DoriMaga Feature Part 2: The World of Shenmue (Jan 1999)

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DoriMaga Feature Part 2: The World of Shenmue (Jan 1999)

Postby Switch » Fri Jul 15, 2016 10:53 pm

Here is the second translated installment of the January 1999 edition of the Dreamcast Magazine, which contained a multi-part feature on Shenmue. The theme of Part 2 is "The World of Shenmue".

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Background to the article: as part of the build-up to the release of Shenmue, and following on the heels of the Shenmue Premiere event that had been held the previous month in Yokohama, the Japanese Dreamcast Magazine ("DoriMaga") published this 16-page special report covering various aspects about what could be expected with the as-yet unreleased Shenmue.

The feature consists of these parts:
Part 1. Shenmue Premiere Event (previously translated here)
Part 2. The World of Shenmue (this post)
Part 3. The Hero and Other Characters (future post)
Part 4. It's Magic! Special Effects and Production (future post)
Part 5. Interview with Yu Suzuki (future post)

PART 2: The World of Shenmue

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Shenmue’s Most Distinctive Feature: Its Immense Play Area!

Here's what Yu Suzuki has to say about Shenmue’s new genre, FREE (an acronym of "Full Reactive Eyes Entertainment"): "It imposes fewer constraints than the games of the past, and lets you play as you want and without stress. It’s about making sure anyone can get through the game smoothly, without being frustrated - that’s what I wanted to create. Even a 10-year old can play. When the boundaries between generations and countries are overcome, people from all over the world can share the emotion of its themes, and feel as if they have experienced a different life from their present one. To put it another way, I want to give the player a complete, self-contained world."

A World Whose Creation Has Spanned 3 Years

This game is the product of 3 years spent by SEGA’s top developer, Yu Suzuki, after taking on the challenge of creating an RPG. The project got underway in secret in 1996 at AM2’s research department as development was in progress on Virtua Fighter III, a game greatly anticipated by all game players. Things took shape steadily, and a massive number of image boards were created in the construction of the world. Work on Yu Suzuki’s masterpiece came to be known by the code name "Project Berkley". And now, at last, the time has come for the veil to be lifted.

Yu Suzuki’s goal with the game is the "creation of a huge world" - nothing less than a reconstruction of the real world. Something that’s easy to say, but for a game to take ordinary, everyday things and recreate them before our eyes is one of the most difficult challenges. For that reason, in games before now objects have always been symbolized or simplified: the symbol of a castle; a 3D sandbox world that lacks authenticity; badly-shaped characters... It’s only natural to question why this has become the accepted method of expression in conventional RPGs. Yu Suzuki took this as his starting point, along with a vast and complete world. Indeed, Yu Suzuki took the concepts everybody had taken for granted and made them his point of departure. Upon seeing the world that Yu Suzuki has created, players will surely catch their breath.

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Above: One of the locations in Shenmue: the bewitching capital of Hong Kong. Kowloon City, standing in the evening sun, may be a town that best reflects the impressive scale of the game. Enclosing all kinds of people, this giant city is a complicated tangle, forbidding access to outsiders...
※ All images are work-in-progress.


The May 21st Dreamcast Demo:
Was “The Tower of Babel” a Glimpse of Things to Come?!


21 May, 1998: at the Dreamcast event, along with demonstrations presented by Mr Irimajiri [the then-CEO of Sega], a demonstration video of "The Tower of Babel" was shown. It is said to have been put together by three staff members in just ten days. This demo bears a striking resemblance to the walled city of Kowloon in Shenmue. What would have been produced if three years had been spent in the creation of the city? The answer to that is: Shenmue.

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Above: from above, countless stores and houses surround the huge tower. Creating something like this in a period of just 10 days is now within the realm of possibility.

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Left: this is how it looks viewed from afar: one large island. Right: going in closer, the detail in the work can be appreciated. Is this the kind of world that will exist in Shenmue?


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Above: this is where the protagonist of this game lives, the area of Yokosuka. With its slightly retro feel, the town feels more than a background to an RPG - the sense of realism shown in this screenshot makes it easy to believe that it actually exists: the aerials on the houses, the power lines, the store signs and post boxes... Just as in the real world, the player can navigate around using them as landmarks when navigating around.

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Above: in stark contrast is the landscape of Hong Kong. The player will realize immediately just by observing the differences in the city’s appearance that they are in a different country. It is as if an entire world exists there. A boundless expanse awaits the player.


