Why Phil Fish Ought To Patch Fez

Dennis Scimeca

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Why Phil Fish Ought To Patch Fez

Indie developers don?t always deserve special treatment.

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The Random One

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I broadly agree, but in this case I have to side with Fish, may DeGroot forgive me. Microsoft ostensively charges that due to their verification process. Shouldn't that verification have found the patch'es errors? I'm not saying that's not Polytron's responsability, but when Microsoft charges that much money to verify a patch they must also assume some responsability for it if it fucks up.

I find your second point flawless though. We all know Fish took Microsoft's offer for a buttload of cash, making it an exclusive even though Microsoft hasn't been a healthy place for indies in years, if it ever was. You reap what you sow.
 

RaikuFA

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I hope this guy just gets his head out of his ass.

Doubt it though this is Fish and I know I'm never buying this guys work again.
 

teh_gunslinger

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The Random One said:
I broadly agree, but in this case I have to side with Fish, may DeGroot forgive me. Microsoft ostensively charges that due to their verification process. Shouldn't that verification have found the patch'es errors? I'm not saying that's not Polytron's responsability, but when Microsoft charges that much money to verify a patch they must also assume some responsability for it if it fucks up.

I find your second point flawless though. We all know Fish took Microsoft's offer for a buttload of cash, making it an exclusive even though Microsoft hasn't been a healthy place for indies in years, if it ever was. You reap what you sow.
Isn't the cert just to make sure the game doesn't brick the console though? I really don't think they do QA; they just make sure no explosions happen when you start the game.

Fish can't dodge this one. If you make a deal to only release on XBLA then you eat the cost of patching if you find out that your QA wasn't up to snuff.
 

kitsuta

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The Random One said:
I find your second point flawless though. We all know Fish took Microsoft's offer for a buttload of cash, making it an exclusive even though Microsoft hasn't been a healthy place for indies in years, if it ever was. You reap what you sow.
Polytron is very adamant that it was not paid by Microsoft. You can read the story here [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/118578-Fez-Studio-Rereleases-Save-Corrupting-Patch], but the relevant quote is, "People often mistakenly believe that we got paid by Microsoft for being exclusive to their platform. Nothing could be further from the truth. WE pay THEM."

Ignoring any arguments about Polytron's past decisions, I'm genuinely wondering what people would think of the company if it shelled out the $40k for a new patch and subsequently went under. Or if it was really unlucky and its new patch made things even worse, and then that had to be pulled. Would people still demand the developer shell out another $40k for another new patch? Is there an upper limit to how much the Polytron should pay to fix this bug?
 

ReinWeisserRitter

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Independent developers never deserve special treatment, first of all.

Secondly, this is just poor customer service by people to whom good conduct seemed alien in the first place. It's not like the game become sentient and broke on its own; you released a faulty product, and it's your responsibility to your customers to eat whatever costs that results in to fix the problem. I don't feel bad for you because you're an independent developer; you of all people should know better than to let such a thing pass knowing what it could cost you financially and in the realm of reputation, and you've already fucked the latter up in the past. Playing the victim in response to your own mistakes could end up costing you more than this patch, and you'd deserve it.
 

Sylveria

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Fish is a smug, self absorbed, indie-primadonna. We've seen this time and time again. I'm sure his view is "I got my money and I have no obligation to fix this."

kitsuta said:
Ignoring any arguments about Polytron's past decisions, I'm genuinely wondering what people would think of the company if it shelled out the $40k for a new patch and subsequently went under. Or if it was really unlucky and its new patch made things even worse, and then that had to be pulled. Would people still demand the developer shell out another $40k for another new patch? Is there an upper limit to how much the Polytron should pay to fix this bug?
Why should they get special treatment? If Skyrim had some bug that deleted your save, we wouldn't say "Oh it's okay Bethesda, we don't want to hurt your bottom line. We'll just start over."

If you make and release a game, it better work. If it doesn't work, you better fix it. If you can't or wont fix it, you deserve the consequences. People paid for a product, they expect it to work.Since it's XBLA, they can't even return it or dump it. Welcome to the anti-consumer age of digital distribution folks, you've been clamoring for it, enjoy what you got.
 

DrunkOnEstus

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Anybody who has seen "Indie Game: The Movie" would be very aware of how compulsive and neurotic Mr. Fish is. I can imagine him having panic attacks, pacing back and forth and calling everyone else names because "this patching horror happened to me!!" I am of the firm belief that he didn't expect a patch to be necessary, that after over 5 years it was perfect, and there wasn't even a need to find out how gouged you get for needing to patch your game (when I imagine Microsoft stands to make more money from sales of the game being in fully functional condition).

Don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against the guy. I have crippling anxiety problems and I understand how circumstances can drive your mind into a frenzy where choices aren't fully thought out. I played the demo of Fez and enjoyed it, and I really wish he did have an option to put it on Steam and be treated right and have the opportunity to treat his customers better.

