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Mr Gran Turismo speaks on the eve of GT5's launch

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 00:00:00 -0700

The fifth instalment of the Gran Turismo PlayStation epic has slipped back from 5 November, probably to the first week of December 2010. But this month’s CAR Magazine – on sale now – reveals the new game’s hero car, the ultimate track racer designed by Red Bull and GT coders Polyphony.

The 249mph racer, the Red Bull X1 prototype, is a collaboration between legendary F1 designer Adrian Newey and Kazunori Yamauchi, the genius behind Gran Turismo. Yamauchi took time out from his round-the-clock work mastering the final game, to tell CAR magazine all about Gran Turismo 5. Buy the November 2010 issue to discover the X1’s full tech spec, and how much faster Sebastian Vettel is around the Suzuka track compared with his RB6 F1 racer.

CAR: The tie-up with Red Bull Racing sounds very exciting. Was it your idea to approach Adrian Newey to design a unique race car?

Kazunori Yamauchi: 'This was an idea that I had kept to myself for several years. The concept for achieving the “Fastest Car on Land” was already set prior to this, and the design for the car was being worked on within Polyphony. But my next thought was that if we were to create this, that we would want to work together with an experienced racing car designer. If possible the best in the world, the “Real Deal” so to speak. And thanks to Red Bull, a path connecting us to Adrian was opened for us.

'I can’t forget how nervous I felt when we went to Red Bull Racing in Milton Keynes and presented the model we designed to Adrian for the very first time. I had fully expected to be scolded, that he would tell us that “this is a useless piece of junk”. But Adrian was actually interested in our sketches and our modelling, and liked the design. And he proceeded to give us finely detailed, wonderful advice that only Adrian would know. He also presented us with a great technical concept that is prohibited in the world of F1 within which Adrian normally resides, the X1 Prototype.'

How did you find working with him and are you pleased with the way the X1 turned out?

'Adrian is a person that can understand the simple facts, that something beautiful, is just simply beautiful, without question. He did not seem like a hard-headed engineer type, rather, he was an artist. The communication between Adrian and myself was very smooth and exciting. It was something like an improvisation between two jazz musicians. Through that session with Adrian, I was endowed with this priceless experience, like that of a student being given confidence from a teacher or a mentor.'

Have you driven their F1 simulator? How does it compare to GT5?

'I have in fact tried driving an F1 simulator before. I only have one thing to say about the experience… I really envy that incredible hardware and facility! I want to try using that hardware with GT5! And - I think one day it will happen.'

GT5 has been a long time in development. Have there been problems or is the timeline a reflection of the sophistication of the new game?

'The development of the first Gran Turismo took 5 years, and even with three titles released between GT4 and GT5 this is the longest development time we’ve taken since that first game. I can physically feel myself getting older and older when creating video games!

'The reasons for the development taking so long has to do with the great increase in the quality expected from a product since moving to the PS3, and also because the hurdles we set for ourselves were very high. Our objective was to create a great revolution in GT5, something to the likes of which has never been seen since GT1 back in 1997, so we had to set our sights very high. As a result, GT5 became an extremely large and complex project, almost like the Apollo Space Programme.'

How big a leap is the simulation of car dynamics and the graphics over GT4?

'I think you can see the evolution in graphics as soon as you see the screen. The amount of information on that screen is significantly higher than in GT4 and the precision of the car models have been improved by a hundredfold. It’s also important to note that weather and time-of-day transitions have been implemented. This has great meaning to both the graphics and the physics. And the physics have been revised 100% for GT5. If you accelerate, brake, turn the steering and feel the information coming from the front and rear tires, you’ll be able to tell the difference immediately. And while it has now become a tool that nurtures real racing drivers as in the GT Academy project (run in conjuction with Nissan the Academy pitched the best gamers from around the world in real race cars. The winner of the first competition in 2008, Lucas Ordóñez, is still competing with success), GT5 is also designed to answer to the expectations of a wide range of players at the same time.'

Expectation is huge for GT5. Are you confident the new game will satisfy fans of the game?

'I‘m glad that expectations are high, but of course that brings some pressure at the same time. The final objective of Gran Turismo is always to answer to the expectations of the users, and furthermore, to exceed those expectations. It would make me very happy if we’re able to satisfy fans, and at the same time surprise them.'

What part of GT5 makes you the most proud?

'I think it’s the innovation. I think Gran Turismo is something that needs to always continue being innovative.'

Imagine you can only have one car and one track for the rest of your days playing GT5. What would the combination be?

'The Nürburgring has a special place in my heart. Driving there is fun in both real and the virtual. As for the car… the Ferrari 330P4 perhaps. That would be the dream combination.'

By Jethro Bovingdon