WHO WORKS HERE
People Staff Interview
Sound Development Engineer
After graduating from the Shinshu University Engineering Department Graduate School, entered Polyphony Digital in 2000. After being responsible for game sequences in "Tourist Trophy", has been responsible for sound development since "Gran Turismo 5 Prologue".
Soldering FM sound synthesizer chips
My teacher in the 5th grade was an interesting person, and had a PC-8001 mkII SR and an X1 Turbo in the classroom that he let the students play with. During break time I dominated the PCs and made games with my teacher appearing as the main character.
Eventually I wanted my own PC, and got my parents to buy me an MSX which cost about 10,000 yen then. I was infatuated with it, and liked to make sound with it as well. PC's at the time were mainly PSG sound, but I was able to get my hands on an FM sound synthesis chip, and had my father teach me to put together a cartridge for the MSX by soldering the circuits. I had to write the driver for it in machine language myself, but it was a good experience.
Creating my own sound driver
In Jr. High, I got my hands on the X68000 that I was dreaming about. It was expensive but I think my father wanted me to try doing something I liked. I made games, and I made FM sounds and also created MIDI music.
Eventually I came to a point where I wanted to directly edit resistors and exclusive messages, and ended up making my own sound driver. Optimizing clock speeds and timings, it was fun to explore what could be done within the limited resource.
In the university I researched CG and processors. I never studied acoustic theories, but I had an interest in it, so I now look back and think I should have looked into it more. During college I also got a first gen. Mazda Roadster (mx-5), and learned how fun sports cars are, which also expanded my knowledge of cars.
New recruit from "Gemu Yarouze! (Let's Play Games!)"
In my 2nd year of college, Sony Computer Entertainment (SIE) started a creator support program called "Gemu Yarouze! (Let's Play Games!)", and I applied and was accepted through a demo program I made together with a friend.
SIE rented an office in Nagano city, and I wrote project plans and prototyped, but couldn't produce very much results. I wanted to make a driving game, but I remember receiving advice that "there's an internal team making a realistic driving game, so you should come up with a project that is more suited to you". That game that they were referring to, was "Gran Turismo".
Near the end of the contract, SIE asked "What do you want to do hereon?", and at the time I was stimulated by "Gran Turismo" that had just come out, so I answered "I'd like to join Polyphony", and they introduced me. After the interview, I was able to join Polyphony together with the friend I had been working with. This was a company with only 10 engineers at the time, so we were the first "fresh graduates" to join the company.
Thinking about engine and tire sound effects with consideration for automotive engineering
I joined the company around the start of "Gran Turismo 3" development. When I mentioned that I have an interest in graphics, they asked me "we have an idea for post effects, do you want to try your hand at it?" I came up with a method to irregularly use the VU and GS of PlayStation®2 to enable high speed processing, and this effect was used in the "Dive Replay" where the color of the screen changes according to the music.
At the time there were many engineers who just enjoyed programming day and night not just as work, and it felt like heaven for someone who loves computers. I worked a lot with production tools such as the model viewer used by artists, meters displayed during races, and menu related production.
In "Tourist Trophy" I was the main person responsible for the game sequence and menus. Thereafter from "Gran Turismo 5 Prologue", I became responsible for sound. From the PlayStation®3, audio processing became programmable, and the degree of freedom greatly expanded. To match that, I created a modern 3D audio setup, and the audio effect processing necessary.
The sound effects for the engine and tires takes into account automotive engineering so that it acts in the same manner as the real thing. Regarding this, we have many discussions with Yamauchi san involved as well. I was working on other subjects as well for a time, but now I am allowed to work almost fully dedicated to sound development.
Character of Polyphony Digital
If you have passion, wanting to "make this part of Gran Turismo better", it is a very fun environment. The discussions are open, so if you have something you want to do, anyone can be involved. For example my main work is as a programmer, but I also attend sound recordings to discuss how to better record sound.
And Polyphony has a wide variety of talented people, and it is always refreshing to see the internal SNS, and it is motivating. Someone is always plotting something, and sometime it produces incredible results. The compilation of this is "Gran Turismo". How someone contributes is each different, but the atmosphere where creative trials are respected, I think has not changed since I joined.
Regarding the hiring for a Sound Development Engineer
It is of course great to have skills that can be immediately applied, but what is really important is that you have an understanding for the complexity of sound.
"Gran Turismo" is a simulator, so the mechanisms from the natural world, and the automobiles, are stacked together one by one to make a car move. Sound in the same way, I hope to have in a form that follows the laws of reality. Why sound is produced, why it sounds the way it does, how that can be recreated. Someone who can take an interest to sound from that aspect, is I think suited to Polyphony.
And of course it is also even better if you have an interest for cars. If you understand the mechanism behind engines and tires, I think you will be able to grasp the character of sound even better. I hope to find someone who can sympathize with this train of thought, who will think about the future of "Gran Turismo" with us from both the aspects of cars and acoustics.