Tuesday, August 12, 2008

MY NAME IN LIGHTS!!!

There is an interesting and- for me- thought provoking write up over at the MTV Multiplayer Blog today about should game devs get names on boxes.

Check out Mr. Totilo's latest right here! Then come on back to read the rest of my take on the whole thing...

Back when we did Twisted Metal 1, the first printing of that game had my name on the box, on the back under a small little designed by credit. I think it said- DESIGNED BY: DAVID JAFFE & SINGLETRAC...here, check it out:


Sorry it's a bit blurry...

My desire for this came directly from seeing Sierra Online do something similar with their PC adventure games. Heck, those folks got names AND their pictures on the box!!! My desire also came form the fact that I wanted to make a name for myself as a game designer and hell, at the time, Sony didn't even think about it and just said:sure. But then they changed their minds! Some of it was the complaints from the rest of the team...some of it- I assume- came from them going: 'wait, why are we helping this guy become his own brand?!? A brand that we financed but don't own? Hell no!!!'

...well that is what I assumed happened in SOMEONE'S mind. Or not...maybe it was just the team complaining :)

But in the case of Twisted, the team- rightly so- did indeed scoff and so upon second printings, my name was removed.

Now I am not saying my name should NOT have been on the box. It should have. But so should perhaps 5 other folks from Singletrac who did key design and/or creation work and really birthed that franchise. And that is not to take away from all the work the rest of the team did or all the work the publisher did. And hell, if we were a logical business and shared a handful of game engines across all games versus all of this 'let's make our own fucking engine so our graphics can be 2% better than our competition even tho most of the public could really give a rat's ass when you are talking about that level of a difference', then a few of those 5 would not be on the box either because they would be being given credit for having written an amazing engine that LOTS of games used, not just TWISTED METAL (and WARHAWK)....are we getting there with stuff like the success of UNREAL ENGINE? And with the success of Wii where it's been made clear that a vast number of gamers do not think graphics have to make your eyes bleed for a game to be worth buying? We'll see...

So two more things on the NAME ABOVE THE TITLES issue:

#1- The idea of ASKING a publisher what they think about this issue and expecting an answer that is actually balanced is absurd. Trust me, if movie studios didn't HAVE to give credit, they would not. Why would they- or why would game publishers? It's bad business. The pubs and studios put up the cash- usually- and they take the biggest risk. Why would they EVER want the success of a movie or game associated with anyone other than them? I get that. But in movies, they do it cause it's contractual and they do it because they are forced to do it or those above the line talents will go work somewhere else. And in DOING so, the above the line names become valuable brands which do benefit the studios on a movie by movie basis, but benefit the individual actors/directors for the duration of their career- no matter what studio they choose to work with.

In games, it's not the case because so far, game developers (either as teams or as individual 'stars' on a team), have yet to prove that they can bring in cash on a consistent basis. What brings in real cash in games are brand names of franchises: GTA, HALO, CALL OF DUTY. Yes, those names become brands because talented teams make amazing products BUT all one needs to do is look at the mega success of Twisted Metal 3 and Twisted Metal 4 (games that many folks did not think were as good as the originals) to see that the majority of the buying public is as fine with a 70% metacritic rated game as they are with a 95% metacritic rated title. As long as they get the core fantasy delivered and it's marketed well, they'll show up.

And so until developers- be them individual stars or the core members on the team- can really prove- on a consistent basis- that they can make hit after hit after hit IN DIFFERENT FRANCHISES (without NEEDING to attach an expensive comic or movie license to their games in order to do so), game makers have little room to negotiate. Even the guys who make CALL OF DUTY, HALO, and GTA are not in a perfect position, as amazingly genius as they are. Because All of those games- even if given to C+ level developers- can still make crazy cash for at least 2-4 more iterations before the public catches on and stops buying the series. I am almost certain that if those developers walked away because their money demands were not met, the folks who own the rights to those series would keep pumping them out- regardless of quality- and keep raking in the cash.

