JS Joust and Hokra launch Kickstarter campaign

JS Joust and Hokra launch Kickstarter campaign
Seth Tipps

By Seth Tipps

November 9th 2012 at 7:01AM

Sportsfriends bundle aims to bring new generation of indie multiplayer games to life

Four indie developers have banded together to bring conference favorites Johann Sebastian Joust, Hokra, Barabariball and Super Pole Riders to Kickstarter.

The four games have been around as concepts for some time, appearing regularly wherever indie developers meet.

Now, those games seek the funding to bring their unique take on social gameplay to a wider audience through a crowdfunding campaign.

"The idea behind Sportsfriends is to bring people together in the same physical space to enjoy simple, competitive, multiplayer games," said Bennett Foddy of QWOP, GIRP, and Pole Riders.

It's hard to think of a Playstation Move game that has generated more hype than Die Gute Fabrik's JS Joust, but until now the game has only existed as an award-winning proof-of-concept.

With creator Doug Wilson freely admiting the game, which has no visual element, is "a little too weird for publishers," the studio has turned to Kickstarter to make the prototypes a reality.

JS Joust is just one of several competitive multiplayer games to make waves in the indie scene.

Ramiro Corbetta's Hokra was inspired by the passing mechanic of EA's FIFA franchise, and has delighted audiences and players alike with its minimalist design and fast-paced four player gameplay.

Barabariball by Noah Sasso is a bit like a pixelated Super Smash Bros, but with the important addition of a ball.

Bennett Foddy is an Oxford phliosopher, former bassist for Cut Copy, and the man behind frustration simulators QWOP and GIRP. His games are Youtube sensations that could never find a publisher.

One of these games, Super Pole Riders, brings the bundle a zany combination of the traditional ball-and-goal games so popular with today's youth and pole-vault.

Together these games are building a fascinating new market for themselves of real-life social gaming; that is, games one might play with a group of friends in a room or at a club, rather than at keyboards thousands of miles apart.

The industry seems to have all but forgotten about local multiplayer, but these games warmly embrace it and all the low-fi nostalgia and hyper-competitive play it represents.

By being off-beat, they cut through a lot of the social stigma that keeps games from being accepted as mainstream.

Joust for instance takes the video out of video games, and replaces the feedback of a screen with people having fun as a group.

The problem for these developers has been finding acceptance as something other than a novelty within the industry.

While a quick game of Joust was a must at this year's GDC, publishers were hesitant to take up the cause of a game that defies traditional games marketing.

The retro yet avante-garde qualities of their games have left these developers with little choice but to turn to crowdfunding for the cash to complete their prototypes.

At the time of writing, the Kickstarter campgin has raised over $20,000 of the $150,000 needed to fund the titles.