But in his dream of spending over 5 years making a game (something I applaud him for undertaking), one of the sacrifices he made was to be tied exclusively to Microsoft. If I put over 5 years of my existence into a creation, I know I would do what it took to make it the best it could be. Based on sales, he has the money to fix this, but is probably terrified that a different issue could pop up that would lead to a money sink. I guess the lesson is to read all the print (yes the fine print too) before you sign a contract handed to you by the devil.
 

kitsuta

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Sylveria said:
kitsuta said:
Ignoring any arguments about Polytron's past decisions, I'm genuinely wondering what people would think of the company if it shelled out the $40k for a new patch and subsequently went under. Or if it was really unlucky and its new patch made things even worse, and then that had to be pulled. Would people still demand the developer shell out another $40k for another new patch? Is there an upper limit to how much the Polytron should pay to fix this bug?
Why should they get special treatment? If Skyrim had some bug that deleted your save, we wouldn't say "Oh it's okay Bethesda, we don't want to hurt your bottom line. We'll just start over."

If you make and release a game, it better work. If it doesn't work, you better fix it. If you can't or wont fix it, you deserve the consequences. People paid for a product, they expect it to work.Since it's XBLA, they can't even return it or dump it. Welcome to the anti-consumer age of digital distribution folks, you've been clamoring for it, enjoy what you got.
There's a difference between "hurting your bottom line" and "completely dissolving." The consequences are potentially much greater for a studio that can't just absorb the cost of a $40k re-cert. Recognizing that isn't special treatment, it's just understanding that some businesses can afford to make more mistakes than others. You're allowed to let that temper your judgement of a studio's actions without babying it.

The patch was originally released specifically because Polytron wanted to make the game work better for people. It fixed a lot of bugs, at least according to its blog post. That means the company already shelled out $40k to make the game work better, and then it got unlucky with a bug that only affected 1% of use cases. You can say 'they should have caught it,' but that's demanding absolute perfection of human beings, and even big studios screw up. Repeatedly.

The fact that the studio took responsibility for this decision doesn't mean it can actually afford the extra $40k. It even said that it still owes Microsoft money right now. That doesn't scream financial stability to me, so I'm inclined to believe the decision was more about 'will this patch be beneficial enough to outweigh the costs' than 'how much money can we keep in our McScrooge-like vault.'

That being said, there's a lot of criticisms to be made of Polytron's previous decisions - its insistence on sticking with XBLA consequences-be-damned is definitely high on the list. It could have absolutely avoided this situation just by being open-minded about a PC release. I would personally attribute its mistakes to naivety, but that doesn't make the mistakes any less boneheaded.
 

Dennis Scimeca

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So why wasn't the game released on Steam? If Fish did his due diligence and realized that he couldn't support Fez properly on Xbox Live due to the prohibitive patching costs, why didn't he pursue a different option?
Why not Steam? Because "Fez is a console game, not a PC game" and "It?s made to be played with a controller, on a couch, on a Saturday morning." To Mr Fish, "that matters; that?s part of the medium."
 

ranger19

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Great article again. I generally agree with your sentiments - he should (and almost has an obligation to) patch this, the only exception maybe being if doing so literally puts him out of business. But I'll flesh out my thoughts by quoting someone and contributing to the conversation.

kitsuta said:
There's a difference between "hurting your bottom line" and "completely dissolving." The consequences are potentially much greater for a studio that can't just absorb the cost of a $40k re-cert. Recognizing that isn't special treatment, it's just understanding that some businesses can afford to make more mistakes than others. You're allowed to let that temper your judgement of a studio's actions without babying it.

The patch was originally released specifically because Polytron wanted to make the game work better for people. It fixed a lot of bugs, at least according to its blog post. That means the company already shelled out $40k to make the game work better, and then it got unlucky with a bug that only affected 1% of use cases. You can say 'they should have caught it,' but that's demanding absolute perfection of human beings, and even big studios screw up. Repeatedly.

The fact that the studio took responsibility for this decision doesn't mean it can actually afford the extra $40k. It even said that it still owes Microsoft money right now. That doesn't scream financial stability to me, so I'm inclined to believe the decision was more about 'will this patch be beneficial enough to outweigh the costs' than 'how much money can we keep in our McScrooge-like vault.'

That being said, there's a lot of criticisms to be made of Polytron's previous decisions - its insistence on sticking with XBLA consequences-be-damned is definitely high on the list. It could have absolutely avoided this situation just by being open-minded about a PC release. I would personally attribute its mistakes to naivety, but that doesn't make the mistakes any less boneheaded.
This is a pretty good defense of the developer, and actually somewhat persuades me, so kudos to you. But even if this is all true, I would still take issue with how the guy presented the news to the world/his customer base: he went on about how much it would cost to fix, and how if it were on Steam, it would be fixed by now. But it's not like he was forced to put it on Xbox - in fact he talked about paying to be on Xbox. If that's the case, then he can't afford to patch it because he made some (seemingly bad) decisions when it came to deciding what platform to put the game out on. The customers, then, are not getting a patch, because the dev apparently chose the wrong console to release his game on. Without further explanation, customers are more than justified to be upset if a patch isn't coming.

