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Old 06-16-2015, 06:36 AM   #1
Talon87
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Shenmue III


Two hours ago, Yu Suzuki & team launched the Kickstarter for Shenmue 3. Seeking a whopping $2,000,000 in funding, the project has already been funded -- $2,000,000 inside of 2 hours! -- and still has about a month to go before the Kickstarter funding phase ends on July 17, 2015.

The game is to be released on both PC and PS4. Thus the burning question inside of every fan's heart: "which version do I go for?" I plan to be doing a lot of research into this matter over the next few weeks. I'll be sure to keep you guys posted.

Some of you are so young you weren't even in kindergarten by the time Shenmue 2 saw its North American release fourteen years ago. You may be asking yourselves what all the fuss is about, why you should care about this game, etc. For you, I have kindly provided the short versions and the long versions!
The short version: Shenmue and Shenmue II articles on Wikipedia

The long version: Shenmue longplay and Shenmue II longplay
The series is much beloved for its (then) revolutionary graphics, remarkable cinematic score, and above all else its truly epic plot, a rich story featuring a steel-strong cast of main and supporting characters. It was one of the earliest games in what would later become known as "sandbox games," games which allow the player to fully explore an actual city block, right down to desk drawers and refrigerators inside of random apartments. It combined elements of RPGs, adventure games, and even fighting games. You played as Ryo Hazuki, the son of a karate dojo sensei from the port city of Yokosuka, Japan, and in your quest for vengeance you would often find yourself involved in brawls with thugs and members of organized crime. So imagine playing GTA4 ... and Virtua Fighter at the same time. It was kind of like that. But then toss in the RPG element of, "Certain button combos won't do anything special at first. But once you find a scroll in-game that teaches Ryo the move, the button combo will from now on activate an awesome special move." It was amazing.

Now's our chance to be a part of history, and relive the magic once more. Help fund Shenmue 3! Let's help Suzuki-sensei make it the best possible game it can be!
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Old 06-16-2015, 05:03 PM   #2
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Well, you're a little off - the kickstarter was actually launched last night during Sony's E3 conference and it crashed the Kickstarter website, but being funded $2M in just 12 hours is still a monumental feat. The announcement was totally out of left field, I don't think anyone saw it coming, much less immediately following the announcement there was going to be a FFVII remake, which was announced just after The Lastr Guardian, no less. Some people couldn't handle the announcement even on live stream.

My only issue with it was that Sony offered to give them the announcement but they were essentially asking fans to foot the bill, almost like saying to the developer "we don't feel comfortable enough funding this ourselves because we don't trust it will sell", though being a PS4 and PC exclusive I imagine Sony will probably invest into it somewhat especially after seeing the mind blowing Kickstarter funding.
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Old 06-16-2015, 05:33 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deoxys View Post
Well, you're a little off - the kickstarter was actually launched last night during Sony's E3 conference and it crashed the Kickstarter website, but being funded $2M in just 12 hours is still a monumental feat. The announcement was totally out of left field, I don't think anyone saw it coming, much less immediately following the announcement there was going to be a FFVII remake, which was announced just after The Lastr Guardian, no less. Some people couldn't handle the announcement even on live stream.
Yeah, found this out via Twitter readings at lunch. It's okay, I can edit the OP post later. That stated, I did read that:
  1. they reached $1,000,000 in funding in 1 hour 40 minutes
  2. this record has only been beaten once in the entire history of Kickstarter, i.e. Shenmue III is the second-fastest Kickstarter to ever reach $1,000,000 as of this writing
So yeah. While it may have taken about nine hours to reach $2,000,000, it's still one of the fastest fundings of this scale in the history of the site.

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My only issue with it was that Sony offered to give them the announcement but they were essentially asking fans to foot the bill, almost like saying to the developer "we don't feel comfortable enough funding this ourselves because we don't trust it will sell", though being a PS4 and PC exclusive I imagine Sony will probably invest into it somewhat especially after seeing the mind blowing Kickstarter funding.
Sony honestly "screwed the pooch" [/overly dramatic] on this one by not committing to physical PS4 copies on the Kickstarter page. They probably will try to now in the next few days, but it'll create a clusterfuck of canceled and resubmitted Kickstarter orders if they do, I reckon. Speaking for myself, a big reason I am leaning towards the $60 and $100 packages is that I want a physical copy of the game and the cheapest way to get one, these two offers, comes with the option of a physical PC game but no such physical PS4 game. "You can have a digital PS4 or PC copy for $30," says Sony, "or you can have physical PC for $60, or you can have physical PC + stuff for $100, or you can have digital PS4 + stuff for $100." No physical PS4 options period. Reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaally stupid. Pushes me towards PC copy ownership + getting a new computer for $800+ instead of PS4 copy ownership + getting a new PS4 for $399.99. Oh well. Sony's loss! ^^;

But yeah, "screwed the pooch" is far too dramatic, I think. There'll be tons of people who hear about the hype from the Internet, already own a PS4, and will flock to the retail stores like Best Buy on launch day to get a physical copy of the game.

I haven't kickfunded it yet but only because:
  1. I have faith that they won't pull the rug out from under me by closing funding in the next few weeks; I trust that they will allow me to still get the $100 pledge or at least the $60 pledge, both of which currently offer unlimited slots, so long as I do so prior to July 17
  2. I am wanting to give this a few days just to see what fellow fans in the fandom have to say about PC version vs. PS4 version prospects
Personally, I'd rather play it on a console ... but I think the PC version is the smarter purchase. More open to patches and other support, more amenable to fan mods (if I so desire), and above all else more likely to be timelessly accessible (vs. the PS4 version being dead after we hit PS6 two gens from now). That's a big thing with my XBox copy of Shenmue II -- it's sure as hell not supported on XBox One, or even if it is, that means I'd have to buy an XBone just to play it still (since I have no XBox anymore). Whereas if my Shenmue II copy had been a PC copy for, say, Windows 2000/ME/XP? Then I'd still be able to play it today. And "forever and ever."
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Old 06-16-2015, 05:47 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deoxys View Post
My only issue with it was that Sony offered to give them the announcement but they were essentially asking fans to foot the bill, almost like saying to the developer "we don't feel comfortable enough funding this ourselves because we don't trust it will sell", though being a PS4 and PC exclusive I imagine Sony will probably invest into it somewhat especially after seeing the mind blowing Kickstarter funding.
The kickstarter was used as an expression of interest from the fans and if they were able to fund the $2 million through kickstarter, Sony was going to fund the rest of the money (Which would be a lot more than 2 million).
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Old 06-16-2015, 06:27 PM   #5
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The kickstarter was used as an expression of interest from the fans and if they were able to fund the $2 million through kickstarter, Sony was going to fund the rest of the money (Which would be a lot more than 2 million).
That's comforting. Because let's be honest: I love Yū-sensei to pieces, but those character designs have got to be polished up before 2017. ^^; C'mon, Sony. Ryo doesn't even look like himself anymore! ^^;;;;; Shenhua's not too swell either, but Ryo really stands out like a sore thumb. Here's hoping that Sony throwing money at the project will translate to the talented character designer(s) being able to give more attention to nailing the character models in a "your expectations from 1 and 2 meet with our modern expectations of how game characters should look on a cutting-edge console" kind of way. See: the jump from DOA4 to DOA5 for an example of what I'm talking about. No one Hardly anyone hates how DOA5 Kasumi or Ayane look. They look great, even if they don't look as "anime-ey" as they did on older consoles. The same can be done for Ryo and Shenhua as well: preserving their "sameness" of facial features while somehow translating them from the more cartoon-ey look on the DreamCast to a more real-life look on the PS4 and PC.