Maybe the problem is game makers have been assuming quality=value. But it does not. Hell, GOD OF WAR- which many folks felt was a quality game- got it's ASS KICKED ALL OVER THE PLACE in sales by the FANTASTIC FOUR movie video game (which many folks felt was not a very high quality product...and I know some of the folks who made it and they worked their asses off, but look, let's call it like it is...it was not a great game by many people's standards). But I'll tell you what, it sold like crazy cakes dude.

So the reality is, sales=value; ability to create sales=ability to negotiate. So if a developer out there is able to create consistent hit franchises, then you will see the name(s) of those folks above the titles because then they will have the leverage to demand such treatment.

Reality is, I can't think of anyone in the biz who has done that other than perhaps Miyamoto (if you look at ALL the stuff he's made). And for whatever reason, he seems content to stay at the big N and not demand his due. And you guys who like to go all hater on me and call me arrogant can talk all you want about company loyalty and that Miyamoto is a class act who would never demand such things. What-the-fuck-ever, dude. He may very well be a saint. Good on him. I got nothing but love for Miyamoto. But business is business and if you are a key player in making someone a shit ton of money over and over and over, in my book, you damn well better be getting your due (be it mega bucks or name above the title or whatever the hell you want). And Miyamoto may very well feel that he is very well compensated. I am aware there is a vast cultural difference between East and West on this subject. I have no way of knowing the details of his situation. All I am saying is, he's the only one I can think of who has been key in making mega hits in various franchises. Can you think of anyone else?

#2- Alot of the net posters commenting on this story are assuming game devs who want this treatment are ego maniacs. They then go on to say that movie stars and movie directors are ok to ask for it because that's just how it is, but game makers are assholes if they as for such treatment. To these folks I say: go fuck yourself. The movie folks negotiated for those credits and fought tooth and nail for them. They were not just given them by the movie gods or the kind folks who run the movie studios or the movie going public. So don't accuse us of being arrogant just because some of us would like to be treated with as much re$pect (be it money or credit, and preferably both) as we can get away with. Plus, granted Miyamoto and Wright are not as big of names as Spielberg. BUT THAT IS BECAUSE MIYAMOTO AND WRIGHT DON'T HAVE NAMES ABOVE PRODUCTS and they don't have ability to negotiate for the sort of press treatment and PR perks that movie folks get (which, in turn, turns them into brand names). The only way they will become mainstream is if they MAKE THEMSELVES mainstream. It is not magic, it's a calculated process. But that ain't really gonna happen unless there is a big shift in the way games are financed. I just saw some of the ex Midway guys are starting a console game co. with VC money...so maybe when the money comes from VC versus publishers, the VC will be more willing to let the game makers have their very valuable time in the sun.


Ok, gotta get back to work- talk to ya'll soon- David

56 comments:

grasshopper said...

Oh I was going to ask if you had a pic of that TM1 case
Kojima gets his name on the box I think...if he doesn't he should. I don't know, I think if your names were household names you already would have them on there. Problem is most people probably don't know who the hell most of you are at this point...probably because your name isn't on the box :)
Well hope to see your name on _______ when it comes out. Help start the trend Dave

Luzid said...

Too true. Both GoW titles were amazing, but neither will reach the sales of the upcoming (gag) Wii Music.

I love Miyamoto, but shouldn't he take a knock for pimping toddler product like WM, the Gerber baby food of rhythm games? I mean, it's not even a game, really. And yet it will make megabucks.

There's no justice!

Thomas Grové said...

Oh shit, so one of the questions that I wrote for the quiz in the Game Career Guide was incorrect! ("Which of the following developers had not had their name on the box." Though name on the back isn't really the same as name on the front, above the title, as you've pointed out, but still!) I think part of the reason why actors and directors are headliners is that they were originally signed to 10+ year contracts. Anyways, I totally agree with you and am actually involved in writing a business plan in which giving key talent top billing is one of the key points.

Lyndon said...

Having the game designer's name on the box was the norm for Activision back in the ol' Atari 2600 days- you would see things like "designed by Bob Whitehead" right on the front of the box. No reason why this can't be the case again, give the people making the games some well- deserved recognition.

Anonymous said...

THIS IS THE WORST TOPIC I'VE EVER READ! COULDN'T UNDERSTAND ANYTHING!!!!

da criminal said...

