Shenmue Dojo Interviews: Mike Rhinehart Lead Shenmue 1 Beta Tester from SOA

spud1897

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Shenmue II
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Destiny 2, Shenmue HD ;)
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RELEASE!

Next in our series of Shenmue Dojo Interviews we talk to Mike Rhinehart, who was lead beta tester for Shenmue 1 in the US.

We talk testing, bugs, betas and more!

Mike has kindly offered to answer any follow-up questions you may have. Just post them in this topic and I'll send then over and we will either record a follow-up or do a written addition.

Catch them here!

Youtube:

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/3SHIts34fqgcHnMwbWCWJ4

Or your chosen podcast provider!
 
Joined
Aug 19, 2018
Another great interview. Really interesting to see beta testing started out more of a localization project. Let us know if Mike’s friends at Sega Japan ever get back to him regarding the Saturn version ;)

Also I am the only one slightly surprised someone who was intimately involved in the first game and still passionate about series has not played Shenmue 3 yet? I appreciate given nature of his work he may not have a ton of spare time but still slightly surprised.
 
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spud1897

spud1897

Administrator
Joined
Jul 24, 2018
Location
England
Favourite title
Shenmue II
Currently playing
Destiny 2, Shenmue HD ;)
PSN
spud19870
Another great interview. Really interesting to see beta testing started out more of a localization project. Let us know if Mike’s friends at Sega Japan ever get back to him regarding the Saturn version ;)

Also I am the only one slightly surprised someone who was intimately involved in the first game and still passionate about series has not played Shenmue 3 yet? I appreciate given nature of his work he may not have a ton of spare time but still slightly surprised.
Cheers man. I will follow-up about it. I suspect it's locked in a vault or even lost to the sands of time, given SEGA have lost all sorts before now.

I was surprised, though he is very busy in his line of work. Hopefully when he plays it he enjoys it.

As I say any follow-up questions then do about.
 
Joined
Dec 26, 2020
Another great interview. Really interesting to see beta testing started out more of a localization project. Let us know if Mike’s friends at Sega Japan ever get back to him regarding the Saturn version ;)

Also I am the only one slightly surprised someone who was intimately involved in the first game and still passionate about series has not played Shenmue 3 yet? I appreciate given nature of his work he may not have a ton of spare time but still slightly surprised.
I will happy answer that question. YES! You are so right. I'm planning on setting some time aside to do so. I'm actually contemplating playing through 1, 2 and then 3 to make the most of it. It was indeed life getting in the way, but still not an excuse. Thanks for listening.
 
Joined
Nov 16, 2019
It's straight-up amazing that even the DEV TEAM thought "I'm looking for sailors" was an iconic line.

Actually, If he's still on this forum, that's another question. What was the general opinion on Shenmue from the Localization/Beta Testing staff? How many enjoyed the game compared to those who just saw it as "that weird Japanese game that's my day job".
Also, it's been a few days since I've listened to the interview, so I honestly forgot if this was asked: Was the game called "Shenmue" or still just "Project Berkely" when you started your job on it?

Finally...Who was your favorite character in the entire game? The cat?

Bonus Question: Seen any sailors?
 
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spud1897

spud1897

Administrator
Joined
Jul 24, 2018
Location
England
Favourite title
Shenmue II
Currently playing
Destiny 2, Shenmue HD ;)
PSN
spud19870
It’s great to listen to his experiences and compare with mine as I was part of the Functionality QA Team at SEGA Europe for the re release of Shenmue I & II across PS4 / Xbox One & PC!
Welcome to the forums. Are you allowed to talk about your experiences in a podcast interview format :p
 
Joined
Dec 26, 2020
It's straight-up amazing that even the DEV TEAM thought "I'm looking for sailors" was an iconic line.

Actually, If he's still on this forum, that's another question. What was the general opinion on Shenmue from the Localization/Beta Testing staff? How many enjoyed the game compared to those who just saw it as "that weird Japanese game that's my day job".
Also, it's been a few days since I've listened to the interview, so I honestly forgot if this was asked: Was the game called "Shenmue" or still just "Project Berkely" when you started your job on it?

Finally...Who was your favorite character in the entire game? The cat?

Bonus Question: Seen any sailors?
First of all, I love these questions. Thank you for listening and catching some of the nuances in my answers. Let me see if I can answer these questions properly.

  • "I'm looking for sailors" was one of many lines we'd say to each other at work. "Hey mister, wanna wrestle?" was high up on the list of things to say to your fellow Shenmue tester at the beginning of a shift. If you wanted to shade someone at work, it was common to start a conversation with, "That day..." or "the Black Car." In general there was an unspoken use of lines from the game among the team. Friday shifts would often involve a Tom line like, "Hiiiiiiii Ryo!"
  • To answer the question about people that enjoyed the game versus playing it as a job. I'd estimate that it was about 90% of my team that played it and loved it and 10% that were doing their job. The majority of the test department wanted to work on the game. That said, we had a decent amount of games in test at the time, which meant I couldn't always pick and choose who was on the team. Honestly, having someone not liking a game testing it can be a blessing. They will see things in a completely different light than someone that is in love with a game.
  • The game was called Shenmue in test. It had released in Japan, so no code name for the game internally. Great question!
  • My favorite character? Shoot... this is a tough call. Tom is high up on my list. Imagine going into work and listening to his lines as a job. During some tough workload days, he was always a bright spot. Goro was also a fun character for me. I guess that means I am leaning toward the over-the-top characters. However, don't mess with Ine-san. Somehow she always knows what you are up to. Kitty does get a participation award for characters I liked.
  • Answer to the bonus question is that even after my time at Sega, I had co-workers who knew I had worked on the game ask me that question. Because of that, I am going to say yes. I have found sailors.
 

James Brown

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Jul 23, 2018
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England
This interview was one of my favourites! I’m personally interested to find out more about the Passport beta disc, and whether all the content that ended up being online accessed was actually offline for testing? That would be crazy if that exists! Looking forward to hearing more from @Lebdiri! I hope an interview can be arranged :)
 
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