble, who were instrumental in helping us distribute early versions of the game (as well as some other rewards) to our backers. The folks at Humble were always responsive and accommodating, even though our project often necessitated atypical requests. We shudder to think how difficult it would be running this kind of Kickstarter project without them.

Finally, we’re deeply thankful to all the events, exhibitions, and conferences that ran our games over the years. All the public showings – and there were many, around the entire world – are the main reason our games attracted any attention in the first place. Sportsfriends was specifically designed for these kind of settings, and indeed the recent resurgence of local multiplayer is directly tied to this renewed interest in public videogame events. We hope you’ll all continue to organize or attend such events.

Hokra at IndieCade 2012
Hokra at IndieCade 2012

Wrapping It Up

We're still making our way through a ton of support requests. Thanks for your patience.

We also have some final backer rewards to sort out, as well as some extra J.S. Joust support (as we discussed in the previous update). Again, if you feel like you're missing something, or you haven't figured out how to redeem your copy of the game yet, get in touch.

Thanks again, and Happy New Year,

– The Sportsfriends –

Sportsfriends is out on Steam and Humble Store!

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It's a holiday miracle! Sportsfriends is now live on Steam and Humble Store! For Windows/Mac/Linux! Finally!

(Note: Home Computer backers should now have access to DRM-free builds of the final game, for all three platforms. See your Humble Store account.)

We'd appreciate any help getting out the word. Tell the world about Sportsfriends! Give the game a good review on Steam!

Most importantly, we hope all of you and the general public will enjoy the game over the holidays, in the company of family and/or friends.

We're delighted to wrap up 2014 having released the game on both PSN and Home Computers. We did it, we actually did it! Sportsfriends is a pretty weird game that had little chance the traditional industry, and yet the game is out now, to enthusiastic reviews. None of this could have happened without all of you backers. We hope you've been enjoying the final product, and will continue to enjoy it for years to come.

What's next? We still have some backer reward odds-and-ends to sort out. If you feel like you're missing something, or you haven't figured out how to redeem your copy of the game yet, get in touch.

As mentioned in the previous update, we'll be looking into the USB-bootable JS Joust distro, as well as open sourcing some version of JS Joust. Meanwhile, if you have any technical issues, send us a support email.

We'll have one more update for you before New Years, where we take a moment to do some proper reflection. But for now, enjoy your holidays. And if you've been enjoying Sportsfriends, help us tell the world about today's Steam and Humble Store release!

- The Sportsfriends -

Rowdy Holidays! Sportsfriends comes to Steam & Humble this Friday!

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Seasons Greetings,

It's a holiday miracle! Sportsfriends is finally coming to Windows, Mac, and Linux this Friday, December 19, on Steam and the Humble Store.

Y'all already have access to the game through the PSN version (released back in May) or the backer-only beta, but now the general public will be able to play too.

We need your help getting the word out. Tell your friends and family about Sportsfriends! Give the game a good review on Steam! Play with your loved ones over the holidays!

   

The Full Story

It's been a long road getting here, so it’s very rewarding to finally get the game out to as many people as possible.

What took us so long? In large part, we've been working tirelessly on hardware-related issues, especially as it relates to getting PlayStation Move controllers working on home computers. Our trusty programmer Jonathan has spent most of his time since the PSN release ensuring that we can establish a stable connection between the Move controller and Mac/Linux hardware. As we described in our last update, JS Joust should be more robust than ever on both platforms.

He also spent time researching Bluetooth issues that prevent the Move controller from reliably pairing to Windows machines. Unfortunately, it seems like Windows is engineered in a way that makes it infeasible for us to get pairing working robustly. We looked for experts to help us, and even got in touch with an engineer at Microsoft, who told us "this is NOT possible in any way shape or form." Yeah, we weren't too thrilled either.

This means that, despite all our research, the Windows version of Sportsfriends will not support JS Joust. However, anyone who buys Sportsfriends is also entitled to the Mac and Linux versions of the game. We're also still looking into creating a custom Linux "JS Joust distro" that you can boot into from your Windows machine by USB stick. More on that later.

In the future, we're still looking to open source JS Joust. The game was built on top of open source projects, and we feel some responsibility to give back to the community. After we release this week and handle any support issues, Jonathan is going to continue his work preparing the source.

Meanwhile, we have added more fixes and some additional features, such as custom playlists in JS Joust. You know what that means: go put together a list of your favorite holiday songs, gather up your family, and make it a very Sportsfriends holiday season!