Buretsu said:
So why wasn't the game released on Steam? If Fish did his due diligence and realized that he couldn't support Fez properly on Xbox Live due to the prohibitive patching costs, why didn't he pursue a different option?
Why not Steam? Because "Fez is a console game, not a PC game" and "It?s made to be played with a controller, on a couch, on a Saturday morning." To Mr Fish, "that matters; that?s part of the medium."
This seems to answer the burning question at hand. But if Xbox was so important, and so part of the design behind the game, the developer should not be suddenly blaming his choice of console once things go sour. And he certainly should not be proclaiming the virtues of another platform. I'm certain he knew the risks/costs well in advance.

I'd have more respect for the guy if he said "You know, it was really important to us that this game be on Xbox, and only Xbox. We knew that had risks, and we tried to patch once, but we plain can't afford to patch again without going out of business. I'm genuinely sorry." Then I would respect him. (And as a bonus, I don't know, offer to reimburse the people that were affected or something.) I don't think anyone could blame him if they did that. But the response as is - yeah, I'd be upset if I bought the game and got glitched like that.
 

Hooray

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kitsuta said:
That means the company already shelled out $40k to make the game work better, and then it got unlucky with a bug that only affected 1% of use cases.
The article you're responding to is great, and I just had to register an account to respond because you're the 20th person I've seen parroting the "only affected 1%" claim. This is a figure that Phil Fish made up - it's not based in reality. The patch was live for about 24-36 hours, and during that time it affecting a great number of people. Did all 100% of the people who bought the game sign on and download the patch during that window? Probably not.

If Phil Fish is right, then it only affected about 1,000-2,000 people (i.e. 1% of his 100,000+ sales). Based on even the comments section on his own site, there appears to be a disproportionate number of people who claim to have the issue - I'd wager much more than 1,000-2,000.

Is it possible that only a small chunk of people had 64/65 cubes AND were able to download the patch AND report a problem - and this is why Phil thinks it's only 1%?

I suppose we'll find out when the patch goes live again. I'd estimate it's more like 25% of customers - but it might be 100% of everybody who tries to finish the game.

At the moment, though, I feel like we're witnessing a guy with a pretty terrible victim complex doing anything and everything to shift the blame, even if it means understating how much damage the patch caused.
 

Dennis Scimeca

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Microsoft owns two gaming platforms.

One costs thousands of dollars to develop for and doesn't work half the time.

The other is free to develop and distribute for, and works like a charm.
 

Dennis Scimeca

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Bhaalspawn said:
Microsoft owns two gaming platforms.

One costs thousands of dollars to develop for and doesn't work half the time.

The other is free to develop and distribute for, and works like a charm.
Huh? What's the other one?
 

Dennis Scimeca

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Buretsu said:
Bhaalspawn said:
Microsoft owns two gaming platforms.

One costs thousands of dollars to develop for and doesn't work half the time.

The other is free to develop and distribute for, and works like a charm.
Huh? What's the other one?

I mean honestly. If I was developing a game, my choices of Platform would be the Playstation and Non-Steam Windows. Going with the XBox is like releasing a game on the PC, except it will cost you a fuckton more money than it should, you'll get screamed at by children for hours, and the controller doesn't even fit your hand properly.
 

kitsuta

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ranger19 said:
This is a pretty good defense of the developer, and actually somewhat persuades me, so kudos to you. But even if this is all true, I would still take issue with how the guy presented the news to the world/his customer base: he went on about how much it would cost to fix, and how if it were on Steam, it would be fixed by now. But it's not like he was forced to put it on Xbox - in fact he talked about paying to be on Xbox. If that's the case, then he can't afford to patch it because he made some (seemingly bad) decisions when it came to deciding what platform to put the game out on. The customers, then, are not getting a patch, because the dev apparently chose the wrong console to release his game on. Without further explanation, customers are more than justified to be upset if a patch isn't coming.
No disagreement here. The original blog post reeked of unbridled frustration and tried to place a lot of the blame on Microsoft. People sometimes dislike PR's tendency to oversanitize communication, but there's a lot to be said for measured, calm statements. You can still apologize (which Polytron did, fairly profusely), but the emotional tone of the statement made it seem like the studio was lashing out. Not the best idea.

ranger19 said:
I'd have more respect for the guy if he said "You know, it was really important to us that this game be on Xbox, and only Xbox. We knew that had risks, and we tried to patch once, but we plain can't afford to patch again without going out of business. I'm genuinely sorry."
This is a much better alternative, and I think it would have earned a lot of brownie points from the community at large.

