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So, Fez II

Some stuff happened over the weekend.

Fez II is no longer in active development, according to developer Polytron and its designer, Phil Fish. That’s the word from Fish, who dropped his mic this weekend.

“FEZ II is cancelled,” said Fish in a statement on Polytron’s website. "i am done.i take the money and i run. this is as much as i can stomach. this is isn’t the result of any one thing, but the end of a long, bloody campaign. you win.”

For the record, I don’t believe him, even though I’ve “confirmed” the news with Fish myself over email. I suspect we will, at some point, see (and play) the sequel to Fez, but this weekend’s events provide an opportunity for Fish to leave the spotlight and protect his sanity from the world and, well, himself. Fish speaks too passionately about games to leave them behind. That isn’t some subtle hint, either. It’s my gut feeling.

But how did we get here? It begins with the latest episode of Invisible Walls, a Game Trailers podcast, featuring a lengthy rant from Marcus Beer, a longtime member of the industry now commentating under the named “Annoyed Gamer.” The podcast was discussing the recent turn of events regarding Xbox One self-publishing, and how both Fish and Braid designer Jonathan Blow used Twitter to criticize the press for running towards both of them for quotes about what was, then, still a rumor coming from Game Informer about the news. A rumor with some legitimacy? Sure, and while it eventually proved true, Blow was upset reporters were asking for commentary without more information (for example, the revenue share ratio) and Fish lamented the press seeking a quote before everything was confirmed. Fish's divisive nature is easy traffic.

Cue Beer:

“But, of course, the press, wanting to get reactions, they went to a couple of indie developers. In this case, Jonathan Blow and Phil Fish, because those guys are the self-styled kings of the indie genre. They’ve been on Indie Game: The Movie, and they’ll turn up and quote for anything and everyone. And Ms. Fish and Blow, or BlowFish as I’m going to call the two them right, because while they may be moderately tasty, they’re also kind of lethal. [They] decided to go bananas and bitch and moan to Game Informer, in particular about “How dare you, how dare you ask us questions about this story! I’m sick of you guys wanting my opinion on this story!” Both of them, both bitching away. And I’ve just got a little message for the BlowFish. Gents, you are the guys who did Indie Games: The Movie, and some of you looked relatively normal in it, one of you looked like a total tosspot in it. You can’t have it both ways. You’re successful game designers, you’re indie game designers--hurrah, good for you, you fucking hipsters. Let’s get something out of the way. If you are successful and you want people to promote your games, and you go to the press and give them quotes for anything that pertains to your shilling your next title, when the press, then, come to you and say “this is something that’s pertinent to the indie scene, let’s talk to BlowFish because BlowFish are successful and they are, you know, supposedly these pioneers” don’t get fucking snicky about it, alright? Jesus, you should be grateful that these guys consider what you say something of use.. Me? I think the both of you are a pair of tosspots. You may make good games. Well, Blow makes...Blow makes a good game. Fez, I’m just not into at all. I’m just not into it. I respect people that do [enjoy it]. My own personal opinion, though? Having seen these wankers over and over again, bitch and moan--Phil Fish in particular, though.

Other Commentator: He does come across as whiny.

Beer: Whiny? He’s a fucking asshole most of the time. I’m an asshole, but that’s what I am, that’s what I do. I suck it up. But what I’m saying is that if you guys want the promotion the next time around on your Fez 2 or...what’s the follow-up to Braid, The Witless? Witless? Whoa! Yeah, c’mon. I would like to say to every outlet who got dismissed by BlowFish, fuck ‘em. Next time they have something to shill, say “yeah, not so much interested.” It is a two-way street, it’s a symbiotic relationship. You guys are out there, you have to suck it up.”

Game developers do not owe us anything, and I don’t owe them anything. It’s archaic to view the press-developer relationship as strictly symbiotic, and is indicative of an old view of the press-developer relationship. Do I often rely on developers to open up and allow me to tell their stories? Yes, but it’s an optional dance we do the tango to. No one is indebted to the other once that exchange has run its course, and that's the end of the road. If you're on a writer/journalist making this argument, that's really bad.

