Virtua Fighter 3(Shenmue) on Sega Saturn

Discussion in 'Unreleased Games Discussion' started by chanchai, Sep 6, 2012.

  1. chanchai

    chanchai Rising Member

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    Still my favorite VF Episode and Saturn my favorite console!
    I wanted to know if that game ever existed for saturn(5-10%)! There are a lot of fake saturn screens and videos around(often cheap model 3 emulations). Does anybody in here know something about the saturn version? How much had the development progressed, is it true that there was a plan of releasing supplementary chips for the hardware(module-port). And what about shenmue are those saturngraphics without any enhancement hardware!?

    Does anybody know something about this "32X" for the saturn?



     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2012
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  2. Yakumo

    Yakumo Pillar of the Community *****

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    Ok, this has been mentioned many times. The Saturn version of VF3 was shown behind closed doors and all it featured was Aio dancing about on a blue background. How do I know this? Because my brother saw it. He worked in the games industry for 10 years.
     
  3. ave

    ave JAMMA compatible

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    I didn't know that, the many times that Yakumo's essential family stories have been discussed here must have slipped my attentive eye :p
     
  4. Anthaemia.

    Anthaemia. The Original VF3 Fangirl™

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    Did someone say... Saturn Virtua Fighter 3?!

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Fudge

    Fudge Spirited Member

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    Interesting, I would love to see this just to see how good it looked.
     
  6. Anthaemia.

    Anthaemia. The Original VF3 Fangirl™

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  7. Yakumo

    Yakumo Pillar of the Community *****

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    You haven’t been here as long as me, maybe that's why you may not have read that story. Saying that I must have mentioned it about 4 or 5 times in the past. I know Anthaemia has heard the story before. Also, only 1 brother has worked in the games industry but I've many friends who have or still do work in it. Personally, I've only ever been inside Bizarre Creations when they were making PlayStation 1 F1 games. But even then they were planning what became MSR and Fur Fighters. We were even asked for ideas to make what became Fur Fighters.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2012
  8. la-li-lu-le-lo

    la-li-lu-le-lo ラリルレロ

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    This is truly my holy grail of videogames, aside from the Model 3 original - which I own but have not been able to get working yet. I still would love to see what it looked like. I didn't know Saturn VF3 had polygonal backgrounds - that really would be impressive if true. Maybe one day.

    Supposedly Sega was working on a Real3D chip for the Saturn that was like a lower-end version of the one in the Model 3. There's a thread about it somewhere - it's mostly just speculation, though.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2012
  9. Yakumo

    Yakumo Pillar of the Community *****

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    If the 2nd version of Saturn VF3 had 3D backgrounds you can bet they would look pretty shit due to low resolution textures. The best option would have been to do some sort of Last Bronx conversion. That looks 3D but is actually 2D manipulated to look 3D.
     
  10. Anthaemia.

    Anthaemia. The Original VF3 Fangirl™

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    I really wanted to avoid giving another of my trademark lengthy responses on this subject, but I promise to keep things relatively short...

    According to a source within Sega Europe who claims to have seen the second revision of Saturn VF3 in late 1998 (after it had already been cancelled, I should point out), AM2 was supposedly employing a variable resolution method to keep up the speed of this conversion. A similar technique meant that processing transparencies didn't slow down Burning Rangers too much, and based on this person's description VF3 was running in 320x224 at 30 frames per second. However, it's not quite as simple as this, since that resolution only applied to the actual character models. Confused? You will be!

    For those who don't know, the earlier complete version of VF3 was built around an upgraded version of the Fighting Vipers/Fighters Megamix engine, with polygonal ring surrounds dropped in favour of scrolling parallax bitmap layers, similar to VF2. As for the later attempt, this has very basic 3D undulation and walls generated at 160x112, so naturally any texturing would have been noticeably rough. In addition to the lower resolution, these simple background elements were also updated every two cycles - again similar to how Burning Rangers handled transparencies.

    Just like in previous AM2 efforts for the Saturn, VF3's transparencies were believed to have been dithered sprites as opposed to proper alpha-blended polygons. I'm guessing this probably applied not only to objects blocking the "camera's" view of the two fighters, but also environmental effects such as water, sand and perhaps even the falling snow/sand on certain stages, plus glass where it appears. I must apologise for being so vague and speculative in places, though at the same time there's not really much of an alternate option since a lot of those who've seen this game choose to remain silent.

