Fez 2 was only just announced this summer, but the game and it’s oft-vocal creator Phillipe “Phil Fish” Poisson have already been in the center of the media spotlight for the last few weeks. Fish was involved in a heated twitter exchange which resulted in the developer canceling the game entirely, leaving Fez 2 fans without any hope of a sequel to the popular original. The spectacle attracted Cliff Bleszinski, former design director at Epic Games and no stranger to internet rage himself, who wrote an open letter to Phil encouraging him to return.
Those who have seen Indie Game: The Movie will have a better understanding about Phil Fish’s capricious personality, as the movie detailed his struggles to push the eventually-successful Fez title into the market and repeated delays and a legal battle with his original partner on the project. Fish went through years of precarious financial standing, legal problems and delays before the original title launched to much acclaim in 2012, and the announcement of a sequel was met with plenty of excitement – but also brought out a fair amount of pundits as well. The argument leading to Phil’s meltdown and departure from the gaming scene wasn’t actually about Fez 2 in particular, but it was the last straw for a stressed Fish.
In the letter, Cliffy B details his earlier encounters with internet trolls and discouraging critics, whom had insulted Cliff and his early work back when he had a website dedicated to cats and, more seriously, when he was first learning to code. Among the scope of hate he received online included people randomly making fun of the death of his father, which is a taboo subject that most trolls wouldn’t cross even through internet anonymity.
Bleszinski offered some advice on how Phil can cope with being in the spotlight as a game developer:
Someone on Twitter asked me how to deal with haters. I have some experience on the subject for well over 20 years now. Blow says you can’t ignore it because by the time you’ve read the words it’s too late. The key with the idiots is to outwit them because the idiot uses hate (and poor spelling/grammar) because the idiot does not know how to be witty. [...] The other key is to absorb all of that hate into one big fireball of motivation inside of your belly and then pour all of that energy into your work until you can unleash one big giant mother****ing HADOKEN upon the community that wins awards and sells millions and then the haters will truly be eating a giant bushel of dicks as you roll in a pile of money, acclaim, and community love.
Cliff mentions that on the few occasions that the two have talked, Phil was an animated person who spoke with a lot an eccentric air – a personality he believes the gaming industry needs more of, not less. The letter ends with an open request that Phil return to the gaming industry despite the ongoing drama, and Cliff alludes that his own public return – which seems to be coming up soon given his recently revealed work on a brand new game via a sweet image – would come close behind the Fez developer if he can overcome his fatigue from the critics.
Come back, Phil. We miss you already. Maybe I’ll be right behind you, returning with Adamantium skin.
Phil Fish hasn’t made any mention of the letter since it was posted by Cliff Bleszinski, but given the attention it received on the internet it’s more than likely he’s had it forwarded to his inbox several times. While Fish remains tight-lipped, some of his co-workers at Polytron have ‘fezzed up’ about the incident: Marie-Christine Bourdua, a producer at Polytron studio, confirmed she had no idea Phil was even considering canceling the project. The producer wasn’t even in their home province of Montreal when the Twitter incident happened, and spoke about the issue at Torontoaru, an aptly-named Toronto-based development conference:
“It was weird and special to learn it that way, but I respect and trust Phil a lot, so that’s totally fair that he decided that and he has his reasons.”
Other sources from the company stated that the studio learned about the cancellation the same way the public did – by unexpectedly reading it in a tweet.
What do you think, Ranters? Has the letter fallen on deaf ears, or will the creator of Fez be inspired to return?
Gamers and fans interested in reading the full letter can find it here.
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