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Showing posts with label Sega New Challenge Conference. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sega New Challenge Conference. Show all posts

Watch the Sega shareholder meeting that ended the Dreamcast

I'm sure most of you who have even a passing interest in the history of the Dreamcast will have seen the numerous videos of the Sega New Challenge Conference 1998; during which Sega's final console was first revealed to the world. Obviously, at the time nobody knew the Dreamcast would be the ultimate entrant in Sega's home console hardware catalogue, but c'est la vie innit bruv.

What - I'll wager - most people haven't seen, is the bookending 'Structural Reform Plan Briefing Session, Sega Co. Ltd' meeting held on January 31 2001 during which the Dreamcast's short life was extinguished, and Sega repositioned itself as a software pubisher. I know I certainly hadn't - until now. To be honest I didn't even know a recording of the meeting existed online, not in the public domain anyway, but it seems one savvy YouTuber captured the live feed and subsequently posted it to his channel:


As you'll see from the upload date, Dave Freeman posted this to his YouTube channel back in 2015 and states in the description that he captured it himself from a live feed; and judging from the number of views (around 5000 at the time of writing) not a great number of people have seen this. Through the power of modern technology (well, YouTube) it's now possible to add auto-generated English - or indeed any other language - subtitles to the video so it is fairly easy to grasp what is being said if you don't speak Japanese. To do this, activate closed captions and then select the little settings cog, click on Japanese (auto generated) and from the next menu select Auto-translate. It will then present you with a scrollable list of supported languages.

Anyhow, I stumbled upon this while searching for something else entirely unreleated and thought it was worth sharing here. As ever, apologies if this is old news but I found it quite fascinating. Dave - if you are reading this I tried to find a way to contact you but couldn't - but rest assured, this recording is of historical significance so you were totally right to archive this shareholder meeting for posterity.

Examining Yu Suzuki's 'Tower Of Babel' 1998 Dreamcast Tech Demo

Way back in May 1998, Sega of Japan held a conference announcing the impending arrival of its new console. It was to be named Dreamcast. The Sega New Challenge Conference was the first time that the world was formally introduced to Sega's successor to the Saturn, and the hype was very real. The gaze of the world's press was focused on a small lectern on a darkened stage, as Sega of Japan President  Shoichiro Irimajiri revealed the final form of the new console; while on a huge screen behind him tech demos showed off what the hardware was capable of.
1998 was a magical year.
The first of these demos showed a Irimajiri's head rendered in real time, while various effects were applied to it - lighting, textures and morphing effects showed what the Dreamcast could do. It also featured a glimpse of a fully rendered 3D Sonic the Hedgehog, the first time we got to see the model that would later be used in Sonic Adventure. To this day, the 'Iri-San' tech demo has remained undumped and is most likely locked away in a vault somewhere in Sega's Japanese headquarters.
 Image source: Edge Magazine issue 60
The second tech demo, and the focus of this particular article became known as the 'Tower of Babel' demo, where viewers were taken on whirlwind tour of a fully polygonal settlement built around the base of an enormous tower. The squat buildings set on an idyllic isle, the sun setting in the distance while the huge cylindrical tower rose above the winding streets. It really is a striking and curious scene, and while it may not seem very impressive by modern standards, back in 1998 these types of sequences had never been seen running in real time on console hardware; and as you might expect they were spread across the pages of gaming magazines the world over.
Image source: Edge Magazine issue 60
I personally remember seeing the images of the Irimajiri and Babel (or Babylon, as it's sometimes referred to) tech demos reproduced in glorious fuzz-o-vision in the pages of several magazines at the time of the Dreamcast's announcement; and being amazed and excited in equal measure. But then, after the initial excitement made way for the actual launch of the system (and with other tech demos coming along too - which have similarly never been leaked online); I pretty much forgot about Irimajiri's floating head and the mysterious little village huddled on that lonely rock in the shadow of a tower. That was until I finally got to see the thing for myself in real time, and thanks to the power of the internet, so can you...