Becoming successful as an unknown indie game developer is insanely difficult. It is nearly impossible. The amount of dedication and sacrifice required to even have a chance at getting established in the world of game design, and having a financially successful game, is so great that it can break a young, healthy person’s mental and physical health.
I have some inkling of this from my own experiences with attempting to create games. It’s certainly possible for just about anyone who wants to to create small, simple games as a hobby, and if this is what you aspire to, it can be rewarding. But the degree of effort required, and difficulty between doing game development at this level, and becoming a successful professional indie developer is probably more than you could imagine.
I got a little bit of validation about that from listening to this interview with Phil Fish, creator of Fez and one of the featured “stars” of Indie Game: The Movie.
Fish is remembered for creating the incredibly well-received Fez, and then canceling the planned sequel in dramatic fashion, and deleting his social media accounts, and exiting from the public eye. In the My Perfect Console interview, he talks about what he went through and what led him to make that decision, how he feels about that looking back, and what he’s been up to since then.
When I watched Indie Game: The Movie, the impression I had of Fish was that he was under tremendous stress, high strung, and prone to letting his emotions get the better of him, and also very intelligent and highly skilled.
In this interview, he talks about how what he went through to create Fez isn’t repeatable, and not something he would recommend to other aspiring game designers.
I could see that, watching the film 10 years ago, it didn’t surprise me to hear Fish confirm that my reading at the time of what was going on was essentially correct, but it felt good. It’s also good to hear Fish in the interview, sounding more relaxed, less intense, wiser for his experience, and opening up about what the experience was like, with the benefit of hindsight. Fish was pretty tight-lipped when it came to details on what he’s been up to, so it remains to be seen whether he’ll be working on any new games. But whatever he’s doing with himself, it’s good to know that he’s in a better place mentally and emotionally these days.