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Would Fez's Secret infested, and exploration design work again?

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I'm not thinking about creating a Fez clone. Personally, I love that game and sunk well over to 50 hours and a notebook into it, rather easy. But if someone DID make a game, that happened to be a lot like Fez, with all the decryption, and decoding of the language, and random bit exploration, would people really get involved? Or would we see it as a walmart brand, melted version of ice-cream(yes, I'm talking about great-value brand. Ewe.).

I understand games sell well when they stick to a formula, but the indie scene is always different. Here are the key things I'm trying to answer:

  • Was Fez's design ACTUALLY that good, 

          If I stripped the mechanics that fez has in it that focus on gameplay only, I.E The turning and platforming, would it hold up?

  • Would people buy it if it was released today?

Fez had a lot of hype when it was released. If the game was released today after the indie scene was really well established as it is now, would people still rave over it?

  • In the previous decades, have there been Fez-ISH games, similar in concept, but differently packaged?

I consider myself to be pretty versed in a wide range of knowledge about games that have released, and when they released, but I cannot name a game like Fez in the past, and I can't see another coming out in the foreseeable future. This is something that I've been thinking about for a long while.

  • People like mysteries, and puzzles. Is this all that Fez thrives off of? Our need for an answer?

Fez's greatest enemy is the player. The players ability to find the answers to the puzzles in Fez will lead him to a greater ending. Am I the only person who personally really thinks this is a great design?

  • What would you personally change about Fez, if you were going to release it today as your own?

 

 

I hope this proves to be an interesting discussion topic. I personally think that most indie games would suffer from the AAA Re-Packaging design greatly, but I would like answers from a community. Thank you to all who get involved.

EDIT:

If this better belongs in the lounge, feel free to move it. I just thought this would be a better place, but I'm not mod.

Edited by CrookedMailman

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It's been three years since I played Fez.
 

I understand games sell well when they stick to a formula

I wouldn't call it "sticking to a formula" so much as using existing "game language" to communicate concepts, gameplay, goals, and controls, reducing frustrations.
 
The companies certainly stick to a formula, but I think it's the familiarity and ease of understanding that helps them sell.

You can "stick to a formula" but still frustrate players, or you can expand upon, reenvision, or depart from existing formulas and still do well, especially if you leverage existing player understanding to help reduce those frustrations.
 
And heck, while we're at it, you can totally ignore existing games, implement a stupid-weird control scheme (Metroid Prime) and still make an amazing game, because a game may be so great in some areas that players can overlook (or tolerate) failures in other areas.
 
It was decent in a dozen different areas. In my book, it was a solid 3/5 or 4/5 stars across several categories, and so was well-roundedly "good". No one area (not gameplay or anything else) was exceptionally great, but no area was noticeably poor either.
 

Was Fez's design ACTUALLY that good

Fez has multiple mechanics that are related to gameplay. Puzzles are still gameplay.
 

If I stripped the mechanics that fez has in it that focus on gameplay only, I.E The turning and platforming, would it hold up?

Turning and platforming alone does not make a good game.

You're saying if you remove more than half the game, would it still hold up? That question doesn't make sense to me. If I made a cake using a recipe, but removed the eggs and flour, it's no longer the same thing. You have to either keep those in, or use other things to replace it (like half a cup of applesauce instead of eggs).
 

Would people buy it if it was released today?

If it hadn't already been released? Yes.
 
When Fez 2 is released, it'll sell really well purely from the hype and nostalgia of Fez 1.
 
If something similar to Fez was released, it'll have to fight its own battle for sales, and won't succeed automatically (or suffer automatically) because of Fez.
 

 

If the game was released today after the indie scene was really well established as it is now, would people still rave over it?

 

When Fez was released, the indie scene was already very well established. It's gotten more "established", but it already was established when Fez came on the scene.

 

In the previous decades, have there been Fez-ISH games, similar in concept, but differently packaged?

Yes, but games are very multi-faceted. You're going to have to specify very clearly what facet in "Fez" you are focusing on.
 

I consider myself to be pretty versed in a wide range of knowledge about games that have released, and when they released, but I cannot name a game like Fez in the past, and I can't see another coming out in the foreseeable future. This is something that I've been thinking about for a long while.

Which facet of Fez specifically are you referring to?
 

People like mysteries, and puzzles. Is this all that Fez thrives off of? Our need for an answer?

That is far too pretend/superficially "deep" an explanation for a rather simple question.

Fez was a mixture of overhype, well-rounded (but not exceptional) design, and successfully delivered enjoyment without falling short in any one area.

As far as the industry goes, I don't consider it groundbreaking.
As far as the design goes,
As far as overall development goes, Phil Fish did good - perhaps even very good - but other games (in other areas) have done better.

Can you point at any one area of Fez that was *perfect* and couldn't be improved upon? None comes to my mind. Every area of Fez was really good, but all of them could theoretically be improved upon.
 

Fez's greatest enemy is the player.

Fez the game, or Fez the character?

Either way, you'll have to expound on what you mean more, because I don't see what you mean. How is the player the enemy of this particular game?
 

Am I the only person who personally really thinks this is a great design?

It's decent design. It's really good - don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing it - but I think you might be too emotionally close to the thing you are trying to intellectually examine, and that can sometimes that can hide flaws and exaggerate strengths. Sometimes a work impacts me enough that I'm like "Wow, this is incredible!", until I take a step back and realize it wasn't quite as good as I'm allowing myself to make it out to be. Other times, I get impacted, and it's the real deal.
 
