At the Gran Turismo 6 launch event, GTPlanet had the opportunity to take part in a round-table interview with GT series creator Kazunori Yamauchi at the Ascari Race Resort.
The following is a transcript of the entire session, which includes comments on Senna, GT6 updates, the PS4, the Lunar Rover, and a whole lot more:
Yesterday, you mentioned Ayrton Senna and the fact that Gran Turismo might never have been made without him. Why is Senna such an important figure for you, and how will you integrate his legacy into the game?
“I think there were two things that I learned from Ayrton Senna, one was simply how incredible motor racing is, and the other thing was his constant strive for perfection. I was very young then, watching him, and I was very affected by his drive for perfection.
“I think there was a period of time there where probably 90% of everything in my mind was Ayrton Senna! So, when I review the subject of Senna, it’s hard to keep calm. Even the opening movie, I realize it’s a bit sentimental, but I think there’s a lot of people out there in the world that share the same sentiment with me.
“In regards to the collaborations we’re going to do with the Ayrton Senna institute, the goal is to do something around May of next year, which would be the 20th year after his passing.
“Honestly speaking, I think Senna, his figure is just someone who is forever in history, and there is no need for us to re-express what he is. But there is a generation of Gran Turismo players who don’t know who Ayrton Senna is, and I thought that it was our last opportunity to convey who he was to that generation, because it’s already been twenty years.
“I thought he might end up being a figure like Jim Clark, and I thought the idea of someone like Ayrton Senna being half-forgotten, it’s just something I could not let go. Right now, today, is really our last opportunity to remind people of him while exposing him to a new generation. When I went to Brazil and spoke to his family, we shared the same feelings about this, and I was told that when Senna’s mother viewed the opening movie that you saw yesterday, she said it put her in tears and said that it was wonderful.”
Were you disappointed at all that you couldn’t launch GT6 on the PlayStation 4?
“We are eventually going to do that anyway, and we really don’t think it’s a hindrance or a bad thing to release on the PS3. We say that because the performance of consoles today are sort of reaching their saturation point, where we’re not jumping up in performance as much as we used to with each new generation.
“And, the data that we use today for the PS3 is the data that we will take directly into the PS4. We created GT6 with that assumption that things are going to be carried over into the future; we’re not in a rush.”
You mentioned the Senna content in May, can you give us any sort of timeline as to when we can expect the other major features to be released, such as the Course Maker, online community features, etc.?
“We don’t have a definite order yet of things, but, you know, January, February, March, April, May, etc., we have updates planned for each of those months, and there are actually more things too which we still can’t mention! [Laughs.]
“We do already have a big update coming in December, and in January there will probably be two big updates. And that’s because there’s a lot of things, such as the unveiling of new cars, which we have no control over.”
Can you tell us a bit more about the Vision Gran Turismo concepts? How did they come about and how keen were manufacturers to be involved?
“As I mentioned in the presentation, our message to the automobile manufacturers was very simple, and it was if they would be willing to create a ‘Gran Turismo’ car, or sports car, for Gran Turismo and the players of Gran Turismo.
“At first, my expectations weren’t that high, and I thought maybe if three manufacturers said OK, that would make me very happy. But, in reality, a lot more came back and said ‘Oh yes, we would love to do that!’
“So, I realized then just how much Gran Turismo is loved by the automobile manufacturers as well. And, I think with each of these Vision GT projects, there are well over a hundred people working on each of these cars, and the response that we’ve had from each of them is that they are really enjoying being involved with their car.
“People really seem to be having fun with this, and I hope that will carry on with players as they get to drive the cars.”
Can you describe the status of the DeltaWing at the moment?
“It’s in there, two versions. One is the black DeltaWing, with the Nissan livery, and the other is with the new chrome livery, that’s being raced now by Mr. Panoz.”
What is your favorite new car in Gran Turismo 6?
“I would say it’s the C7 Corvette. It’s a good looking car, and then when you drive it, you see that it’s an excellent car.”
Can you explain what inspired you to include the Lunar Rover in GT6?
“Ha! It’s a long history!
“It actually started in a brainstorming session, when we were talking about the astronomical simulation for the game. As we became more focused and deeper in that project, worried about creating the stars and planets accurately, we started worrying about the details of the moon surface. It actually came to a point where we had actually created the moon’s surface fairly accurately.
“Then, it just came to mind that, with the technology we have now, that we probably could do a driving simulation on the moon. And, this time around, we established a really good relationship with GM, around the Corvette.
“The Lunar Rover has an interesting history behind it, and GM actually introduced us to the original designer of the rover, and we found out that GM even owns the rights to the Lunar Rover now, and then we decided that we had to include it.
“Next came the challenge of actually re-creating the moon’s surface in the game. There’s a Japanese space agency called JAXA – it’s like our version of NASA – and they have a satellite which is basically used exclusively for surveillance of the moon. We learned that, using that satellite, we could actually get very accurate data we could use to re-create the lunar surface.
“So, we went to JAXA, asked if they could provide accurate geometric data about the moon’s surface, and it just all came together – we had the lunar surface and the rights to use the Lunar Rover in the game.
“Then we started talking about where we were actually going to let people drive it, and we decided we wanted it to be where the Apollo 15 mission astronauts actually drove it. So, that’s really how it all took shape!
“And, as a result, there are side effects from that. The stars are much more visible from the moon’s surface rather than the Earth’s, and the Earth viewed from the moon is beautiful!”
Why is astronomy so important for you to include in a driving simulator?
“It’s something that I mentioned in the presentation as well, but we are looking to accurately re-create everything in the environment around the cars, and we are just doing it one thing at a time.
“For example, if you’re driving on Mount Panorama, and around nightfall you’re going to start seeing the planets in the sky and the stars; it’s part of the racing experience and we want to do it right and make sure that it’s represented, just as the clouds and rain and everything else is.”
You mentioned during the presentation that you want to make GT6 more accessible to new players, and some people have noticed that some driving aids are forced on when doing things like the license tests. How do you make the game accessible to new players while also challenging to players who may have been playing for the last 15 years?
“There is quite a bit of depth to mastering a car, and we can keep providing all sorts of events like that which challenge you through online updates, and of course people in the community can set up things like that as well.
“For first time players to Gran Turismo, it needs to be on the same level as it was in GT1, where everything was explained to them and everything was easy to do.
“If you go back to play GT1 now you realize how user friendly it was, and how easy it was to drive. It pulls you in and that’s important.”