As we enter our second week of the Logitech Gran Turismo 5 Prologue Challenge in the U.S., I thought I’d share some inside information about the development of the Driving Force GT. In ten years as a product manager for Logitech, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of awesome people in the gaming industry. However, the person who has had the most substantial effect on my projects is Mr. Kazunori Yamauchi, president of Polyphony Digital Inc. and the mastermind behind the Gran Turismo series of racing games. Some of my most memorable experiences have been developing racing wheels for the PS2 and PS3 – particularly the Gran Turismo series.
My first major project was the venerable Driving Force Pro, which introduced 900-degree steering with force feedback to racing simulators – starting with Gran Turismo 4. It was Mr. Yamauchi’s idea to develop such a wheel, as the first Driving Force wheel was only able to turn 220 degrees and the extra rotation would allow for significantly more realism and much finer steering control. The technical challenges associated with creating this product were significant, but ultimately our engineering team was able to design a force-feedback mechanism that became the foundation of one of the most successful sim racing wheels ever.
Some time after the launch of GT4, Mr. Yamauchi approached us with ideas for a steering wheel to accompany the next title in the Gran Turismo series. His design again contained features that hadn’t been seen before in simulator racing wheels; in particular, the Realtime Adjustment Dial for modifying car settings on the fly. Our engineering team had already begun working on an improved force-feedback mechanism and pedals design, and we were able to integrate these into the new wheel.
We began the process of turning Mr. Yamauchi’s design into a physical product in late 2006. Over the next several months, with numerous meetings in both Japan and the US, the wheel began to take shape. We worked diligently to implement as many of the original design elements as we could so that the overall effect of the product was as close to Mr. Yamauchi’s vision as possible. Finally, we were able to take an early prototype to the Polyphony Digital offices during the 2007 Tokyo Game Show so that the team there could review it.
I was honestly a bit nervous when Mr. Yamauchi entered the room and got his first look at the prototype. I’d worked on several major products prior to the Driving Force GT, but none of them felt as significant as this one. I was concerned that the prototype might not live up to his expectations. Fortunately, he broke into a smile and said, “sugoi” (cool), and I started to breathe again.
It’s a great feeling to be able to help develop products like the Driving Force Pro and Driving Force GT. These are products that push the envelope in terms of design and deliver new and exciting features to gamers. To do this requires a significant amount of interaction with companies like Polyphony Digital Inc. Without that level of interaction, our gaming products wouldn’t be able to deliver the great experiences that they do.
* Logitech Gran Turismo 5 Prologue Challenge
* Take the Logitech Challenge in Gran Turismo 5 Prologue (PlayStation.Blog)