For the full changelog as well as advanced tips and tricks, see our README.

More from us on Friday when the game goes live on Steam and Humble,

- The Sportsfriends -

October 2014 Update

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Hi everybody,

It's been a few months, so let's do a big ol' project update!

(As a reminder, we're trying to keep these email updates to a minimum. See our Twitter feed for more frequent updates/announcements).

Home Computers Beta

We recently pushed a new Sportsfriends beta update to Steam. See our changelist for a full up-to-date progress summary.

Our programmer Jonathan has still been working full-time on Sportsfriends. It's been a slow-going few months. Most of his time has been spent battling issues around the Move controller, especially on Mac OSX. We finally think we've made some breakthroughs. Fingers crossed, the new version of JS Joust should be better and more robust than ever - see below.

We've added save configuration files to all the games, and Bennett has made some subtle gameplay tweaks to Super Pole Riders. Jonathan has also fixed some key bugs, including a shader issue that would surface on some Linux configurations.

Remember, if (and only if) you were a Home Computers backer, you now have access to the Sportsfriends beta on Steam. For instructions on how to redeem it, see our June backer update.

JS Joust on Mac and Linux - new and improved (?)

Photo by Brent Knepper
Photo by Brent Knepper

The original Mac alpha of JS Joust worked pretty well, but there were some frustrating limitations. For example, you'd need to restart the program if you ever wanted to add additional (or disconnected) controllers.

Today we pushed an update (both Mac and Linux) to Steam that features an in-built Pairing Utility, and should allow "live" connections during Joust, without needing to restart the program. That might sound like a small detail, but can be especially handy when playing outside.

As it turns out, this extra robustness was hard-won, especially on Mac OSX. On Mac, we're now spawning a second process dedicated solely to handling Move controllers. This means that JS Joust is now more resilient to crashes - if the daemon crashes, it shouldn't bring Sportsfriends down with it. Essentially, we're sweeping some mysterious psmoveapi crashes under the rug. Sometimes, if you can't solve a problem, you just have to design around it! (Jonathan is hoping to write a blog post about the gory technical details - watch our Twitter feed).

Also, the Pairing Utility should now work on OSX 10.10, and we've even pushed our fix to the public psmoveapi repository.

We think the new JS Joust is finally robust, but we could really use help testing it, especially on Mac. If you're able to play JS Joust over the next couple of weeks, please report back to us how it goes! (Reach us by email at support@gutefabrik.com).

JS Joust and Windows - looking for a driver programmer!

We've still had no luck getting the Move controller working reliably on Windows. At this point, we've determined it's beyond our skill set.

We recently put out a job call for a Windows driver programmer:
http://gutefabrik.com/blog/?p=2765

We're looking for an expert who can write a filter driver to get Move pairing working robustly on Windows 7 & 8. If you know someone who might be interested, let us know. If we can't find the right person, we may just have to give up on Windows support. In that case, we still plan to provide a custom Linux .iso that you can boot into from your Windows computer.

More updates as we get closer to release.

Sportsfriends and PlayStation 4 Share Play?!

Sony just released their major 2.0 Update on the PlayStation 4 today. Among other features, this update introduces Share Play, a system for sharing any game online with friends. The idea is, the PS4 sends a video feed to your friend and allows them to send controller input. Pretty smart!

Bennett and Doug tried out Sportsfriends over Share Play. As expected, we're not too excited about it. Of all the games, Super Pole Riders fares the best, and was actually somewhat playable. Hokra, however, was completely unplayable, and BaraBariBall lands somewhere in between. And good luck playing JS Joust online...

The Share Play feature will certainly be useful for some types of games, but Sportsfriends probably isn't the best fit. As Bennett wrote in this Polygon op-ed earlier this year, online multiplayer is fundamentally incompatible with some local multiplayer games, for both technological and social reasons.

Indie Circuit

Our friend Richard Terrell - co-designer of BaraBariBall - is launching Indie Circuit, a website designed to help form local multiplayer communities around the world. He's starting with a focus on Sportsfriends, and also Samurai Gunn, Nidhogg, Towerfall, and Lethal League.

Looking for Sportsfriends players in your area? Check out Indie Circuit, and maybe even sign up: http://www.indiecircuit.org/

OK, that's it for now

We're still not sure exactly when we release Home Computer version Sportsfriends to the general public, but we're getting close...

As always, stay tuned for more news... and also rad BaraBariBall gifs.

- The Sportsfriends -

Home Computers Beta! (+ Thanks)

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