Shenmue 3's already going gangbusters on Kickstarter, having crept up to just over $3.5 million since its crowdfunding campaign went live last week, but if it's to be the truly open world sequel many fans are hoping for it's still got some way to go.
Speaking to fans on a Reddit AMA on Friday evening, creator Yu Suzuki suggested that the initial $2 million target was just the start. "I will say this: if we reach the $5 mil mark, one of the things I really want to do with Shenmue 3 will become a reality," he said. "At $10 million, it will truly have the features of an open world."
Given that the original Shenmue's budget ran to some $47 million (a figure supplied by Suzuki back in 2011), questions have emerged about how Shenmue 3 can be made for a relatively paltry sum - and how external partners, such as Sony who lent Suzuki and his company YsNet its E3 stage for the reveal, may be helping with funding too.
Speaking to Eurogamer's Oli Welsh last week, Sony's president of worldwide studios Shuhei Yoshida provided a little more clarity on the relationship. "I cannot talk about the specifics of the deal, but I can talk about the set-up," he said. "It's the third-party relations team's work. They've been supporting many indie developers - you've seen Adam Boyes or Shahid Ahmad showcasing indie developers over the last few years. When the third party relations team identifies some great indie game being developed they strike a deal so it comes on PlayStation first on console, or something like that.
"There's a variety of ways of support, including financial support. When the game's not being funded at that point, the developer has to come up with some funding themselves, for third party relations team to help - because third party relations is third party relations - if we fund the project then it's first party! It's my job! There's a great difference. If Suzuki's Kickstarter is successful [and very quickly after our conversation it was], SCEA will add funding and other support."
What will Shenmue 3's open world consist of? After the urban backdrops of Yokosuka and Hong Kong for the first two games, Shenmue 3 takes a more pastoral approach, focussing on villages in rural China. "Choubu is a riverside village with lots of shops, souvenir stores, hotels and temples. The quests in this village should be very enjoyable, I think," said Suzuki in the Reddit AMA as he outlined the world of Shenmue 3, and where the story will take the hero Ryo Hazuki and Shenhua - the companion acquired at the end of the second game. "Bailu is the village where Shenhua was raised and also a place that Ryo's father, Iwao, had visited when he was younger. Here as well the quests will play an important role as Ryo and Shenhua start their journey."