Anyway.

Fish caught wind of Beer’s comments, and exploded on Twitter.

("Compare your life to mine and then kill yourself" is a Futurama quote, but that's a bit besides the point.)

That’s just a taste. Beer eventually responded, and offered Fish an opportunity to discuss his commentary on camera, but Fish wasn’t interested. Over the next hour or so, Fish continued to vocally express his displeasure, speaking more broadly about his feelings about people slinging crap his way, and the toll it takes on psyche. It ended with Fez II’s abrupt cancellation, despite having been announced only recently.

I spent the weekend largely disconnected from the Internet. Like Fish, I’m a public figure, someone who puts themselves out there and deals with what comes back--the good and the bad. I’m not proud of the fact that I’ve grown a thick enough skin to deal with rape threats targeted at my wife simply because I’ve had the audacity to talk about sexism in video games. Nor am I proud of being able to withstand pot shots from anonymous jerks about my deceased father. These are not traits that will ever be mentioned in my resume.

We all handle criticism, especially the vitriolic kind, differently. I stopped responding to jerks, and ask people to come in my direction through email, private messages, or questions over Tumblr. Over time, it's produced excellent results, but not pulling the trigger and snarking back at a jerk is hard. Vocal game designer Hideki Kamiya tells people to fuck off. Fish responded by yelling, stirring the pot, and unironically latching himself to a photo of known troller (he probably would have hated that term) and comedian Andy Kaufman.

Some of his comments are indefensible, and some, I suspect, he wishes he could take back.

But I know the good of the Internet, too, and I wish Fish had, either, seen more of it or reminded himself of what it produces. I’ve had my moments with the Giant Bomb community, but so much has been tremendous.

I mean, look at this stuff.

When my father passed, the Giant Bomb community started a thread with well wishes about my work and anonymous comments about my father, a person none of them had ever met. I kept that thread bookmarked on my phone during the first week of my father’s passing, and would often head into the bathroom, page through the thread, not really reading anything, and cry. It was a showing of genuine compassion by a group of people who only knew me from what I put out there. When I needed them, they had my back.

And that's to say nothing of how we pulled together for during the passing of the irreplaceable Ryan Davis.

Whenever someone gets under my skin, I reach into my bag. Tucked into a pocket are a series of letters, private thoughts from people who have reached out over the years, thanking me for one thing or another that I've been involved in. Most of them bring a tear to my eye, and each reminds me why I'm still doing this.

99% of the Internet has been nothing but nice to me, even when it’s a backhanded compliment. It’s easy to focus on that 1%. That 1% is vile, hateful, spiteful, jealous, mean, and would likely be as venomous in a public place as they are with a badge of anonymity. Many are probably teenagers who will grow up and learn to regret their ignorant actions, but some of them aren’t, and those are the people who scare me the most. But I can’t spend my day worrying about the 1%. I wake up every day trying to make the other 99% happy.

I hope I’m doing an okay job of that.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
901 Comments
Posted by jimmdogg

You can't control what other people say to or about you, you can only control how you react to it. Mr. Fish failed to control himself and proved his critics accurate. Canceling his game is only going to hurt his fans, not his critics. But it's his decision to make.

Posted by ManlyBeast

Internet drama! Oh my....

I was hoping you would post something about this Patrick. Thanks.

Posted by Excast

@bishop113: Oh look, another snarky, mean spirited reply that adds nothing to the conversation and is only about personally attacking someone.

Both Beers and Fish could have acted better in this. Beers didn't have to go out of his way to launch personal attacks and Fish needs to not take every antagonistic troll on the Internet seriously.

Posted by Duxa

@subjugation:

Do people actually enjoy personalities like the "annoyed gamer?" Since when is being a jerk cool?

Most of the time he actually brings up relevant concerns. Its good to hear some worries/concerns that the gaming community has actually voiced in the public medium.