This Forbes guy raises concerns that Suzuki can't produce the Shenmue game fans want on a budget of only $2,000,000 when the original Shenmue cost between $49 million and $70 million to produce. He seems very confident that, behind the scenes, Sony and Suzuki have reached an agreement where Sony will fund the production of Shenmue III provided the Kickstarter succeeds. Given that the Kickstarter succeeded in under half a day (of 31 allotted), it's likely that if what the Forbes guy thinks is true really has happened, then Sony will surely offer Suzuki the funding he needs to make Shenmue III an instant classic for the PS4.

... Which brings us full circle, I suppose, to whether it's better to own Shenmue III for PC or for PS4. Will Sony, after having invested so heavily in Shenmue III's success (if Forbes Guy is right), really be so willing to see all of the love settle down on the PC version and to watch as the PS4 version gathers dust just as its predecessors did? There's no way that Sony is willing to allow themselves to become the next Sega. So what, then, will they do to ensure that that doesn't happen? Only time will tell, I suppose.
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Old 06-16-2015, 07:35 PM   #6
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So yeah, PikaGod was right, Sony have come out and said they're funding part if it now after the success of the Kickstarter...

Talon, you're 100% right in being unsure of which system to go with. I personally think your argument about having the lasting longevity of having the PC version with guaranteed "backwards compatibility" so to speak for a much longer time than PS4 will most likely be offered way down the road from now - so eventually in 20 or 30 years, one would hope, being able to play your original Kickstarter edition of Shenmue 3 will be covered by your physical copy and likely tie to a Steam account (I would imagine) means you won't have to worry about not having a "digital only version" - not to mention even if it were supported on a future PlayStation system, you'd probably have to buy it all over again (though who knows if the future will phase out such archaic practices or not).

If you see yourself playing some games in the future so long as they aren't console exclusive, I'd say go for the PC. For just 1.5x the price of a PS4 you can pretty easily build system that will run games better than a console can, though you'll be losing the comfort level a console has in portability. Other than that the security of never worrying about backwards compatibility or not is great, and upgrading your system comes in bits in pieces every few years instead of one large purchase at a time every 5-8 years. Of course you already know this, but it's nice to get the pros and cons out in the open for consideration.

Perhaps they will offer stretch goals of a physical edition for the PS4 though some point soon, it wouldn't surprise me.
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Old 06-16-2015, 10:06 PM   #7
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2 of my gaming dreaming came true yesterday an this is one of 'em! Looooooved the Shenmue games since forever! I reallllly hope this is a continuation and not a hastily forced together conclusion! These games are super special an not like any other, so we need more of 'em! I wanna explore much much more of the Shenmue world!

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Perhaps they will offer stretch goals of a physical edition for the PS4 though some point soon, it wouldn't surprise me.
I'm sure hoping so cause having to save for both a PS4 and a PC would totally kill me x_x
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Old 06-20-2015, 05:17 PM   #8
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Wonderful AMA with Yu Suzuki.

Still haven't donated but probably will soon. Going to go for the physical PC copy of the game. I'm not big into PC gaming but it's simply undeniable that the possibilities with PC gaming are far more robust than they are for console. (One example that someone in the AMA brings up is the use of VR goggles to explore the world of Shenmue III. Fans can make it happen on PC whether Yu does or doesn't, but on PS4 fans will be at the mercy of Team Ys Net's whims.)

A lot of people, including that Forbes guy, are clamoring for fans to quit donating to this kickstarter because they see it as a scam given Sony's now well-publicized involvement in funding Shenmue III. But what I don't think these people realize is, $60 that nets you a pre-ordered copy of the game, possibly with limited/collector's edition box art, is no scam at all to Shenmue fans. Why not pre-order two years in advance if it means funding development on the game? This thing is too big to fail to be completed. (Fail to satisfy, maybe, easily. But fail to even give us a finished product in some form, hell no.) I'm not scared I'll never see my money again on this investment and I don't think anyone else needs to be scared either.

Suzuki-sensei says some things in the AMA that really make me go all "". I'm most excited about:

Spoiler: show
Spoiler for the very, very end of Shenmue II:

Spoiler: show
the hinted-at possibility that the evolution of Ryo's martial arts style may involve the incorporation of Chinese swordsmanship. Oh hell yeah!
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Old 06-26-2015, 11:18 PM   #9
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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.

Quote:
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 Twitch.tv. A transcript follows courtesy of an anonymous commenter on the Kickstarter page:

Quote:
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."

(Inaudible)

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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Old 06-27-2015, 07:26 AM   #10
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E-journalists are a fucking plague to honest game devs anyway. I would also never listen to anything Forbes spews: they're funded by crooks and thus would be considered propaganda.
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Old 07-01-2015, 12:34 AM   #11
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Byeeeeeeee, space sword money that was to have been put towards UPN 2016 meetup funds.

But YAY, SHENMUE III!
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Old 07-03-2015, 11:56 AM   #12
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Fourteen days remain until the Shenmue III Kickstarter comes to a close. We're currently standing at $3.8 million. This is enough to get the game made, but if Ys Net & Co. is to be believed about Sony not offering the development team a dime for development costs, then it is a far, far cry from the amount of money necessary to make Shenmue III as good for 2017 as Shenmue I was for 1999. (For comparison, development costs for The Witcher 3 alone were $32 million. :\ So asking for $10 million is like nothing. And we only have $3.8 million right now. orz. :'D)

There's good news though! Ys Net finally persuaded Sony to allow for a physical PS4 collector's edition game as one of the $60 donation options. (The $100 donation tier has not yet been revised, which in turn impacts higher donation tiers, but it's assumed that it will be updated shortly.) At the time I started to write this post, the physical PS4 option had over 100 donors. Now, it has over 247. About $6,000 in literally just a few minutes. Hopefully this provides just the steam necessary to convert most of the $30 donation tier donors ($30 got you a DDL for PS4 or PC) into $60 donation tier donors. If it can convert even 10,000 of them -- there are 27,536 of them currently -- into $60 donors, that'd be a net gain of $30 x 10,000 or $300,000. Still not enough to get us to $10 million, obviously ^^; , but a nice step in the right direction. Would push us over the $4 million hump and make it that much more likely that we'll reach $5 million before the end of the Kickstarter. Wow, just refreshed and it's now 347 backers for the PS4 physical, while the PS4 digital ($30) keeps on dropping. It's happening! ron_paul.gif EDIT: Was 347 when I finished this paragraph. On submitting the post, now it's 590 donors for the PS4 physical copy! \o/ Keep those conversions comin'!

