Okada-san and Tabletalk Cafe ~Daydream~
Now that I’m home and finished with my American wedding, I can take a short breather before we need to start tackling the Japanese one. FInally I get to talk about my meeting with Okada-san at the Tabletalk Cafe ~Daydream~!
Daydream is located a stop away from Akihabara in Tokyo, about a 5 minute walk from the Kanda station. It’s located on the 2nd story of an inconspicuous building, surrounded by some really old buildings and some really new ones. Inside are tons upon tons of boardgames in various languages, almost every role playing game book in Japanese, and about 5 or 6 tables, with a carom table awaiting its turn during the week. It’s a place where gamers can rent a gaming space or GM by the hour, relaxing on the way home from work by smashing some orc heads or flipping some cards. I was able to join a game of Monotone Museum the night that I was in Tokyo, and the GM was great and the game was really fun. Okada-san started the place about 10 years ago when he realized that once he was a salaryman, he’d have to give up gaming. He said his dream was to someday create a retirement home for gamers, so that we can game everyday for the rest of our lives. I think he’s on to something there. I can’t wait to go again; I have a feeling that I’ll be making a trip there anytime I find myself in Tokyo. For a quick look at the inside of the shop, check out the pictures from this article about Dominion in Japanese.
Okada-san and I had a long chat about Ryuutama and gaming in general that morning. He’s a really cool guy, and I’m glad we had that chance to meet up. Here are a few of the most interesting points of the conversation:
-Obviously one of the coolest things about running a gaming cafe and publishing your own games is that you have a steady supply of game testers–that are paying to play your game! We spoke quite a bit about Ryuutama and how they play it in the store. I mentioned how I always thought of Ryuutama as Monster Hunter the RPG, and he told me about the most awesome hack: using Ryuutama as the system for traveling and town stuff, as usual, but switching to Monster Hunter on PSP for all the fighting! The Ryuubito would take part in the ad-hoc battles, interfering with the PCs, and any damage sustained by the PCs during travel or whatnot would be taken off before the hunt began, using bombs. Any items and weapons bought in the game would first have to be bought in the town the PCs are currently visiting.
-He was very pleased with the translation, especially with the way that Andy K did the translation of the Ryuubito section, with its hard to translate blesses, and the names of the magic spells. He was very excited to have his game played in the West, too.
-He is a little let down by Monotone Museum, as it should have been a very honobono style game, but it’s tied to the SRS system, which is like 4e in that it is 90% combat, with very little in the way of social skill resolution. In fact, most of the games coming out today in Japan have a strong focus on combat, which is what made him make Ryuutama in the first place.
-When I told him I thought that the scenarios in the book and the ones found in Role and Roll magazine rely too much on GM fiat or the charity of the players to follow the hooks, he said that new Ryuubito having trouble should be able to say, “C’mon guys, I’m still new, can you just go along with it?” I asked if this was ever a problem with Japanese players, and of course, no, it isn’t. He also mentioned that he sort of regretted putting so many monster stats in the book, because he is afraid people will think that combat is a heavy part of the game. In reality, he wanted to put other data, such as more fauna, flora, geologic data, etc. It seems that the next edition may have that stuff. We talked about sandbox style scenarios, too.
-We talked about the stereotypical American gamers are bred to kill and conquer, where stereotypical Japanese players are always willing to talk things out before a fight erupts.
-Replays are what keep gaming companies afloat. I always wondered about that.
-He talked about his next project, a game about sentient humanoid robots. It sounds like it could be very cool.
-The chart for # of monsters in a scenario should be the # of monsters per encounter, in case there were multiple encounters in a scenario.
There are some English speaking games and gamers that frequent his establishment (though mostly for DnD I think), so I highly recommend that you check it out and help him out!