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Keiji Okayasu ( Game Director for Shenmue I) Returns for Shenmue III

Loudninja

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Jul 30, 2007
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Hello Everyone,

Taking a look at end credits of Shenmue you may noticed this man’s name—Keiji Okayasu. He was the Game Director for Shenmue I, then played a big role through most of Shenmue II, and has now joined the production team for Shenmue III. We are very happy to have back this Shenmue veteran who helped deliver the goods the first time around, and look forward to him doing it again.

So, this month we would like to give an interview with Keiji to get to know a little bit more about him, and see what he hopes to accomplish as a director for Shenmue III.
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ysnet/shenmue-3/posts/1642042
 

Spaghetti

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Nov 4, 2013
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Very nice addition.

Shenmue III is looking like a huge AM2 veteran reunion more and more, that's super exciting.
 

Indelible

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Oct 30, 2015
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I got the email as well, Shenmue 3 continues to sound better with each update. Hopefully we get to see some game footage sometime this year.
 

krimsoncharge

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Jul 20, 2009
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sweet. cant wait for ysnet to show us first proper footage of the game soon. hopefully it comes out before this year end.
 

Ushay

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Sep 9, 2014
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Times have vastly changed, not sure this is great news or not. Still hope this game does well.
 

Spaghetti

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Seeing how Yu spoke about one of the difficulties of the project being that he has to juggle so many responsibilities from a creation and business perspective, it's very reassuring he's now got a "right hand man" to share the load.

The little interview with Keiji Okayasu is also very enlightening, considering he's been with the Shenmue project since the VFRPG days. Seems like a very smart hire.

It was also nice to see just the slightest glimpse of the game. I don't think it's a finished Shenhua model, as her sleeves are still the wrong colour, but it looks to me like they're in some kind of urban environment. Choubu, maybe?
 

Loudninja

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Jul 30, 2007
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What has he done since then?
Production History

Virtua Fighter (Arcade version) (1993) — Program Support
Virtua Fighter (Saturn Version) (1994) — Main Programer
Daytona USA (Saturn Version) (1995) — Special Thanks
Virtua Fighter Remix (1995) — Main Programer
Virtua Fighter (32X Version) (1995) — Special Thanks
Virtua Fighter 2 (Saturn Version) (1995) — Director
Shenmue (1999) — Game Director, Program Director, Director (Software)
Rent A Hero No.1 (2000) — Executive Producer (Rent a Team)
Shenmue II (Dreamcast Version) (2001) — Programmer (Special Thanks to)
Custom Robo: Battle Revolution (2004) — Director & Scenario (Custom Robo Staff)
Odama (2006) — Director
Dynasty Warriors DS: Fighter's Battle (2007) — Director
http://segaretro.org/Keiji_Okayasu

So he getting back into it.
 

Spaghetti

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Nov 4, 2013
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What has he done since then?
It's hard to find out what he's been working on since, but I believe he's worked on Dynasty Warriors, Odama, and Custom Robo since leaving AM2. Primarily he seems to be President of Studio Fake.

Times have vastly changed, not sure this is great news or not. Still hope this game does well.
Personally, I think it's good news. Yu Suzuki has said that he has a lot of responsibilities that might be detracting from his overall creative direction of the game. Hiring someone with intimate knowledge of the Shenmue series to help share that load is a smart move in my eyes.
 
Jul 25, 2014
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I BELIEVE IN HUMANITY AGAIN. A legendary profile, this man has.

Not that the current AM2 is bad, but imagine if this entire team made Virtua Fighter 6...
 

Spaghetti

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Nov 4, 2013
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Having the original director on board is actually a really big deal. So jazzed.
*Game director

Just so people don't get the wrong idea, Yu Suzuki is the director of the Shenmue series (not a "producer" like Inafune), and people like Okayasu are there to have tasks delegated to them, split Suzuki's overall workload, and be another creative voice towards game creation.

This is still a big deal though, because it solves one of the problems Yu had mentioned having in development, which was that he was overloaded with so much work. Hopefully this means Yu will be sleeping less at the office, but I doubt it. He thrived under those conditions at SEGA, so I suppose he enjoys constantly being in "work mode" to some degree.
 

Erevador

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Jan 25, 2014
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Great to see the pros from the original game involved. Shenmue I is such a flawlessly paced, engaging experience. Glad to have as much of that expertise as possible at work on the new game.

This really is different from many Kickstarters of this type. It isn't just trading on Suzuki's name, he really has brought in a lot of the best possible people from the original games to properly re-create the world of Shenmue.

So exciting.
 

Spaghetti

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Nov 4, 2013
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This really is different from many Kickstarters of this type. It isn't just trading on Suzuki's name, he really has brought in a lot of the best possible people from the original games to properly re-create the world of Shenmue.
This is true. I guess it's kind of a blessing in disguise that SEGA has had such a massive brain-drain in the last 10/15 years, because that's freed up a lot of series veterans to work on this project.

That's not even counting people who worked outside the game industry anyway, like architectural designer Manabu Takimoto, and newcomers like the Emmy Award winning Toshihiko Masada or ascended fan Kid Nocon.
 

Erevador

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Jan 25, 2014
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This is true. I guess it's kind of a blessing in disguise that SEGA has had such a massive brain-drain in the last 10/15 years, because that's freed up a lot of series veterans to work on this project.

