And another BitSummit has come and gone in Kyoto. As with last year, I’m quite sad I couldn’t be there, and seeing so many of my friends (through social media) have a blast — during and after hours — was a pain. But I am happy to see that it looks like it’s been the biggest edition so far, and I am looking forward to catching up on what happened on the main stage through the Twitch archives (I think everything was streamed). Big ups to the gang for putting on what is one of the most exciting developments in indie gaming in Japan in recent years, and I’m sure we’re going to see them coming in strong again for the next edition. The photo above (tweeted by Jeremy Parish) is of the opening speech by James Mielke, the event’s founder and creative director.
The new episode of Toco Toco TV is out, and as expected it covers Editmode, the company behind the fantastic The King of Games line of game-related clothing. I love everything that Editmode produces, and loved seeing them talk about what inspires them, and how they got their start (and seeing them visit some of their favorite spots in Kyoto). There’s also a little peek at the new BitSummit tee they’re producing for next month’s edition — they produce the event’s tee every year — and again, I pray to the gaming gods that I’ll somehow manage to get my hands on one.
I still don’t quite understand what “A 5th of BitSummit” means — other than the fact it’s the 5th edition of everyone’s favorite independent game festival — but I’m excited as always to see what is going to come out of this year’s edition (set for May 20-21 in Kyoto). They’ve just revealed the logo for 2017’s event, designed by James Mielke, Masaaki Enami (Editmode), and Masahiko Murakami (Vitei Backroom).
Some very good news indeed, as we learn through Famitsu that a 5th edition of Japan’s premiere indie game event, the Kyoto-based BitSummit, is officially happening. Not only that, but instead of a sweaty July date, they’ve decided to move up the event a bit to May (it will be held on the 20th and 21st). So happy to see my buddies James Mielke (on one of the iPad screens) and Ben Judd in this photo, as I know they’re going to rock another awesome event. If you’d like to take part as an exhibitor, you’ll find the details on the official site.
So what’s this Branching Paths thing all about then? It’s a just-released documentary directed by Anne Ferrero that takes a look at the growing indie gaming scene in Japan. Unlike in the west, where indies have enjoyed quite a bit of success over the past 7-8 years, Japan is still in the early stages of an indie revolution, and Branching Paths does a fantastic job of illustrating what this nascent movement is looking like. Even better, it’s beautifully shot, and so also does a terrific job of acting as a visual tour of Japan from the perspective of games and the people who power that space.
But for me, it goes deeper. Seeing this now, after being back in Canada for close to a year and a half, it reminded me of a world I left behind. The film is packed to the gills with interviews of people I love and call friends, and so not only did it serve as a nostalgic reminder of all those people that I don’t get to hang out with anymore, but also of the spaces and events that I cared about when I was there (Picotachi, Tokyo Indies, BitSummit, Tokyo Game Show).
It even reminded me of PauseTalk, as the first time I heard about this project was from Anne, the director, who made a few visits to my events.
I love that the very early stages of an indie scene that I saw while I was in Tokyo has continued to grow, and is at a point now where I think there’s no turning back – we’re in for a lot of new and fun gaming experiences from Japan, directly from the minds of of a whole bunch of interesting creators.
That’s something to be super happy and excited about.
I first experience Nova-111 a few years ago at BitSummit in Kyoto, while also recording a PechaKucha presentation with its creator, Eddie Lee, and I really liked what I played. I’ve finally gotten around to playing the full game – it’s offered this month as part of PlayStation Plus, and I’m playing the PS4 version – and I sure am having fun with it. First off, I love the aesthetics they’ve given the world. Although you basically control a ship through a grid overlay, the background world and enemies you encounter really have a great style. As for the gameplay, it’s surprisingly addictive to move around, and decide on the best way to defeat enemies – it’s what I’d call quick-turn-based (like you’d experience in old roguelikes), so enemies only move when you move (with some exceptions), and so part of your strategy is to deal with that. Really fun stuff, and I’m looking forward to seeing what game we’ll be getting next from Eddie.