I made a language post about the Four Wude in the Japanese language thread earlier today. If you're a Shenmue fan with a passing interest in etymology, or maybe you just want to know a little bit more about the Four Wude, I'd encourage you to check it out!

Today has apparently been scheduled as an international #saveshenmue day on Twitter by Yu Suzuki and long-time fans over at Shenmue Dojo. You can also ask Yu Suzuki questions directly via Twitter today by simply including the hashtag #YouaskYu in your tweets.
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Old 07-03-2015, 01:23 PM   #13
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Oh my godddd

I can't believe this is actually a thing

Shenmue 2 was amazing and I seriously did not expect a 3 any time soon, or ever really, but just so much yestoo bad I don't have a PS4 but PC releases yay
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Old 07-03-2015, 01:41 PM   #14
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From Suzuki-sensei's Twitter. 「シェンファインプルーブ計画」 he writes, or "The Improve Shenhua Plan." The image is photoshopped, not rendered in-engine, as you can appreciate from the mannequin's Amish face on the far right. But if they can get the character model to look like this, then this is a massive improvement over the Shenhua seen in the original Shenmue III trailer (seen on the left).

Quote:
Originally Posted by dirkac View Post
Oh my godddd

I can't believe this is actually a thing

Shenmue 2 was amazing and I seriously did not expect a 3 any time soon, or ever really, but just so much yestoo bad I don't have a PS4 but PC releases yay
:O

I can't believe some regulars on UPN still don't know! Yeah, this happened at E3, man! Yu Suzuki announced his plans to fund Shenmue III via Kickstarter and the rest is history in the making! If you haven't donated yet, I think you should definitely check out the Kickstarter. They have a lot of great deals for long-time Shenmue fans, including $30 for a digital download (PC or PS4), $60 for a physical copy in a collector's edition box (PC or PS4), $100 to get your name in the credits, $250 for extra goodies and a physical copy of the OST, and more.

And in other news ...

We just broke $4 million!

At the time of this writing, 47,828 backers have put forward $4,001,383 to make Shenmue III a reality.
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Old 07-04-2015, 07:20 AM   #15
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Yesterday was #YouaskYu Day on Twitter, with Yu Suzuki answering questions around 7pm PDT on Twitter. Some of the Q&As:

Q: Can you please explain why there are two different statements about how many chapters (11 / 16) Shenmue has?
A: It is 11 chapters, but with branched story line, it will be more than 11
Shenmue 1 was Chapter 1. Shenmue 2 was Chapters 3, 4, 5, and possibly 6.
Q: Is there any chance we can carry on Pledging after the Kickstarter date has closed?
A: Thanks for the question, we will look into it.
This will prove important if Shenmue 3 is to be saved from a fate of mediocrity caused by too little donation money. (See below.)
Q: At $5 million, exactly HOW open world will Shenmue 3 be, compared to Shenmue 1/2?
A: I'm expecting something similar to Dobuita in terms of scale.
That one's particularly disappointing. :\ Dobuita is one district of Yokosuka, and Yokosuka was the only city in Shenmue 1. Shenmue 2, on the other hand, boasted three different cities, two of which dwarfed Yokosuka in scale. To hear that $5 million will only give us a fraction of one past city is very disappointing. It also indicates that the journalists have gutted what chance we had for a great trequel by scaring away potential investors. Goddammit.

EDIT: Wait! Maybe I misunderstood. Perhaps he simply means how many things you could do in Dobuita, and in that sense how open world it is. Perhaps he means nothing about the geographic scale. If that's the case, then disregard what I just said!
Q: Now that we know Shenmue 3 will not end the Story, do you have a backup plan if it won´t succeed to tell the end?
A: Gonna have to find a successor I think.
I don't understand what he means. Find a successor developer to develop the tale in his stead? Unlikely. Find a successor franchise to get emotionally attached to? Depressing. (Why do you refuse to novelize the story should it come to that!?) Hmm.
Q: Would love to hear Mandarin voice acting alongside Japanese in #Shenmue3, could we make it stretch goal?
A: Thank you, it is under consideration.
This would be fantastic. But to be perfectly honest, Cantonese would be better given the setting. If the Kickstarter offered Cantonese voice acting for Shenhua & Co. and if it offered a Japanese man speaking in Cantonese as a second language for Ryo, that would be perfect.
Q: Will u research latest tech in AI so u can include it in shenmue 3 to make it a pioneering game like its predecessors?
A: Yes. I would like to take on some new challenge in terms of technology.
Hmm ... :o
Q: Can we expect epic fights like in Kowloon in Shenmue 2 and a similar battle fight system?
A: There is "Battle System Expanded" Stretch Goal. It will enhance the battles, better than Shenmue 2
Good. Because to be perfectly honest, the fighting engine was regrettably never one of Shenmue's stronger points. And it ought to be, given fighting's prominent role in the story.
Q: Where did Ryo got his band aid?
A: It didn't appear in Chp.1, but there was a martial arts event. The scar is from the final match
:o

That's all for now 'cause I gotta get going. I'll share more Q&As later probably, but until then you can read them all yourself by checking out Yu Suzuki's Twitter account, @yu_suzuki_jp, and scanning the tweets from around 7pm PDT.

Last edited by Talon87; 07-04-2015 at 07:25 AM.
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Old 07-05-2015, 03:30 PM   #16
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I'm super happy over the physical PS4 version. Now I don't gotta save for a new PC!

In a world where Mighty No.9, Bit.Trip, Journey, BttF, TWD, Shovel Knight, Ducktales, and so many other originally digital-only games get retail releases on consoles, it was worrying ta think SHENFREAKINGMUE might not! An also INSANE seeing people defending why it couldn't/shouldn't @[email protected]
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Old 07-06-2015, 04:34 PM   #17
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Alright, so, the Kickstarter mailed out a newsletter today that contains all of the Q&As from Twitter ... in both English and Japanese. This is delightfully helpful as it allows us to see Yuu's answers as he truly intended them. Jumping straight ahead to that Dobuita Q&A ...

