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Sunday, November 21, 2010

GT5 Course Maker Commentary

John Marine | 8:44 PM | |
Gran Turismo 5 does not allow you to make your own courses from scratch. Instead, you build courses based on randomized roads and mostly sector-based sections. Polyphony Digital said that it would be too complicated to make a proper course maker. The inventive PD, however, decided to come along with such random roads. The best possible usage of this Course Maker is in rally racing with all of its unpredictable twists in road variations. At least from initial videos, the element of rally racing is much improved with this Course Maker being a huge contributor.

WARNING: This blog post contains embedded YouTube videos. Your browser may slow down with these videos.

--- Course Maker: The Generating Element ---
Time to break down the three different uses of Course Maker based on videos I have seen. GT5 offers up the Course Maker to create generated roads based on certain parameters. A few different environments are offered to set the background for each locale. Users are able to create courses based on time, a number of sectors, and the time of day. Whether or not the course is an open circuit or a closed circuit can also be modified, but I think this may not apply for every environment. Then afterwards, each sector can be further refined by setting values for road width and complexity of the road among other aspects. A track can then be tested to see if it's of any good. If not, you can do more generating.

Just the thought of generated elements with no corner-by-corner appeal will leave most fans disappointed. The potential exists for this to be a solid package. The likelyhood of unique courses isn't possible when everything is generated. However, you can still create worthwhile and exciting courses based on flow.

--- Course Maker: Use-by-Use ---
Allow me to touch on the three different usages of this new Course Maker.

Course Maker: Closed Circuits.

For me, the promise in closed circuits with Course Maker isn't very high. The environments you choose from don't seem all that special when you have such closed space. I will note, however, the promise is definitely there for almost any kind of course that you can imagine. Almost every racing course has two or three sections. Closed circuits that are longer sometimes have multiple sections. Circuit de la Sarthe and the Nürburgring Nordschleife from GT4 are primary examples. It would seem boring to make some kind of generated permanent road course that seems no different from a true original course. However, it does have promise in open road-style courses. Some short environments are only good for kart racing, so this ties into making the most of each track. Any car can really race any track. I just mentioned karting because I've seen some karting venues featured. The environment I tend to like most for closed circuit use is the Eifel Circuit environment.

This video demonstrates a closed circuit using the Course Maker. The environment is Mount Aso:

Now you can see from the video, if you're creative, you can imagine turning a lot of the empty spaces to feature things like grandstands, certain on-track facilities, perhaps even some more proper guardrails, gravel traps, you name it. This is still not bad for a generated course based on an open road environment.

Course Maker: Open Circuits.

Open circuits (or point-to-point) present the most promise with GT5's Course Maker. True point-to-point racing is finally possible for the first time since Gran Turismo 2's Pikes Peak course. The best reason to make the case for Course Maker in GT5 is because of how the roads can vary as a whole and the diversity of each road. True rally fans have complained about five-lane off-road sections rather than more traditional one-lane or two-lane roads of traditional rally stages. From initial pictures, the generated road element seems a bit disappointing since there aren't a lot of elements that really seems like they are worthy of traditional rally quality. No blasts through forests, no water splashes, and that sort of thing. I certainly envision its potential to be immense. Considering the generated element of roads and elevations, Course Maker seems more conducive for open circuits.

This is a demonstration of an open circuit created by the Course Maker. The track is the Toscana (Asphalt) environment, and this course is a demonstration of GT5's rally-style environment:

Note the track map at the center. You can actually toggle the placement of the map (or if to have a map at all) in GT5 from what I've read online. This specific track comes in at 8.73 kilometers, which translates to 5.42 miles. The environment still seems very featureless as you blast down these roads. Part of me wants to imagine seeing nearby houses and buildings, and maybe something like bridges or something. It isn't TOO boring, however, to where things seem completely lifeless. The generated trail looks great in its configuration.

Course Maker: Demo Runs.

Perhaps the most creative use of these courses in Course Maker is in demo runs for cars. This is where you see the car in action on a generated road. This effect is similar when you notice certain TV shows and programs that do road tests in the countryside or in exotic locations. Along the bottom of the screen is a scrolling bit telling you more about the car as you see the car zoom along on the demo road. This effect looks to be an inventive and unique way to discuss each car in the game as the car is in action.

Here is a Demo Run demonstration using generated roads. The environment is Toscana, and the car is the Mitsubishi Lancer:

Doesn't this look interesting to demonstrate the abilities of a car? It looks great!

--- Course Maker: What Does the Future Hold? ---
(All items here are based on what we know so far (as of Nov. 21, 2010) on Course Maker)

Based on what we know so far, what will GT6 (or at least, GT5 with some downloadable updates) hold? I think this suite has to improve for closed circuits. I would like better overall control in designing and refining courses. Imagine you want to have certain mountains and trees in a certain area. Maybe you want to make the course fully flat. Maybe you want to make your own Formula 1-style, postmodern racing facility with all the bells and whistles that would make Hermann Tilke proud. Will we see more environments than Tosana, Eifel, Alaska, Liege, and Tokyo Bay? Could something for city courses be possible in the future?

The one thing I would REALLY wonder for a future GT or an update would be if an entire location was generated to simulate the many stages of traditional rallying. Imagine if a makeshift village, some coastal sections, some mountain roads, some forest roads, and things like that were generated. I really see Course Maker being made better for rally racing (both tarmac and non-tarmac rallying) than I really do with closed circuits. An overall better suite for this package would be great in moving forward.

Of course, I haven't played GT5 or own GT5 to make any assumptions. I still don't even have a PlayStation 3 (I am in no hurry). What do you make of this Course Maker for GT5? Feel free to comment in this blog here. Thank you for reading! Subscribe to my blog via FeedBurner (or any other aggregator in the sidebar)! Click on the graphics below to subscribe to both of my blogs, and also Become a Fan (or Like) my Facebook Fan Page:
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