Ys Net has released a special video interview with Shenmue series creator Yu Suzuki conducted by animation producer Hiroaki Takeuchi on the production of Shenmue III titled, “Then, Now, and Tomorrow.”
The official Shenmue III holiday 2017 greeting card was also released:
Get the video interview and transcript below.
Hiroaki Takeuchi: It’s my pleasure to be here today.
Yu Suzuki: And mine as well.
Hiroaki Takeuchi: It is a treat to sit down and have a talk with you.
Yu Suzuki: Thank you very much.
Hiroaki Takeuchi: Since that surprising announcement two and a half years ago, how have things gone overall during that time?
Yu Suzuki: Time sure has flown by. Putting the team together took quite an effort, but I feel the team we have now is a good one. The real fight starts here.
Hiroaki Takeuchi: I see. I’d like to hear your take on these past two years working on the game development and team staffing, and if anything has gone particularly well or rather not so well.
Yu Suzuki: Sure. Using Unreal Engine 4 has been a first for me, but it allowed for more conventional techniques than I expected, which in turn also brought with it completely new efficiencies. Along with those two points, it has allowed us to bring the graphics quality past what I had first envisioned.
Hiroaki Takeuchi: I have also been keeping a close eye on how the graphics look, and they get better every time I come to check. Do you feel they are fitting in more with what you had imagined?
Yu Suzuki: Yes, the graphics are certainly improved over what I had in mind. While there are of course things that would not compared to a triple-A title, they are better than what I had originally planned for and have started to come into their own.
Hiroaki Takeuchi: Very exciting.
Yu Suzuki: The thing that has been harder than expected for me has been using the engine as is. Because as someone who used to write everything from code, I want to see and touch what’s inside, but can’t.
Hiroaki Takeuchi: I can imagine. Having previously created games starting by writing the programs, you would have some of that here to a degree. And along those lines, what do you feel has represented the most challenge, or rather turned out well in terms of development?
Yu Suzuki: Well, one thing I do feel better about lately is Shenhua. You could say she is my life’s work, and along with her expressions for one, I know I must forever keep on making improvements. It is a work without end. Both Ryo and Shenhua. I think we are now at the point with Shenhua’s model that I can say it finally is something I can approve of. Now it is a matter of getting the expressions and movements right.
Hiroaki Takeuchi: As fans already know, Shenmue hosts a wide variety of characters. How does character development look? Will there be even more characters to pack in?
Yu Suzuki: That’s right. In December—well it’s already December—so this month it looks like we’ll really be upping the count. It will go up to around 100 characters. The character design studio Lakshya Digital is working with us now, and we are seeing some really great models. I know these characters will make an impact and leave an impression.
Hiroaki Takeuchi: Can we expect characters wthat we won’t be able to unsee? (Laughs.)
Yu Suzuki: I can say that. (Laughs.) They’ll have some personality, shall we say. Look forward to them. They’re fun just to look at.
Hiroaki Takeuchi: Is there anything that you want to work on the most? Is there any challenge you want to take up?
Yu Suzuki: Well… I want to do something a little different with the battles. When it comes to fighting, there are things that I want to make my own, so I was thinking to do things a bit different from last time. We have been running some tests. It is not a game like Virtua Fighter that is about the timing. So, I hope… it will take the form of a puzzle game that anyone can play, with strong emphasis on choreography.
Hiroaki Takeuchi: Well! Is that to mean you don’t have to rely as much on play skill? Do you picture then fights blended into cutscenes to some degree?
Yu Suzuki: They may be influenced by whether you pick up some item, and so on. Incorporating more puzzle-type elements. That’s what I would like to do. And QTEs, along with other things.
Hiroaki Takeuchi: Can’t forget the QTEs.
Yu Suzuki: It would be nice to do a different kind of QTE.
Hiroaki Takeuchi: So much to look forward to. Can we expect to see these features added soon?
Yu Suzuki: Don’t expect them too soon. (Laughs.)
Hiroaki Takeuchi: So, we talked about the characters before. The different facets of character development are coming together, but what is the progress on the character voicing?
Yu Suzuki: Ryo had been decided early on, but we couldn’t find a Shenhua. That is until very recently. We had a lot of auditions.
(*Concerning the Japanese voice actors: The English voice actors for the main characters have almost all been cast. Remaining casting and recording will continue next year.)
Hiroaki Takeuchi: Congratulations.
Yu Suzuki: It was just two days ago.
Hiroaki Takeuchi: That certainly is news!
Yu Suzuki: Yes, it is. Most of the other parts have been cast, and the voice acting auditions are almost finished.
Hiroaki Takeuchi: I see. Will we at last get to recording in 2018.
Yu Suzuki: That’s right. We will get at it starting in 2018.
Hiroaki Takeuchi: I think it is time to wrap it up, but lastly, would you like to say something to all of your backers?
Yu Suzuki: 2018 has been the year we breathed life into the Shenmue characters. Daily life is vital to Shenmue, and is a major theme throughout. The most important part of Shenmue is how the characters go about their casual lives. This year we set ourselves up to accomplish that. I want to thank you all again for your continued support.
Hiroaki Takeuchi: Indeed! We will keep our hopes up for everything ahead.
Yu Suzuki: Yes, please.
Hiroaki Takeuchi: Alright, then. Thank you for speaking with me today.
Yu Suzuki: And thank you.