Tuesday, July 30, 2013

SPECIAL - Phil Fish versus Marcus Beer Transcript




I transcripted as much of this as possible, and to the best of my ability. So far as I can tell, it is the “complete” story, from the initial comments that sparked the situation, to the final twitter posts of Phil Fish. Because his profile is locked, I had to guess at the location of responses between Fish and Marcus Beer. I got it as close as possible. I also omitted most of Fish’s posts responding to 3rd parties, but it should be noted he was engaging with a few people who were insulting him at the time. I tried to leave out names, other than the parties involved.

Jonathan Blow – “Hey we are running a game journalism story that says another site said there is a rumor, with no details, about some console thing.”
Jonathan Blow – “… Can we get a comment from you on this important issue?” – 5 different emails I have received in the past hour.
Phil Fish - @Jonathan_Blow wait an hour until it’s actually news, why don’t you?
Phil Fish – seriously game journos, when you ask me to comment on a rumor from on another site that you’re reporting as news, it makes you look bad.
Phil Fish – the news isn’t even out yet. calm the fuck down.
Jonathan Blow – Instead of asking developers for useless punditry about a rumor, how about digging into the actual facts, finding out details, etc?
Marcus Beer then took to Invisible Walls on Game Trailers, on which he is a regular.
Marcus Beer – This week, Microsoft, and Microsoft are not the focus of my Bitch and Moan session! (For the past few months, MS has been the focus of these sessions, due to their absurd PR bundles.) But Microsoft announced on Wednesday after a story broke on GameInformer that they are indeed allowing self-publishing on Xbox One, and it’s going to cost like 100 bucks, and every Xbox One is apparently a dev unit from what I’m hearing. You know, you can actually develop your games which taps into some of the things that they did show us; that game creation unit they’ve got, that they showed at E3.
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. You know, they’ve been on “Indie Game: The Movie”, they’ll turn up and quote for anything and everyone.
And Mr.’s Fish and Blow, or “BlowFish” as I’m going to call the two of them right now, because, while they may be moderately tasty, they are also kinda lethal, decided to go banana’s and bitch and moan to GameInformer 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 just got a little message for the BlowFish.
Umm, gents, you were the guys who did “Indie Game: The Movie”, and some of you looked relatively normal in it. One of you looked like a total tosspot in it, but you can’t have it both ways. You’re successful game designers. You’re indie game designers. Hurrah, good for you, you fucking hipsters. So, 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 you shilling your next title, when the press then come to you and say “Oh, this is something pertinent to the indie scene. Let’s talk to BlowFish, because BlowFish are successful, and they are supposedly these pioneers.”
Don’t get fucking snickey about it, alright?! Jesus, you should be grateful that these guys still 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, Braid is a good game. Fez, I’m just not into at all.
Ryan Stevens – HEY! I like Fez!
Marcus Beer – I’m sorry, but I’m just not into it. I respect people that do, but my own personal opinion though. Having seen these wankers over and over again bitch and moan. Phil Fish in particular.
Ryan Stevens – He does come across as whiney.
Marcus Beer – Whiney? He’s a fucking asshole most of the time. And that’s the thing. Look, I’m an asshole, but that’s what I am, that’s what I do. I suck it up and...[sic]…but that’s what I am.
Ryan Stevens – Tosspot!
Marcus Beer – But what I’m saying is, if you guys want the promotion the next time around on your Fez 2, or, you know, what’s the follow up to Braid?
Ryan Stevens – The Witness.
Marcus Beer – Witless? Wit Less!
Ryan Stevens – Oh jokes!
