Tucked away inside of the densely-packed Tokyo Game Show Indie Game Area was Project EF-12, which at first glance appeared to be a prototype 3D fighter along the lines of SoulCalibur or Tekken. After being introduced to designer/Quad Arrow CEO Masahiro Onoguchi, however, I learned that the game is in fact a free, totally customizable 3D fighting game engine.
Through modifying what essentially amounts to a collection of spreadsheets, users can change virtually everything about Project EF-12, from its characters, to their abilities and stages, all the way down to the appearance of the UI. The version I played had a selection of characters that had been modified into familiar archetypes: Virtua Fighter-esque, Tekken-like – there was even a character that played with 2D-style controls, despite this being a 3D engine.
Players can also insert new character models they've built from scratch, assuming the models were constructed in either Soft Image or Maya. Trading/sharing new characters is as simple as downloading a zip and extracting the spreadsheet and models into the correct folder.
Project EF-12 is currently available with a mountain of Japanese-language tutorial material through Playism's Japanese website, with an English release expected on Playism's English site before the end of the year. In related news, expect Style Guide: Journalism Hyper Fighting from Joystiq Publishing almost immediately afterwards.