    Finally, going back to Last Bronx again for a moment, I followed any news of this conversion with great interest and made note of several instances in SSM's coverage especially where the backgrounds were described as being fully 3D, or at least this was the case until about 60% into development, when AM3 switched all polygonal data for the more commonly used parallax alternative. The handful of prototype screenshots available don't really highlight this change, although I've heard there may still be some footage out there from the Summer 1997 Tokyo Game Show. On the other hand, maybe the EMAP team were just mistaken?

    I've considered setting up a dedicated thread for Saturn VF3 and Shenmue many times, yet I always reconsider because of the sheer lack of information relating to both titles. Apart from that one video and a few slight hints of its existence from various sites back in the day, there's very little we know about Shenmue. Even now, several key members of AM2 refuse to acknowlede that VF3 existed at all, and I get the impression having so many projects rejected or massively delayed around the same period caused a lot of resentment within the group.

    Although this one last point has never been proven to my knowledge, I have a very strong feeling that the failure to get Saturn VF3 approved for release and the overall disappointment at Genki's Dreamcast conversion of VF3tb led to the beginning of the end for Yu Suzuki. Once a figure who could never do any wrong, all of a sudden he was seen as being directly responsible for several games that either didn't see the light of day or were commercial failures.

    Shenmue was undoubtedly the final straw, though considering its production costs it would have needed to shift more units than there were Dreamcasts just to break even - the powers that be within Sega couldn't really blame him for that, yet in the end he still took the fall and has yet to return from it. I can only hope that he'll get the opportunity to either direct or supervise a conclusion to this epic saga that doesn't compromise technically and in relation to his original vision for the series, which is why I'm more than happy to continue waiting.

    (Sorry... looking back, this is a typical rant from yours truly!)
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2012
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  11. sheath

    sheath Spirited Member

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    To my knowledge the Saturn version of Virtua Fighter 3 evolved into Fighter's Megamix.
     
  12. Anthaemia.

    Anthaemia. The Original VF3 Fangirl™

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    Sorry, but this definitely isn't the case since Fighters Megamix and Saturn Virtua Fighter 3 were independently announced at the same event:

    November 28, 1996

    SEGA'S JAPANESE PLANS

    On November 8, Sega Enterprises summoned the game media to its Tokyo head office and held a major press conference named Sega Saturn Power Up meeting '96 ~ '97. They announced that the Saturn had shipped over 3.7 million units in Japan over a period spanning nearly two years. Sega's Vice President Ichiro Irimajiri, with some help from AM2 head Yu Suzuki, made a series of major announcements concerning an ambitious plan to ship five million units by the end of March next year, and eventually ten million.

    The announcements started with the unveiling of several major Saturn titles, the Try! Network campaign to promote the already available Sega Saturn Network, the development of a TV phone system and multimedia activities using Saturn. Sega also announced that it will overhaul its distribution system including its agency system and participation in Digicube, the company formed by software companies to sell software at convenience stores.

    The major titles that were announced included Virtua Fighter 3, Last Bronx, X-Men vs. Street Fighter, Fighter's Megamix, Evangelion 2nd Impression and Grandia. Sega also announced a present campaign for the limited edition Christmas Nights.

    With regard to a Saturn conversion of VF3, Suzuki concluded, "I think we'll be able to make something that we could call 'VF3'. AM2 and myself will take full responsibility for the translation so please count on us. I'm afraid I can't invest more power into my statements, but that's how I feel right now. We're going to do everything we can to the best of our ability, so we hope you will be patient and believe in us."


    (SOURCE: Teleparc Game Geisen via http://www.sega-saturn.com/saturn/other/november-n.htm)
     
  13. sheath

    sheath Spirited Member

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    Interesting. Also Virtua Fighter 3 and Fighters Megamix must have been in development around the same time as the former launched in the Arcades the same season as the later was released in Japan. A good deal of Virtua Fighter 3's moveset is in the VF characters in Fighters Megamix with VDP2 renditions of the Arcade backgrounds from VF3 and VF2.

    It is good to know that they had a more advanced engine in 1998 that just wasn't released. I highly doubt the 500-750k polygons per second figures in the previous post, but I am sure they could have done the facial models justice based on the Shenmue Saturn demo video.
     
