Thread: Shenmue III
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Old 06-26-2015, 11:18 PM   #9
Nebby. Back into the bag.
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In the past week, there's been a lot of intrigue surrounding the Kickstarter.

Within hours of the Kickstarter's launch, there were several journalists who were skeptical about the feasibility of producing a Shenmue 3 that fans could be satisfied with on a shoestring budget of only $2 million. One of the most vocal was that one Forbes editor, who ended up penning several articles on the topic within the first 48 hours. (We'll get back to him in a second.) In the wake of these questions, the Kickstarter page was updated on June 17, announcing that it was true -- Shenmue III cannot be produced on $2 million alone. Ys Net had secured the promise of additional funding from secret backers, but due to contractual obligations could not reveal whose these backers were nor how much they were willing to fund the project.

As the word spread that Shenmue III wasn't being entirely financed by the fans, journalists like the Forbes guy began to sound the claxon -- "QUIT DONATING TO SHENMUE III! THEY'RE STEALING YOUR MONEY!" Without giving Suzuki any benefit of the doubt or calling him for questions, 21st century e-journalists decided that the likeliest situation of all was one where Sony had agreed to fund the entirety (or near entirety) of Shenmue III once Suzuki could prove that fan interest was there by at least hitting the meager goalpost of $2 million. (I say "meager" since $2 million, at $50 a game, only translates to 40,000 copies sold. Even Shenmue II sold more copies than that. ^^; )

Well, then Shenmue apologists took to YouTube and started excoriating these journalists for spreading false information and more or less gutting the Kickstarter of any and all momentum it had enjoyed in its opening days. They claimed that Shenmue III was being 100% funded by the fans on Kickstarter ... despite the fact that the Kickstarter page itself said that Ys Net was indeed receiving funds from other parties and that there was no way they could make a game on $2 million alone.

On June 24, the Kickstarter page was updated again. Now the identities of the secret sponsors had been revealed: Sony (shocker ) and Shibuya Productions (who? ). The update stressed that Sony and Shibuya's funding was only helping with non-developmental costs: costs related to production, marketing, and publishing. So basically, Sony (and this Shibuya group) are paying for the physical costs of the discs and digital download servers, the costs of advertising, etc, while the Kickstarter is meant to fund the development team's efforts on coding the game proper. So it's implied, anyway.

Excerpt from Budget Statement from Yu Suzuki

Ys Net and I have been putting in many long years trying to find a way to bring back a sequel that so many fans have waited so long for. After learning of Kickstarter, I knew it would be possible to get Shenmue 3 started. Wanting to make the best game possible, I also knew that I would have to look to more traditional means to obtain all the funds that would be needed to create the game I had envisioned.

I can say that with their assistance on the production and marketing end, and in Sony’s case with some publishing support as well, Ys Net is able to use more of the money we collect through Kickstarter purely for Shenmue 3’s development. It is also important to note that your funds are going strictly to Ys Net for development of Shenmue 3 – Sony and Shibuya Productions are not seeing a cent of your Kickstarter dollars.

- Yu Suzuki
Tonight, Suzuki entertained fans with yet another interview -- this time on A transcript follows courtesy of an anonymous commenter on the Kickstarter page:

For those who missed the Twitch stream, a very rough transcript I made on the fly:

"We have lots of very important things to get to so let's start right away!"

*They all pause to drink some Fanta*

Q: "One more time, explain Sony's role in Shenmue 3."

A: "Sony's providing us comprehensive support in terms of publishing and marketing, as well as funding of the project partially."

*Stream goes down due to technical issues*

Q: Once again they ask about Sony's role

A:"Sony is providing us comprehensive support in marketing, promotion, and funding. They are one of the most important partners of this project. But as we said before in our statement ... they are not receiving one cent from the Kickstarter... the funds collected in the KIckstarter project will be all used for development except for the fees used for the Kickstarter and for providing the Kickstarter rewards. Not a single cent will go to Sony from the Kickstarter funds."

Q: PS4 physical reward ?

A: "It's one of the most requested rewards and I personally want to prepare for it as a reward. We are now considering how we can provide the reward in such a way that satisfies the backers. Please be patient."

