Although this will be the third entry about Tokyo Game Show, this one is far less focused on the incredible spectacle that unfolded today (more on that tomorrow). Instead, we’re taking the time to talk about a smaller event that occurred: Indie Stream FES.
For those who don’t know, Indie Stream FES is an after party of sorts that happens for industry members of all facets to come and relax after the first big public day. A lot of the developers, indie and otherwise, have no opportunity to actually see anything once the show starts. There’s a small window before each day begins, but, once those doors open, you’re sticking next to your booth all day to answer and assist to potentially tens of thousands of people. So, Indie Stream FES gives a handful of indies a chance to showcase their work directly to other members of the community in a gesture that says “Hey, I made this. I’d like you to see it, I think you’d like it too.”
Besides the free food and drink (which, after a long day, is a really nice treat), the games on display are also nominated for awards by a silent panel of insiders who want to give special recognition to some developers. This year, three lucky games walked away with awards: Dreeps, a very cool “alarm RPG;” RETSNOM, an outside-the-box pixel art puzzle platformer; and Thumper, a “rhythm-violence” game that, incidentally, won best in show. All three devs were folk that are truly passionate about their work, and I’ve been lucky enough to see a bit of prior to Indie Stream FES.
The Lightning Talks, another facet of Indie Stream FES, gives a unique take on game explanation, wherein devs have only 2 minutes a piece to explain their game, demonstrate an engine, announce a new project or really do whatever they want on stage to leave a lasting impression. Some were more direct than others, showing us the strongest screenshots or video clips they had. Some made grand announcements, like Bluffman’s announcement of a La-Mulana 2 crossover in his Artifact Adventure sequel. Others still talked about the history of their game and their development, which lent a very personal and historic air to what was happening. I’d say the only caveat is that most were presented in Japanese (as we are in Japan) and, as a result, maybe wasn’t as interesting to watch streaming as other content would be (apologies to our Periscope viewers, I tried).
Lastly, it was really awesome to have not one, but two separate announcements exclusively for Indie Stream FES. The first came from Bloodstained’s own Igarashi Koji, who was there to let us know Bloodstained was now being developed in Unreal 4. This may not seem like a lot to the average consumer, but the advantages and possibilities of Bloodstained’s scope is now significantly more exciting, and the game is going to look and perform absolutely amazing.
The second announcement is one that is a little more near and dear, but equally exciting. Anne Ferrero, a translator and all-around awesome person, has been hard at work creating a documentary that is focused around the life and works of indie developers within Japan. It has been said for years that the indie scene in Japan is worlds apart from the West, though certainly with some similarities. Anne wants to bring that life through to everyone, so all can see and experience the amazing world of the Japanese dev. The title is Branching Paths, and the trailer is breathtaking. Our own Dan Stern got admittedly choked up, and with good reason: there is joy and success, but devs certainly have their trials and tribulations as well. This film looks to celebrate all aspects, and I personally cannot wait.
I’m honored, truly, to have been a part of this year’s Indie Stream FES. Being privy to that kind of camaraderie and togetherness helps foster and boost the development scene in Japan and beyond. Having people from large companies and publishers intermingle with someone who just started coding builds hope, aspirations, and, eventually, the next great game. As a content creator of a different variety, I can’t fully appreciate just what Indie Stream FES means to everyone in attendance, but I know a good thing when I see it. And it was fantastic.