Shenmue Dojo interview with Yu Suzuki (Gamescom 2017)

(Chapter 7 and beyond)

Shenmue Dojo interview with Yu Suzuki (Gamescom 2017)

Postby Peter » Sat Sep 02, 2017 7:53 pm

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At the Gamescom 2017 event, we were very lucky to have a quick interview with Shenmue 3 director Yu Suzuki. Unfortunately, over the 3 days available with Suzuki-san, it was very hard to secure an interview with the team due to the general media already having pre-booked all of the time slots available with Suzuki-san through their new publishing partner, Koch Media. But thanks to a few people behind the scenes (especially the community's own Shenmue Ambassador Ali Novin!), we were able to be squeezed in for some quick interviews at the end of the final day, and got to experience the Deep Silver media area! (and rub shoulders with other developers in the area. 5 points to who can guess the developer in the chequed shirt.) Possibly a happy accident, but quite hilarious that Shenmue 3 was allocated Wareho...errr room number .08!

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For this interview, we are unbelievably thankful, as both Suzuki-san and Harry-san were understandably extremely tired, and in light of that, our time with them was very short. Despite having upwards of 20+ questions prepared, i only had time to ask a very short number so apologies in advance that i did not get an opportunity to ask a lot of gameplay based questions. I didnt get to that stage, and before i was out of the "introductory" questions stage, it was time to wrap up the interview! Either way, its always an honour to be in the company of Suzuki-san, and we are so grateful for his time at Gamescom. Enjoy :)

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SD. So hello Suzuki-san. Welcome to Germany! Have you been to Germany before? Have you been to Gamescom before?

YS. It’s my first Gamescom, but however, for Germany, I don’t remember… 2 or 3… around 3 times. I have a feeling the number grows with each interview (laughs)! It’s around 5 times… I think. Although, just before when you asked the question, I said twice! But I think 5 times is the right number.

SD. So we know you are in Cologne for Shenmue, but I know you have a love for art and architecture. Do you have any plans to do any sight-seeing whilst you are here?

YS. On the day we arrived, or maybe the day after, I went to see the Dom (Cathedral). It’s splendid! I also walked around the Old Town. Yes, it was amazing. It was more impressive than the Tokyo Tower (laughs). I am joking! But it was amazing. I could say amazing over and over.


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SD. We are at Gamescom for Shenmue 3. But I have to ask, why Gamescom? We just had E3, and Gamescom is a little bit after, so did it just feel right?

YS. The reason for the timing was that I wanted to make the announcement in conjunction with the forming of the contract with Deep Silver. The agreement, to put it simply, was not ready in time for E3.

SD. Ok, so I just want to bring it back a bit, to the Kickstarter update where you announced that you had to delay the game. How hard was that decision, and were you worried about disappointing the backers?

YS. Hmmm, yes of course. I was most concerned about the backers. At the time, we had already made progress in our partnership talks with Deep Silver. So for us, being able to aim for something above what had been the plan with the original Kickstarter, it would have been extremely difficult to implement an open world with the initial plan we had at the time of the Kickstarter. So I continued to look for a partner after that. I really wanted to create an open world somehow. So I kept searching, and eventually we were able to form a partnership with Deep Silver which enabled us to upwardly revise the plan.
So at that time, I took into account what we would be able to achieve with Deep Silver. I felt positive we would be able to achieve a “scaled-up” Shenmue 3. If conditions improved after forming a partnership with Deep Silver, we would be able to expand our plans. That would bring along with it more tasks to complete, and I hoped to announce the good news to everyone along with the schedule change. But at that point the contract with Deep Silver hasn’t been finalized, so I wasn’t able to mention it. That was the situation.


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SD. In the same video, you mentioned “new technologies, possibilities and new expressions” for Shenmue 3. Could you tell us more about those, and have they changed what you originally thought Shenmue 3 would be like?

YS. We have a complete set of basic shaders, although these need to be tuned for Shenmue. But having a full set of basic shaders is one of its (Unreal 4 Engine) advantages. Also it’s an engine designed for games, so there are all sorts of libraries for 3D games. So when you’re at the prototype/building stage, it’s very quick and efficient. That’s another benefit.
With Shenmue 1 and 2, my program forms the base, so I understand all parts of the program. However this time, the innermost working are a “black box” so I can’t obtain a full understanding of every part, and that can sometimes be a problem. From an overall perspective, it’s a really marvellous engine, especially when it’s used by multiple people. For example, we take the case of 30 or 40 people, or more, are developing the game simultaneously. It can handle management and so on, and do things like analysing the workload, rendering load, CPU usage and various others. Product management has also been made easier too, so overall, I think it’s a superb engine.


