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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

GT Could Use New Ideas

John Marine | 7:31 PM | | | |
Gran Turismo has established itself as the finest racing game franchise since its inception in 1997 or 1998. More cars and tracks have helped to shape the franchise along with a healthy array of racing events to challenge all gamers. The old adage of "teaching an old dog new tricks" shouldn't have to apply for something like GT... right? Well, no. If you look at Gran Turismo 5, there was a LOT to be desired, as many felt disappointed at what GT5 COULD have been. Some people have lost their faith in the Gran Turismo series after what GT5 has produced. Even with its updates, some feel it is not enough to keep Gran Turismo as the top console racing game franchise in all of gaming. So what will save Gran Turismo for years to come? To me- new ideas.

--- What New Ideas Will Help GT6? ---

What do I mean by new ideas? Let's think about this for a moment.

Gran Turismo has done everything possible to make racing games better in a number of respects. Helping its own cause is a variety of races and race events along with various cars to take advantage of these races. A new venture lends itself to new opportunities for your game and your franchise. Case in point- Gran Turismo 2, where rally racing debuted in the GT series. It offered a parallel different from traditional circuit racing. In Gran Turismo 3, you would be fortunate enough to own a Formula 1 car- which debuted in the GT series. Gran Turismo 4 featured Le Mans Prototypes for the first time as well as Driving Missions. Gran Turismo 5 had its own new ideas- NASCAR, proper rally racing, and of course- online racing.

Even with these new additions to each game, the racing element still feels fairly stale. That's why I introduced my "Motorsports Makeover" series to discuss various aspects of racing that will make the series just an extra bit better. No matter how many cars or tracks are featured, they all mean nothing if the racing is stale.

It would be comical of me to say I'd need an entire blog post on this topic, but there are still a number of things that have yet to be properly executed. Here are some:

Drag Racing.

Gran Turismo 2 featured the first-ever drag racing cars with the HKS Drag 180SX and the HKS Drag R33 Skyline. Proper drag racing and proper tracks? No. Reports have talked about how the Gran Turismo team used Bandimere Speedway in the Denver area as its roster of real-world locations. Online racers have used Special Stage Route 7 for drag racing.

People have always thought of drag racing as "stupid." You know- just accelerate and go faster than the driver in the other lane. There is a science to drag racing that makes it what it is.

Track Challenges.

Certain tracks that have multiple layouts can benefit from track-based challenges. For example, a three-race series involving multiple configurations of a track (including reverse layouts) can be a start for track-based series. For example, this could be a three-race series involving Grand Valley Speedway:

• Grand Valley East-Normal
• Grand Valley East-Reverse
• Grand Valley Speedway-Normal

I thought of this from "SHIFT 2 Unleashed." You could even allow track challenges to even include various other events, like drift trials.

Time Attack.

Why not allow a mode where many cars are on the track at once trying to score the best time? If you're familiar with the SHIFT series, you know what I am talking about with the Time Attack events. Fastest time after a certain amount of time allowed wins.

A Career-Inspired GT Mode.

It would be interesting to make GT Mode seem more like an established racing career while not making it some linear storyline. If you make a storyline-like model for Gran Turismo, you make Gran Turismo more linear than GT usually is. You also run the risk of making Gran Turismo less fun and less free to do almost whatever you want. And I'm sure this is NOT what you want...

Unique Championships.

Many of the championships are based on car types. I would like to see GT maybe play around with some new ideas to make the tracks more interesting. Why not come up with some championships to take advantage of certain kinds of cars, tracks, and features? You could come up with championships based on the cars that could be Racing Modified in GT5. You could have (for example) a Camaro Cup based on the Chevrolet Camaro that could be Race Modified in GT5 and have the race ONLY feature Racing-Modified Camaros. This would be sort of a throwback to Gran Turismo 2, where there were One-Make Races limited to road-going cars and race-modified cars.

In addition, it would be nice to have certain championships and series feel more like proper championships rather than just a series of races. Infuse a certain character to some championships to make them feel like they are more than just a standard series of races. If you ask me, one of the best candidates would be the Gran Turismo World Championship. If PD is smart and creative, they can make several series infinitely better.

More Races With Loaner Cars.

