There are cheers and there are cheers. The cheer from the Sony E3 press conference crowd when a final Gran Turismo 5 release date flashed up on the big screen was a proper, joyous cheer. Yamauchi's opus has been so long coming it was in danger of slipping into myth.
GT brand associate producer Chris Hinojosa-Miranda, then, was buoyant when we met him in Sony's behind closed doors rooms in LA last week, as enthusiastic about the game as you'd expect him to be. The guy's a believer. Given the footage that came out of the show, it's not hard to see why.
Read on for confirmation of an incoming DLC announcement, the "joke" that GT5 may slip into 2011, the promise of plenty more feature reveals throughout this year and some expert dodging on the question of whether or not the final product will ship on multiple Blu-rays.
VG247: So. The date. You must be thrilled to be able to say it's coming out in November.
Chris Hinojosa-Miranda: Yeah. For the US, as well. It's one of those things that we've been constantly trying to work towards, and being able to announce the date is a big, big, big moment. We're not having to dodge the questions any more.
Obviously, everyone's very confident of hitting that date? We're not going to see any slip into 2011?
Chris Hinojosa-Miranda: [Laughs] There's always that joke. For now we're saying November, and that's the message we're moving forward with.
There's been a large amount of information released in the last 24 hours about the feature set. One thing I didn't notice in there was a track editor, which was heavily rumoured. Are we going to see it in the final game?
Chris Hinojosa-Miranda: It's one of those things. Those are just rumours. We can't really confirm or deny. There are so many things out there that people are putting out as like a wish-list of features they want to see in the game.
Are we going to see any more feature announcements as we move through the year?
Chris Hinojosa-Miranda: Of course, of course.
We haven't seen everything yet?
Chris Hinojosa-Miranda: No, no, no, no, no, no. Definitely not. E3 is a big event for us, and this is where we start releasing information. Launch date first, taking a peek at some of the game features, like the implementation of 3D into Gran Turismo so it coincides with the launch of Sony Bravias, face-tracking technology, the brand new dynamic lighting and enhanced special effects that really bring the game, brings the race right to you. Being inside a car with 3D turned on, you feel like you are actually driving that car. Couple that with not only the polished graphics that people have come to expect from Gran Turismo, but it's also the minute details, like being able to see the lights of the car picking up the dust from the ground on a rally track: that really brings it home to you.
The game's been in development for a long time, and will probably end up being one of the most expensive ever made. It's a huge project. What's the pressure been like? Has there been a feeling of high pressure in the last couple of years just to ship?
Chris Hinojosa-Miranda: Our main pressure comes from being able to create a product that we're proud of. In the end, our passion is cars. We love cars, and we want to make sure they're represented in the best way possible in the game. Our users have come to expect a certain level of quality, and we've come to expect an even higher level of quality from ourselves.
Mr Yamauchi's a perfectionist. Was the intention with GT5 always to create a product that won't be surpassed in this generation? Is this the ultimate driving game for this generation?
Chris Hinojosa-Miranda: You know, Gran Turismo has consistently set the standard. That's been our goal with every release. Is it for this generation? I would say yes. I would say that we're definitely trying to set the standard. At the same time we're not trying to compare ourselves with other titles. They're doing their own thing. They've taken the racing genre and focused on a specific feature that they want to highlight as, "This is our feature." Gran Turismo has always been a broad title. We love all things automotive. That's why it's weird to say, "Is it the best game? The best racing game out there?" We don't consider it to be a pure racing game. There are so many things; for instance, we have a photo travel mode, which is more [for] photograph aficionados. You place your car there and just start taking photos. Would you consider that a racing game? Not really. But is it an amazing feature? Oh yeah.
So it's like, we've always been about just setting the standard in general.
There are a lot of features that racing game enthusiasts may not resonate with. The photo mode, as you said, is designed to appeal to a broader love of cars. Do you think there's enough in there to satisfy the hardcore racing enthusiast?
Chris Hinojosa-Miranda: I think so, because the hardcore racing enthusiast, in the end, wants to have the realistic feeling of getting behind a wheel. That's always been our core as well. So, yes.
Is there going to be post-launch support?
Chris Hinojosa-Miranda: That's one of the items we haven't discussed yet. We'll be making an announcement as we get closer to the launch date.
In terms of PS3 as a piece of hardware, why is it the right platform for this game? What is it about PS3 that allows Mr Yamauchi to realize his vision? What do you like about it?
Chris Hinojosa-Miranda: The machine itself is so powerful. It can do so many things. One of the most important things is that it has the capability to read Blu-rays, so that gives us the ability to have more information on disc. Couple that with 1080p resolution and now 3D support, there's nothing [else] out there that we could use to bring the most realistic experience.
Isn't it a little like a double-edged sword to have all these features you want to use? The game's taken a long time to come out. Is part of that delay down to the fact that there are so many things you'd like to get in there, such as 3D, being able to fill up the Blu-ray with data, and so on?
Chris Hinojosa-Miranda: I would say it's more of an open playing field for us. We're sitting in a sand-box with all these amazing tools, and we can create anything we want. Our challenge in the end is creating something we're proud of.
Will the game ship on one Blu-ray?
Chris Hinojosa-Miranda: The Blu-ray is a very big disc.
Chris Hinojosa-Miranda: Again, we're not talking about items like that.
Are there going to be things like special editions? I assume there are; it's a premium product.
Chris Hinojosa-Miranda: Again, those are items that will probably be announced as we get closer to the launch date.
On a gameplay note, then, there's always been talk of including things like motorbikes in Gran Turismo, and different forms of transport other than cars. Was that a serious consideration this time around?
Chris Hinojosa-Miranda: You know, we like to concentrate on cars. Cars are the main highlight for us.