It’s only been a few short weeks since Fez creator Phil Fish teased the world with an announcement trailer for Fez 2. Little information was given regarding the game’s style, release window or platforms on which fans could hope to see it released.
Those who follow the independent game scene were quick to assume, however, that given Fish’s history with Microsoft – and the issues surrounding the launch and support of Fez – that the sequel might pass on the Xbox One. Now that Fish is talking about the game, it seems we may have read those particular tea leaves correctly.
Following the release of both next-gen consoles, Polygon had a chance to speak with Fish in person, and inquired about which platforms fans of Fez should keep an eye on for the neon-infused follow-up. Fish had a very simple reply:
As we mentioned alongside the Fez 2 reveal trailer, it was an uphill climb to get the original Fez finished in line Microsoft’s timeline. Once the game was released, a financial battle with Microsoft ensued surrounding post-launch patches, eventually leaving players who had purchased the game with corrupted save files; corruption that Polytron refused to correct based on the price of having a new patch re-certified. The entire ordeal left a poor taste in the mouths of all involved, so Fish deciding to bypass the system isn’t exactly shocking.
Of course, not one to shy away from speaking his mind or firing shots where he feels they’re warranted, Fish had other things to say on the topic. And many of them actually featured entire sentences. When asked for his reaction to Microsoft’s initial always-on DRM structure, Fish didn’t mince words:
“I hope it’s a joke. I hope Microsoft is pulling a New Coke on us, announcing a s**t console nobody wants, only to eventually announce the Xbox Classic and winning back everybody’s hearts. Microsoft is making a console for itself. Not for gamers. Not for developers. Just for its own, greedy little Orwellian self. I’m not interested.”
These candid (but not unexpected) comments were made before the DRM and policy reversal, but Microsoft’s change of mind didn’t do anything to improve the company’s standing as pertained to indie game development. As a small studio dedicated to bringing a specific vision to life, he seems very keen on the PlayStation 4’s indie-friendly policies:
“PS4 seems to be doing everything right. It’s too early to tell how everything is going to unfold but their heart definitely seems to be in the right place. Which is a weird thing to say when talking about giant monolithic corporation, but there’s a handful of people working at Sony today who are really trying to do some good.”
Fish certainly isn’t the only prominent industry figure (and walking quote machine) letting his voice be heard, with Fable designer Peter Molyneux giving his two cents on Microsoft’s mishandling of indie development on the Xbox One. Speaking with Gamesindustry.biz, here’s what the man in the cube had to say:
“One of the problems with the console industry is that it’s not supportive enough of indies. While Sony’s making a bigger push, Microsoft just doesn’t seem to care. If anything, though, Microsoft should be able to leverage its PC and Xbox ecosystem to the benefit of independent developers, but it’s just not happening.
“This drives me crazy. You think of Microsoft. They’ve got two amazing platforms. They’ve got Windows and Xbox, and you would think there would be an ecosystem that encompasses both of those platforms in a truly encouraging way. And I think it’s a wasted opportunity.”
While both of these men have earned the reputation of dividing many gamers when letting their opinions be known, there’s no denying their talent as designers with unique perspectives on the industry. In other words, it’s wise to take their words concerning the future of indie game design seriously. And in many ways, they represent two very specific types of game design; fighting for their work to be seen as much as possible, without handing control to a larger system they simply don’t agree.
Now we hand the conversation to you, ranters: should Phil Fish just put his head down and focus on creating a solid game, or at least wait and see what the Xbox One has to offer before denouncing it to the world? After spending the last console generation in Microsoft’s corner, will Molyneux sever corporate ties this time around? For the sake of Xbox One owners, we hope things can be mended, and the work of these two designers reach as many gamers as possible.
Expect to see what’x next from Fish and Molyneux when Fez 2 and Godus are released, respectively.