Posted by jillsandwich
Posted by groverat

Mark Twain has Twitter advice for Phil Fish:
"Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience."

Posted by Sergio

Yea, I disagree with Marcus Beer.

It is a two-way street, it’s a symbiotic relationship.

I can live without games journalists, but I don't want to live without games.

Posted by Lucifunk

Great article and commentary.

I like Phil Fish, and like him I've had tendencies to blow up on assholes over the internet, and be obnoxious myself. As I've gotten older and... pretty much just older, I've tried to, if not grow out of it, at least take a breath before sinking down in the internet muck. I moderate a moderately sized gaming website community and sometimes I have to check out for awhile. Gaming "fans" and internet people can be poisonously hateful and aggressive, and it is usually over the littlest, most irrelevant things. But like Patrick mentions, I've also seen some of the most charitable and nicest things of my life in the same place. I hope Fish takes some time to relax and get away from it and comes back to make another brilliant game for us to enjoy. Empathy often seems dead in the gaming community, but it can pop up from time to time in amazing ways.

Edited by Desram

now Jeff Green approved :D

Posted by SiMMENS

I think you nailed the article Patrick, and alternatively I would say focus on the 99% of whats good in a person and less on the negative. We have probably all talked someone down from doing something stupid when they were drunk and I think Phil is just drunk on making games which is where the genius comes from. But those people dunks/gamemakers are also easily set off and their emotions can flare just like Beer and Phil.

Posted by Demoskinos

My take is this. Fish really shouldn't have brought this whole thing into public. By doing so he made the whole thing infinitely worse. He could have addressed beer in private and saved himself all of this grief. I really think that Fish should have had someone from the get go do his PR. He obviously seems like he doesn't want the spotlight nor does he know how to deal with it.

That being said I think Fish also has an abrasive personality at times. Sure, he is probably a nice guy but when you respond to eager PC fans inquiring about a possible FEZ port on PC with "PC's are for spreadsheets" you can't really at that point be surprised that people take offense to that shit.

True,nobody deserves to be treated like shit but I can't help but feel Fish brought some of this on himself by his rather outspoken nature. You're sure as heck free to speak your mind but you also have to reap the consequences good or bad from what you put into the world.

Posted by Duxa

@kerse said:

Don't know who Marcus Beer is but from what I read here he sounds like a douchebag, not that Fish can't be a bit of a dick sometimes. He calls them whiny, but I don't know, Beer seems like he's whining quite a bit more. It seems pretty unprofessional to get so upset about indie developers refusing to be interviewed and not even giving the no comment. I'd think it would be more expected from indie's because they aren't in it for that kinda stuff, they just wanna make games and I completely understand their response to Beer.

Knock yourself out - http://www.gametrailers.com/shows/annoyed-gamer

Posted by Zatoichi_Sanjuro

People actually defending Fish are just horrendous hypocrites. Fish is an incorrigible asshole to people he doesn't know, because people respond to his shitty behaviour in a similarly shitty manner does not suddenly make Fish the victim.

Posted by Duxa

@groverat said:

@nowsaypillow said:

He'll be back, and that's the real shame in all of this.

Phil Fish producing games that a ton of people love and that you aren't forced to play makes your life worse?

Seeing an asshole succeed makes the world a shittier place...

Posted by Sammo21

In my opinion, this all falls on Beer. He consistently acts like an asshole and then demands someone like Fish to respond to a rumor?! What an asshole.

This is why I hate anyone who labels themselves something like "annoyed gamer".

Edited by lacke

Forget about Fez II for a moment. Does this mean that the patches for Fez 1 (PC and Xbox 360) are cancelled as well? I mean, Fish didn't just announce the cancellation of Fez, he also said that he's leaving the games industry.

Edited by UberExplodey

While I was never a fan of Fish's personality, Fez was a hell of a game. A shame to see someone that creative hang it up.

Thank you Patrick for the insight.

Posted by Ghostin

Well said.

