Dorimaga 2001 Interview w/ Yu Suzuki & others

(Chapter 7 and beyond)

Dorimaga 2001 Interview w/ Yu Suzuki & others

Postby Switch » Tue Aug 18, 2015 7:48 pm

This is a translation of an article that was published in the September 2001 edition of the Dorimaga magazine. In it, Yu Suzuki and some of the Japanese voice actors talk about the completion of Shenmue II (released for the Dreamcast in Japan during the month this article was published) including some of the content that had to be cut from the release, and reflect back on their experiences over the previous 5 years they spent on the Shenmue project.

Part of this article (about Chapter 2) was translated by Kiyuu and discussed back in 2003. Also a short manga version of the Chapter 2 boat scenario is included as unlockable content on the Xbox version of Shenmue II.

Image

Special Interview: Looking Back on Shenmue

Image

Yu Suzuki – Executive Producer
Masaya Matsukaze – Japanese voice & motion actor for Ryo
Hazuki Ishigaki – Japanese voice & motion actress for Shenhua
Takumi Hagiwara – Japanese voice & motion actor for Ren

Compared to the previous episode, “Chapter One - Yokosuka”, the townsfolk of Shenmue II seem friendlier. The game gives the impression that it has been made to address some of the areas that had room for improvement in the first game, as if to acknowledge that some may find it off-putting if everyone were to give you the cold shoulder like in Shenmue I. Some people may already have completed Shenmue II in its entirety, but this interview covers a range of topics, including things that people who have finished the game will also want to hear about.

TV Commercials

Q: The first topic is about the commercials for Shenmue II that are currently being shown on TV.

Shenmue II Commercial #1: "Pork"
phpBB [video]
Shenmue II Commercial #2: "Kung Fu"
phpBB [video]
Shenmue II Commercial #3: "Beautiful Woman"
phpBB [video]

Suzuki: To film those TV commercials we went over to Shanghai, although in the near future we plan to show commercials that will feature actual screens from the game. I think showing some of the gameplay will help attract ordinary members of the public to the game.

Matsukaze: You know, Hagiwara-san and I actually appear in one of those commercials, but probably no one’s noticed. (laughs) And we're really acting, too!

Image
Left & bottom-right: the set of the Hong Kong street at the Shanghai Film Park. The first photo was actually taken by Yu Suzuki. In the “Beautiful Woman” version of the commercial, look for Masaya Matsukaze (Ryo), and Takumi Hagiwara (Ren), showing their “real acting" (!) in the background.
Top-right: two giant pig carcasses containing a machine gun were chopped up on location. The set crew took the innards home for dinner.



Hagiwara: Right. People who have played Shenmue II are sure to recognize that we’re acting the bit where we lie in wait for Yuan. There are several different episode variations of the commercial, and they’re fun to watch. In the one with the old man, he was pretty shaky on his feet, so we had to film using a high-speed camera to make it look as though he was standing steadily. Gee, that old man was wobbling all over the place. (laughs)


Release of Shenmue II

Q: With Shenmue II going on sale soon, how do you all feel about that? You've been involved with Shenmue for a really long period of time.


Suzuki: We’ve been through a lot to get here, but for me I think the main thing is to have created something that will be loved by the people who play the game. Recently that’s all I’ve been thinking about. So I’m extremely keen to hear everyone’s comments. Right now it’s the only thing on my mind. (laughs)

Matsukaze: For me, I started my “countdown” about a month ago. It hasn’t felt that long, but I’ve been willing it to get here faster. (laughs)

Suzuki: I think the way the game has been put together is pretty unusual these days. For example, the shop interiors have been created down to the last inch. I don’t think any other game pays such ridiculous attention to detail. “Shenmue: The Movie”, which is playing right now, has that same flavor.

Q: It really has been a long project, hasn’t it. The voice actors have also been involved for ages; how long has it been?

Matsukaze: I’ve been playing the role of Ryo since the days of the Saturn. All up, I’ve been acting the part for just over 5 years.

Image
Matsukaze has been playing as Ryo for over 5 years.