Quote:
Q3. シェンムー1とシェンムー2と比べて、シェンムー3は500万ドルの支援額だと「どのくらい」オープンワー ルドになりますか?
A. シェンムー1のドブ板くらいのものが作れると良いなと思います。
Note that the question was put to Yuu in Japanese as, "Compared with Shenmue 1 and Shenmue 2, how open world can Shenmue 3 be on a donation budget of $5 million?" They specifically ask him "how [much] open world" it can be, no "scope" or "scale" or other vague adjectives in sight. So Yuu answers! "I think it'd be nice if I could make something about as [open world] as Shenmue 1's Dobuita." He's specifically talking about the scope of what all the player can do in the world on a building-by-building basis, not the geographic size of the game world. He isn't saying "$5 million will get you a street," thank God, he's saying, "$5 million will get you three villages whose level of interactivity is comparable with Shenmue 1's Dobuita." I'll take it!
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Old 07-06-2015, 06:00 PM   #18
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Quote:
@sensonishikie: I always wondered how ryo , being Japanese, could communicate so easy in China. Can ryo speak Chinese?

Yu Suzuki: Let’s not go there…
This was my favorite of the QA session! Game logic!

Quote:
http://www.ign.com/articles/2015/07/...s?utm_campaign

With regard to all Kickstarter projects, Shenmue III currently stands as the 10th most funded campaign.
Take that!
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Old 07-06-2015, 06:34 PM   #19
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That one actually annoyed me. ^^; I feel like there are really easy, really classy ways of addressing this specific to Shenmue:
  1. You could argue that since China is the home of the world's greatest martial artists that any martial artist worth his salt will learn Chinese and go to train in China. Iwao appears to have done this in his own youth. It's entirely conceivable that he would have taught Ryo some basic Chinese and/or that he would've encouraged Ryo to enroll in Chinese courses in middle school and high school. (It could easily be argued that Chinese would be more beneficial as a second language to the head of a karate dojo in Yokosuka than would English!)

    The analogy I would use here is, it's similar to how physicists, chemists, and other scientists in the early 20th century would study German. 50% of all scientific literature was coming out of Germany at the time, and all of the world's greatest minds in physics and chemistry at the time were either based out of German-speaking nations like Prussia and Austria or else were educated in German like the French. Similarly, it makes sense for a martial artist in the 1980s to pick up Chinese. No one's writing anything particularly profound in English! But you've got people like Yuanda Zhu writing the Wulinshu. And you've got thousands of years' worth of ancient Chinese scrolls and texts on the subject.
  2. You could argue that Ryo's mother is Chinese. We have never met Ryo's mother, and iirc she hasn't even been revealed yet. Is she living or dead? If dead, how did she die? Is she Japanese, Chinese, or other? As far as I know, none of these questions have been answered yet. She has been revealed to have died when Ryo was three years old, my mistake. Been a long time since I've revisited Shenmue 1. Anyway: why not have her be Chinese!? It would make sense in a way: if Iwao met Ryo's mother while he was studying in China, as frequently happens with students studying abroad, it'd make sense for her to be Chinese. And then it'd make sense that Ryo might've learned Chinese either:
    1. directly from his mother, if alive well we can cross this one off the list now
    2. from his father who wanted to honor Ryo's deceased mother and teach their son both of his parents' native tongues
    Back to the topic of Iwao having had intimate relations with a Chinese woman, it could even shed some light on what happened between Iwao and Sunming Zhao. We still don't know what led to their duel. While I'm perfectly okay with it not having anything to do with a woman, and have never even clung to such a theory all these years I've been a Shenmue fan, I'm just putting forward that it would still technically be a viable theory at this juncture. It's also possible that she ties in less directly, e.g. what led to their duel was a difference in ideologies but as a consequence of this Ryo's mother made clear her loyalty to Iwao. Who knows.
Personally I've always just assumed it was 1. I'm comfortable with 2 though as well. Either of these could explain away the "plot hole" that Suzuki seems to be embarrassed by. It doesn't have to be a plot hole, Sensei!
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Old 07-06-2015, 06:55 PM   #20
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It don't bother me here just like it don't bother me in anime/anything else where everyone just happens ta speak the same language/understand one another. Besides what if China isn't Ryo's last stop? Should we expect him to know indian, korean, etc. too?
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Old 07-07-2015, 02:28 PM   #21
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The Kickstarter updated today with two new reward tiers.

At the $80 level, you gain access to an in-game international phone card which will allow Ryo to place phone calls to select characters. (Listed in spoiler box because possibly a spoiler about who will and won't make a return appearance in Shenmue 3.)

Spoiler: show
Joy, Guizhang, Ine-san, Fuku-san, and Nozomi. Of these, the last three were obvious no-shows. Joy's a mild surprise but I'm perfectly fine with her sitting this one out since she's a princess of Hong Kong and has no place in the Chinese countryside.

Guizhang is disappointing in the sense that we wanted to see him in action again but I'm actually quite pleased with Suzuki-sensei's thinking: Guizhang's leg was crushed beneath an I-beam at the end of Shenmue, so it's perfectly reasonable to expect his recovery time to be on the order of 6 months to a year. And since Ryo arrived in Aberdeen in the last week of February 1987, it's reasonable to think that canonically Guizhang's leg was broken one to four weeks earlier. Let's put it as far in the past as possible and say his leg was broken in January 1987: we know that Shenmue 2 doesn't end until around April 1987, so that means that Guizhang's only had three months to heal. That isn't nearly enough time for a broken bone to heal -- not one that was caught beneath an I-beam, anyway, and not in 1987. I think Guizhang's a strong contender for a late-game showing in Shenmue 3, but even if he doesn't show up this game, it's okay: he's all but guaranteed to show up in Shenmue 4 and his leg should be in tip top shape.

At the $800 level, Yu Suzuki will ask you for your name and will transcribe it into Chinese characters as necessary. He will then feature your Chinese-ified name at one of the temples in Choubu Village.

Spoiler tagging the rest. No spoilers.

Spoiler: show
There's a shitstorm right now in the KS comments section. (Although really -- who takes KS comments sections seriously? I've been following the Shenmue one off and on these past few weeks and it is utterly wrecked by idiots and trolls.) The complaint is that the $80 reward tier is locking behind a paywall -- and a one-time paywall, at that -- something that 99.99% of Shenmue players would love to have access to. It's not quite the same thing as "win Ryo's watch," "win a dinner with Yu Suzuki," or "get your photograph on one of the Lucky Hit boards." And judging by the reactions many angry fans are giving, it's not even the same as the similar "be able to change the jacket that Ryo wears in-game" reward. That one is purely cosmetic, and it seems like most fans are able to live without cosmetic rewards. But the phone card reward, which I think Ys Net also saw as rather insignificant, is being touted by a number of angry fans as something that is essential to the experience.

