: Editorial: Could Car Damage Ruin Gran Turismo?

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Editorial: Could Car Damage Ruin Gran Turismo?

Today, video game racing fans got some wonderful news: it was confirmed that car damage would eventually be included in Gran Turismo 5: Prologue. According to franchise creator Kazunori Yamauchi, it will arrive with a "major update" some time later on this year, and overall, it seems this news has gone over extremely well. And why not? This ramps up the realism even more, and many gamers believe vehicle damage is essential if a simulator is to be taken seriously. Of course, they're correct in this belief. But most of these people are just gamers, and don't really have the first clue about cars or racing, which immediately means they're opinion isn't quite worth as much, anymore.

I've always loved GT. I have been a fan of the series since the very first installment way back on the original PlayStation, and I have watched with satisfied fascination as the franchise has grown and expanded over the years. Anybody who says the racing is the same; i.e., the physics haven't changed, is a complete and total fool. In general, every entry in the series has been better than the one before it, and I'm sure we can expect yet another progression with Gran Turismo 5. However, including car damage might not be the best idea... Look, we're talking about a game that claims to be a simulator, and it's supposed to offer the most realistic virtual racing experience available. Many amateur - and even professional - racers have already sung the praises of the game, confirming the accuracy of the physics time and time again. Of course, the unbridled terror one experiences when flying around a track for the first time isn't evident, but there's not much Sony can do about that.

Obviously, adding car damage makes the game more realistic. Or does it? The problem is, if you want this to be truly realistic, then vehicle damage would make the game nigh-on unplayable for most gamers. Think back to even your best runs in the past. How many times did you scrape a wall? Even slightly? How many times did you barely nudge an opponent? How many times did an opponent knock into you? With realistic car damage, any one of those incidents could've completely ended the race. You scrape a wall at 120 m.p.h., one of your tires might be mangled. If you under-steer through a sharp turn - so common in front-wheel drive cars, which is why high-performance cars are always rear-wheel drive - you might plow into the wall on the right. Normally, this only slows you down in GT games, but this time around, the impact causes the coolant and radiator fluid to leak, and your car is worthless within the next few miles. Or the impact itself is strong enough to snap the engine mounts themselves.

Now, I know what you're all thinking- "well, the car damage probably won't be that realistic." Okay...umm...doesn't that immediately detract from the overall accuracy of a simulator? Take Forza Motorsport, for example. While the game is fine, the car damage involved is a joke, as anybody who knows racing can tell you. What if just about every other part of the racing experience is perfectly recreated in Prologue, but the car damage in the game isn't representative of reality? As far as I'm concerned, that's a strike against a fantastic game. Sadly, this may be a lose-lose situation: if they do it correctly, it won't be accessible to the vast majority of gamers who aren't used to real racing. If they tone down the car damage, it significantly takes away from the simulation aspect. In my estimation, the only safe possibility is to put car damage in the "Simulation" mode, and not in any other mode. If damage can't be avoided, I'm not sure it's a good idea.

By the way, as a small disclaimer: I'm not a mechanic, but my father is, and most guys in my family know a great deal about cars and amateur racing. I also like to learn when I can; for instance, Arnold and I are very proud owners of the Nissan 350Z, and just in owning that, I've become much more interested in this topic. And the more research I do, when I compare it to a virtual video game and what would be required...I have to wonder. Is car damage really a good plan? In so many ways, I know it is, but it leaves a lot of questions unanswered and poses a whole new host of obstacles. That's all I'm going to say for now.

4/3/2008 Ben Dutka

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Legacy Comment System (16 posts)

SHADOW [Moderator]
Thursday, April 03, 2008 @ 11:41:05 PM

You have a completely valid point. I've heard this argument before (can't remember where) and I believe that the car damage should become an option but not a default one. If you are extremely hardcore go into options and turn it on. If you're like the rest of us leave it off. I you're a complete newb who's afraid to even look at the options menu you won't even notice what's missing. It'd make damage like the manual transmission, if you want to use it go ahead, but for many a casual gamer they don't even know that it is available.

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Admin PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, April 03, 2008 @ 11:57:46 PM

I think it should be an option too. I'd love to be able to turn it on or off. If it was up to me, I'd setup levels of realism for damage. Maybe on lower scale I can hit something and keep going but on full scale realistic scenario the game is over for me whenever I hit something hard enough to stop the car or make it dangerous to drive.