Marcus Beer – WHOA! And actually, I would like to say to every outlet who got dismissed by BlowFish, fuck ‘em. Next time they have something to shill, say “eh, 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.
Ryan Stevens – I would like to [make a] small counter argument. I do think that indie devs are still trying to figure out this space. I know we had Brandon Cheung on years ago and PR was the thing. The messaging, getting this stuff out there. These are really small teams sometimes.
Marcus Beer – But Fish and Blow…
Ryan Stevens – Yeah I know these guys have had way more exposure. But I also don’t think Jonathan Blow is quite a hipster. He looks more like professor who doesn’t have tenure.
Marcus Beer – Ok, well I will redact his hipster status card then.
Ryan Stevens – I will say this about the whole thing that set this off; the indie games on Xbox. It really does look like there’s almost an indie game cold war between the Xbox and Playstation, which is awesome. I don’t know if you say this, but the guy who made Gunpoint, an ex-games journalist, he’s quitting his day job because Gunpoint was so successful. I don’t know if you guys bought anything during the Steam sale, but I go Prison Architect, and they’ve already made 5 mil. I mean, that’s a bigger company, but they’re still pretty small. They’ve already made 5 million dollars. Torchlight, not really an indie dev, just a smaller team, they just said they hit 2 million copies of Torchlight 2. It’s interesting when you have these small teams that can generate, like 2 or 3 people teams, that can generate so many sales.
Marcus Beer – I have nothing against indie developers. I’m very much pro-indie. Unfortunately, these two in particular, they’re the ones that get the majority of the press pages. They get the majority of the attention, and they’ve got to learn to take the rough with the smooth. It’s not even rough in “oh we’re going to give you verbal shit.” No, it’s a case of “you are respected by a lot of people. You are giants in the indie scene, which also raises the queston of “when do you stop being indie?”
Ryan Stevens – Well I mean the whole word is kind of stupid. It used to be called “shareware”.
Marcus Beer – They have to suck it up. You know, there are a lot of people who would love to have the press call them and talk to them and ask for their opinion on something like this. And it’s just the constant bitching from these two? I mean, Fish in particular just gets on my nerves. But I mean, I accept and respect the fact that a lot of people like his game. Not my cup of tea.
Ryan Stevens – Yeah but I kind of like the idea of the “Asshole Arteur”. The kind of guy that you hate but you love his work is always kind of interesting.
Marcus Beer – There’s nothing wrong with being an asshole, but, you know, like I said, in a couple months’ time, or a year, or whenever we get this next batch of stuff, these guys are going to be shilling like crazy to get the press coverage. And they’ve got to remember it’s a two way street.
The following morning, Phil Fish started posting on Twitter.
Phil Fish - @GameTrailers real nice guys, real nice.
Phil Fish - @GameTrailers thank you for all your contributions to the medium.
Phil Fish - @AnnoyedGamer hey fuckface. The thing with us “tosspots” “hipsters” is that we’re not beholden to media leeches like you.
Phil Fish - @AnnoyedGamer and you’re right. We’re VERY successful. And we’re not going anywhere. Get used to it you middle-aged parasite.
Phil Fish - @AnnoyedGamer compare your life to mine and then kill yourself.
Marcus Beer – Wow. @PHIL_FISH told me to go kill myself. Achievement Unlocked?
Marcus Beer – What’s to clarify. The guy broadcast it all over twitter!
Phil Fish – today’s beeve is brought to you by some inconsequential limey fuck.
Phil Fish – more personal attacks, this time coming from @gametrailer’s “annoyed gamer”. Who got SO BUTTHURT that me and jon wouldn’t give out quotes.
Phil Fish – attacking my character and the quality of my work, nice job @gametrailers.
Phil Fish – it must be frustrating being such a small commentator, only being able to ejaculate vomit out of your mouth from the sidelines.
