the mak­ing of DAY­TON USA

racer ever, It might be the best ar­cade with and all It took was a part­ner­ship a usa a mil­i­tary sim­u­la­tion com­pany, am2 re­search trip and the leg­endary how daytona team. sega’s crew re­veals speed… usa be­came the king of

Retro Gamer - - A MOMENT WITH - Words by Nick Thorpe

there aren’t many game de­vel­op­ers that have come to be specif­i­cally as­so­ci­ated with com­mon nat­u­ral phe­nom­ena, but when you talk about Sega peo­ple tend to bring up blue skies. From the Green

Hill Zone to Outrun’s Co­conut Beach, many of the best Sega games seem to take place in a colour­ful eter­nal sum­mer, where a car crash will only upset your part­ner a lit­tle and en­vi­ron­men­tal de­struc­tion can be un­done by a heroic hedge­hog. Daytona USA fits right into that happy lit­tle world, and it doesn’t just fea­ture blue skies, it even has a song about them. The re­sult is a game that doesn’t just stand along­side the likes of Turbo, Outrun, Su­per Monaco GP and Sega Rally as part of a proud ar­cade rac­ing her­itage, but which per­haps de­fines it.

Daytona USA was the prod­uct of an ar­cade arms race. Com­pa­nies were com­pet­ing to have the most im­pres­sive hard­ware, and rac­ing games seemed to be the cho­sen area of com­bat. Namco’s Win­ning Run and Atari’s Hard Drivin’ had kicked the genre into 3D in the late Eight­ies, and Sega’s Vir­tua Rac­ing had set new stan­dards for speed and de­tail in 1992, but the com­pany was al­ready look­ing at de­vel­op­ing a suc­ces­sor to the Model 1 tech­nol­ogy that pow­ered that game. To do this, it en­tered a part­ner­ship with the Amer­i­can mil­i­tary sim­u­la­tor de­vel­oper GE Aero­space, which was sub­se­quently bought by Martin Ma­ri­etta.

One of the peo­ple in­volved in de­vel­op­ing this new tech­nol­ogy was Toshi­hiro Nagoshi, direc­tor and pro­ducer of Daytona USA. Al­though he worked on the soft­ware side of de­vel­op­ment, his pres­ence was im­por­tant due to Sega’s de­sign phi­los­o­phy. “Sega as a com­pany tra­di­tion­ally de­vel­oped the hard­ware and soft­ware par­al­lel,” he ex­plains. “Push­ing hard­ware de­vel­op­ment for­ward alone would some­times over­look the func­tions nec­es­sary for soft­ware de­vel­op­ment. There was also the risk of adding un­nec­es­sary func­tions. To avoid such sit­u­a­tions, it’s quite ef­fi­cient to de­velop both the hard­ware and the soft­ware that would be run­ning on it, at the same time.” It was Nagoshi’s in­volve­ment in this process that pro­vided the con­cept for Daytona USA.

“When I went to the US to have a meet­ing about the Model 2 sys­tem board, I hap­pened to get the tick­ets for a [NASCAR] race,” re­mem­bers Nagoshi. “That was the first time I ever watched such a race, as in Ja­pan, car rac­ing typ­i­cally meant For­mula 1 for the vast ma­jor­ity of peo­ple. I re­mem­ber it be­ing quite a new ex­pe­ri­ence for me.” Nagoshi re­turned to Ja­pan de­ter­mined to cre­ate a stock car rac­ing game – and not only did he get that wish, he led de­vel­op­ment as the direc­tor of the game and one of two pro­duc­ers (the other be­ing Yu Suzuki). “It was a huge re­spon­si­bil­ity for me, but at the same time, this was a game im­ple­ment­ing the new tech­nol­ogy for the first time, and be­ing able to cre­ate such a game as a leader is not a chance that comes by of­ten,” Nagoshi ex­plains. “I tried my best to have as much fun as I could. But of course, in re­al­ity it was not that easy, and I of­ten found my­self stuck in thought.”

In or­der to get the project off on the right foot, Nagoshi un­der­took plenty of re­search. “I con­sumed as many videos and books about NASCAR as I could get my hands on. How­ever, de­spite the ex­ten­sive re­search, it was dif­fi­cult to con­vey the ex­cite­ment and fas­ci­na­tion of NASCAR rac­ing to the staff in Ja­pan at the time.” One such mem­ber of the team who found him­self con­fronted with an un­fa­mil­iar rac­ing dis­ci­pline was game plan­ner Makoto Osaki. “I was not fa­mil­iar at all with stock car rac­ing,” he con­fesses. “At the time For­mula 1 was the mo­tor­sport trend in Ja­pan, which I knew much more about.” How­ever, he took the job ex­tremely se­ri­ously. “I bought a sports car,” he re­sponds when asked about the re­search he did for the game. “I also watched the movie Days Of Thun­der more than 100 times!” We’re not quite sure which ac­tion shows more ded­i­ca­tion to the cause.

Pro­gram­mer Daichi Katagiri wasn’t hard to get on board. “I was very much in­ter­ested in mo­tor­sports,

“I re­mem­ber It be­ing quite a new ex­pe­ri­ence for me” toshi­hiro nagoshi

» [Ar­cade] Us­ing man­ual trans­mis­sion al­lows for higher speeds and more nu­anced con­trol of the ve­hi­cle while drift­ing.

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