Phil Fish

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the video game designer. For the Barney Miller character, see Phil Fish (character).
Phil Fish
Fish wearing anaglyph (3D) glasses, a black tie and vest, and blue cardigan while holding a red drink at the GAMMA 3D 2008 video game event
Fish at GAMMA 3D, 2008
Born 1984 (age 29–30)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Residence Nashville, Tennessee[1]
Other names Philippe Poisson
Occupation Video game designer
Employer Polytron Corporation
Known for Fez

Philippe Poisson (born 1984), better known as Phil Fish, is a French Canadian former indie video game designer, best known for his work on the 2012 platform game Fez published by his company, Polytron Corporation. He was born and raised in Quebec, where his experiences with Nintendo games in his youth would later influence his game design. He studied game design at the Montreal National Animation and Design Centre, and worked at Ubisoft and Artificial Mind and Movement before starting Polytron in 2008.

Fish was a founding member of Kokoromi, a collective that explores experimental gameplay ideas, and organized Montreal's annual GAMMA games events. While Fez was in development, Fish worked on other unreleased games at Polytron, including Super Hypercube and Power Pill.

Fez was released in April 2012 to widespread acclaim after a protracted five-year development cycle. Its final phases of development were shown in the 2012 documentary Indie Game: The Movie, which brought Fish celebrity unusual for game developers. Following an online argument in July 2013, Fish publicly announced his exit from game development citing long-term mistreatment by the industry.

Early life and career

Phil Fish was born Philippe Poisson[2] in Montreal in 1984.[3] He was raised in Quebec. His parents shared their interest in art and gaming with him. When Fish was young, his father translated The Legend of Zelda into French to share the game with his son. Fish credits these memories as formative, and later cited their influence on Fez.[2] He graduated from the 2004 Design and Digital Art for Video Games program at the Montreal NAD (National Animation and Design Centre).[4]

Fish began his career at the video game publisher Ubisoft,[2] where he worked on Open Season as a level designer.[5] He was initially excited for the job but grew disenchanted with their large development teams and working conditions, later describing it as "the worst experience of [his] life". He was later fired from the company.[2]

On May 24, 2006, Fish won the Artificial Mind and Movement Award for Best Cut-Scene at the annual NAD Center Awards of Excellence Gala.[6][7] Later that year, Fish began work as a level designer at Artificial Mind and Movement,[8] where he worked on film tie-in games[2] including The Golden Compass.[9]

Fish is a founding member of Kokoromi, a group that designs[3] and promotes experimental video games.[10] He led a November 2006 event called GAMMA 01 :: Audio Feed at the Arcadia Festival that featured games based around live sound.[8] He planned a similar event, GAMMA 256,[8] for 2007. The third in the series, GAMMA 3D, took place in Montreal in November 2008.[11] Fish was invited to present a lecture on GAMMA 01 at the 2007 Game Developers Conference.[8] He also wrote a review of the 1999 Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver in the 2007 Space Time Play: Synergies Between Computer Games, Architecture and Urbanism: the Next Level.[3] Fish has been characterized by Sean Hollister of The Verge as "notorious for voicing angry, controversial opinions about the state of video games".[12]

Polytron

Shawn McGrath, 2011

Fish began to work with Toronto-based indie developer Shawn McGrath on McGrath's idea for a puzzle game that showed 2D views of a 3D space. Fish provided the project's art[2] until the partnership crumbled due to creative differences: Fish wanted their product to be more of a platform game.[13] Fish continued to work on the game in his spare time,[2] and incorporated the idea of voxels (3D pixels), where a 2D pixel could be seen from four sides. The game would become Fez and the game's design, lore, and art derived from this game mechanic. Fish searched for a programmer on DeviantArt and Renaud Bédard, the first person to apply, became the game's programmer.[13] Fez was first announced in July 2007[14] and was nominated for two awards at the 2008 Game Developers Conference Independent Games Festival.[15] Fish's employer, Artificial Mind and Movement, would not let him take leave from work to attend, so Fish quit. He marked this January 2008 moment as "when I became indie". The game received widespread attention upon its showing at the festival, leading Fish to open Polytron Corporation as a startup company with a government loan.[2]

