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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Free Roaming in Gran Turismo?

John B. Marine | 11:19 AM | | | | | | | |
(UPDATED: October 17, 2013)

Why would you want free roaming in a game series like the Gran Turismo series? For some people, the reasons are understandable- the feeling of an open world, an expansive realm, exploration, simply being able to cruise, and things like that. Gran Turismo has, and always will be about racing. GT is one of few racing game series where one can enjoy just casual driving without feeling the need to race all the time. Think about some other racing-centered games for a moment. Anything besides doing full-on racing seems boring because the focus is squarely on racing. When not racing, you're probably testing out a setup for your car or practicing your skills on a certain track. Therefore, an idea of free roaming makes little to no sense. Why would you want to explore some realm when the focus should clearly be on racing and driving? As you know, there are people who'd rather try some new things out rather than stick to old practices. As a Gran Turismo fan, I often times think Gran Turismo should try some new things to keep its long-running franchise strong. So this blog post is an opinionated and detailed look at a free-roaming environment and what if Gran Turismo had such an environment.

Welcome to John's Gran Turismo Space (if this is your first-ever time here)!

About the Label: "Free-Roaming"

This is a series of blog posts related to the ideas of a free-roaming environment in the Gran Turismo series. There will be more posts devoted to specific aspects of this topic.

--- Free-Roaming at a Glance ---

What defines free roaming? Here is my dictionary-like definition of free roaming:

Free Roaming: a gaming concept that allows one to explore an expansive space where players have free access to just about all of the game's facilities.

Free roaming suggests a realm where people are free to explore all of a game's facilities with little or no limitations. It is where you feel free to do almost anything within the boundaries of a game. A racing/driving game like the Gran Turismo series obviously suggests you will mostly be driving and racing. As any Gran Turismo fan would know, however, GT is also about car collecting. So making a free roaming environment would also mean you can look for cars as well as

--- Gran Turismo Retrospect: GT/Simulation Mode ---

If you have played all five major Gran Turismo games, you may be familiar with each game's GT mode. If not, here is a look back at the GT/Simulation modes of each title.

Gran Turismo 1's Simulation Mode.

Gran Turismo 1 Simulation Mode
^ Welcome to the world of Gran Turismo, all within a big city.

Gran Turismo 1 featured a city that resembles Tokyo. In it, there are ten different dealers (eleven if you count Honda/Acura), Go Race, the License Test place, car wash, machine test, and of course- your home. You have all the facilities in one big map. Just point to wherever you want to visit and press "X" to visit. You did not drive from one point to another- you just basically pick a location on the map and go there.

Gran Turismo 2's Simulation Mode.

Gran Turismo 2 Simulation Mode
^ Gran Turismo 2 categorized everything. Cities help separate the nationalities of car.

For Gran Turismo 2, there was an Arcade Mode disc and the Simulation Mode disc. All of your Simulation Mode goodness was done on the Simulation Disc. GT2's map categorized the nationality of cars into cities. East City featured Japanese cars, West City features French and Italian cars, North City featured British and German cars, and South City featured American cars. The only new facility added to the host of options for Gran Turismo was the Wheel Shop, where you can purchase new wheels for your car.

Perhaps it is GT2's Simulation Mode that has the most potential for a proper free roaming environment. Can you imagine traveling from city to city and exploring all the different facilities? GT2 tends to offer the best model towards a proper free-roaming environment.

I'm sorry I don't have any further pictures to explain the other modes.

Gran Turismo 3's Simulation Mode.

[~~~ no picture ~~~]

Three major changes were made to the GT Mode map starting with Gran Turismo 3. (1) Rather than cities, GT3 featured all cars as an all-in-one Car Dealer. Each nationality of car were broken up by nationality, and the represented makers are all sorted alphabetically. (2) There was now one Tune Shop as opposed to individual tuning shops. The need to find certain individual aftermarket dealers now came down to visiting just one Tune Shop for all of your tuning needs. (3) Rather than a Wheel Shop and a Car Wash, a new GT Auto was established to handle other tuning aspects of cars. This allowed you to wash your car, change wheels, but also change the oil. This is all a dumbed-down version of GT's Simulation Mode.

