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[The recent Warhammer Online crediting controversy has raised the profile of how games credit developers -- Gamasutra talks to Mythic's Mark Jacobs, the IGDA, Valve's Doug Lombardi and others about what matters in game credits.]
Practically everyone agrees that giving "proper credit" to developers for their contributions to a game is important -- but what is "proper"? Should the game list everyone involved no matter how miniscule their input?
Perhaps only names should be included, not titles? Maybe credit should go to only those hearty enough to have survived until the game shipped? It all depends on which studio you ask.
Which is why discussions within the IGDA -- which began back in 2003 when its Credit Standards Committee was first formed -- continue without final resolution. Clearly, developing one single standard that pleases everyone is problematic.
Just as the open letter from "EA_Spouse" got the industry buzzing about quality-of-life issues, it was a single incident last November that accelerated the chatter about crediting. Jurie Horneman, a producer on Manhunt 2, criticized Rockstar for ignoring over 55 Rockstar Vienna employees in the game’s credits.
And, in his blog, he posted those missing credits, adding that he was "disappointed and outraged that Rockstar Games tried to pretend that Rockstar Vienna and the work we did on Manhunt 2 never happened -- the work of over 50 people who put years of their lives into the project, trying to make the best game they could."
Today, Horneman -- still a game producer -- recalls having received quite a few reactions "from people who told me stories that were similar or worse, many of which are posted on my blog page. Two things seem quite prevalent: not crediting people who leave before the end of the project and not crediting freelance employees."
Indeed, a 2006 survey by the IGDA’s Game Writers SIG revealed that 35% of respondents either "don’t ever" or "only sometimes" receive official credit for their efforts.
Horneman says he supports what he calls "accurate, complete, and fair credits" for two reasons mainly. "They play a role in hiring decisions; the game you last worked on is something that employers use to decide whether to hire you or not. And credits are also important for developer motivation. The bottom line is that they are just the right thing to do."
He hopes that "the more enlightened developers will see that it is in their interest to adopt the IGDA suggestions on crediting and to be seen doing so," Horneman adds.
"I know of some companies that are including them as a clause in their employment contract, which I think is very smart. They are able to use it to entice developers to come work for them instead of the competition."
Capcom/Clover Studio's Okami
But, despite industry reaction to the Manhunt 2 episode, incidents of non-crediting continue.
Six months later, in May of this year, acclaimed Okami designer Hideki Kamiya expressed frustration with publisher Capcom’s decision to omit the original development team credits from the U.S. version of Ready At Dawn’s Okami Wii port. The designer posted a lengthy message regarding the absent credits in a Facebook blog.