Q: Did those 5 years feel long?

Hagiwara: It felt long! For one thing, an enormous amount of time was spent on filming, but it also took a long time for it to be incorporated into the actual game. We captured an endless amount of motion footage, and even after the voice recordings had been done, the creation of the game still had to be done. It seemed like the release day would never be reached.

Suzuki: Well, the software implementation side was tough too! After writing the software there was a huge checklist to be run through – I wish I had it here to show everyone! (laughs) There was a line chart that showed the number of check items decreasing; there were more than 10,000 items to check and it seemed endless.

Q: By the way, how many times larger is Shenmue II compared to Shenmue I?

Suzuki: I don’t know exactly, but I'd say easily 3 or 4 times the size of Shenmue I. But a lot of scenes got left out, because right as we neared the end of development I added a whole lot of extra content. Even using the best compression techniques of the time, there was too much for it all to fit. Even so, at the end we increased the content by about an extra 30% of the total game, for the area of Guilin where Shenhua appears.

Matsukaze: I heard a lot about that near the end of the development. People were saying that too much had been made and it wouldn’t all fit in.


The Cutting Room Floor

Q: I’ve heard that there was going to be a “Chapter 2 – The Boat” between Shenmue I and Shenmue II, but Shenmue II starts with Ryo disembarking from the boat, doesn’t it. And the mother of a little girl makes reference to something about that. (laughs)


Suzuki: That’s right. “Chapter 2 – The Boat” from the original scenario was dropped completely.

Matsukaze: Oh yeah, the boat! Actually Chai shows up there. It turns out that Chai survives being cast into Yokosuka harbor, and he shows up on the boat where Ryo fights against this unseen enemy. That was how the scenario was going to run.

Q: Were the scenes filmed?

Matsukaze: Yes, they were. They were filmed in a really over-the-top style. (laughs) Several of the people involved in the story on the boat were to then appear again in a later scenario. They would say something along the lines of “Oh, it’s you from that time on the boat...”, connecting the plot together. That was the plan for the scenario.

Suzuki: The confrontation with Chai would have made a nice situation. We had completed the designs for the boat interior, with everything detailed - from the escape routes and deck heights to the length of the handrails. The plan was that it would develop into a large-scale action scene.

Matsukaze: We completed filming of all the motion capture too. It started with opening the cabin door, and events developed spectacularly from there.

Q: So as you were working on making Shenmue II, you reluctantly had to cut it?

Suzuki: Well, it didn’t trouble me too much. I was like “It’s impossible, it won’t fit – cut it!”. (laughs)

Q: I’m guessing that there were a lot of other scenes cut from the final version, and motion capture that wasn’t included? In particular, I think Ren’s movements are really well done and I was impressed; but I kind of wish we could see more of them.

Hagiwara: Well, if the motion capture was kept for all the detailed actions, it would make a huge amount. We shot a ton of fight scenes as well. Quite a lot has been cut.

Image
On asking Yu Suzuki, “What happened to Niao Sun, who was shown at the premiere?”, he replies “I haven’t been able to use her yet, since she appears later in terms of the scenarios.” Masaya Matsukaze, who plays Ryo, hints at things to come: “When it’s time for Niao Sun to make an appearance in Shenmue, the story will have reached an amazing point!”



Q: Which was more difficult to carry out: dubbing voices to the actions, or the motion capture?

Suzuki: Firstly, these weren’t carried out by different people – the actor’s own acting is the source of the motion capture. Also, when an opponent is hit in the game he cries out; so by actually hitting him, his cry will be the cry of someone who has really been hit. (laughs) It may sound like tough work, but I think it was the perfect set-up.

There was a lot of trial and error at the beginning, but by the time we got to Shenmue II, at last we had found ways to manage things more efficiently.

Q: By the way, Shenmue is your first RPG-style game, isn’t it. Would it be correct to say that one of the main factors that sparked you to develop it is one that is commonly cited, namely the arrival of Final Fantasy VII during the era of the Saturn and PlayStation?

