Fish may have stepped out of the spotlight in 2014, but his name continued to find its way into gaming headlines. In early 2015, games industry insider alleged that Fish had stolen vital assets of Fez from Dyad and N++ creator Shawn McGrath prior to the pair’s professional “break up.”
In an interview with TechRaptor, former Destructoid writer Alistair Pinsof claimed that “Phil Fish significantly stole from [Shawn McGrath’s] code, projects and ideas to create Fez” after the two developers worked together on the title. He also asserted that McGrath held certain information, like his alleged involvement in Fez prior to its 2007 GDC trailer, as “leverage” against both Fish and the filmmakers behind Indie Game: The Movie.
In an interview with Kotaku‘s Jason Schreier, however, McGrath recounted the events leading up to — and surrounding — Fez‘s inception differently. In the interview, McGrath claimed that he possessed no such “leverage” and that he and Fish hadn’t even worked on Fez together. Instead, they collaborated on an early prototype of the game’s 2D/3D rotation mechanic and — well, that’s pretty much it. Still, McGrath admitted to being a little bummed that Fish took advantage of the gameplay element, even if he doesn’t think he straight-up “stole” it like Pinsof alleged in the interview.
After all, McGrath claimed to have worked on his own dimension-swapping game for a year before getting his first glimpse of Fez. Once he saw it, McGrath recalled, he promptly gave up on the project, realizing, ” … well, I guess I just wasted a year of my life.”