Friday, March 22, 2019

[Video | English Captions] Yu Suzuki's Shenmue 3 Talk at MAGIC 2019

Earlier this month on March 9th at the MAGIC event in Monaco, Yu Suzuki gave a stage presentation about Shenmue III during which he revealed fresh information about the game. While we posted a summary of highlights at the time, a video of the presentation with English subtitles is now ready.

The video can be viewed below, and a written transcript of the presentation follows the video.

The moderator of the presentation was David De Ville and the interpreter was Kenji Kojima. We would like to thank them both for the excellent job they did on stage, as well as all their many hours of unseen efforts behind the scenes.

Shenmue Master kindly provided the video footage. Thank you to Yokosuka from the Shenmue Dojo for the question translations. Yu Suzuki's responses were translated by Switch.

Transcript of the Presentation

Shenmue 3 Kickstarter and Announcement at E3 2015

Q: First of all, I would like to return to a key element, since Shenmue 3 was born on the Kickstarter platform. Kickstarter is what allowed us to see Shenmue 3 as it is today. It's good to remind ourselves of the two Kickstarter records that Shenmue 3 broke. The first one is the fastest $1 million pledged for a Kickstarter video game, in just 1 hour 44 minutes. The second is the most-funded Kickstarter video game ever. Let's applaud this great achievement!


YS: Thank you.

Q: I am curious to know what you thought about the Kickstarter campaign. What are your memories?

YS: Well... Just prior to it were things like Trico*. It turned out that FF7 [Final Fantasy VII] was announced ahead of Shenmue. I could hear the cheering coming through like seismic waves. So I was a bit worried about how Shenmue would be received. When the music for Shenmue started, it wasn't a roaring sound but more like screams and cries. Sweat poured from my brow when I heard that! There were people crying, and I remember feeling really moved.
*Trico: the giant half-bird, half-mammal creature from The Last Guardian.

Q: It was certainly a critical step in Shenmue 3's project history, as the game might never have happened without Kickstarter. As a further step, now we're here at MAGIC Monaco for a new game presentation.

Working with Cédric Biscay

Having participated many times in MAGIC, could you tell us what makes the event so special?

YS: Being held in Monaco is one of the things that makes it special. I think it feels very much a premium event. Game shows usually take the form of a conference or exhibition. But this one is very diverse and unique. I think it would be great to have more shows like this going forward. MAGIC would be nothing without Cédric Biscay, the organizer of the event.

Q: We know that you are both wine lovers. How did you come to work together on Shenmue 3?

YS: I can't really remember how I first came to meet Cédric. But he actively introduces and promotes Japanese culture overseas such as games and manga and I am extremely grateful to him.

Both Cédric and I are rather fond of wine. Sometimes it seems only half our time is spent talking about work, and the rest just talking about wine! We discuss the cultures of Japan and other countries, and talk about games, wine and so on. So we get work done in this way. It's not like we're drunkards! We have a drink as we work... wine really has helped in a lot of ways.

Q: Thanks, it couldn't be clearer!

Fan Support

Before discussing Shenmue 3 further, my last question is: 18 years will pass between the Shenmue 2 & 3 releases but fans are still here to support you and have never given up. How does that make you feel?

YS: It would be hard to find any other game where so many fans have kept up their support without let-up over 18 years. So for Shenmue 3 to have been brought to reality like this is all thanks to the efforts of the fans. Without the fans, Shenmue 3 would not even have made it to the start line.

Q: Thank you too, Mr. Suzuki! Without you, we would not be there today, so thank you.

Shenmue 3 Development

We will now discuss the main topic. While Shenmue 1 and 2 were based on an in-house engine, you chose to make Shenmue 3 on Unreal Engine 4. Since the development of the game is almost done, what is your overall opinion of the engine?

YS: Compared to before, the engine is different, as well as the development set-up. So the way it's made is naturally different. A very important aspect is how far we can draw out the abilities of the new engine. We finally became accustomed to using Unreal and learned how to bring out its abilities. And so gradually, it has grown towards the Shenmue I had originally wanted to make.

Q: So we can say that with Unreal Engine 4, over time he has succeeded in getting as close as possible to the game he imagined.

Characters in Shenmue 3

We cannot speak of Shenmue without mentioning the NPCs, as they were very numerous in the original episodes. In Shenmue 3, 'Choubu' is the second among the three locations of the game. 50 NPCs were initially planned there. What is the current situation?