Suzuki: To be honest, part of it was because I found myself in a position of having “no place to go next”. The reason that the Sega Saturn lost popularity wasn't because it was beaten in terms of Sega vs Sony software titles, but because of a completely separate shift in power. And around that time I definitely had a kind of feeling of not having a place to go. As well as that, up until now I had been competing in the 3-minute world of arcade games, and I had been wanting to try my hand at creating something without such a time limit. So you can say that these two points are why I decided to move from arcades to try my hand on the home console.

Image
“At first Shenhua wears plain clothing, but I planned to have her wear various different clothes later on” says Suzuki. “I’m looking forward to seeing how the story unfolds” comments Hazuki Ishigaki, who plays the role of Shenhua.



Looking Back

Q: And so, now that at last Shenmue II has been completed, how do you feel now looking back on it? After the Shenmue Premiere event (December 20, 1998), I guess that the plan was to release it within a year, but it has turned out to have taken right up until now... Is that somewhere near the mark?


Suzuki: It’s true that it didn’t turn out quite as I had initially planned. As more people became involved things grew more and more complicated, not just by a factor of a few times, but exponentially. And with everyone being a developer, if the person next to them developed something impressive, then they would feel compelled to outdo it. This resulted in a kind of chain reaction where everyone would strive to improve their output quality. But it’s hard for me to tell people not to increase quality! It was really challenging to find the right balance.

However there is one thing I think turned out well. In some ways Shenmue shares similarities with fighting-based games, but in the last half of the game in Guilin, where Shenhua appears, there’s no fighting at all. So I feel that I’ve been able to bring out the true Shenmue spirit there.

With Shenmue the graphics are all generated in real time, and ordinarily an attempt to make a game like this would be abandoned in frustration. (laughs) Game developers simply don’t go to the extremes we did. To tell you the truth, I don’t think we could go through it all again.

The Future

Q: So you won’t be making another Shenmue?


Suzuki: The first thing I want to do is take some vacation (laughs), and the staff too. I don’t think we could put ourselves through such tough times again as we did with Chapter One. However, even so, I’ve now learned a lot about how to make this type of game and so I’m confident that we’ll be able to make the next one more efficiently and with less of a burden. We’ll be able to make a similar kind of game, and it’s something I want to do. But... I feel like taking a bit of a break first. (laughs)

Q: Hypothetically speaking, if there was the possibility again in the future, what would be your choice of hardware? Ah, before asking that - is there any potential for a port?

Suzuki: Porting Shenmue I and II across to other hardware wouldn’t be impossible, but due to the sheer size it would materially be a tough job to take on. The easiest and most likely option would be the PC, in a year or two. That’s because the PC has, in a sense, the ability to handle anything and has few constraints.

Q: What thoughts do you actors have about that?

Hagiwara: I’m already raring to go! (laughs) Bring it on!

Image
We really hope to see more acting from Takumi Hagiwara, who plays Ren. “Just say the word and I definitely will!” he says.



Q: I would have liked to have seen Ren take part in more scenes, to be honest!

Hagiwara: I know, right? There are still heaps of interesting stories connected to the scenarios made so far. Things like “Why is Ren present?” and “Why did Shenhua make an appearance?” It all gets explained later on.

Ishigaki: My wish for a port is that it starts properly from the very first disk of the series (laughs).

Matsukaze: Yeah, I agree.

Q: Yu-san, going back to the point you mentioned about the feeling you had of “nowhere to go”, have you satisfied this to some extent for the future?

Suzuki: In a way... not completely though. Conversely, now things have turned into a kind of hardware war, so it has become kind of pointless, right? Life is full of variety, for better or worse. But for me, the creation process is enjoyable, and therefore I want to create a product that people will enjoy. I think that’s been the lesson I’ve learned.

Matsukaze: A lot of female characters appear in Shenmue II, but actually people like Fangmei have some really detailed parameters associated with them such as her level of intimacy. And to reflect these parameters, her spoken lines were all recorded with various tones of voice! I hope everyone can appreciate the amazing attention to detail that fills every corner of the game.

