Interviews// Viva Pinata: Pocket Paradise

Posted 11 Jun 2008 10:00 by
Gary Richards
Gary Richards
It’s no secret that Rare is… well, secretive. The developers there are famous for not wanting to be famous. That means that when someone offers you the chance to go see them, you bloody well get on a train and brave the perils of Birmingham to get there.

Yes, Birmingham! Fortunately, Rare has its own little patch of paradise somewhere near Twycross. Heading up the lengthy drive (after nearly missing the somewhat hidden gate) and watching rabbits dart across it and ducks waddle down the side of it, it’s amazing to think that Rare didn’t made a game about rearing wildlife before the original Viva Piñata hit the Xbox 360.

But, for whatever reason, it didn’t. Fortunately, that situation has been remedied and the second game in the series – Pocket Paradise – is heading to the Nintendo DS (a natural fit if ever you saw one) this September.

If you haven’t come across Viva Piñata before – it’s basically a garden simulation (nowhere near as boring as it sounds!) in which you try to attract and then look after brightly coloured piñatas and from time to time get them to bump brightly coloured uglies (although Rare won’t admit that). It’s a deep game that can’t be given justice in a paragraph, however, so I’d recommend reading SPOnG’s preview if you want to learn more.

Joe Humfrey
Joe Humfrey
Anyway, read on for a (insert word delivering a bad pun here) insight into one of the British games industry’s massive groups of favourite sons. We have Gary Richards, lead designer on Pocket Paradise and Joe Humfrey, game engineer. For the record, they're not piñatas in life – Rare just preferred to provide piñata avatars rather than let me snap a picture...

SPOnG:So, how long have you both been at Rare?

Gary Richards: I’ve been here forever (grins). I think it’s my fifteenth year here now.

Joe Humfrey: This is almost my third year. Sorry, I’ve almost been here three years.

SPOnG:So, were you guys involved with the 360 version of Viva Piñata at all?

Joe Humfrey: No, we’re just with the handheld team.

SPOnG:How’s the game coming along? It’s due out in three months…

Gary Richards: We actually finished development of it in October. I am still working on it, I’m putting in the finishing touches – the translation. It is just me. I’m working with the guys at THQ to sort out the translations to the seven languages. The game itself was finished in October.

Joe Humfrey: We’ve been doing little tweaks and changes. Little bug fixes and things. But, it’s basically done.

SPOnG: And have you managed to fit everything you wanted to into it?

Joe Humfrey: Yeah, I think so. We’re pretty happy with it.

Gary Richards: Obviously, because we finished it in October we kind of came back to it to get it all ready for the presentation. We were quite surprised, because we stepped back from it and were quite surprised by how good it looked. I think we achieved everything that we wanted to with it.

Joe Humfrey: I took it with me when I went on holiday to the US, and played it on the plane. I actually really enjoyed it.
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