YS: For the Kickstarter, I had set the goal at two million dollars. And I had stretch goals set at 2 million, 4 million, 5 million and so on. The plan was scalable, you see. The accumulated budget set what would be done. Part of the plan was to have 50 NPCs. But after continuing to build, now the total for Choubu and Bailu Village has reached probably around 400 to 500.

Q: Wow! That's 10 times the targeted figure. That's huge! That's great! I didn't expect there would be so many. I'm really impressed!

YS: I think Shenmue 1, and Shenmue 2 also, had between 400 and 500 so I think we've reached a good Shenmue-like number.

Q: Great! I'm sure many people will be pleased to hear that.

Part-time Jobs

In Shenmue, you could do a lot of things like buying items, etc. In Shenmue 3, a new system has been unveiled: the fishing system. We still know only a few things about it, could you tell us a bit more?

YS: There are a number of part-time jobs available in Shenmue. So before going to the fishing, there's one which is wood-chopping. Wood-chopping is at most basic level of the part-time jobs. For a level above wood-chopping, then something like fishing is just about right as the next step.

For fishing... There's a fishing supplies shop where you can rent a fishing rod and lure. A more expensive rod will help you land a better catch. After renting the gear, you look for a place to fish. When you've found a place to fish, try casting your line to locate where the fish are. Then you can sell your catch. Also, with fishing, from time to time there are events like fishing tournaments. If your record is good enough, you can win a nice prize.

Q: So we'll get many features we didn't have in the original episodes. That sounds pretty good. 

Shenmue 3's Battle System

Another important aspect of the franchise is martial arts. What martial arts most influenced the Shenmue series?

YS: Where the inspiration came from would have to be Virtua Fighter, since I was working on it.

At the time of Shenmue 1 and 2, I used the Virtua Fighter engine. However for Shenmue 3 I didn't use it, but instead built a battle engine from scratch. Also, since 3 is a sequel, the moves that you were able to use in Shenmue 1 and 2 also carry through and can be used in Shenmue 3.

Q: By the way, didn't you bring with you a curious screenshot to illustrate the new battle system?

YS: It's not really that special but... I've got something here to help explain the battle system.

Translator: It's a screenshot he took just a moment ago.

YS: Here we have Ryo over towards the left and there's an enemy at the center. There's a circular symbol at the lower right, which is the HP meter. The one at the lower left is Ryo's HP meter. There are about... 10 balls showing on the meter. If you build yourself up, the number of balls will increase as your stamina grows.

In the image you can see the words "Tornado Kick". In 3, you can of course choose which moves you want in battle. But for beginners, and people who prefer to fight more simply, there is a shortcut command. This system lets you perform a move easily, without having to enter the full command. Towards the top are the letters "AT", which stands for Automatic.

With the AT mode, beginners don't have to worry about what to press. In the game you can obtain various types of moves, and the system automatically registers the top 5 or so of your most effective ones which you can execute simply with a single click.

For people who want to fight in the more usual technical way, there's "MT", which stands for Manual Transmission, which is the manual mode. With the MT mode, after obtaining various moves, you can put together a deck of your favorites that you've trained in.

In any case, at the beginning you just can tap the buttons without worrying and as you level up, you'll be able to start winning fights.

At the bottom-left of this image are the words "MASTER" and the command "Tornado Kick". This indicates it's in a mastered state. A move becomes mastered when you reach level 10. The screenshot I'm using for this explanation is one I took after leveling up and reaching a strengthened state.

The Tornado Kick is a move learned from Tom in Shenmue 1 that has carried through. Moves like this can be trained, and in 3 you can also acquire various new moves to become stronger.

Inside the large ball at the left you can see a faint figure. When you switch moves, you can visually check there what kind of motion the move has.

This time the gameplay doesn't focus on battles, rather it has been structured so that it links to various user cycles within the Shenmue world and leads on to various locations and battles. So in Shenmue 3 it will be something like this.

Q: Great! [To audience] So, what do you think?


That's quite a lot of new features. The move mastering system and the ability to switch from automatic mode to manual mode didn't exist in the former episodes. I think it's great to mix what was done at the time with what is being done today.