You usually need a certain car or certain kind of car to compete in a championship or race. Having to own a certain car can get a bit old and stale. A better idea would be to give you races and series where cars are provided for you. You don't have to buy a car beforehand. I really don't know why Gran Turismo doesn't offer this in its games. For as many cars that are in a game like a Gran Turismo, there are few opportunities to really enjoy using a certain car that you either don't own or may be curious about knowing its performance characteristics.

Another way to think about this is to imagine trying to join a racing team or be among a given field. Let's say if you place well or win a championship, you win the car you race in. Added incentive for you and your racing career in Gran Turismo.

Rivalry Races and Duels.

If there was one thing the Forza Motorsport series has done right, it is a proper forum for putting cars to the test. One of many different rivalry series is the Camaro vs. Mustang battles. Or if you've played the SHIFT games, you may be familiar with the Manufacturer Showdown races, where two similar or evenly-matched cars are offered to you, and you must pick one car to compete in a Best-of-3 race series.

I want to see Gran Turismo make their own unique series of rivalry races. The possibilities are endless. They could start with a Supra vs. Skyline/GT-R rivalry series. It would help establish a connect between the featured cars and the racing. PD needs to be creative coming up with certain rivalry series that would make the battles interesting. If the player doesn't have the car for each rivalry race or duel, that player can be provided one of the cars per the request of the player. So if there was a rivalry between the latest Camaro and the latest Mustang, I could choose between either of the two cars and compete valiantly in a given rivalry race or duel.

Give the player options and keep the race interesting.

Race Weekends.

Practice. Qualifying. Warm-up. And of course- the main race. Why not make the racing a bit more interesting and realistic? You don't have to do all the elements of a race weekend, but at least it helps make the racing more realistic. Heat races would also qualify as part of a racing weekend. Imagine having to earn your way into a race or championship rather than just simply enter a race or championship. Yeah- make you work for it.

Race Formats.

A single race format is basic for any race. However, it helps to try some new things. Why not have a few different race formats for a few championships and series? Imagine if you could have a two-race format either with the same number of laps or where you reverse the finish order to determine the grid for the next race? What if you could have a dual-race format that consists of a sprint race followed by a feature race? It's just something to think about to add a little spice to races.

These are all among MANY different things Polyphony Digital can do to enhance the GT franchise.

--- Ideas vs. Execution ---

Ideas mean nothing without properly executing them. I am not saying or implying that Polyphony Digital fails at making races interesting; I am just saying that you have to have certain ideas, and then properly execute them just to make the package sweet. I make mention to a lot of things on JGTS in hopes of envisioning a more creative and fun game. What I want is for Gran Turismo to continue being one of the very best gaming franchises (let alone racing game franchises) on the market today.

Certain elements to enhance Gran Turismo will require a few new elements and ideas to make them magical. It may even mean doing some things differently than in past iterations of Gran Turismo. Certain elements may even require changes to car lineups, driving physics, etc.; but at least these changes can be done. To what extent each change will make GT6 better purely depends. The one thing I want is a different experience that still remains vintage Gran Turismo.

Is there something I think should be implemented proper that hasn't been fully executed or realized yet? To me, I'd like to see proper drag racing implemented. It's pretty pointless to not have something to take advantage of serious high horsepower additions in a proper environment. I am not talking about using a very long straight to simulate a drag racing environment. I am talking about proper drag racing with all the rules and nuances of drag racing.

--- Final Thoughts ---

Gran Turismo can use some new life and some fresh ideas. Do you want everything to be stale or show some vast evolution? There have been new ideas and cars and such. What GT REALLY needs is some more spice and spunk to show forward progress and further evolution. Maybe my ideas and insight can help. In addition, I hope my loyal readers can supplement their own ideas to help me help offer more suggestions for Polyphony Digital's great racing game franchise.

Keep reading "John's Gran Turismo Space" for more commentary and for more ideas expressed. Thank you for reading!

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John Marine said...

Hey just found your blog great work. Its funny that I found this as I am looking for digital content contributors for my newly launched Gran Turismo site. If you would like to maintain your own blog at GTArena you would be more than welcome and much appreciated. Please let me know, kind regards ryan.

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