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A compendium of four joyfully fun local multiplayer games for PlayStation 3 and home computers.

We're four game developers – Douglas Wilson, Ramiro Corbetta, Bennett Foddy, and Noah Sasso – joining forces to release Sportsfriends, a compendium of four highly acclaimed local multiplayer games:

•    Johann Sebastian Joust
•    BaraBariBall
•    Super Pole Riders
•    Hokra

All four games are accessible, spectator-friendly, and deeply replayable. 

They already exist as playable prototypes, and have been exhibited around the world at festivals and parties. They've received lots of honors and awards, including three IndieCade awards and the Innovation Award at the 2012 Game Developers Choice Awards. Most importantly, we know they're super fun. Sony does too, and they've already given us the go-ahead to put Sportsfriends on the PlayStation 3!

We want to take the current prototypes to completion, adding tons of different ways to play while keeping them simple at heart. Publishers aren't interested in local multiplayer-only games, so that's where you come in. We need Kickstarter funding to make this project happen.

Back us with $15 or more, and you'll get this package of four games PLUS exclusive rewards. And you'll make it possible for us to finally bring these games to the broader public and to YOU!

"This is a game that people need to play." –Ben Kuchera, The Penny Arcade Report

"Joust rides at the vanguard of a genre that's as old as written language, but entirely new to video game culture." –Griffin McElroy, The Verge

Johann Sebastian Joust is a no-graphics, digitally-enabled playground game that I designed for motion controllers like the PlayStation Move. Players try to jostle their opponents' controllers while protecting their own. How fast you can move your controller depends on the varying tempo of the music. If your controller is ever moved beyond the allowable threshold, you're out! The goal is to be the last player remaining.

I first prototyped the game in 2011 at the Nordic Game Jam. Right after the jam, a large throng of people assembled to play the game for hours. From then on, I knew I had stumbled upon something special. Over the past year I worked on J.S. Joust on the side as I finished my PhD, showing the game at exhibitions and festivals around the world. At this year’s Game Developer Choice Awards, J.S. Joust even won the Innovation Award, beating out heavy hitters like L.A. Noire and Portal 2.

One of the design goals behind J.S. Joust was to make a motion-control game where people look at each other, rather than at a screen. The kind of raucous experience I wanted to design was influenced by my previous work on experimental party games like B.U.T.T.O.N.

Playing J.S. Joust in the streets of Copenhagen (Photo by Jakob Moesgaard)
Playing J.S. Joust in the streets of Copenhagen (Photo by Jakob Moesgaard)

Now I'm eager to expand and polish the game! The final version of J.S. Joust will contain a variety of new play modes, music options, and adjustable settings - for instance, Traitor Mode. In one new music mode, I want to assign a separate instrument to each player, such that their "voice" drops off when they're eliminated. More generally, I want to allow players to tweak the base game system in a whole bunch of ways, so that each player community can find their own preferred ruleset.

It turns out that J.S. Joust is a little too weird for publishers. After all, what do you do with a game that has no graphics or single-player mode? But I know the game is a blast, and I hope you'll help support a commercial release!

Reach me on Twitter: @doougle

(Photo courtesy Official GDC flickr stream)
(Photo courtesy Official GDC flickr stream)

"It has that perfect mix of pixel elegance and stellar fluid motion, like watching basketball through mosaic sunglasses." 
–Marc Weidenbaum, Disquiet

"... like Super Smash Bros from a superior reality." 
–Adam Smith, Rock Paper Shotgun

BaraBariBall is a fighting/sports game for two or four players. Players score by dunking the ball in the water on the opposing team’s side but lose a point for falling into the water themselves.

In addition to a wide range of tactical maneuvers, players have seven air jumps, allowing for unprecedented control and ridiculously awesome aerial combat. BaraBariBall favors responsive controls, improvisation and tactics, and currently features three unique characters with a wide variety of attacks and special abilities.

Check out my illustrated How To Play manual.

