Thursday, June 4, 2020

Shenmue 3 Developer Interview with Implausible Industries

Following Shenmue III's release, the number of interviews and reports has naturally dwindled, so wouldn't it be great to hear some behind-the-scenes stories about the development process from people who actually worked on the game?

For Shenmue Day we present a new community interview with two developers from Implausible Industries, who were part of the development team that worked on the creation of Shenmue III and kindly agreed to answer questions from the fans about their experience. (A shout-out to mjqjazzbar from the Shenmue Dojo forums for getting the ball rolling on the idea!)

Shenmue 3 Developer Interview with Implausible Industries:

Implausible Industries is a Tokyo-based software house formed in 2013 by a small team of highly-experienced developers, who specialize in consulting and development of games on Unreal Engine. 

The questions for the interview were gathered from the fan community on social media, and the two developers answering this fan interview are:

Daniel Markiewicz
Shenmue 3 Role: Level Designer

and

Kees Gajentaan
Shenmue 3 Role: Shader Artist

(Also part of the development of Shenmue III was a third Implausible Industries team member, Chris Willacy).

The interview begins below.
Shenmue III logo
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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for June 2020

Every month Phantom River Stone holds a poll among our patrons to choose a topic for the blog in the coming month. After tallying the votes (including accumulated votes from previous months), the the winning topic for May is...

"The 1999 NETWORK JUNGLE II Digitaliland Exhibition & the Shenmue Forest demo".



Network Jungle II was the name of an event held at the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition center from May 1st to May 3rd in 1999. It consisted of several different areas, which were called "forests" such as the Game Forest, Communications Forest, Forest of Education and Forest of Tomorrow. Its aim was to bring the world of multimedia to the general public by providing hands-on experiences. Shenmue was was previewed at the event, and it even had a virtual demo that ran on Dreamcast hardware, called Shenmue Forest.
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We will take a look at this topic in more depth in an upcoming blog post.

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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Izumi Takano Was Once Considered for Ryo's Love Interest

Izumi Takano, who can be found working at the Tomato Convenience Store in Wan Chai in Shenmue II, was once a candidate character model for the role of Nozomi Harasaki in the first game.

Izumi Takano at the Tomato Convenience Store in Shenmue II
Izumi Takano at the Tomato Convenience Store in Shenmue II
This was confirmed in a tweet last year by one of the former developers on the original Shenmue project team, who goes by the name of Morio Ashizuka. He wrote:
"I recall that the high school girl you fight in Shenmue II, Izumi Takano, was a rejected candidate character for Nozomi (if I remember correctly...). Which may be why Ryo looked at her so dreamily, lol. The reason the rejected Izumi Takano appeared in Shenmue II was due to strong campaigning by Mr. O from the Planning team. He is a big fan of ponytails!"
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Saturday, May 23, 2020

Suka Pass v1.3 Out Now | Fan-Made Shenmue Passport

The Shenmue World menu screen, recreated in Suka Pass
The Shenmue World menu screen, recreated in Suka Pass
Version 1.3 of the fan-made Shenmue Passport app Suka Pass, which we previewed here, has just been released and is available for download. A major new feature this time around is the All Moves Scroll section, giving information on all the kicks, punches and throws that Ryo has learned. And those who enjoy listening to the Shenmue music selection will also appreciate the addition of a progress bar to the music player.

A fine release trailer has been created by Jibby (check out his Jibmue YouTube channel here for more Shenmue vids) which highlights the new features:

SkillJim, from the Suka Pass project team, has also put together a comprehensive overview of the entire app:

The app is available for Android and iOS, and is of course completely free. Head over to the Suka Pass project site to download.

Link to download Suka Pass 1.3 (Project webpage)

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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Four Unused Drink Can Textures in Shenmue

Unused Drink Can Textures in Shenmue

Japan is known for its numerous drink vending machines offering anything from a cool beverage to a hot soup. For anyone visiting the real Dobuita Street, for an even more authentic Shenmue experience keep an eye out for the machine that still sells cans of Coke at 1986 prices!

