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Gran Turismo

Platform(s): PSP
Genre: Racing
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Polyphony Digital Inc.
Release Date: Oct. 1, 2009

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'Gran Turismo' (PSP) Developer Interview

by Adam Pavlacka on Sept. 19, 2009 @ 8:57 a.m. PDT

Gran Turismo features more than 800 vehicle models from the world’s top manufacturers (over 4,500 total paint variations) and more than 30 tracks (60+ total layouts), including famous world circuits, city courses and other environments. Featuring exciting gameplay and game modes to suit all levels of play, Gran Turismo is a great introduction to the best-selling series for newcomers. Additionally, seasoned Gran Turismo fans will recognize the depth of content and unparalleled visuals the series is known for, including graphics running at a stunning 60 frames per second. Gran Turismo is truly a next generation PSP title.

Developed exclusively for PSP by the internal team of designers and engineers at PDI, Gran Turismo is built for optimal performance and fun racing excitement on the portable platform. Consistently setting the bar in terms of quality of design and physics technology with every product release, Gran Turismo on the PSP is no exception and offers an authentic and accessible racing product for the series’ millions of fans and newcomers alike.

WP: Who has the honor to speak with us? State your name, rank, and occupation!

I'm Christian Hinojosa-Miranda — it's a bit of alphabet soup! — and I'm the associate producer on Gran Turismo.

WP: Gran Turismo is one of Sony's flagship titles. What did it take to bring such a massive game to the PSP?

CHM: The scope of the game, as it is now on the PSP, is just so huge. There are so many tracks; there are so many cars. I think a lot of people didn't really expect that out of a PSP, that someone could actually push that hardware to run at 60 frames per second, and lo and behold! It's one of those things that Polyphony always does. They take every hardware, and they maximize its performance.

WP: Gran Turismo has always been known for being a pure sim as well as an arcade racer. Have you been able to bring across both elements to the PSP?

CHM: Yeah, as soon as you pick up the PSP and you jump into one car, you'll notice that it handles completely differently from another car. That's how it is in real life, and that's kind of the basis of Gran Turismo. Gran Turismo's always been a sim, just like you said. It's always been about realism, and there's no cutting corners around that for Polyphony. It's all or nothing.

WP: In raw numbers, how many cars and tracks are we looking at?

CHM: We're looking at over 35 tracks, and each one has a variation, so it's close to 70 tracks, and we also have 800-plus cars.

WP: How does that compare to, say, the original Gran Turismo and other titles in the franchise?

CHM: Every Gran Turismo release is really a step up from whatever was available on that console. So let's say before, when we had Gran Turismo 1 and 2, the first release was kind of like a flagship for the PS1, and GT2 kind of stepped it up to a new level. GT3 for PS2 kind of set the benchmark on racing games, and GT4 took it to a new level.  For GT5 Prologue, we really pushed the PS3 hardware to areas that a lot of games were not willing to push the hardware to that extent. For PSP, it's the same thing. We took the hardware, and we maximized everything in terms of processing and graphics. To make it short, where does it stand? There's no comparison because every release is a brand new release to us, and we treat it as such.

WP: Visually, obviously it's a smaller screen. How did that affect the graphics modeling with the cars? Gran Turismo cars have always been very, very detailed, but when you've got fewer pixels to work with, you can't show the same level of fidelity. Did that raise any issues or problems during development?

CHM: That really was one of the things that the entire team was concerned about because when it comes down to it, we love games and we love cars. That is seriously the basis of Gran Turismo. It came out of the love for cars and making sure that cars are displayed in the most beautiful fashion possible on any screen, so while the PSP had some limitations, it really does have an amazing resolution and rendering power. While you don't get the same kind of quality you would get out of a PS3, the quality is as high as it can be on a PSP, and it's also as high as it can get pushed by the Gran Turismo team, Polyphony, to be happy to release again. They will not release a game if they're not happy with the resolution.

WP: There's a promotion going on where if you buy the special Gran Turismo-branded bundle, you get a special DLC code for an exclusive car. Is that a one-off thing, or is that hinting that there will be future DLC options for Gran Turismo PSP? Will you be able to buy extra cars from PSN in the future?

CHM: Like I said, we have 800 cars. That's pretty much a lifetime worth of content to unlock. To me, it seems that if we were to throw in additional DLCs, it would be like throwing water into the ocean. It really doesn't make any difference what you do with that. The promotion that we have going with the special unlockable, it's exactly that: a promotional item. When you buy the bundle, you get a white Corvette ZR-1 that is not available anywhere else, and on top of that, it's not even available in the real world, so it's kind of a one-off, one-of-a-kind thing. We're really happy over it because all the cars that we release to the public have to be cleared through the manufacturers. It's rare to have a chance to get praise from one of the manufacturers. They said, "While we don't release this car in this color, you guys, please do what you do," and they trust us because we really love cars, and they're not afraid that we're going to do something like crash the car or be chased by cops. It's nothing like that.

WP: Speaking of manufacturers, we know that with prior Gran Turismos, there have been plenty of special editions that have been made for demoing specific cars, sometimes for manufacturers. With GT3, there was Nissan, with GT4, there was the special Toyota Prius edition. Are there any plans for doing one-off, single-car versions of Gran Turismo PSP?

CHM: Not at this moment, no.

WP: Is there anything about the game that we haven't talked about that you wanted to add?

CHM: If you had a couple of days, then yes. There's just so much content in the game, everything from the 800 cars to 35 tracks to taking advantage of the social aspect of the PSP, the ad-hoc mode, the different modes that are within multiplayer, like Party mode and Professional mode and Shuffle mode and how all of that ties into the single-player mode. There are just so many things to talk about that really, I wouldn't know where to begin.

WP: One last question: You're buying this for your PSP Go. How big is it? How much space is it going to take up on your system?

CHM: It's a little under 1 GB, so either if you buy it for the PSP Go or the PSP 2000 or 3000, once you get it from the PSN store or a voucher from a retailer, it's 938 MB, approximately. Obviously it loads pretty fast because it's all through the flash memory, but if you buy a UMD, you have the option of installing close to 750 MB worth of data from the UMD on to a memory stick to be able to load it much faster.  

There are so many features that we took into consideration when developing for the PSP because we understand that the PSP has a very unique user base and they play a certain way and they use their games a certain way. It's not like you would with a home console, where you sit for hours on end. With a PSP, it's pretty much quick, pick-up-and-go gameplay so the single-player mode has been catered to that. We could say that first-time users aren't restricted to career mode. That's how they have to unlock everything, but it's pretty much an open universe. Everything's unlocked for you except the cars. All you have to do is get behind the wheel and start driving.


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