Gran Turismo 4's GT Mode.

[~~~ no picture ~~~]

Starting with Gran Turismo 4, Simulation Mode was now called "Gran Turismo Mode." A massive map featuring various dealers any facilities were offered. Car dealers were sorted out by nationality rather than by individual makes. New to this model were individual Used Car Dealers as well as a new Tuning Village. The Tuning Village featured tuner cars as well as parts for various manufacturers. Also new to GT Mode were individual facilities for practicing on certain categories of race track, Driving Missions, testing facilities, the Replay Theater, Music and sound, and Photo Travel. There were also separate facilities for races with the introduction of three series of events, regional events, and endurance events. GT4's Photo Mode is by far the most expansive of all.

Gran Turismo 5's GT Mode.

[~~~ no picture ~~~]

Many people felt disappointed at GT5's GT Mode because of its layout. GT5's GT Mode is simply a mosaic of pictures linking to various aspects of the game rather than an environment that resembles a city or a world. If you considered the previous four GT Mode models to feel like you are part of a world, then GT5's GT Mode is disappointing.

Despite the disappointing all-in-one menu, some cues from other GTs were taken. You can purchase cars from two different dealers broken up between the Dealership and the Used Car Dealer. It was also possible to buy cars from a new Online Car Dealership. The Used Car Dealer and Online Car Dealership feature only Standard models while the primary dealership feature only Premium cars. There is a new Special facility devoted to the game's seven (one has to be unlocked) special events. You can also play online with facilities offered there. Rather than one just racing facility, there were separate facilities to race for both A-Spec and B-Spec.

GT5's model has the absolute least potential at a proper free roaming environment. It is just too basic and plain for a menu.

Now, you have an idea as to past Gran Turismo titles and the GT/Simulation modes. Here is a preview of what the free-roaming discussion entails in further posts:

• a detailed post regarding Free Roaming in Gran Turismo
• what should a proper Free Roaming model should entail
• things to consider when making a free roaming model

I think you GT fans may enjoy this discussion. Feel free to share this blog with others and contribute by posting comments.

--- Free-Roaming in Gran Turismo: Series Preview ---

Here is a preview of the rest of the "Free Roaming" series will feature:

• What would be the ideal environment for a free-roaming environment?
• How do you pattern a free-roaming environment?
• What could/should you do or be able to do in a free-roaming GT?
• What facilities should a free-roaming environment have?

To decrease the workload, I will consider posting on this topic by separating my posts into a few different individual posts. This section is a preview of the topics I have considered. As I make new posts, expect the headings to feature links to the proper blog posts.

Free-Roaming Environment: Cities?

Should a free-roaming environment for Gran Turismo be denoted by a city? Drive around a massive city as you interact with a living, breathing city. Could this be the ideal environment for a free-roaming GT, if there ever was one? Could the city concept be extended further like what Gran Turismo 2 attempted?

Free-Roaming Environment: Island or Country?

Similar to the Test Drive Unlimited Series (and certain other games with environments surrounded by water), should the free-roaming experience be indicated by traveling around a massive island?

Free-Roaming Environment: Virtual World?

The most diverse experience would be if you did your free roaming around a massive country or a virtual world. In this virtual world, the challenge is not so much in trying to find everything, but also in trying to interact with various other virtual environments. As an example, you can be in one environment that resembles traffic laws and driving styles in the United States in one part of the massive area, but another area may resemble most European nations. You will encounter driving on massive roads and highways in major cities, but then have to deal with driving down European country roads. You also have to get used to other driving conditions and roads like in some other places. Imagine having to deal with an environment similar to African jungles or Japanese mountain passes. It would be something to enjoy for both racers and cruisers alike.

These ideas and more will be discussed once I put together all of my posts. I invite all of you reading this blog to offer me your ideas so I can make this more fun and engaging for all of my readers.

If you see that I am not posting anything for a while, remember that there are other blogs I run as well as the fact I'm thinking of new posts for this blog and my others. I am also trying to slowly remodel "John's Gran Turismo Space" by remodeling my primary blog, "John's Blog Space." Thanks to all of you for visiting. Please take care and have an amazing day! Thank you for reading!

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