AM2 recently announced intentions to begin licensing their Shenmue development tools to third-party developers. The tools they've produced can be utilized through the Softimage 3D package, and include 62 modules, which have been used in the production process of Shenmue and the upcoming Shenmue II.
By licensing their development tools, AM2 will allow third-party companies to produce high-quality, next generation titles with the game's advanced engine. The Softimage program and the license for the Shenmue plugins will cost developers between 650,000 and 900,000 yen a year, depending on whether they choose to go with the basic or advanced 3D software package. This equates to somewhere between $5,000 and $7,500 a year. No reports have yet been announced of third-party companies taking up the offer, but it will be interesting to see what might be accomplish with the tool set, and what possible Shenmue-esque RPGs may be produced using them.