Posted by Random45

I'm so glad you pointed out that it's only a minority being vile douchebags, and that a majority of the people on the internet aren't like that. In the other thread people kept saying that it was "us" who caused this, and that "we" suck, when I didn't do shit to this guy. I never send anyone hate mail, and while I do call people stupid occasionally (ok, more than that at times), I usually just say my piece and leave, I don't bail them on.

Posted by TheThirdRLM

@deegee said:

@rmack said:

Nice article about yourself, Patrick. Could you write one about Phil now?

This is exactly my response when I read this.

Yeah, the nerve of someone on this personality driven site trying to provide personal insight into what it's like being on the receiving end internet hate and the difficulties of coping with it.

^ This is exactly MY response when I read this.

If I didn't want personality in my journalism, I'd hang out at IGN.

Posted by Vigil80

I'm not a Fish fan, but I've decided to take away something else from the story.

If you have people whom you appreciate, whether they're devs, the GiantBomb crew, or someone who makes Youtube videos, or some person on Etsy, take a little time to send them a positive message.

Posted by megalowho

@blu3v3nom07 said:

So, I don't understand. What's Polytron gonna do now without Fish?

Polytron is Fish, I don't think there's people being put out of work aside from him and Disasterpeace due to this decision.

Thanks for putting out your personal take on this strange story Patrick. I still believe if this exchange happened at a bar no one would bat an eye, the magnification of all things by the internet kind of sucks sometimes. Too much drama on all sides. Hopefully we'll play another game by Fish one day, whatever road it takes.

Posted by CaLe

I started reading this with the mindset that I would have preferred for this whole debacle to have been ignored by Giant Bomb. After having read it, I now regret that I had that mindset coming in. Nice piece, Patrick.

Online
Posted by FoxMulder

Haven't followed Phil Fish much, but what I saw of him when the GB crew interacted with him he seemed okay. Not everyone is a perfect shining knight and everyone has their points when they're being an asshole or being over emotional, but it seems like the Game Informer guys are the ones being the bigger assholes by ridiculing them for not wanting to be quoted. I don't know where they get off being so rude to Jonathan and Phil. Sure Phil may not be the best person at all times (who really is) but that doesn't give them the right as game journalists to attack them for something as simple as a quote for a fucking story.

Posted by Brendan

@rmack: The straight news stories all came out when this was fresh. Patrick publicly said he wasn't going to participate because he wasn't sure he believed it would "stick". We all know the news now. If Patrick didn't use his own insight to augment the article and make it more meaningful then there wouldn't be a point to posting at this time.

Posted by Phizzle

write an article about phil fish, end up making it about yourself. nice.

Edited by LP_Green

@danlongman: we, Québécois, aren't that bad ;) we just voice our opinions quite loudly. ha ha.

nice article, Patrick, as usual. and even though it's cancelled, I had the same feeling as you. Fish will probably come back with the game in the (not so distant I believe) future. He loves games, and designing them too much. He's a passionate gamer, and game designer, I mean, it's his job. He won't let that go just like that, I think he just needs some time off this thing, this world. And it's probably better for all of us, the gamers, the press, and especially for him. If he comes back with a more 'mature' mindset, and as you said, tries to satisfy the good bunch, the 99%, he'll be a successful game designer, and maybe a likeable one.

But for now, everyone needs a break.

Posted by RustySanderke

@seanfoster said:

@iamnotbatman said:

@mildmolasses said:
@deegee said:

@rmack said:

Nice article about yourself, Patrick. Could you write one about Phil now?

This is exactly my response when I read this.

Yeah, the nerve of someone on this personality driven site trying to provide personal insight into what it's like being on the receiving end internet hate and the difficulties of coping with it.

What next, are these guys gonna tell us about their weekends on the Bombcast?!

Oh, wait.

Who do they think they are, telling us their opinion about video games?

Blog posts filled as news about your father passing and you having a thick skin are neither video game news articles or opinions about video games.

