Tokyo Game Show Post-Mortem – Part 2: The Show Itself + Tokyo Indies

September 18th – Business Day 1

The Tokyo Game Show takes place over 4 days. The first 2 days are business days, meaning that it’s only open to industry people (in reality, the requirements for industry people is pretty relaxed), and the last 2 days are public days.

One of the things I’ve always wanted to do in Japan was to have sushi at at the Tuskiji fish market, which is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. It’s a pretty popular destination, so unless you arrive super early, you have to wait in line for several hours.


I woke up at 4:30 AM to go, and even though I got there at around 5:30 AM, the wait was for the most popular sushi restaurant was already at around 4 hours. I ended up going to the second most popular sushi restaurant, which only had a 1 hour wait. It was still very delicious! Grin

At the fish market, the workers all drive around in these little vehicles with barrel steering wheels. I thought this would actually make for a really cool game idea.
After breakfast, I took the train straight to Makuhari Messe. I got there at 9 am and met Alex outside to give him his TGS pass, and then we went inside to make sure the booth was ready (mostly this consisted of us trying to get the poster back up as it had fallen off during the night). Here’s my 1 hour long commute to Makuhari Messe summed up in 5 seconds:

Even though it was a business day, the first day of TGS was still quite crowded. The density of people felt quite similar to conventions like PAX, and I actually forgot that it was a business day. I had a very consistent flow of people coming to the booth to play the game throughout the day.

Here’s a pic of the crowd:


Here’s a pic of the Indie Game Area from the outside:


Here’s another from the inside:TGS_IGA_03

And here’s Marc Ten Bosch of Miegakure playing Relativity!tgs_player

After the day was over, a bunch of the devs showing in the Indie Game Area headed to a nearby pub called ‘Always’ to grab some food and drinks, and relax for a little bit. There’s not a whole lot of stuff around the convention center.

Afterwards, we all got on the train back to Tokyo to go to Otaru.

Otaru is basically a weekly meetup of people interested in game development.
It’s organized by 8-4, the guys behind the Pre-TGS party, and it is at this one Japanese restaurant/bar, where everyone sits on the floor on tatami mats.

Otaru Tokyo Game Show 8-4

In any case, it was a ton of fun, and I had a great time and met lots of cool people. Apparently, it was one of the largest Otaru meetups yet.

otaruThis photo was taken by Zachary Pintchik

September 19th – Business Day 2

During the day, a few members of the Friend and Foe team stopped by. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re currently working on the beautiful Vane. They actually have a devlog here that I’ve been following for some time now. I didn’t know they were based in Tokyo, so when I learned that they were going to be at TGS, I invited them to stop by!

Sense of Wonder Night presentation took place this afternoon from 2 pm to 4 pm. As I was already familiar with most of the games there, and had played them earlier, I opted not to go but to stay and watch playtesters at my booth instead. A lot of people who went said it was really cool though, so I do wish I could have gone.


Very positive response from players during the day. A lot of people plying for over 15 minutes at a time, which was really surprising for me.

Someone even finished the demo! :D I think it must have taken at least 40 minutes:IMG_6509

As we were wrapping up the day, Lucas Pope came by the Indie Game Area! I’ve been following Lucas’ devlog for “Return of the Obra Dinn” and have been blown away by the quality of his edge-detection shader. It was awesome to finally get to ask him some questions about it in person and to get feedback on the look for Relativity. This was pretty much the highlight of my day!

I have a few ideas now on how I can fix some of the artifact problems for my own shader.

From 5:30 to 7:30 pm, there was an exhibitor party organized by Sony. I didn’t take any pictures of the event, but it was pretty fun, and mostly it was cool to get to hang out with other exhibitors.

September 20th – Public Day 1
When I showed up to get the booth ready on this day, I thought someone had vandalized my poster. But it turns out, Relativity got nominated for some prizes! The one on the left is from Famitsu and the one on the right is from Dengeki:


This was the first public day, and boy, it was crowded! I thought business days were pretty crowded, but they were nothing compared to the public day. It was just a massive sea of people.

From the top of the stairs, this is what it looked like:

TGS_me_crowd Here’s another shot of the crowd from that day: tgs_sony_booth

After the day wrapped up, there was a party called the Indie Stream Fes:


10 indies were selected to give 2-minute long lightning talks at this event, and I was fortunate enough to be chosen as one of them. The party didn’t start until 6 PM, but all of us who were doing lightning talks had to arrive at 5 PM to do a tech check and rehearse.


This was one of the coolest experiences at TGS for me, as I got to present Relativity in front of a crowd of around 400 industry people.

Here’s a shot of the crowd from the stage:


Here’s Japanese Indie Dev Maruchu talking about his work:

And here’s Sun Park of Turtle Cream giving a talk about his 2nd person platformer game “Long Take”

During the party, the organizers also held a Kagami-biraki, which is a celebratory ceremony where they take out a sake barrel, and then break the lid of it using a wooden mallet. Then sake is served to everyone present.

They had these small little wooden boxes to drink the sake with, that had Unity printed on one side. I wanted to get a picture of me with one, but it seems that whoever I gave my phone to take a picture with had a bit too much sake to drink!


Also, during the party, I got to meet one of the developers working on Pavilion! I randomly came across the trailer for that game late one night and was totally amazed by the art style and very surprised I hadn’t heard of it earlier. I didn’t realize he was based in Japan, so that was very cool.

September 21st – Public Day 2

Day 4 of TGS, and I have to admit I was feeling pretty exhausted by this point. I had basically been standing on my feet for at least 8 hours each day for the past 3 days, not to mention all the walking around.

The large crowd continued for this day, but it was a little less crowded than the first public day. I believe the attendee number of each of the public days is around 200,000.

Anyway, lots of positive response from players this day as well. Several played for over 30 minutes, and I think 3 people finished the demo, which is again, quite impressive. Someone even played for close to an hour! And when they were done, I asked them how long they had been playing for, and they said 30 minutes! :D


Here’s me at the end of the last day. Can you tell that I’m totally exhausted? I still had to pack up!


Like I said, don’t use Scotch brand double-sided tape. Just use the ones you can find at Japanese convenience stores.


Here’s a shot during take down: tgs_cleanup

This is probably the first convention I’ve seen where people were riding parks around the convention center during takedown. They definitely had the right idea though!

September 22nd

Monday was my first day in Japan without anything I needed to do for TGS. I decided to go check out some parts of Japan outside of Tokyo. I ended up taking a day trip to Kamakura, which is a small city with a lot of temples about an hour and a half by train from Tokyo.


In the evening, I went to a Tokyo Indie Meetup. This is a monthly meetup organized by local indie Alvin Phu, which is originally from Boston.

It took place in a gallery/cafe on the second story of a building in Shibuya. The event started off with just people hanging out and socializing, and then about an hour in, we started doing presentations.


Japanese indie dev Moppin_ presenting his game ‘Downwell’:IMG_6798

Chris Johnson presenting ‘Expand’: IMG_6799

The Friend and Foe team previewed a trailer for Vane!IMG_6800

I had a USB with my Indie Stream Fes presentation, so I presented Relativity here too, and got some really great feedback! Anyway, it was a really fun event all in all. The Tokyo indie scene is small, but very vibrant. And lots of talent! I’m really looking forward to seeing the scene grow and play the games that come out of there.