BaraBariBall has been featured at events such as the NYU Game Center's 2012 No Quarter, the EVO 2012 Indie Showcase, the Tokyo Game Show's Sense of Wonder Night, IndieCade's Night Games, Eurogamer's Rezzed, Juegos Rancheros, Fantastic Arcade, Wild Rumpus and many more.

Should this Kickstarter be funded, I will continue development with an eye toward new arenas, improved animation and audio, additional game types (team battle! challenge mode! three player mode!) and further balance and playtesting.

The BaraBariBall team also includes Richard and Marcus Terrell, as well as Michael Fisher on tabla.

Reach me on Twitter: @getdizzzy

Super Pole Riders will be an enhanced, extended version of my hit pole-vaulting polo game, Pole Riders. In Pole Riders, two athletic men pole-vault into the air to try to kick a ball, suspended on a rope by a pulley, into their enemy's goal. It's a no-holds-barred sport of launching yourself off your opponent's head, kicking him off his pole, and flipping the other guy into orbit with your pole. It brings the awkward physics-based controls of my single player game QWOP to a local multiplayer battle.

Since I shipped the original Pole Riders, we've shown it at a number of parties and events around the world. It debuted at Babycastles in New York before the web launch. It was at Prince of Arcade in Montreal, Juegos Rancheros in Austin, Wild Rumpus in London and San Francisco, among others. I've heard from a number of game developers that they play Pole Riders tournaments in their office, at places like Maxis and Harmonix. The more I watch people play Pole Riders competitively, the more I've seen how it could be developed further. Now I want to make an enhanced edition that can do things that were technically impossible in the web version.

The original version of Pole Riders at AOPATAD 2012
The original version of Pole Riders at AOPATAD 2012

First, I want to make the game playable by four players at once, so that each game in the Sportsfriends set can be played by a party of four. More players means more poles, which will place more strain on the physics engine, but I think a downloadable title can handle it.

Second, I want to have a number of arenas with more interesting geometry. In some, you'll only be able to reach the ball by vaulting into the air. In others, you'll have to work quite hard to reach the goals, which will be at the top of hills or at the exits to a greco-roman amphitheater. 

Finally, the most important addition of all: you'll be able to impale your opponent on your pole, and wave his lifeless body around as a kind of club.

Reach me on Twitter: @bfod

"In the sense of creating true human connection, Hokra shoots and scores." Jessica CondittJoystiq 

"It’s got all the fast-paced competitive teamwork and maneuvering of a game like NBA Jam." –Ryan Rigney, Wired


Hokra
is a minimalist digital sports game. A fast-paced, competitive game for two teams of two players each, Hokra features simple controls and minimal rules while retaining the depth that makes multiplayer games exciting for advanced players. Like the sports from which it draws inspiration, Hokra is engaging to both player and spectators.

Hokra has been shown at over a dozen events all over the world, from its debut at NYU’s No Quarter exhibition to Babycastles, Wild Rumpus, and IndieCade 2012, where it won the Audience Choice Award.

Hokra at IndieCade 2011 (Photo by Elliot Trinidad / IndieCade)
Hokra at IndieCade 2011 (Photo by Elliot Trinidad / IndieCade)

People have already had a lot of fun playing Hokra at these events, but I’m still working to make the game even better. I'm currently experimenting with new arenas, including some with moving goals, walls that impede movement, and special terrain where players move slowly. I’m also adding a super hectic 8-player mode. I can’t wait to get the final version of Hokra into everybody’s hands!

Reach me on Twitter: @RamiroCorbetta

With Sportsfriends, our goal is to bring people together to the same physical space to enjoy simple, spectator-friendly videogames.

Online multiplayer is great and everything, but there’s nothing quite like gaming together with friends who are there with you in person, or competing in front of a cheering crowd. Think back to those games you played at the arcade, or on the playground, or on your friend’s couch. Many of our favorite gaming memories come from local multiplayer games, and we want to celebrate that kind of co-located play.

