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Fez II cancelled after Twitter blowout

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Fez and Phil Fish (Credit: Polytron)

High-profile Twitter meltdowns are fairly common, but they don’t often result in the cancellation of entire projects.

But that’s exactly what happened over the weekend when Phil Fish, the mercurial creator of indie game sensation Fez, was so affected by an escalating series of tirades on Twitter that he declared he was quitting the industry and canceling development of Fez II.

The news came shortly after a massive Twitter fight with writer Marcus Beer, who took aim at Fish during a segment on GameTrailer's Invisible Walls. Beer lashed out at Fish and fellow indie designer Jonathan Blow for voicing objections to press inquiries about Microsoft's reversal on its Xbox One indie game self-publishing rules.

"Gents," he said. "You were the guys who did Indie Game: the Movie. And some of you looked relatively normal in it, one of you looked like a total tosspot in it. But you can't have it both ways. You're successful game designers — you're 'indie' game designers — hurrah, good for you, you f****** hipsters."

Beer's harsh comments struck a nerve with Fish, who demanded an apology via Twitter, getting progressively more upset as others replied.

[Related: Critics tip their hats to indie sensation Fez]

The exchange ended with Fish announcing he was canceling the recently announced game, then locking his Twitter account. Since then, Fish’s development studio Polytron has posted this message to its fans:

"FEZ II is cancelled. i am done. i take the money and i run. this is as much as i can stomach. this is isn’t the result of any one thing, but the end of a long, bloody campaign. you win."

Fish has confirmed the cancellation with several news outlets as well.

Fez, a puzzle/platform game whose development was a focal point of the 2012 documentary "Indie Game: The Movie," has been a hit on Xbox Live Arcade and Steam and has collected a dedicated fan base. The sequel was a surprise announcement at the Horizon indie game event that occurred concurrently with this year's E3.

Fish himself is a proponent of games as an art form -- and not always in a genteel way. The Verge, in fact, has referred to him as being "notorious for voicing angry, controversial opinions about the state of video games and their development."

Beer, who's now taking heat on Twitter from Fez fans, says he did not feel his comments about Fish or Blow were out of line.

"Remember that both have been ripping MS to shreds for months voluntarily [over the company's now-changed Indie game policy] & when asked to quote on a reversal, they snarked," he told one follower. "I just didn't like the way they just wanted to use the media for their own ends."

Meanwhile, Blow, who was the subject of the same comments as Fish, had a more measured response, but indicated he understood why Fish reacted as he did.

"People saying 'indie dev X just needs to mellow' have no idea how caustic and horrible the internet is when aimed at a specific person," he wrote. "Yes, it's true, sometimes developers can be more tactful and whatever else. But what gets thrown back at them, FROM YOU GUYS, is 100 times worse. Any comment on a developer's behavior is hypocritical when coming from THE INTERNET."

Twitter has become a hot spot for ugly words between gamers and developers in recent months. David Vonderhaar, studio design director for Call of Duty: Black Ops II, also had a particularly difficult weekend after gamers sent him outrageous death threats in response to small changes announced for the popular shooter.

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