Playism 2 Year Anniversary Party Trip Report

Earlier this week we teased that we would be putting up a blog post about our recent two year anniversary (and NIGORO’s 6th). Fortunately for us, Shuhei Miyazawa (aka Room 909) beat us to it, putting together a fantastic post that showcased all the fantastic stages we had set up, and the host of developers that joined us for the event.

The following is a translated account of our 2 year anniversary party by Shuhei Miyazawa.

I imagine a good number of readers have found their way here via Twitter, so I’ll introduce myself real quick. I’m a friend of Mr. Daisuke Amaya, known to many as ‘Studio Pixel‘. I’ve known him since we were at college together, and over the years I’ve play tested a bunch of games for him, including Cave Story. I’m also producing the music for his upcoming title Glasses. After I graduated I didn’t really have anything to do with the gaming industry, until I attended an event called ‘Behind Cave Story’ at Culture Culture in Odaiba. For some reason at that event I was asked to speak a little, and that’s what drew me back into the world of game development.

So, I left my coffee shop in my brother’s care and headed over to Osaka. The event was held at an Italian restaurant called “Ezu”. The event was celebrating the second birthday of the Japan focused indie game distribution service Playism. (Jpn Site/Eng Site) This was the second time I’d visited this restaurant.

playism poster

playism party

Mr. Itoh, a member of the Playism team who I met at the recent BitSummit event, greeted me at the door. Unlike a lot of Japanese style events, this party didn’t have a running order. I was told to eat, drink, be merry, and try out a load of games. In attendance were amateur and professional game creators alike, as well as company representatives and owners, and of course game fans. There were people from PLAYISM’s management company (a game localization firm) and a lot of people from the BitSummit meeting too. A lot of the visitors were foreign, making the whole event feel very international!

Once I got past the reception, I bumped straight into PANDA, from the company NIGORO. It was great to meet him. After that I put my bag in the coatroom, grabbed my camera, and jumped in.

Rose & Camellia & La-Mulana

Rose & Camellia & La-Mulana

The first thing that caught my eye was NIGORO’s display stand. They were displaying “Rose and Camellia”, in which you, a young lady, slap another young lady in the face by moving the mouse. Your character looks alarmingly like Mulbruk from La-Mulana, come to think of it. I remember the image NIGORO put up of his slapping game with Mulbruk in it as a joke for April Fool’s.

I can’t believe he actually put her in the game! He’s written a plot for the game, too. A plot. For a game about slapping people in the face. I think Mr. Naramura might have gone slightly insane. Ms. Kawanaka, who I’ll talk about in a bit, got totally addicted to this game and temporarily became a sort of face slapping guru. Fun stuff!

playism party

sega saturn

This is the property of Josh, one of the leaders of the Playism project. A Sega Saturn, a Dreamcast, a SNES, a PS3 and a ridiculous game collection. And… what’s this? A Virtua Stick Pro for the Sega Saturn!! Incredible! Interestingly enough, of all the consoles there, the Saturn was by far the most popular.

playism mizutani

playism naramura

Slowly the place began to fill up with people, and it was time for the toast. Mr. Mizutani, one of the heads of the Playism project, said a few words, and was followed by a rather sneaky event hi-jacking attempt by Mr. Naramura from NIGORO:

“Actually, Playism turned 2 years old yesterday. Today is actually NIGORO’s 6th birthday!”

Classic Naramura. After that, the party was underway!

playism DJ

The DJ at the event was a guy called Justin Pfeiffer, (@xanadujin) who calls himself a ‘game music DJ’. I really didn’t know what to expect, but he quickly proved himself a genius when he kicked off with a track from the game ‘VIEWPOINT’, a classic. I had previously checked out some of his work and his extensive Japanese profile on his Soundcloud, but it was during his live performance that I finally understood how talented he is. Check his stuff out!

studio pixel cave story signamaya daisukeamaya daisukecave story fan art

(Translation) Shuhei Miyazawa@room_909 I went to the Playism second birthday party! Someone wrote a blog about it here! http://is.gd/RMmioj

deko @de_ko_@room909 Thank you! You made the after party sound awesome, I wish I could have stayed! (I had to run due to time constraints!) Instead, enjoy this picture of Naramura I drew! pic.twitter.com/D7rgRCdPoW

On the second floor, Studio Pixel was giving autographs. I figured it would be game fans who were lining up to meet him, but actually a load of developers had come to meet the creator of Cave Story too. All over the place there were people with so many different connections to games and the gaming industry. The frog in the photo above is of ‘Amagaeru (Ayama Daisuke + Geroblaster), as imagined by Mr. Deko. (@ldekol)

He also made some funny name tags for Mr. Naramura. Poor Naramura always ends up at the receiving end of every joke. I was gutted I didn’t get a photo of it, but afterwards Deko sent me the pictures. What a hero!

Pixel’s programming master, nao_u, brought along his HMD, which allows you to play games in stereoscopic 3D. Boumankan, one of the biggest playtest contributors to La-Mulana, was able to experience the game in 3D. I think people who know or love the game will understand how amazing an experience this really was.

