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Cliffy B on how Annualization can Keep a Franchise Relevant or Burn it to the Ground, Phil Fish & Dealing With Hate

July 29, 2013 Written by Jason Dunning

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Over the weekend, you may have heard that Phil Fish has left game development and cancelled Fez II. While this also leaves the fate of Fez on PlayStation up in the air as well, there’s been a lot of opinions voiced over this departure, with fellow unemployed game designer, Cliff Bleszinksi, posting on his Twitter account about the situation and writing an open letter to Phil on his Tumblr.

Mentioning that he’s “hung out a few times” with Phil, Cliff says he found Fez “to be refreshing in a chic retro way,” with his big involvement in the project reminding him of himself “in the Jazz Jackrabbit era.” Bleszinski continued by adding:

Waking up every day (or in some instances, the early afternoon) to sit right back down and stare at that PC as you paint your own mystery, pixel by pixel, line of code after line of code can wear you down. Not to mention the sheer magnitude of legal bullshit involved in running your own legitimate business as well as whatever the heck was going on with your old partner in Indie Game: The Movie.

Addressing the Twitter issue, Cliff pointed to the fact that Phil Fish was trending worldwide, and “how many game developers can say that?” Offering up advice on dealing with the haters, he called attention to how Jonathan Blow (who recently tweeted out, “When the XB1 version of The Witness comes out, internet fanboys’ heads are going to explode or something”) says you “‘can’t ignore it because by the time you’ve read the words it’s too late.’” The key, Cliff says, “is to outwit them because the idiot uses hate” (and poor spelling/grammar because the idiot does not know how to be witty).

This is an example of being witty:

He then breaks down another way to deal with the haters:

The other key is to absorb all of that hate into one big fireball of motivation inside of your belly and then pour all of that energy into your work until you can unleash one big giant motherfucking HADOKEN upon the community that wins awards and sells millions and then the haters will truly be eating a giant bushel of dicks as you roll in a pile of money, acclaim, and community love.

Finishing up his Tumblr post, Cliff wrote:

You don’t owe a damned thing to any gaming journalist. We’ve seen the rise of many “Rush Limbaughs” in the gaming industry, people who do videos or podcasts digging a finger into an open wound that gets the gaming community going because, hits. You DO owe a great product to your community, something I hope you’ll resume doing some time in the near future. The industry needs people like you to speak with their hearts before their brains because I’m tired of hearing the PR approved appropriate response. I’m tired of games that feel like they’ve been developed by focus groups or clueless executives going “Hey that Call of Duty is big, we need one of those!”

Besides, at the end of the day, that cycle of community feedback and crafting that big fireball is entirely too addictive.

Come back, Phil. We miss you already. Maybe I’ll be right behind you, returning with Adamantium skin.

And because we want to bombard you with as much Cliff Bleszinski as humanly possible, he had a short Q&A with Kotaku, where he voiced his opinion on having a sequel every year, or every other year:

Annualization is the business way of mitigating risk on a long-term franchise. It can burn a franchise to the ground or, in a crowded marketplace, keep it relevant. Lately I’m more in the camp of Rockstar – release a world-bending sequel whenever it’s darned well ready.

What do you think of the whole Phil Fish saga? Do you think Cliff offered up some good advice? What are your thoughts on annualization? Let your thoughts be heard in the comments below.