Phil Fish - @AnnoyedGamer unable to create beauty or add to the world in a meaningful way, you sit in judgement, masturbating.
Phil Fish - @AnnoyedGamer on top of your little soapbox, trying to make others feel small so you can fool yourself into thinking you matter.
Phil Fish - @AnnoyedGamer _____ does what you do better and with infinitely more class. Oh and personality! He has a personality.
Marcus Beer - @PHIL_FISH Thanks for telling me to go kill myself. I will be at PAX if you want to talk on cam?
Phil Fish – @gametrailers @AnnoyedGamer I demand a public apology.
Phil Fish - @____ @GameTrailers @AnnoyedGamer yup. I’ll have my attorney look into it.
Phil Fish - @____ @AnnoyedGamer Im not a professional news outlet. I don’t get paid to insult people and assassinate their character.
Phil Fish - @____ @AnnoyedGamer furthermore, invisible walls isn’t twitter.
Phil Fish – this is exhausting.
Phil Fish - @____ I regret you bought my game.
Phil Fish - @AnnoyedGamer hey invisible balls, im talking to you! Im right here! SAY THAT SHIT TO ME FACE.
Phil Fish - @AnnoyedGamer or do you only feel comfortable assassinating somebody’s character from in front of the camera?
Phil Fish – I don’t believe in the high road.
Phil Fish - @AnnoyedGamer I want you to apologize on camera.
Marcus Beer – “@PHIL_FISH: @AnnoyedGamer I want you to apologize on camera.” The invite is there. If you want to talk & prove me wrong, happy to do so.
Marcus Beer - @____ @PHIL_FISH I’m Welsh thanks. That would be a Taff not a Limey :)
Phil Fish – How would you react tot his kind of shit if you were me. Consider it’s been going on for years now. You’d take the high road?
Phil Fish – im being attacked CONSTANTLY. And I can’t fight back? Ever? Yeah that seems fair.
Phil Fish – I fucking hate this industry.
Phil Fish – there’s not a day that goes by I don’t fantasize about leaving it. But that would only make you happy, right?
Marcus Beer - @PHIL_FISH I also said you were hugely respected. You don’t help the way you communicate. You alienate people myself included.
Marcus Beer - @____ I am doing fine. I am a grown man & if there is blowback then I have to take it.
Marcus Beer - @____ It’s all good. I appreciate the tweet :)
Phil Fish – I don’t want to have to get off twitter. I love twitter. But it also invites SO MUCH UGLINESS into my life.
Phil Fish - @AnnoyedGamer I don’t have anything to prove to you. I await your apology.
Phil Fish - @____ hey guess what, I don’t represent you or any other indies. I am my own man. That’s kind of the whole point.
Phil Fish – @AnnoyedGamer I don’t think you realize how much this shit hurts. What did I ever do to you?
Phil Fish - @AnnoyedGamer plus your beef with me wasn’t even accurate. I wasn’t snubbing journalist, I was waiting for the actual news to come out.
Phil Fish - @AnnoyedGamer because of that you decided to personally insult me AND my work. And that causes me great pain.
Phil Fish - @AnnoyedGamer which is not something I expect you to understand, but I want you to know that you hurt me.
Marcus Beer - @___ @PHIL_FISH This was about a story that was breaking. A simple ‘no comment’ would have worked.
Phil Fish - @___ everything he said was inaccurate. I was waiting for the actual info to drop before commenting.
Phil Fish - @GamerHivemind I never physically threatened anybody, far less my ex. You don’t know what you’re talking about. You are spreading lies.
Phil Fish - @GamerHivemind you’re both confused. Saying “fuck you” does not a physical threat make. You’re WAY out of line with this thing.
Phil Fish - @GamerHivemind also, none of your fucking business. I find it disturbing that you’d think twitter is an appropriate venue for this shit.
Phil Fish – im done. FEZ II is canceled. Goodbye.
Phil Fish – to be clear, im not cancelling FEZ II because some boorish fuck said something stupid. Im doing it to get out of games.
Phil Fish – and im getting out of games because I choose not to put up with this abuse anymore.
Phil Fish – one final tweet to tell you that im trending worldwide right now. SO LONG, SUCKERS!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

