Showing posts with label e3. Show all posts
Showing posts with label e3. Show all posts

History of Independent Dreamcast Development

This article is taken from the work-in-progress second issue of the free fanzine, Dream On Magazine.

It's hard to believe that Sega released the Dreamcast twenty years ago! It feels like only yesterday. Luckily, the indie developers have been busy these past decades, so there's lots of dreamy goodness to cover. 

The second issue has taken a long time to come out due to huge mistakes on my part, and I sincerely apologize for that. However, the wait should be worth it, as I've had some awesome help. The DC Evolution crew, the same folks who put together the excellent compilation disc, "The Sandman #1", is helping to make sure that this issue will be the best it can be. 

So, feel free to dive in, and read up on the creation of the independent Dreamcast movement. I hope you find as much enjoyment out of it as we've had creating it. 

Dream On #2, and by extension, this article, would not have been possible without the help of BlueCrab, Christuserloeser, Idarcl, DCDayDreamer, and lyonhrt.

Bernie Stolar opens the floodgates to rumors of Saturn's successor.

On 23 June, 1997, Sega's Chief Operating Officer announced "the Saturn is not our future", publicly revealing for the first time that they were working on a successor. This console would use a
Hitachi SH-4 for its CPU and an ARM processor for sound. The code name for the console was Katana, but it was given the name Dreamcast by the time it hit retail. It was released in Japan on
27 November, 1998, in North America on 9 September, 1999, in Europe on 14 October, 1999, and in Oceania on 30 November, 1999. It was discontinued just a scant few years later when
Sega announced that it was discontinuing the console on 23 January, 2001. Production of new
games continued in North America until spring 2002, in Europe and Oceania until winter 2002,
and in Japan until 2007. However, it continues to have an active commercial life among
independent game developers.

A collection of official MIL-CD enhanced music discs.

The Dreamcast continues to be attractive to indies because the games can be sold on CD without having to obtain a license from Sega, which drastically reduces the overhead that is usually present in commercial game development for consoles. This ability actually stems from a vulnerability discovered early on in the lifespan of the Dreamcast. Sega of Japan developed a multimedia system called the MIL-CD, or Music Interactive Live-CD.

Praying In Yamanose

Thanks to a mischievous little Tweet from Shenmue creator Yu Suzuki yesterday depicting a forklift outside of the E3 Expo the Internet promptly broke.

And it wasn't the first time.
Look what Mr Suzuki found at E3.
Every time the name Shenmue 3 is spoken, even whispered, an upswelling of emotion takes hold of any gamer that once held Nozomi Harasaki’s hand. To every gamer who hunted Lan Di, fought to avenge a loved one’s honour and, yes, spent a hell of a lot of time driving forklifts, the concept of a third Shenmue title is literally mind blowing. It’s enough to make even the most secular gamer get down on their knees and begin praying.

And, it’s obvious why - vision. Yu Suzuki had a single vision, an epic tale to tell and over the course of the first two titles, games that - for all of their mechanical clumsiness - transported the gamer into one of the best and most engaging narratives the medium had ever seen. It’s a world that is beautifully singular in comparison with most of today’s open world experiences.
I always liked Nozomi. Reunited in Shenmue 3?
Regardless however, the history of the Shenmue franchise is now old and, if we are being totally honest, a little stale. Like its great partner in non-release-ity (yeh, that word construction didn't really work did it) Half-Life 3, the burning hunger for its release, the non-stop speculation, theorising and talk have started to sully its non-existent reputation. Because that’s the thing isn't it - the more people talk about the first two games, the more their limitations and problems are brought to the fore. Judgements are dispensed rightly or wrongly according to modern standards and they hurt, driving a wedge into how the franchise is depicted.

While in 1999 Shenmue was seemingly reviewed fairly honestly, with its narrative, characterisation and scope praised, yet its mechanics and open world teething problems criticised, today Shenmue is held up as either an unfinished masterpiece cruelly locked away from the world, or a now old man’s grandest folly that deserves to be left in the past.
This just looked stunning when first released in 2001.
Of course, neither of these statements are true. The thing is though, through their diametrically opposite positioning, they do craft a crucial question that, at least in my eyes, has still been left unanswered - what should Shenmue 3 actually be? You see, because while millions of people would literally sell their soul to Cthulhu for it to be announced - me included! - I think if you asked all of them what you think it should be, then I think you’d receive some markedly different visions.