Personally? The only thing that makes me upset about this phone card reward is its execution. I think people are getting very angry over very little. I understand the sentiment that a Ryo who calls home to check in on family is perceived as different from a Ryo who doesn't even attempt to call home, and that players may project Ryo's inability to call home onto him as a decision not to call home, but guys ... the audio clips we're talking about here are likely to prove very, very minimal. I imagine it will be much like the audio cassette you listen to in Kowloon in Shenmue II, the one that Huang the wiretapper made, where amongst other conversations you can hear one conversation between Guizhang and Joy. Is that sort of Easter egg neat? Yeah. Is it strictly necessary to the core plot of the game or the core character development of the characters in question? No. (Even Guizhang and Joy's relationship is established previously by a canon conversation that takes place between Ryo and Joy in Aberdeen.) I expect the phone calls to be similar.

So. The execution ...

For one, I wish they wouldn't have revealed the names of the characters you can call. Unless you can call everybody, a list like this suggests, "People you can call will be at home and thus will be hundreds if not thousands of miles away from Ryo and thus will not be joining him anew on his journey. People you cannot call will be making surprise appearances by Ryo's side at various points along his journey in Shenmue 3." It doesn't 100% have to be this way -- you could have the phone call(s) take place early on in Baisha Village and then that provides time for the character(s) to appear by the end of Bailu Village -- but it's unlikely to be any other way.

For a second thing, the only way to make sure that this reward stays exclusive to Kickstarter backers -- which I think they may be contractually obligated to do, now that they've gone and made it a reward tier -- is to not include it in unlocked form on the retail disc. It'll either have to be a) on the disc but locked behind a passcode wall or else b) not on the disc and downloaded as DLC. Either one sucks. B sucks because no one likes DLC, especially since it means that in 10 to 20 years' time the content could be lost forever once you have to transfer the game over to a (then) current-gen machine, all of your old ones having failed already because of planned obsolescence of modern PCs and video game consoles. A sucks too though because if the passcodes are only redeemable once then that's terrible while if they're infinitely redeemable then that means there's nothing to stop someone from sharing their passcode with the world which then defeats the entire purpose of having this reward be exclusive to Kickstarter backers.

For these two reasons, I think the execution on this one kinda sucks. :\ The idea would've been better reserved for the final game, and it would've been nice not to know 2˝ years in advance who is likely to show up in Shenmue 3 and who isn't.

Oh well. Not a big deal.

Anyway, all that aside, the Kickstarter hasn't really budged since yesterday. It's still only at $4.4 million -- although it should break $4.5 by day's end in North America -- and I'm not really seeing any way for the Kickstarter organizers to convince more people to donate (and/or for people to donate more money). Hardcore fans were sold from the start, and everyone else is just sort of staring at this Kickstarter as something of a curiosity. It's hard to persuade people to invest $60+ on a game that they're not sure they'd enjoy, and I respect that.

Many in the fandom are talking about Suzuki holding a second fundraiser in the future. I think it's not only probable but is the best way for Ys Net to secure the additional development funds they will need to make Shenmue 3 the game of our dreams. Some optimists in the community say we'll reach $7 million by the end of the Kickstarter. Some delusional fans kid themselves that we'll reach $11 million. (Hahaha no. -.-) Me personally, I think we'll hit $5 million easily but that we'll be lucky to break $6 million. The bragging rights of dethroning Bloodstained as the most heavily funded video game in Kickstarter history will probably be enough to entice Shenmue's wealthiest fans to help push us over the $5.5 million mark (if we're already within $200,000 reach of it), but once we do that it's hard to see us making $6 million before time runs out. Thing is, the $6 million to $8 million window is where all of the awesome combat stretch goals are. :\ Making the AIs a lot more intelligent than they were in Shenmue 1 & 2, making the battle controls better, making the ragdoll physics better, etc, etc. It's all there. And it's all stuff that I and other Shenmue fans want. So like ... it'd be a shame to lock Shenmue 3 into a budget of less than $6 million "just because the Kickstarter says it must be." Fuck that shit. Suzuki should hold a second fundraiser if he has to via PayPal or whatever other options he deems best and allow fans to donate a second time if they so choose.
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Old 07-07-2015, 03:05 PM   #22
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Talon, what are your thoughts on the cost of the project? Numerous game podcasts I listen to (Giant Bomb's and Co-Optional, to be specific) have pointed out the cost of the original Shenmue games back 15 years ago compared to the $4.5M that Shenmue 3 has so far and the cost gap is huge. Do you have faith that Sony can adequately provide enough funding to bring Shenmue 3 up to the standards that it deserves, especially taking into account the 15 year difference in funding and inflation difference? If they don't fund ~$50M into the project, what do you feel would be the minimum that Shenmue 3 would need to live up to it's legacy? Could Yu Suzuki successfully pull it off with <$20M if he had to?

Curious about what you think.
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Old 07-07-2015, 04:22 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deoxys View Post
Talon, what are your thoughts on the cost of the project? Numerous game podcasts I listen to (Giant Bomb's and Co-Optional, to be specific) have pointed out the cost of the original Shenmue games back 15 years ago compared to the $4.5M that Shenmue 3 has so far and the cost gap is huge. Do you have faith that Sony can adequately provide enough funding to bring Shenmue 3 up to the standards that it deserves, especially taking into account the 15 year difference in funding and inflation difference? If they don't fund ~$50M into the project, what do you feel would be the minimum that Shenmue 3 would need to live up to it's legacy? Could Yu Suzuki successfully pull it off with <$20M if he had to?

Curious about what you think.
The Old Budget: The short answer is, "It depends who you talk to and what spin they're going for." For starters, SEGA has long said that it cost $70 million to make Shenmue -- it's even in the Guinness Book of World Records -- but Yu Suzuki has in recent years claimed that it only cost $45 million to make. And not even just make -- Suzuki claims that advertisement and publishing costs were in that $45 million too, whereas SEGA's number is spun as the cost of development alone in some writings. So who's right? Hell if I know. I hate to say it, much as I love Suzuki-sensei, but I think he has the greater incentive to lie here than does SEGA. It's pretty childish to lie about how much the game that bankrupted your company cost you to make just so you can get into the Guinness Book of World Records, so I doubt that's going on. And embezzlement on the scale of $30 million seems unlikely too -- surely that'd be caught and punished, no? Suzuki, on the other hand, witnessed his career essentially ruined by Shenmue's commercial failure, his reputation at SEGA down the toilet. So like ... for him to want to insist that the $45 million covered all costs -- not just development, but also marketing and publishing costs -- would seem to make more sense since it'd make his commercial blunder seem less bad.

But I like Suzuki-sensei. So let's roll with $45 million for now, shall we?

One factor first brought to my attention several weeks ago by YouTuber Adam Koralik was that the $45 million budget wasn't just for Shenmue 1 on the Dreamcast: it was for Shenmue 1 on the Sega Saturn (scrapped), Shenmue 1 on the Dreamcast, and Shenmue 2 on the Dreamcast. So it actually paid for the staff members of AM2 (Suzuki's development team while at SEGA) to work on Shenmue from around 1996 to around 2001. So whatever figure we're to arrive at in the end for Shenmue 1, we have to consider that the team's budget covered their working and living expenses for five to six years and on two to three different titles. (Shenmue 2 largely shares the same engine as Shenmue 1 but also amplifies the scope; Shenmue Saturn was aborted early on but was likely an entirely different engine made for an entirely different console; hence "two to three.")

