ALMS Driver Gunnar Jeannette Visits Turn 10 Studios

If you’ve been following Forza for long, you’ve probably heard his name before: Gunnar Jeannette, professional race car driver, ALMS star… and longtime Forza Motorsport fan. (Check out Gunnar’s websitehere.) Gunnar has been an extended member of the Turn 10 Studios family since the very beginning and has consulted with the Forza team ever since the original Forza Motorsport on Xbox. Last week, Gunnar made his latest stopover in Redmond to check out Forza Motorsport 4 and give his one-of-a-kind feedback to the Turn 10 team.

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Having followed Gunnar around for his entire two-day visit, it was fascinating to watch him not only play the game in our hydraulic race sled–attacking each track with increasing aggression lap after lap—but also provide extremely detailed feedback on all aspects of the game. From the traction capabilities of various cars, to the brightness of certain instruments inside an ALMS cockpit, Gunnar’s experience runs the gamut from supercars to race machinery and it shows. From what I saw, it reminded me of what a real test-driver does on the track—drive a few laps, then pull into the pits to discuss the performance with the race engineers. Only, in this case, the “engineers” were a group of Turn 10 developers, notepads in hand, busily taking notes.

In addition to trying out the cars of Forza 4—all powered by the game’s completely overhauled tire physics system—Gunnar also brought a wealth of knowledge regarding the tracks in the game. As a pro driver, Gunnar has spent a lot of time driving on many of the world’s greatest tracks, and so he has first-hand experience with many of the circuits that will be part of Forza 4. In addition to getting seat time on old favorites like Road Atlanta and Road America, Gunnar also spent time on each of the brand new tracks that will be part of Forza 4, including the Top Gear Test Track and the Bernese Alps track, both of which made their debut at E3 2011.

As with the cars, it was fascinating to watch Gunnar critique the tracks with our art team, providing the kind of in-depth feedback that can only come from someone who has driven these tracks in race conditions and at speed. I was struck by the precision of his commentary—at one point, he mentioned that a set of orange cones at Sebring needed to move about a foot or two out from the edge of the track. It seemed superhuman, but of course anyone as skilled as Gunnar who’s spent so many hours lapping these tracks could probably point out these minute details, too. That didn’t make it seem any less amazing. Still, it’s the kind of feedback that Turn 10 developers cherish, as it makes every detail on each track in the game that much more authentic.

Look for more from Gunnar Jeannette and his experiences visiting Turn 10 and seeing Forza Motorsport 4 in the coming months.

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