Anon- you are prob right- we are in massive crunch mode and I am swamped getting ready for a Sony pitch on Thursday so this is TOTAL stream of consciousness and agree it prob it a bitch to read- sorry for that :)

David

Anonymous said...

what are you talking about? name under title?
When is TM PS3 coming out?!

Kilrahi said...

I actually liked the post and didn't think it was impossible to understand at all.

I always wondered why developers didn't use existing engines as often as they create new ones. Since designing an engine from the ground up requires a lot of time and money it seems like once an engine is made reusing it would allow other developers to spend a lot more time on quality of gameplay.

Kind of a bummer about quality not necessarily equating to good sales. It really depresses me to think that it isn't important. However, one possible ray of light may be that for a game to become a strong franchise it has to at least have some degree of quality at first. Perhaps that's the secret. God of War would have gone nowhere if it sucked because it's not a big brand name, but NOW it is. Likewise, I wonder if a franchise sucks for long enough if it would no longer sell so well.

Oh, and I have been playing Jeanne D'Arc (SP?!) on the PSP too. It's a nice gem of a game and great on the road.

Werner Nemetz said...

Jep grasshopper, at least on the MGS4 box it says a Hideo Kojima game, but very small in dark gray on black background (at least on the EU version).


Yeah the good old times before Star Wars movies. If I recall correct Lucas had to fight hard to get the Credits at the start of the Movie, a thing that is now standard even in some games like Metal Gear Solid.

Guess Spielberg made a nice deal to get the his name on the box by helping promote the game or something like that, at all more people (gamer and non gamer) know him then let`s say Miyamoto or Kojima.

The PR response from EA in the interview is crap to put it straight. Coming with the argument that there are a lot of people on a dev team, well there are a lot of people on Movie teams too but still on the Box you have maybe 1 or 2 names and on the back a few more (maybe 10 around?). If the Publisher is putting X amount of $ into the game and if it is a flop and crap they will turn first on the Game Designer and other designers. They get the main ideas and have to deliver on the promise of the pitch. I don`t have a problem if the game designer has his name on the Box, after all the game is the most time his main idea (unless the Publisher gets to the dev team with already made design document) and his reputation is at risk if the game is bad. As someone in QA I`m always happy to see my name in-game or sometimes in the manual, although sometimes I would prefer to not have any connection to certain projects. :)

After all they could at least put on the back the same as on DVD boxes with the small list like. Produced by XYZ, Starring XYZ, Music by XYZ and so on. If the game fails the get the blame if it is good most praise will get to the Publisher/Complete Team that`s not equal.


Good luck for the pitch hope they like it and hope it`s coming then out before and of 2009. :D

Keita-Chan said...

I want to invite you to an Anime and Video game convention. Please contact me at Keita @ animix . org.

Thanks,

Keita

obonicus said...

There's always Sid Meier as the counterexample.

milkman said...

Sony Dog and Pony, is that like a couple of people who come see how the game is coming along?

Zach J said...

I think it's coming Dave. The only reason I purchased Calling All Cars was because I was curious. I wanted to see what you'd do with the game. Likewise, if a movie was advertised and it had Stephen Spielberg's name on it, I'd be interested just to see what he'd do. So, I believe as video games become more accepted by mainstream audiences, more people are going to be curious about those that made it. Especially the ones that spawned the idea and lead it through development.

And I hate EA. But if you made an EA game, I might be more likely to check it out.

Firen said...

I wonder how Sid Meier gets his name on the box...

Matthew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew said...

Interestingly, EA published "American McGee's Alice", designed by American McGee

Nat said...

I thought you were going to post those 5 or so names that never got mentioned for TM.

I don't think the name on the box is necessary but star talent should definitely but given some sort of billing in other ways such as publications. For example, I wonder just how many Gears of War players know who Cliff Bleszinski is... Should they all know that name? Or Ken Levine w/ Bioshock? Of course in some cases, the game is really a group design without a strong vision holder so it's pretty impossible to bill any one employee for that.

GarrettW said...

Hey David,
If you're taking up-close photos and you want to eliminate that blurryness and flash, press the MACRO function on your digital camera (the flower/plant icon)

It's amazing what that one little feature can do for your photos, and even more amazing that not man people know about it enough to use it! Give it a try sometime.

