Monday, February 4, 2019

Yu Suzuki Interview by GameCores | Part Two: Development Anecdotes & Shenmue 3

Yu Suzuki Interview by GameCores | Part Two: Development Anecdotes & Shenmue 3

This is Part Two of an interview on a radio show by GameCores, which was held when Yu Suzuki was in China for the G-Fusion event last month (December 2018). Translation to English by yuc02 (contact him at the Shenmue Dojo).

The interview continues below. Go here for Part One.

Related link: this is the full version from which an extract was published earlier on the blog in Shenmue 3 to Include Previously-Cut "Chapter Two Content

GameCores Interview with Yu Suzuki Part Two: Development Anecdotes & Shenmue 3

Original text (Chinese):

YS = Yu Suzuki

Q: Finally, let’s talk about Shenmue. Due to the massive interest in the Shenmue series, you have already revealed many of the stories to other journalists in the past, therefore let's talk a bit in detail about two other things that people haven’t yet mentioned.

Firstly, at the beginning the game was given the codename “Project Berkley”, is there any special meaning behind this name?

YS: It’s actually like this [laughs]. Because we realized at the start that this would be a completely different game to anything else on the market at the time, and its scale was unprecedented, we wanted to keep the project very confidential. Because of this we wanted to give it a very cool sounding name, like something from a spy movie. In Japan there’s this phrase bakkureru* (ばっくれる) meaning to “pretend not to know” or “feign ignorance”, and by coincidence that there is a place in America with a similar sounding name, so we chose this “Project Berkley*” codename.
* In Japanese, the word Berkley is pronounced "bākurē", sharing similar sounds to the word "bakkureru".

Project Berkley: in 1998 a bonus disc was included with Virtua Fighter 3tb for the Dreamcast
Project Berkley: in 1998 a bonus disc was included with Virtua Fighter 3tb for the Dreamcast, containing preview footage and information about the upcoming Shenmue.
Q: So Berkley* was just a homonym for bakkureru?

YS: Indeed [laughs].

Q: I didn’t realize that a question that had us puzzled for a long time, had such a simple answer!

YS: It was just a codename!

Q: There was also a period during development that the game was called Genpūki*; why wasn’t it used in the end?
* Genpūki (玄風記) means "Tales of the Mysterious Wind".
YS: Actually it was just that we thought the name sounded too normal. We wanted to give this special game a deeper, more artistic name.

Q: But you did use the name in the game somewhat, as the ship that took Ryo to Hong Kong was named Genpūmaru*.
* Genpūmaru (玄風丸) = The Mysterious Wind ("maru" is a suffix commonly signifying the name of a boat).
The ship on which Ryo leaves for Hong Kong is called the Genpūmaru (玄風丸)
The ship on which Ryo leaves for Hong Kong is called the Genpūmaru (玄風丸)
YS: Indeed. As the first chapter was structured as an open world, in the ensuing chapter on this ship we had a rich variety of different content prepared, including story and other elements. However due to many objective reasons we had to cut out most of this content, but I don’t want to say too much, because in the upcoming game perhaps the players can experience this for themselves.

Q: So you mean the deleted “Chapter 2 content” that many people still wonder about will be present in Shenmue 3?

YS: [laughs] Yes, please wait in anticipation!
Ryo's voyage by ship to Hong Kong, seen in the Shennue Side Story manga.
Ryo's voyage by ship to Hong Kong, seen in the Shennue Side Story manga.
Q: You’ve chosen to partner with WeGame to introduce Shenmue 3 to the Chinese market. What do you think of your new partner?

YS: First of all, Shenmue 3 is a Kickstarter project, which has been supported by people from around the world, including our publisher Deep Silver. WeGame is the largest PC gaming platform in China, with valuable experience and market influence, and we feel very fortunate for Shenmue 3 to have such a partner to help in its introduction to the Chinese market.

Q: We all know that for a game to enter the Chinese market, the game needs to be localized. So how will this be done in the case of Shenmue 3?

YS: WeGame will carry out the localization for Shenmue 3, which is another reason why we partnered with them. We place great emphasis on the localization work, and because WeGame has a very experienced localization team, we believe they will be able to produce an outstanding Chinese version of the game.
Shenmue III: screen capture from the Prophecy trailer
Shenmue III: screen capture from the Prophecy trailer
Q: In the 30-odd years of your career, there are many urban legends that have been told about you, and we want to use this opportunity to clarify a few of those. Apparently when you were developing Virtua Fighter, your team was stuck on a programming issue for a long time, and the problem was finally resolved in one of your dreams. Is that true?

YS: [Laughs] That one is true, and there was actually more than one such instance. Probably because we were constantly thinking about these things, I was dreaming about programming as well. I therefore placed a pen and some paper next to my bed, so that I could write things down immediately after waking up, although sometimes I still forgot half way through or found out the code was impossible, because after all they were things I dreamt up! [Laughs] But yes, there were a few times that things I dreamt actually worked, and that story was one of them.

Since we’re talking about dreams, there was an even more amusing story. It was during Virtua Fighter 2’s development, there were two characters called Wolf and Jeffry. We’ve been tuning those characters for a long time, but they were still very weak against other fighters. I had this dream where they came up to me crying, and begging me to make them stronger. We tried many things, and eventually made them as strong as the others. I then had another dream, where this time they smiled at me.
Virtua Fighter 2: Wolf and Jeffry appeared to Yu Suzuki in a dream.
Virtua Fighter 2: Wolf and Jeffry appeared to Yu Suzuki in a dream.
Q: We know that there is a famous photo of yourself with Michael Jackson, and the rumor behind it was that there was an unreleased game project involving himself, was that really the case?

YS: Indeed there was. It’s an open secret that Michael Jackson was a big Sega fan, and yes we did collaborate on a game project, where he came in to the Sega office to do motion capturing. Just imagine Michael Jackson in mo-cap tights, what a sight to behold [laughs].
Yu Suzuki with Michael Jackson
Yu Suzuki with Michael Jackson
Normally when doing motion capturing, when a movement is done we ask the person to form a “T” shape with his/her arms outstretched, and they have to stay in position until we tell them the capture has been completed. There was one time when I was in a rush to check the results and forgot about him! He ended up staying in the “T” position, and I didn’t hear him shouting at me until much later on [laughs]!

Q: Finally, with Shenmue 3 entering the Chinese market, do you have anything to say to the Chinese gamers?

YS: I have always loved China’s history and culture, and I have been warmly welcomed every time I have come to the country to work or study. Simply said, I like China very much, which everyone knows already [laughs], and I have put all my experiences and feelings into the Shenmue series. If we can successfully convey these things to the Chinese players via our partners WeGame and Oasis Games, I will feel an enormous sense of happiness.

Q: Thank you very much for today, to be able to chat with you has been a great honor. We hope Shenmue 3 will be a big success!

YS: Thank you, I enjoyed our conversation very much!

End of interview. Thank you to yuc02 for the translation!
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