Thursday, September 16, 2021

GT Creator Kazunori Yamauchi on Bringing 25 Years of History to Gran Turismo 7

Polyphony Digital’s wonderfully nostalgic new trailer for Gran Turismo 7, which Sony aired during its 2021 PlayStation Showcase last week, communicates a very clear message: this is a series with a long history that players look back upon with firm fondness.

Filled with sequences inspired by the unforgettable intro movies from several classic Gran Turismo games stretching all the way back to the series’ debut on the original PlayStation, this latest look at GT7 knew exactly which buttons to push to get fans ready for the much-anticipated return of the complete Gran Turismo experience.

Gran Turismo creator and Polyphony Digital CEO Kazunori Yamauchi confirms the call-backs were something he wanted to do to help tie the history of the series to the next chapter.

“I felt that was the kind of thing the audience was really looking for now,” Yamauchi tells IGN. “When the development of GT Sport ended I had mentioned in interviews that I wanted GT7 to be a title that connects the past to the present and to the future, and that’s exactly what GT7 is about.”

Of course, there are a variety of hurdles that accompany the task of building a game for an audience as broad as that of Gran Turismo, which ranges from fans who loved the original nearly 25 years ago to kids who perhaps weren’t even born when the likes of GT5 and GT6 arrived within the last decade or so.

“I think that’s definitely a challenge that Gran Turismo 7 is actually facing, because 25 years ago the world was very different,” says Yamauchi. “There was lots of different car media out there, and kids would come into contact with cars all the time and naturally become car fans. Gran Turismo was born in that environment.”

“But when you look at the world now, all the different opportunities for new enthusiasts of cars to be born have sort of been lost over the years. I wouldn’t say GT is the only one, but GT is definitely one of the last mediums where a new car fan can be born.

I wouldn’t say GT is the only one, but GT is definitely one of the last mediums where a new car fan can be born.

“So the challenge of Gran Turismo 7 is to not only cater to the long-time fans of Gran Turismo, who are waiting for the depth and the level of realism they expect from Gran Turismo, but it is also about taking care of the kids who are playing the game for the very first time, and really teaching them about: what is the car world? What is tuning? What are these settings? What’s involved in a race? It was a challenge for Gran Turismo 7 to be able to convey all these different things, really from the ground up, to the new generation of potential car enthusiasts out there.”

Yamauchi concedes veteran players may find some of these basic beginner elements perplexing but stresses they’re important for the series to be able to accommodate first-time players and create both new car fans and new GT fans.

“For the players of Gran Turismo who are used to the series, you might actually find it too explanative of all the different things in the game,” he says. “You might think, ‘Why do I need to collect all these different cars, or learn about all these different cars? I know this already.’

“But the game was really designed for this new generation of kids that don’t know cars that need to be introduced into this world, but at the same time keeping the realism and the depth at a very high level that allows the fans of the series to be satisfied as well. And I think that we were able to balance this fairly well in Gran Turismo 7.”

We’ve seen glimpses of some of the classic features of Gran Turismo that haven’t been present since 2013’s Gran Turismo 6, including the return of the used car dealership, variable time and weather, and tuning (“Tuning and settings in Gran Turismo 7 is going to be really fun,” insists Yamauchi).

Also returning are two of Gran Turismo’s iconic fantasy tracks: High Speed Ring and Trial Mountain. Yamauchi is pleased with the response to the return of these tracks, which debuted way back in the original 1997 game but have been absent from the series for nearly a decade.

“Making original tracks has always been something that we like to do, and it does make us very happy that they have now been recognised as the heritage of the series throughout the years,” he says.

Of course, there are a lot of great fantasy tracks from the early history of Gran Turismo – including Grand Valley, Autumn Ring, and Deep Forest – so what made High Speed Ring and Trial Mountain the first two to bring back to GT7?

“In regards to the other tracks it’s not like we’re not working on recreating some of those as well, but that put aside, the reason we needed High Speed Ring is because it’s really a track that’s suited for a beginner driver,” says Yamauchi. “And Trial Mountain just happens to be one of my favourites as well, so that’s the reason it was selected.”

While returning features from GT6 are dominating a lot of the discussion around GT7, fans who have enjoyed the competitive multiplayer focus of GT Sport can “absolutely” expect everything Polyphony has learnt from its PS4 hit to be rolled into GT7, where it will exist alongside the traditional Gran Turismo experience.

Gran Turismo 7 will contain everything that was possible to do in Gran Turismo Sport.

“Gran Turismo 7 will contain everything that was possible to do in Gran Turismo Sport,” Yamauchi confirms. “Everything that had to do with multiplayer will be included in the new game, but at the same time improving its usability, and also the network reliability of those modes as well.”

“Gran Turismo 7 will really contain everything that was in GT Sport; there’ll be nothing lost there.”

So what will represent a success for Polyphony Digital upon the arrival of GT7 in early 2022?

“I mentioned this before, but Gran Turismo 7 really has two sides to it; two aspects,” says Yamauchi. “First is the side where we’re really trying to cater to people coming into contact with cars for the very first time, and then the other side who are already lovers of cars and who already love GT. We think we’ve balanced these two aspects at a high level, but we really want to know how people feel about how the game plays for them.”

Gran Turismo 7 is scheduled to arrive on March 4, 2022. 2022 will mark the 25th anniversary of the original Gran Turismo, which was first released in Japan in December 1997. With over 80 million games sold since 1997, Gran Turismo is the best-selling first-party PlayStation series ever.

Luke is Games Editor at IGN's Sydney office. You can find him on Twitter every few days @MrLukeReilly.


No comments:

Post a Comment