Shenmue (specifically, the first game in the series) recreates this aspect of Japan faithfully with a number of vending machines scattered around its world, from Dobuita Street to New Yokosuka Harbor.

Although players will be familiar with the sodas and coffee seen in the game, there is in fact some evidence that other drink flavors were considered while the game was in development in the form of an image file containing some unused can label designs is present in the game files.

We will take a look at the image in this post, but first let's take a moment to mention the difference in labels that can be found between released versions of Shenmue.
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Saturday, May 16, 2020

Bailu Village Secrets Part 1: Ema at Man Yuan Temple | Guest Post by Dave Matthews

Bailu Village Secrets Part 1: Ema at Man Yuan Temple | Guest Post by Dave Matthews

Hello Everyone! First off I'd like to thank Switch for the opportunity to post on Phantom River Stone and to share this with you all!

This is going to be the first in a series of posts examining Bailu Village in detail. Shenmue 3 depicts Shenhua's childhood home as an idyllic, rural, mountain community with a long history; one in which just about everyone knows everyone else, and nothing much changes day to day. It's a small wonder then that the coinciding events of the attacks on the village stonemasons and the arrival of Ryo Hazuki is of such keen (if wary at first) interest to just about everybody.

One of the key features that made Shenmue so distinct when it first released was the fact that Ryo could talk to every NPC he came across. These NPCs often had unique ways of responding to Ryo that made them feel like real people with lives beyond their relevance to Ryo's journey. Shenmue 3 by and large continues this tradition. In Bailu alone every villager that Ryo can speak to (which is the vast majority of them) seems to have a unique response to almost every single topic of investigation. Often these unique responses shed light on the villagers themselves, their relationships with each other, and their life aspirations.
Bailu Village

In addition to conversing with the locals themselves, a number of physical locations throughout the village reveal even more details about its inhabitants; some of which are very easy to miss on a standard play through. It is these locations that I'm going to focus on starting today with Man Yuan Temple – and in particular the racks of wooden wishing plaques, known as ema, inside.

The History of Ema


The tradition of hanging prayer ema is actually a Japanese custom with historical roots in Shintoism. In the Nara period in Japan (AD 710 – 794) worshipers would donate horses as offerings to shrines in the hope that since the horse was revered as the vehicle of the gods (kami), the kami would be more likely to listen and answer the worshipers' prayers. Horses were prohibitively expensive for most Japanese people of that era however, and over time clay and wooden sculptures came to be used. These sculptures in turn evolved into wooden plaques with a picture (e) of a horse (ma).
A wooden wishing plaque (ema) with a picture of a horse.
A wooden wishing plaque (ema) with a picture of a horse.
Source: https://zenpop.jp/blog/post/356/how-to-write-ema
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Friday, May 15, 2020

Suka Pass v1.3 Preview: All Moves Scroll

The Suka Pass fan-made app recreates the Shenmue Passport for mobile devices, and the development team has shared a preview of new features that will included in the upcoming release (v1.3).

One of the major features is a new section called the All Moves Scroll, which provides information on all the punches, kicks and throws in the game including the full descriptions of every move that were part of the original Passport. You can discover which moves "evolve" to a different form once they have been mastered, and observe both sets of animations.
Browsing the All Moves Scroll
Learning about a move

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Saturday, May 9, 2020

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for May 2020

Every month Phantom River Stone holds a poll among our patrons to choose a topic for the blog in the coming month. After tallying the votes (including accumulated votes from previous months), the the winning topic for May is...

"Izumi Takano in Shenmue II was once considered for the character model of Nozomi Harasaki".

Izumi Takano, who can be found working at the Tomato Convenience Store in Wan Chai in Shenmue II, was one of the candidate character models for Nozomi Harasaki in the first game.

We will take a look at this topic in more depth in an upcoming blog post.

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