Q: Before you were talking about how the funds will be spent. Can you explain more?

A: "We have a pie chart for how the funds from Kickstarter will be spent. KS
Fees: 8 - 10 % Game development: 65 to 72% Backer rewards: 20 - 25% Most of the kickstarter funds are going to the game development. Everything excluding necessary fees and the reward fulfilment.. everything's gonna be used for development."

Q: "Will the real Ryo please stand up?"

A: "We're still improving the qualities of Ryo's face. Not satisfied with the face Ryo has right now. Today we have the latest version, a new pic or Ryo's face. (They show a pic) This new pic we're not satisfied with. Ryo still looks kind of 'frowny.' So I want to continue the improvement. I want to enhance Ryo's attactiveness and personality through not only the models but through the facial expressions and actions he does to make Ryo even better. So we are going to see an improved Ryo in the future. He'll be much better through the process of development."

Q: "Another big issue. Voice actors coming back to reprise their roles. Specifically Ryo. Will we be seeing them again?"

A: "So, I think that the original voice actors will be the best match for Ryo's voice. So I want them to come back as his real voice in shenmue 3 as well. I'm now in negotiation with them. Please wait. We'll have more details about that."

Q: "Will PayPal be an option to help fund Shenmue 3?"

A: "No definite answer, but we're looking into it."

Q: "Is Shenmue 3 going to be DRM free on PC?"

A: "We are now looking into it, but it's not something I alone can decide on. I'm talking to other parties to decide if that's possible... we're looking into it."

Q: "Shenmue 1/Shenmue II HD remaster: are we gonna see it?"

A: "I personally want to see them so that the fans can enjoy Shenmue 3 more. However the property rights belong to SEGA, so I'm not in a position to comment on it. But I want it, so I will talk to SEGA if that's possible."

Q: "More rewards?"

A: "Today we will have additional rewards. First of all we have the grab bags. A lot of surprises in different prize tears, starting from 1,000 dollars to 500 dollars. It contains Shenmue merchandise, and it is random, so you have fun in opening the bag. And also we'll have one more reward, that is the replica of Ryo's watch. There is only one. This will be in the 5,000 reward tier. *They show the watch*

Q: "What are the other rewards going to be like?"

A: "The grab bags will include for example special figures of Ryo. There are also Shenmue watches. (Not the one just shown.) They also include autographed art work. Check out the page later. The rewards will be up. Check it out! For today we have grab bags and watches but in the future we'll have more additional rewards so please stay tuned to the kickstarter page!"

Q: "Stretch goals... stretch goals... stretch goals. Can we get a little bit of explanation please, about the stretch goals."

A: "The budget we have right now, it's Shenmue with story elements. It will be Shenmue 3 up until the duel against the four big bosses. But with additional stretch goals, more areas are going to be added and expanded.

The Rapport system is the system that governs the changes in characters' attitudes toward you, depending upon actions you take in conversations. It will provide a new twist to Shenmue.

In Shenmue 3 there'll be a lot of occasions when you can obtain technique scrolls through special events, jobs, missions, etc. They can be used in battle right away as a QTE. However the advanced skill scrolls and arcane skill scrolls are managed in a tree diagram. Completing that tree will be another side of fun, and it links to the actual martial art learning.

Q: "More on stretch goals"

A: "With the area Baisha, we want to include new fun not included in Shenmue 2. Traditional tactics such as seige and infiltration that we see in warring kingdoms in traditional China are also added. But I want to make it Shenmue-like, easy to grasp, easy to play, and provide more fun.

There's an opportunity for the players to play as different characters. In that event you'll see different choices that different personalities offer, different from Ryo and other characters. That will provide more fun and more personality to the characters.

So there's a lot more stretch goals we published, but there will be a large amount of explanations and a large amount of fun still to come, so we'll leave it to other occasions to explain the other stretch goals.

Your cooperation is what makes this Kickstarter progress, so please support us!

Q: "How will Shenmue 3 at its current funding level be different from Shenmue 3 at the 10 million dollar level?"

