Inside the Mad Creation of Shenmue 3. Part One (Topic)

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Inside the Mad Creation of Shenmue 3. Part One


The Shenmue series is unlike any other open world game. Along with elaborate fistfights, the series showcases moments from everyday life. When other games want you to forget your day-to-day responsibilities, Shenmue immerses you in a world where you can play arcade machines, feed stray cats, and collect toys.

The episode is often ridiculed for its excessive attention to detail, unusual storytelling, silly characters, but fans have been eagerly waiting for the third part for almost two decades, and now it's out. Shenmue is weird, but this oddity has earned her a legion of fans who have spent over $ 6 million on Kickstarter to bring the title to life. To find out what makes this franchise interesting, Game Informer reporters traveled to Ys Net's Japan office for an exclusive gameplay demo, a peek inside creator Yu Suzuki's mind, and how Shenmue 3 is made


By the way, it sounds funny, but when Yu Suzuki asked what fans would like to see in the game, the audience told him to bring back the loader mission, which is popularly called the most boring in the entire industry, into the game.

Virtua RPG

Shenmue was supposed to save Sega. By the end of the 90s, the company was in decline. The Sega Saturn console failed to gain traction, and the publisher did not know how to bring back the success of the Sega Genesis era. The company had invested a lot of money in its new Dreamcast console, but it needed not only high-budget, premium software, but a project worthy of that power. Sega confided in Yu Suzuki and his Shenmu.


Today Suzuki is known as a legend in Japanese game design, and one of the iconic Sega developers for over 26 years. Prior to Shenmu, he released a number of arcade hits such as Hang-On, Space Harrier and After Burner. One of the most famous projects of the author of Virtua Fighter, who at one time was a big daddy for Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, as well as a pioneer in 3D.

In 2011, after more than a quarter century with Sega, Suzuki left the company to create his own studio, Ys Net. The offices of this studio are several interconnected rooms hidden in a nondescript building in the middle of the urban jungle of Tokyo.

Around noon, the journalists got to the front doors of Ys Net. The day before, a typhoon swept through Tokyo, completely sending the public transport schedule into oblivion. Suzuki was three hours late. When the designer finally got to his nearly empty office, he smiled weakly and bowed.


Back in the mid-90s, Sega wanted a game designer to take Virtua Fighter and turn it into an RPG. Suzuki was just waiting for such an opportunity. As a young programmer, he was in love with RPGs on the Apple II like Ultima and Wizardry. He wanted to take some of the concepts from them and adapt them into a modern game. He began sketching ideas for his own epic story of a boy seeking to avenge his father's death.

Soon, a small team of Sega employees were helping Suzuki prototype this new RPG. The working title of the game was "The Legend of Akira", named after one of the Virtua Fighter heroes, but as it evolved, the name took on a new identity. Suzuki has renamed the game Shenmue, the Japanese word for fortitude.


Introduced as an RPG, Shenmue was a wild experiment and combined elements of 3D combat, intelligence gathering, adventure moments set in a detailed city that players could explore however they liked. In many ways, Shenmue was ahead of its time as it experimented with open-world elements two years before Grand Theft Auto III canonized the concept and popularized the genre.

“Shenmue was really one of the first open world games,” says Suzuki. “There have been many other open world games since Shenmue. It has become one of the biggest genres and I am very happy to have created an original that sparked this trend. ”


In 1999, the term "open world" had not yet been coined, so Suzuki described the Shenmue genre as FREE - an acronym for Full Reactive Eyes Entertainment. So Suzuki made it clear to the players that they could freely interact with everything they saw in the game, and his world would react to actions. Gamers can open any drawer in Ryo's house and examine its contents, chat with every resident of the city, and spend days playing old Sega games in the arcade room. Shenmu's attention to detail was amazing. Suzuki determined the blood type for all 250 NPCs in the game without exception, and the weather system was based on real data from Japan in the 80s. Suzuki has created a game like no other on the market.

All these details cost money. The game took 6 years to develop and its budget grew to 50 million, making it the most expensive game Sega has ever made. When the game came out in December 1999, Shenmue received generally positive critical reviews, but it was not the blockbuster Sega had hoped for. After the release of Shenmue II in 2001, the publisher hesitated to make another part. Suzuki tried to keep the streak alive by prototyping the MMO Shenmue, but the project was never completed. The main character Ryo got several cameo roles in games such as Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, but over time, fans began to fear that they would never see a sequel to the game.


