Welcome to the latest installment of Xbox Enthusiast’s Developer Spotlight. In the last entry in the series, we talked to Fabio Ilacqua From Rimlight Studios to discuss ZHEROS which is currently free for Xbox Live Gold Members. This time, we’re talking to Thomas Hopper of TACS Games to discuss the recently released Factotum 90. You can read our official review of Factotum 90 here.
Xbox Enthusiast: Factotum 90 is a revamped version of the Wii-U game called Factotum. One of the more notable aspects of that version was the fact that it had a very retro vibe. What made you want to bring the game over to the Xbox One with a completely new style?
Thomas Hopper: “Although the Wii U version was exactly the game I wanted to make at the time I think XBOX One gamers are much more discerning when it comes to graphics. I really wanted to make something that would feel at home on the console. I also wanted to make use of all the additional power the XBOX One brings to the table. With upgraded PBR graphics, high res textures, Screen space effects like AO and Reflections, F90 is not a game that could run on a last gen platform.”
XBE: Factotum perfectly fit the Wii-U and utilized the Gamepad as part of the core gameplay which most developers don’t seem to do. Was it easier of harder to tweak the controls so that the game played well on the Xbox One?
Hopper: “It was actually a great opportunity to take all the feedback I got from the original version to tweak and improve the experience. I think the controls in F90 are superior in every way. Some new control features were even introduced, like running and walking, to help improve the pacing of the game.”
XBE: What were some of the games that inspired Factotum 90?
Hopper: “I’d have to give a shout out to Paradroid and it’s big brother Paradroid 90. Paradroid is a game about controlling robots on a stranded vessel but it’s a very different game to Factotum. Paradroid 90 was a graphically enhanced version that came later to more powerful systems. You can probably see what I’m getting at here.”
XBE: One thing that I really like about the game is the fact that the puzzles have an appropriate difficulty level. They aren’t too simple, but yet, the puzzles aren’t rage inducing. How did you determine what the difficulty would be like for the game?
Hopper: “I deliberately set out to make puzzles that weren’t going to make people throw their controllers across the room. I wanted to the game to satisfying, not frustrating. I also tried to make sure that all the pieces of each puzzle were seen by the player. I wanted the player to always know what tools they had at their disposal so that they could work things out without finding out later on that there was an extra piece to the puzzle.”
XBE: TACS Games is a one man studio. After developing Factotum, did you find it easier to develop Factotum 90? Or was developing for a different console a challenge?
Hopper: “Developing for a new platform is always a challenge but I use some great cross-platform tools which makes this kind of thing easier. The biggest challenges in developing F90 were finding a good workflow for producing the PBR textures in the game (many thanks to Substance Painter) and integrating with XBOX live. It feels great giving out achievements after years of only earning them.
As I improve as a developer my standards go up, so I’m always making life difficult for myself in one way or another.”
XBE: How was the process of bringing Factotum 90 to the Xbox One? Many indie developers have been using the ID@Xbox program when releasing a game for the console. Was Microsoft helpful and how did you find the experience?
Hopper: “ The folks at id@xbox have been incredibly helpful. When it came to platform specifics they were always able to point me in the right direction. I honestly think from all the platform holders I’ve worked with so far they’ve been the most helpful and communicative. Such a great bunch of people.”
XBE: Now that Factotum 90 has been released for the Xbox One, does TACS Games have any future projects in the works?
Hopper: “I’m working on a couple of new projects and I hope to bring them both to XBOX One. I’m constantly tweeting development updates, screenshots and video at my twitter feed @thos_thom. I will say one of these projects involves a mixture of space-shooting and circuit design. It’s a strange one to be sure.”
Thank you Thomas Hopper for taking the time to talk with Xbox Enthusiast about the game.