Thursday, July 21, 2022

Weekly AM2 Vol. 6: Interview with Shenmue Design Director, Masanori Oe | 18th Jan 2000

In this series we translate Shenmue content from Weekly AM2, the official online magazine published by Sega's AM2 development team back in the day. News and information about the Shenmue series could be found regularly within these pages from the end of 1999 through to 2001 with the release of Shenmue II.

Vol. 6 contains an interview with Shenmue Design Director, Masanori Oe. There is also an announcement for a soon-to-be-released strategy guide book, and an outline of the Network Ranking competition.



Vol.6: 2000.1.18

Hello! This is Takuan.

A lot of people are catching colds, aren't they. Is everyone okay? Let's keep our spirits up this week, and blast our colds away!

This week's contents:
  • Interview with Shenmue Design Director, Masanori Oe
  • Shenmue Strategy Book Information
  • i-mode Gallery Image #2
  • Network Rankings Prizes!
  • Play Shenmue at the World Hobby Fair!

Interview with Shenmue Design Director, Masanori Oe

Following our interview last time with Takenobu Mitsuyoshi, this week we invited along Masanori Oe, who was in charge of the design for Shenmue: Chapter 1 ~Yokosuka~.

Masanori Oe: Shenmue's Design Director. In charge of all the visuals in the world of Shenmue, and has created environments that change with time and over 200 unique characters.

Q: What is the job of Shenmue's design director?
Masanori Oe: In a nutshell, I'm in charge of the overall design of Shenmue. I'm responsible for managing the schedule and quality of each of the designs, including the characters and environments. The quality is handled by each designer, but I have to make sure there is an overall balance, you see. It's a job that requires a constant grasp of the entire design process.

Q: What considerations did you have when creating the visuals for Shenmue, and what were you particular about?
Masanori Oe: The most important thing is the reality. Since it's a game, it's impossible to make it 100% realistic, so I tried to make it as realistic as possible. In terms of characters, I tried to give them a sense of existence in addition to giving them reality, and in terms of the environments, I tried to make even small objects such as trash cans look realistic. I tried as much as possible to avoid the sudden appearance of scenery during a quest, as is the case in conventional games.

Another factor is the staging. For example, camera movement is very important, so I was very particular about this during the game's creation. I hope players will enjoy the presentation and environments in View Mode*.
*"View Mode" = the name Shenmue's instruction manual gives to cut scenes.
Q: What is your favorite part of Shenmue?

Masanori Oe: The supporting characters! There are a lot of characters who don't have a main role at all, but they have a lot of flavor and presence. I think this is something that has never been seen in a game before. For example, Goro is a great character. It's not every day you find a character who is that goofy and makes that much impact (laughs). There are many more, so be sure to look for them.

Q: What are the works that have influenced you?

Masanori Oe: In terms of animation, I would say the works of Hayao Miyazaki. For live-action films, I like Japanese films, so I would say Akira Kurosawa's and Yasujiro Ozu's works.

Q: What are your thoughts now that has been released?
Masanori Oe: At any rate, I'm relieved (laughs).

Q: Finally, what would you like to say to the players?
Masanori Oe: I would really like people to play Shenmue more than once. The first time you play it, you'll probably want to know where the story is going, so keep advancing forward; the second time you play it, I'd like you to take explore and take various detours - I'm sure you'll discover something new. There are a lot of things to see, so I hope you'll enjoy taking detours.

[Kodansha Game Books] Shenmue Isshō Yokosuka: Kanzen Seiha no Sho*

*Shenmue Chapter One - Yokosuka: the Book of Complete Mastery
Scheduled for release from Kodansha on 10th February, 2000 at a list price of 1,100 yen +tax! This strategy guide will tell you everything about Shenmue.

5 Main Features of "Shenmue: Chapter 1 - Yokosuka: the Book of Complete Mastery"

  1. Covers all of the more than 200 characters in the game! You can also learn all about the supporting characters that Mr. Oe recommended and talked about above.
  2. Complete mastery with map and flowchart! Complete coverage of Shenmue events that you may have missed.
  3. Learn the key points of the mini-games you can play within the game! Master the mini-game techniques and aim for the top of the network ranking!
  4. A complete guide on where to find and how to use items! See items you've been missing and items you've never seen before.
  5. The 4th disc: instructions on how to use the Shenmue Passport! Discover a new way to enjoy Shenmue using the network!
This book is recommended as a companion for your journey in the world of Shenmue. It will show you a world of Shenmue you never knew existed!

i-mode Gallery Image #2

Added this month to the Character Visual Gallery is Ryo, Shenmue's protagonist. See a cool-looking Ryo on your i-mode* device. May be set as wallpaper, if supported on your device. 

[Message from Switch: unfortunately the image could not be retrieved as archived i-mode content is not available].
*"i-mode" was the name of a mobile internet technology announced in 1999 that was provided as an optional pay service for users of DoCoMo mobile phones.

Network Rankings Prizes!

Win big prizes in the Shenmue Network Rankings!

Fabulous prizes will be given to the first place winner in each category.

There are 9 rankings in total, in the following categories:

  • Space Harrier
  • Hang On
  • Darts 7
  • Excite QTE2
  • QTE Title
  • Slot Machine
  • 70 Person Battle
  • Forklift Race
  • Shenmue Triathlon (further information on the Triathlon in an article on the Shenmue Passport translated from Dreamcast Magazine)

If there is more than one first-place winner with the same time or score, the winner will be chosen by random draw. You can participate in the ranking through the Shenmue Passport.
Network Ranking section of the Shenmue Passport [image added by Switch]

The Shenmue Network Rankings are heating up! We hope you'll participate.

Deadline: 6:30 pm Monday, January 31st.
(You can connect as many times as you want before this time!)

Results announced:  Tuesday, February 1st edition of Weekly AM2.

Play Shenmue at the World Hobby Fair!

The Next Generation World Hobby Fair is where new hobbies are exhibited and marketed. Shenmue will also be there among the Dreamcast titles! Of course, it will be playable!

Various other Dreamcast events are also planned, so watch out for them!
Next Generation World Hobby Fair (1999)

The 11th Next Generation World Hobby Fair

Date: 22nd and 23rd January, 2000
Place: Makuhari Messe
Hours: 9:00 - 16:00

Date: 30th January, 2000
Place: Osaka Dome
Hours: 9:00 - 16:00

Admission is free! You've got to go!

That's all for now from the Software R&D Department No. 2, brought to you by me - Takuan. (I'm still on Disc 2 of Shenmue).

Source: (archived)

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