A: "The current funding level - about 3.6 million - will have story oriented Shenmue. More focus on story. Exceeding 5 million will allow the development to include more things that are new, such as we explained about Baisha. Exceeding 10 million will allow for the players to enjoy a more open world like Shenmue."

Q: "When is Shenmue 3 going to be released?"

A: "It's expected to be released by the end of 2017. We're confident."

Q: "Is this the end of the story?"

A: "The initial storyline contained 11 chapters. With 1 & 2 it advanced to only a little bit of the 11 chapters. I considered doing the final game to include all the remaining chapters, but in the final consideration it would be skipping all the big arcs, and the completeness of the game would be less enjoyable. So this Shenmue 3 will have more storylines, but this structure will not finish the storyline with Shenmue 3."

Q: "When can we play the trial version?"

A: "It requires many of the basic systems to be developed. The release date of the demo version will be the latter half of the development stage. It might be after the new year of 2017. Until then it requires more development for the basics."


Please keep sending us your questions. We want to make Shenmue 3 the best we can. Please share the project. Get the word out. Let everybody know that Shenmue 3 is happening, and we need everybody to support and make sure that we make this Shenmue 3 spectacular."

Q: "Final thoughts?"

A: "I always want to do new things. I hope to achieve all the things I want to do in the new Shenmue, matching with what the Shenmue the fans want, to meet the ten million dollar goal. We ask your continued support, and that you spread the word around to make Shenmue a real thing! Thank-you very much!"

"Let's make this happen! Everybody has been so great the past fourteen years. Making it happen. It's happening now. #SaveShenmue! Let's do this! Thank-you!"
Finally, the stretch goals. As you can see from the stuff noted above, it sounds like the "stretch goals" aren't really stretch goals so much as they are the difference between this game being barebones and this game being akin to Shenmue 1. If fans like myself simply want fun fighting and good story -- and I do -- then Suzuki promises we're already going to get that with the funding provided. However, in order for Shenmue III to offer GTA4-level graphics (never mind 5) while at the same time allowing us to investigate eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevery desk drawer and closet, it sounds like we're going to need to donate $10 million to the Kickstarter fund.

Which brings us full circle back to the original cynicism posed by the e-journalists: is Suzuki trying to pull a fast one over on longtime fans? Or is cynicism blinding us to the truth and poisoning our one chance to get the Shenmue III we've all been dreaming of for fourteen years?

As of this writing, the Kickstarter fund sits at $3,705,255. It is still growing, but barely: while it reached $3 million within the first few days of its life, it has languished in between the $3 and $4 million marks for almost an entire week now. At the current rate, the Kickstarter will not reach $5 million before July 17, never mind $10 million. If Suzuki truly does need every penny from the fans in order to fund this game, then it seems like two things ultimately poisoned this Kickstarter: 1) stupid journalists and 2) Ys Net setting the bar way, way too low at $2 million. Let this be a lesson, I guess, to any other Yu Suzukis out there. Don't set the bar so goddamn low next time and give would-be donors a sense of safety, a sense of "I don't need to donate to this Kickstarter because it's already good." If the bar had been set at $5 million, I'm fairly certain we'd be looking at $6,705,255 right now instead of its $3 million counterpart.

Me? I have yet to donate. But I have set the money aside on one of my credit cards already, ready to charge once I get off my lazy butt and register an account with Kickstarter. I'm a little apprehensive about this, but I trust Yu Suzuki with my hard-earned money. He has always seemed like such a great, genuine guy and he's given me one of my favorite experiences of all time. I look forward to owning the collector's edition on PC.

As for you, I hope that you'll donate if you haven't already. It would be a shame if the e-journalists cried wolf and caused this game to look like a PS2-era piece of shit and all because Suzuki only had $4 million to work with. I'm really, really hoping that he can make this game what it has always been -- GTA's older, better brother. But to match Rockstar's graphics, Suzuki is likely going to require Rockstar's budget. And that ain't cheap. If it's true that Sony is only footing the costs of advertising and publishing, then Ys Net is going to need every penny it can get from the fans if they don't want this game to be an embarrassment.
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