Saturday, June 8, 2019

Yu Suzuki on Shenmue III: Extra interview Content | Translation

Earlier this year in April, we translated Japan's Weekly Famitsu magazine interview with Yu Suzuki about the latest state of Shenmue III, from an issue of the printed magazine.

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Soon afterwards, Famitsu published a web version of this interview on which excluded some parts and also contained some additional content. We've translated the extra parts below.

The interview starts off with Yu Suzuki demonstrating pre-recorded footage of his Shenmue III gameplay in Bailu village.

YS = Yu Suzuki

Q: By the way, were the motions for walking and so on motion-captured with Masaya Matsukaze this time?

YS: No, it was someone else.

Yu explains that this time, Masaya Matsukaze's performance in the game is solely for voice acting.

Q: Just before, a mode with the intimidating title of "You'd Better Not" appeared on the screen...

YS: In the game this time you can select the level of difficulty. I think some people find things like fighting to be a hassle, so there's Easy Mode which lets you progress easily through the fights, and you also won't have to carry out a lot of practice. Having said that: it's Shenmue, and I want players to undergo a certain amount of training to move through the game, so Recommended Mode is the normal mode. There will also be people who like Virtua Fighter buying Shenmue so for those hardcore battle fans there's also a mode that's slightly tougher.

Q: Throw moves have been excluded this time from the game; how did that come about?

YS: With the previous titles I was utilizing the Virtua Fighter engine, but with Shenmue III we have built an engine from scratch. And so, rather than extending the scope to throw moves, I've taken the approach of keeping to strike moves and improving their level of finish.


[After discussing Turtle Racing] There appear to be various other mini-games in the amusement area.

YS: With this one over here, you're not gambling for money. One play is 5 yuan.

Yu explains that you win not tokens, but items.

YS: Things like a car or a doll... at this one you can win bananas. Being food, a banana will restore your energy. One play is 3 yuan. And there are also other ways to earn money.


Q: Back with Shenmue I and II, during the process of making detailed facial expressions for the characters in 3D, you also crafted character expressions and so on in clay to show how they should look. Was anything done like for the modeling this time? Each time there is an update on the official site, it feels like they undergo a sizable improvement.

YS: I didn't work on the modeling myself, so I struggled to find a way of communicating [what I wanted] to the people who did. And the easiest way is to demonstrate with the actual thing, right? So I made a full-size models, since even a 1 mm reduction gives a completely different face. I did that kind of thing because I wanted to communicate it accurately.

With the new game, we're using Unreal Engine 4, so we use something called physical-based rendering to carry out the basic rendering.

The question was how to produce a high-quality picture using physical-based rendering. I wrestled particularly with how to bring out the coloring and the light to give the picture that I was aiming for. In truth, I had wanted to make Shenhua and Ryo in one or two months, but the time it took can be measured in years. It was worth spending the time, and I think the models have become quite good. I want to further improve things like their expressions. There is still a little time before the release*, so I'd like to make them even better than now.
* When this interview was held, the release date with 27th August (now 19th November).


Q: Just before, in the video, a man whose face leaves a strong impression said "Did you really think you could beat me with kung fu like that?" Does kung fu - building yourself up through training - relate to the theme of the game?

YS:  Yes, if you fight, there'll be times you lose, right? It's an adventure with martial arts at its base, so building up your kung fu to smash through difficulties, and surpassing your past self, forms a central theme of the story.

Q: In Virtua Fighter, one of Pai Chan's victory phrases is "Your kung fu* isn't strong enough!". Might "kung fu" perhaps be one of your personal "keywords"?
*kung fu: [per the Japanese Wikipedia]: "in China its meaning is not limited to the name of a Chinese martial art, but is a term that is widely-used and carries a meaning of the 'training, discipline and accumulation of practice' that are emphasized in Chinese martial arts, as well as the time and effort spent towards these".
YS: Hmm... I don't know about that. [laughs] But, I do like the word "kung fu". More than "practice". More than "training". It carries various meanings which differ subtly [from these other words]. I like the word "kung fu"!


Q: You're now at the fine-tuning stage, aren't you. So, which was easier: development for the Dreamcast or development for this game?

YS: Let's see.. they're pretty much the same.

Q: [Laughs]

YS: For the Dreamcast, the scale of development was much greater than now. Which meant that there was the necessary task of managing the staff. This time, compared to the time of the Dreamcast, the scale is smaller, and there's the fact that it's a completely new engine and we're not able to make use of the Virtua Fighter engine for battles.

Both have parts that were fun and parts that were tough. At the time of the Dreamcast, I was also involved with the development of the hardware itself and wanted to make a killer title that would bring out its abilities to the fullest. So I was fired up with that hope when making it. Therefore, although it was tough, there was the thrilling feeling of "I've never seen a game like this. Let's bring something new into the world!"

Shenmue III has its own factors; we're using a cutting-edge engine, because I'm quite a fan of technology. And present-day hardware has significantly more processing power that the Dreamcast, so it can be more expressive, leading to expanded possibilities.

And so, in terms of being enjoyable, they both were. The type of hardships and enjoyment differed between them, so I can't make a definitive call!

-- End of translation. Translation by Switch @ --

Source: Weekly Famitsu magazine (online edition)
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