As the CEO of Polyphony Digital and the creator and producer of the Gran Turismo series Kazunori Yamauchi is a legend of the video game industry. With sales eclipsing 48 million units worldwide prior to the release of Gran Turismo 5: Prologue for the PlayStation 3, it's no surprise that many people consider Gran Turismo to be the leading driving sim. We snapped at the chance then to speak the man himself and quizzed him about all things GT5 and the future of the series.
VideoGamer.Com: GT5: Prologue has just been released. Are you happy with the game?
Kazunori Yamauchi: Development of the game was much more difficult than we had first imagined. When we made Gran Turismo HD, the free online game, at that point that was the best we could do. I think now, in the release of this game, we are finally at a level where we can call it Gran Turismo.
VideoGamer.Com: Is Prologue something you had always planned to make? When you started work on GT5 is it something you envisaged putting out from the beginning?
KY: Of course, it would have been great to release Gran Turismo 5 off the bat. We'd have liked to have done that, but our decision was that at this point it's too early to call it the full version of Gran Turismo, so that's why it ended up being named Prologue. So, to answer your question, we didn't plan on producing Prologue, it just ended up that way.
VideoGamer.Com: Has working on Prologue then delayed development of the proper Gran Turismo 5?
KY: No, not really. Actually it's the opposite of that because we can test a lot of features using Gran Turismo 5: Prologue.
VideoGamer.Com: At the moment GT5: Prologue could be considered just a starting point. Are you planning to add new features, especially to enhance the online functionality?
KY: Yes, we will be adding new features, such as communication features between players, so that they can set up their own communities within the game.
VideoGamer.Com: People are already asking for things that they want to be included in Gran Turismo 5, with damage modelling being top of many people's lists. Are we finally going to see damage in the final release?
KY: Actually we're planning to add damage to the game within Gran Turismo 5: Prologue.
VideoGamer.Com: Is this going to be a trial for the damage we'll see in the final Gran Turismo 5 or the full thing?
KY: We're not really planning for a trial or test version, we're going at it full speed. We'll see what happens.
VideoGamer.Com: Everyone's been pretty impressed with how good Prologue looks. Is the final GT5 going to be another step up from that or is Prologue the kind of visual quality we're going to see?
KY: In terms of quality we've been able to establish a benchmark in this version, but I think with GT5 there will be additional refinements, perhaps to the lighting and maybe the weather... weather effects.
VideoGamer.Com: Are there things that you're already thinking about that you don't think will be possible on the PlayStation 3, things that will need the next generation of consoles?
KY: Yeah, actually a lot. Real-time computer graphics are about 10 years behind non-real-time computer graphics like you see in movies. I think that gap is what we'll be trying to fill in the years to come.
VideoGamer.Com: Gran Turismo is a pretty hardcore racing and driving sim. Have you considered making something that appeals to a less hardcore market?
KY: We've actually added the standard and the professional mode in the game. The professional mode is the full-on simulator and it's true to life, but the standard mode makes it a lot easier to drive, and I think we're trying to cover a lot of those demands with that mode.
VideoGamer.Com: Do you play any of the 'rival' racing games, such as Forza and PGR? What do you think of them?
KY: I try them out a little bit. The only impression I get from those games is that the only benchmark for Gran Turismo is Gran Turismo and we have to base ourselves on that.
VideoGamer.Com: Something we haven't seen for a long time is the PSP version of Gran Turismo. Is this something that is going to make an appearance at some point?
KY: We're hoping to have it out by next year, during next year. A lot of our efforts have been consumed by the amount of effort it takes to develop on PS3, so hopefully we'll be able to rebalance it next year.
VideoGamer.Com: Are you excited about the Home features being added to the PS3 and do you have any ideas on how to best make use of those?
KY: Home is something that will bring together users of other games as well, and bring them all together. So if Home is something that's added to the PlayStation system it's something that we'll definitely make the game compatible with.
VideoGamer.Com: Thanks for your time.