Saturday, 18 July 2015

Shenmue 3: Kickstarter ends with a flourish

So I don't think congratulations are in order to Yu Suzuki and Ysnet since the goal was already hit a month ago but what the hell, I'll offer them anyway. Picking up a good head of steam in the last week, the Kickstarter campaign ended up making $6.3m, more than half of what Suzuki allegedly needs to truly make the game he wants and enough to ensure there will be legendas em Portugues. This apparently broke the record for a campaign in the video games category although as much as Shenmue is a niche title, it's not exactly some small indie passion project either. No need to rehash all of that though as we will never get answers about any of it.

At some point it seems as though at some point during the celebration last night, Paypal as an option to continue funding the game was confirmed. A little murky about how it will work but if people want to contribute, I hope it's worth your while. I personally feel I put enough down in my pledge. There have to be other backers. There have to be. My hope is for Shenmue 3 to exceed expectations and for Ysnet not to have to return to that well for Shenmue 4. I know there are a lot of obsessives out there but I think it would lead to diminishing returns in good will.

I see from comments the perpetual victims are out in force accusing Kotaku and others of running hate crusades against Shenmue which is as ridiculous as it gets. I wonder about the mentality of people who get so invested in something they lose their minds to the extent they are seeing conpiracies and inventing stories where Nintendo paid off a journalist on a business website because they were afraid of a niche fifteen year-old game. One of the things I worry about with Shenmue 3 is, 'where will I find the time to play it?' I don't think these MENSAs have the same issues. The ironic thing about me whining about these people is I'm about to do a lot of bitching in this column coming up that I'm about to spend an hour writing. I must just be in a mood.

After the jump, I break down the rewards.

I have to say, $6.3m was more than I thought achievable so kudos for that. Perhaps if the team had been more competent and prepared at the start it cold have gone even higher? I have serious questions about some of the rewards they dangled at the end to reach that number however...

$5 - 2,251 backers - SHENMUE LIVES
"Yu Suzuki's thanks and praise. + Be able to participate in surveys and vote in polls for the ideas you want to see in the game."
I can only assume this is causal people who have no real interest in Shenmue but just got caught up in the hype and put in a few pence as chairty because what the freaking hell kind of crappy reward is this one?

$29 - 26,238 backers - Digital copy
A digital copy of Shenmue 3 for PC or PS4.
This is pretty standard. Probably a whole bunch of casuals here too.

$39 - 382 backers - Save Shenmue Digital Upgrade
Kickstarter exclusive Shenmue III wallpaper set. The wallpapers will feature the Real Deal Ryo & Sure as Sugar Shenhua - the perfect models of our heroes as they were always imagined to be! + Your name on the official Shenmue III website.
I'm not surprised this has so few backers because it's kinda lame. Wallpaper? Really? I think I haven't changed my wallpaper in about a year and a half, it's a picture of my ex. Shows how important it is.

$60 - 14,668 backers - Physical copy PS4
A physical copy of Shenmue 3 in an exclusive, backer-only case.
This is outrageously expensive but I can appreciate it because I have been spitting feathers that BlazBlue Chronophantasma and Guilty Gear Xrd Sign did not get physical copies in EU and I am totally a sucker for classy packaging so...

 $80 - 2,062 backers - S3 World Telecom
Get an international phone card (in-game item) to call Nozomi, Guizhang Chen, Ine-san, Joy, Fuku-san, or other characters from Shenmue 1 & 2.
This item will unlock phone conversations and flashback scenes available only to Kickstarter Backers. Keep your friends close with S3 World Telecom.
This is actually awesome, a great idea. I have to say though, none of those five characters would be in my top five of characters I would want to call although this is a subject for another time, maybe next week. People kind of get distracted by the boobies when it comes to Joy. For a main-ish character. I feel like we know barely anything about her. Reminds me a lot of Kaitlyn Bristowe.

$100 - 6,539 backers - Shenmue 3 Trial Version
Your choice of a digital copy of the game for PC or PS4, or a physical copy for PC + A digital copy of the trial version for PC + Your name in the credits. Be the first anywhere to play Shenmue 3. Get the real word straight from the development team.
Honestly I couldn't care less about a trial version mainly because I wouldn't have time to play it. I guess the idea is that people can try it and give feedback and then developers will make alterations as needed but then I gave my opinion already on the types of people who would have hours to spend diving into this stuff and think they would just mess it all up by giving wrong advice. Just send it your professional testers and give me the finished product.

$120 - 1,791 backers - Toy capsules
A Shenmue series favorite and now a Kickstarter exclusive. An actual capsule toy that will appear in the game! Get one of four random figures: Ryo, Shenhua, Chai or the Forklift.
This is where it starts getting especially silly. $20 for one capsule toy? One? Really? The point is...?

