Monthly Archives: November 2007

Happy Birthday Viva Piñata: Day Five

Two more slides to go and for the first we’re heading back to a time where console were slightly chunkier than they are now…

Back on the 'box

This, my friends, is a screenshot of Viva Piñata when its home was the original Xbox. Dominating the background are a selection of trees, including oak and apple, but it is the foreground that is interesting because of faces that once again may be recognisable but somewhat foreign.

At this point in time we simply didn’t have the brute force to push all the spangly graphics that we can today and so everything is that little bit flatter and bolder because of it – or stylised, as it’s known. The papery effect that truly distinguishes the Piñatas wasn’t made possible until we start messing around with the 360 and realised just how much power we had.


Happy Birthday Viva Piñata: Day Four

Welcome back, avid reader. Let’s jump straight in.

The Offspring

They may just appear to be smaller versions of their grownup selves but these Piñatas, as I’ve waxed lyrical about before, are some of the cutest things ever conceived. How on earth could anyone not want the Baby Hen you see up in the top left hand corner in their garden?


Happy Birthday Viva Piñata: Day Three

Welcome back, I hope you slept well. You should now be rested enough to be able to cope with being faced with these mishapen oddities!

 The Outsiders


Thank you

Just thought I’d say thank you to everyone offering their congratulations to Ali and I on our engagement.

Whether it’s been through text, email, comment, Facebook, phone, Xbox Live, forum threads or even the shockingly outdated “face to face” technique, it’s been appreciated.

Happy Birthday Viva Piñata: Day Two

Welcome to Day Two of our count down to Viva Piñata’s one year anniversary here in the UK.

Today, we’re going to be looking at just exactly how Ryan’s warped little mind happened upon populating a garden full of piñatas, of all things.

Unhappy with his pastel creations, Ryan took a step back and began drawing inspiration from many places. Among his numerous sources he looked at ancient cave paintings with their simplified shapes, the appealing patterns of aboriginal art and the art within Aztec culture.

In a surreal manner, he then progressed to looking at the Mexican Day of the Dead festival with all the festivities, costumes and bright colours. At this point he sparked a memory of his childhood and visions of pinatas gave him an idea.



Good news, everyone!

This opening paragraph has now been rewritten six times. I’ve attempted to spin yarns about “upgrading” and “new starts” but everything I have written has sounded awful and has been at real danger of getting me lynched by those close to me on my return home.

And, so, I will boil it down to it’s most simple element: Ali and I are now engaged.

The grinning couple atop Ashby Castle

We celebrated our five year anniversary on Saturday night and to mark the occasion we booked a table and a room in a highly recommended restaurant in Market Bosworth. The room was decked out with flowers and Champagne but it wasn’t Saturday night I popped the question.

On Sunday we went to Ashby Castle, where five years previously we had attempted to have our first date but couldn’t due to the heaven’s opening on us. This time, however, we got in and atop the highest tower I went down on one knee and Ali said “yes”.

This had been in the works for months and so whilst I’ve had time to get used to the fact I’d hopefully be getting married in my head, it’s very weird hearing other people use terms like wife and husband around us now.

Still, Ali seems to have embraced it with both arms, promising to try and become the ultimate “Bridezilla”.

We’ve already started looking at venues and making guest lists meaning despite our ideal date being early 2009, at this rate we’ll be ready to go by Easter.

Happy Birthday Viva Piñata: Day One

On 1st December 2006 a brightly coloured garden simulator for the Xbox 360 hit the shelves of the United Kingdom. It was called Viva Piñata and since its launch a dedicated and committed group of fans have worked tirelessly to find every secret, discover every Wildcard and perfect their digital, green-fingered skills.

To count down to VP’s UK birthday I have collected a group of seldom seen artwork that spans the game’s entire life time and will, just like an advent calendar, reveal a nugget each day to you.

Rather than attempt to over explain the situation, I’m just going to dive straight in and give you Day 1’s offering: entitled “Origins”, this slide shows the real beginnings of Viva Pinata.




One of the main reasons I wanted to be a games developer was for the final product that you produced. Not only for the fact it is a game, but it is something that you can take home to your mum, show it her and go “I helped make this.”

Whether she’d understand exactly what was going on or not is another matter, but you have something colourful and shiny to show for your efforts.

Your pride then goes to another level come release day and you can march into most good highstreet shops and find the fruit of your working loins sitting proudly next to all those other titles like puppies in a pet shop.

Skip on a year; it is then a very odd sensation when you realise so long after the title’s launch that the IP has been taken up by a major international chain who want to make toys from the characters. Now cue me grinning inanely and walking into Birmingham’s Burger King earlier this week.

Note the poster in the window and the confused ederly people. 

We know this has been going to happen for a long time but, as with so many things, until it actually happens you take it for granted.

As gleeful as I was about going in to pickup my own plastic toy of one of Ryan’s creations, I have to admit to being slightly embarrassed about asking for a Kids Club meal at the height of lunchtime rush hour; especially when the only thing left are Barbie bags to carry them off in.

Still, after a brief “You want a Viva what now?” moment at the tills I came away with my “Oh, those bright animals!”. A Cocoadile, to be exact.

See the glorious bag!

Swiss horn repair help line

I did have a couple of posts planned for yesterday, including B&B discussing the virtues of naming your high-speed attack vehicles after sensible creatures, but all that went out of the window because of the farcical happenings of Wednesday night.

That aside, as I will rant if the subject is touched upon, my spirits were raised again yesterday as we went to see Bill Bailey at Birmingham’s NIA. This hippy looking chap is pure comedy gold, whilst also having a tendency to go off on some quite surreal tangents.

Plus, being a superbly talented musician, he also works an awful lot of music into his act. Among his array of guitars, synthesisers, giants gongs and lutes, was a Swiss flick-horn on which he attempted to play the Coronation Street theme tune. However, during the “flick” part the horn split into two on stage leaving him slightly at a loss for a moment.

Regaining his composure, he noticed a helpline number on the bottom of the horn. In a musician’s workshop, somewhere in Switzerland, there is now an amusing answer phone message in a heavy West Country accent asking why his horn is broken and terminated by the applause of several thousand Brummies.

The only thing better would have been S117

I knew it would be a good night; just look at the number on my ticket.

Get out of jail

Whilst not being Jewish myself, I believe I can link myself to the state of Israel and their mighty football team through my supporting of Spurs. After all, if you listen to the cliches they should pratically be my second team.

Now, after the weekend’s events, pretty much the entirity of England wants to jump on this bandwagon and praise them as they have helped manage to get England’s qualification for Euro 2008 back on track and have given a McClaren a chance to banish his demons.

I’m never one for shouting “get the manager out”, as rarely does this achieve anything. I may not have approved of McClaren being appointed but unlike some who sit near me at work, I’d prefer to see us qualify and give ourselves a second chance next summer than see us bomb out just to get rid of Sven’s former number-two.

The fact of the matter, though, is that if he doesn’t pull off the right result on Wednesday he will be out of a job as England will be out of the tournament.

Just over a match ago England had won five games 3-0 on the trot and everything was rosy and the team was hailed once again as world beaters. A single 2-1 defeat later, thanks to some interesting refereeing, may I add, he’s the worst coach in the world. It’s a funny old game.