Another factor that I believe Koralik raised in his video (may be mistaken here; if I am, then consider this my own pondering) was that Suzuki's Shenmue budget was what was tapped into for all the initial costs of research. Whether that was traveling to China, interviewing martial arts masters, or hitting the books at the local library, Shenmue and Shenmue II show enormous amounts of research painstakingly conducted by Team AM2. In applicable cases of traveling to China (think "when Disney traveled to Paris to prepare for Hunchback animation"), that would've cost a small fortune. Many real martial arts show up in the Shenmue games and they're not just paid lip service. For example, when Jianmin performs T'ai chi ch'uan in Lotus Park, his moves actually match the standard exercises of t'ai chi. I know: because I was taught these same foundational moves when I took a t'ai chi gym class a decade ago! It may not be as clear in Shenmue, where most of the fights consist of karate student Ryo taking on various thugs and street fighters, but in Shenmue II the difference between karate's rigidity + power and the fluidity + using your opponent's energy against him of Chinese martial arts is vividly apparent. If you're a content creator, you can't just sit back and admire this stuff like me. You have to actually do your homework. That takes time and money. Depending on who Suzuki interviewed, the costs could've ranged from nothing to tens of thousands of dollars (in travel & lodging costs).

When all's said and done, Shenmue 1 still cost an arm and a leg to make. But if Suzuki's $45 million claim is true, and if his claim that this included marketing and publishing costs too, then we can divide that figure crudely by 2 to arrive at $22 million in development costs; then if we divide it by 2 yet again to account for Shenmue Saturn, Shenmue, and Shenmue 2 all working with the same cash pool, we arrive at ~$11 million for just Shenmue. (I'm all but rounding Shenmue Saturn out of the equation, which may actually be unfair to Yu!) $11 million in 1997 dollars would be like $17 million today. ($100 back then is about $148 today.)

So we've reached $17 million as a guesstimate for Shenmue 1's budget costs. That still doesn't explain how Suzuki could hope to make Shenmue 3 on a shoestring budget of $2 million nor does it explain how he can promise that the game of our dreams could be made on just $11 million.

The New Budget: I think there's a degree of dishonesty from both sides in Shenmue 3's funding. On the one hand, you have the vocal fans (among them Mr. Koralik) who insist that Shenmue 3 is receiving absolutely no funding towards development, that any financial assistance being offered by Sony & Friends is going strictly towards publishing and marketing costs. On the other hand, you have scathing news editors who allege that this Kickstarter is defrauding diehard fans of their money and that the game is all but capable of being fully funded by Sony. So who's right? Well, I think that neither side is right.

I agree with the news editors that Shenmue 3 has to at least be receiving some financial assistance from Sony & Friends towards development costs. Why? Because the Kickstarter team admitted as much!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ys Net on Kickstarter
No, we cannot make an open world game for $2 million. Shenmue will be produced using both the funds raised from the Kickstarter and through other funding sources already secured by Ys Net Inc.

Having reached our funding goal, we are excited to say that the Shenmue story will go on, and Shenmue 3 will already be a sequel we can all be proud of. Like with any Kickstarter though, additional funding will only help us make a better game. Through the Stretch Goals, together, we can make this Shenmue even bigger, and just as revolutionary as the first two were.
While Koralik & others of my fellow fans could argue that Paragraph 1 is worded in just such a way as to allow for an interpretation that Yu is including costs of marketing and publishing when he says $2 million won't cut it, it's attached to Paragraph 2 which all but spells out that Yu (and/or whoever wrote this message) is thinking strictly in terms of development. "Additional funding will only help us make a better game." Lines like this make it sound like the first paragraph really means what you'd first read it to mean: "I can't code-make a great game on $2 million," and not "Well, I can code-make a great game for $2 million but I couldn't distribute-make a great game for $2 million."

So yes: simply put, I don't buy the reasoning that Sony's money is 100% going towards non-development costs. Even if Sony Corp.'s is, there could easily be a shell company into which Sony funnels money which is in turn funding Shenmue 3's costs of development -- so as to neither land Suzuki nor Sony in hot water for lying to Kickstarter funders.

However. On the other, very important hand ... I don't think that Sony is giving Suzuki much money for this Kickstarter, and zero of it risk-free. I imagine that they have probably offered him something along the lines of "for every dollar they put forward we'll match this many dollars." (Something like $2 Kickstarter : $1 Sony for lower tallies and $1 Kickstarter : $1 Sony for higher ones.) I also imagine that they've stressed to him that they want a return on their investment -- that the money given is at least partially a loan in nature, not fully a grant -- and thus he's best off securing as much money from the fans as possible. If you want proof that Sony isn't helping Suzuki out too much, look no further than:
  1. the fact that the Kickstarter did not initially include PS4 physical discs. Sony didn't want to be bothered with pressing a limited-run edition of Shenmue discs as that costs money. They were perfectly happy to offer a digital download of the game, though, especially since many gamers in the 2010s are shifting over from purchasing physical media to purchasing digital media. Although many KS funders begged for a PS4 disc from Day One -- and we currently see that over 6,000 people have pledged $60 just for the opportunity to own Shenmue 3 on physical disc for PS4 -- that still doesn't change the fact that a 10,000-disc limited run costs Sony money and that it took them two weeks to agree to add the option to the KS.
  2. Shuhei Yoshida, the President of Sony, contributed to the Kickstarter ... a meager $29. I say "meager" not to put any poor fans down, but because for a man of his wealth level and public image it seems awfully cheap to select the second-lowest funding tier you can go for. I understand that he might not want to rob diehard fans of the limited $10,000-tier items, but surely he can afford to donate $60 as a sign of confidence in Shenmue 3's viability on physical media! Surely! No? No, apparently. Because actions speak louder than words and he only donated $29. This is pretty telling about how much (or rather how little) Sony is helping fund Suzuki's development costs. Yes, they're okay with paying for publishing costs ... because they probably plan to have Shenmue 3 be digital-download-only anyway, so all they have to do is pay for the server bandwidth that they are already paying for. Yes, they're okay with advertising ... because that isn't going to be too hard in this day and age, especially not for a game of Shenmue's legendary status.
I'd put Sony's funding (all told) at $2 million to $3 million. It's something. But it sure as hell isn't enough to make Shenmue a reality. If you want the proof, it's simple: these days, people don't bet on risky investments anymore, Shenmue is a risky investment, and Sony's failure to fund Shenmue 3 out of the gate is proof that they had their concerns about the project's viability. Igarashi (Castlevania) had to turn to Kickstarter. Inafune (Mega Man) had to turn to Kickstarter. Now Suzuki (Virtua Fighter, Shenmue, a host of other non-Sonic games) had to turn to Kickstarter. The big development studios have gotten timid, betting either on rehashes of games from the 1980s and '90s or else betting on AAA titles like Assassin's Creed, Call of Duty, GTA, and the Souls series.