I've spoken to people who would be quite happy for a third title to be literally kick-started in the old engine. Others want the same formula with HD graphics. I've seen others who fight the corner for a GTA-style experience and yet more who want a Telltale episodic graphic adventure. And this is just their grand vision. Details such as movement, fight mechanics, interactivity, physics and more are left unspecified. Personally, I feel the Shenmue franchise could learn a lot from the recently released The Witcher 3, which was put together with a smallish team on just a US$32 million budget (the first two Shenmue games were developed for US$70 million, which is close to US$100 million today).
Just imagine the freedom that Shenmue 3 could offer the player with today's hardware.
The point is though, regardless of the cost, a clear vision must first be established and, if you were to ask me right now who is capable of achieving that, then I'm afraid I'm going to have to default back to Suzuki. I've always been a fan of games that held an intrinsic purity and Suzuki managed to create one of the most complexly pure game series I've ever played. The problem is, finding people in the modern gaming industry who are happy to take a punt on such a project, a project where there would be no safety net, no Call of Duty profit margin, is an incredibly difficult task.

All we need now is someone to give Mr Suzuki that money because, I've got to say, my knees are really starting to hurt.


“Yes Tama, I know, someone should definitely give Mr. Suzuki another $50 million to make Shenmue 3.”


“Yes, I agree, Mr. Suzuki should definitely not bring back Tom Johnson.”


“What? Oh you just want more dried fish… fine. I’ll just pop down to Tomato.”

SEGA: May I have an E3 Dreamcast shirt, please?

 Hi SEGA, it's Barry.

I've been keeping up on all the E3 happenings over the past week and have very much enjoyed what you had to show. One of the strongest third party years yet! I was particularly happy to see Dreamcast classics on display, something that we haven't seen since E3 2001. Anyway, point I'm getting at is that I saw the t-shirts you were handing out and I genuinely want one. They look awesome. The "September 2010" line already gets me hyped for the upcoming Dreamcast anniversary as well as the rerelease of Crazy Taxi and Sonic Adventure. You asked us to share a Dreamcast memory to get a shirt, and while I can't be at E3 and the shirts are seemingly gone, I'm still taking a chance at getting one.

My favorite Dreamcast memory: The winter Phantasy Star Online released. I had just moved 2 hours south of where I had lived for 16 years, leaving all of my friends. We were stuck with the occasional weekend visit and phone calls, but it wasn't the same. Thankfully PSO changed all that. While we were hours apart, an online game of PSO made it feel like the good old days. I'll never forget weekend games that went into the early hours of the morning.

I gave my memory, now *cough* the shirt? :)


ps - I made that Ryo Hazuki is a Big Fat Liar! video, if that helps my chances. ;)

UPDATE: Front of the shirt!

E3 News Roundup

Who knew that ten years after the launch of the Dreamcast, we'd have an E3 filled with Dreamcast releated goodies? The first of these bits comes from nuckles87, the SEGAbits E3 representative:

E3 2010: Crazy Taxi Hands-On

Aside from Shenmue and, perhaps, Sonic Adventure, Crazy Taxi is the most iconic franchise the Dreamcast every produced. So it comes as no surprise that the original game has joined Sonic Adventure as one of the first games in the Dreamcast revival SEGA is now pushing. Everyone here knows how the game plays: you play a taxi driver who drives people to far away locations in ridiculously short amounts of times, throwing every traffic law to the wind in the hopes of getting the largest fair possible from the customer.
Click here to read the rest

The second bit of news involves sequels to two great Dreamcast games: REZ and Hydro Thunder. The upcoming sequel to REZ isn't so much a sequel as it is a spiritual successor. Different name, different publisher, sure. But Tetsuya Mizuguchi (REZ, Space Channel 5) is behind it and many of REZ's elements are in place. Check out the awesome demo below featuring Mizuguchi playing the game via the 360's Kinect controller:

As you can see in the video, one hand is your gun. A grabbing motion pulls in ammo, and the player can throw it out at enemies for a blast attack. Clapping hands switches guns and your other hand fires the Vulcan cannon and auto-fires shots. The controls are definitly a step above the trance vibrator and looks to be a lot of fun! Child of Eden's release is TBA and will be hitting the 360 and PS3.

Next up is Hydro Thunder Hurricane, the sequel to the Dreamcast launch title. Check out the trailer below for old memories with stunning new graphics:

This sequel/remake will be hitting the 360's downloadable marketplace this summer!

Finally, I saved the best for last! I'll leave you with a quote from President of SEGA West Mike Hayes. When asked how many Dreamcast titles we can expect to have on XBLA and PSN by next summer, Mike replied:

We hope to have somewhere between 18 to 24. Around that.