"A system that can be enjoyed at any age, where simplicity and depth stand side by side; a realistic world with fine attention to detail enticing you to see what’s around the next corner; a space that feels real. These are the kinds of things I wanted to create." Just from this brief glimpse of the stage on which Shenmue is set, Yu Suzuki’s thoughts can be clearly understood. However, Yu Suzuki isn’t content with just creating a realistic world: "A story and experience that will leave players with lasting memories". We mustn’t forget this crucial aspect of the game. To put it another way, the purpose of constructing this great world was to evoke such emotions. What sights will be in store for you in this vast world?

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Above: the Hong Kong cityscape, a sight familiar also to Japanese. One of a number of cities in Asia said to boast a million-dollar night view, the gaudy signs of its shopping district will no doubt leave an especially strong impression. In Shenmue, such views of Hong Kong city are faithfully reproduced, down to the last detail. Those who see it will be amazed!


The protagonist’s name: Ryo Hazuki!!

China’s expansive history and vast lands spoke to Yu Suzuki’s heart. At first, in order to give the world consistency, only the theme music was created, and this helped to fan his imagination. Then, two years ago, in order to flesh out the visual images, a CG movie was created. That movie was the one seen in places such as the Virtua Fighter 3tb special disk and the TV commercial for the premiere event.
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However Suzuki says that the creation of the most important character, the protagonist, turned out to be much more difficult than he had been expecting; recently, it has at last been firmed up.

The main character’s name is Ryo Hazuki. A Japanese youth, he pursues the mystery of his father’s death, setting out on a journey to a country in the west he has not laid eyes upon before: China. What awaits him there?

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The main protagonist, Ryo Hazuki, revealed at the premiere event. He was modelled in 3D using an actual plaster bust. Having lost his mother when he was a child, Ryo’s childhood days were passed training under the strict instruction of his father. Although reckless and with a quick temper, he has a strong conviction. He is the main character of the game.


Is this really a game?! A fully-interactive world using no pre-rendered movies. The town, the rooms, the people... everything, even the dogs and cats, are drawn to full scale!!

Shenmue: a townscape that has been crafted to reproduce the real world in fine detail; and among the development staff, there are even a few hallucinatory souls who ask themselves if this is truly a game.

The townscape that has been crafted is not a spurious sandbox; you can round corners following a smoothly-curving path, and if there are obstacles in the way your pace will automatically slow as you avoid them. In other words, if there is somewhere that you want to go, it’s just a matter of pressing a direction button.

Pressing Up moves you foward; Down and you turn around. If you press Left you move to the left; if you press Right you move to the right. Furthermore, if there is something you wish to look at, you don’t need to come to a halt. Just press the analog stick in the direction you wish to look as you walk along. Indeed, just like in real life, you can search for signs that show the way, or look up at a building while you walk. It’s also possible to look down as you move, and search for dropped items on the ground. Players can go where they want, looking at what they want. Naturally, the controls are simple even for a child. One of the main features is that everything has been made to be user-friendly.

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Above: in the world of Shenmue, there is no disconcerting switch to a movie scene, with the commonly-seen obvious change in graphics quality. All scenes are created and displayed on the fly.


Furthermore, in Shenmue there are many characters who don’t have a direct connection to the development of the story. People who helpfully tell you the way to go, people who hurry past you and in-your-face road-side vendors. The player can progress through the game without having to converse with all the characters, just as in the real world. Of course, a quick conversation might turn out to give you an unexpected clue. If you are lost, or don’t know what to search for next, just as in the real world you can try asking people at the wayside.

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Above: the inhabitants are rendered in high-quality, real-time CG, and the story unfolds seamlessly – just as if in the real world.


The Story Starts in the Winter of 1986, in Yokosuka!

The setting for Shenmue is Yokosuka. Yu Suzuki comments regarding the time period: "I’m planning to have the story start in Yokosuka, in the winter of 1986. That’s something that probably won’t change". When asked the reason for choosing Yokosuka as the setting: "There’s not really any great reason per se, but I wanted to use a town in Japan with a bit of character – like Kamakura, Kurashiki or Kyoto. Even now there are towns brimming with the atmosphere of Japan. Yokosuka and its surroundings feel right: somewhat exotic and out-of-the-ordinary. And the time period that I thought was the most Yokosuka-like goes back 10 years, to around 1986".

Suzuki says that under the scenario currently created, the setting for the first chapter will be around Yokosuka, where the main protaganist Ryo Hazuki grew up. With Yokosuka as its departure point, the world of Shenmue will gradually expand out. The size of this world is bound to exceed our expectations.