Sportsfriends takes some our favorite aspects of popular sports – playful competition, performance, and spectatorship – and tries to make those elements more palatable to a broader game-loving audience. You don't have to be a sports fan or even a fan of sports games to enjoy Sportsfriends.

We want to draw attention to what's happening in front of the screen, between the human beings playing and watching.

Sportsfriends is more than your typical "bundle" of games. It's one tight-knit package of multiplayer games that all embrace a similar design philosophy. The four of us made our games around the same time, and we’ve all influenced each other. By collaborating on one project, we hope to make something that transcends any of the individual games.

Developing videogames is expensive, especially for console and for multiple platforms. Games like ours that require joypads or motion controllers make the task even trickier.

Chief among our project costs, we'll need to hire two expert multi-platform programmers to port all the games. The four of us are primarily designers, so we can't do it ourselves. We're eager to get these games out to the public, so we want to hire programmers who can help us do this efficiently.

We'll also need a bit of graphic design and sound design work to help tie the four games together into one cohesive, quadrathlon-tastic package.

The good news is, Sony likes the games enough that they'll help us a little on the back end and with marketing. But we’re still far short of the funds we need to port the games and wrap them together in one package. The fact is, our four games don’t look or play like most console titles. We need your help and support to get us to the finish line and to prove that, yes, people are interested in these games.

By self-publishing this compendium, we want to show that the gaming public does indeed care about local multiplayer; that the future of this medium concerns more than just fancy graphics, but also innovative design and replayability; that sometimes, the best games of them all are the simplest.

•  We plan to debut on PlayStation 3 (digitally via PSN) in Fall 2013, with a Mac/PC/Linux release shortly afterwards. 

•  If you donate at $30, you'll get alpha versions of the games shortly after the Kickstarter campaign ends.

•  Hokra, Super Pole Riders, and BaraBariBall require controllers, and cannot be played with a keyboard. We'll try our best to support a wide range of controllers.

•  For J.S. Joust we're investigating Sixaxis support and also Wiimote support (for the Home Computer version), but in the meantime PlayStation Move controllers and Bluetooth will be required.

•  Due to Bluetooth issues, native Windows support for J.S. Joust may not be possible. We'll look into it. Meanwhile, for you Windows users, you'll be able to boot your PC directly into a special Linux version from a standard USB thumbdrive. We'll provide full directions.

•  We hope to support additional platforms in the future, but we want to target PlayStation 3 and home computers first!

•  Right now we can only guarantee the PlayStation 3 version to the following countries: United States of America, Canada, Mexico, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom. We hope to support additional countries too - stay tuned.

FRIEND OF SPORTSFRIENDS

All backers receive a set of special high-res (digital) Sportsfriends wallpapers - perfect for your desktop background! Illustrated by Nils Deneken:

RELEASE COPY

Everything above, PLUS a copy of Sportsfriends when it's all finished! 

See "Release Plans" above for technical specifications, platforms, applicable countries, and release schedule.

All RELEASE COPY backers (no matter which version you choose) will also receive a copy of Jan Willem Nijman's unreleased tennis game, TENNNES.

Much like Hokra and BaraBariBall, TENNNES is a minimalist sports game commissioned by the NYU Game Center's No Quarter exhibition. It features sound by Eirik Suhrke (of Spelunky and Super Crate Box fame). JW has graciously agreed to donate an exclusive copy of the game in support of our Kickstarter campaign.

Sure, there are already lots of tennis videogames out there, but none of them feel quite as good as TENNNES. JW, co-founder of Dutch game studio Vlambeer and one of the minds behind Super Crate Box, excels at designing game systems that feel "juicy" and are tweaked to perfection. TENNNES is no exception. Stripped down to the bare essentials, TENNNES captures the elegance of tennis, yet is fun even if you aren't a tennis fan.