Posted by CaptainJudaism

Meh.

Edited by Nerolus

Great article, man. This whole thing reminds of the old classic Dave Chapelle vs Hollywood stuff.

I hope he takes a break, finds out how to grow a thicker skin and can shrug things off more, and comes back. Even if he doesn't, that's cool too. Unfortunately this shit has to happen for everyone to realize what a shitty place the internet gaming community is. In turn, things get just a little bit better when a bomb goes off like this.

Posted by JoshyLee

Just let Fish stomp and yell and slam doors until he tires himself out and decides he wants more money. Then he'll release another broken game while telling everyone around him how genius he is.

Posted by WesleyWyndam

Great article Patrick! Keep it up!

Posted by Ulquiorra
Posted by Arrested_Developer

It seems like it would be exhausting to have Phil in your life.

Posted by JStaunton

Sounds like the tone they take (or rather, Beer takes) on the GameTrailer podcast is absolutely dickish and shouldn't happen within a professional gaming context, but then Fish decides to respond like a petulant dick, resorts to the classic 'Limey' insult and shuts everything down.

Pathetic from both sides, but you'd think Fish would know better.

Posted by R3DT1D3

It's a shame Phil Fish responded in the way that he did. Meeting anger with even more anger makes them both look like immature children and Phil Fish comes out looking like a bigger douche than Beer even made him out to be.

Posted by Lemmiwinks

Interesting article and viewpoint, good scooping :)

Posted by Roulette1986

This Beer dude seems like a bit of an idiot for purposely trolling Fish, but seriously - the response from Fish was like a 12 year old on acid. You just can't do that as a public figure, which he is whether he likes it or not.

Also as a Brit, calling someone a 'limey fuck' is incredibly distasteful, seeing as his nationality has literally nothing to do with it. Grow up.

Posted by Dogma

@mdnthrvst: Best thing I read in the whole comment section for this piece. If I could give you a LIKE I would. I Agree with you very much and I don't really dislike or like Fish. I just don't think people undertand what an unfair it is to compare a sparkling firecracker against an atombomb....or a long evergoing bomb raid.

On the other hand. Beer behavior on this matter disgusts me. You owe us? Boycott their games?
I think Patrick is totally right that no one owe no one anything. It just makes Beer come of as a entitled media person that putting himself on a pedistal. F*ck that.

Once again. Good comment.

Posted by jimmyfenix

@phizzle: Did you just create an account to say that ?

Posted by Slydotcom

Beer is the real tosspot.. and i hope everysingle indiedeveloper ignores that fucking idiot. Not only did he attack Fish and Blow.. He attacked everysingle indiedeveloper. Comparing indiedevelopers to fucking hipsters and such.

Posted by HubrisRanger

Oh so this is what Twitter was bantering about vaguely over the weekend.

So hmm. Not sure where to stand on this. Beer was clearly off the mark in his comments, and name-calling, even in the name of comedy, always strikes me as little more than a bullying tactic. What he said was childish, and betrays his sense of entitlement as a journalist to have all access to the thoughts of developers, beyond even what they're developing. While I'm not going to sign any petition that he be fired, I will say it greatly reduces my respect for his opinions in the future.

But I also can't say that Fish's reaction, especially the "cancellation" of an anticipated project, sits well with me either. All it does is give the impression of someone who doesn't accept criticism, but rather feels the constant need to defend himself, even when the charges against him aren't even founded. I don't want to suggest that all public figures are required to have thick skin, but especially when you're actively talking shit about EVERYONE ELSE? Anticipate someone talking shit about you, respond as constructively as you can and move on. Acting like your game will never come out, or attacking someone's career as being uncreative, makes you appear petty and vindictive.

For someone who talks and walks a big game about wanting to make the world of video games more mature, Fish hasn't gone a great way to mature the way we TALK about games.

