Jim @ Piñata Island What was the design process behind the in-game achievements?
Justin Cook: We liked the spread of achievements in the first game but we didn't like the points all being the same. So we changed their values and we tried to use the achievements to point players towards some of the new stuff in the game. For example we have a golf award...
Mario @ Rare-Elite: For the Dutch gamers/fans: Will there be an option to play the game in its original English version. There is a massive quantity of dissapointed Dutch gamers on the fora who really would like that option in VP2 as well as in BK. If not, is there a special reason to not include that option?
Justin Cook: The developers don't have control over that. It's all to do with the languages available and what region the console is set to. I'm sorry you can't get the language you'd like, and I don't have an answer.
Agent_Icebeezy @ NeoGAF: Ok, this is more towards the technological side. A few years ago, Gregg had an interview that said a lot of what pushes VP1 comes from Ghoulies (development tools) and Conker (animation), did the move to doing VP2 with the R1 engine entirely on the 360 make your job a lot easier than what Gregg had to deal with in VP1 in regards to the gameplay?
Justin Cook: Lots of the tools and stuff transferred directly over from the first game. We worked fast so where possible we used what we had, pushing new tools where we needed to. My job was easier because we had a game that worked from day 1. All I had to do was fit in the new bits and tweak some of the old stuff.
Mark @ DKU: Any references to more classic Rare titles within the game? We saw a sequel to Ghoulies as one reference to the game among others from Kameo, Conker, Jet Force Gemini, Banjo-Kazooie, and the TiP demo had the Saucer O' Peril from Banjo-Tooie, and it'd be interesting to see if the team has extended beyond that. Anticipation references, perhaps?
Justin Cook: We put all sorts of references in. We find them amusing and we love it when people find them. I'd rather not spoil things by telling you what's in the game.
Francis @ Perfect Rare: The Viva Piñata show on TV has been a small success in the Netherlands. Is VP2 somewhat more inspired by the show or can we see it as two separate things?
Justin Cook: They are separate things. Early on we decided that Rare knows games and should try to make the best game they can. 4kids know about TV so we should let them make the best show they could. We have crossed over a little more this time. The Professor Pester plotline was inspired by the TV show.
Glztt @ MundoRare: What kind of influence do the weather changes have in the game?
Justin Cook: The weather works in a similar way to before. When it rains the plants get watered, and you should plant as many seeds as you can. We have added snow to the garden. If you put snow down and it rains then flakes will fall instead of raindrops.
Rich @ RWP: Viva Piñata featured a level system that extended to rank 108, but it offered the player little except personal satisfaction for reaching that milestone. Will maxing out VP:TiP reward the player in some way?
Justin Cook: We've put some 'endings' into the game this time. You can send all the piñata species to parties to complete the destroyed computer records... You can complete all the international party challenges, which unlocks new items and accessories... Or you can try to get the new 'ultimate' piñata. I hope you'll find all these things more satisfying. Oh and you can keep levelling up, because the cap has been removed...
Jim @ Piñata Island: Was the development team used for recording the piñata voices again? Did you have any interesting stories from that process?
Justin Cook: Yes. More people volunteered this time. My new audio is for the Parmadillo... It's not my best work. Once you've seen someone pondering what noise a lovesick Ostrich is supposed to make you might appreciate the effort we put in.
Mario @ Rare-Elite: Did MS not find it a bit troublesome that you decided to include the Xbox Vision feature? As you said, certification is skipped. Can people with the right knowledge miss-use that option gameplaywise or worse?
Justin Cook: No because the camera only allows players access to stuff in the game. But some things that are in the game are not accessible through normal play, so the cards allow you to see more of the work we've done than you would have been able to see without the camera.
Agent_Icebeezy @ NeoGAF: Ok, this is about retail. I'm sure you know that VP2 is $39.99 here in the states and a few other places, how did that go over with the team given how Microsoft mishandled VP1 at retail?
