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Shadow
11-14-2007, 11:17 AM
Who gets credit on a game (http://www.next-gen.biz/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7853&Itemid=2&limit=1&limitstart=0) has been a hot topic lately in some circles because apparently Take 2 left everyone from Rockstar Vienna off of the credits of Manhunt 2 (http://www.intelligent-artifice.com/2007/11/rockstar-viennas-missing-credits-for-manhunt-2.html). I believe Rockstar Vienna was shutdown before Manhunt 2 shipped and that's probably why this happened.

Before I start, I should mention that most of the missing names probably deserve to be in the credits, but as usual the reason this is a controversy is because it's not as simple as it sounds. Most of this is just my opinion but I have the unique perspective of having been an employee and wanting credit, being a technical director and seeing tons of resumes, and being the owner of a company and deciding who gets credit on a game.

Should everyone that worked on the game be in the credits? The people that worked on the game for the full duration obviously deserve as much credit as you can give them, but what about the person that was on the project for a week? What about that new programmer that came on the project, kind of worked for a month, was fired for incompetence, and all of his work was redone? What about the guy that quit the company at a critical time? Where do you draw the line? The controversy comes in because everyone picks a different place to draw the line and if you are personally on the wrong side of the line you get really upset.

What we did for Depths of Peril was everyone that had an asset in the shipping game got credit. In our case, I think this worked out fairly well. In a larger project I'm not sure it would work as well though. The main problem would be what about people that don't produce direct assets like producers, managers, the CEO, or even the invaluable office assistant?

There are even negative issues of adding people to the credits though. If you include everyone that ever touches the game, doesn't that diminish the credits for those that were on the project the entire time? One of the reasons everyone wants credit on a game is because it makes your resume that much better. It's much easier to get another job in the industry if your resume has 10 game credits on it rather than 2 and it is much easier to claim credit if your name shows up in the credits of the game itself. The problem is that the guy that worked on the game for a month gets the same credit as the guy that worked on the game for 3 years. Is that fair? Note: this is a great help on your resume but it does break down some during interviews.

As I've implied so far credits don't always mean much. So you worked on a game for a week and got a credit in the game. You are now most likely going to add it to your resume. In reality that 1 week was mostly irrelevant though and you are just padding your resume. Of course now the problem is that you have to in this industry because everyone else does it. :( Now days if you look at various peoples resumes or list of credits it becomes almost impossible to tell just from the resume if the credits mean anything or not. I've seen resumes from people that have 2 game credits, but was probably one of the main people on both games. I've also seen resumes from people that have worked at numerous companies in just a few years and have a huge list of games on their resume. Now with these extremes it is a bit easier to tell what is going on.

Ok, enough of my rambling. I'll give some of my own personal credits of examples of all of this. I'm not saying any of the following examples are right or wrong though, this isn't all of the games I have worked on, and the timeframes are off the top of head so they should be in the general ball park but will probably be off a bit.

Sin - I first started working at Ritual when they were finishing up the original Sin. Jumping in on the programming in the last month of a project isn't terribly bright, so I mostly helped out by testing for the last month or so of the project. I worked a lot of hours in this month and played all of the way through Sin WAY too many times in that time. I don't have credits in Sin. Do I deserve them for 1 month of work?

Heavy Metal: FAKK2 - Other than a little bit of the initial design phase, I worked on the entire project (~2 years). My primary focus was AI, but I also worked on a lot of other systems here and there. I do have credit in Heavy Metal. I'm not going to ask if I deserve credit on this one, but do I deserve the same credit as everyone else? However, in the strategy guide, Ritual isn't mentioned in the credits (which is strange since they have their logo on the front cover). I'm not mentioned anywhere even though I did all of the AI in the game that they are giving tips for. Do I deserve credits in the strategy manual?

Delta Force: Black Hawk Down - This was an expansion pack that Ritual did for the Black Hawk Down game. I was supposed to be the one programmer on the project, but we never got the source code for the project so my contributions to the game were mostly minor technical support. I have credits in the game. Do I really deserve credit?

Blair Witch: Volume 3 - I came in late on this project and only worked on it for a couple months. I do have credit on BW3. Do I deserve credit for 2 months of programming? Ah, but this case gets a little more interesting. The programming side of the project was failing badly and wasn't going to finish. Me and another programmer came in at the last minute, worked a lot of hours, and saved the programming side of the project. Now given that, do I deserve credit?

Elite Force 2 - I was one of only a few people that was on this project from start to finish and worked on this game for 2 years or so. I was the lead programmer on the project and the technical director for Ritual at the time. I have credits in EF2 (in 3 places actually). Do I deserve to have my name in 3 places? As a side note, I have credits in the same list as Patrick Stewart which is kind of cool.

There is another problem with credits that my personal experience shows. I have worked on many game projects that were cancelled for various reasons (none of which I had any control over) but I get no credits for this. So should the person that worked on a game for a month that shipped get credit whereas someone that works on a game for a year that got cancelled through no fault of their own not get credit? Of course, it's hard to give credit for a non-shipping game. :)

Anyways, just food for thought. This for some reason ended up a lot longer than I was expecting. If you are still reading, I hope you enjoyed this at least. :)