Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Yu Suzuki's Keyword for 2023: "Light AI" []


"141 Game Creators' New Year's Resolutions" (the jumping rabbit represents the 2023 animal sign of the Chinese Zodiac: the Rabbit)

Japanese website has released their annual survey - much anticipated by Shenmue fans eager for any hint that might relate to our beloved franchise - of members of the games industry, this time interviewing an impressive 141 game developers. As usual, the survey asked them to choose a word or phrase that sums up their direction for the coming year, as well as a New Year's Resolution and goal.

Famitsu's archive photo of Yu-san is now getting a little long in the tooth, now dating back to 6 years ago!

Here are his responses for the coming year in 2023, translated from the original Japanese:
Q: Your Keyword for 2023?

YS: Light AI.
Q: Your New Year's Resolution / Aspirations for 2023?

I'd like to try taking a light-hearted approach to AI, without pretentious logical thinking. The answers that an imperfect AI, including bugs, can come up with should be fun. I'm setting out on a journey to seek new ideas using AI. [Suzuki adds a "w" at the end of his response, indicating smiling or laughing].

Q: Status update

YS: In 2022, Apple Arcade released my new game, Air Twister, and in 2023 I am also involved in overseeing the characters for a project called "OASYX".
Q: What will you be keeping an eye on in 2023?

YS: I have high hopes for the evolution of AI technology and the emergence of entertainment with visual images that transcend the human imagination, as well as for initiatives to find original value in digital data.
Regarding Suzuki's response of "Light AI" for his keyword for the upcoming year, the light refers to not being overly heavy or complicated.

AI has certainly now become a hot mainstream topic, with public online access being opened up to some impressive AI projects: systems that can create realistic images and art from a text description (DALL E2) and language-model chat assistants (OpenAI's ChatGPT). 

Suzuki also expressed his ongoing interest in AI during a discussion panel with IGN Japan last year on the movie "Free Guy" (currently available on Patreon) and touched on its potential for controlling NPC behavior in games:
Suzuki: In terms of the world that is portrayed, in Shenmue's case, I didn't go as far as using AI in moving each of the characters [NPCs] around. When I was making Shenmue, I thought that in the future, once the processing power of CPUs and computers had improved enough, I would certainly use AI.
Air Twister was successfully released for iOS devices during the year, and looking back it can be seen how his keywords for the past few years can be tied to it:
  • 2020: "A new project start" 
  • 2021: "Shooting / RPG" (at least the "shooting" part)
  • 2022:  "Mix" (In his response, Suzuki spoke of working with people from different industries "such as movies and musicians" - he worked with Dutch composer Valensia who provided the soundtrack for the game).
The OASYX project mentioned is an NFT (Non-Fungible Token) project - an area fraught with reputational risk due to various controversies associated with it. This particular project was launched by Oasys on their gaming blockchain, and aims to create NFTs for the gaming community in collaboration with legendary creators, artists and developers, and is backed by some big Japanese game development studios including SEGA, Bandai Namco and Square Enix. Suzuki will oversee the overall theme and art direction of the project's first series, which involves the distribution of 10,000 original characters in a free-to-own format.

Suzuki ends by highlighting his anticipation of the further evolution of AI-related technology in the future, including its use for impressive visuals in entertainment.

While there was unfortunately no obvious hint as to any Shenmue-related project in the works, we'd like to think there is a Shenmue project YS Net are working away on to fulfil Suzuki's long-held dream of developing a lightweight AI system for even more naturally-behaving NPCs.
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  1. Thank you for the detailed and informative post, Switch! As always, it's appreciated. I like the analysis of the keywords over the years too.

    Please take care, and I hope you have a safe and happy new year!

    1. So glad you've been enjoying the articles, and thank you for your kind wishes. Let's see what 2023 has in store for Shenmue!

  2. Thank you a lot for this article! ( Just a small note that ChatGPT is owned by OpenAI and not Google :P )

    1. Thank you! Correction made, thanks for pointing it out.