Suzuki: For me, I don’t consider that “Shenmue” came to an end with the demise of the Dreamcast. I have an emotional attachment to the game. And so, I hope to meet up with you all again one day.

Matsukaze: Let’s meet next time for “Shenmue Returns”. (laughs)

Hagiwara: Absolutely. I hope we can.

Image
Matsukaze, Ishigaki, Suzuki and Hagiwara. For now, the long long project that was Shenmue has come to an end. Will we meet everyone again in the next episode? Or perhaps in a different project... if one is in the works? We’ll be watching for the next release from Yu Suzuki!
Last edited by Switch on Sun Jan 22, 2017 9:43 pm, edited 5 times in total.

User avatar
Switch
News Poster
News Poster
 
Joined: January 2014
Location: Japan

Re: Dorimaga 2001 Interview w/ Yu Suzuki & others

Postby Amir » Tue Aug 18, 2015 8:03 pm

Thanks again for the great translation work, Switch :)

Man, those Japanese TV spots are even more cringeworthy than the "Nozomi... Nozomi..." Shenmue US ad :P

Interesting to hear Shenhua was supposed to wear different clothes as the story went on, I thought those were just concepts from when she was going to be Tibetan. Hopefully we see them in Shenmue III!

Really hope they track down the Ren actor, he was great, Shenhua was pretty good, too.

It'd be cool to see the unused mo-cap footage from the boat chapter if they don't get round to making it playable one day.
User avatar
Amir
"After Burner...Great!"
"After Burner...Great!"
 
Joined: April 2015
Location: London
Steam: AmirMoosavi
Favorite title: Shenmue II
Currently playing: Vanquish (PC)

Re: Dorimaga 2001 Interview w/ Yu Suzuki & others

Postby James Brown » Tue Aug 18, 2015 8:11 pm

Wow what a fantastic read, thank you so much for that Switch! Some of the stuff they revealed kind of made me feel a little gutted though, they had to cut loads to fit it onto the discs. It's a shame really, like the whole boat chapter sounds like they actually made it? I would love to play that part of the game, wonder if they still have a playable piece of it somewhere? I hope the team enjoys creating Shenmue 3 more than it sounds like they did towards the end of both of the first 2 games, where they needed to take a [14 year] break :D...
Image
User avatar
James Brown
"After Burner...Great!"
"After Burner...Great!"
 
Joined: March 2003
Location: England
XBL: skilljimmeh
Favorite title: Shenmue

Re: Dorimaga 2001 Interview w/ Yu Suzuki & others

Postby Yokosuka » Tue Aug 18, 2015 8:15 pm

Wow, if only Sega could include all the cut contents in the HD remaster...
User avatar
Yokosuka
Machine Gun Fist
Machine Gun Fist
 
Joined: August 2014
Location: France
Favorite title: Shenmue II
Currently playing: Rocket League

Re: Dorimaga 2001 Interview w/ Yu Suzuki & others

Postby Giorgio » Tue Aug 18, 2015 8:32 pm

Switch, thank you so much for this translation. It made my night!

My most favourite and interesting quote:
"In some ways Shenmue shares similarities with fighting-based games, but in the last half of the game in Guilin, where Shenhua appears, there’s no fighting at all. So I feel that I’ve been able to bring out the true Shenmue spirit there." - Yu Suzuki


Also, another marvelous quote...
Suzuki: For me, I don’t consider that “Shenmue” came to an end with the demise of the Dreamcast. I have an emotional attachment to the game. And so, I hope to meet up with you all again one day.

Matsukaze: Let’s meet next time for “Shenmue Returns”. (laughs)

Hagiwara: Absolutely. I hope we can.

...who would knew back then? Haha.
User avatar
Giorgio
"After Burner...Great!"
"After Burner...Great!"
 
