Perfection at any price? Kazunori Yamauchi on learning to let go

The creator of Gran Turismo 5 talks early years, sleep deprivation and networked futures.

By Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, November 30, 2010

There is, however, some evidence that this auteur of auteurs is loosening up, relinquishing the wheel not necessarily to peers but to the fanbase, with whom he is now intimately acquainted thanks to modern console networks.

Again speaking to Eurogamer, shortly after GT5 hit shelves, he conceded that “once games go online it’s no longer the type of thing where you just make it, hand it over to the players and they go out and play it. Games will keep evolving.

“Now it’s released we’re going to have several million people who’ll become citizens of Gran Turismo. From here on we have to listen to their voice and see what they want and change the game accordingly to match their needs. So Gran Turismo really is just at the starting point, it’s really the beginning and we’re just going to evolve from here.”

Asked whether he would have preferred – shock! – to put off the launch still further, Yamauchi was candid. “It would have been nice to have more time, but at one point we have to release the game because my imagination alone is not enough to make the game evolve to where we want it to go.

“We really need to listen to the voice of our citizens and see what they want out of the experience and evolve with that.”

GT5's online may look rather barebones alongside Forza and co, but there's still plenty to be going on with.

If GT5 isn’t quite what innumerable sound-bites claimed it would be, the newfound democratic tenor of Yamauchi’s rhetoric is cause for celebration.

Polyphony Digital has hardly slept through the Xbox Live revolution – “I see the future of gaming changing,” Yamauchi mentioned in 2005, “as it shifts away from packaged products, to service via network” – but it has, perhaps, remained unconvinced of the benefits of direct access to millions of ardent, jabbering fans till comparatively recently. The decidedly last-minute feel of GT5′s online component speaks volumes.

The appearance of the multiplayer-skewed Gran Turismo 5: Prologue and Gran Turismo 4 Online – for whose conceptions we probably have impatient stockholders to thank – may have been crucial in this regard, giving PD a chance to test-drive the notion of a persistent player community.

With any luck, on-going feedback to GT5 – the first instalment to embrace networked gaming straight off the grid – will help plug the leaks in Yamauchi’s automotive philosophy, and remind him that the proof of a racing car isn’t what you can do with it on the test track, but how it performs in a driver’s hands at the main event.

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