Hooray said:
kitsuta said:
That means the company already shelled out $40k to make the game work better, and then it got unlucky with a bug that only affected 1% of use cases.
The article you're responding to is great, and I just had to register an account to respond because you're the 20th person I've seen parroting the "only affected 1%" claim. This is a figure that Phil Fish made up - it's not based in reality. The patch was live for about 24-36 hours, and during that time it affecting a great number of people. Did all 100% of the people who bought the game sign on and download the patch during that window? Probably not.
That's completely true - I don't have any solid information on how many people the patch actually affects, so I'm really just taking Polytron's word for it. I'm assuming/hoping that the figure is based on the company's internal testing. If it's egregiously wrong about the figure or even flat-out making things up, that's a much more serious issue for a lot of reasons.

My main concern with this backlash is that other indie developers might take away the message, "it's not OK to prioritize your company's financial solvency." So many promising indie/startup studios go under after their first games because they don't take care of their finances (see: 38 Studios). Startup studios especially need to think of themselves primarily as businesses that need to make profits - only once they get some clout and financial stability can they afford to put the customer first even when they make costly mistakes.

While making mistakes is obviously not ideal, the punishment is often way too severe. I don't think start-ups need to be coddled because they're special or anything - I really just want to see more new studios survive so I can have more fun, interesting games to play.
 

Something Amyss

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kitsuta said:
Polytron is very adamant that it was not paid by Microsoft. You can read the story here [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/118578-Fez-Studio-Rereleases-Save-Corrupting-Patch], but the relevant quote is, "People often mistakenly believe that we got paid by Microsoft for being exclusive to their platform. Nothing could be further from the truth. WE pay THEM."
We pay them. To exclusively publish a game. When we could be getting our game published elsewhere to wider audience. My Occam's Razor detector is beeping like mad.

Ignoring any arguments about Polytron's past decisions, I'm genuinely wondering what people would think of the company if it shelled out the $40k for a new patch and subsequently went under. Or if it was really unlucky and its new patch made things even worse, and then that had to be pulled. Would people still demand the developer shell out another $40k for another new patch? Is there an upper limit to how much the Polytron should pay to fix this bug?
If they can't make a game that works, they don't deserve to be in business. This is how the free market is supposed to work (though it doesn't) and this is what people expect when they purchase a product (Some reasonable assurance that it actually, you know, works).

I don't buy the 1% number, as this is the same sort of damage control everyone does (Look at Sony's DRE and Microsoft's RRoD for other examples). Further, he's being a massive jerk about it. I don't exactly feel sympathy that a company is asked to fix their errors, and less so when their figurehead is a complete ass.
 

MonkeyPunch

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Reading Fish related articles always results in a red face for me... I really need to remember to strap down my arms down whilst reading to avoid my facepalm reflex kicking in.
 

Some_weirdGuy

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whoa wait. What kind of *idiot* pays a platform to have their game be exclusive to it? That's the exact opposite of how it's meant to(and as far as i know always has) work(ed). Does he live in backwards land or something, where rain falls up, tv watches you and soviet russians make reversing jokes about the rest of the world?


like... seriously. You pay money to restrict your games saleability?
(And then actually complain about how much better you would have it if you'd not done so? What's stopping you from changing that then? If they're not paying you then what possible reason is there for you to remain bound to them alone?)
 

Shocksplicer

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Bhaalspawn said:
Microsoft owns two gaming platforms.

One costs thousands of dollars to develop for and doesn't work half the time.

The other is free to develop and distribute for, and works like a charm.
Who the hell have you been talking to? I have a 360, never had any problems. Games for Windows Live, on the other hand, is constantly derided and loathed by the gaming community because it doesn't work.

Might want to rethink your point there...
 

SL33TBL1ND

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I hate this guy so much. When your game has a bug like that, it's your responsibility to fix it.
 

JamesCG

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Shocksplicer said:
Bhaalspawn said:
Microsoft owns two gaming platforms.

One costs thousands of dollars to develop for and doesn't work half the time.

The other is free to develop and distribute for, and works like a charm.
Who the hell have you been talking to? I have a 360, never had any problems. Games for Windows Live, on the other hand, is constantly derided and loathed by the gaming community because it doesn't work.

Might want to rethink your point there...
He's just talking about Windows. Not GFWL.
 

Albino Boo

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The idea that Steam doesn't charge for patches is quite frankly ludicrous. Bandwidth, servers and associated support cost money and I'm damn sure Gabe didn't get to be a billionaire by not passing that cost on. I suspect the difference is how you pay, with Xbox live you pay upfront, but I bet with steam they take a bigger percentage per sale to pay for the cost.



teh_gunslinger said:
The Random One said:
I broadly agree, but in this case I have to side with Fish, may DeGroot forgive me. Microsoft ostensively charges that due to their verification process. Shouldn't that verification have found the patch'es errors? I'm not saying that's not Polytron's responsability, but when Microsoft charges that much money to verify a patch they must also assume some responsability for it if it fucks up.

