Phil Fish has gained indie stardom by being featured as one of the three devs in Indie Game: The Movie, a popular documentary that chronicled the daily rigors and eventual payoff of a variety of indie teams.
Although his performance in the film was quite acerbic, his realism and dramatic tendencies gave a certain aspect of realism to the documentary–however his notorious irascible behavior has recently worked against him.
During GameTrailer’s most recent episode of their weekly segment Invisible Walls, Marcus Beer (a.k.a. @AnnoyedGamer) put Phil Fish on the spot by saying that Fish is obligated to interact with the press, and actually called for an official coverage boycott on Fish’s games. Additionally Beer called the indie dev a “BlowFish”, which, along with the added public pressure on a sensitive subject, was the straw that broke the camel’s back and led to Fish invoking some serious wrath upon Beer.
Both Beer and Fish went back and forth on Twitter today, and the Fez developer took things a step too far by actually saying that Beer should compare his life to Fish’s and then “kill himself“.
With that one phrase, Phil Fish may not only have condemned himself in the public eye but also alienated himself from his core constituency–the followers and gamers who enjoy his work as an indie dev. Additionally it has been reported that the phrase itself originated from Futurama–however it’s not something that should ever be taken likely, especially from a popular developer on a public social network.
Fish has earned acclaim for his most recent indie release, Fez, but his public meltdown on Twitter may have nullified all of the praise and ostracized him from the community as a whole.
In response to having his “character assassinated in public”, Fish has cancelled Fez II and is “getting out of games” so that he doesn’t have to “put up with this abuse” any more:
Polytron confirmed the cancellation of Fez II in an official capacity:
“It’s with a heavy heart that we announce that FEZ II has been cancelled and is no longer in development. We apologize for the disappointment.”
Seeing a prominent indie developer go unhinged both on camera and publicly via Twitter is quite disappointing, especially since his character may in fact be permanently damaged based on the way he handled the situation. Angry Tweets aren’t ever a good idea, especially if you have a dedicated fan base.
Since the battle broke out, Fish’s Twitter account has been locked, however he has responded to various Tweeters that ruffle his feathers even more–and seeming to antagonize things even further.
Fez has been in development for quite some time, and the strife and sacrifices that Fish has had to make in order to create the game is chronicled in Indie Game: The Movie. Phil Fish has spent a sizable chunk of his life to fashion and mold a vibrant and amazing virtual world, and in doing so he became attached to the project. To Phil Fish, Fez is more than a game: it’s an extension of his life, his persona, and when that kind of magic is tapped we usually fantastic results.
Fez became part of him in such a way that all indie developers can understand and relate to, and while it doesn’t necessarily excuse his reactions, it’s somewhat easy to see why he felt so strongly about an attack against his creation.
In any case, it will be interesting to see how things turn up–if Marcus Beer will formally apologize to Fez’s creator, and if Fish is indeed “done with games” or not. Actions like these have repercussions, and it won’t be surprising if the developer’s turbulent behavior has a few real-life reactions.
Hopefully we can see the two make up, shake hands and apologize when all of this is through…however that doesn’t seem likely.
Beloved industry figure Cliff Bleszinski–Epic Game’s former head–supports Phil Fish’s reaction to Marcus Beer’s purported attacks.
“If I bled out of my eyeballs for years to make Fez (lawsuits and all) and were publicly attacked I’d be a bit defensive and sensitive too.”
Cliffy B went on to praise Fish for his work with Fez:
“This industry could use MORE unique talent like Phil Fish.”
Bleszinksi has always been a staunch proponent of indies and has supported them fully for quite some time. We may see more prominent industry figures speak out on this matter, however they’ll have to do so carefully as Twitter can be a source of bitter backlash that can ultimately lead to unwanted circumstances.
Via Game Skinny