  14. Anthaemia.

    Anthaemia. The Original VF3 Fangirl™

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    Digital Dance Mix and the conversion of Virtua Fighter Kids were originally developed to test facial animations in preparation for Saturn VF3, plus it's also reported that All Japan Pro Wrestling Featuring Virtua may also have formed part of AM2's technical research (even though it was actually developed by outsourcing company Scarab under supervision from Yu Suzuki and his team). As discussed at the Power Up press conference, experiments were conducted throughout the majority of 1996 to determine whether such a project would even be worthwhile.

    Once it was decided that Sega's 32-bit console had the capabilities to handle this conversion to the satisfaction of everyone involved, Saturn VF3 was officially announced to the public. From what I've been able to find out, the actual work started immediately after that event, continuing throughout '97 and on until July '98, when the first complete revision was submitted to management. Following the rejection of this particular version, AM2 took a few weeks off then set out to improve their earlier code - mostly with the implementation of very basic polygonal backgrounds.

    By the time "revision 2" was finally cancelled in September '98, Genki already had the full support of Sega management and would put its treatment of VF3tb for the Dreamcast out as the only console version. According to various reports, it's claimed the powers that be felt a graphically superior Saturn edition would affect sales of the Dreamcast release. I personally think they were threatened by AM2's efforts and knew it was a possibility the average consumer might appreciate their hard work more, especially since it's believed that Yu Suzuki's team could easily have produced a truly pixel-perfect conversion for the Dreamcast.

    Then again, Genki really did have a hard time of things... the fact they were able to get anything even remotely resembling the Model 3 original after just six months of development borders on the miraculous, and let's not forget just how incomplete those early programming kits were compared with the final Dreamcast specifications. In reality, critics should have been less harsh for what amounts to a few tiny details being different, especially when you consider how accurate the gameplay way. On the other hand, in a parallel universe AM2 would ideally have produced VF3tb as a Dreamcast launch title in-house.

    At the same time all of this was happening, AM2 had to deal with the cancellation of Sonic The Fighters for the Saturn, not to mention it was knee-deep in its other top secret project, known by various preliminary working titles that included Virtua Fighter RPG, Akira's Quest, Virtua AD, Project Berkeley and then finally Shenmue. With over eighteen months of development put into its Saturn prototype along with the reworking that naturally came as a result of its eventual switch over to the Dreamcast (and the planning stages dating right back to 1993!), it's hardly surprising that AM2 lacked the resources to deal with VF3 on the Dreamcast.
     
  15. sheath

    sheath Spirited Member

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    I have played both versions of VF3 more than a lot of games and I have a hard time finding any real differences graphically between the Model 3 and Dreamcast version of VF3. I am really not sure why these games are considered so radically different, I haven't seen any side by side comparisons of the two. I understand the original Japanese release of VF3tb on Dreamcast had some graphical glitches that were cleaned up, but that is the only differences I have been able to document.

    The Saturn being capable of 500-750k polygons per second seems impossible to me. The VDP1's frame buffer is too small for that many polygons, and the SH1 isn't even programmable for the sound subsystem as far as I have seen. I think the best we could expect would have been a slightly higher detail but same resolution version of the Fighter's Megamix engine. Excluding VDP2 floors and backgrounds just puts too much on the VDP1 for that level of detail. It would be wonderful to see this turn out otherwise though.
     
  16. Anthaemia.

    Anthaemia. The Original VF3 Fangirl™

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    From what I've been told, the display mode of Saturn VF3 was the same as Fighters Megamix - in other words, all 3D elements were drawn at a low resolution, with only the scrolling backgrounds having greater levels of detail (though I've actually yet to have this particular detail confirmed 100% since my source has long since gone quiet on the subject of this cancelled title, so I'm left using another person's rather vague descriptions). In addition to all of this, it's claimed the first revision also switched to higher detail models* when there was only one character on screen, such as during their winning poses.

    Also, the increased polygon count was possible not by using either of the VDPs, but rather some kind of exploit involving the Saturn's DSP chip, which may also explain why it had to display geometry at a reduced fill rate. Burning Rangers and Shining Force III supposedly utilised similar techniques, with the latter supposedly even receiving some degree of processing help from the console's audio processor to assist in streaming data faster. Again, I've never seen any official confirmation of this, though it would at least make sense if you consider the occasionally stuttering audio when loading battle sequences.

