My Perfect Console with Simon Parkin
Phil Fish, creator of Fez.
My guest today is the reclusive designer of one of the greatest video games yet made. He studied game design in Montreal and, after a brief stint working at Ubisoft, left to begin work on a game of his own, a platformer that combined the art style of the Super Nintendo classics of his youth, with perspective-shifting innovations of his own.
Six years in the making, Fez launched in 2012 to near universal acclaim, part of the first wave of so-called indie games. After featuring heavily in the film documentary Indie Game: the Movie, my guest, who is passionately outspoken, became the subject of co-ordinated online attacks, which culminated in his retreat from public platforms, nearly a decade ago. Join me, as I speak to Phil Fish.
Jake Solomon, designer: Marvel’s Midnight Suns, XCOM.
My guest today is the American designer of some of the finest strategy video games yet made. After graduating from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in Computer Science in 2000, he accepted a job to become a business consultant. Before he arrived for work, however, he saw an advertisement for position at Fireaxis, the development studio founded by the legendary designer, Sid Meier, which he successfully applied to.Having worked as a programmer on Civilization III and IV, in 2012 he relaunched the cult classic strategy series X-COM, a chess-like game in which players direct a squad of troops in skirmishes against alien invaders. More recently he steered the creation of Marvel’s Midnight Suns, one of the best games of 2022, that carried the lessons learned in X-Com into Marvel universe.Earlier this year he announced his departure from Fireaxis, the company where he worked for more than 20 years. On this episode of My Perfect Console he discusses, for the first time, his future plans. “My brain is on fire with a new dream,” he said. “Time to go chase it.”
Phil Wang, comedian.
My guest today is a is a British-Malaysian stand-up comedian and comedy writer. Born in the UK, when he was one week old his parents moved to Malaysia, where he attended school until the age of sixteen. The family then returned to England, moving to Bath in Somerset, which my guest once described as “a spa town for people who find Cheltenham too ethnic'. While studying Engineering at King’s College Cambridge, he joined the Footlights drama club, of which he later became president. Since graduating, Wang has performed with the sketch comedy group Daphne, and become a fixture on British televisions, appearing on Have I Got News for You, 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, and as a contestant on the seventh season of Taskmaster. He also co-hosts the podcast Budpod with his friend and fellow comedian, Pierre Novelli, where, among many other things, the pair often discuss video games.
Shahid Ahmad, former director, Sony PlayStation
Shahid Ahmad was a schoolboy living on a London council estate when he sold his prized BMX bike to raise money for programming books and taught himself to write computer games. After several knock-backs, in 1983, at the age of seventeen, he sold a game for £300 to a commercial publisher. He soon made a name for himself in the emerging Britsoft scene, programming the Commodore 64 version of Jet Set Willy, which sold more than a million copies. Having worked on dozens of his own games, included Chimera and Pandora, in 2005 he joined Sony PlayStation where he commissioned more than a hundred titles including the hits No Man’s Sky and Hellblade. Today he mentors industry newcomers, produces games designed to promote mental health, and sits on the board of the British Games Institute, the video game equivalent of the BFI.