But this was not the end, as Yu Suzuki got his chance after a decade.


Ryan Payton has accomplished a lot in the gaming industry. He worked his way up the career ladder, at Kojima Production was an assistant producer in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, and then moved to 343 Industries to become the creative director of Halo 4, before founding his own studio Camouflaj, where he is currently he's working on Iron Man VR. Among other things, Payton was a Shenmue fan. He is currently a Shenmue III consultant.

“I've always been very concerned about the fact that Yu Suzuki had an incredible saga that he wanted to tell, but it ended in the second part. Deep down, I always felt that if I had the opportunity to help him, I would do it, because in many ways for me he was the god of the Japanese gaming industry. ”


By 2011, Payton had raised $ 500,000 on Kickstarter to fund a series of episodic stealth games called Republique. Payton's experience on Kickstarter was so positive that he immediately thought the service could be used to fund Shenmue. With help from Sony's Mark Cerny, Payton contacted Suzuki and suggested that he use Kickstarter to fund the development of Shenmue III.

“I knew it could be difficult, but the most important thing for me is that I make this game for fans, for those who are ready to support us,” recalls the game designer.

Prior to crowdfunding, Suzuki thought about downscaling the project to create a simpler Telltale-style adventure game that would allow fans to relive the end of the story. Eventually, he realized that fans deserved the full Shenmue experience. By early 2015, Sega had licensed the rights to Suzuki, and Sony was interested in supporting the designer by promoting his Kickstarter campaign during the E3 launch.

After the announcement, over 60,000 fans sponsored the company on Kickstarter and raised $ 6 million for the author. Suzuki holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest growing crowdfunding campaign. It's understandable that he is proud of Shenmue's Kickstarter success, and while the $ 6 million was a significant boost, it was a penny compared to his past budgets.

“I was really worried about how Yu Suzuki would manage the Shenmue III budget. He has done an incredible job of making a really big game on a relatively small budget. But again, Yu Suzuki is very stubborn. ”


“In previous Shenmue games, I had a large team, and as these team members continued to bring new ideas to the game, I had to constantly change or fix a lot of things,” says Suzuki. “There were a lot of tweaks and we re-did parts of the game over and over. In Shenmue III, I'm more directly involved in all the elements of the game, so there is much less rework. As a result, development efficiency is much higher than that of the originals. ”

A traveler in a new land

Journalists describe how they went to have a bite with the author of the game. Due to the typhoon, they were stuck in traffic for almost two hours. In the end, Suzuki took out his phone and started watching the NBC series Blacklist, which he really likes, and then he and the journalists start watching the first episode of Fuller House together, and Suzuki jokes that it became the basis for the third game. Everyone in the car understands the absurdity of watching an American sitcom with one of Japan's most famous developers.

Suzuki finds inspiration for her games when she watches TV and movies. During the creation of the original Shenmue, he watched one film a day and so on for two years. He cites films such as Casablanca and My Neighbor Totoro. They not only inspire but also help to better tell the stories of the characters.

Shenmue tells the story of Ryo Hazuki, a young man whose father was killed in front of him by a member of the Chinese Lan Di cartel. Heartbroken, Ryo sets out to investigate the murder, hunt down Lan Di and avenge his father. As a result, Ryo leaves his small town in Japan for the heart of mainland China.


Shenmue III tells the story after Ryo meets a mysterious young woman named Shenhua Ling. Her fate is quite similar to Ryo, as her father was kidnapped by the same criminal organization. Together they try to find the culprit.

“The guy discovers that somewhere in the past, his father visited the village where Shenhua lived,” Suzuki says. “Ryo's father was looking for something there. This is another mystery, how was his father connected with Lan Di? ”

Ryo travels to a large coastal village known as Guilin. This idyllic city is full of classic-looking temples. Suzuki says this stage is only 40% of the story.

We will continue the story of the creation of Shenmue 3 in the next part of the article.

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The Topic of Article: Inside the Mad Creation of Shenmue 3. Part One.
Author: Jake Pinkman