Saturday, June 25, 2011

Yu Suzuki Steps Down...Again

Yu Suzuki, the esteemed producer of Sega classics such as OutRun, After Burner, Hang-On, Virtua Fighter and Shenmue, (LIKE EVERY ARTICLE MENTIONS), is leaving his managerial role at Sega in September 2011.  He'll remain with Sega as an "advisor," you know, like all good Sega devs like Yuji Naka who say they don't work there anymore but still have "ties" or something.  But this isn't new because Yu Suzuki retired from his R&D creative officer at Sega's AM Plus in 2009 so I guess the man has a habit of retiring himself multiple times before he gives up entirely it seems.

 He'll work at his own game studio, YS NET, where he's working on the new Shenmue City (or is it Town?) game and also that Kinect fighting game which has the chance to be the only good Kinect game ever made (it's Yu Suzuki we're talking about, come on...).

About his departure, I don't know if this means an end to Shenmue 3, OutRun 3, etc.  Yu Suzuki doesn't even work on Virtua Fighter anymore.  But whether or not Yu Suzuki works with Sega, I don't see him getting much done unless Sega decides to be a gentleman again, writes the checks, then opens up the treasure trove of old IPs they haven't touched in a while.  I hope that Yu Suzuki still gets the Shenmue IP so he can make part 3 even if Sega doesn't want it...

READ THE BREAKING INTERVIEW THAT EVERYONE'S BEEN WAITING FOR.  It is about Shenmue Town, programming languages, arcades, portable phones, and fighting games.  Don't get your hopes up for any Sega racing goodness.  Interesting quotes:

Yu Suzuki: Well, in 2008 I established YS NET, my current company. I'll be leaving my current job at Sega this September, and after that point I'll remain on as an advisor. So I've formally been with both companies from 2008 until September 2011. With the new company, I've been doing pretty much what I personally want to do myself.

In other words, Sega sucks.  LOLOLOLOLOLOLolololol...

YS: Well, in 2004 I was... what was the name of the group? The names changed a lot, but as far as the games are concerned, I was involved with STV [Sega Race TV], and also with Psy-Phi, a game that was announced but ultimately wound up not getting released. With STV I was just the producer, not doing any director stuff with it. On Psy-Phi, I was director until the point it was cancelled.

There was one other title as well, and that one also got stopped by Sega midway. But maybe that was for the better, because the Sega of the time was not in all that good shape, and they were shrinking down a lot of projects... maybe that part of it doesn't need to get written down. [laughs] I don't want to impact Sega's image.

I believe he was talking about Shenmue Online (which will be resurrected in the form of Shenmue Town, I  believe).  BTW, the only good MMO is a Shenmue MMO, nuff said.  Anyway, I would like to find out more about Sega Race TV but very little is known.  All I know is after OutRun 2, the dude hasn't done much since then...

YS: That's a hard question to answer, but the best way to do it, I suppose, is to say that you can make any game you like without the technology. Having advances in technology, however, does make it easier to evolve games, to take them to the next level.

Personally, I always want to make games that go hand-in-hand with new technology. Let's say there was some calculation that used to take two hours or so to finish. Then, suddenly, you find a new way to do it in software and hardware. That, in itself, opens up new doors and opportunities for games -- in AI, for example. It creates more opportunities for fun, the more CPU power you have. I think it can inherently lead to better games.

YS: It's really amazing that they've advanced the genre up to this point, I think. I mean, the first hardware we had to work with, we could generate only 300 polygons at the same time if we wanted to keep it at 60 frames per second.

See, I like Yu Suzuki's approach to technology back in the arcade days...he still made great games that made Sega untouchable at the time.  Nowadays, every single game is pushing a billion polygons per frame and then the whole point gets lost.  Speaking of which, remember the Soviet computer Virtua Fighter 2 chips?  Rofl.

YS: At the time, arcade hardware was the best out there in terms of performance, but after a while, that obviously ceased to be true. Sega proceeded along those lines for a while, but eventually they stopped, so certainly there's no way Sega is going to produce new high-performance hardware all of a sudden.

That's interesting to think about.  Sega's glory days ended with the Dreamcast and that's when consoles' graphics usurped that of Sega lost one of their bargaining chips (sharp arcade games) and down with the ship he went.

[Talking about best programmers] YS: There were about four of five programmers at Sega who were really good -- I was the best, of course. [laughs] Or, at least, I was probably the best when it came to speed and optimization tricks.

