Sportsfriends: Building a Better Pole Riders

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Sportsfriends: Building a Better Pole Riders

In 2010, when I started making Pole Riders, my original plan was to make a straight pole-vaulting game, like the ones in Summer Games or Daley Thompson’s Decathlon, both games that were super-popular when I was six years old. Back in 1984, local multiplayer games were nearing the peak of their popularity. In the arcades, there were games like Joust and Track & Field, but at home, and in the public libraries, the Epyx compilations ruled the roost: not just Summer Games but Winter Games and the immortal California Games too. I was absolutely obsessed with the pole-vault event in Summer Games and for the longest time, I wanted to make my own version of it.

Perhaps it’s no coincidence, then, that I’m now involved in Sportsfriends, which is a spiritual successor to Summer Games – a compilation of four sports-themed games, to be played by up to four friends on the one couch. But unlike the old Epyx compilations, none of the Sportsfriends games play it straight. Hokra is a hockey game with no goals and no sticks. BaraBariBall is a volleyball game with no net, where the players routinely drown in a lake. J.S. Joust is a game that has no screen!

Sportsfriends: Super Pole RidersSportsfriends: Super Pole Riders

For my part, I’m making a sequel to my game Pole Riders, a game that crosses pole vaulting with polo and kung fu. I guess it didn’t turn out much like Summer Games, after all! The original is a free web game – go try it out if you haven’t already!

Pole Riders doesn’t get the most traffic on my website (that honour goes to QWOP) but it has the most passionate fans. At Maxis and Harmonix, homes of the Sims and Rock Band franchises, I’m told there are regular Pole Riders tournaments. And when I show the game at public events like Wild Rumpus or Babycastles, I’m always approached by challengers who want to beat me at my own game. Local multiplayer is like that – it inspires a kind of passion that singleplayer games don’t.

Sportsfriends: Super Pole Riders

For the Sportsfriends compilation I’m building a better, more complete version of the game called Super Pole Riders. When I showed the original game around the world, I would always think of little changes that could make the game better. I wanted the kung-fu kicks to be crunchier. I wanted the arenas to be more vertical, more interesting and complex. I wanted the game to be playable by four or even eight players at a time, for maximum chaos. When games were locked in a stalemate, I wanted the players to be able to resolve the match by swapping their poles out for spears, poleaxes and warhammers, for brutal and hilarious combat.

I’m hard at work on Super Pole Riders, which is going to have all these features and more. I can’t wait to bring you the ‘real’ version of the game!

Questions? Let me know in the comments! And if you like the sound of Sportsfriends, I hope you’ll consider supporting our Kickstarter!

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  • aside from this post: i’ve been playing assassins creed 3 liberation and every time you collect the assassins coins or the jewels from the muggers or gentlmen the game corrupts. i confirmed that today after it happened for the second time. this time it wasnt after getting the tribal outfit but the lady outfit.. can someone have this issue solved. the game is too long to keep replaying…

  • oh and nice name for this game… a bit racy but hey we’re adults here

  • SONY can we get more friends this 100 limit is killing me can you guys at lease make 50 more friends please thats all i want 150 should be the limit. reply back thank you :)

  • @1, thanks for the warning. I haven’t started the game yet so maybe having cloud saving starting next week for Plus will save some frustration. Have you reported it on the Ubisoft site?

  • This game looks so much fun! Can’t wait to see and play the final version!

  • I know this is off topic but I kind of really want to know.

    Does anyone know whether you get the the extra preorder skins if you buy the digital version of Playstation Allstars Battle Royale?


  • @1: For you. That hasn’t happened to me, and I’ve gotten plenty of those things so far. I’ve also backed it up just in case.

  • I wiil try on the web, and wait for the definitive version on PS3, thank you! ;)

  • This game looks freaking awesome!

  • oh im sorry i meant to say after collecting all of 1 set not “some”.. just collect all then save the game and quit oh after buying the outfits.. its either a brown assassins outfit w/hood and skull painted on face or a better lady outfit.. i planned on backing up my data but you have to do that like every time you save which means you’ll end up backing up a corrupt file anyway.. so you’ll be on that same boat with the sailor thats winking at the guy next to you.

  • Unless you want a barrage of dirty jokes at the game’s expense, you may want to change the game’s title.

    Then again, it might be intentional.

  • Got excited when I saw the old Track and Field reference. Yet, it doesn’t look like I’m going to be “crack-tapping” x anytime soon. I miss me a good old-fashioned race to see whom could press a button the fastest. Am I gonna be able to crack-tap at any point?

  • Already threw my support into the Kickstarter campaign last week. I’ve loved your previous work and I’ve been dying to play J.S. Joust since the first time I saw the video for it months ago. I didn’t know much about Hokra or BariBariBall but both of them look like a fun time. Anything that is built from the ground up for local multi is an instant sale from me. Not enough devs take it into account anymore.

  • Hope this gets funded.

  • This game is definitely a acquired taste, they were thinking outside of the box on this 1.


    It’s amazing to hear this news. I simply cannot begin to tell you of my deep, fanatic obsession with pole riders. I’ve been having pole riders tournaments with my friends constantly for over a year now. It is wholly responsible for the maintenance of my sanity during physics class last year. Pole Riders is my single favorite game of any sort, from any time, PERIOD.

    I’ve launched my friend over the castle, cleared the double double decker bus on many an occasion, and levitated straight out of the screen with my friend, each of us somehow managing to simultaneously stand on the other’s pole.

    I sent you an email a while ago and I never got a response. I would like to resend it. Where can I do so?

    My immense thanks for your service to humanity,

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