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Birthday cards

And so this week I grow a tiny bit older. On the plus side, I am deluged with presents, parades are held in my honour and cake is brought forth. On the downside, the “parade” just consists of Ali and two rabbits and it is I who has to supply the cake. Still, the presents are very shiny.


The Birthday Honours are coming but to start the celebrations off I thought I would share with you some of my very favourite Pinata Vision Cards. Carefully constructed with my own fair hands these are the set I sent to Bungie themselves and now I feel it is time to share them with the rest of the gardening world.





Happy scanning.

E68: Please contact Xbox support

Some may think a Red Ring of Death is bad. Your whole console fried and only brought back to life by a return trip to Xbox support or a quick smothering in towels. The one thing you have to remember with this, is at least your data is safe; tucked away on a separate hard drive, it may look sorrowful and useless on its own but at least you know that when your console comes back from the dead it will be ready to roll once more.

I say this because only a couple of days ago my hard drive died and it’s hit me bad. Out of all my recreational belongings this was the thing that I never wanted to lose.

You can replace discs, sports equipment, board games and books. Here, though, many years’ worth of save games have gone: all my Viva Piñata gardens, my Halo replays, my Guitar Hero set lists, my Crackdown orbs, my Tomb Raider levels, my Carcassonne tiles, my Lego pieces, my Portals, my Penny Arcade character, my entire 360 archive.

Looking down my gamercard, it may not appear that many were played frequently but that was never the point. During lulls in releases it was always great to get Crackdown out and bound around the city, or when friends were round to reveal the guitars and wail on them. For some I can find unlock codes to help me out but others I just don’t have the heart to play through again and unfortunately Viva Piñata is amongst them. I’ve sunk over 150 hours into both games and I just can’t face that again, I really can’t.

Brothers in arms

Quite touchingly, this image is the last thing I pulled from my hard drive before it keeled over. Whilst watching a replay of the previous night’s session of Halo, I found my brother and I shoulder to shoulder in combat against the Flood. May it stand as a monument to my fallen hardware.

Can I haz Recon?

Looking back at the events of last week, they drew a range of reactions from people. Some, like myself and Hey Ernie, instantly knew the impact of what had happened. Others, Robot Minion I’m looking at you, simply stared at me as if I was speaking in tongues.

How would you react if I said “I have Recon.”

During the week, mixed in with a variety of other VP community duties, I received a note from my colleague Hey Ernie wondering whether we could sort his friends at Bungie out with a couple of piñatas. I’m not likely to turn a request like that down, but rather than stop there I decided to show them my appreciation and put together some bespoke Pinata Vision cards. Thus was born scannable versions of a Hooty Fruity Master Chief, a Bonboon Cortana and a Walrusk Sgt Johnson.

They appear to have liked them.

From the moment I unravelled XO Sancho’s message (“What’s that on your head?”) I became a gibbering fanboy, sitting on Halo’s settings screen staring at my shiny new armour. Previously I had often thought “well, it’s just another toggle, nothing much”, never expecting to get it in my lifetime, but the sense of surprise and elation when I realised what had happened took me aback. Being handed such a gesture by Bungie is a huge deal to my Halo-loving self and completely unexpected.

Shiny helment

Interestingly enough, the suit does seem to attract teabagging. People hunt you down and take great pleasure in repeatedly crouching over you in a suggestive manner. That said, it’s a small price to pay as I can happily look up from my prone, broken body, towards that bobbing Spartan rear, safe in the knowledge that they are only jealous.

Extended Leave

I’m still holidaying, sorry, so no proper updates just yet. I’ve popped briefly back into work but most of my time has either been spent laying laminate or playing Trouble in Paradise.

There is a part of my that is part amazed-part chuffed that after spending the best part of five years on those papery gits that I still love playing the game, clocking up about 80 hours so far and I’ve not even gotten my Fizzlybear yet. I guess not being directly involved in gameplay has helped but my workmates still think I’m mad.

Anyway, I’m off to Halopalooza this weekend so as you can imagine I’m very exciteable. I’ll leave you with another video; no where near as exciting as the others but this is a Public Service Announcement for those VP players who can’t figure out Pinata Vision.

How to make a Believa

My Dare write up is still going slowly, so today I’d like to share with you this.

Chris, Andy and I would like to thank everyone who helped put the covert Believa project together. Special thanks to Will, Adam, Justin, Ryan, Louise, Simona, Jamie, Alan and Stephen, plus the hordes that helped us cut out all those blasted papercraft. Yes, Ali, that means you, too.

What price freedom?

Gold, that’s what price. Viva Piñata: Trouble is Paradise has gone gold and after a couple of weeks of additional promo work I am now on holiday, lounging on my sofa and watching the Olypmics in HD.

As immensely satisified and proud as I am of our team’s efforts over the last couple of years, and especially the few months just gone, I have to say that when I walked out of the barn last night and switched the light out there was a big smile on my face. Knowing I had a fortnight off where no bug could reach me is a grin-worthy event.

This has been my hardest crunch by far and I’ve run the full gambit of emotions with it. With Ghoulies I was young and fresh and VP: Classic saw a lot of my features cut before we got to the business end of things. With Trouble in Paradise, however, I had a lot more responsibilities, more features and a lot more stress. Goodness knows how Ali managed to cope, this being her first first-hand crunch, and I thank her for her patience.

September 5th (2nd t’other side of the pond) is now the next date in the diary for me, being that of VP’s release, and I hope to see a few of you online. Beware, noobs, I’m going to pwn your gard3n.


Are you a Believa?

Over the weekend, my good friend Jimmcq dropped me a link to a video that basically glues together my two favourite things in gaming: Halo and Viva Piñata. What more could a man want for?

The toys that Burger King released some time ago now have been thrust into a world of darkness and war where Pester stands tall at the end, paying tribute to the UNSC-Covenenant war.

For those of you unfamiliar with Believe, here is the 60 second version of the original that accompanied Halo 3’s launch and it seems to be going for a shot for shot remake.

If only I could get my hands on that layout, it would make a great Halo Clix map.

“All you other games might as well give up now.”

I’ve always liked Eurogamer:

“Microsoft has announced that Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise will be released for Xbox 360 on 5th September. All you other games might as well give up now.

Trouble in Paradise is the sequel to the Gears of War-smashing Viva Piñata, where you built up a pretty garden and tried to coax animals to come and live in it. Which sounds more sinister than it actually was.”

Just two months to go until I see our baby on the shelves.


I thought it was only fair I say good bye… for now.

Thanks to the events of last week, namely the announcement of the project I am currently working on and its imminent release date, crunch has now officially hit and it’s no use hiding any more. For the next couple of months I’m not going to have as much time on my hands to update this blog, I’m going to be bashing big bugs and putting polish on pinatas.

Hopefully I’ll still be popping up every now and again when I’ve got some thing to say but it’s likely to be infrequent at best. Which is a shame, to be honest, I really wanted to write a long article why GTA is definitely not a 10, more an 8.

And on that bombshell…