    As for differences between the Model 3 and Dreamcast versions of VF3tb, just check out the joints on certain characters in Genki's conversion. I seem to recall Shun's thighs and Akira's elbows being the most obvious examples by far, along with stretched textures Kage's second outfit really highlighting where corners were indeed cut to keep up the speed, even though a machine of such capabilities shouldn't have theoretically struggled handling a pixel-perfect reproduction of this game! As I said before, AM2 wouldn't have settled for any less, and being perfectionists I suspect they were secretly annoyed at how bad the end result turned out.

    *I've read in the past that Digital Dance Mix proved invaluable for this key detail, and it's possible Namie Amuro's rather impressive model served as a test along with the mythical footage of Aoi practicing over a plain background. Of course, until this surfaces on video we'll never be sure, although I've a very good feeling it's the missing link between preliminary research and what the first revision may have looked like. Along with that, I'd love to see earlier AM2 test clips such as the Daytona high res tech demo or even something from Shenmue back when it was still a spin-off from the Virtua Fighter series... if anything still exists, that is.
     
  17. Druidic teacher

    Druidic teacher Officer at Arms

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  18. Anthaemia.

    Anthaemia. The Original VF3 Fangirl™

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    I realise it's been very carefully edited to only show the most complete sections (and a few areas that are little more than a camera moving around closed areas), but the Shenmue prototype footage is at least displayed in its native resolution at the original frame rate - assuming it was actually captured from a stock console as described, rather than a development kit with the speed altered in post production. If this really is the case, surely it would be possible for someone to check and determine whether the claimed 500-750k polygons per second figure was realistic. If I knew what to look for I'd even take this upon myself, though at the same time I'd rather not because the results may not be as good as if someone more knowledgeable had a go.

    On the other hand, aren't such details as character faces made to look smoother by using some kind of shading technique, making such a technical breakdown more difficult to accurately achieve? Also, I'm certain there are some VHS artifacts in places. Whatever the case, since this is the only footage of AM2's more ambitious unreleased Saturn games out there I'd love to know just what they were capable of... unless there was a little black magic involved, after all! My guess is that the real performance was probably closer to something like Panzer Dragoon Saga than many of us would like to accept. Actually, didn't Team Andromeda help out with development by providing the game's dynamic camera system, which may even have been partly recycled from the PD engine?
     
  19. sheath

    sheath Spirited Member

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    That makes sense as the VDP2 is composing the final image based on the VDP1's instructions and each have only 512KB of Frame buffer between them with the polygonal side only having 256KB. If a 40 byte polygon was standard back then, then 256KB could only be used to render 6554 polygons per frame. If I recall correctly the character models were each weighing in around 6000 polygons, so the Saturn version would never have rivaled the Dreamcast or Model 3 game. Also, at 30FPS that 6554 polygons per frame is only 196,608 polygons per second. Even with hacks, or intentionally designed 2D everything, the Saturn only has two 256KB frame buffers to work with plus the 1MB of VRAM and 2MB of Main RAM that would always be otherwise occupied in a game like this.

    Also, I have it on pretty good authority that the SH1 in the sound sub system is completely non-programmable and could never be used to aid in polygon calculations. The dual SH-2s plus VDP1 weren't exactly lacking in polygon calculations on their own, even if the DSP joined the party for some light processing while somehow being relieved of its duty of managing DMA.

    The Shenmue Saturn demo video has the frame counts. An industrious person could add them all up and divide them by the number of frames in the video to see if it has been fudged at all.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2012
  20. Anthaemia.

    Anthaemia. The Original VF3 Fangirl™

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    First of all, thank you for those technical figures - what a great read! So we can at least conclude that the quoted figures may very well have been within the Saturn's capabilities at a push, yes? Also, I've been reliably informed that the Shenmue prototype video could be the result of some video post production work (including possible frame rate manipulation) courtesy of BuildUp, a studio previously hired by AM2 to produce the CG video sequence for VF3. I really hope that wasn't the case, but with the source of this being a programmer who I'd assume knows their stuff, such claims can't be all too easily dismissed...
     

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