Following last week's contentious Gran Turismo HD announcement, Sony America and series creator Kazunori Yamauchi have shed more light on Polyphony Digital and Sony's plans for the racer's first PlayStation 3 outing.
Due out this December in Japan, Gran Turismo HD consists of two game modes: Premium and Classic. The offline Premium mode will feature high-fidelity content - the sort you'd expect in a PS3 GT game - and will start with 30 cars and two tracks. Classic is a head-to-head online game, with no content at launch - the idea being to download the cars and tracks you want from the PS3's online shop. The team is aiming to introduce 770 cars, 51 tracks and 4,500 "items" on an ongoing basis for Classic, with 30 extra cars and one more track available to download at launch for Premium, and more to follow. Classic cars will cost 50-100 yen each (22 to 45 pence), while tracks will go for 200-500 yen (90p to £2.25). Phew.
A subsequent press release from Sony America during the Tokyo Game Show added that Classic's online mode will allow you to "manage race regulations, online competition and communities, and organise race events", while TGS itself revealed the inclusion of Ferraris in GT HD, and the introduction of "Normal" and "Professional" driving model options.
So anyway, speaking to members of the Japanese press, Yamauchi explained some of that. According to Japan's Impress Watch, translated by IGN, he said that Sony hopes to make GT HD available for a very low price - as little as the cost of the game disk and instruction manual - as most revenues will be made through the digital distribution model. It'll be interesting to see whether other heavily digi-dist-based games, like SingStar, adopt a similar approach.
He said that "Professional" mode would offer a more realistic driving experience, although we'll presumably have to wait for a bit to gauge exactly how, while he also added that the 770 car/51 track/etc. figure is a "target" rather than a specific number. He also said that he hopes to make content downloaded for GT HD available for use in Gran Turismo 5, which is due out exclusively on PS3 in 2008.
GT HD will also see the much-desired introduction of car damage, Yamauchi said, although not immediately. Given the online game element, Yamauchi says he prefers to start small and then build the game up as the player-base matures, and so that will see damage-modelling introduced in 2007, while the first half of 2007 will also see more advanced opposition AI routines made available. Both updates will be downloadable, although there's no word on whether you'll have to pay for them.
Another reason we're having to wait a bit longer for all of this is simply how complicated the development process is, he said. "Creating a car for GT4 took approximately one month. This time, it takes half a year. The amount of data for each car is approximately 20 times that of GT4." Ouch.
Not content with all that, Yamauchi also noted that Polyphony Digital is "of course" considering connectivity between PS3 Gran Turismo (he wasn't specific) and Gran Turismo Mobile on PlayStation Portable, which was recently put on hold while work was completed on PS3, although he said he couldn't comment on it.
One thing he did have time to do though was mention that "Gran Turismo for Boys" is still in development for PS2, and not - as IGN noted - just something he'd drunkenly made up at the GT4 launch party.