Polytron later ran out of money,[16] and Fish was considering ending the project until Polytron's Québécois neighbor, developer-producer Trapdoor, offered to help Polytron without transferring its intellectual property rights. According to Fish, the partnership saved Fez.[17] The game was delayed several times over the next few years[18] for which it received some notoriety.[19]

Fez programmer Renaud Bédard, 2013

In late 2009, Polytron presented an iPhone game called Power Pill at Pecha Kucha Montreal. The game features a panacean pill that travels through human bodies as its playable protagonist, and it uses the iPhone's multi-touch screen. GameSetWatch's Eric Caoili compared it to Soul Bubbles and Irritating Stick. The game was developed with Alec Holowka of Infinite Ammo, and a level editor was expected to be included.[20]

While working on Fez, Fish revived a game project called Super Hypercube, which was based on Wiimote motion capture input and stereoscopic navigation. Fish felt the game would work better with the new Kinect motion tracking. The adapted game was a finalist at Indiecade 2011.[17]

Fish and Fez were featured prominently in the 2012 documentary Indie Game: The Movie, through which Fish received celebrity unusual for game developers.[21] The film chronicles the stories of several indie developers at various stages of their games' development cycles, and Fish is shown preparing for Fez's booth at PAX East in March 2011. The film presents Fish amidst a legal dispute with a former business partner that jeopardizes the game's release.[22] The partner, believed to be Jason DeGroot, is portrayed negatively and does not participate onscreen.[23] The film also tracks Fish's personal and emotional investment in the game. Eurogamer wrote that the part where Fish resolves to kill himself if he does not release his game is "the film's most startling moment".[22] Rock, Paper, Shotgun wrote that Fish is portrayed as melodramatic, theatrical, and neurotic, and that the film will exacerbate his outspoken public perception.[24] Game Informer called Fish the film's "most memorable developer".[25] The film's end credits were later revised to reflect that Fish's business partner was not asked for input.[23]

Near the end of development, Fish felt "burnt out" and that his personal health had suffered.[17] Fez was released on April 13, 2012 and sold 200,000 copies in its yearlong exclusivity to the Xbox Live Arcade platform.[26] The video game review aggregator Metacritic described reviews for the 2012 Xbox 360 Fez as "generally favorable"[27] and those for the 2013 PC version as "universal acclaim".[28] While in development, Fez had won the 2012 GDC Independent Games Festival's Seamus McNally Grand Prize,[29] the 2011 Indiecade Best in Show and Best Story/World Design,[30] and the 2008 GDC Independent Games Festival's Excellence in Visual Art.[2] Eurogamer awarded Fez a perfect score[31] and named the "perfect, wordless sci-fi parable" their 2012 Game of the Year.[32] Fish announced eventual ports for "'pretty much' every platform" but the Nintendo 3DS.[33] It sold one million copies by the end of 2013.[34] The New York Times's Chris Suellentrop called Fish "a Quentin Tarantino of 8-bit gaming".[35]

Fez 2 is cancelled. I am done. I take the money and I run. This is as much as I can stomach. This isn't the result of any one thing, but the end of a long, bloody campaign. You win.

Fez 2 cancellation post on Polytron's website[36]

A Fez sequel was announced as "one more thing" at end of the Horizon indie game press conference during the June 2013 Electronic Entertainment Expo.[37] A Twitter argument between Fish and GameTrailers journalist Marcus Beer a month later culminated in the project's cancellation and Fish's exit from the industry. In an episode of his show Invisible Walls, Beer had criticized Fish's recent response to questions about Microsoft's Xbox One self-publishing policy change. On Twitter, Fish condemned the industry for its negativity before his final tweet announced the cancellation and his leave.[36] The news came as a surprise to the rest of Polytron,[38] which has not commented on upcoming projects other than ports since the sequel's cancellation.[39] Polygon listed Fish in their top 50 newsmakers of 2013 for the social power of his "caustic use of Twitter".[40]

Polytron Partners

In June 2014, Fish announced Polytron Partners—a new effort by Polytron to fund and support potential indie game efforts, like a publisher. For their first game, Polytron will work with Finji to provide the daily operations capacity for an "interactive musical landscape anthology" game named Panoramical.[41] Fish's personal and company records were released publicly in August 2014 as part of a spate of hacks on video game developers. Fish responded by announcing that the company and Fez property were for sale.[42]

