I've just solved FEZ, and I need to write about it. This might get a little lofty, but I'm going to talk it out. I'll make reference to a video game I've created, which you can try here:
I've just solved FEZ. I'm truly appreciative of Phil Fish's work. I could recommend anyone out there to play this game exactly one time. If you have no interest in me, take that piece of wisdom with you. It is worth the effort, to be sure. You could play it more than once, but I don't think you need to. When you play the game, really try to "stop and smell the flowers" as Phil has put it.
I started this game set out to prove something. I was coming out of a real bad place, that's none of your beeswax. I needed to prove to myself that I was genuine. Someone with a true fondness for this medium. I felt I had lost the will. Despondent, but persistent, I wouldn't let FEZ beat me, as so many other things had. I would BEAT FEZ. And I have.
I have beat FEZ. Complete. Checkmark. Donezo. Now, I reflect. Is that what I wanted to get? To complete it? The sad truth is - Yes. Even in my quest to prove my genuine gamer nature, I have failed to do so. I've only proved my stubborn despondent nature. My nature to glove my life from my friends and family, and to band-aid my problems. It feels good, but tomorrow I will wake up the same, only different. I have beat FEZ, but I feel like I have barely PLAYED it at all. With 32 out of 64 cubes, I've literally achieved 50% of the game. Truly, a perfunctory performance on my part, and I have no desire to achieve mastery. None whatsoever. I look at my gaming area, and I see my shameful workstation - A chair representing my true nature - My Art: Slumped back and in, you can see it's never been used by a man "on the edge of his seat". The chair is a 3D projection of a comfortable and unmoving man. A fat man.
A man who has worked hard, yet he has not worked a day in his life. Why? Because he has not lived a day in his life. His life has always been tomorrow. It's never "stop and smell the flowers". I'll stop and smell the flowers tomorrow. And I never do. I just smoke pot and draw pictures and waste time. I don't make FEZ's. I just make trivial hokey shit. Useless shit. Shit that nobody asked for and nobody wants. I wanted FEZ. But I didn't get it. I just beat it. And I have no one to blame but myself.
Where did I find my enjoyment from FEZ? Within the confines of my disgusting reality: my fondest memories are that of putting the controller down. In other words - Not working for my reward. My favorite moment is the end cutscene. Now, if you've played the game you KNOW that cutscene is STUNNING, but my introspection here holds true across most of my gaming experiences. I play adventure games where you actually do NOTHING for huge portions of time. Watching Game Grumps is EVEN EASIER. I had no interest in proving myself against the various challenging brain puzzles in the game. I'd even used Google to help wrap it all up as quickly as possible in the last hour of my experience. This is my fault, not Fish's.
I beat FEZ. But I didn't LEARN anything. Years from now, you'll mention something from the game, and I'll have long forgotten.
You might think, "Jesus, Colton. You're pretty hard on yourself." I need to be hard. I've been soft for much too long. In weeks and months, I'll learn to be hard in all of the right places. Right now I just need to practice being hard.
If you haven't played my game up there, play it now.
A few weeks ago I reached another critically low point in my life. I was sick of my lack of courage. My lack of energy. My lack of everything. Even now, you can certainly feel myself leaking, in these words. Regression, not transformation.
So I left the house alone. I walked to the Art of College (practically the shortest walk possible, while still hiding from the world) and I stood on a ledge and thought about killing myself. It would be impossible to do it, from such a small drop. But I thought about it. When I was on the ledge my perspective led me to believe that I was in true danger. A second perspective however let me see how foolish I was. It would be difficult to even roll my ankle from such a small height.
It was all in my head. I cried as hard as I've ever cried.
That story I just told you? It's essentially a lie.
There are more pieces to it that are missing. I was listening to my iPod. And attempting to use my phone. And the secret is I can't say for sure why I cried. It's like there was so much in the pot of soup that I can't tell you WHY it tastes the way it does. The only truth is my tears. In other words, I gained nothing from that moment. No lasting change, no epiphany, just a big useless cry. I feel the same way with FEZ. I LOVED that ending, but I've earned nothing from playing it. I'm no better at art or sound or gaming or puzzles or anything. I'm just the same, only different.
This is why I made FEZ 2: Better Than Zippy Push Kid:
Phil Fish quits games. Sick of asshole punks. Assholes who complain. Complain about everything that they can't do. Or can't control. Assholes who hide. Phil thinks he's an asshole, but he sure as hell won't hide from it. He'll tell you to your face.
I'm sick too. Sick of me. Sick of you. Sick of everything. Sick of things I can't change, things I can change but don't. Sick of things I try to do but fail. Sick of things I don't even try. Sick of things I succeed in doing but I just don't care. I'm just plain sick, I can't say why and I can't fix it. Maybe I don't even try to. I got a bit pot of problems and I don't know what's in it.
