September 24, 2013 10:28 AM | Lena LeRay
Playism Games, a company which does localization, marketing, and distribution of indie games in both English and Japanese, didn't have its own booth at Tokyo Game Show this year. However, its representatives were on hand to assist their clients with interviews and demonstrations. Most of their clients weren't there on the same days that I was, but the few to whom they introduced me had good things to show.
Quad Arrow's EF-12 is a fully-moddable fighting game, reminiscent of Elecbyte's M.U.G.E.N., but in 3D. Character models, moves, button configurations, fighting rings, even computer AI -- all can be modified without any programming experience. Modification of enemy AI is accomplished using if-then logic in a spreadsheet program. Graphical modifications require the use of a 3D graphics editor such as Blender or Maya, but once models or any other mod files are created all you have to do is drop the files in the appropriate folders. The game reads and incorporates them automatically. The game has been crafted with the ability to emulate the play styles of popular fighting games such as Tekken, Virtua Fighter, and Street Fighter, but with a great deal of flexibility in customization.
I got to play the Japanese version, which is already available on Playism's Japanese web site, and I can tell you that the two characters I tried out played very, very differently. I don't play fighting games that often, so I can't given an in-depth analysis of the two characters' fighting styles except to say that the second one I played only seemed able to attack with her legs. What I can say is that the game itself doesn't have hardly any text in it. What Quad Arrow and Playism are really working to localize for English audiences are the manuals -- they contain all the information on how to mod the game, to do things like changing character behaviors to allow for characters as dissimilar as the ones I tried out.
The game currently doesn't feature online capabilities, but it's something Quad Arrow's Masahiro Onoguchi wants to work towards if possible. There are a couple of big obstacles to doing so; what if, for example, two players don't have the same modded characters installed? It's something he would love to add, but right now multiplayer is only doable locally. That doesn't mean there won't be any online support, however. Quad Arrow and Playism want to build a community around the game. They're considering creating an online hub for mods, and there is a serious possiblity of including well done and popular mods in official builds of the game.
It's a pay-what-you-want game which costs a minimum of $0, so if you're more interested in playing it than modding it, you might consider checking it out now.
They Bleed Pixels
Miguel Sternberg of Candian studio Spooky Squid Games was running demonstrations of They Bleed Pixels at Tokyo Game Show. This, too, has very little in-game text, but there is a lot of flavor text to be localized. Sternberg is hoping that a release in Japan will go well because of the "creepy cute" trend in Japan right now. Personally, I think the creepy cute appeal has a good chance of drawing attention to the game, and if the amount of time the man pictured above spent playing the game is any indication, I think the game has a pretty good chance of doing well in Japan.
Of perhaps greater interest to English-speakers is the fact that in addition to working on Mac and Linux ports of the game, Spooky Squid also is considering creating a sort of training version of the game designed to help people unfamiliar with the genre get into it. Things would start out simple and easy, ramping up in difficulty as it goes along to bring new players up to a skill level capable of tackling the main game. That's a huge undertaking, said Sternberg, because they would have to rework every level individually to do it right.
Analogue: A Hate Story
When Christine Love learned about Korean history, she couldn't imagine what it was like to be a woman in Korea back in the day. What better way to help herself figure that out than to make a game out of the idea? Analogue was localized for Korea some time ago, and soon it will be making its way to Japan. It sounds like it's been an interesting challenge to localize a visual novel written by a Canadian about women's issues in old Korea for a Japanese audience. Love has Japanese fans playing her games in English already, however, and the localization is underway. I got to play the demo myself, and though I didn't get very far, the localization seems very well done to me.