I find your second point flawless though. We all know Fish took Microsoft's offer for a buttload of cash, making it an exclusive even though Microsoft hasn't been a healthy place for indies in years, if it ever was. You reap what you sow.
Isn't the cert just to make sure the game doesn't brick the console though? I really don't think they do QA; they just make sure no explosions happen when you start the game.

Fish can't dodge this one. If you make a deal to only release on XBLA then you eat the cost of patching if you find out that your QA wasn't up to snuff.

They also check the patch isn't a keylogger or makes your xbox part of a botnet.
 

TheDutch3Z

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albino boo said:
The idea that Steam doesn't charge for patches is quite frankly ludicrous. Bandwidth, servers and associated support cost money and I'm damn sure Gabe didn't get to be a billionaire by not passing that cost on. I suspect the difference is how you pay, with Xbox live you pay upfront, but I bet with steam they take a bigger percentage per sale to pay for the cost.



teh_gunslinger said:
The Random One said:
I broadly agree, but in this case I have to side with Fish, may DeGroot forgive me. Microsoft ostensively charges that due to their verification process. Shouldn't that verification have found the patch'es errors? I'm not saying that's not Polytron's responsability, but when Microsoft charges that much money to verify a patch they must also assume some responsability for it if it fucks up.

I find your second point flawless though. We all know Fish took Microsoft's offer for a buttload of cash, making it an exclusive even though Microsoft hasn't been a healthy place for indies in years, if it ever was. You reap what you sow.
Isn't the cert just to make sure the game doesn't brick the console though? I really don't think they do QA; they just make sure no explosions happen when you start the game.

Fish can't dodge this one. If you make a deal to only release on XBLA then you eat the cost of patching if you find out that your QA wasn't up to snuff.

They also check the patch isn't a keylogger or makes your xbox part of a botnet.
I dont remember where or when i saw it so take it with grain of salt but steam takes the least amount percentage per sale.
 

Albino Boo

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TheDutch3Z said:
I dont remember where or when i saw it so take it with grain of salt but steam takes the least amount percentage per sale.

All deals with steam have non disclosure agreements attached so in the real world the only thing that gets out is I know this guy who knows this guy style of thing. Valve, currently, are in vogue so anecdotes tend to be supportive of them . You don't get to be a billionaire by not keeping your overheads down, so those costs are going to be passed on somewhere. The big boys have bargaining power when comes to sales agreements, which the indie guys don't so they will be paying higher rates than others. So it depends who you talk to.
 

Sylveria

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kitsuta said:
Sylveria said:
kitsuta said:
Ignoring any arguments about Polytron's past decisions, I'm genuinely wondering what people would think of the company if it shelled out the $40k for a new patch and subsequently went under. Or if it was really unlucky and its new patch made things even worse, and then that had to be pulled. Would people still demand the developer shell out another $40k for another new patch? Is there an upper limit to how much the Polytron should pay to fix this bug?
Why should they get special treatment? If Skyrim had some bug that deleted your save, we wouldn't say "Oh it's okay Bethesda, we don't want to hurt your bottom line. We'll just start over."

If you make and release a game, it better work. If it doesn't work, you better fix it. If you can't or wont fix it, you deserve the consequences. People paid for a product, they expect it to work.Since it's XBLA, they can't even return it or dump it. Welcome to the anti-consumer age of digital distribution folks, you've been clamoring for it, enjoy what you got.
There's a difference between "hurting your bottom line" and "completely dissolving." The consequences are potentially much greater for a studio that can't just absorb the cost of a $40k re-cert. Recognizing that isn't special treatment, it's just understanding that some businesses can afford to make more mistakes than others. You're allowed to let that temper your judgement of a studio's actions without babying it.

The patch was originally released specifically because Polytron wanted to make the game work better for people. It fixed a lot of bugs, at least according to its blog post. That means the company already shelled out $40k to make the game work better, and then it got unlucky with a bug that only affected 1% of use cases. You can say 'they should have caught it,' but that's demanding absolute perfection of human beings, and even big studios screw up. Repeatedly.

The fact that the studio took responsibility for this decision doesn't mean it can actually afford the extra $40k. It even said that it still owes Microsoft money right now. That doesn't scream financial stability to me, so I'm inclined to believe the decision was more about 'will this patch be beneficial enough to outweigh the costs' than 'how much money can we keep in our McScrooge-like vault.'

That being said, there's a lot of criticisms to be made of Polytron's previous decisions - its insistence on sticking with XBLA consequences-be-damned is definitely high on the list. It could have absolutely avoided this situation just by being open-minded about a PC release. I would personally attribute its mistakes to naivety, but that doesn't make the mistakes any less boneheaded.
And now they're labeled as "The indie developer who takes 5 years to release a game, then releases it broken, then patches in new and different problems." Wonder how much of that cost they can absorb. Also, I, if you noticed, never said they should have caught it, I merely stated they should be prepared for the consequences and make necessary reparations. However, being XBLA, they've absolved themselves of making reparations (Due to the "lawl screw you buyer" policies that are inherent to digital distribution) and put themselves in a position where they, allegedly, cant absorb the costs of fixing their broken product, assuming they even want to since they have zero obligation to as I stated before.