So I just start making it. Making the game. I take all these weird drawings I've made that have turned me into a joke - Some weird guy who draws trippy shit. Nobody knows who I really am, because it's so deep inside my own head. Deep inside of some big fat entity that keeps his mouth shut, but tries to pull off a brilliant pithy Silent Bob moment whenever he can. Keeps his mouth shut? Sure. But I'll lop off any little piece of me in the name of "art". It's like a glove. It's like "This is my art so it becomes real". I find 1000 false patterns when everyone else is doing real and important work.
And I'm sick. I'm sick of you saying what is and isn't. Sick of GAMERS. Sick of these people who have such fondness for something they can't even REMOTELY achieve. Sick of the comments. Sick of the people who look at the tree and say “this tree should have looked like this”.
It's SO lazy, when it could be so much better. Anyone and their kid can make a game these days. Millions of zilches complain about what they're being FED when they don't realize that they can COOK. Don't be afraid of your shitty cooking either, because nobody is going to eat it until it's REALLY GOOD. Get out there, and make a fucking game. I don't care what your excuses are. If you LOVE music, you should know WHY you love music. If you LOVE games, you should know WHY you love games.
The biggest first step towards the WHY is the HOW.
Here's a criticism I received for FEZ 2: Better Than Zippy Push Kid. It's from a fellow developer, and the reason it resonates so strongly with me is because he so CLOSELY describes the actual programming system that the game IS. When he tastes the game, he knows the INGREDIENTS (Including my own mind). It helps him really SAVOR what he was given.
From a design standpoint he nailed it. At first its kinda WTFy but the change in the images drives the player to move deeper in. They naturally go down and right because that's what we're trained to do. At first they're creeped out by the images and they try to get away from them, escaping into the void. But it turns out space is really abusive and after it really starts to accumulate, the player is drawn back into the drawings and the thoughts of Colton's mind. What was at first alien is now comforting, although the the magnification and altered angles also make it unfamiliar, like it has been irrevocably changed by the trip out. The player is looking for safety so they go the opposite direction from the word glob until they hit the upper left corner, where the game ends. Then the score is arbitrary and negative, like you failed at being you, but for no apparent reason. It's powerful stuff. I was really impressed.
Here is another review, by a man completely 100% removed from my life, a total random on the Internet.
Can't believe that I spent 5 mins on watching this...and How could you make it a 171MB stuff? It seems a 171KB thing to me. What is all those none sense paper shaking about? How come u call this a Game? The only thing u could interact is the number changed randomly when your mouse clicked isn't it? Maybe u r incredible in some different ways that I could never understand. Good luck.
DISNEY MAGIC IS BULLSHIT. THERE IS ONLY REAL, HARD WORK. DEAL WITH IT.
Because the truth is that these god damn games are not that special at all. Nor is my art. It's just good clean fun, and we can all get involved in it. Even when you look into the past - these masters like Salvador Dali or Picasso, when you REALLY look, what you see is some incredible normalcy to them. They are really just folk like you or me. But they GAVE A SHIT. They gave the biggest most profound shit. YOU can do this.
Phil Fish, Team Meat, and all your heroes are PEOPLE, and NOT GODS!
So that's what FEZ 2 is. It's just me giving a shit. I legitimately love my game. I love to play it, and just watch it. To zoom in and see what I have made. I move in and I make a little story for myself and I think “What have you become, Mr. Phillips?”
You might play it and think to yourself,
“What is this loser thinking? This isn't a game? Okay maybe it's a game but it's BARELY a game. It's certainly not fun. Did you even spend any time on this at all really? (It took 2 days) It's not worth my time. Hell, It took FOREVER to load, just because you're so IN LOVE with your weird half finished art drawings doesn't mean you need to share them. This isn't a complete game. This is just a masturbatory perfunctory effort. Why aren't you spending your time making something you can REALLY be proud of like Phil Fish did? Hmm? You called it FEZ 2? What are you even getting at? This is a joke.”
It matters not to me if FEZ 2: Better Than Zippy Push Kid is worth YOUR time, because it was worth MY time. Maybe I'm not the gamer that I wanted to be, or the person that I wanted to be. Maybe I'm not the person YOU wanted me to be. And maybe I didn't PLAY FEZ, but I sure as FUCK played FEZ 2: Better Than Zippy Push Kid. I chopped it, mixed it, stirred, and BAKED it. I PLAYED THE SHIT OUT OF FEZ 2 and then I added a pinch of salt and walked away from it, stared at it deeply, with my eyes closed just a leeeeeeeetle bit and said,
“Voila! It's complete. My MASTERPIECE!”
There's nothing you can do or say that will make me want to stop cooking, and if you identify yourself as a gamer, than you should feel a deep sense of remorse for what has happened in the mind of Phil.