Shenmue Director Returns to Work on Shenmue 3

Keiji Okayasu is back.


A key figure from the development of the original Shenmue will be contributing to Shenmue III, developer Ys Net announced today.

In an update posted on Kickstarter, Ys revealed that Keiji Okayasu has joined the development team working on Shenmue III. Okayasu was involved from the early stages of development on the original game, serving as its game and program director. He also worked on Shenmue II, though he estimates he left after about 70 percent was complete.

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The Kickstarter update is accompanied by a short interview video with Okayasu, who is credited as a subdirector on Shenmue III. (That's also how he describes his role on the first two games.) He was working as president of a small Japanese development company, Studiofake, when Shenmue creator Yu Suzuki came to him and requested he work on the new game.

"I have just recently joined the team. I thought I would be another fan waiting excitedly for the release, but as it is, I get to once again be a part of the team," Okayasu said. "Of course I want to help finish the game, and do it so the fans will be satisfied. That means making it interesting for everyone who played I and II, and everyone who will be experiencing Shenmue for the first time.

"What I personally want to stress for my part, is what makes Shenmue, Shenmue. The game has an utterly unique atmosphere, and I want that all to be breathed in. As you play along, you feel the ambiance, the milieu, from place to place, getting that full sensory experience. It is about that natural... atmosphere, as best as I can call it, because Shenmue is a game where that is so important. With Shenmue III, that aspect will not be disregarded, and I will keep it alive and well as we continue development."

He also spoke about Suzuki and his genius, which he says comes from how he often speaks "against convention." Okayasu also said Suzuki frequently questions the accepted standards and tries to think from the perspective of someone who doesn't play games.

Shenmue III was a surprise announcement at E3 2015. A successful Kickstarter campaign immediately followed the game's reveal, and Ys Net has been providing occasional updates on its development ever since.

"With our key developers on board, the prototype build started in January," Suzuki said in a recent update. "It has been six months since the project has really taken off. Battle and facial expressions are coming together, and cheers from the crew are growing. It makes me feel it will turn out to be a good game."

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