Yu Suzuki Interview (IGN Japan): Reflections on S3, Plans for S4

spud1897

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During the interview, Suziki mentioned that Shenmue III eventually got $20 million to spend on development, 10 times larger than he initially expected.
The question is was that for development only or was that the whole budget including marketing? Translate doesn't really do a good job on that one.
 
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Really enjoyed seeing the happy pictures of Suzuki looking well. He seemed in high spirits in the (admittedly dodgy auto-translated) interview. Looking forward to the translation!

I'm fine with markers, as long as you can turn them off, and I'm sure Yu will get that feedback from fans over and over 😊

$20M is about $5M more than I guessed but it doesn't surprise me. Games are expensive. The dual language alone probably cost a pretty penny.
 
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I think it's a great idea. I didn't enjoy having no idea when or where to access side stories. Hopefully he also learns that the pacing of the plot and lack of set pieces in Shenmue 3 is a huge issue for many fans.
 
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It just proves that he made what he thought people wanted.
It kinda sounds like he wants to make S4 for what he thinks other people want now. It's a little weird how he doesn't seem to have a clear direction for the series but maybe that just gets lost in translation. Either way, this is probably the best possible interview he could have given on the future of the series outside of "Shenmue 4 is in development, here's a trailer with the original logo design".

Same, quest markers are an awful idea, we risk to lose all the uniqueness of the series, since this is basically what other open world games do, by treating the players like some babies who can't do anything on their own without showing everything at their faces.
No it's not. Witcher 3, BotW, and Deus Ex all provide options to play without waypoints. If Suzuki wants to make the series less alienating then that should be encouraged as long as it's guided by smart design decisions. If he's just chasing trends in an attempt to make it more popular, that's different.
 
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Quest markers aren't a bad idea. It's all about how you design them. But considering Shenmue 3 was the game with big red markers on herbs and drawers that you cant toggle off... yeah.

Also if the budget truly ended up being 20 millions as a whole, it gives me even less sympathy for the end result.
 

spud1897

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Quest markers aren't a bad idea. It's all about how you design them. But considering Shenmue 3 was the game with big red markers on herbs and drawers that you cant toggle off... yeah.

Also if the budget truly ended up being 20 millions as a whole, it gives me even less sympathy for the end result.
Yes because marketing, production and show floor space comes free lol.

I was doing some reading and most indie projects tend to have a marketing budget of 20% the total budget so that's $4million minimum towards that.

Leaving what $16millon for the development, which is more than I thought but maybe I underestimate gaming development costs? No idea I'm not an expert.

Motion capture isn't cheap. 2 dubs isn't cheap. Studio hire on it's own is a tonne of money before you pay the actors etc. And that comes in at around $500 an hour for a main character. So that's $4000 a day for Corey, even if he did it for half that that's between $60k-$120k for him. Brianna I bet cost some money as did the others so I could easily see the English dub topping $1 million. Same for the JP so that's $2 million. Then you have to edit and master the damn thing. We used to master music tracks at about £30-60 a track you could easily rack a cost there.

I'd be shocked if more than $14 million went into the game itself. Including research, scripting, assets, licences, artwork, modelling.

Damn it adds up.
 
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It kinda looks like he thinks that fans only cared for open world size, minigames and forklift memes...

I feel the same, but on the other hand, fans have been asking for years toy capsules, forklifts, the ability of opening / grabbing everything, etc... can't blame him for implementing these.


Not related but last week I watched a french conference about video game producing and there was a guy (Bejamin Anseaume, who recently produced Panzer dragoon remake) who did a 1h30 talk explaining how it works (related to his experience) for a studio to get a deal with an editor. And that reminded me a lot about Ys.net.

Basically he said he never signed any deal in less than 6 months (he worked with major editors like square enix). That would explain why Yu Suzuki talks about Shenmue IV but nothing is officially confirmed, it could take many months to get a deal.

He also shared his experience about what happens during the development, things like in most cases the developer has no (few) rights to communicate, any trailer has to be validated mutliple times, editors decide at the end the amount of marketing they do (depending how confident they are with your game), and also they often market any game (even with small budget) regardless the development budget. For example he said when he was working on fear effect (square enix), the game got marketing at the same timing as final fantasy XV. So people people were expecting the same "quality / budget", and a lot were disappointed at last. I feel it's similar with Shenmue III where people were expecting a game with a higher budget.

There was also some words about how important it is to have a team in place before/when discussing with an editor. If you remember Cedric said the same things a few months ago, like now they have team and it would make sense to go on SIV quickly.


Anyway, Suzuki already speaking about Shenmue IV and his plans to fix what wasn't good seem very clear. I think it's now just a matter of time before they announce something.
Just my personal opinion, but I find it very good to be concerned about "opening" the game to non fans, that could mean more sales, increasing fan base, etc... do it!
 
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The series are at a point that I think we should be grateful simply for it going forward (if that happens). Even if it comes with map markers or loot boxes or the plot keeps being slim. It won't be ideal, but we will still get A LOT. It would be worth it for the music alone.
 
