Successful Indie Game Dev Stories: Phil Fish

Phil Fish is a French Canadian indie video game designer who became famous for his work on the 2012 platform game Fez. Along with Team Meat he was featured in: Indie Game – The Movie, a must-see documentary for game devs out there.

Indie Game Fez

Fez is an incredibly detailed 2D platformer with an incredible twist. You can rotate the camera at 90 degree angles giving the player 4 different playing fields at any time. It might be confusing at first but once the player gets used to both a 2D and 3D they can see the appeal.

Although he managed to make more than 1 million dollars with this game, Mr. Fish had a lot of difficulties to overcome along the way. 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 until the partnership crumbled due to creative differences. The partnership ended badly, like a “bad divorce”, as Fish describes it and cost him a lot of money. Phil’s company run out of money at some point and release was delayed several times over the years picking up some bad publicity.

Finally Phil released Fez on April 13, 2012 and sold 200,000 copies in its yearlong exclusivity to the Xbox Live Arcade platform. What is also notable is that while in development, Fez had won the 2012 GDC Independent Games Festival’s Seamus McNally Grand Prize, the 2011 Indiecade Best in Show and Best Story/World Design and the 2008 GDC Independent Games Festival’s Excellence in Visual Art.Eurogamer awarded Fez a perfect score and named the “perfect, wordless sci-fi parable” their 2012 Game of the Year. Fish announced eventual ports for “‘pretty much’ every platform” but the Nintendo 3DS. It sold one million copies by the end of 2013. The New York Times’s Chris Suellentrop called Fish “a Quentin Tarantino of 8-bit gaming”.


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