Justin Cook: We liked the lower price point. I always thought a game for the whole family should be good value. So I'm pleased with the new price point and I guess that means you'll have some spare cash to put towards Banjo?
Mark @ DKU: With no plans for DLC for TiP, does this mean that the items available for download in the original will be available within the game from the moment you turn it on? When I played VP2 in New York, the items were available, but seeing how that was a demo version and not the complete version, one wonders.
Justin Cook: Yes you'll be able to get everything from the first game. The items are unlocked as you level up but there isn't anything from the first game that is missing in the second. We added more content, didn't take content out.
Francis @ Perfect Rare: What can we expect of Co-Op? Are there any features you haven't told anyone yet?
Justin Cook: Co-op is available on the same box for 2 players. This is a slightly different version of the game because the 2nd player gets some abilities that aren't usually available. We also have up to 4 player over live. Sharing a garden with your friends.
Glztt @ MundoRare: We loved the mutations in the first game, are we going to be able to cross more species in Trouble in Paradise?
Justin Cook: We have some more stuff like that this time around. I hope you really like what we've done with the wild-cards. There aren't any more crosses like the Pigxie but there are a few new surprises...
Rich @ RWP: Can you speak more about the new piñata races? How are they handled, and what factors determine a victory?
Justin Cook: The piñata races are open to all comers. Your chosen piñata races down a track. You get to move them up and down the field. If they are on a surface they like they move faster. If they are right behind another piñata they slipstream so you can catch up the leaders. There are some loathers in crates you can shoot ahead or drop behind. And you can slow down a little if you want to stay in the slipstream. We've had quite a lot of fun with it, even if we do end up arguing about who is the best racer.
Jim @ Piñata Island: Were there any entertaining examples of completely unexpected piñata behavior that you experienced during development?
Justin Cook: The best example I can give was a demo we prepared for the MVP event. Our producer Adam Park created a desert garden... And planted Prickly Pears - a new weed. After showing the garden off a couple of times he found that the piñata were vanishing... The prickly pear grows a fruit that makes piñata non-resident. He didn't realise until the point he was demo-ing a ghost town :)
Mario @ Rare-Elite: You can learn piñata's new tricks... Is there a way to train your piñata so they get better stats for minigames?
Justin Cook: No, we kept the mini-games light and fun. We wanted the new features to be playable by anyone from the youngest novice all the way through to people like yourselves. I've no doubt you'll tell us if we got the balance on that right...
Agent_Icebeezy @ NeoGAF: This question is about you, your team and the near future. Growing up, I always viewed Rare as this ninja-like secretive, awesome company that delayed games a lot. Now, Rare is an open, awesome company that gets games out on time. In my past experiences, something like this, as it happens over time, changes the environment and mood of the workplace. Did that happen at Rare in recent years as to where there is now full confidence in the games being made since they aren't continuously.
Justin Cook: I guess the industry has changed. What was ok in the past isn't really ok now and we'd like to be more reliable, make the best games, and keep the people who buy our games informed. At the core we are still trying to make the best games possible, it's just more important to us that we look after our community.
Mark @ DKU: Back in the day, there were many crazy rumours about how the Piñata universe worked. Some of us were actually expecting to see a backstory that would explain why all those piñatas live there and what is their goal in life. If you think about it, the whole point of a piñata's existence is to get filled with candy so a bunch of kids can smash it to death during a birthday party. See the irony there? Don't you think that you have a hell of a concept waiting to be exploited?
Justin Cook: Very much so. If and when we decide to make more VP games, there's a rich seam of material there that we can delve into when we need to.
Francis @ Perfect Rare: For all people who like graphics, could you tell us some new things you have done with that in VP:TiP?
Justin Cook: I'll try. I'm not very technical. The biggest change is HDR lighting. So the screen reacts to the different lighting conditions. This gives a lovely effect over the whole game, especially when you compare the quality of the light in the Desert dessert and Pinarctic regions to the main garden. There's also been some work done on the water to make it more sparkly and interesting. I guess the features are subtle but we never thought the game was ugly before.