Actually, this event was the first time ever the whole La-Mulana staff have been in the same room: Boukanman (all the way from Sendai!), Funshi (all the way from Fukushima!), the NIGORO boss (all the way from Kyushu!) and also their programmer Duplex. The whole thing felt a bit like a NIGORO event. The 2011 Earthquake directly affected Boukanman and Funshi, so I asked them if everything was okay. They said they were playtesting La-Mulana throughout the whole thing. Now that’s dedication!

Duplex lives in Kyushu and thus doesn’t really get many chances to come visit the other NIGORO guys. The other three had only met all together once before. It was my first time to meet Duplex too, and of course I had a bunch of questions for him. We talked for a long time. I always want to make small, one-screen games. Like that adaptation of The Goonies. But then the other two always make each project bigger and bigger…” He’s a quiet guy, with a kind of refined air about him. He told me he had to be quiet because the other two were so noisy. Balance is important in any sort of relationship. I think I understood what he was saying.

What shocked me was finding out that while he is the primary programmer at NIGORO, it’s actually not his main occupation. He’s just been programming as a sort of hobby since the GR3 Project began. It’s amazing to think he could learn to program and then produce something as incredible as La-Mulana in such a short space of time. Obviously Mr. Naramura & Samieru are both very talented, but I think Duplex is a real genius. It really was a pleasure meeting him. I found myself drawn to the ‘MSX’ (La-Mulana’s console inspiration), too.

Everywhere I went, the topic was the same: gaming. Literally everyone was discussing them. Producers, indie devs, university students, everyone. There was no elitism or separation; it was a free exchange of ideas. PLAYISM really has built an amazing thing. They’ve been slowly growing for two years now. Every so often I’d ask how things were going, so I got to see a bit of the world behind PLAYISM. But tonight it was BAM, right in our faces. I’ve no doubt that as it continues to grow, and as more interesting and talented people get involved, it will improve in leaps and bounds. I know I say it a lot, but the PLAYISM project really is amazing.

I met a lot of people today. Firstly, someone I met at BitSummit – king (@king_75), who made Rokko Chan. He came to Osaka by overnight bus from Tokyo specially for the party. Rokko Chan was well known by a lot of the people at the party, so he was a pretty popular guy throughout the event. We both wanted to try someice-cream, so we went all the way to a 100 yen store to buy some, but it was sold out. Never mind. Next time!

Next, Mr. Maruchu (@Maruchu), who made the puzzle game Colorful Mines. He was also at BitSummit but as I only recently found out about Colorful Mines, I didn’t get the chance to meet him. Upon meeting him (for I think the first time?) I was taken aback by what a gentleman he is. A lot of indie game devs tend to be a bit… weird, so I was kind of expecting that of Maruchu as well, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. He’s a very sociable and outgoing guy, and a pleasure to talk to.

Before I was dragged away by PANDA to take photos for him, I was listening to the Kyoto Indie Game Idea Development seminar, which had featured one of my diaries in it. It was being explained by game designer Kawanaka and Hanada Kei of graphic novel maker Novectace. Kawanaka was moaning about how usually at indie game events there’s a real lack of women, but there was a good number at the party so I think, for once, she was satisfied. She was so happy when we asked for a photo too, but then she got really mad when PANDA photo bombed her. Those two are always fighting with each other. Beside them was Yumeneko, who made the shooting game “BLACK ART”, who calmed the situation down. After that, we took some lovely photos.

Another hot topic of the night was the free RPG development software “WOLF RPG Editor”, “One Way Heroics”, a game made using the WOLF suite, as well as the author of Heroics, SmokingWOLF. (@WO_LF) He was a real Osakan. He also wrote a book on developing games. He’s a real pro. He was very popular at the event, and even throughout the after party had a lot of interesting things to say.


(Translation) Shuhei Miyazawa@room_909 An OUYA! pic.twitter.com/wckPvIYvjc

 

Recently Unity has been gaining a lot of momentum, and today its users were out in force. Nanimosa (from FullPowerSideAttack) was one such user, and at the event introduced his tablet game ‘TorqueL’. I enjoyed a closely fought battle with PANDA on it. Also, Mr. Kurukuru (@mkd214), a university student who has adopted UNITY, enthralled a whole group of people with his fantastic “One Night Werewolf” title. So many creative, inventive people were at this event! Next, I had wanted to meet Takaaki Ichijo of CRI Middleware, but the OUYA unboxing ceremony pulled me away. Sorry, Mr. Ichijo, but the OUYA has been interesting me for ages.

I only spotted it after I’d finished my photographing, but Mr. Shigoto from Petit Depotto, of Unholy Heights fame, was also at the party. Although, I’m really sorry! When I saw “Shigoto” (which is Japanese for ‘job’) on your name plate, I didn’t understand who you were! The game looks fantastic, though. I can’t wait to play it.