$160 - 1,279 backers - Bonus pack
A backer-only Advanced Technique Scroll + 20 Capsule Toy Tickets + An mp3 download of the original soundtrack with unreleased tracks + A digital artbook filled with unreleased illustrations + An original Shenmue 3 T-shirt.
I'm not sure how to feel about this thing where people who pay more money get more fighting techniques but I think it puts the lie to the idea that the combat is really important to this game. Is you were really developing the game and getting really excited about the style and techniques I feel like you'd want your best ideas to be accessible to everyone. Maybe I'm wrong about that, it's just the way I think about it. The physical rewards are pretty cool though I guess.

$175 - 2,822 backers - Printed Art Book
Printed art book curated by Yu Suzuki.
I'm hoping this is something pretty ornate but either it sounds good to me.

$250 - 1,170 backers - Kickstarter Collector's Edition
An illustration + A backer-only Arcane Technique Scroll + A Skin-change feature for Ryo's Jacket + The physical CD soundtrack.
Honestly, the bonus pack sounds way more appealing than this. Since it doesn't seem like Ryo can go shopping for clothes à la Pokémon X&Y, changing his jacket is meaningless to me, in fact it kinda takes away from it since that's his look. Also, what is the meaning of 'an illustration'. What!?

$300 - 3,141 backers - Signed Kickstarter's Collectors Edition
A must have for the Shenmue fan. Get an illustration signed by Yu Suzuki. Don't miss your opportunity to get Yu's autograph! + A backer-only Arcane Technique Scroll + A Skin-change feature for Ryo's Jacket + The physical CD soundtrack.
I'm kinda stunned this got so many backers. Maybe they were just more comfortable with this amount vs $250 or the next one up? $50 for a Yu Suzuki autograph is twice as much as Katee Sackhoff charges and I know who I'd rather have a photo of. Once I grew up past my teenage years I lost my fascination for signatures. I do have a signed photo of Jenna Coleman in my office but that's a whole other drama.

$500 - 885 backers - Toy Capsule box set
A Shenmue series favorite and now a Kickstarter exclusive. Actual capsule toys that will appear in the game! Get all four figures: Ryo, Shenhua, Chai and the Forklift.
A fool and his money...

$600 - 147 backers - Shenmue Guestbook
Put your name and a 140 character message in the guestbook of a Choubu inn. Write your witticism/aphorism/Shenmue-ism for all to see!
Ok. This is where it starts to get egregiousand where I felt I had to write this column and get this off my chest. This reward is total bullshit. I scan the comments and the Facebook groups and I know what kind of people are backing the higher tiers of this project and rational human beings they tend not to be. You know what else they tend not to be? The type of people who would be staying at the fucking guest house of a rural village in 80's Communist China. I feel like that is getting lost in all of this. I sincerely hope I'm not having to flip through this thing searching for information on a Chiyoumen gang member having to read about how Jack McCracken wants you to suk his bawls.

$700 - 90 backers - Dice Dude Capsule Toy
Be in the newest Shenmue capsule toy collection as your own block figure for the in-game capsule toy machines. + Give an idea for the toy's name.
I think it's important to note that every single backer from here on up gets to be in the Shenmue Guestbook. Is that vomit I taste in my mouth?  Maybe it's more the result of this reward which ensures that ninety (!) of the capsule toys will be models of some random fucking tools with too much loose pocket change.

$800 - 88 backers - Shenmue Patron
In the oriental tradition of marking a pilgrimage to a temple by affixing one's name to the building, your name will appear on a Choubu temple in Chinese characters. The Chinese characters for your name will be approved by Yu Suzuki himself.
Find your name tag on the temple and receive a special Technique Scroll!
+ Receive a PDF of your name in Chinese characters as it will appear in the game.
Be part of the culture that is the world of Shenmue.
This is slightly less horrible than the guestbook thing as this will be in Chinese whereas it sounds like the guestbook will be in Chinese but it's still not fantastic. Whatever.

$900 - 7 backers - Lend Shenmue a Hand
Your hand and all the mysteries that lie within its palm will be featured in a book at a fortune teller. See what your future will hold!
Huh? Ok, I guess. At least it sounds like the devloper will be coming up with most of the content for this rather than using the visage or comments of some random white f'ler.

$1000 - 30 backers - Vintage Grab Bag - Project Berkley
Super rare promo merch from Shenmue 1 & 2. 3 random items (pictures in the rewards explanation section). Unbox this!
This is a proper reward, finally. Probably because it was one of the early ones before they started selling out their digital land rights.

