I attended TGS 2018 over the weekend. It was first Japanese event that I had attended, and it was a blast. Even if it was predictably very crowded.

I purchased advance tickets online on the TGS website for a small discount of 200Y compared to the day itself, because I didn't want to have to queue for tickets at the event. I opted not to go for the more expensive Supporter ticket as I didn't like the tshirt design.

I woke up relatively "late" at 8am on Saturday; my friends had been there since 6am queuing for merchandise and waiting for the doors to open. I took an express train from Hatchobori to Kaihin-Makuhari, and had my first experience of being squeezed like sardines on a Japanese train. Lord knows how much worse it would have been if it was a workday. The crowd continued to spill out at the train station:

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The outer area of the convention halls.

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They had some cool robots outside.

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The show itself was huge - 11 halls in total. I don't think even PAX has that many halls.

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I decided to head to the merchandise area, to check it out before it was all sold out.

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I jumped into the Square Enix queue on a whim. In hindsight, I should have probably taken a look at the merch list first, as I ended up not buying anything. But it was cool to look at the stuff they had on display.

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I really wanted the 2B and 9S figurines, but they were only selling A2.

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The Square Enix booth itself was massive, with most of the space dedicated to Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy XIV. I saw the FF14 Rathalos fight on a screen, and it was noticeably different from a MonHunt fight (much less movement on the monster's part). But I guess it's the norm for an MMO?

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I had a look at the romance simulation area, as I was hoping to find some otome game demos. Most of the big otome game developers (Cybird, Otomate etc) were not present, but I already knew this from the exhibitor list. I hoped to try MakeS VR and VR Kareshi,  but both games were out of slots when I went to their booths.

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At TGS, what many booths do is give out a limited number of tickets per day for visitors to try their games. I personally thought this system was inefficient as I saw a number of empty queues in the afternoon, after all the tickets had been given out, suggesting that the booths weren't fully utilized. PAX West uses a simple queue system, which guarantees that the booth will always have visitors, but the downside is that you have to queue for hours (potentially up to 4 hours). The optimal system would probably Disneyland's FastPass system, in which tickets for specific timeslots are allocated to visitors electronically, while still allowing visitors to queue normally, but it would require a highly optimized algorithm and detailed knowledge of how long each person is likely to spend at the booth.

A demo that I did get to try was Judge Eyes, a new game from the Yakuza team. I immediately got a Yakuza vibe from the booth when I walked past it. Because they weren't using the ticket system, I jumped into the queue and waited 90 minutes. There were 3 modes to choose from: a story mode, a drone mode, and something I else I can't remember. I opted for the story mode, since that was the aspect that Yakuza did very well. There was a warning that it would be difficult to complete within the allocated time, but I managed to do so even with my shaky level of Japanese proficiency, so that was nice. I even managed to understand a decent amount of the dialogue.

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Compared to the Yakuza games, Judge Eyes adds investigation modes into the gameplay - which makes sense, since the main character is a detective. Based on the demo, you do things like tailing suspects while making sure they don't see you, and I also had to search for a suspect in a crowd based on a description. It had a more serious tone than Yakuza, since the main character is something of a tortured soul. I'm personally intrigued by it, and will be buying it when it's released.

The last thing I did at TGS was to watch the Death Stranding panel at Sony's booth. On stage was the man himself, Hideo Kojima, as well as famous voice actors like Kenjiro Tsuda and Nana Mizuki. Kojima tweeted a picture of the absolutely massive crowd at the panel. There were multiple screens, so I squeezed to one side where there were fewer people. I didn't understand most of the dialogue, but they screened a new trailer, which as usual explained nothing and looked very pretty.

Looking back, what I would have done differently is to have gone to TGS with a game plan. 2 days seems like a long time, but with all the queuing, there's only a limited number of games you can play in a day, and you're not guaranteed to get a slot for all of them. I would have queued for the romance simulation games early in the day, and queued for the merchandise in the afternoon when I had finished with my high-priority demos.