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Here's are some of the points mentioned from what I've gone through so far:

- With Shenmue 3 the focus was to make it for the fans, not on profits. If there's a Shenmue 4 Yu would like to make it a game that is appealing to both fans and newcomers but Yu emphasizes this would be done without losing the Shenmue feel.
- One idea is quest markers (these would only be added once you've got hold of the information through exploring)
- Another is to make fast travel / time skip more flexible e.g. sitting down allows you to wait.
- Throw moves will be brought back!
- Facial animations will be improved.
- Increase the number of NPCs walking around a town area.
- Potentially would look to focus on compact areas rather than an "open world"
- Story: would explain a lot of the unanswered mysteries that have come up to date, such as Shenhua's background.


Awesome! I look forward to the full interview @Switch. This interview just proves to me that Suzuki has always considered his fans! I really hope he can make a Shenmue IV with these improvements! Personally, I hope he can also recontexualize some of the missing content originally promised for Shenmue III. I really wanted to play the Three Kingdoms siege minigame or have the strategic depth promised for the combat.

It's just nice to hear some encouraging news for a change. Especially to finally have Suzuki break his silence. Now I can only hope for a Shenmue IV! Keep up the great work Switch!
 
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No it's not. Witcher 3, BotW, and Deus Ex all provide options to play without waypoints. If Suzuki wants to make the series less alienating then that should be encouraged as long as it's guided by smart design decisions. If he's just chasing trends in an attempt to make it more popular, that's different.

the google translation isn't ideal, but look at what IGN Japan says to Yu regarding the quest markers idea:

"In fact, in recent games, I often just pursue the quest marker without looking at the field."

That's the issue with all modern open world games.
That alone can already defeat the purpose of Shenmue and one of its unique traits.

Of course if it's just an option that can be disabled, no issue, more options is always better for everyone, fans and newcomers.
But reading the rest of the interview I'm a little worried, it seems clear that Shenmue 3 was made for the fans, but Shenmue 4 would try to chase current trends to be more in synch with current gamers.

I understand that YSNet is a business, but i want Shenmue to remain Shenmue, we already have tons of Open world clones that all do basically the same things, I could already play those if I want a generic OW experience...
 
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As a compromise: rather than check point markers, I'd hope streets are more clearly named/marked or having a better map (I know there's one in the journal, but I didn't find it that helpful). I'm thinking more along the lines of those occasional ones in the streets in 1/2. I never felt lost in 3, but maybe better direction could help people.

Otherwise, this interview has the right amount of optimism for me: the fact that he's considering changes shows he's got a real chance to make 4.
 

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Yes because marketing, production and show floor space comes free lol.

I was doing some reading and most indie projects tend to have a marketing budget of 20% the total budget so that's $4million minimum towards that.

Leaving what $16millon for the development, which is more than I thought but maybe I underestimate gaming development costs? No idea I'm not an expert.

Motion capture isn't cheap. 2 dubs isn't cheap. Studio hire on it's own is a tonne of money before you pay the actors etc. And that comes in at around $500 an hour for a main character. So that's $4000 a day for Corey, even if he did it for half that that's between $60k-$120k for him. Brianna I bet cost some money as did the others so I could easily see the English dub topping $1 million. Same for the JP so that's $2 million. Then you have to edit and master the damn thing. We used to master music tracks at about £30 a day you could easily rack a cost there.

I'd be shocked if more than $14 million went into the game itself. Including research, scripting, assets, licences, artwork, modelling.

Damn it adds up.
If we use your math and add this to the mix:

1588178651434.png

If we say that 72% of the 7 million raised with Kickstarter and Slacker Backer went towards development, that's slightly above 5 million. So another 2 million going towards rewards and crowdfunding fees. It does add up.
 
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For those (rightfully) worried about map markers
Suzuki : I don't want to give up on which one, but I want to cover both. I can see how it will improve, so I can incorporate the taste of the "Shenmu" series without breaking it. "
My interpretation of this googlenese is that the game would still be playable without markers. Maybe a toggle-off in the options menu like others have said.

Suzuki : There are various things, such as... making the user interface easier to understand. I would like to deliver a smoother experience to those who want to progress steadily around the story. If the volume is the same as that of "Shenmu III", we will be able to proceed at about 1.5 times the speed. "

Suzuki : I think that the current fashion of games is that the open world is a magic word and that all gorgeous games are heading towards it, but then it will be difficult to differentiate in the open world. I wonder if it's interesting to have a closed space instead of sticking to the open world. ”
Surprised this hasn't gotten more attention with how much many people here didn't like the menu UI. The second part sounds like he's considering the possibility of downsizing the "open world" element in an attempt to focus more on better, more fleshed out story telling which I know many of the detractors on here have been requesting.
 
