What does this issue of loonygames have in common with Presto
Studio's recently completed game, Star Trek: Hidden Evil?
answer is, as you may already have guessed, Francis Tsai, concept
artist on the aforementioned game and this week's loonygames
I'll admit it, there's actually no "subtle link" between
Francis Tsai and this weeks feature article - RadPipe's
interview with Barrett "Bear" Alexander, CEO of
Rogue Entertainment - but you have to admit, Francis draws a
damn cool bear!
Francis started his career on a chemically
orientated path, picking up a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry
at the College of Natural Sciences (University of Texas, Austin)
with some side interest in fine arts and the Japanese language.
His intention initially was to move from there into pre-med,
but well before he finished the course he realized that a future
in either field - science or medicine - was not one that particularly
interested him any more. "It was obvious to me that I was
not med school material, and the prospect of spending the rest
of my life in a lab was making me queasy," he explained.
life long interest in art was looking to be a more suitable
path, but he still stuck around to finish the science course
before moving on. "When I approached the assistant dean
of the architecture school with my intent to change majors,
he advised me to finish my degree and apply to the graduate
school in a year. Initially, I was crushed, but in the end it
proved to be very good advice."
One of Francis' pencil drawings (72k).
the science degree in his hand, he moved onto a more art-orientated
degree, and within three years had acquired himself a Master
of Architecture (now that is a cool degree!) with "extensive
course work in the School of Fine Arts." So two degrees
and 8 years of tertiary education but the future was still uncertain.
found that the things he most enjoyed ("sketching, rendering,
science fiction, computer modeling, etc") were of little
use in the work environment he found himself in, and the skills
that were needed weren't ones that he possessed. "I found
that although I was working in a design profession, I seemed
to spend a lot of time memorizing codes, schmoozing clients
and dealing with bureaucrats. The architecture profession was
very different from architecture the academic pursuit."
dissatisfaction with work lead to a growing interest in other
fields, such as multimedia, virtual reality, games, film design
and visual effects, and he also began to again draw the sort
of images that he liked to draw - science fiction and fantasy
images - something he'd done very little of in past years. Next
came a deeper exploration into the various facets of computer
art, such as (2D) Photoshop, web page design, and more recently,
then, as if by magic (wait for it), word comes by way of the
SIGGRAPH mailing list that a local game developer, Presto Studios,
the company behind The Journeyman Project and other similar
titles, were having a tour of their residence. Francis and his
wife, Linda (a talented architect in her own right), took the
tour and, at his wife's urging, Francis spoke to them after
the tour and gave then the link to his web site. One interview
later and Francis was finally working in a profession that he