Fez programmer “probably” won’t work with Polytron again
Renaud Bédard, programmer of IGF-winning XBLA game Fez, says he will probably not work with Polytron Corporation again.
In an interview, Bédard tells us that Fez's five-year development, during which he worked largely alone, has taken its toll, and he now wants to work as part of a team instead.
"I will probably not be working at Polytron after Fez," he tells us. "We've been a really close-knit team for five years, and that's not necessarily healthy.
"Being a lone programmer is a great experience: you do everything in the game, but you never have anybody to learn from or bounce ideas off. There's the internet and forums, but that's not the same experience as being part of a proper team, and I think that's the experience I'm after now."
Bédard says that designer Phil Fish – who stars in the acclaimed documentary Indie Game: The Movie and caused uproar last month by telling a Japanese developer at GDC that "your [country's] games just suck" – is a perfectionist, and that, combined with Bédard's relative inexperience, kept Fez in development for so long.
"[My] experience was a big part of it," Bédard says. "I was the only programmer, it was my first game, and it turned out to be a game of such scope.
"We also didn't have a clear methodology that allowed us to set clear goals. We'd always say, 'OK, it's coming out in six months,' but we didn't really know what that meant.
"There's also perfectionism, and that's down to Phil. If it's not up to the standards we set outselves, it's not good enough. At many points, me and other people in the team were like, 'We need to get this out. Everyone's complaining. Everyone's burnt out.' But that's Phil, his personality, and his vision of himself: he can't just say, 'That's good enough, and that's what you're going to get.'"
However, Bédard's work isn't finished yet. Despite a positive critical reception – our Fez review praises its "pure playfulness," describing it as "an unexpected heir to Super Mario Bros" – Fez shipped with numerous bugs. Last week Bédard said Polytron was aware of, and working on, fixes for a variety of "serious" issues, from crashes and corrupted save files to the game failing to boot at all on certain hardware.
Bédard's comments are excerpts from an in-depth discussion about his work on Fez. The full interview will be in our next issue, E241, which goes on sale on May 9.