SD. I’m glad you mentioned shaders because I remember a conversation we once had about how important the colours of Shenmue were important to you. How difficult has it been to achieve the “look” and “colour” of Shenmue with Unreal 4?

YS. The basic attractive colours in Unreal 4 are formed with High Dynamic Range, and there is a wide range of colours from light to dark which can produce images where you can really feel the light and shade. This was the key deciding factor for my selection of the Unreal Engine. For me, the light and the shade are the most important part. For Shenmue, there are 2 things which are necessary to add. The next stage is there has to be a feeling of humidity. Shenmue has to have a slightly “wet” feeling to it. A damp kind of feeling in the air. I don’t mean actual rain, but the air should have a kind of moist feeling to it.
It’s difficult to achieve this with the standard Unreal 4 shaders, so I think we will have to write our own. The Shenmue teaser we have shown has achieved that look of “wetness” I think. We have now reached the second step. We are not yet at the third stage, but that will be images that you can smell. For example, in China they may chop up a pig like this, and then, without storing it in a refrigerator, sell it under the hot sun. It has that kind of raw stink, and that’s something I think we managed to achieve in Shenmue 2. Shenmue 3 will also be going onto this stage next. A “smell shader”, or a “stinky shader”! (laughs).


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SD. I have a lot of questions to ask, but I know time is very short, so I will ask my final question. With being president of your own company, you have hired new staff members to work on Shenmue 3. How does it feel to pass on all those years of knowledge and experience to young new developers? Have you had any difficulties managing a team like this?

YS. Well not all of our staff are young, there is someone who is 50 years old… all ages really. But management is the most difficult part. They have entered the company going through interviews, and it’s hard to get to know someone properly at the interview stage. So after that process it turns out there are some people who speak extremely little, for example, so yes it can be pretty difficult. Various strategies are needed in order for each person’s performance level to reach 100%, and that’s the part that’s most difficult. I would prefer to lose myself in the creative work, but quite a bit of time is used up on management.

SD. Suzuki-san, thank you.

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...and in the blink of an eye, it was all over! Apologies again that we could not have had more time to ask more questions, but there maybe more inverviews coming out from the Shenmue Online Community in the near future with lots more questions so stay tuned for that! ;-)

But before we left, as always, we had to surprise Suzuki-san with a gift! Thanks to a fantastic idea from 500k owner Aaron Barstow, we decided to try and somehow put Suzuki-san into one of his favourite bands, Van Halen. So working together, we came up with the idea of having an artist design an image of the band members but also insert Yu Suzuki in amongst them! After contacting one of our contributors to the Instagram page, @r_wuying, he understood the concept, and very quickly came though with an awesome piece of work!

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Of course, we couldnt give Suzuki-san an image on a PC, so we had it framed and brought it to Germany to present it to him from all of the Shenmue Community, for which he was extremely surprised and thankful (as always!)

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My Gamescom experience was one i will always remember, and i have to say thank you to so many people including David and Kenji from Shenmue Master, Aaron and James from 500K/Team Yu, Silvia from 500k, Chao from the community and of course Ali Novin for all his hard work behind the scenes to make the interview happen. On a personal note, it was fantastic to meet long time Dojo members YS, Snoopbob, B-Ren and Bluemue at the event too!! Its a shame we couldnt have all spent more time together! Also, of course how could I forget (which I did :oops: ) the amazing Switch for being on point with translating duties as always!

But with that, another event has ended, and the long journey continues! See you all again soon :D

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Re: Shenmue Dojo interview with Yu Suzuki (Gamescom 2017)

Postby The_Intruder » Sat Sep 02, 2017 8:11 pm

It was a short interview but the questions were good and the answers.
"Shenmue II reveals the true scope that the series encompasses and how this story is still just beginning. If it continues to be composed of ambitious, engrossing and entertaining titles like Shenmue II, Yu Suzuki's legacy may be best remembered for the Shenmue series."

