This August, Gran Turismo designer Kazunori Yamauchi did more than drive on Germany's famed Nurburgring, he finished won the VLN race— his third race and first in an actual racing car. But what does this mean for Gran Turismo?
"The last thirty minutes of the race," Yamauchi told Kotaku at a recent visit to his Polyphony studios, "I didn't even know what I was doing. It was as if my brain was directly connected to my hands. I wasn't thinking."
During the tail end of the four hour race, Yamauchi started experiencing a driving high. While Gran Turismo is renowned for its realistic physics, Yamauchi had never had the first hand experience of the sensation that race car drivers get during extended races. "During that last thirty minutes, I forgot I was driving. It's difficult to put that feeling into words — the way I was handling the vehicle."
The experience was eye-opening for the designer, who hopes to somehow convey that experience in future games. When asked he would go about that, Yamauchi simply replied, "Through a higher level of game making."
As talented as Yamauchi appears to be, the game designer is humble about his future racing prospects. Humble as ever, he calls his first place win an "unexpected result." According to Yamauchi, "What's interesting is that I am a game designer who occasionally races. I don't plan on racing full time or anything."
While at Nurburgring, Yamauchi said he was approached by countless GT fans, who asked him why he was adding damage to the series. "For many fans I spoke with," Yamauchi explained, "one reason they seemed to like Gran Turismo is that you cannot damage cars." The decision to include damage apparently was based on looking at what was missing from the franchise. Currently the development of car damage is at about 50 percent — work on it was begun two months ago.
The increasing number of driving simulators is not a bad thing. "I think it's great that the racing game market is getting bigger," said Yamauchi. "It's like if you are a rock fan, you'd like there to be more rock groups. Same idea. That being said, we don't view Gran Turismo as competing with those other titles. We are competing with ourselves."