$1000 - 8 backers - Ryo voice message by Corey Marshall
Corey Marshall, the English voice actor who plays the main character Ryo in Shenmue 1 & 2, will do a special voice message for you as Ryo.
This was a lot more than 8 people because some of the higher tiers got this too. If I bid higher and got this, I would say no thanks. I understand why they brought him back and there are certain classic phrases that he entertainingly butchers but the way people are so reverent of him is just baffling to me.

$1,200 - 8 backers - Temple of the Blooming Flower
Get a Chinese character of your choice to represent yourself, drawn in ornate calligraphy. Find your character displayed at the Temple of the Blooming Flower and get a special Technique Scroll!
+ Get the physical, hand-drawn calligraphy of your character!
Essentially the same kind of thing as Shenmue Patron except with a physical reward which should've been the extent of it.

$1,200 - 44 backers - Chibi You Capsule Toy
Kenji Miyawaki will draw you as a chibi figure for the in-game capsule toy vending machines. + Give an idea for the toy's name.
Read what I said about the Dice Dudes except replace ninety (!) with fourty-four (!)

$1,400 - 44 backers - Dreams Come True
Choose one of three wishes. Your name and birthdate will be written on a traditional wishing plaque to be displayed at a temple in Bailu Village. Find your plaque and your wish will come true! This is Kickstarter only exclusive!
Includes the TEMPLE OF THE BLOOMING FLOWER Reward.
I really don't like how many random people they are inserting in the game at this point.

$1,500 - 80 backers - I Am Shenmue 3
Be immortalized in world of Shenmue with your signed picture in the harbor waiting area for the Choubu passenger boat. Plus your name will appear on the guest register at a Choubu inn. Show the world how Shenmue you are.
This is entirely the worst of the worst, even worse than the one coming up which is absolutely terrible, and it is more than 80 pictures as higher tiers include this. I promise you, eighty random westerners did not visit "Choubu" in 1988. One of the things I loved about Shenmue was how real and lived in that world felt. This is fake, fake, fake, awful, self-serving horsecrap that dilutes the art of something people have been waiting almost twenty years for.

$1,800 - 12 backers - BFF Capsule Toy
Ryo, Shenhua, Nozomi, Joy, Ren, Ine-san, Guizhang, Lan Di, Chai, or Fangmei to appear with your Kenji Miyawaki-drawn chibi figure for the in-game capsule toy vending machines. + Give an idea for the toy's name.
Nice idea but insanely overpriced as evidenced by only 12 out of 40 backers. Should've come with a physical reward.

$1,800 - 3 backers - Shenmue Bait & Tackle
Get to name a fishing rod or lure. When your item is purchased, it will get a close-up and reaction from Ryo. + Receive the in-game item you named. Let’s get... fishy!
This opens up the door for more hacky crap but thankfully only 3 people took them up on it so hopefully it is entirely avoidable.

$2,000 - 13 backers - Vintage Grab Bag - Dragons Don't Sleep
Ultra rare promo merch from Shenmue 1 & 2. 6 random items (pictures in the rewards explanation section). Unbox this!
Pretty cool if you can afford it.

$2,500 - 6 backers - Crystal Memories
Become the proud owner of a highly collectible, laser engraved crystal sculpture of Ryo and Shenhua. Commemorate Shenmue 3 in style. Comes with an LED stand (requires 3 AAA batteries) that illuminates the design within. Crystal: W50mm×H80mm×D50mm, w/ stand: W66mm×H112mm×D66mm, total weight: 556g.
Pretty damn cool if you can afford it and have somewhere to put it. I doubt your wife would be too thrilled about it though unless possibly if your name is "Jameson" in which case you definitely can't afford it so don't even think about it.

$2,500 - 12 backers - Shenmue Character Bust
Concept design models of the main characters, produced for the development of Shenmue I. These busts were important stepping stones in the design phase to make them as life-like as possible, and were the first time the characters took shape (literally). Good condition, with wear and discoloration from all the loving hands that went into making Shenmue.
Choose one: Ryo (2 available), Shenhua (4 available), Ren (3 available) or Lan Di (3 available). First come, first serve!
It's weird they would not make more Ryos considering he is the most popular character by far but ok. Enjoy looking at it by yourself in your secluded cellar vault. I shudder to think about the people who bought the Shenhua model.

$3,000 - 22 backers - Ryo's Jacket Replica
Not just any replica of Ryo's trademark leather jacket. This is a Yu Suzuki approved replica of Ryo's trademark leather jacket. Yeah, you want it.
Pretty expensive Halloween costume if you ask me.