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Surprised this hasn't gotten more attention with how much many people here didn't like the menu UI. The second part sounds like he's considering the possibility of downsizing the "open world" element in an attempt to focus more on better, more fleshed out story telling which I know many of the detractors on here have been requesting.
Honestly even though S3's UI is one of the worst I've seen in a modern game, Shenmue isn't really menu-oriented so I don't consider it super-high on the list of fixes, but I would imagine it would only be able to get better with iteration. I think Shenmue suits the minimalist, modern UIs of current games more than most because, even in 2000, Shenmue had almost no HUD, which was unheard of at the time. I always remember it looking really clean. S2 added the face buttons but I don't think it's needed anymore since we have contextual button prompts.

IMO Shenmue should be striving for Deus Ex's smaller, denser world design rather than something like Ubisoft's approach. Shenmue also lends itself to multiple play styles but I understand that's expensive to design for (imagine being able to choose whether to try to sneak into the Old Castle, or fight your way through, or find some other option involving talking to NPCs or whatever). Either way, looking forward to whatever the new focus is.
 

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Reading this has made me very happy. Obviously, there are still some stumbling blocks, but it's humbling to see Yu-san accept that things weren't perfect and I feel more energised that Shenmue IV will be a reality more than ever!

Can't wait for the translation!
 
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For those (rightfully) worried about map markers

My interpretation of this googlenese is that the game would still be playable without markers. Maybe a toggle-off in the options menu like others have said.
The sense I got was that he was potentially talking mostly about having a system that identifies landmarks, particular shops, and differentiates between main quests and story quests, but I didn't feel like he was suggesting that there would be a way to turn them off. Just that he would hope to implement them in a way that felt natural for Shenmue. Honestly, I'm trying to have faith, but I feel like these things could end up not really serving anyone.


Surprised this hasn't gotten more attention with how much many people here didn't like the menu UI. The second part sounds like he's considering the possibility of downsizing the "open world" element in an attempt to focus more on better, more fleshed out story telling which I know many of the detractors on here have been requesting.
He talks about this a fair amount in conjunction with having more narrow streets. He mentions having something the size of Niaowu, but with four times the density. He also mentions packing the streets with people, in fairly narrow environments, and having it still be easy to navigate, which is one of the technical challenges that excites him. I don't think it's about aiding the main story, at least. He talks about focusing more on side stories, and having chapters that play out like episodes of Otoko wa Tsuraiyo:

Basically, having an interesting, self contained chapter story, and focusing less on the overarching story.
 
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The sense I got was that he was potentially talking mostly about having a system that identifies landmarks, particular shops, and differentiates between main quests and story quests, but I didn't feel like he was suggesting that there would be a way to turn them off. Just that he would hope to implement them in a way that felt natural for Shenmue. Honestly, I'm trying to have faith, but I feel like these things could end up not really serving anyone.



He talks about this a fair amount in conjunction with having more narrow streets. He mentions having something the size of Niaowu, but with four times the density. He also mentions packing the streets with people, in fairly narrow environments, and having it still be easy to navigate, which is one of the technical challenges that excites him. I don't think it's about aiding the main story, at least. He talks about focusing more on side stories, and having chapters that play out like episodes of Otoko wa Tsuraiyo:

Basically, having an interesting, self contained chapter story, and focusing less on the overarching story.
This whole post had me feeling like Homer Simpson buying the cursed Krusty doll.

Basically, having an interesting, self contained chapter story, and focusing less on the overarching story.
First of all, how would it even be possible to be less focused on the overarching story than S3? But if this is true, don't even make the game, seriously. YS should just start a new franchise if he's only interested in challenging himself and trying new things, he should continue Shenmue only if he cares about concluding it. I'm assuming no one here wants to finish S4 and feel that they're no closer to the end of the story than S3.

He mentions Shenhua's backstory though and it needs to at least take place at the Cliff Temple, so there will be some overarching story.
 
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First of all, how would it even be possible to be less focused on the overarching story than S3? But if this is true, don't even make the game, seriously. YS should just start a new franchise if he's only interested in challenging himself and trying new things, he should continue Shenmue only if he cares about concluding it. I'm assuming no one here wants to finish S4 and feel that they're no closer to the end of the story than S3.

He mentions Shenhua's backstory though and it needs to at least take place at the Cliff Temple, so there will be some overarching story.
Well, what I mean is, he prefaces the talk about story with essentially cautioning not to get expectations up too much about the main story. He does say that he intends to talk about Shenhua's origins, and more about Ren's background, but that the focus would be more on subquests that develop the interpersonal relationships of the townspeople (kind of like Tora-san).

The fanbase is basically the only reason he's still making Shenmue, though. He says up front that he wants to keep working on concluding it as long as the fans still want it. He said pretty plainly, if the fans have reached a certain level of satisfaction with SIII, and the calls for a fourth game drop off, he's not as inclined to continue with it.


I hope this talk of a smaller world does not just mean "Shenmue: The Telltale game". I don't care how much I enjoy the series or story, if the option is to eschew the gameplay I will not support the release, I'll just watch it on YouTube.
I don't really think he's talking about a smaller world, just much more being packed into about the same amount of space.
 
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