So now a year on, and you're about to send it off to cert, what's the dream? What happens next? You want to sell a load of copies, obviously...
PF: Well, yeah, hopefully it does well. And beyond that, I seriously have no clue. So now I own Polytron 100 percent, I can do whatever I want with it, and I don't know what I want to do with it. Do I want to just stay really small, and keep collaborating on weird little small-scale things with my friends? Or do I want to hire a couple of people, do I want to become thatgamecompany?
A part of me wants to do that, because most of my game ideas are ambitious, and I need a bunch of people to help me out. At the same time I don't know if I'm ready for that, because it's a huge commitment.
If I just started a company and have a bunch of people that depend on you for salaries and all that, I would need a business plan. I would need a partner that I could trust that would run the company while I make the game. I really don't know; I really don't know what's going to happen.
You've been working on Fez for a number of years now, and that's been your sole focus. So your personal identity is really tied up in that one game.
So when that game ceases to be your baby... I mean it's still your baby, but...
PF: But it's out in the world, so it's not mine anymore. It's everybody's game.
So at that point I can imagine you thinking "Who am I now?"
PF: Exactly. I'm starting to feel that already. I am going to have to completely redefine myself at that point, because I feel like most of the skills that I've acquired making Fez only apply to Fez. You know, the way the pixel art works in that game only works like that in that game. I'm not going to be able to take what I learned from that and put it in another game, unless I end up making something very similar to Fez, which is not the case.
It's kind of like Jonathan Blow with Braid, and then going on to The Witness. I remember talking to him at a similar point to the one you are at, actually. It was just a few days before Braid launched, and he was saying that it's important not to jump from a small indie game to a really big, open world 3D game, but that's exactly where he went with it. So I guess there is that creative thing of, "Okay, I've done that. Now I need to do something creatively distinct."
PF: Yeah. Well, I've been having game ideas for years, but I couldn't act on them. So I have this big pile of ideas, I just need to decide which one I'm going to use. But I know that whatever I'm doing next is going to be purely game-based, not content driven at all; it's going to be Geometry Wars, it's going to be Asteroids. Like a screen, something moves, you get points, and there isn't worlds and worlds of different art styles and details and objects that I have to make.
Because you're burnt out with that style of game?
PF: I'm burnt out, period. Like literally I've been in burn out for years now. Like I'm always a little bit sick, I'm always a little bit depressed, I've lost interest in everything, and I'm always tired. It's horrible! It really sucks!
Yay, indie game development!
PF: [laughs] You know, I'm in very poor health these days; I'm completely out of shape. I feel like I'm going to have to basically kind of rebuild my life, because everything has just gone to shit. Other than Fez, I've had to neglect every aspect of my life to get this game done.
Like, I haven't paid my bills in months, I haven't done dishes in months. I'm just like messy. I'm a terrible friend. I don't see my friends ever because I'm always busy. And when Fez comes out, regardless of what I end up working on next it's going to be like, "All right, but first, who are you? What are you going to do about everything that's wrong with you?" Like begin to rebuild some kind of social life, or something like that.
Is there another way? Does it have to be the way that you've done it? Obviously you've got this amazing product, but everything else, you're quite negative about. Does it have to be that way?
PF: I hope not; I think it's just me. I'm just kind of a messy person to begin with. Like, our programmer is balanced, healthy, he's got his shit together. He does not panic and have meltdowns ever. And I am just like constantly freaking out -- and my anxiety and neuroses and all that. But we're the odd couple; we're completely different. Like, he's managing everything perfectly well, and he's happy with his life, he's living with his girlfriend, and his apartment is not a complete mess. I know friends that manage well; I think it's just me.
I was not ready for this, or just too much bullshit happened. Not just with Fez, but just my life in general. Yeah, at some point it was just like, "Okay, I can't do anything else but work on Fez." Like I'm so deep into it that it's the only thing my brain is good at right now, is just making these levels, making that art, and everything else just kind of fell by the wayside.