Shenmue 3 Was Doomed Until…


Lens flare, you guys.


You guys, lens flare.

I've spent these last 32 days convinced Shenmue 3 was on the one-way track to Shitsville, until I saw the light… ning bugs. And that trailer full of them. About Shenmue 3. Now, I worry not.

Did you see it? Some of those flashes are lightning bugs (also called "fireflies,"), and the haze and weird hexagons are lens flare. It's a defect that shows up in movies and photos because of how light rays get all weird when they enter directly into a camera's lens.

Video games — you might not know — use computer generations for the images we see during gameplay. The "cameras" we see the game through aren't real cameras pointed at real things, meaning directors have to manually look at a perfect image and add the lens flare.

Halos around street lamps or glares that we see are all naturally occurring thanks to our eyes or humidity or other factors, but we never see a lens flare except with a, y'know, lens.

After seeing that and immediately Googling "inhomogeneities," I still have no fucking idea what that means, so you're on your own. Also, generally unwanted? Google, haven't you updated your entry on lens flare since like the 1980s?

It's good to know that some of the earliest work being done on Shenmue 3 is being dedicated to adding semi-transparent yellow hexagons all over the screen.

I spoke with game industry bigshot Suzuhara Harasuzu about this.

HH: I have to say, Mr. Harasuzu, that I think I'd rather feel like I'm seeing things through my eyes than be constantly reminded that I'm looking into fakey fakeness. I understand lens flare in driving games, maybe, because the sun does weird shit when it hits windshields sometimes.

Harasuzu: Exactly! And don't you want a windshield around you at all times? What then will shield you from the wind? What then will protect you from the rain, will warm you when the snow comes, and tell you it's going to be alright?

HH: …What… car have you been driving?

Harasuzu: Gamers want this. We love lens flare and so do the gamers.

HH: I don't think we do. This trick means you're not simulating these events, you're simulating a simulation of these events. You're not showing us what it would look like to be there, you're showing us what it would look like to see this place through a camera. Can't we do better?

Harasuzu: Using your logic, wouldn't you say I'm showing something more like a movie than a game?

HH: I might, yeah. And I'd be right.

Harasuzu: Well the Assassin's Creed guys use the word "cinematic" like they own stock in it, and their series has been killing Shenmue in terms of sales.

HH: But there haven't even been any Shenmue games in like 14 years.

Harasuzu: Then you can't really complain about us overusing lens flare, can you?

HH: Damn, you're good.

Harasuzu: Think about it. We don't need lens flare in any game at all, but 85% of games add one somewhere. Gamers don't just accept it, they want it.

HH: Wait, 85%? How do you have stats on that? Did you just make that up.

Harasuzu: Didn't you make this whole interview up?

Touché, old man. Tou-motherfucking-ché.

It appears I've been outwitted. Or have I? Because Harasuzu-san doesn't actually exist. I added that flaw to my own article. But isn't that kind of like adding a visual flaw to your own game?

Think about it, my friends.