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Friday, April 04, 2008 @ 2:02:04 AM

I’ve been saying this for years, do we really want damage in GT?

Personally I feel they shouldn’t or at the very least give it an option like you guys say but with several steps. Like light damage, medium damage, heavy but all still drivable then realistic damage where you’re off for good.

I also think that in this generation of console we could have amazing damage, and the fact that GT hasn’t done it now when we have had ‘good’ car damage since Colin McRae 1 shows that if Polyphony really wanted car damage and could do it to their standards, we would have had it by now. But the way they implement things in to the GT games is part of the style for their games. Like they wouldn’t include humans until they could do it right! So one would hope that the same ethics apply here for damage, if they can do it better than anyone else then they should put it in the game, but if its just a lil bit rubbish, then it doesn’t fit in to the GT world as we know it.
That would go against everything they have said since GT1.

If they did damage it would go up against the best in the business, and that’s Burnout. Which to be fair has had an unfair advantage because from what I believe Burnout started out as a demo to show the collision blowout of a little red car.. ten years or so down the line, it may have over the top explosions and rip ups, but its the one everyone looks to. Will GT be able to compete? Should it put itself forward for this?

Personally I don’t think it needs to bow down to these people who demand damage.

BUT if this is a decision made by Polyphony for the right way, and that they have worked for 6 years on this and that they think its totally spot on, who are we to stand in the way of the evolution of the GT series? As long as they have the options and don’t alienate most of their unbelievably huge fan base, I think it could work.

Come this new patch, I would play around with it.. but on a whole I don’t think I would use it much. If it was like NFS:ProStreet, then I will be very very disappointed.

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Friday, April 04, 2008 @ 5:37:27 AM

I don't think thats a big deal so what there's car damage just turn it off end of story
(they better include that option for it to happen)

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Friday, April 04, 2008 @ 7:42:43 AM

The main downsides come if you are forced to complete single player challenges with the damage set to realistic. I get fed up now when I'm rammed and I get a penalty so race ending damage would be really annoying. You'd also get idiots online who find it funny to just ram others out of races for 'fun'. A bit like those who drop their own team vehicles into the water on Warhawk.

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Friday, April 04, 2008 @ 11:13:28 AM

I need to say that I honestly don’t find weight in the points exposed here.

Damage doesn’t need to be 100% realistic to get you involved in the game, just like bullet impact CAN’T be so in FPS games or it would make the game unplayable. Things do not need to be life-like accurate but it’s always welcome to have a well balanced approach to this reality in a game, which means to achieve realism without making things frustratingly realistic. It’s gamers playing these games not professional racers.

Said this, there’s no excuse for a game that has been in development for such a long time (or for any racing simulator in this gen) to not feature some kind of car damage. It just feels unrealistic, especially for a game that aims at realism. Polyphony backs their decision up by saying they would need to make it perfect to include damage in the game, according to their “high standards” but this is obviously a demagogic excuse. Either they don’t want to sacrifice detail in exchange of damage or they just don’t want to deal with the legal aspects involved in destroying a licensed car in a game. It was a pain for Turn 10 back then, but at least they pulled this off.

The dangerous part of this is that if this game doesn’t get released this year, it will have to race head to head with Turn 10’s next iteration of Forza (3) and if they don’t live up to what Forza 3 may offer, it could seriously hurt the popularity of the franchise. I think polyphony has focused too much in achieving some aspects of the game (like perfecting car models) but might have ignored some others that will play an equally important role in the final game against both user and editor’s reviews.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, April 04, 2008 @ 12:28:05 PM

FPSs typically aren't simulators. The entire PURPOSE of GT is to provide the gamer with the most realistic virtual racing experience possible, and if any one aspect of the game falls short, it takes away from the accuracy. Thus, the simulator as a whole falls short. Adding damage that is NOT indicative of real life doesn't help the game's cause.

The car damage in Forza really is a joke, for example, and it's why I can't play it. Every time I see the so-called "damage," and then realize it has almost no effect on my racing like it should in a simulator, I'm immediately annoyed. This is my point.

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Friday, April 04, 2008 @ 1:46:22 PM

I think everyone can agree that car damage should only be an option even for online games. I do think that the majority of GT players are there for the realistic experience as there are better racing games out there for the arcade experience i.e burnout.
To add realistic damage to a racing game thats not only visually impressive but also effects the handling and performance like no other game has done before is very ambitious. How does a 60mph crash in a Ferrari effect the cars performance and handling? How do they replicate it accurately?