Joined: February 2009
Favorite title: Shenmue
Currently playing: Yakuza series

Re: Dorimaga 2001 Interview w/ Yu Suzuki & others

Postby Three Blades » Tue Aug 18, 2015 8:53 pm

Damn! This makes the boat sound much more awesome than I imagined.
Mr.Burns: "Smithers, I think I'll donate a million dollars to the Shenmue 3 kickstarter!..."
Smithers: *stares at Mr.Burns incredulously*
Mr.Burns:...when pigs fly!!!
*they both burst into laughter*
*pig flies past the window*
Smithers: ...will you... be donating a million dollars now, sir?
Mr.Burns;...No, I'd still prefer not to.
User avatar
Three Blades
Man Mo Acolyte
Man Mo Acolyte
 
Joined: June 2015
Favorite title: Shenmue II

Re: Dorimaga 2001 Interview w/ Yu Suzuki & others

Postby fittersau » Wed Aug 19, 2015 2:02 am

Ishigaki is sooooo cute......
User avatar
fittersau
Man Mo Acolyte
Man Mo Acolyte
 
Joined: July 2015

Re: Dorimaga 2001 Interview w/ Yu Suzuki & others

Postby Hyo Razuki » Wed Aug 19, 2015 6:56 am

God, I wish I would have never seen this. Those commercials must be the dumbest BS I've ever seen. A butcher with a machine gun? A girl with a gun? An old dude jumping out of a wall? A guy that looks nothing like Ryo?

Those commercials got ZERO to do with Shenmue. Could be some stupid Japanese chewing gum ad like this one, just without actually being cool.

phpBB [video]


Sega "marketing" at its best. God, this just got me scared. I hope they will leave the marketing thing entirely to Sony. Otherwise YS Net are gonna take Sony's marketing money and waste it on some crap like this. How could Yu possibly approve of this dumb shit? Hell, even with a bottle of vodka and ten cups of Sake inside, I would have NEVER EVER allowed those... things to go on air.
Yu Suzuki & Sega: Dream Makers (Getting it Done)
User avatar
Hyo Razuki
"After Burner...Great!"
"After Burner...Great!"
 
Joined: June 2015

Re: Dorimaga 2001 Interview w/ Yu Suzuki & others

Postby fittersau » Wed Aug 19, 2015 8:57 am

Hyo Razuki wrote: God, I wish I would have never seen this. Those commercials must be the dumbest BS I've ever seen. A butcher with a machine gun? A girl with a gun? An old dude jumping out of a wall? A guy that looks nothing like Ryo?

Those commercials got ZERO to do with Shenmue. Could be some stupid Japanese chewing gum ad like this one, just without actually being cool.

Sega "marketing" at its best. God, this just got me scared. I hope they will leave the marketing thing entirely to Sony. Otherwise YS Net are gonna take Sony's marketing money and waste it on some crap like this. How could Yu possibly approve of this dumb shit? Hell, even with a bottle of vodka and ten cups of Sake inside, I would have NEVER EVER allowed those... things to go on air.



Yeah these things get through some how... Someone with too much lateral thinking says we should go with this angle... yada yada.. Why would Yu Suzuki spend so much time and effort as well as SEGA's money to get his game marketed like that when Shenmue was so much about realism not super cheesiness. Boggles the mind.
User avatar
fittersau
Man Mo Acolyte
Man Mo Acolyte
 
Joined: July 2015

Re: Dorimaga 2001 Interview w/ Yu Suzuki & others

Postby Switch » Wed Aug 19, 2015 9:46 am

fittersau wrote:
Hyo Razuki wrote: Those commercials got ZERO to do with Shenmue. Could be some stupid Japanese chewing gum ad like this one, just without actually being cool.

Yeah these things get through some how... Someone with too much lateral thinking says we should go with this angle... yada yada.. Why would Yu Suzuki spend so much time and effort as well as SEGA's money to get his game marketed like that when Shenmue was so much about realism not super cheesiness. Boggles the mind.

I suspect Yu did have second thoughts about the commercials (or maybe had some negative comments about them), from the way he pointed out that commercials showing actual game footage were on their way.

By the way, the voiceover they use says "You never know what's going to happen - Shenmue II".

