Here is the conclusion of my 2000 Game Developers Conference interview with Yu Suzuki...
GameWEEK: Are you trying to focus at all on networking? Broadband?
Yu Suzuki: I am not focused on bandwidth but I am interested in networking. Rather than width, I am concentrating on latency. With the right compression techniques you do not need large bandwidth. We can still do more with narrowband.
GW: Do you see any latency breakthroughs in the near future?
YS: (starts doodling a sketch of the Earth) Light is the fastest speed known. But even light can only go around the world 7.5 times in one second. We are limited. If you find something that is faster, please let me know! (laughs) Really though, to play Virtua Fighter against someone on the other side of the planet is not possible.
More notes by Suzuki-san. Note the "Earth" doodle
and the number "7.5"
GW: What inspires you?
YS: I watch many movies -- lately, around 30 each month. My all-time favorite is Cassablanca. "Bogey" is the best! I like The Matrix too, although doing that as a game would be very difficult... almost impossible. One other movie I enjoy is Die-Hard. That would be an exciting game, don't you think? I do not usually watch movies for enjoyment but I do study them to aid in my research.
Yu Suzuki is a big fan of the movie Die-Hard
and thinks it would translate into a great video game.
Sega did eventually publish Die-Hard Arcade but that game had little to do with the actual movie
GW: What do you think of PlayStation 2? X-Box?
YS: (pauses) PlayStation 2 is good at games like Ridge Racer V and Kessen. Lots of motion capability. A game like Shenmue however, would be almost impossible to do on it since it needs to rely heavily on texture memory. X-Box? It sounds very impressive.
GW: Do you like the hard-drive on X-Box?
YS: The hard-drive does not really interest me. You do not need that as much as you need the rendering power.
GW: What can you tell us about Hikaru, Sega's new arcade board? How much more powerful is it than Naomi -- one and a half times, perhaps?
YS: Hikaru is a lot more powerful than that; a lot more powerful than Naomi. (looks at Sega publicist) I would like to tell you but I cannot say more than that right now.
GW: How many total chapters do you think we'll see in the Shenmue series?
YS: Chapters are different from game releases. Shenmue 2 will probably cover chapter two through six.
A scene from Shenmue 2. The game was published
as a Dreamcast title in Europe and as an X-Box game
here in North America
GW: How many releases total, though, do you think?
YS: I do not know yet.
GW: Can you tell us anything about Shenmue 2?
YS: As you probably know, it takes place in Hong Kong. Currently, we are doing tests on what can be done. Shenmue -- the first game -- is a child. By that, I mean it is the first game of its kind that we have done, so it will mature over time. Things you will see in Shenmue 2 will be very much improved -- graphics, gameplay... everything. I am saying 50 characters on screen at one time! There will also be much more action and a faster pace. We are working on new ways to get more out of Dreamcast, which I cannot reveal at this time. Shenmue 2 will demonstrate this, though. By Shenmue 3, I will turn the first game into a dinosaur!
As the interview ended and we gathered our things, Yu Suzuki's translator pulled me to the side and said, "He really likes you. He likes the questions you ask and he says you know so much about Sega. He wants to know if you would like to talk more outside." Naturally I accepted the offer. Once outside the convention center Suzuki-san offered me a cigarette and a chance to ask more questions. "He is happy to answer more of your questions," the translator said.
Smoking our cigarettes, Yu Suzuki and I continued our conversation with the translator present. We talked about everything from movies and games to sports cars and women; all the stuff two guys talk about when they're hanging out. Much to my surprise, he asked me for my honest opinion regarding Dreamcast and its position in the North American market. I voiced my concerns. Suzuki-san also said he wanted to tell me a secret -- on the condition I would not divulge it in print. I gave my word.
It is now 2010 so I feel I can safely speak of the secret. Suzuki-san explained that Dreamcast was underperforming and looked to be in trouble. He also told me that Sega was working on games for the X-Box... and that Shenmue 2 and even Shenmue 3 would likely be X-Box exclusives! I could not believe he was telling me this.
As we shook hands to part ways, Suzuki-san extended an invitation for me to stay at his residence should I visit Japan in the future. I had actually bonded with one of my idols. It was surreal.