(Note: Windows only; requires Xbox 360 controllers)

EARLY ALPHAS

In addition to everything above, EARLY ALPHAS backers will receive current alpha versions of the games. Start playing now, before we're even done! The alpha versions aren't thoroughly tested, but we've shown them at many events around the world, and they're already super fun. Here's some more info about each alpha:

Johann Sebastian Joust alpha
•    Expected delivery date: mid December
•    Requirements: Mac only (OSX 10.5 or above), Bluetooth, two or more PS Move controllers

Hokra alpha
•    Expected delivery date: early December
•    Requirements: Windows only, two or more Xbox 360 controllers

BaraBariBall alpha
•    Expected delivery date: January
•    Requirements: Windows only, two or more gamepads

SUPER SPORTSFRIENDS

UPDATE:

At this tier we're also throwing in five unreleased local multiplayer games (for PC/Mac), donated by some of our favorite indie designers.

More info here.

---------------

In addition to everything above, backers at the SUPER SPORTSFRIENDS level will receive three additional unreleased games/prototypes:

QWOPFRIENDS by Bennett Foddy - race your friends in a game of precision QWOP using dual analogue sticks. Hop, skip and jump your way to victory across three events. Based on the highly popular QWOP for iOS. Requirements: for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Requires Xbox 360 controllers.

Miracle Adventures in 2113 by Noah Sasso -- an experimental action game with one foot in the bullet hell/shmup tradition. Players alter the trajectory of bullets using a mouse-controlled magnet, and attempt to dodge the inevitable chaos that ensues. Requirements: for Windows and Mac. Supports both Xbox 360 controller and mouse/keyboard.

Boss Battle (working title) by Ramiro Corbetta - a local multiplayer shmup boss fight in which the boss is controlled by a human player. A game for 2 to 4 players. Requirements: for Windows only. Requires Xbox 360 controllers.

Backers at this level will also receive access to an exclusive series of podcasts that we'll produce throughout the development process. The four of us will go in-depth on the design process, explaining how we balance the games and what new features we're playtesting.

SPORTSFRIENDS FOREVER

In addition to everything above, backers at the SPORTSFRIENDS FOREVER level will receive a stylish t-shirt. Wear your Sportsfriendship proudly, for the whole world to see!

(Update: we've posted the t-shirt designs here)

Backers at this level will also get their name into the game credits. Show your support and become a part of Sportsfriends history!

7-PLAYER J.S. JOUST KIT

Everything above, PLUS we'll mail you seven brand new Move controllers, and you'll be able to put them to use with your early alpha build.

(Photo via Wiley Wiggins)
(Photo via Wiley Wiggins)

For each controller, we'll also include a special controller "charm" - a decorative memento to clasp onto the wrist strap.

UPDATE: More info here.

MEGA-GIRP DELUXE

Everything in the SPORTSFRIENDS FOREVER tier and above, PLUS we'll send you everything you need to run Bennett's and Doug's popular Mega-GIRP, a game installation exhibited at galleries and parties around the world and at venues like GDC's Experimental Gameplay Session.

Mega-GIRP is a game played on four modified dance pads. It takes Bennett's award-nominated web game, GIRP, and transforms it for public events and spectators, combining the game's cheeky physics system with physical, performative play. Read more about it here.

This package includes four Xbox 360 dance pads specially modified by us, a USB hub, and an exclusive full-screen build of GIRP.

(Note: United States of America only)

18-PLAYER J.S. JOUST KIT

The Bluetooth hardware spec only allows up to seven controllers. That's why the normal version of J.S. Joust supports 2 to 7 players.

But in early 2012, Doug, together with psmoveapi wizard Thomas Perl, prototyped a special 18+ player version of J.S. Joust by networking together three MacBook Pros. Doug also modified the design of the game to include a special "traitor" feature. It's kind of like J.S. Joust with a strong dose of the famous parlor game Mafia.

Doug has since exhibited this special version of the game at several public events, including a raucous showing at PAX 2012. Ben Kuchera of Penny Arcade Report chronicled the event in this in-depth account

Backers at this tier will receive everything in the SPORTSFRIENDS FOREVER tier and above, PLUS we'll ship you 18 Move controllers, a full set of 18 controller charms (see above), three charging stations, a wireless router, and the specially prepared J.S. Joust build required to network the computers together.