I wont give Fish the benefit of being naive. He's been very "vocal" to put it nicely, since his game debuted. If anything, I would attribute it to being overconfident to the point of being reckless. The way he's conducted himself is in the manner of a man who thinks he's swinging big pipe, and judging by this scenario, what he was offering simply wasn't what was advertised.

Frankly, sounds like another Kingdoms of Amalaur scenario where they made nothing but poor business decisions then released a low quality product. You reap what you sow.
 

Kahani

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Sylveria said:
If you make and release a game, it better work. If it doesn't work, you better fix it. If you can't or wont fix it, you deserve the consequences. People paid for a product, they expect it to work.
It does. The product worked when first released, and it works (hopefully better) after the patch is installed. Not being able to keep saves between patches is a very different issue from not having the product work at all. And while it might be somewhat annoying, it's not particularly unusual. Patches often make changes or additions that mean previous saves simply won't work at all. Obviously it's a bit different here since it's a bug rather than a deliberate choice, but it's still hardly the end of the world.

As for whether there were poor decisions involved, that's again a very different issue. I'd tend to agree that choosing to stick with an exclusive platform that you can't afford to fix problems on is probably not the best idea. But the past can't be changed. Their choices now have to be based on the circumstances now, not what the circumstances might have been if they'd done things differently. Given that they are on XBLA and can't afford another patch, going ahead with a patch that is generally good but causes some minor hassle for a minority of people may well be the best choice for the situation.
 

Shocksplicer

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Sylveria said:
And now they're labeled as "The indie developer who takes 5 years to release a game, then releases it broken, then patches in new and different problems."
*Then refuses to fix the patch because they'd rather keep their money than release a functional product for their paying customers.
 

Dennis Scimeca

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Shocksplicer said:
Bhaalspawn said:
Microsoft owns two gaming platforms.

One costs thousands of dollars to develop for and doesn't work half the time.

The other is free to develop and distribute for, and works like a charm.
Who the hell have you been talking to? I have a 360, never had any problems. Games for Windows Live, on the other hand, is constantly derided and loathed by the gaming community because it doesn't work.

Might want to rethink your point there...
I'm sorry, last time I checked my laptop never had the risk of red ringing.

I never said online, I said gaming platform, genius.
 

Shocksplicer

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Bhaalspawn said:
Shocksplicer said:
Bhaalspawn said:
Microsoft owns two gaming platforms.

One costs thousands of dollars to develop for and doesn't work half the time.

The other is free to develop and distribute for, and works like a charm.
Who the hell have you been talking to? I have a 360, never had any problems. Games for Windows Live, on the other hand, is constantly derided and loathed by the gaming community because it doesn't work.

Might want to rethink your point there...
I'm sorry, last time I checked my laptop never had the risk of red ringing.

I never said online, I said gaming platform, genius.
Last time I checked my 360 Slim didn't have any chance of Red Ringing either.
I'm sorry about the confusion, I thought it was a pretty fair assumption to make , since this discussion was about XBLA and the 360 hardware itself is in no way relevant to this conversation, that you were referring to GFWL, not the every physical computer that Microsoft has ever made.
Because, you know, comparing a service available on a certain platform to another platform in it's entirety, whilst simultaneously bringing up the RROD despite the fact that it has no relevance to this conversation and in fact no longer exists in Slim consoles would be kind of dumb.
Genius.
 

Dennis Scimeca

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Shocksplicer said:
Bhaalspawn said:
Shocksplicer said:
Bhaalspawn said:
Microsoft owns two gaming platforms.

One costs thousands of dollars to develop for and doesn't work half the time.

The other is free to develop and distribute for, and works like a charm.
Who the hell have you been talking to? I have a 360, never had any problems. Games for Windows Live, on the other hand, is constantly derided and loathed by the gaming community because it doesn't work.

Might want to rethink your point there...
I'm sorry, last time I checked my laptop never had the risk of red ringing.

I never said online, I said gaming platform, genius.
Last time I checked my 360 Slim didn't have any chance of Red Ringing either.
I'm sorry about the confusion, I thought it was a pretty fair assumption to make , since this discussion was about XBLA and the 360 hardware itself is in no way relevant to this conversation, that you were referring to GFWL, not the every physical computer that Microsoft has ever made.
Because, you know, comparing a service available on a certain platform to another platform in it's entirety, whilst simultaneously bringing up the RROD despite the fact that it has no relevance to this conversation and in fact no longer exists in Slim consoles would be kind of dumb.
Genius.
Not what I was referring to.

This is what I was referring to: Microsoft Windows > XBox 360
 

Shocksplicer

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Bhaalspawn said:
Shocksplicer said:
Bhaalspawn said:
Shocksplicer said:
Bhaalspawn said:
Microsoft owns two gaming platforms.