Any chance we'll see an Eat Sleep Play office building in your next title?

davis said...

As a game designer in my own right, I think you have the right to publish your name, along with those 5 or so others that lead the design.

It seems each medium, with the exemption of video games, has their own lead on the front. For movies, there are "Directed by," "Written by," "Produced by". For comics, there is "Artist", "Writer", and "Cover Artist".

I WISH the game industry would start branding their games by our favorite designers. If I didn't have this blog, I probably would've never downloaded Calling All Cars-- I had no idea Jaffe had his mighty hand in it. Now if it said, "Calling All cars, a game by David Jaffe". I'll buy that! Why? Because I know he makes quality games. (I love Calling All Cars, by the way. Small, sweet, simple, and fun as nuts.)

davis said...

Off-topic:

When listing items in game design docs, is it okay to put an icon representing that item/attack?

For example: a Mushroom in Mario, with a description next to it?

GonzaloDC said...

Miyamoto as you said could be a good example. Mmmmm, what about Tom Clancy´s game? I know he is not a game dev, but, has worked well in the videogame business.

Saludos.

P.S: Amazing blog by the way.

wiredprotocol said...

What you need is a decent Union!

Seriously though, I think its difficult to draw the line on exactly who gets the name on the box. Remember the whole spiderman thing?

The thing is, david, people do know your name! yet i couldnt for the life of me tell you anyone who's worked on other games i have loved (other than the obvious)

I think its when your name becomes a valid selling point, that is when publishers will throw your name on the box, thats why Tom Clancy, Colin McCray (sp? - also not developers but names that sell) and sid meier.

Of course you might not want your name on the box ie: romero's Daikatana.

Jake said...

I agree completely. Interestingly enough, I had just watched GOW II, The making of bonus disc. It truly is amazing the amount of talent that goes into these AAA games. I think, as Jaffe said, that it does deter from those who were crucial to the making, but names don't end up in neon lights. Not that this is any different than the 100's of people in films that don't get recognized. However, as a counterpoint, actors can make or break films. Take a movie like The Mask and remove Jim Carrey and put in "X". Exact same staff, director, studio, marketing, etc, but without that "1" person, it's a completely different movie that probably would have flopped. I'd spectulate that Jaffe is only as good as the animators, artists, programmers, etc as he correographs. Jim Carrey doesn't need anyone else other than Jim Carrey to be successful. Don't get me wrong, I love Jaffe's works and he should have his name on the box...just making an argument.

Anonymous said...

I don't see anything wrong with programmers, artists, etc having their names on the boxes. People follow Hideo Kojima and that Ninja Gaiden guy like they're rock stars, and people love to listen to John Carmack talk about what's next in graphics, things like that. I remember growing up I was impressed with David Perry in interviews in Gamefan, and that Will Harvey's name on the box of The Immortal left an impression, as did (even more) Yuzo Koshiro's name on the title screen of Revenge of Shinobi and Streets of Rage. However, I don't think it should be so much a matter of "deserved" or not. It should be like books and songs and movies. They always give credit, regardless of whether the guy did an outstanding job or is a genius. The movie might be crap. Why credit the guy who held the boom mike? But they do. That said, in Japan they do things a bit differently, because it's said that Nintendo borrowed the source code for Donkey Kong from Ikegami after farming it out to them, and that the whole process of farming out work to companies that stay low profile / unknown is kind of the norm, especially where it regards the "grunt work," the non-artistic/distinctive parts of the product. And I don't know whether that's bad or if it's better. Maybe people work better, some people anyway, when they know they'll remain out of the spotlight.
- matthew dickinson

Anonymous said...

I'm gonna add a second comment cause I've thought about this a lot before.

I think that you don't want to push the names on the audience (game players, etc) too strongly. People don't really care, and there's a reason why movie credits and tv credits most often appear at the END of the program. At least, the full list, and why on a movie rerun on TV, they'll often interject local news updates, squeezing them in on the side, as the credits roll up fast, impossible to read. It's because people DON"T WANT TO KNOW who made it. They want it to be magic. It goes back to theater. There's a curtain. The show is put on in darkness with stage lights. You motsly don't know what goes on behind the scenes. And it's more enjoyable that way... unless you're a film geek, a theatre lover, a game fan, or whatever, and you're just really into it. But that's like 5% of the audience, despite how loud our voices are on the internet.

