Monday, March 22, 2010

My Yu Suzuki Interview Part 1

While working in the video game industry I was incredibly fortunate for many reasons. To be perfectly honest it was dream come true, that's really the only way for me to describe it. Not only did I work with so many amazingly talented people, I made friends with dozens of awesome individuals who loved gaming as much as I did. I was also able to meet some of my heroes inside the industry; people like Shigeru Miyamoto, Dave Perry, Yuji Naka and Yu Suzuki.

When I was employed with GameWEEK as managing editor, I sat down to interview Sega's Yu Suzuki during the Game Developer's Conference in San Jose. It was, without question, one of the shining moments of my career and I will never forget it. As part of my salute to Shenmue and its 10-year anniversary, I decided to bring you that interview, originally conducted in March of 2000. It is broken down into three parts.

Here it is, part 1 of my GameWEEK Yu Suzuki interview...

PART 1

INTRODUCTION
Throughout all of the good times and bad times over the last fifteen years, Sega has owed much of its staying power to one man. His name is Yu Suzuki.

Graduating from The Okayama University of Science, Yu Suzuki joined Sega Enterprises in 1983 with an Electronic Science major in hand. It didn't take the young programmer very long to get noticed by company officials. Two years after starting his employment, he finished his very first arcade game, Hang-On. It was an instant success. Since that time, Sega's creative front man -- who turns 42 years-old this month -- has managed to come up with hit after hit for the coin-operated amusement industry, with many titles making their way to Sega's home consoles such as Genesis, Saturn and more recently, Dreamcast.

Currently positioned as corporate VP of software R&D, Suzuki is best known as the mastermind behind Sega's Virtua Fighter series. So much so, in fact, that The Smithsonian National Museum of American History has a Virtua Fighter cabinet on display in Washington D.C.

And then there's Shenmue, Sega's "do or die" Dreamcast game. Taking five years and a reported $40 million to produce, Shenmue is the most ambitious, most expensive video game ever assembled. A sort of "RPG/Adventure/Fighting" hybrid, the game was released in Japan late last year and was praised not only for its innovative approach, but its sheer size and scope. A four GD-ROM set, Shenmue is currently undergoing localization and is scheduled to release in the U.S. this fall.

A whole hell of a lot is riding on Shenmue's release in America and no one knows that better than Sega itself. How will gamers in this country react to Shenmue's unorthodox gameplay? How tightly will players embrace a game so heavily steeped in Japanese culture? No one knows for certain but in the meantime Suzuki was kind enough to sit down with GameWEEK for lunch during the recent Game Developer's Conference in San Jose. Here's what the "King of All Arcades" had to say...

THE PURSUIT OF REALITY
GameWEEK: What kind of feedback have you been getting so far from Shenmue players in your country?
Yu Suzuki: The fourth disc in Shenmue -- the Passport disc -- lets users go online to the Shenmue homepage and allows us to receive data from those users. We are getting a lot of feedback. Only one out of 30 responses has been negative. With the Passport disc, users can go in and leave specific comments regarding what they liked or what they did not about the game through the BBS we have in place (this will likely be the case with the U.S. version of Shenmue as well -Jim). Some users are telling us they would like the control to be improved in Shenmue 2. I will see to this.

GW: Are there things that you would have liked to include in the first chapter, but did not due to time constraints?
YS: There are many. Some of these we hope to include in Shenmue 2.

Shenmue's immersive world is like no other

GW: The sounds... dogs barking; children playing; the gurgling water from the Koi pond... did it take a long time to put it all together?
YS: Yes, it consumed a lot of time and data. I worked with many sound effects people in the movie industry (grabs a pen and begins to sketch on Sega company letterhead). Let's say there's a shop here playing music. Then there's a speaker attached to a pole down on this end of the street playing a different song. So when the character walks through here, you can actually feel the sound of one song fade and the the other song get louder. Let's say there's an icy spot, a snowy spot, a dirt spot, a concrete spot and a puddle. The sound of Ryo's footsteps changes as he walks over these different surfaces.

GW: With regard to realism, how far do we have to go to experience the ultimate "living world" in a game?
YS: I did not pursue realism. I pursued reality. It's different. (pauses) If I could pose a question to you, how many interesting or fun things happened to you last week?

GW: Very few.
YS: (smiles) Yes, that is realism. Realism is boring. In a game you have to have one exciting event at least every ten minutes to make it entertaining.

A DIFFERENT APPROACH
GW: The QTEs (Quick Timer Events)... we like them a lot. What's the feedback been on them? Will you continue to feature QTEs in future chapters?
YS: There are barely any negatives on the QTEs so we will probably include more in the future. The QTEs are very easy to grasp for all players.

An example of a QTE in Shenmue

GW: There was a bit of concern here in the states that the QTEs might be a bit unexciting, similar to the gameplay introduced with Dragon's Lair. Are you familiar with the laserdisc games of the mid 80's?
YS: Yes, I am familiar with the games you are referring to. For QTEs though, the options are more complex, and you can try over and over. For the type where you only get one chance, the timing is a bit broader, a bit easier. For QTEs the game branches off the story depending on the result. As you make each attempt at a QTE, the timing shifts so that if you fail, the next try will be a bit easier. This makes it totally different than Dragon's Lair-type games.

