Since Krome is doing the new Viva Piñata, what are you guys doing right now?
JT: We could tell you, but then we'd have to kill you!
JC: We're on the same team, pretty
much. Team's moving on with another project, but we're not ready to
reveal what at the moment. But everything is going along swimmingly.
JT: You could probably make a good guess.
The technology for
Viva Piñata was actually really, really nice. Some people didn't
quite realize it, because it was going for
such a unique style. It wasn't like, "That looks like a real guy
over there!" but the wind going through the little...
JT: Yeah, I think a lot of people missed the actual papery effect. They just looked from afar and thought "fur," and left it at that, but they didn't actually realize how the paper strands [were] falling down.
JC: We had a really talented guy -- Mike Holmes -- who basically wanted to flex his muscles as much as possible when we got the 360. I think it's part of the philosophy as well: although this was a game for kids -- and for everybody -- we should put everything we've got into it. I think a lot of people did miss it, because of the subject matter.
In some ways, it was one of the really early graphical showcases of the 360, because at the time it came out, there weren't a whole lot of games that were really built just for it. A lot of them were, "Crap! Our Xbox game is not going to get supported now."
JT: Well, it went from Palm PC to the GameCube to the Xbox and the 360. I think we decided to make the leap to the 360 because we could do such things as the paper effects. Whereas if we'd have left it on the Xbox we'd have to do a texture, now we can have the actual fur.
It was in the works for that long?
JT: It started in 2002.
JC: Yeah, four years.
JT: It was basically a three-man team for a couple of years, before we ramped up.
JC: And then when Ghoulies finished, there were people hanging about. We sort of grabbed most of the Ghoulies team so we could finish Viva Piñata. We were looking. There were a lot of tons of enthusiastic people knocking about!
What kind of technology are you using on the games? Is it in-house stuff?
JT: It's all in-house stuff, yes. Most
of it's in-team stuff, but we've also got STG, the Shared Technology
Group, and they wrote an engine that everyone uses. I think PD
and Kameo used it, and we've borrowed instances of it as well.
You mean within Microsoft?
JT: Yes. Forza used a lot of the STG stuff as well. We've pinched stuff from each other. With so many teams, it's better to steal stuff rather than constantly rewriting it.
It's still hard to think of Rare as a Microsoft team, instead of just thinking of it as Rare.
JC: We're trying! We're out on the
road in the middle of nowhere, so to a certain degree, I expect we'll
always be kind of separate. However, we've been talking with Lionhead recently [as a fellow Microsoft studio], for example.
And since you've been making these off-the-wall games, it's going to be hard to be one of the crowd.
JT: Yeah, I can't see Unreal Engine powering Piñata. I don't think that's the way to go. "Overkill" may be the word.