Yusuke Hirano brought an iPhone case from the NIGORO store with him. PANDA told me “We made it to look cool”, which may be so, but I had to admit to him that this was the first time I’d ever seen the case outside of the NIGORO offices. Fortunately, he laughed at that. I’m glad he doesn’t take it too seriously. By the way, you can buy NIGORO t-shirts from their store as well. You can get a super cool La-Mulana watch, too.

(Translation) Shuhei Miyazawa@room_909 A visual novel made by an Egyptian group! https://twitter.com/room_909/status/333482843260981249/photo/1

Also, I wasn’t able to meet them but there was a visual novel made by an Egyptian guy being displayed. I really really wanted to check it out. It’s called “Ibn al-Nafis Visual Story”, please do check it out. It was great to meet Mr. Gokubuto of Game*Spark again. Our last meeting was broadcast over Nico Nico.

Of everything that stuck with me, this is the most memorable. A guy called Coppelia cleared Cave Story on the projection screen using only his feet. You can watch his amazing performance here. He fought the last boss using his feet. It was…weird. Everyone in the room was cheering him on. Even though he was using his feet, Coppelia’s play was smooth and skilled. The NIGORO staff were loving it, but when Naramura tried to play his own title La-Mulana using his feet, he played like an elementary school kid would.

Actually, Coppelia had brought a cookie designed to look like Naramura as a gift, and gave it to him even after he’d made light of the art of foot gaming. I guess he really respects Naramura. After that, Naramura signed things for fans. Coppelia got a big round of applause for his amazing feat/feet, too. By the way, when Coppelia cleared La-Mulana, DJ Justin played ‘Knightmare II: Maze of Galious’…I wonder if that was just a coincidence? Did he know? The track played twice that night, and both times it gave me goosebumps.

He played so much music that conjures up such strong memories for me – Gradius Gaiden Stage 3 (Famicom), TMNT Stage 1 (Famicom), X-MEN Stage 1 (Arcade), and some classic Konami tracks too. I, along with Samiel, were so overwhelmed by how awesome it was we sort of crowded the DJ booth and got a bit carried away. I had no idea there were such passionate classic game fans in the west too! So after four hours of fun, the party slowly drew to a close. But then it was time for the after-party, which was held at the same place!

Some of the game displays were empty, so I thought maybe they’d put out the stereoscopic La-Mulana thing again, but then it turned out Amaya had to go… back to his office! Everyone was really surprised! He didn’t even say a proper farewell to everyone. I mean I personally don’t need one, but at least be polite to other game developers, Amayaaaaa! Also I heard he saying that one time he asked his daughter what she thought of the title “Geroblaster”, and she told him not to talk about Gero (gero means puke in Japan) over dinner! Apparently he was really mad at getting yelled at by his own kid!

After that Mr. Suiheilibe (@Antouchable) who had come from Tokyo to participate showed some stuff off. I remembered him from the ‘Behind Cave Story’ event. He’s travelled so many miles to be part of the community!

Suddenly the atmosphere changed to a serious one. A very serious open table discussion about games and their future started, with a few HAL graduates getting involved. Developers, publishers, students, fans… it was a meeting that covered every part of the game industry. There was a lot of off-the-record talk that I can’t really write about here, but I will give a list of the general topics covered. We heard some really earth-shattering, exciting news too. I can’t tell you about it, though!

How a game’s tutorial defines its success. The boom of the indie game industry. The relationship of indie dev and consumer. Localization “There are many different types of adult out there!” What will the game scene be like in 5 years?

Josh (of Playism) had some great comments. “I’m totally addicted to Five Star!” “Gundam was first broadcast in 1979 right?!” and so on. PANDA simply said “Man, you’re basically Japanese at this point” in return. At 10pm, the after party finished.

At this point I’d been chatting and taking photos for nearly 8 hours in total. I’d pretty much lost my voice. Some people were still hanging around, but I had a train to catch. On the way back, I had a chat with Mr. Hashimoto (@HashimotoRST) who went to both ‘Behind Cave Story’ and ‘The Eric Chahi Panel‘. Apparently after the Cave Story meeting, he got this big burst of motivation, leading to him helping out with La-Mulana and developing his own title.

He said he was so glad he was able to chat with the NIGORO guys. Seeing people like Pixel and NIGORO who are on the front line of indie game development really inspired a lot of people to get involved. I think Hashimoto’s spurring moment was during the Cave Story event. I kind of felt like I wanted to get involved too. I… I’m also gonna make a game!

I got home just after midnight. Apparently Samieru and the others were drinking until after 1am. I want to thank everyone for all the great conversations I enjoyed. Being able to be absorbed in game related discussion really educated and entertained me. I also want to thank everyone at PLAYISM for running the event and facilitating this amazing experience.

I imagine it must be a lot of work, but I really hope you do something like this again in the future. To finish, I’d like to show you two images – the first one was a scene that lead to a huge round of applause, the second is a sleeping giant.

(Translation) Shuhei Miyazawa@room_909
This is amazing! pic.twitter.com/kV9HYRrkhj

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