GW: The Free Battle system... there's a lot more complexity there. How satisfied were you with this portion of the game?
YS: Hmmm... sixty, maybe seventy percent. If I tailored it to the complexity of Virtua Fighter, normal people wouldn't be able to play it. The timing in a real fighting game is very critical (begins thumping his fingers on the table)... it's all about how fast you can react. An RPG is a game where you have to use your brain. Shenmue is a totally different type of game. Having a real, true type of fighting game in Shenmue would not be good. What I am saying here is that the Free Battle system in Shenmue is totally different from that of Virtua Fighter, so you can just randomly press buttons and win in Shenmue (starts pounding his fingers on the table at a frantic pace).

Virtua Fighter 2

GW: I understand... we refer to that as "button mashing" in the U.S. Was this done so that young children would be able to play as well?
YS: Yes, but most kids are pretty good already!

GW: Do you enjoy playing games?
YS: I do enjoy Puyo Puyo very much, but I do not have much time to play. I also like playing air hockey with my daughter. The games with the hammer and the little animals in the holes is a lot of fun, too!

GW: You need a Whack-A-Mole game in Shenmue 2!
YS: I will try!

The YOU Arcade in Shenmue

GW: The slot machines in Shenmue are very realistic...
YS: Yes. The payout rate is different for the machines. If you go to the fortune-teller, she will tell you your "lucky number" for the week, say, number 16. Then you can try that machine for better results. Every week the casino manager changes the payout rate. The slots were made with high accuracy. We've done enough tests to meet the standards of Las Vegas machines. They were tested 50,000 times. Of course, we had the computer do it! (laughs) Another thing... the jukebox in the game is the same model as the very first jukebox Sega ever made.

GW: Unbelievable. That is serious dedication.
YS: Going back to your earlier question about what I wanted to include in Shenmue, there is one thing I wanted to do but I did not have the time. There's a pool table in the back of the MJQ bar. I really wanted to make the perfect 9-ball. I love billiards and I would very much like to do that in Shenmue 2.

Tomorrow: Part 2 of my interview with Yu Suzuki

36 comments:

  1. Could you let me know when shenmue 3 is coming and anymore secrets please.

    Would be much appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  2. check this out blogging site toward guidebook notion http://freeonlinecasinogamesx.webs.com online casino games

    ReplyDelete
  3. This design is steller! You certainly know how to keep a reader entertained.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved
    to start my own blog (well, almost...HaHa!) Wonderful job.

    I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that,
    how you presented it. Too cool!
    My web site :: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-many-email-options-local-community-college-students-have

    ReplyDelete
  4. Your method of describing the whole thing in this article
    is actually pleasant, all can simply understand it, Thanks a lot.
    My site - adobe photoshop tutorial

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have been browsing on-line greater than three hours lately,
    but I never discovered any interesting article like yours. It's lovely worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you probably did, the internet will be a lot more helpful than ever before.
    Take a look at my blog post - hotmail support

    ReplyDelete
  6. This post is worth everyone's attention. Where can I find out more?
    Also visit my website - Abused A Daughters Story

    ReplyDelete
  7. I used to be suggested this website by my cousin. I am no longer positive whether or not this publish is written by
    way of him as nobody else recognise such specific about my trouble.
    You are wonderful! Thanks!
    Here is my website ... http://www.todaystats.com/

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi there! I simply want to offer you a huge thumbs up for the excellent info you have here on
    this post. I'll be returning to your site for more soon.
    Have a look at my weblog ... correo electronico hotmail venezuela

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate your efforts and
    I am waiting for your next post thanks once again.
    Also see my web page > jquery.kr

    ReplyDelete
  10. It's nearly impossible to find experienced people in this particular subject, however, you sound like you know what you're
    talking about! Thanks
    Also visit my web-site : msn hotmail

    ReplyDelete
  11. I quite like looking through a post that will
    make men and women think. Also, thanks for permitting me to comment!
    Review my homepage accutane pills

    ReplyDelete
  12. Fabulous, what a website it is! This website gives valuable facts
    to us, keep it up.
    My web site > hotmail technical support

    ReplyDelete
  13. Magnificent beat ! I would like to apprentice while
    you amend your web site, how can i subscribe for a blog web site?
    The account helped me a appropriate deal. I have been a little bit
    familiar of this your broadcast provided bright clear concept
    Here is my weblog ... http://Www.Conphys.de

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hello! I realize this is kind of off-topic however I had to ask.
    Does building a well-established blog like yours take a large amount of work?
    I'm brand new to running a blog however I do write in my diary daily. I'd like
    to start a blog so I can share my experience and views online.
    Please let me know if you have any kind of suggestions or tips for new aspiring bloggers.
    Thankyou!
    my website: Adobe shockwave games

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi it's me, I am also visiting this site daily, this website is in fact good and the people are actually sharing pleasant thoughts.
    Feel free to visit my web-site :: aaa auto insurance quote

    ReplyDelete
  16. Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed!
    Very helpful information specially the last part
    :) I care for such information a lot. I was seeking this particular
    information for a long time. Thank you and good luck.

