GT4's Kazunori Yamauchi speaks

Last week we met with the legendary producer of the Gran Turismo series, Kazunori Yamauchi, to ask him a variety of questions about GT4, PSP and plans for the future of the franchise.
Read below for our full exclusive one-on-one interview with the most important man in videogame racing.

What's happening with the online stuff? Why wasn't it included and when is it likely to appear?
The online feature was a huge portion of the game and my values were weighted to completing and making sure that the standalone game was enough. Providing online capabilities for the game would directly lead to risks, due to the fact that millions of people buying GT would immediately try to hit online.

Regarding the timing of any online features, well, the feature itself is technically pretty much ready. It's just a matter of planning the release, which is currently undecided.

The current trend with driving games is to have extensive street-racer style modding capabilities for the external decoration and personalisation of your car. Is this a road GT will ever drive down?
Gran Turismo, as you know, highly values the quality of the cars and of the beautiful scenery. These are the basics of GT and you have to, first and foremost, make sure these basics are complete and to standard, and these basics must be kept in any upcoming title.

But yes, I would like to implement features that cover lifestyle elements such as modifications or other street racing features. However, if this was implemented in GT4, the overall quality of the game would have been reduced, because we have to make sure the quality of the basics come first.

Many have expressed disappointment that there is still no damage to the car models. Is this something for the future?
As with modifications, I feel that the overall quality of GT4 would have been reduced if we'd included features like car damage. However, this is something I'm looking into for the future.

In addition, there were other areas that I felt I had to take out for the current version, and there are more elements we would like to implement in the next title.

Looking at PSP, how did you feel when you first saw it?
My first impressions were that the product itself was very appealing and attractive - I kind of compare it to the Walkman.

When the Walkman first came out, even a person with just one tape would be pleased to have the product. Similarly, I feel PSP is something that people will want as a product.

This is very unusual for game consoles: consoles are usually considered just a 'box' for the software, as the item itself isn't that different from other game consoles.

Is the development of GT4 for PSP getting the same level of commitment in terms of programming time and effort, and will the final game be notably different from what people already have on their PS2?
Yes. The effort that goes into PSP game development is at the same level as that of PS2 development. Gran Turismo for PSP will be a different type of game.

Have you seen much of PS3? How will the next GT game take advantage of the next hardware?
I have not yet seen the hardware for PS3. Obviously there are features that I want to add to future GT titles, to make the racing more complete, but this is all I can really say at this time.

Finally, how many of the cars that feature in the GT games have you driven yourself?
(Smiles) I've driven about 30 per cent.

OK, so what's your top five of that 30 per cent?
(Laughs, before finally committing to this list)

  • Ford GT40 (the original!)
  • Nissan Skyline GTR
  • Honda S2000
  • Nissan Skyline GTR R32
  • Lotus Elise
  • Gran Turismo 4 is out now for PS2