(Note: you will need three Bluetooth-enabled Mac computers to support 18 players - not included in this package).

ULTIMATE SPORTSFRIENDS PACKAGE

Backers at this tier will receive everything in the SPORTSFRIENDS FOREVER tier and above, PLUS one of us will travel out to you in person to run the Sportsfriends  games for your very own private (or public!) event. We'll even even bring 18-player J.S. Joust, as described above. 

Want to hear more? Contact us at kickstarter at gutefabrik dot com.

ULTIMATE TRAMPOLINE PACKAGE

To backers at the ULTIMATE TRAMPOLINE PACKAGE level, we're offering everything in the SPORTSFRIENDS FOREVER tier and above, PLUS an erotic, physics-based wrestling trampoline game by Bennett and Doug, called Get On Top (see Kotaku coverage here). Get On Top pits two players head-to-head in a contest to see who can dump their opponent's avatar on the ground. Thanks to a set of gyroscopes attached to the trampolines, you make your avatar jump by jumping on the trampoline yourself! Players also hold a Move controller, which they use to control their avatar's arms.

We recently exhibited the game in public at GameCity, at the Venus Patrol Training Facility. Suffice to say, it was a big success!

We'll ship you everything you need to run the game, including two specially prepared trampolines, the game controllers, and an exclusive build of Get On Top. A wildly fun installation for public events!

(Note: ULTIMATE TRAMPOLINE PACKAGE United States of America only)

Douglas Wilson is a Lead Game Designer and Partner at Die Gute Fabrik, a small games studio based in Copenhagen, Denmark and New York City. Doug recently finished a PhD dissertation at IT University of Copenhagen, where he wrote about designing games that embrace an aesthetic of confrontation, silliness, and brokenness. His games have been shown around the world, in venues such as the Independent Games Festival, IndieCade, and the Museum of Modern Art. He grew up playing simple folk games, and also videogames like GoldenEye 007, Mario Kart, and Dance Dance Revolution, and wants to help carry those kinds of experiences into today’s world.

Noah Sasso has a background in audio and web development, and spent the mid 00s managing and recording music for the record label/collective Kracfive, as well as paying dues working for clients like Major League Gaming and Zeitgeist Films. After several years developing game prototypes, freelancing and working as a game designer at NYC's This is Pop, he was awarded a commission to produce an original game for the NYU Game Center's No Quarter exhibition. The result was BaraBariBall, a crowd favorite that has since appeared at festivals and tournaments around the world. His work has also appeared at the Star Pine Cafe in Tokyo, New York's Knitting Factory, Vice Magazine, Pitchfork, the Los Angeles Times, XLR8R and many more.

Bennett Foddy is a philosopher at Oxford University, who writes about things like new technology and medicine. But he is better known for writing videogames that explore rhythm, muscle power, and the immoral abuse of players. He is best known for the single-player web games QWOP, GIRP, and CLOP, and local multiplayer games Winner vs. Loser, Pole Riders, Fistmonger and now the new trampoline game, Get On Top. His games have been shown at the Museum of Modern Art and the Pulse Art Fair in New York, GameCity in Nottingham and at the Indiecade festival in Los Angeles, and nominated for an IGF award at the 2012 Game Developer's Conference. The free web versions of his games have been played by tens of millions of players worldwide. His games have been featured in Wired magazine, Popular Science, and on the television show The Office. All of the best gaming experiences in his life have been played sitting or standing next to another real-live human being.

Ramiro Corbetta is a New York based independent game developer. His work has been shown all over the world, including at The New Museum, Babycastles, the Independent Games Festival, and IndieCade. Ramiro designed Glow Artisan, winner of the 2010 Independent Games Festival award for best mobile game design. He grew up in Brazil with a balanced diet of Super Nintendo, soccer, and surfing.

