Not many game developers are able to practise what they preach, mostly because a lot of the stuff they preach involves stuff that doesn’t actually exist. Gran Turismo series creator Kazunori Yamauchi, however, takes his motor racing seriously. Very seriously. So seriously that, schedule permitting, he sometimes races expensive sports cars.
Over the weekend the Polyphony boss took part in the gruelling Nürburgring 24 hour race, as one of a team of drivers behind the wheel of a very slick Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3.
Before you accuse him of taking a little holiday, he did manage to get some work done at the same time. Indeed, work was – apparently, anyway – kind of the point.
The car was rigged so that performance data could be captured during the race and tested on Gran Turismo 6’s engine in real time, letting developers fine-tune the handling and performance of the car to get it as realistic as possible. They could also do things the other way around, simulating “changes in vehicle dynamics due to suspension and aerodynamics” in the game, then if they worked, making the same changes to the actual car.
Sounds awesome in theory, but mechanical problems plagued the team in the actual race, and they limped to a 148th place finish. Not exactly a place on the podium, but it’s still an achievement to finish a race like this, especially on a track as gruelling as the Nürburgring.
This is the second time Yamauchi has taken part in the race; last year he finished 36th.
The chances of somebody ever noticing that level of detail while playing the game seem remote, at best, but, hey, half the appeal of Gran Turismo is the fact that stuff is there, whether you notice or not.