EDITORIAL: Legacy



Let’s spend some time to give "props" to a certain book series that has woven its way into video games from the beginning. There were a few games based on the series, but it's been 12 years since the last one. Even despite that, many of the games released since owe a considerable amount to it, or at the very least pay homage to it. The series I'm talking about is Dune, by Frank Herbert.
It's not one we think about very often, but the face of gaming, and even film, would be drastically different without it. The first novel, published in 1965, is often referred to as doing for sci fi what Lord of the Rings did for fantasy. It popularized it, it is one of the earliest examples of a fully fleshed out universe and folklore. It's a full novel released at a time when most science fiction stories were merely novellas. The original run of 6 novels are incredibly well written, and some of my personal favorite books of all time.
Its influence is so profound that one of the most popular movie franchises of all time "borrows" significantly. Early drafts of Star Wars read largely like a fan fic set in the Dune universe. Feuding great houses fighting over spice. In its final form, it's less obvious but still present. A desert planet where people "farm" moisture in order to survive. A native population largely regarded as hostile and savage.
It gets even more specific than that. The name "Princess Leia" is taken straight from the books, where it's "Princes Alia". The Jedi are largely reminiscent of the Bene Gesseret, who use "the voice" to control the actions of others, and are well trained in the art of "Prana Bindu", which allows them superhuman fighting abilities. Jedi were originally named "Jedi Bendu". God Emperor of Dune (re)introduced us to Leto II, a tyrant that has turned from human into worm. Sound like a certain Hutt?
As we move into video games, we can see references everywhere. In Fallout, Mentat's were a type of drug that improved intelligence. In Dune, they are specially trained human computers. Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy featured a planet where members were attacked by sand worms if the player stayed on the sand too. Warhammer 40k takes much of its lore directly from Dune, including a ban against making machinery too smart.
In Skyrim, you play as a Dovahkiin, who uses "shouts" as attacks, most notably the ability to send a shockwave out. In Dune, it is the Fedaykin, elite soldiers who are taught special martial arts called "The Weirding Way". In the 1984 movie, this was switched to "Weirding Modules", devices that would use certain phrases to a similar effect as that of Skyrim. There are plenty of references everywhere, for those that know what to look for.
Dune is largely responsible for an entire genre. Dune II, a PC game released in 1992 is often considered the father of Real Time Strategy. It introduced resource gathering to fund construction, a world map where subsequent missions were chosen, technology trees, base construction, mobile units that could be "deployed", factions with unique units and super weapons, and the ability to use a mouse to select units and issue commands.
Out of this game came two of the dominant games of the 1990's and beyond. The first being the direct successor. Made by the same creator, Westwood Studios, came Command & Conquer. The game featured mineral collection of Tiberium, in much the same way as Spice was harvested in Dune II. The games were so similar, that many people referred to it as a sequel.
The 2nd series has evolved to become one of the successful in gaming history. Warcraft is a series often noted for its similarities to Tolkien Lore. It's interesting that it's also greatly benefited from Dune. The formula was further refined for StarCraft as well, where parts of the lore are similar as well.
Warcraft has not forgotten this either. As it progressed to Warcraft 3, they started to use direct references. Characters would say dialog taken straight from Dune. When they moved into the MMO space, they went further. A quest chain in "Burning Crusade", the first expansion pack of the game, includes direct references. In it, you must take a "Fumper" into the desert in order to summon a giant worm named "Hai'Shulud". The quest rewards are "Dib'Mauds's Crysknife", "Shani's Crysknife", or "Reverend Mothers Crysknife"...all references to characters and items from Dune.
The most interesting aspect of WoW to come from Dune, however, is something I never see people talking about. The world map of "vanilla" WoW is almost directly lifted from Dune.  The map of Caladan first appeared, to my knowledge, in the 1999 edition of the novel "House Atreides" by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson.
Caladan (1999)
Azeroth (2004)

Caladan altered to look like Azeroth. Top right island is rotated, the other two are stretched, and white boxes to mark pieces that were cut off
 The map of Caladan, altered slightly, appears extremely similar to the map in WoW, which was released 5 years after the book, in 2004. Even in 2002's release of Warcraft 3, the map looks similar, though some of the more defining features are missing, such as the Eastern Kingdoms being two separate islands, and the peninsula of Ogrimmar. It almost appears as if they initially tried to hide it, but when WoW came out they decided, "Why bother?"
 
Azeroth in Warcraft 3 (2002)

Azeroth in the WoW beta

The legacy of Dune lives on in this way. Its influence is everywhere, even in ways that or not acknowledged. It's been 12 years since Westwood released Emperor: Battle for Dune, the last game based on the series was released.  Every time you play a game where a giant worm rises out of the sand, its influence can be felt. Dune has changed science fiction, and video games would not be what they are today without it. We must remember that.