Gamasutra has a great article up on the development of Viva Piñata from pretty bland garden sim to the piñata-filled paradise of bright colors, cute animals, and irritating helpers. It's an interesting look at game design from concept to execution, and some of the decisions that go into what stays, what goes, and what needs a major overhaul - from initial concept art to packaging. And we discover how those piñatas got so damn cute:
Not fully happy with his pastel creations, concept artist Ryan took a step back and began drawing inspiration from many places. He looked at ancient cave paintings with their simplified shapes, Aboriginal patterns and the art found in Aztec culture.
He then progressed to looking at the Mexican Day of the Dead festival with all the associated costumes and bright colors. At this point memories of childhood were sparked, and visions of piñatas gave him an idea.
I'm feeling inspired to check in with my piñatas - I spent a solid, jet lagged week after moving back to the US up with VP. I still hate flying from Asia to the US and vice versa, but cute piñatas were an excellent way to get over a twelve hour time difference.