But I appreciate Masaya and Takumi's sense of humor when they describe how convincing their acting was in the commercial, likening it to an ambush scene in Shenmue II -- when in fact they are barely distinguishable, and appear for a split second. :)

Image

Switch has received a thanks from: Supa
User avatar
Switch
News Poster
News Poster
 
Joined: January 2014
Location: Japan

Re: Dorimaga 2001 Interview w/ Yu Suzuki & others

Postby fittersau » Wed Aug 19, 2015 10:46 am

Switch wrote:
fittersau wrote:
Hyo Razuki wrote: Those commercials got ZERO to do with Shenmue. Could be some stupid Japanese chewing gum ad like this one, just without actually being cool.

Yeah these things get through some how... Someone with too much lateral thinking says we should go with this angle... yada yada.. Why would Yu Suzuki spend so much time and effort as well as SEGA's money to get his game marketed like that when Shenmue was so much about realism not super cheesiness. Boggles the mind.

I suspect Yu did have second thoughts about the commercials (or maybe had some negative comments about them), from the way he pointed out that commercials showing actual game footage were on their way.

By the way, the voiceover they use says "You never know what's going to happen - Shenmue II".

But I appreciate Masaya and Takumi's sense of humor when they describe how convincing their acting was in the commercial, likening it to an ambush scene in Shenmue II -- when in fact they are barely distinguishable, and appear for a split second. :)

Image


Hah, even their romp through.. Shanghai for these CMs.. was a bit embarrassing.. I guess it was just those times.

https://twitter.com/hashigamihead/statu ... 4662525952

On a sad note.. Ishigaki quit a while ago.. and according to this tweet Hagiwara is MIA... wonder who will play Ren.
User avatar
fittersau
Man Mo Acolyte
Man Mo Acolyte
 
Joined: July 2015

Re: Dorimaga 2001 Interview w/ Yu Suzuki & others

Postby Ziming » Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:33 am

Image

Ziming has received a thanks from: Switch
User avatar
Ziming
Banned
Banned
 
Joined: November 2003

Re: Dorimaga 2001 Interview w/ Yu Suzuki & others

Postby amiga1200 » Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:38 am

it was like yesterday when i had most of my mane, now it's a skullet/friar tuck, through age. :cry: (yu looks to be headed the same way, can relate.)
...
really does seem like not too long ago.
tempus fugit. :oops:
...
good reading, appreciate the share, and the time taken to do it. :P :mrgreen:
one warning was absolutely fair, was over zealous on conviction on a response to a subject.
the other one for 'spam' (aka: it was me posting that qualified) which is bogus due to personality clash. why don't who this concerns pull the other guy for destroying my subject, accusing it of SPAM?
oh, i get it now, not one of your cliques, and i watched you stand by and and let him trash it, and you did NOTHING but was complicit in your silence, and totally one sided and agree with it by inactions. (you have the temerity to pull me for spam, and yet, you let your lackey cliquey friends shit on my subjects? double-standards, real fuckin professional dude.)
at least the other staffer explained where i was wrong, and backed it up clearly in writ. :roll:
User avatar
amiga1200
Banned
Banned
 
Joined: July 2015
Location: Third space 3Avatar class heavy battleship, Damocles
Favorite title: What's Shenmue
Currently playing: with gravimetric drives

Re: Dorimaga 2001 Interview w/ Yu Suzuki & others

Postby Supa » Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:47 am

Great read, thanks Switch!
User avatar
Supa
"Keep Friends"
"Keep Friends"
 
Joined: April 2004
Favorite title: Shenmue

Re: Dorimaga 2001 Interview w/ Yu Suzuki & others

Postby Lan Di-sama » Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:04 pm

Ziming wrote: Image



This! =D>
User avatar
Lan Di-sama
Machine Gun Fist
Machine Gun Fist
 
Joined: November 2003
Location: Pennsylvania
Favorite title: Shenmue

Next

Return to Shenmue III

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Majestic-12 [Bot] and 8 guests

Powered by phpBB © 2000-
ShenmueDojo.net