Picture this: let's say you got a dark, mysterious game coming out called Quake. Nobody's ever heard of it. What is it about? Why are the images so dark? What kind of monsters are in it? These are all good things. You want the customers to be thinking about this because that's what the product's contents are about and the mysteriousness makes it more enjoyable. But if it had said "John Carpenter's Quake" or "John Romero's New FPS Game" there's not only that element of ego which is obnoxious, but people just don't want to hear it because it takes away the mystery, magic, fun, enchantment and exploration of the game's world. If you know that Steven Spielberg is behind The Dig you can already start to expect maybe a MIDI score that sounds vaguely John Williams-ish, or something. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't. Noticeably it does work for sports products, but what sports game are dark and mysterious? It wouldn't work with Mortal Kombat or okay I keep naming old games, but whatever the kids play these days. Games now are even more about exploration and so people like that the curtain is drawn pretty tight. The Grand Theft Auto guys, not much is known about them. Do people expect that it's made by guys with Scottish accents? Yet when you play so many japanese games, it's very easy to imagine that tihs is made by people with Japanese accents. Used to be when I was a kid I didn't know where the hell games were made.

Darktide said...

Speaking of Miyamoto...
He's banned from speaking publicly about his hobbies... Talk about corporate investment...
http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=331188
BTW: Post #51 is hilarious.

Where will corporations draw the line...Wonder if he will accept it.. probably tho :(

Darktide said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darktide said...

Sorry for 3rd comment, Link got cut off
Click for link

Werner Nemetz said...

Well Nintendo is making interactive Hobbies or something like that (and sell them as games) so if Miyamoto talks about his hobbies other companies might find out what Nintendo is working on and copy that and finishing it earlier then Nintendo or maybe releasing even a better product then Nintendo.

I usually like Nintendo and have a lot of respect for Miyamoto, but the whole Wii thing is just not my cup of tea, including the lack of very good 3rd Party games since the Gamecube.

Anonymous said...

Ill be honest, recently I havent been a huge fan of sonys and not a really a big fan of yours (GOW is awesome though) but this makes me look at you in a new light. you should really try to start a trend here.

I think enough people take notice and well be laughing about this 5 years later where every game will have credit to the top few guys in a game. that would be amazing!

youre also right about miyamoto, he should own 50% of Nintendo right about now if his value/genious (ill use the term loosely since im quite tired of the same characters rehashed over the last 25 years) was to be measured in that way.

have a great weekend.

p.s.
Me along with millions of other gamers would love to see some of your games on the 360 ;)

Anonymous said...

"Even the guys who make CALL OF DUTY, HALO, and GTA are not in a perfect position, as amazingly genius as they are. Because All of those games- even if given to C+ level developers- can still make crazy cash for at least 2-4 more iterations before the public catches on and stops buying the series. I am almost certain that if those developers walked away because their money demands were not met, the folks who own the rights to those series would keep pumping them out- regardless of quality- and keep raking in the cash."

This is the most prevalent in the SOCOM series.

Anonymous said...

We are talking about two different industries here, where each one has it's own agenda on how to promote. I think people don't care who made the game because it's an unnecesary detail to them. Ask 100 gamers who David Jaffe or John Carmack is or even better ask who Warren Spector is? I say about 45 will know exactly who they are. Same thing goes with movies put someone on the cover,but in time people will forget the name, but they will remember the movie.

Sean said...

David,

This was a great piece of insight on a topic I hadn't put all that much thought into. I'd love to see you write more on it and submit it to a site like Gamasutra or the like. Also, your name should have stayed on the box of Twisted Metal and been on Twisted Metal 2 as well.

This is going to sound a little cheesy, but I'll say it anyway. video games have been a big part of my life for a long time, and most of the memories I have of my childhood can be inextricably linked to my experiences in gaming. Some of the best memories I have of my older brother, to this day, come from times we'd play Twisted Metal 2 together. At that point in time I didn't really know too much about games, at least not in relation to my current knowledge of them.