Video trailer music by David Kanaga.

Thanks to all our fellow devs who gave us video testimonials, as well as the following people who provided footage for our trailer: Johan Lindegaard, Robert Meyer, Gwynna Forgham-Thrift, Colin Snyder / Gameifesto, George Buckenham / Wild Rumpus, Will Smith / Tested.com and Matt Broach.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Our biggest challenge will be porting the games to the PlayStation 3. Console development isn't trivial, and it's expensive. Nevertheless, if we can make our funding target, we'll have enough money to pay programmers who have console experience.

FAQ

  • The J.S. Joust early alpha will be Mac OSX only, while the BaraBariBall and Hokra early alphas will be Windows only. We're going to need to hire some programmers before we can get the games onto a broader variety of platforms. That's the primary reason why we need all this funding!

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  • Probably you're searching for Sports Friends rather than Sportsfriends. Just so we're clear, it's "Sportsfriends", not "Sports Friends". "Sports Friends" is not a thing.

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  • If you want Sportsfriends for both your PS3 and your computer, just add $15 to your pledge and email us to let us know you did it at [Ramiro's last name]@gmail.com.

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  • Pledge $3 or more
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    113 backers

    FRIEND OF SPORTSFRIENDS - A thank you on our website, plus a set of high-res Sportsfriends wallpapers.

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    2325 backers

    RELEASE COPY - Everything above, plus the finished game for your choice of either PlayStation 3 or home computers (Windows/Mac/Linux for Hokra, Super Pole Riders, and BaraBariBall, and Mac/Linux and PC hardware for J.S. Joust, see "Release Plans"). Also includes a special copy of Jan Willem Nijman's unreleased tennis game TENNNES. (NOTE: the Sportsfriends Home Computer version will be released a few months after the PlayStation 3 debut).

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    EARLY ALPHAS - Everything above, plus early access to alpha versions of J.S. Joust, Hokra, and BaraBariBall soon after this campaign ends. Start playing months before the official release!

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    462 backers

    SUPER SPORTSFRIENDS - Everything above, plus three unreleased games by Bennett Foddy, Noah Sasso, and Ramiro Corbetta (including a new version of QWOP!), and access to an exclusive podcast series with the game developers. Listen in as we go in-depth about designing and producing all the games! Delivered early 2013.

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    SPORTSFRIENDS FOREVER - Everything above, plus special credits in the game itself and a special Sportsfriends backer t-shirt. Wear your sportsfriendship proudly! Delivered Spring 2013.

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    7-PLAYER J.S. JOUST KIT - Everything above, plus seven PlayStation Move controllers and a set of controller charms. Because the more players, the better! Ships Spring 2013.

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    MEGA-GIRP DELUXE - Everything in SPORTSFRIENDS FOREVER tier, plus extra special credits in the final game, and a set of Mega-GIRP pads and a standalone, fullscreen version of GIRP. Ships Spring 2013.

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    18-PLAYER J.S. JOUST KIT - Everything in SPORTSFRIENDS FOREVER tier, plus extra special credits in the final game, 18 PlayStation Move controllers, three charging stations, a wireless router, a set of controller charms, and the ultra-exclusive 18-player build of J.S. Joust. Ships Spring 2013.

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    ULTIMATE SPORTSFRIENDS PACKAGE - Everything in SPORTSFRIENDS FOREVER tier, plus extra special credits in the final game, and one of us will travel out to you to run a live Sportsfriends event featuring the ultra-exclusive 18-player J.S. Joust.

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    ULTIMATE TRAMPOLINE PACKAGE - Everything in SPORTSFRIENDS FOREVER tier, plus extra special credits in the final game, and we send you everything you'll need for the ultra-exclusive Foddy/Wilson trampoline-controlled game, Get On Top. We'll ship you two specially prepared, game-enabled trampolines anywhere in the continental USA, along with controllers, cabling, and a build of the game. Ships Spring 2013.

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- (31 days)