    Stop by my web blog - lan.helsingkrona.se

    ReplyDelete
  17. oZzy moved away ever before, I miss his cock, and
    I'm always hungry for sexual intercourse.
    FUCK MY PUSSY!

    Look at my web-site; hcg injections
    Also see my webpage - hcg injections

    ReplyDelete
  18. Do you mind if I quote a few of your posts as long
    as I provide credit and sources back to your weblog? My blog site is in the very same area of interest
    as yours and my visitors would truly benefit from a lot of the information you provide here.

    Please let me know if this alright with you. Regards!

    Also visit my blog: landing page design

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi would you mind sharing which blog platform you're using? I'm going to start my own blog soon but I'm having a hard time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I'm looking for something completely unique.
    P.S Sorry for being off-topic but I had to ask!


    My blog ... hotmail delivery

    ReplyDelete
  20. Incredible points. Sound arguments. Keep up the amazing effort.


    Also visit my weblog - ver champions league gratis

    ReplyDelete
  21. When I originally commented I clicked the "Notify me when new comments are added" checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four e-mails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove people from that service?

    Many thanks!

    Look at my homepage :: hotmail technical support

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thanks іn favor of shаrіng suсh a nice thought, artiсle
    іs ρleaѕant, thаts why i have read іt fully

    Аlsο visіt my blog - crear facebook gratis

    ReplyDelete
  23. mаgnificent issuеs аltogether, you juѕt won a
    emblem new rеаder. What сould you ѕuggest about your submit that you ϳust made a few dayѕ in the ρast?

    Anу positive?

    Μy wеblog ... http://crearfacebook.webs.com

    ReplyDelete
  24. Definitеly believe that which yоu stаtеd.
    Your favorіte ϳuѕtification appeared to be on the net
    the eaѕieѕt thing tо be awaгe of.
    I say to you, I definitely gеt irked while people thіnk
    about worrіеs that they рlainly ԁon't know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people could take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

    Visit my web site - what is hcg injections for weight loss

    ReplyDelete
  25. Pretty sесtion of cοntеnt. I juѕt ѕtumblеd upon youг
    blog anԁ іn acceѕsion capitаl
    to asѕert that I gеt in faсt enjoyed accοunt уour blοg posts.
    Αny way I'll be subscribing to your feeds and even I achievement you access consistently rapidly.

    my weblog ... facebook cuenta gratis

    ReplyDelete
  26. Ӏ'm really impressed with your writing abilities and also with the structure in your blog. Is that this a paid subject matter or did you customize it your self? Either way keep up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to see a nice weblog like this one nowadays..

    Have a look at my web-site :: facebook cuenta gratis

    ReplyDelete
  27. What's up, just wanted to tell you, I enjoyed this blog post. It was helpful. Keep on posting!

    Here is my web blog crear facebook gratis

    ReplyDelete
  28. Great articlе.

    Feel fгee to visit my page: diamondlinks review

    ReplyDelete
  29. Ηi thеre tο eveгy ѕingle one, it's really a pleasant for me to visit this web page, it consists of helpful Information.

    My page; abrir Cuenta facebook

    ReplyDelete
  30. This ԁesign is wickeԁ! You most cеrtainly know hoω to
    kеep a readeг amused. Between уouг wіt and уοur videos, I was аlmοst moved to staгt
    my own blog (wеll, almost...ΗаHa!) Fantastic job.
    I rеally loved what you had tο ѕay, and more than
    thаt, how you presented it. Тoo cool!


    my ωeb site :: crear facebook gratis

    ReplyDelete
  31. My coder іs trying to convince me to mоνe to
    .net from PHP. I hаve alωaуѕ dislikeԁ the idea because of
    the expenses. But hе's tryiong none the less. I've been using
    Μovablе-typе οn several webѕites for about a year anԁ am concerned about switchіng to another platform.

    I haνе hеard fantastiс things about blogengine.
    net. Is there а wаy I can transfeг all my
    ωordpress poѕtѕ into it? Any kind of hеlр wοuld be greаtlу apρreciаtеd!


    My blog - crear facebook gratis

    ReplyDelete
  32. I'm really loving the theme/design of your site. Do you ever run into any internet browser compatibility problems? A number of my blog readers have complained about my blog not operating correctly in Explorer but looks great in Opera. Do you have any recommendations to help fix this issue?

    my web site - hotmail Support

    ReplyDelete
  33. Heу there! This post could not bе wгitten аnу bеttеr!
    Rеaԁing this post remіnds mе οf my
    old rοοm mаte! He alwаys keρt talking аbоut thіs.

    I will forwaгԁ this ωгіte-up tο him.
    Faiгly cеrtаin hе will have a gοod
    гeaԁ. Many thanκs fоr
    shаrіng!

    Check οut my web-sіte blogspot.ca

    ReplyDelete
  34. Hurrah, that's what I was searching for, what a material! present here at this blog, thanks admin of this site.

    Also visit my website facebook cuenta gratis

    ReplyDelete