But even back then I knew enough to follow the work of developers I respected. When I was a little younger I was obsessed with Sonic the Hedgehog, and at one point I read an article in some gaming rag about the designer, Yuji Naka, and the man instantly became my hero. I tried to buy everything I could that he was related to because I had loved his work so much.

At this point in time knowledge about game designers is really limited to "hardcore" or enthusiast gamers. With that in mind I can think of quite a few examples of people who have that box-worthy name, actually. Probably the best example I can think of that hasn't yet come up is Fumito Ueda, from your former employers japanese division. People are starved for the next Team Ico game, and rightly so. Ueda-san is the master of the minimalist game.

Kazunori Yamauchi would be another. You know you're doing something right when Car & Driver names you one of the most influential people in the industry.

Ted Price is another great. I'll buy anything he or Insomniac have any involvement in. I don't know if he's had any box quotes though.

I guess I can make a list of some of the others that may be brands in and of themselves: Peter Molyneux, Shinji Mikami, Suda51, Hironobu Sakaguchi (let's face it, no one would give a damn about Mistwalker without him on board), Tetsuya Nomura, Ed Boon and John Tobias used to be box quote worthy, at least..

One thing I've noticed is that in general it seems that Sony has, willingly or not, done the most to make designers and developers take the limelight for their work than almost anyone else. It almost seems that many developers are gaining their popularity from working at SCE and then spinning off into their own dev houses. You did it with Eat, Sleep, Play, and Cory Barlog more recently.

One of the things I think that is making this more and more relevant is the fact that developers have more outlets for their own thoughts than they used to have in the past. You take a look at something as simple as the head of firmware updates for PS3, Eric Lempel, and you see someone indirectly involved that gets a lot of attention.

Perhaps I'm overstating some of the attention these people are getting because I keep in touch of the gaming world so well. But whether or not someone can pronounce the name of "the gooch" and his ilk, they are starting to become aware of them. And that's great for developers and the industry alike, especially in the day and age where exclusive franchises are getting fewer and far between. Over the past two years I've seen the rise of the popularity of dev houses and individuals skyrocket. It won't be long before we see first parties turn into teams of all-stars for the companies involved. Whatever happens, I can't see it being a bad thing.

Jason Martin, Artist said...

I agree with the money aspect of things--you make a company a million, throw some flow my way, and I'm thrilled to see on-command credit lists on games nowadays. Actually, I think I even found out about your name thanks to the GOW2 credits on the making-of DVD.
At the same time, tho', it becomes a risk to put your name on something, kinda what I like to call the "M. Knight Shyalaman" complex. This douche has made two solid movies, as far as I'm concerned, but his name's littered across everything! So I'd be very, very careful about slapping your name on things too prominently--it might have the adverse effect!

Ravenus said...

I totally agree with what Jaffe is saying here. This trend of anonymizing game developers / designers is also what makes the industry a lot less interesting than it used to be. Say what you will about people like Romero and Mike Wilson...they made the game business a FUN thing to read about. Now they're even anonymizing studio names. Everything is EA "this" or Ubisoft "that".

PlayStation Museum said...

Mike Giam had his name on Warhawk too, which Sony removed in later re-releases.

Funny story about Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. There is a screen at startup on Kain which states the game was "conceived and developed externally at Silicon Knights" - Crystal Dynamics refered to that internally as the "extortion screen" as Silicon Knights refused to finish the game without it. At the time Crystal Dynamics sent a lot of staff to SK to get the game completed that they felt the screen was not necessary.

Anonymous said...

nice blog. The anonymity of game-making isnt surprising when one considers how many game developers move from job to job. Sure some stick around for a few years at one company but many more of them move on pretty quickly. All of that fluidity makes name-recognition less likely.

Kingslayer said...

The publishers just want the power to dictate to developers what's, what. Like you said the gaming industry is hard for a developer to be consistent with hit making titles. Yet once a title is a hit. The publishers are going to milk that. Yet it's not like they are championing great game design, art, and innovation. They want product out there. EA is so much a machine that they don't totally have control of their destiny. They are slaves to success and chasing stock prices and such. You think a shareholder wants to hear that such and such designer just left a major title or got canned? Hell never no.

