So what do you think you're going to take away from this project? If you could like sum it, boil it down to a single lesson, what's positive that you got from the last few years?
PF: I don't know. I feel a lot of pride that we actually did it. It took everything. That was really, really hard. We had every reason to just give up, and so many obstacles to overcome. It took five years, but we did it. I made my game, and the final product is really close to the original vision that I had, and I more or less accomplished what I wanted.
And I realized it, but I feel like I don't really realize it yet. Like today, I was just looking at people play it and I was like, "I made all of this!" Holy shit! That's quite an achievement. I'm trying really hard to be positive. Because good things are happening to me and the game right now, and I'm lucky to be doing what I'm doing, and I'm lucky to have all these things happen to me.
But at the same time, I'm so burnt out and tired, and I just want to get it over with and have a life again. I don't know. Honestly, I'm trying to be positive. If you would've asked me a year ago, "What's your advice for people who want to get into indie games?" it would've been "Don't."
Just don't do it. It's not worth it. It's going to ruin your life, it's going to fucking kill you, it's going to take away your health and your happiness, and it's going to cost you every meaningful relationship that you have in your life. Your girlfriend's going to leave you, your friends just become distant, and it's not worth it. Don't do it. Just get a real job and make games on the side as a hobby thing.
But now, I still feel like that a little bit, but it's starting to actually pay off now. But I don't know. Is it actually worth it? It's hard to say now. I'm starting to feel a little bit of gratification for the work I've put into this.
I need to ask you again in 12 months. What are you hoping that your players are going to take from Fez?
PF: I hope it kind of opens people's eyes to the fact that you can make that kind of game, and make it good. You don't need combat, conflict, threat, opposition. That you can make a game that is strictly about walking around and exploring and that kind of peaceful vibe. I mean, it's not like it's the first game ever to do that, but I don't know -- maybe it can set a new standard.
Because I felt that in making games we have very few points of reference. I mean, obviously, we had Mario and the Zelda and all that. Before it became peaceful and Zen, there were enemies in there, there was danger, and you had to avoid certain things. And I wondered: "Can you make a game without any of that, and still make it interesting?"
In fact, when I was playing today I came to a rabbit and I was about to walk up to him, then I thought, "Do I need to jump on his head?" And I felt slight relief when I saw I didn't have to. A realization that it's that kind of game...
PF: A lot of people had that reaction. I think it's funny, because the critters look so innocent. They're not threatening at all, and most of them will run away from you when you get close to them, or they fly away. I think it's kind of funny that it's so deeply ingrained in people's heads -- anything that moves, you have to kill it.
PF: I'm really glad it seems to be working, because it was a big question mark: can you make a good game that has none of those standards? Because people have known about Fez for a long time now, but most of what people know is just that it does this spatial movement thing, and every other aspect of the game is a mystery, because we kept it that way.
And the reaction we get a lot of the time is just surprise. And people are like "Really?! Really, no enemies at all?! Nothing?" And hopefully it's going to work out, and people see that yeah, we can make a game like that.
One thing I'm trying to do with Fez is have people use that story of a 2D creature trying to make sense of the third dimension to think of themselves as a 3D being living in higher spatial dimensions. You can extrapolate from it, and make it easier to think about the nature of the universe and reality and all these trippy things.
Because, I don't know if it's really obvious, but that's kind of what the game is about. Like the later you get into it, the more it's about reality and perception, things like that. It gets kind of heavy towards the end, and kind of sad. The whole world is falling apart, that universe is collapsing around you, things like that. Yeah, I hope it makes people think a little bit about the world that they live in...
A world in which you don't have to kill everything that moves...
PF: Yeah, also.
This is a good lesson for people.
PF: I don't know; I just hope people enjoy it. Actually, one of my big dreams for Fez is that if like five, 10 years from now, some young game design dude is going to come up to me and say Fez was a big part of their childhood, or a big influence, or something like that. That would be an amazing feeling, because working in the industry, I got the chance to meet a lot of the people that made the games that I grew up with and I just idolized.
It's such a thrill when you meet somebody that had an impact on you; that would be a huge reward for me, if somebody walked up to me and said that one day. I feel like I will have left my mark on the medium, which is an honor. I can feel really lucky to be doing what I'm doing. I complain a lot, and it's hard and it's really difficult, but I am damn lucky to be doing exactly what I want. Not a lot of people get to say that. Especially in the game industry.
[photo courtesy Arthouse Games]