That's not even counting people who worked outside the game industry anyway, like architectural designer Manabu Takimoto, and newcomers like the Emmy Award winning Toshihiko Masada or ascended fan Kid Nocon.
Love that they scouted Kid Nocon out of nowhere, his work is amazing, and completely in line with the design sensibilities of Shenmue. Beautiful for him that he is now getting to be part of the next chapter of Shenmue.

And I completely agree about Manabu Takimoto. His designs gave Shenmue such a unique flavor. The extent to which the spaces in the game really do feel like real spaces is pretty much unparalleled in other games. The attention to structural realism and detail is just mind-boggling.
 

Spaghetti

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Love that they scouted Kid Nocon out of nowhere, his work is amazing, and completely in line with the design sensibilities of Shenmue. Beautiful for him that he is now getting to be part of the next chapter of Shenmue.

And I completely agree about Manabu Takimoto. His designs gave Shenmue such a unique flavor. The extent to which the spaces in the game really do feel like real spaces is pretty much unparalleled in other games. The attention to structural realism and detail is just mind-boggling.
It wasn't out of nowhere, apparently. Yu met him in South Korea prior to the Kickstarter while giving a lecture there, and they seem to have struck up a friendship/mentorship. I might be remembering things wrong, but it seems Yu offered Kid Nocon a place on the development team shortly after the KS succeeded.
 

NXGamer

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Jan 7, 2016
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Such GREAT NEWS, this is really becoming a genuine close to the saga that we have all wanted.
 

Spaghetti

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Nov 4, 2013
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Is the scale of the game expected to be more like Shenmue 1?
Nobody really knows. It's supposed to be a more inwards looking game than the original or II, but we do know it hops locations like Shenmue II did. In an ideal world it combines the more structured approach of II with the personality of the first game, which I feel might be their overall aim.

Either way, Okayasu says he was on development on Shenmue II until it was nearly complete, so I wouldn't take his appointment on III as which of the originals it'll be more like.
 

HStallion

Now what's the next step in your master plan?
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Man this is one of the few kickstarters I'm really glad to have backed and have little to no qualms with how things are turning out.
 

Spaghetti

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Nov 4, 2013
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Closer look at the off-screen footage.



Trying to make out what some of the English text says.

Bottom right appears to say something along the lines of "Morning. Shop District", so I guess this might be our first look at Choubu after all.
 

Bioshocker

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Jan 12, 2015
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Is the scale of the game expected to be more like Shenmue 1?
I am expecting a much smaller game than Shenmue II at least. Given the budget I think it a fair to expect something smaller in scale and shorter in length. I think Yu Suzuki wants Shenmue III to have the same amount of detail as the first two games so I assume they'll focus on a few smaller areas and let the story unfold there.

I visited Guilin and Yangshuo in June. Can't wait to see more of the Chinese countryside in the next Shenmue.
 

Acquiescence

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I don't know who he is, but if he worked on the first two games then welcome on board amigo! More of the old guard is always appreciated.
 

Ganondorfo

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May 29, 2006
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Its weird that we havent seen a new trailer since E3, while they are pumping the Yakuza trailers and games like crazy.
 

Pachimari

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Apr 28, 2007
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Why is the watch in the corner... I liked bringing it up from my arm.

I know it's early days still.
 

ajim

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Jan 26, 2009
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Seems exciting. Really keen to start seeing some more character art and designs etc too.

Cant believe shenmue 3 is happening. Amazing.
 

so1337

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Aug 16, 2006
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*Game director

Just so people don't get the wrong idea, Yu Suzuki is the director of the Shenmue series (not a "producer" like Inafune), and people like Okayasu are there to have tasks delegated to them, split Suzuki's overall workload, and be another creative voice towards game creation.

This is still a big deal though, because it solves one of the problems Yu had mentioned having in development, which was that he was overloaded with so much work. Hopefully this means Yu will be sleeping less at the office, but I doubt it. He thrived under those conditions at SEGA, so I suppose he enjoys constantly being in "work mode" to some degree.
Thanks for clearing that up. I was under the impression that Yu was the director but wasn't sure anymore after seeing this thread's title.
 

Elfforkusu

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May 4, 2007
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Good news. It seems like they're ramping up development now, which sounds about right given when the project started.
 

Spaghetti

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Nov 4, 2013
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Thanks for clearing that up. I was under the impression that Yu was the director but wasn't sure anymore after seeing this thread's title.
Naw. Yu is still the director and always has been for the entire series, but it's nice to have Okayasu back to assist and keep Yu focused where he needs to be instead of being pulled in several different directions.

Its weird that we havent seen a new trailer since E3, while they are pumping the Yakuza trailers and games like crazy.
Uh, what's weird about it? And what does Yakuza have to do with things?

Shenmue is being produced independently, not by SEGA.

The game has only been in production for around ten months, and they didn't start prototyping until January, it's too premature for a new trailer.
 

openrob

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Feb 25, 2014
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Wasn't sure if the YouTube link was posted.
https://youtu.be/NJXqMPzVvr8

Anyway, super excited, this guy definitely had the right mindset and seems like the team is really strong.

There is always great fear that the game will not live up to expectation, but the more I hear, the more confident I am.
 

SpecX

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Apr 26, 2009
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Awesome news. I still hope Sega can some how release HD versions of the originals intact with all the brand names in it.
 

Spaghetti

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From Dojo user Yokosuka:

EDIT: GIF got too much traffic and died, will replace when possible.

I like the little touches in the animation quite a bit.