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SHADOW [Moderator]
Friday, April 04, 2008 @ 3:49:32 PM

@bamf: Wouldn't that be the best job ever. "I take rare vehicles and smash them so our video game can replicate it accurately."- best career day presentation EVER!

I want to ask some questions of you guys. Let's pretend that car damage is completely realistic. Would/Should you have to pay to get the car repaired between races? Would/Should you be able to total your car (to the point where no mechanic could ever fix it, and you are no longer able to drive it)?

If they did this completely realistically how many of you would spend like hours turning classic cars into classic scrap metal? I would.

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Friday, April 04, 2008 @ 4:06:58 PM

thats what NFS:ProStreet did... you paid for the vehicle to be repaired.

I really didnt get on with NFS for that. I never ran out of tickets to repair, but it just wasnt a direction I personally liked.

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Tim Speed24
Friday, April 04, 2008 @ 6:21:22 PM

Dirt did car damage extremely well. Your car could take more than a normal car but that is exceptable, it is a game after all.

You don't have all of the advantages of driving a real car so the damage should NEVER be super realistic.

I feel damage would be a good thing in GT5 because then maybe you think twice about hitting cars and gaurd rails to turn faster laps if your car slows down due to damage.

Pro Race Driver and Toca series did the damage thing very well also but was a little too arcadey.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008 @ 8:10:51 PM

As echoed: OPTION. Perhaps even a slider for varying levels if its not too hard to pull.

Personally, if its too much to do and they havent gotten far in coding the physics, I say it could wait. I dont want any other aspect of the game to be left unrefined/left out etc. because they set lofty expectations (remember online in 4 out the box?)

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Monday, April 07, 2008 @ 12:28:45 AM

i agree 100% with this article!

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Monday, April 07, 2008 @ 1:54:53 AM

timster118. The current penalty system is annoying in GT5p due to the fact that it is a computer game and sometimes the coding is a little screwed. I recently got nudged into the car in front and I got a 5 second ramming penalty. Now assuming the game gave me a damage penalty which lasted the whole race because of this type of situation I just couldn't play it. They will never get AI and collision detection so realistic that any type of proper damage could work effectively.

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Monday, April 07, 2008 @ 6:35:37 PM

I feel sorry that so many of the people on here that I typically agree with and see as wise people have become hypocrites. We complain and complain that games (simulators) aren't real. There is a glitch here or this would be awsome if it was more like real life. I even hear about PGR and other racing games that it would be cool to add in actually fixing your car! To me not a bad idea...but to read that so many people think damage in GT 5 would be detrimental to the game??? The same people that COMPLAIN about realism? Seriously! Come on! It will never become detrimental to the game or any SIMULATOR!! Why? Because it is adding to the simulator! Now people can't slam into the back of another car to push them out of the why so they can screw the other person up on the last turn of the last lap to win. With damage these drivers would have to, dare I say it, RACE CLEAN! Oh must burn most of ur eyes to read that huh? Anyone who thinks damage will hurt GT 5 must not like true racing simulators or has a special trick that they think is racing that would be negated because they now recieve damage and if they tried the trick they would be knocked out of the race and would no longer be "Awsome" at the game. Hypocrisy I cry! Hypocrisy!

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009 @ 9:34:37 AM

I agree with the editorial. I don't see what the point of damage is - I always play with the bumper cam, so I wouldn't see it anyway. As far as making people race clean, most people race as clean as they are capable of. Sure there are a few kids out there who don't, but for the majority of people, if you hit a wall or another car, it's because you couldn't avoid it. If you want realism, the race will be over at that point. Fun, huh? Especially because it's pretty rare that you can go around the track without even touching another car. So all your races, if we want realism, will end with you getting a flat tire or having the wheels knocked so far out of alignment that the car isn't drivable any more. Or you can plod around the track at 60 mph, finish in last place by 5 minutes, but at least you'll finish.

That's why I've always liked the idea of not having damage. It's a video game, it's meant to be fun. The vast, VAST majority of people who play racing games aren't even close to being good enough to take a 500hp car around a track fast enough to be competitive in a real event, and the bitter realization of that fact is the only thing you'll get from a totally realistic racing sim.

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