But put all of this aside for a moment, if you will -- because I oscillate pretty much every day as to whether I think Sony is half-funding this project or 0% funding it. ^^; I just don't know. It really comes down to trust and who to believe. So let's put all of that aside for now and just assume, for the sake of argument, that Sony is funding 0% of the cost of development. How then do we explain Suzuki's ability to make Shenmue 3 for $2 million to $11 million when Shenmue 1, by our armchair math, cost ~$17 million to develop?

The New Budget (con't): If you look at the stretch goals on the Kickstarter page, it becomes pretty apparent what sort of game Shenmue 3 is going to be depending on how much money Yu Suzuki gets:
  • For $2 million, he wouldn't have been able to give us "Shenmue." What he would have been able to give us was a 3-D adventure game called "Shenmue 3" where you get to enjoy the same plot and the same characters as he always intended but you had relatively little of the open-world environment that characterized the first two games, especially the first.
  • For middle amounts (e.g. $5.5 million), he would be able to give us a Shenmue 3 that reminds us of Shenmue 2. Same geographic scale (already promised @ $2 million) but now with the same level of open worldness as in 2. The combat would also be pretty similar to what you saw in 2 ... for better or worse. ^^; Clunky, old-fashioned even by 2001's standards. Sigh. But at least the plot and characters are there, and you can still do a lot of open world things just like in Shenmue 2!
  • For $10 million, he would be able to give us a Shenmue 3 that reminds us of Shenmue 1 in terms of open-worldness but Shenmue 2 in terms of geographic scale. Basically "the best of both worlds." It'd also have modern combat for a modern age: he'd completely overhaul the Virtua Fighter engine (probably even abandon it) and produce a fighting engine in UE4 that boasts some of the most realistic combat and intelligent A.I. we've ever seen. (These are actual KS goals in the $6 million to $8 million range! ) So you'd have a game that plays like Virtua Fighter 2015 (were such a thing to even exist) but that is draped in the clothes of an epic Chinese tale. Utterly sublime.
  • For $11 million, he'd modernize one of his crowning achievements as a software developer -- something called "Magic Maze" that he has talked about in the past.

    Quote:
    But [Suzuki] was up against the data compression technology of the time. To store the game he was building, 50 to 60 CD-ROMs would have been required.

    To work down the size, Suzuki and his team came up with several techniques. One of them, called Magic Maze, was created around the idea that seeds are easier to carry around than trees. Automated tree and forest generation examples were shown in the demonstration. For rooms, the Magic Room system worked as a unit-based form of compression, using data for objects normally placed in rooms to automatically construct them through a sort of simulated interior designer's eye.

    The idea behind the Magic Weather system is now common in games, but it was revolutionary for the time. Suzuki's team used simulations and historical data to generate changes in time, with appropriate lighting and weather displayed. They used three years of historical weather data starting from 1986 for the city of Yokosuka, making the weather in Shenmue historically accurate!
    Magic Maze already exists in Shenmue 2 and was used to create the forests of Guilin. Since Shenmue 3 will take place largely/entirely in the Chinese countryside, it will be integral to Shenmue 3's success. TBH, because of this reason I have my doubts that Suzuki will allow Magic Maze to die even if we fail to reach the $11 million mark. But my guess is that if we reach $11 million, he'll overhaul his old code for the UE4 era we now live in, just as for $8 million he'll overhaul the fighting engine.
This all sounds well and good, but I still haven't answered the question: "why is it $11 million and not $17 million? "

And so cutting to the chase, and making it very easy for you to find in case you got bored with my essay ...

I believe the answer is time.

Per our argument that Suzuki had $17 million to work on Shenmue 1, he also would have had a little less than 2 years to work on it. (Five to six years in total from 1996 to 2001, but you have to consider that some of that time would've been spent doing a lot of the initial legwork -- legwork he no longer has to do now that he has the story all written out, has already visited China and done his core research, etc.) By contrast, he has two and a half years to work on Shenmue 3 -- so six extra months -- and probably longer since we all know that Kickstarter times aren't absolute, delays in gaming development are common, and our culture is so used to such delays that we are incredibly forgiving of them. No one is going to begrudge Suzuki an extra six months to work on Shenmue 3. While that may mean people are on the clock an extra year than for Shenmue 1 (and thus cost more to feed), it also means that he has the luxury of relaxation, i.e. the luxury of not having to treat every day like it's goddamn Apollo 13. Throwing money at problems to brute force them away is all too common in all walks of life, from architectural repairs to IT work, from catering to flying transcontinental, and I can only imagine that it's the case for gaming development too. Three years might paradoxically be millions cheaper for the development costs than two years for the same amount of work done.

Another element of the time answer, but completely unrelated to the above, is how the costs of gaming development have changed over the years. In 1999, it really did cost tens of millions of dollars to make a game like Shenmue. But today? It reportedly cost the team that made The Witcher 3 anywhere from $10 million to $30 million to make their game. Many Shenmue fans have been quoting that lower figure. Let's roll with it for now. If it's true that you can make a Witcher 3 for just $10 million, then it reflects on how advances in technology (computer processing power, data storage, etc.) and laborer competency (skills, knowledge, tools, etc. that we didn't have in 1999) have drastically changed the playing field since when Suzuki pitched Shenmue to SEGA execs.

Long story short: I think it's a bit silly to get hung up on how much a project in the past cost. I'm not saying you shouldn't consider it. I'm just saying that there are lots of examples in life of something costs lots of money twenty years ago that today would cost nothing. Hard drives used to be smaller than 1 gigabyte, and now they're routinely larger than 1 terabyte for the same cost. Making a movie like Batman Begins would've been impossibly expensive in 1967 but was feasible in the 2000s. Mario 64 and Mario Galaxy probably had similar budgets with respect to Nintendo's gross or net revenues but obviously you could make a Mario 64 today for much, much cheaper than it cost to make in 1995. (Hell, you probably have college kids who make Mario 64 from scratch as junior/senior projects in CS!) I'm not trying to dismiss people out of hand for looking back at how much Shenmue cost to make, but like ... GTA5 cost $265 million to make. In 1999 terms, that's roughly $179 million. Which is anywhere from two ($70) to four ($47) times as expensive as the entire budget for Shenmue. Do we honestly expect GTA5 to cost $265 million to make in twenty years? With the advances we'll have in graphics and physics engines by then, it probably won't even cost $30 million to make.