Works

  • Fez (2012, Polytron, as designer)
  • Super Hypercube (unreleased, as designer)
  • Power Pill (unreleased, as designer)
  • The Golden Compass (2007, Artificial Mind and Movement, as asst. level designer)[9]
  • Open Season (2006, Ubisoft, as level designer)

References

  1. ^ "btw i live in nashville now.". Twitter. 15 August 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ashcroft, Brian (April 20, 2009). "Going Indie: Fez Creator Phil Fish's Moment Of Clarity". Kotaku. Gawker Media. Archived from the original on January 1, 2014. Retrieved January 1, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c von Borries, Friedrich, ed. (2007). Space Time Play: Synergies Between Computer Games, Architecture and Urbanism: the Next Level. Springer. p. 490. ISBN 978-3-7643-8414-2. 
  4. ^ "Graduates from the design and digital art for video games program". NAD Centre. Archived from the original on January 5, 2014. Retrieved January 5, 2014. 
  5. ^ Sullivan, Lucas (October 17, 2013). "The first games of legendary developers". GamesRadar. Archived from the original on January 5, 2014. Retrieved January 5, 2014. "Phil Fish / The first game he ever worked on was: Open Season, as a level designer." 
  6. ^ "6th Annual NAD Centre Awards of Excellence Gala THE INDUSTRY AWARDS 12 000 $ TO CGI RELIEF" (Press release). NAD Centre. May 26, 2006. Archived from the original on January 5, 2014. Retrieved January 5, 2014. 
  7. ^ Ferland, Jean-François (June 2, 2006). "IT in brief". Direction Informatique (in French). Archived from the original on January 5, 2014. Retrieved January 5, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c d "What's become of our graduates?". NAD Centre newsletter 6 (3). NAD Centre. March 30, 2007. Archived from the original on January 5, 2014. Retrieved January 5, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b "The Golden Compass - Credits". AllGame. Archived from the original on January 5, 2014. Retrieved January 5, 2014. 
  10. ^ Gillich, Kevin (July 2007). "The great video game experiment". This. Archived from the original on January 1, 2014. Retrieved January 1, 2014. 
  11. ^ W., Tim (August 30, 2008). "Interview: Phil Fish (Fez)". IndieGames.com. UBM Tech. Archived from the original on January 4, 2014. Retrieved January 5, 2014. 
  12. ^ "'Fez II' abruptly cancelled after developer Phil Fish explodes in rage on Twitter". The Verge. July 27, 2013. Retrieved July 27, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b "Phil Fish reveals the trials and tribulations behind indie platformer Fez". GamesTM. Imagine Publishing. June 14, 2011. p. 1. Archived from the original on January 1, 2014. Retrieved January 1, 2014. 
  14. ^ Butler, Peter (May 1, 2013). "Fez lands on Windows". Download.com. Archived from the original on January 1, 2014. Retrieved January 1, 2014. 
  15. ^ W., Tim (February 22, 2008). "Announcement: IGF 2008 Winners". IndieGames.com. UBM Tech. Archived from the original on January 4, 2014. Retrieved January 4, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Phil Fish reveals the trials and tribulations behind indie platformer Fez". GamesTM. Imagine Publishing. June 14, 2011. p. 2. Archived from the original on January 1, 2014. Retrieved January 1, 2014. 
  17. ^ a b c Parkin, Simon (December 12, 2011). "The Making Of Fez, The Breaking Of Phil Fish". Gamasutra. UBM Tech. Archived from the original on January 3, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2014. 
  18. ^ Good, Owen (September 29, 2011). "Oh, by the Way, Fez is Delayed. Again.". Kotaku. Gawker Media. Archived from the original on January 5, 2014. Retrieved January 5, 2014. 
  19. ^ Gies, Arthur (April 11, 2012). "Fez review: Living in spin". Polygon. Vox Media. Archived from the original on January 1, 2014. Retrieved January 1, 2014. 
  20. ^ Caoili, Eric (October 2, 2009). "Polytron Prescribes Power Pill For iPhone". GameSetWatch. UBM Tech. Archived from the original on January 5, 2014. Retrieved January 5, 2014. 
  21. ^ LeJacq, Yannick (July 30, 2013). "Angry Twitter spat leads 'Fez' creator to leave game industry". NBC News. NBC. Archived from the original on January 1, 2014. Retrieved January 1, 2014. 