One costs thousands of dollars to develop for and doesn't work half the time.

The other is free to develop and distribute for, and works like a charm.
Who the hell have you been talking to? I have a 360, never had any problems. Games for Windows Live, on the other hand, is constantly derided and loathed by the gaming community because it doesn't work.

Might want to rethink your point there...
I'm sorry, last time I checked my laptop never had the risk of red ringing.

I never said online, I said gaming platform, genius.
Last time I checked my 360 Slim didn't have any chance of Red Ringing either.
I'm sorry about the confusion, I thought it was a pretty fair assumption to make , since this discussion was about XBLA and the 360 hardware itself is in no way relevant to this conversation, that you were referring to GFWL, not the every physical computer that Microsoft has ever made.
Because, you know, comparing a service available on a certain platform to another platform in it's entirety, whilst simultaneously bringing up the RROD despite the fact that it has no relevance to this conversation and in fact no longer exists in Slim consoles would be kind of dumb.
Genius.
Not what I was referring to.

This is what I was referring to: Microsoft Windows > XBox 360
Well that is both opinion, and irrelevant to this thread.
 

Slycne

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Feb 19, 2006
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kitsuta said:
My main concern with this backlash is that other indie developers might take away the message, "it's not OK to prioritize your company's financial solvency." So many promising indie/startup studios go under after their first games because they don't take care of their finances (see: 38 Studios). Startup studios especially need to think of themselves primarily as businesses that need to make profits - only once they get some clout and financial stability can they afford to put the customer first even when they make costly mistakes.
A company that can't afford to put its customers first, within reason, shouldn't be in business in the first place.
 

kitsuta

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Jan 10, 2011
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Slycne said:
kitsuta said:
My main concern with this backlash is that other indie developers might take away the message, "it's not OK to prioritize your company's financial solvency." So many promising indie/startup studios go under after their first games because they don't take care of their finances (see: 38 Studios). Startup studios especially need to think of themselves primarily as businesses that need to make profits - only once they get some clout and financial stability can they afford to put the customer first even when they make costly mistakes.
A company that can't afford to put its customers first, within reason, shouldn't be in business in the first place.
True - I think a lot of the contention is about whether or not this is 'within reason.' If the 1% figure is true, Polytron has more of a leg to stand on in that regard. But it's really quite subjective, and Fish hasn't helped his cause by the way he behaves, as Slyveria pointed out:

Sylveria said:
I wont give Fish the benefit of being naive. He's been very "vocal" to put it nicely, since his game debuted. If anything, I would attribute it to being overconfident to the point of being reckless. The way he's conducted himself is in the manner of a man who thinks he's swinging big pipe, and judging by this scenario, what he was offering simply wasn't what was advertised
The important thing, for me, is that he actually learns from his mistakes. If he keeps screwing up and screwing over customers, he could make perfect games and it still wouldn't be worth it. Might help if he did something like stop insisting on a console-only title and promise to release the game on Steam as soon as the contract with Microsoft is up. We'll have to wait and see if he wises up about it, though.
 

Dastardly

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Apr 19, 2010
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Dennis Scimeca said:
Why Phil Fish Ought To Patch Fez

Indie developers don?t always deserve special treatment.

Read Full Article
Hopefully the response to this will let Fish know how people see this: "take the money and run."

While it's sad to think that this is another case of "plucky, naive young developers" getting swallowed by the "big, bad publisher legal-ese machine," framing it that way isn't going to teach people a lesson about big, bad publishers.

It's going to teach them a lesson about buying products from the little guy.

(This same kind of thing comes up in other areas. I can return just about any faulty product, for any reason, to my local Wal-Mart... but if I buy something from the Mom-'n-Pops hardware store, I've got all kinds of requirements on me and a restocking fee. It doesn't exactly give me the best feeling about supporting a smaller store that won't support me back.)
 

Dennis Scimeca

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The Random One said:
I broadly agree, but in this case I have to side with Fish, may DeGroot forgive me. Microsoft ostensively charges that due to their verification process. Shouldn't that verification have found the patch'es errors? I'm not saying that's not Polytron's responsability, but when Microsoft charges that much money to verify a patch they must also assume some responsability for it if it fucks up.

I find your second point flawless though. We all know Fish took Microsoft's offer for a buttload of cash, making it an exclusive even though Microsoft hasn't been a healthy place for indies in years, if it ever was. You reap what you sow.
Don't forget that MS came out and said they were willing to work with him on the price of releasing a patch. He is just too cheap.
 

CarlsonAndPeeters

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Fish trying to blame Microsoft is a pretty lame move. Sure, maybe Microsoft's certification costs are ridiculously high, but nobody made Fish sign an exclusivity deal with them. It was his company's decision and his company is in the business of providing content to consumers, and Fish would rather deny his paying customers that content than pay to fix it. His decision, but don't go blaming Microsoft.