Things change.
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Old 07-08-2015, 05:57 AM   #24
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A vocal number of fans proclaim as fact that Shenmue is not being funded by Sony at all. I expressed yesterday how I have my doubts about this, how I believe it's more likely the case (given all of the very carefully worded answers provided by the relevant parties and given the content of those answers) that Sony and other private sponsors are at least partially funding the development costs of this game. But I admit I could be wrong. We probably won't ever truly know (since there is a huge disincentive to ever reveal private sponsorship of development costs), but I admit it's certainly possible that Shenmue 3's development is being funded 100% by fan donations.

As you can see from these posters put together by Shenmue fans, though, a number of those who disagree that Sony is funding any development costs at all do so with utmost conviction:





Posters like these may end up doing more harm than good if it later comes to light that Sony was in fact funding some of Shenmue III's costs of development. I sympathize with the fans who made these, though -- obviously! I donated a chunk of my UPN meetup funds to this Kickstarter! -- but I disagree with the, as I see it, willed naivety by some fans to interpret the announcements we've received so far from Sony, Suzuki, and Team Awesome (Ys Net's PR group handling some of the Kickstarter, including communicating with donors) as signifying 0% involvement by non-Kickstarter sponsors in funding the costs of actually making (i.e. developing) this game.

Someone on Twitter recommended this podcast. It's quite long, and much too long for me to expect you or anyone else only casually interested in Shenmue to give it a listen. But since it's 6:55am and I guess I technically have the time, I may put it on in the background while I ready for the day. I'll post later sharing what they had to say and what valuable information I gleaned from it.

UPDATE: Okay, so, I'm paused at 26m09s on the YouTube video. Current impressions and summary:

I like the podcasters. The guy sounds like a down-to-earth, affable man. His voice also makes me picture him as the doppelganger of Denis Leary. The woman's voice, role on the show, and demeanor all remind me 100% of Ana Kasparian from The Young Turks. So in a way, it's like listening to an NPR program co-hosted by Denis Leary and Ana Kasparian. If that's your kind of thing, then check 'em out! If not, then stay away and let me do the summarizing!

One of the early focuses is on Suzuki's failure to communicate to fans in many of the Q&As he's answered. Specifically, they focus on how he told one fan on Reddit that "at $10 million, [Shenmue 3] will truly have the features of an open world." What does this mean exactly? Does this mean for $10 million we'll get Shenmue 1? Does this mean for $10 million we'll get something that surpasses Shenmue 1? If on a scale of 0 to 100 we place "truly open world" at 100, where would Shenmue 1 fall, where would Shenmue 2 fall, where would Shenmue 3 currently fall, and where would Shenmue 3 fall if it had $10 million? It's a solid interrogation, one I've given plenty of thought to myself. We'll have to see if Suzuki will be more forthcoming in future Q&As.

The next big focus of the podcast is on Awesome Japan's ineptitude. The podcasters are incredibly polite and professional as they explore this, but the fact remains that it's a solid eight or so minutes of them explaining that Awesome Japan just isn't cut out to handle this Kickstarter and that both their past and present actions reflect this. The lady podcaster explains Awesome Japan's track record:
  • established in July or August 2014
  • has managed 13 Kickstarters to date, 7 of which met their minimum funding goals
  • the sum total of all their Kickstarters' donations added up to less than $200,000 before Shenmue 3
  • the sum total of all their Kickstarter headcounts added up to "one-thirtieth" of Shenmue 3's current headcount
  • their past Kickstarters indicate that they lack the English fluency necessary to properly communicate the fans' messages to the content creators
  • their current Kickstarter indicates that they've hired someone who at least is more fluent in English than anyone previous but, given the volume of traffic Shenmue 3 has brought, he's simply swamped and can't answer everything
Stuff like that. Basically they suggest that if someone else had been managing this Kickstarter instead of Awesome Japan then it'd probably be doing a lot better right now. Who knows. Next point.

Right around where I've paused, they've shifted to discussing how the initial Kickstarter goal of $2 million was possibly set too low. This is something I agree with and have brought up before. But it's also something which is debated in the community right now. A lot of people say that if the goal had been set at $4 or $5 million that the project might not have taken off like it did, and that such a failure to take off coupled with the accusations that Sony is funding the game in private would've spelled doom for the Kickstarter. I disagree with this, as does the male host of the podcast. We both seem to think that if the initial goal had been set at around $5 million that a) it would've been met within the first 24 hours and b) we'd currently be looking at a Kickstarter that is $7 or $8 million funded instead of only $4.5 million funded. Oh well. No way to know who's right or wrong on this one since we don't have the power to see into alternate futures with certainty. We can only speculate.

Last edited by Talon87; 07-08-2015 at 07:37 AM.
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Old 07-08-2015, 11:30 AM   #25
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Thanks for the replies. I read through all of what you had to say, and it's pretty informative. Despite numerous hypotheticals, I think you probably hit the nail on the head with a lot of your assumptions based on history and the fact that in some cases you could, as you said, argue that it might wind up being cheaper today to produce a game such as this due to the many advancements in technology over the past 20 years. I guess I don't have a huge reply or anything to really rebut or point out. I just find this all somewhat fascinating, and that goes for what you had to say as well.

I guess at this point all we can do is wait and see what happens.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Talon
We both seem to think that if the initial goal had been set at around $5 million that a) it would've been met within the first 24 hours and b) we'd currently be looking at a Kickstarter that is $7 or $8 million funded instead of only $4.5 million funded. Oh well. No way to know who's right or wrong on this one since we don't have the power to see into alternate futures with certainty. We can only speculate.
I totally agree 100%. Shenmue 3 is about as legendary of a game as Half-Life 3 is. If they had initially asked for $5M, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind they would have had it in 24 hrs. But between the small amount they asked for (which many journalists assumed was to show that fans do have an interest in investing in a sequel to a ~15 year old game), and then somewhat vague communication on whether or not Sony was actually funding it, I feel the kickstarter hasn't met the potential it clearly has/had. If the accusations that the team wasn't being honest about Sony funding it or not hadn't come out, I think there would have been more people investing into it. Maybe not much, but I certainly could see that sort of press costing them another $1M maybe from the more casual fans who feel as though they don't need to invest into it if Sony is (based on what they read whether it's true or not).

This kickstarter has definitely been a little messy, but I think that might be to be expected given the game. There has never been a game this big on Kickstarter. You've had Might No. 9 and Bloodstained and Yooka-Laylee, and out of all of those Yooka-Laylee is probably the only game ever kickstarted that comes even close to something as legendary and ambitious as Shenmue 3. I don't know that Shenmue can meet another $5.5M in the next 9 days, but I have a feeling it will come close. Big kickstarters tend to get a lot more attention, especially from the procrastinators, in their final few days. Don't be surprised if there's another $1.5M or so in the final 24 hrs. Regardless of what happens, I hope this is the Shenmue 3 everyone has been waiting for.
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