  22. ^ a b Welsh, Oli (June 12, 2012). "Indie Game: The Movie Review". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Archived from the original on January 3, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2014. 
  23. ^ a b Sarkar, Samit (June 15, 2012). "'Indie Game: The Movie' filmmakers resolve dispute by revising end credits". Polygon. Vox Media. Archived from the original on January 5, 2014. Retrieved January 5, 2014. 
  24. ^ Caldwell, Brendan (June 12, 2012). "Wot I Think – Indie Game: The Movie". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Archived from the original on January 3, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2014. 
  25. ^ Hilliard, Kyle (July 5, 2013). "Indie Game: The Movie – Where Are They Now?". Game Informer. GameStop. Archived from the original on January 3, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2014. 
  26. ^ Carmichael, Stephanie (April 17, 2013). "Fez preorders begin April 22 on GOG and Steam". GameZone. Archived from the original on January 3, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Fez Critic Reviews for Xbox 360". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on January 4, 2014. Retrieved January 4, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Fez Critic Reviews for PC". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on January 4, 2014. Retrieved January 4, 2014. 
  29. ^ McElroy, Griffin (June 13, 2013). "Fez 2 in development at Polytron". Polygon. Vox Media. Archived from the original on January 3, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2014. 
  30. ^ Mattas, Jeff (October 9, 2011). "IndieCade 2011: Award winners and inventive cooperation". Shacknews. GameFly. Archived from the original on January 4, 2014. Retrieved January 4, 2014. 
  31. ^ Welsh, Oli (April 12, 2012). "Fez Review". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Archived from the original on January 4, 2014. Retrieved January 4, 2014. 
  32. ^ Bramwell, Tom (December 30, 2012). "Eurogamer's Game of the Year 2012". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Archived from the original on January 4, 2014. Retrieved January 4, 2014. 
  33. ^ Hillier, Brenna (March 19, 2013). "Fez headed to "pretty much" every platform, except 3DS". VG247. Archived from the original on January 3, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2014. 
  34. ^ Hing, David (December 10, 2013). "Fez hits 1 million sales". bit-tech. Dennis Publishing. Archived from the original on January 4, 2014. Retrieved January 4, 2014. 
  35. ^ Suellentrop, Chris (May 16, 2012). "A New Game Delights in Difficulty". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 8, 2014. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  36. ^ a b Farokhmanesh, Megan (June 27, 2013). "Fez 2 canceled, Phil Fish confirms (updated)". Polygon. Vox Media. Archived from the original on January 3, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2014. 
  37. ^ McElroy, Griffin (June 18, 2013). "Horizon offered a quieter, conversational E3 press conference". Polygon. Vox Media. Archived from the original on January 3, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2014. 
  38. ^ Sarkar, Samit (August 1, 2013). "Polytron producer 'kind of in shock' at Fez 2 cancellation". Polygon. Vox Media. Archived from the original on January 3, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2014. 
  39. ^ Yoon, Andrew (August 20, 2013). "Fez coming to PS4, PS3, and Vita [Update]". Shacknews. GameFly. Archived from the original on January 3, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2014. 
  40. ^ Campbell, Colin (January 1, 2014). "The 50 gaming newsmakers who shaped 2013". Polygon. Vox Media. Archived from the original on January 1, 2014. Retrieved January 1, 2014. 
  41. ^ Hilliard, Kyle (June 14, 2014). "Fez Developer Re-Emerges With Polytron Partners". Game Informer. GameStop. Archived from the original on June 14, 2014. Retrieved June 14, 2014. 
  42. ^ McWhertor, Michael (August 22, 2014). "Fez developer Polytron hacked in ongoing game developer harassment effort". Polygon. Vox Media. Archived from the original on August 31, 2014. Retrieved August 31, 2014. 

External links

Media related to Phil Fish at Wikimedia Commons