Last year marked the 15th anniversary of the Gran Turismo franchise and the arrival of GT6, Polyphony Digital's final outing on the PlayStation 3. With the veteran hardware now on its seventh year, it's fair to say they've had a fair crack at pushing the platform to its limits. GT6 arrived with a wealth of new content along with numerous changes and improvements to the underlying technology - we're seeing state-of-the-art features that aren't even present in the next-gen Forza Motorsport 5.
It was around 3am when the rain started again at the Nurburgring. Much harder than before, to the point where the track was completely saturated. Not ideal, clearly, but as even the most dishonest motivational speaker has no doubt memorised, inside every problem there's an opportunity.
Editor's note: With the release of a new Gran Turismo due next week - some four years in after the last entry - we thought it'd be a good time to revisit our profile of the series' creator Kazunori Yamauchi, first published upon the release of Gran Turismo 6 back in 2013.
One of the many privileges of writing about video games is getting to go up close and personal with the places in which they're crafted. If you've got any love for games, the worlds they conjure and the spell they can cast then going to a studio can be like visiting the chocolate factory.
The Last of Us. God of War: Ascension. Beyond: Two Souls. PlayStation 3 is enjoying an Indian Summer of sorts - a well-stacked line-up of first-party exclusives that sees the venerable current-gen hardware pushed to new technological heights in the months running up to the arrival of PS4. Perhaps most eagerly awaited is the arrival of November's Gran Turismo 6, the second - and almost certainly the last - PlayStation 3 game to arrive from the labs of Polyphony Digital, home to some of the most talented console developers in the world.
Gran Turismo's long taken a battering for deficiencies in its artificial intelligence. For years the game's AI drivers were renowned for slotting into single file moments after the start and dutifully following each other round in an automotive conga line. And within hours of the recent GT6-powered GT Academy demo appearing, there was already a video of five AI cars performing a comical 'after you, I insist' routine to try and get around a parked player.
Gran Turismo creator Kazunori Yamauchi is - was - a man obsessed with reproduction. With fidelity, curation, collection and simulation. He has run his studio Polyphony Digital and its mighty racing series as a combination of science lab and museum, fastidiously digitising the curves and characteristics of hundreds of cars and courses for posterity while pushing the graphics and handling to ever greater levels of verisimilitude.
The scale of the Gran Turismo project is vast, measured in vast numbers: 15 years, 70 million sales, 1000 cars. But its singular, obsessive focus has come at a price that was highlighted by the release of Gran Turismo 5 in 2010. It was the most magnificent and sprawling game in the series, but it was also out of touch and unwieldy, with half-realised online features (now improved, but only partly) and a hopelessly cumbersome and slow interface. Reviewing it, I remarked that "it seems to have been developed at this ridiculous length and expense in a vacuum, by a studio pursuing its own unique agenda... and ignoring everything that was going on around it."
Among the things going on around it was some accomplished and threatening competition. This didn't just come from Microsoft's slick Forza Motorsport series on Xbox, but also a thriving PC simulation scene (iRacing, rFactor and the like) and some enormously popular free-to-play tablet games like Real Racing and CSR Racing. These games were easier or cheaper to play than GT, more intense, more connected, more streamlined.