A new developer diary from the team creating Shenmue 3 features series creator Yu Suzuki talking about the difference in storytelling between films and videogames. While both are an audiovisual media, the user experience is vastly different due to the flow of time in each one. Suzuki also discuss the way he builds impressive scenes that stay in the memory of the players.
Updates from the development of Shenmue 3 don’t come very often, so it’s nice when we get videos like this, where we can see master Suzuki active at work. Even though the content of the video is not strictly related to the game, it’s very interesting to hear his opinion about one of the aspects he excelled at making one of the most fascinating videogame series.
In the video Suzuki is asked by a member of his team to discuss the difference between storytelling in videogames and other forms of entertainment, to which he points out how time affects the experience in each media. In films, for example, you have a fixed length which allows you to plan story events that help shaping the flow and make an impact on the viewers. However, videogame players can spend 100 hours with an RPG, and can go quickly through the story or spend more time in other secondary activities, which affects their perception of the events.
Also, in the longer videogames players ofter forget certain story details and need to be reminded of them.
Suzuki also says that a mark of modern storytelling is that single themes, like a love story having only romance, “doesn’t cut it.” You need different themes that become separate plots with their own plot points, climaxes and resolutions. He puts the example of a car racing film which needs also some romance storyline to prevent viewers to get bored.
In a similar way, he says, Shenmue is a story about Kung-fu, but he wanted to include some interaction between a boy and a girl. All these multiple themes developing at the same time makes the narrative difficult to manage, and in a long RPG he thinks the most important plot structure is having an introduction and conclusion, but skipping the development and twist, filling those sections with gameplay instead.
Shenmue 3 is in development for PlayStation 4 and PC and is expected to launch this year or 2018 at most. In the meantime, Sega is rumored to be working on HD revisions of Shenmue and Shenmue 2 to be released this year. Check out the new Shenmue 3 developer diary video below.