With the myraid of game platforms, expense of it all. I want to know who's creating my product. Take a look at the food network. Sure anyone can cook, but its the flair and style of chefs who bring personality to the craft. Same thing with gaming. It's a team effort, and you want to highlight that along with the visionaries getting it done.

David you are the perfect example of this. With your noterity you have been able to move on and create a legacy that makes you more than just a designer. Gamers feel part of a family where we get to hear the reality of what gaming is from your side. We'd never get that if left to Publishers. You have lived a dream and people need someone to relate to. A person just like them who had a dream and made it happen. Along with the ability to have a game studio. People can't wait to see what you will do next. This bodes well for Sony, because it keeps you close to them and the PS brand. It allows you to be who you are without worry if you'll get canned in the morning. I come to your blog to read about who YOU are and that makes me respect the attention and commit to your craft. Allowing me to appreciate the work gone into your career. If you don't care about that who will? You think some publisher will?

Right now GOW 3 is being made, and Sony owns that. You think if the world never knew you, that it would matter to the product? Hell never no. Yet because folks know you (think they do). The audience is going to demand that the game step up to quality of the titles you were associated with in the series. We are going to hold Sony, and the developers accountable.

Its like most people don't know who Sean C is/was. Yet if you ever wondered how did Wu-Tang, or Biggie (Notorious B.I.G.) really get record deals. Then you need to do your home work. Which is sad, because we don't have those types of talents out there anymore. Finding unique artists and talent.

Everything is easy bake oven made for us. So you get all these teen made machines being pumped out on MTV all day. Which is cool, but where's the soul? Designers like you, teams like Bungie are the ones who provide that to the gaming industry. Companies don't do that or care. Which makes guys like you expendable by keeping you in the dark.

So having a creators name on the cover lets me see who's soul has been put into all that work. They may not be representative of the whole, but we can identify with them more than an EA or Activision logo.

Sadeq said...

Kojima probably is the only one who puts his name on the box (hell, they even named a studio after him: Kojima Productions).

I hear you David and I think this is inevitable it's just a matter of time. Right now the name on box is only a studio/developer/team name (which is great) but I believe individuals names are not that far off.

Anyway, I think proving yourself as developer these days grants you credit and creative freedom.

Ironmaus said...

I agree with you that developers should have name recognition. It will be a brutal period of change with everyone fighting over whose name is worth putting above the title much less whose name makes it into the fine print at the bottom (like a movie poster). In the end, that change will be good for the industry and for gamers so they know who's making the products they love without watching the credits (never gonna do it).

I did want to question your example of GoW vs F4 on the PS2 though. From the records I've found, the original God of War sold roughly 3.2 million copies while Fantastic 4 sold about 390 thousand. From that example, it would seem the buying public does recognize quality and rewards it (most of the time...not counting Beyond Good and Evil...or Psychonauts....)

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In game development, careers revolve around your past work. No duh. However, most times the only way someone will acknowledge your work on a particular project is if you are credited with that work in a public space i.e. credits.

In the general software industry, this may not hold true but let us make this clear: we, in game development are closer to the Entertainment Media business and not general software business. When I meet even with web 2.0 people I see the the vast difference in the ways our industries work

The same thing that holds for movies and TV careers: if you aren't credited then it essentially means you cannot claim that as part of your portfolio, track record...etc.

If you did (above a certain threshold specified by the various guilds)the work in movies and TV but left the project before completion you are still credited.

The problem is that we in the game industry are not very unionized so that we run into these issues. Movie scriptwriters, grips, cameramen do not rely on Fox or Paramount or WB to determine who recieves credit...it is the guilds from the Actor's guild to the Writer's guild who determine these issues.

IGDA is the closest thing we in the game dev biz have to a Writer's guild or Actor's Guild and as such publishers should be following their lead on this.

EA Mythic is essentially flaunting this to the detriment of the people who work in this industry and especially in MMO's.

I have seen here in Korea what happens when people are not credited with work that they did simply because a company arbitrarily deems their contributions as being individually nonexistent. It doesn't just rot an industry in terms of careers, retention but also impacts on biz,creative and technical as well.

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