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Above: the atmospheric streets of the suburbs around Yokosuka. The historic Hazuki dojo, also the home of Ryo Hazuki, and its surroundings together with the area of Shin-Yokosuka harbor make up the setting of Chapter One.

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Above: once you have become somewhat familiar with the area of Yokosuka, the setting moves to Hong Kong. The recreation of the complicated buildings is remarkable, its composition serving to give a sense of height.

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Above: the people there carry out their lives just as in the real world. Don’t hesitate to have a chat with them.


Answers to Our Quiz

Aerials

In the December 25 [1998] edition of Dreamcast Magazine, we showed you pictures of several aerials. So what meaning did they have?
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Here’s the explanation: the huge environment that has been created for Shenmue is not merely large in size, but has been built with an insane level of detail. Aerials are one such example. Aerials have been recreated and placed throughout the expansive town, with each one a shape different from the next. This result of this ludicrous amount of effort is that the world in which the player moves feels realistic, giving the illusion of being in the real world. Indeed, a "world" really does exist there!

Animals

We showcased these animals in the December 18 [2015] edition of Dreamcast Magazine.
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Yu Suzuki has this to say about them: "My aim was for a game where everything develops at full scale – while the player moves around, animals like dogs and cats will also appear at full scale." "I think something interesting can be done using these animals." Let’s wait to play the game to find out what he means.


*** End of Part 2. Translation by Switch ***
Last edited by Switch on Sat Jul 16, 2016 5:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: DoriMaga Feature Part 2: The World of Shenmue (Jan 1999)

Postby johnvivant » Sat Jul 16, 2016 4:55 am

don't remember ever seeing the mouse or the bat in the games. thank you switch for translating these, really really interesting articles.
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#SaveShenmueHD @SEGA @SEGA_OFFICIAL @SEGA_Europe @giocorsi

Focusing on the need expressed by both Yu Suzuki and the fans for Sega to re-release Shenmue 1 & 2 ahead of Shenmue 3's launch, the Tweetathon lasts all day on the 3rd of each month using the new hashtag, and includes a mass simultaneous AutoTweet of messages stored in advance at TeamYu.net/shenmue, where you can learn more about the campaign.

'I believe in miracles' -Yu Suzuki

Shenmue 3's Paypal campaign is NOW OPEN! Pre-order Shenmue 3 via Paypal today! - http://shenmue.link/order/

'I will deliver a creation that will shine radiantly in the hearts of everyone who has waited for 14 years.' - Yu Suzuki

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Re: DoriMaga Feature Part 2: The World of Shenmue (Jan 1999)

Postby Sonoshee » Sat Jul 16, 2016 7:04 am

Thank you so much, Switch! =D>

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Re: DoriMaga Feature Part 2: The World of Shenmue (Jan 1999)

Postby Yokosuka » Sat Jul 16, 2016 1:54 pm

Thanks. Looking forward for the remaining pages.
Tweet Corsi to get Shenmue I & II HD remaster !
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Re: DoriMaga Feature Part 2: The World of Shenmue (Jan 1999)

Postby Giorgio » Sat Jul 16, 2016 2:47 pm

Highlights:
"[...] feel as if they have experienced a different life from their present one."


"Yu Suzuki took the concepts everybody had taken for granted and made them his point of departure."


"a space that feels real"


"exotic and out-of-the-ordinary"


"This result of this ludicrous amount of effort is that the world in which the player moves feels realistic, giving the illusion of being in the real world."
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Re: DoriMaga Feature Part 2: The World of Shenmue (Jan 1999)

Postby Kiske » Sat Jul 16, 2016 7:17 pm

This is great! Thank you Switch!
Those, who follow the path of a warrior, must be ready to die, in order to stand for one's convictions, live for one's convictions, die for one's convictions. That is how I lived my life.

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Re: DoriMaga Feature Part 2: The World of Shenmue (Jan 1999)

Postby south carmain » Mon Aug 22, 2016 1:19 pm

This post really made me nostalgic. I miss the 90s amd early 2000
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Re: DoriMaga Feature Part 2: The World of Shenmue (Jan 1999)

Postby Amir » Mon Aug 22, 2016 4:05 pm

Maybe the bat was meant for the caves in Guilin?
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Re: DoriMaga Feature Part 2: The World of Shenmue (Jan 1999)

Postby Brian SII DC vs Xbox » Wed Sep 07, 2016 9:14 am

Nice work Switch.
Shenmue II DC vs Xbox Graphical Differences:
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