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Sportsfriends: Johann Sebastian Joust as a 21st Century Martial Art

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Hello again PlayStation fans!

Last month, I posted about our Kickstarter campaign for Sportsfriends – a compendium of four multiplayer indie games, packaged together. The other three Sportsfriends developers already posted about their games – BaraBariBall, Super Pole Riders, and Hokra.

We need your support to help bring it to PS3, so I want to tell you about the fourth and final Sportsfriends game – my PlayStation Move game, Johann Sebastian Joust.

J.S. Joust is a motion control game for 2 to 7 players. The game isn’t even played with a screen! It’s playing using sound, rumble, and the LED light on the Move controllers.


The core idea is simple: if you ever move your controller too fast – or if someone comes up to you and makes you move your controller too fast – you’re out! The result is a minimalistic but deeply replayable game that plays like a face-to-face sword fight. Like some crazy 21st century martial art, it’s all about balance and timing. Protect your controller from your opponents, and try to jostle theirs!

The game’s music – Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Brandenburg Concertos” – sets the tempo of the game. When the music is slow, the controllers are extremely sensitive to motion, and so players have to move slowly. When the music speeds up, the threshold is higher, and so players can move a bit faster.

J.S. Joust is a game that works especially well at social gatherings and parties. I wanted to create a game that is as fun for spectators as it is for the players themselves. Because there’s no screen involved, players end up looking at each other, moving around the entire physical space. The game becomes a kind of combat qua baroque dance – players circle around each other, waiting for their opportunity to strike.

The game has received a lot of enthusiastic press coverage. Polygon, for example, declared that J.S. Joust “is defining a new gaming genre.” Penny Arcade wrote that it’s a game “that people need to play.”


J.S. Joust has been a big hit at festivals and game exhibitions around the world. It was a finalist at this year’s PAX 10, it was nominated for the 2012 IGF Seamus McNally Grand Prize, and it won two awards at IndieCade 2011. The game also took home the Innovation Award at this year’s Game Developers Choice Awards, beating out some AAA games like LA Noire and Portal 2.

Showing the early alpha version at all those events has been a ton of fun, but now I want to finish the game and get it out to all of you! That’s why we’re crowd-sourcing development funds on Kickstarter.

I’m especially excited to add a variety new modes and gameplay features. For example, I’ve been experimenting with an “invincibility mode.” If you press your trigger button, your light goes white and you go invincible – temporarily. After a few seconds, you run out of invincibility power, signaled by the fading brightness of the light. This feature makes the game even more tactical – you have to save your invincibility power for when you really need it… or for a good surprise strike!


I want to add a whole bunch of new features, so that each group of players can mix and match rules to find their own preferred version of the game. Like any good playground game, J.S. Joust is all about making the game your own by embellishing the minimalistic rules with custom modifications.

If the project is successfully funded, I’ll be experimenting with these ideas – and more. But we won’t be able to bring J.S. Joust or the other Sportsfriends games to PS3 without your grassroots support. If you have any interest in local multiplayer or motion control games that are actually physical and fun, support us on our Kickstarter page and secure your copy of the game now!


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