Friday, April 16, 2021

3D Bat Model & Odd Unused Objects in Shenmue Game Files | Dragon & Phoenix Project Discoveries

Today we have some small but unusual items of unused content to share, courtesy once more of LemonHaze, who ran across them during his work for the upcoming Dragon & Phoenix Collection fan project. They are object models contained within the released Shenmue game files that are not used in the actual game itself.


Development Placeholder Cone


The first is an object that is made of four triangular sides (colored red, yellow, green and blue) arranged together such that they form a square base. LemonHaze explains that this was used during development of the game as "a placeholder object for interactive assets which aren't implemented/made yet".

The placeholder object

It is reminiscent of a traffic cone - hence the filename "pilon" for this object model on disc, as this approximates the pronunciation of the word meaning a traffic cone in Japanese.

The file is located in the Shenmue I game files at MODEL/OBJECT/PILON.MT5, but in fact LemonHaze has spotted the object in actual early footage of Shenmue II, shown in the NHK "Making Of Shenmue" video that was aired on Japanese television in July 1999.

Ryo is exploring an area of what appears to be an experimental section of Kowloon not seen in the released game and passes the placeholder cone on his left as he runs down the alleyway. Note the text "DOOR 4" flashing up on the screen.
Clip from the NHK program showing Ryo running past the cone

The text "DOOR 4" appears as Ryo passes the cone

Other notes of interest in this footage:
  • On close examination, the cone can be seen to be rotating.
  • Near the cone is an entranceway with a sign that reads "文昌楼" (Wenchang Bldg), a location not found in the final game. Wenchang is notably also the name of the 4th star of the Big Dipper, a constellation that has mysterious significance within the Shenmue story.
  • The child standing at the end of the alley, whose character model appears to be unused in Shenmue II (thanks to Shenmue Dojo's character guru, Miles Prower for his input on this).
Unused child character model
  • Some of the environmental objects in the clip can be recognized from the released game, including the loops of wire strung overhead in the alley, which can be found above some of the stalls in the Stand Quarter.

More Placeholder & Other Unused Objects


The same Shenmue I directory on disc also holds some other placeholder object models that are not used in the final game. Here is a selection of them - perhaps the compass ring was a candidate for the in-game compass during the game's development.

Some other object models of interest in the same directory, mostly unused in the final game. Their names are: ruler1, ruler2, square_s, marker, syd_s and compass.

Update (23 April): one of the objects in the image above, the figure-like model named "syd_s", is in fact used in the game. LemonHaze confirms that this is the common model used to generate the shadow for Ryo and other characters in the game - although interestingly, the game also employs other methods of generating shadows during certain areas of the game.

Bat


A December 1998 issue of the Japanese Dreamcast Magazine contained a promotional article about the upcoming Shenmue Premiere series of events around the country, to kick off in Yokohama later in the month. Part of this was a small "teaser" section that showcased the following images of animals that might be seen in the game.


The images were accompanied by a quote from Yu Suzuki:
At Sega's "New Challenge Conference II" on October 6, Yu Suzuki commented, "In the world of Shenmue, many animals will appear, apart from just humans. To name just a few of these: pigeons, bats, hawks, myna birds, rats, and goats. That's not to say all of these will appear. However, we hope to do something interesting with animals, so please look forward to it."
Many of the above animals will be recognized from the first two games (albeit not identical in appearance to the images that were previewed in the article) such as pigeons, the hawk, myna birds and goats.

One animal included above that is not to be found is the bat. However LemonHaze discovered an unused model for a bat in the Shenmue I (and What's Shenmue demo) game files.

Here is its texture showing the detail of the bat's body and wings:
Bat texture (mirrored horizontally)

And its three-dimensional model looks as follows - the multiple wings are present to support flying animation. The head and body are shaped with simple triangles, as it would have only been seen from afar in any case.
Bat model (filename: MODEL/OBJECT/BF60200G.MT5)

Despite the complete model having being developed, it is not used in either of the first games, perhaps due to technical limitations - or a decision made on consideration of realism, as bats tend to hibernate during the colder seasons.

More interesting discoveries to come from LemonHaze and team in the near future!


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About the Shenmue Dragon & Phoenix Collection


LemonHaze leads the highly-anticipated Dragon & Phoenix Collection fan mod project, which brings Shenmue I and II onto Unreal Engine. It is an engine replacement mod for the 2018 release of Shenmue I+II for PC that replaces the original engine with Unreal Engine 4, allowing for massive improvements across the board. 

Find out more about this exciting project here:
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