$4,000 - 2 backers - Be a technique scroll lucky hit game board
Do you want to be a game of lucky hit? Get your face and name on an in-game Lucky Hit board featuring a Technique Scroll.
+ 50 Lucky Hit Tickets (In-game Item)
First of all I cannot fucking believe that people voted for technique scrolls to be won through Lucky Hit because I goddamn hate Lucky Hit. There was basically no rhyme or reason to where the ball would land.Secondly, two too many people signed on for this (there were fifteen available) and I don't want to see their faces in the game. Go away.

$4,500 - 1 backer - Name a Vendor
Get to name a street vendor in the Choubu area. Once Yu Suzuki approves your name, it will become vendor’s sign in Chinese and English. Could you be the next Bob or Tom?
NO. Just no. Unless you have a Chinese name then it's explainable. Otherwise hell no. This kind of nonsense would've worked in Aberdeen and Kowloon. Not in this setting.

$5,000 - 1 backer - Vintage Grab Bag Keep Those You Love
OMG rare promo merch from Shenmue 1 & 2. 10 random items (pictures in the rewards explanation section). Unbox this!
Did the werewolf guy write this blurb? It sounds like something he would do.

$5,000 - 0 backers - Ryo's Watch
Extremely rare, from a very limited run.You will also be named as a Special Sponsor in the credits.
0 backers, womp wooomp. This is a decent reward but I guess no one wears watches anymore. The guy who bought the original jacket should've stumped for this too to complete his Comiccon costume.

$6,000 - 4 backers - Choubu traveller / non-combat NPC
Appear as an NPC staying at a Choubu inn. No big battle scene with Ryo, but this is your chance to cameo in the world of Shenmue!
Mercifully only four of these were available. It's probably three or four more than should've been and I've made my feelings about this stuff clear already but it's tolerable. I'll manage.

$10,000 - 0 backers - Ryo's Jacket the Original
The original jacket worn by Masaya Matsukaze for all of the Shenmue press events 14 years ago. What fan has not seen this legendary article of clothing before? + A special video message just for you by Yu Suzuki. + Be named as a Special Sponsor in the credits.
Whoops. This one was off the market within hours of the Kickstarter launch so either the pledger switched to something else or he realized how insane it was to be so desirous of a used jacket.

$10,000 - 3 backers - Dinner with Yu Suzuki + Shenmue Script Set
Bring a friend to join a dinner party in Japan with Yu-san and the other backers of this tier. (Date will be tentatively set for September, 2016). + An original script set from Shenmue 1 and 2. Even those working closely with the production of the first titles may not have laid eyes on these rare treasures. Scripts are in Japanese. You will also be named as a Special Sponsor in the credits.
I wonder how many of the guys who bought this actually know Japanese? I also wonder if they will cover the flight and hotel or if you have to do that. Also, what if you hate the other two backers also going to the dinner? Will Yu Suzuki give out a rose at the end of the night and take one of you to the fantasy suite?

$10,000 - 5 backers - Be a Shenmue 3 NPC
Your face will be featured on a Chi You Men member to do battle with Ryo! To maintain character setting, body style will be up to Mr. Suzuki. + Be named as a Special Sponsor in the credits.
I mean okay, I can kind of work the idea that the cartel would have non-Chinese members, even ones stationed in the rural mountainous outpost. I just keep thinking though that the reason Yu Suzuki did not want to go to a private third-party studioand have them fund the whole thing was that he wanted to have total control to make the game he want. I think the allusion he made was that he didn't want to sell out and make a zombie version, like the atrocity of Yakuza Dead Souls.
Well Ysnet  I have bad news. These types of rewards? You completely sold out.

$10,000 - 2 backers - Dinner in Monaco + Ryo's Jacket Replica
Bring a friend to participate in a Shenmue 3 project meeting with Yu-san in the picturesque town of Eze, to be followed by dinner. (Date will be tentatively set for the end of February, 2016). + Be named as a Special Sponsor in the credits.
The dreaded 2 on 1! One stays, one goes.

$10,000 - 3 backers - Dinner with Yu Suzuki in Los Angeles + Ryo's Jacket Replica
Bring a friend to join a dinner party in Los Angeles with Yu-san and the other backers of this tier. (Date will be tentatively set for June, 2016). + Be named as a Special Sponsor in the credits.
I am really curious to know what the people who bought all these $10k items, especially the dinners, do for a living. What are their finances like? How much are they paying in taxes? I need to know these things. I find it totally bizarre but I'm not really invested in celebrity worship, especially for men which I'm at least 93% sure everyone who bought a dinner is.

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