Shenmue 3's Music

Let's talk about another crucial aspect of Shenmue: the music. Music is something that you handle with great care.Even the seeds of the story were written based on the music. What type of instrument did you use to create the Shenmue music? And on a personal note, what are your tastes in terms of 

YS: A key part of Shenmue 3 is a Chinese vibe, so I have used old Chinese musical instruments to try to bring that out.There's an instrument called the erhu which has a Chinese sound. The notes run together and it has a range similar to the human voice. It makes a very gentle sound. I really like the erhu, the Chinese fiddle.

Speaking a little more about music, both of my parents were music teachers. They taught things like the piano. And since I was small, they told me, "Study classical music!". I didn't want to and fled to rock music instead! So what I personally like is rock. From my era it would be Van Halen and groups like that. I also listen to Deep Purple. Also heavy metal and so on. My personal favorite is rock.

Q: So even music-wise, you have taste! We can be confident!

A Future Location?

By the way, Shenmue 1 takes place in Japan, and Shenmue 2 and 3 in China. Can we expect Shenmue 4 in France?

YS: I haven't any plans for a spin-off story... I'll have to think of a French version!

Q: Well I anticipated this answer but I felt the conference needed some humor!

Mini Games

Joking aside, in Shenmue 1 and 2, Ryo could store items he bought or won from mini games. We recently learnt that Shenmue 3 features a new inventory system where Ryo can stock fish and other items. Can you further elaborate on this?

YS: Well, let's see... Back in Shenmue 1 there was a shop called Abe Store. You could talk with the old lady owner, and have a lot of quite intimate and substantial conversations. In 3, there aren't quite so many of those kind of deep conversations. On the other hand, the number of shops is much greater than in 1 and 2. The number of items has also risen astonishingly compared to 1 and 2. There are a lot of shops, and the prices of the goods for sale differ slightly from shop to shop.

This time, if you don't eat then you may become unable to run. That sort of thing can happen, so you'll need to shop for food, considering things like which shops are cheap. The shopping system has been expanded significantly from Shenmue 1 and 2.

Q: So unlike the original episodes where storing items was rather a matter of collection, the inventory in Shenmue 3 has a concrete purpose and you can use each item in specific situations.

More on Characters

Okay, I would like to get back to talking about NPCs, as there will be many in Shenmue 3. You have attached a particular importance to NPCs. In the original Shenmue, every NPC had their own routine whether they lived in Yokosuka or at the port. They could go to work, go back home, etc. Have you anything to say about the NPCs in Shenmue 3?

YS: I'd like to talk a little about the characters that will appear in Shenmue 3.

This time I wanted to increase as much as possible the number of colorful characters. We've created several people who are very distinctive. These include elderly men and women, middle-aged ladies and children. We've made some rather individualistic people! Characters who are distinctive in appearance have also been given a personality and voice to match, to ensure that they'll be memorable.

I'll display a few characters, although they've been shown before.

This one's an enemy who appears in Choubu. I quite like this character.

This is a character that has been shown a few times previously. She's quite cute. Her hairstyle has a Chinese look, but it's not a traditional style. It's tied up in a modern style.

This one is slightly Japanese in style. There are events like this one, which are quite amusing.

There are a lot of characters in the game like these ones.

Q: To sum up what we learnt today, the battle system has evolved as we can now master and mix techniques from the original episodes. The number of NPCs has been multiplied to 10 times what was initially planned. We also learnt about the fishing system and the new inventory system.

A Special Thank You from the Moderator, David De Ville

Before we conclude, I would like to give a personal message. It's a decision I made personally. I would like to say thank you to all the Shenmue communities. Sorry if I forget some names. I want to thank Shenmue Master, Shenmue Dojo, Shenmue 500K, Shenmue Forever, Team Yu... and everyone with a blog on the internet, who has helped to promote Shenmue so far, who has tried their hardest to keep the franchise alive.Without you, we would not be here today so thank you everyone!

I also want to thank Shibuya Productions and Deep Silver, without whom the game would not exist today.

To conclude, a very big thank to Yu Suzuki for taking us on his journey. 18 years have passed between Shenmue 2 and 3 but he's still here among us to develop the game today. So thank you!

A Message to Fans

Do you have a message for everyone?

YS: I'm really happy to have been able to come to Monaco and see everybody again. Today there will be Crazy Time with Cédric which is why we haven't shared Shenmue information for a while, but I've brought along a new trailer we've prepared. Not for right now, though. I'm planning to show it at Crazy Time, so I hope you all enjoy watching it then.

Thank you for your unwavering support and thank you very much for having me here today.

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