First Yuji Naka, now Yu Suzuki.  PRO TIP: If you want to "make it big" with Sega (or the game industry in general) LEARN HOW TO PROGRAM GAMES and you win.  Seems like it anyway.  Thank you God that I'm actually on the road to being an expert programmer at FIEA.

[Talking about arcades] YS: That market certainly shrank too, didn't it? Well, it can't be helped! [laughs] You can't do much about it. There's lots of other fun things to do now -- YouTube, the internet, all kinds of things.


YS: In the past, we had things like assembly, Fortran, Pascal, Forth... We still had a lot of languages to work with, and I worked with all of those at one point or another. I never really had much resistance to learning new languages. I learned BASIC in the very beginning, though, and I still love BASIC as a language.

The latest BASICs, like Visual Basic, have a lot of C-like aspects to them. From my personal standpoint, though, I don't have much need to write final production code any longer; instead I can concentrate on logic and algorithms and other things like that. As a result, I never feel constrained by changes in language.

You want to see assembly in action?  Oh ho...I actually programmed in assembly a little, but thankfully, most of us have shifted to C++.  Programming ain't what it used to be thirty/fourty years ago so Yu Suzuki definitely had it tough...


           PAGE    ,132
           TITLE   CALC
           PUBLIC  CALC

           ORG     100H

CALC           PROC    FAR
           JMP     START

;                                      ;
;                 DATA AREA                      ;
;                                      ;

           DB      'INTERRUPT NUMBER ='
INT_NUMBER     DB      61h

SCREEN_HANDLE  DW      0001h

MESSAGE        DB      'PEMATH is not resident',13,10

TAG           DB      'PEMATH'
TAG_LEN        EQU     $-TAG

;                                      ;
;                 CODE AREA                      ;
;                                      ;

;    TEST FOR PRESENCE OF CALCULATOR                      ;
           SUB     AX,AX
           MOV     ES,AX
           SUB     BH,BH
           MOV     BL,INT_NUMBER
           SHL     BX,1
           SHL     BX,1
           MOV     DI,ES:[BX]
           MOV     ES,ES:[BX+2]
           ADD     DI,4
           LEA     SI,TAG
           MOV     CX,TAG_LEN
           JE      CALL_CALC
           MOV     BX,SCREEN_HANDLE
           MOV     CX,MESSAGE_LEN
           LEA     DX,MESSAGE
           MOV     AH,40h
           INT     21h
           JMP     SHORT CALC_EXIT
;    CALL CALCULATOR                              ;
           MOV     AL,INT_NUMBER
           MOV     BYTE PTR INT_CODE,AL
           DB      0CDh      ; INT
           DB      00h

           INT     20h

CALC           ENDP

           END     CALC

Source code here.

YS: I think there will be a new generation, sure. Lately, the big makers pretty much make nothing but big franchise titles, right? Small companies can't compete with that sort of thing; projects with 4 billion [$50 million] or 6 billion yen [$75 million] budgets competing against those with 300 million yen [$3.7 million] budgets.

However, if you make nothing but these big titles, the game industry's going to falter because of it. So I think it's great that small developers can get into these new platforms and compete on there on a more level basis. It takes up less of their money, and if they get a hit, I think that'll lead to the directors getting attention from the media.

Bravo...I agree that these big studios are detrimental to the game industry...lots of large, generic games that sell hundreds of millions...I don't like that.  Smaller games mean more chances which means more unique games for us all.

YS: I pretty much have to negotiate with Sega on a one-by-one basis with that sort of thing.

YS: There are lots of projects in the works, but until I can get a budget for them... [laughs]

YS: But, you know, if one of them becomes a hit, then again, that becomes the step up to the next level. I have a lot of original ideas in the works.

In the words of Charles Barkley, PAY THE MAN!!!!  That's all I have to say from this article...Yu Suzuki, keepin it old-school...  Check out the addendum where I talk about this cool YT video I found about him.


  1. (1) illegal instruction: Calculator or wrong parameters.
    (5) illegal instruction: CGROUP GROUP CODESEG or wrong parameters.
    (8) illegal instruction: PUBLIC CALC or wrong parameters.
    (66) wrong parameters: MOV BYTE PTR INT_CODE,AL
    (66) probably it's an undefined var: BYTE PTR INT_CODE

  2. Thank you for this comment. That’s all I can say. You most definitely have made this post into something that’s eyes opening and important. You clearly know so much about the subject, you’ve covered so many bases. Great stuff from this part of the internet. SEGA Racers -> -> ->