You may have some real insight, and I'm eager to hear it, but so far you haven't communicated it well enough for me. I don't even know what about Fez you're praising.
 

What would you personally change about Fez, if you were going to release it today as your own?

The ambiance, movement and mechanic polish, and design of the world.

Fez wasn't bad in any of these areas, but had room to improve.

Games you may have already played; but if you haven't, may give you more lens to analyze Fez through.

  • The Witness (released two weeks ago)
  • Braid
  • VVVVVV
  • MINERVA: Metastasis (a HL2 mod)
  • Antichamber (played it, but not a fan - still worth analyzing)
  • Journey (haven't played it myself)
  • Bastion (haven't played it myself)

Each of these games are different from Fez - I'm not saying they are identical. But they contain different things that they do well that they also have in common with Fez.

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FEZ may be my favorite of recent games, but to some degree I agree with Servant: it's a combination of being quite good in a few ways, decently good in most ways, and not dropping the ball in any particular way (although I didn't like the amount of backtracking you end up doing in the late game).  (Also I agree that your presentation doesn't make it completely clear what aspects of FEZ you're praising.)

 

But overall yes, I think that FEZ hit a particular sweet spot between consistently interesting art-worlds such that I wanted to see what was beyond the next door, a feeling like I was free to explore, a refreshing lack of "enemies", and the feeling that there were deeper secrets that I was just scraping the surface of.  

 

In its actual execution, I thought the extra layer of puzzles was a bit of a letdown, actually -- I don't like "languages" in games that are really just cryptograms.  (I *do* like languages in games that are more like deciphering human languages or writing systems, just not cryptograms.)  The number system puzzle was fine, though, and the tetris piece language.

 

Part of the overall emotional feel of FEZ harks back to its structure -- it's a cozy Collectathon of the sort that were popular in the '90s, and a pretty undemanding collectathon at that.  It's got a very different overall feel than the currently-dominant roguelike-likes, metroidvanias, and masocore platformers.  There are challenges, but given that the main doors require pretty low cube counts, your progress through the world isn't gated off by challenges the way a lot of current games are.  You're free to stop and try a challenge, or keep wandering.

 

For more games:

  • I gather that La-Mulana is secret-y in much the same way.  (I never got very far in it; I didn't enjoy the style of platforming in it.)
  • Aquaria is apparently similar, too.  (I bounced off Aquaria, for some reason I'm not sure of, but I hear it becomes quite good.)
  • The game that reminds me most of FEZ in how it feels to me is Anodyne, a combination of pleasant pixel art and music design, interesting worlds, and the surprising endgame (or post-game) mechanic that opens up a new way of approaching the world.  There's a few rough edges in it compared to FEZ though, which is a more polished experience.
  • Fairune is a bit Fez-like in the same way.  Not that there's a complex new mechanic or even that there are deep puzzles, but it does have that "this is full of secrets and surprising pixel-lands.

Going a bit further afield, if you're interested in more games with a language-decipherment layer or other puzzles similar to the FEZ mid- and endgame puzzles, I can think of a bunch.

 

  • What would you personally change about Fez, if you were going to release it today as your own?

 

The overall structure of the world.  It doesn't make a lot of sense as a world; it probably *could*, but it doesn't.

 

Like, where is the observatory area with respect to other major areas?  It's not just because the world is complicated and always rotating.  It's also because most outdoor areas are similar enough that if they were completely scrambled, it'd be hard to notice.  The observatory could kind of be anywhere, because it's part of the temperate-sky-islands-theme that most outdoor areas share.  Aside from the rainforest temple area, there's not much clear regional variety in the "overworld" that could help the player get a fix on where they are, and remember where things are in relation to each other without having to consult the map.

 

Anyway, to answer the overall question, yes, I would certainly want more peaceful open-world-ish puzzle-collectathons.  Give me more of those.

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Just my 2 cents: If someone made a Fez-like game with alot of gameplay changes, I'd give it a try. I absolutely love the look of the game, but i hate the gameplay. I followed it for a long time when i was announced, just to give up when i realized it wasn't going to be a mario-esque jump-on-enemies heads type of game. I dislike puzzle games quite alot, so the game was of zero intrest to me.

 

When something inspires similar titles, they're first derided as clones, but eventually it becomes a genre. They key though, is it has to improve on the formula - not just be a crappy copy.

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Personally, I love that game and sunk well over to 50 hours and a notebook into it, rather easy. But if someone DID make a game, that happened to be a lot like Fez, with all the decryption, and decoding of the language, and random bit exploration, would people really get involved?

Yeah. The Witness just came out, and graph paper really helped me out solving some of the puzzles in that one. Of course that kind of puzzle game is going to be incredibly engaging to a lot of people. I don't really see something with that kind of depth becoming a mainstream clone kind of a game.

 

  • Was Fez's design ACTUALLY that good, 

 

Yeah. The way you rotate the world to get a different perspective, then move through it based on the new perspective. I'd say that's incredible design. I got the game for that, without knowing how deep the puzzles would go. They also kind of give players an out, giving you an ending for getting half of the cubes, so if you like the basic environmental/platforming puzzles you can feel like you beat the game without getting into the incredibly deep secrets. I think the deeper puzzles are a big part of why Fez stands out as a great game, but it seemed destined for success before I had any idea about those deeper puzzles, and I imagine it would have done very well without them.

 

While writing the paragraph above, I realized my description of rotating the world also fits very well to Monument Valley, a very successful mobile game. But when I look at Monument Valley, I think of it being inspired by M.C. Escher, so it feels like something very unique, not like a Fez clone.

Edited by DifferentName

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