Phil Fish, in my opinion, is a bit of a tool. Not because of the "Japanese-games-suck" thing--I was on his side over that--but after watching Indie Game: The Movie and reading this, he seems to just blame other people and act like a rock star. FEZ is a solid game, but so is this Flash game.

http://www.kongregate.com/games/Neutronized/sky-island?acomplete=sky+island

He seems like an average developer who is pretending to be a genius and I think people are justified to get pissed off over his act.
 

thiosk

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I'm blaming microsoft for this one. The company clearly wanted to fix the problem, but cannot, because of draconian problems with microsoft.
 

Brackynews

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Dennis Scimeca said:
I am not sure how Fish arrived at the figure of one percent considering the problem was originally reported as "fairly widespread," and also in light of Fish's comments shortly after the release of Fez that getting sales information out of Microsoft was quite difficult.
There are two datasets that developers do have very reliable access to: Achievements (progression) and Leaderboards (playerbase).
Leaderboards are a very accurate estimate of digital players, but they have to assume that some people connect online to purchase and download, but don't connect to play.

Just as a rough example, if Polytron can see that 1% of all Fez owners have the endgame achievements/percentages, and the bug is known to affect 90% of endgame players, that will give them <1%. It's a leap of logic but not an unexpected one. What does Microsoft say every time 360s start bricking after a console update? A "small minority" of users. It's damage control pure and simple; you DON'T get specific, or you get your ass class-actioned.

Dennis Scimeca said:
So why wasn't the game released on Steam? If Fish did his due diligence and realized that he couldn't support Fez properly on Xbox Live due to the prohibitive patching costs, why didn't he pursue a different option?
I hate to turn this wordplay around on ya Dennis, but if you did your due diligence you'd be able to quote Fish himself on this point from 2011.

http://www.nowgamer.com/features/950149/fez_interview_polytrons_phil_fish.html
"Fez is a console game, not a PC game," he states, emphatically. "It's made to be played with a controller, on a couch, on a Saturday morning. To me, that matters; that's part of the medium." I get so many comments shouting at me that I'm an idiot for not making a PC version. 'You'd make so much more money! Can't you see? Meatboy sold more on Steam!' Good for them. But this matters more to me than sales or revenue. It's a console game on a console. End of story."
As for why Polytron decided on Xbox Live specifically, Fish won't be drawn, directly. "It's what made the most sense when we signed with them." he says, before adding cryptically: "If we had to do everything again today, maybe we wouldn't go down the same route, but it still makes a lot of sense today."
"Artistic Integrity" was his core defense a year ago. And a year later, we get the quote of:
Had FEZ been released on steam instead of XBLA, the game would have been fixed two weeks after release, at no cost to us. And if there was an issue with that patch, we could have fixed that right away too!
That is a quaint statement of fact, but I think objectively speaking the man just voided his integrity, as an observation of the facts. Goddammit I love his game, but he is singing whatever tune suits his mood swings. I don't believe this kind of behaviour is a conscious about-face. Sumthin ain't right with the boy. I've always complimented the game and his accomplishments. I don't dislike him because he shoots his mouth off, I don't call him a douche for having less tact than the average snooty francophone Canuck, I think he's eccentrically broke in the head and that it's a damn shame. I think dude has issues, and I think I can empathise. Taking my own self-loathing out of the equation, I think all these Indie Boys have added more colour to the industry than we've seen since the days of Trip Hawkins. ;)

It's also funny to note that the NOW article also mentions he "had a falling out" with Dyad's Shawn McGrath. So BOTH McGrath and DeGroot couldn't get anything done with this guy. Anyone taking bets on Trapdoor moving on sooner or later?
 

Dennis Scimeca

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Brackynews said:
Dennis Scimeca said:
So why wasn't the game released on Steam? If Fish did his due diligence and realized that he couldn't support Fez properly on Xbox Live due to the prohibitive patching costs, why didn't he pursue a different option?
I hate to turn this wordplay around on ya Dennis, but if you did your due diligence you'd be able to quote Fish himself on this point from 2011....
Don't worry about it, because you didn't. :p

What Phil Fish's motivations were for publishing exclusively on Xbox Live are completely moot to my argument. The point stands - by making that decision he willingly signed up for $40,000 a patch.

Generally-speaking, creatives have to learn that they can't always have what they want. An indie film maker might want to have a huge special effects budget but if they can't get that kind of money they write around the need for effects in the script. If Fish wasn't willing to commit to the expense of console support, he could have altered his idea for the game and instead of making a "sit down on the couch Saturday morning console game," taken precisely the same idea and coded it for PC and Steam instead, and then went to console later after he'd made some money (or not) and could open up an entirely new revenue stream to support the game on that new platform.
 

Epic Fail 1977

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Good article, but the titular question doesn't get answered until the last paragraph, and the answer ("because it's the right thing to do") is lame. The title should be "Why Phil Fish Is A Greedy Scumbag".