Posted by MrMazz

I never understood the Fish hate. He was/is a rough edged personality who probably could stand to think before he tweets and a lot of the stuff he said is pretty indefensible. But ya know what he gets a lot of shit from anon fucktards who have nothing better to do than shit on him. The whole "japan games suck" comment was blown totally out of porportion and people still bring it up. Maybe because I don't follow him on Twitter. But I see no reason why I should actively hate Phil Fish, hate is a hard thing to do.

Fucking love the internet. It's a great thing while sumultenously being the worst thing. Yes you can "trun it off" but that's not the proper way of dealing with things. My mom dosen't get that when cyber bulling is brough up. Yes you can block people but they just make new accounts and so on. You really can't turn off the internet and social media. it is too good a platform to not use it. There are just jerks who ruin it for everyone.

I enjoy that Fish speaks his mind. I don't always agree but it's refreshing when this community (general gaming community not Giant Bomb) constantly deried and lament all the PR non-anserw double speak that seems to come out. Which is why I love Giant Bomb so much y'all get the real shit.

Whatever it is I hope Phil Fish is happier now.

Posted by GrantHeaslip

There are, what, tens of thousands of people more famous than Phil Fish, and 99% of them seem to get by. I'm sure he'd get some vile no matter what he did -- hell, I've gotten some weirdly personal vile over talking about politics on the internet -- but I think he invites a lot of this on himself with the way he carries himself. He doesn't "deserve" it -- nobody does -- but when you're a guy who seems to never miss an opportunity to respond to immaturity with immaturity and escalation (which is exactly what trolls want), maybe don't be surprised when it comes back to bite you?

Some of the commentary I've read about this implies that the only difference between Phil Fish and other popular internet personalities is how they respond to an inevitable baseline level of vitriol, and I don't think that's what's happening here. Does Ken Levine (arbitrary example, I just played Infinite) get the same level of vitriol, at least from the gaming community (setting aside potential religious or right-wing groups having issues with him)? I can't speak for him, but my sense is probably not, because he doesn't engage with it, hasn't made a habit of shitting on other people's work and generally saying unnecessarily incendiary stuff.

Again, nobody deserves what Fish is getting, especially since I'm convinced he's suffering from some kind of behavioural disorder, but you do reap what you sow, and he can't keep doing the same thing and expecting things to magically get better. He's far from an innocent party in all of this.

Posted by Bishop113

@johnlongview: Because Patrick does a lot of good stuff, and he does a lot of stuff I think is idiotic. And the comments aren't made just for sunshine and roses.

Edited by jacobgray

I'd never heard of Marcus Beer before this weekend, and judging by what I saw, I'm okay with remaining ignorant to him. Phil Fish may be a pretentious ass (may be, I don't know him personally, so I can only judge by what he chooses as his public persona), but he made a game I like, so it does bug me a bit if he doesn't make future games. Oh, well.

Edited by Kaiserreich

Surprised you didn't put a little picture of yourself in the corner of the article Patrick.

EDIT: Oh wait that's totally what you did! I missed the klepek gallery in the middle of the article.

Edited by Atwa

Honestly, there is no defense whatsoever to Fish's reaction. Marcus Beer did his thing, and he spoke his opinion. Phil Fish has a long history of extremely poor behaviour on social media. There is even a large following that simply will not play Fez because of Phil Fish persona. I personally say, judge the art not the artist. This was it though, Phil needs someone to help him just ignore stuff like this. You cannot tell someone to kill themself for insulting you if you want to be treated nicely. Fish deserved everything he got, cause everything he got he caused himself.

Posted by frytup

Sometimes, you just gotta turn off the phone and take a breath.

Posted by Smorlock

I really hate people who tell others what they have to do to be successful. As if they know how to do someone else's job. And they always place themselves as the most important part of the equation.

Beer is saying things like "if you want success you've got to come to the press and tell us everything we ask, you're not allowed to complain about anything!" No! Eff that. Developers don't have some obligation to just shut up and take it. They shouldn't just be constantly prostrating at the feet of gamers and the press because they are so privileged. They aren't, and they don't owe anyone anything.