Lara Croft. Master Chief. Donkey Kong. Solid Snake. All epic names in terms of gaming. How about this one: Kazunori Yamauchi. Name doesn’t ring a bell? It should, considering his games have sold over 57 million copies on PlayStation consoles alone, making it the best selling title for Sony. Still lost? Well, that might be because Kazunori isn’t some obscure character, but rather the name of a game designer.
In fact, Kazunori was able to move the units Lil Wayne could only dream about without a single hero in any of his games. That is, unless you consider Mustang, Evolution, Enzo or Impreza characters.
The mastermind behind the Gran Turismo franchise, Kazunori Yamauchi created the standard for what a racing game should be. Campy, arcade-esque car games with random non-existent cars fell by the wayside to real cars on real tracks with real modifications. The game was so good it only had one real drawback. You couldn’t afford any of the cars on the real.
With Gran Turismo 5 finally out for the PS3, we managed to wrest away some time from the uber-busy Kazunori to discuss horticulture, the global impact of Wikileaks, and his favorite stapler color. Kidding.
What lead to the creation of the GT Awards?
I’ve been to a lot of automotive shows in my travels, but SEMA is the largest one in the world. It’s a whirlpool of automotive enthusiasts with cars that are all custom-built, and there’s no other show like it in the world. Because SEMA is so in tune with the spirit of the game, it led to the idea of hosting some sort of an event that could incorporate Gran Turismo, thus the GT Awards.
I had the idea of creating the fastest car on Earth in GT5 early on, but I did not want to create something based solely on fantasy.
This year, you picked a super-clean ’69 Camaro for Best in Show – of all the winners, do you have a favorite?
That’s a really tough question. All of them have been special in their own way and it’s hard to pick one. If I had to choose, I would have to say the emerald-painted ‘62 Buick Special from the GT Awards held eight years ago. Not only was the car well-built, it was the first time we ever held the contest.
Diving into Gran Turismo 5, what are some of the major improvements from Gran Turismo 5 Prologue?
To compare, GT5 Prologue is like an application, whereas GT5 would be the operating system. The scale is so much larger with GT5 and there’s so much more you can do. If I were to start counting bullet points on specific improvements, there’s almost no end. From weather effects, the transition from time changes, damage, the course maker, the community, and then integrating of all these features are just some of the things that make this version stand apart from GT5 Prologue.
The game fell victim to several delays; what were some of the challenges you encountered during development?
When you think of all the components I mentioned, such as the weather or community, they’re hard to develop on their own. Trying to integrate them to work seamlessly is the hardest and most time consuming aspect of development. When you have a thousand cars and you have weather effects like rain, you have to make sure the taillights of each of the thousand are going to appear correctly. So every feature we add to the game is magnified by that much, causing that much more work.
How did the collaboration with Red Bull and Project X2010 come about?
I had the idea of creating the fastest car on Earth in the full version of GT5 early on, but I did not want to create something based solely on fantasy. I wanted it to be built on fact and experience, and I wanted to collaborate with someone who could bring authenticity to the project. By coincidence, our team just so happened to meet some people from Red Bull and discussion started. We showed Adrian Newey and the Red Bull crew a pre-prototype of the fastest car we had worked on and they took a lot of interest in it. From there it just all came together.
Besides working with Red Bull and Red Bull F1 driver Sebastian Vettel, what attributes make the X2010 Prototype the fastest car in GT5?
We took the basic concept of what makes a car fast and ran with it. We took a design utilizing minimal aerodynamic drag and maximized downforce and power. It’s simply the combination of those three factors that makes the X2010 what it is.
How was it working with Sebastian Vettel, the 2010 F1 Champion?
He was a very good sport and a great person to work with. Sebastian gives his best at everything he does, always paying extra effort and attention, down to the finest of details. It’s those kinds of attributes I find common in all Champions.
Lastly, being an avid fan and participant in motorsports, which discipline do you think is the most challenging?
Another tough question… All of them have their own challenges and each requires a tremendous amount of skill, but I would have to say rally racing is the hardest form of motorsports in the world.
- Play! - Special Gran Turismo 5 Episode
- More gaming news from the World of Red Bull
- Get the latest straight to your Inbox with the Red Bull Spam newsletter