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Re: Shenmue Dojo interview with Yu Suzuki (Gamescom 2017)

Postby Hazuki00 » Sat Sep 02, 2017 8:37 pm

Thank you so much for the interview Peter!

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Re: Shenmue Dojo interview with Yu Suzuki (Gamescom 2017)

Postby Switch » Sat Sep 02, 2017 8:38 pm

Thank you Peter, great job on the interview! And thanks to everyone else behind the scenes.

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Re: Shenmue Dojo interview with Yu Suzuki (Gamescom 2017)

Postby Peter » Sat Sep 02, 2017 9:22 pm

And thanks to you sir for the translation work for this, and all the interviews during Gamescom!!!!
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Re: Shenmue Dojo interview with Yu Suzuki (Gamescom 2017)

Postby Jibby » Sat Sep 02, 2017 9:32 pm

A really nice surprise to see this. Thanks so much!
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Re: Shenmue Dojo interview with Yu Suzuki (Gamescom 2017)

Postby WildManofBorneo » Sun Sep 03, 2017 12:06 am

With the publishing deal just recently finalized and the knowledge that the game will now be expanded into a broader open world, I think it's safe to assume that we won't be seeing a Shenmue 3 release for at least a year's time - though I'd personally be leaning towards a November/December release.

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Shenmue Dojo interview with Yu Suzuki (Gamescom 2017)

Postby Axm » Sun Sep 03, 2017 2:22 am

Above and beyond as always Peter. Great job and what a picture with Van Halen :)
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Re: Shenmue Dojo interview with Yu Suzuki (Gamescom 2017)

Postby b_ren » Sun Sep 03, 2017 4:39 am

Good interview it was nice of them to fit you in on short notice. Hopefully there are more gaming events in future that gives us the opportunity to meet up again. I had an absolute amazing time.
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Re: Shenmue Dojo interview with Yu Suzuki (Gamescom 2017)

Postby DEVILLE_David » Sun Sep 03, 2017 4:57 am

Nice interview !

Thanks for what you've done bro and big up to all the ppl who worked with you on this !
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Re: Shenmue Dojo interview with Yu Suzuki (Gamescom 2017)

Postby KidMarine » Sun Sep 03, 2017 6:06 am

Great interview and an amazing gift! Well done to everyone involved! Did Yu recognise you from the backer dinner?
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Re: Shenmue Dojo interview with Yu Suzuki (Gamescom 2017)

Postby mjq jazz bar » Sun Sep 03, 2017 9:06 am

COOl.

I do hope they work on the lighting some more. It sounds like he's satisfied with it, but it looks very "standard" UE4 to me. It looks all over the place to me and is part of what's hurting the game visually for me. Otherwise, I think it's looking great.
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Re: Shenmue Dojo interview with Yu Suzuki (Gamescom 2017)

Postby Valascaziel » Sun Sep 03, 2017 10:55 am

We are still a bit in the dark as to the extent of Deep Silver's financial pockets. It seems their involvement is substantial for funding..

I hope we get some concise information regarding if everything that was in the Stretch Goals will be achieved with their involvement. We know from Yu that at LEAST the Chobu goals are in, but not much about Bailu--

However, Yu's statement that he "can make the game we imagined" seems to insinuate they are in as well, as I personally feel if something wasnt attainable he wouldn't make that statement.

Of course, concise information may lead to "Rarrgh, Kickstarter is stupid, they got funded anyway" articles and comments. Nevermind that no one would have stepped forward to fund it had it not been the success it was.
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Re: Shenmue Dojo interview with Yu Suzuki (Gamescom 2017)

Postby Hazukifc » Sun Sep 03, 2017 2:24 pm

This is why this game/franchise has so many passionate fans and came back from the dead! Such love and respect to Yu Suzuki only unveils how much we love this saga!!! Thanks for the everlasting fan service towards the game i love most!!! Thank u all!!!
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Re: Shenmue Dojo interview with Yu Suzuki (Gamescom 2017)

Postby adom11800 » Sun Sep 03, 2017 3:27 pm

Yu Suzuki seems like a good person doing all those interviews despite being very tired and lack of time. Praise to Switch for all his work with translating the interviews and well done to everyone else, Shenmue 3 being a reality does make life better. Can't wait till we see the game again.
Yu Suzuki: 'No matter where I go I'm asked about the third version.'
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