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Are Credits Really a Thing of the Past?

July 30, 2008

I have eight games here right now, and not a one of them has credits in the manuals. Zip, zero. Only one that I’ve recently finished, Civilization Revolution , has credits at the end of the game and also the manual. I haven’t finished playing the others to know if the credits roll or not.

Even if they do, is that really the best place to show these things?

As a player, you may not care. As a developer, though, credits are phenomenally important. If you’re looking for a job, and particularly if you’re looking to work in an academic institution, you better have those credits detailed, or it’ll be a long hard slog through a mound of paperwork to get them detailed.

Way back in the 20th century, credits used to be something really important. In fact, EA had plans to make game designers as famous as rock stars. It kinda worked. Many people remember names like Bill Budge and Dan Bunten. I certainly do.

Now, though, it’s a different ballgame. Manuals are minuscule, and there’s not room to cough up a page or two for all the people involved with a project. So out of the manual it goes. When this transition occurred, the credits moved into the game. There was a handy “Credits” option right on the main game play screen. Then it disappeared, too. Now credits are appearing at the ends of games… except how many people actually finish games to know, and if one wanted to verify you worked on a title, do they really need to play through the whole freaking game to get to the credits? Is there a FF like there is on a DVD?

Where credits do appear, they seem to have gone to the other end of the spectrum. Everyone is in there. People who never even saw the game but may have forwarded one or two emails about people working on the the game are listed. Accounting manager? HR – London Office? Pizza Delivery people? The teams are getting so big and everyone wants a byline.

Article: Written by Brenda Brathwaite
Art by: Google Images
Typing by: Brenda Brathwaite
Thanks to: London HR

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. July 31, 2008 1:52 am

    I think that once you’ve worked at a place for a while the credits can be assumed as true. I suspect very people would lie about the games they had worked on, and the games industry is so tightly knit that someone would say “He/she never worked on that!”

    At one company they forgot to put my name in the credits, so to make up for that they put my name in the credits of a game I had never worked on. That hardly makes the credits themselves a definitive guide (and I only claim to have worked on the one without the credit).

    Another game I worked on was a conversion where most of the work was done by myself and 2 coders (QA were obviously involved). We get first place in the credits and then there are 40 or 50 entries for various levels of management and PR people.

  2. July 31, 2008 3:07 am

    “Is there a FF like there is on a DVD?”

    FF?

  3. July 31, 2008 3:36 am

    Fantastic Four
    Final Fantasy

    or maybe Fast Forward.

    Jurie, if you don’t have it on your DVD player, you’ve been robbed.

  4. July 31, 2008 5:54 am

    @Rick – that’s an interesting story! The issue isn’t so much one of people lying but of having a means to prove that they worked on a product to people outside the game industry. I’ve run into this a couple times in academia where someone had to go through this long process to prove that a candidate was involved in a project – not for themselves, but for the accreditation body.

  5. July 31, 2008 8:46 am

    Developers should just keep a button on the options menu that rolls the credits. If you ALSO roll them at the end of the game, no harm there.

    The games I works on always have that and it works great!

  6. July 31, 2008 11:29 am

    Sadly I know a lot of people who don´t care about who make the games they play…. actually I know lots of people who thinks off games as being created by EA or Ubisoft (etc.)- and not as something spawned by creative minds. Perhaps they aren´t the only ones, and perhaps that is why Credits are being removed?

    I’m one of the people who likes to read credits. Both in games and in movies.

    Also I hope that more game productions will start listing their credits on the Internet Movie Database (if you don´t know what it is – you should google it!). I like being able to search for credentials, and/or info about games….

  7. July 31, 2008 1:34 pm

    @Rasmus

    A Developer Database would be great! And there should be a standard credits menu option where people can view the game credits.

  8. July 31, 2008 2:30 pm

    Check out http://www.mobygames.com

  9. July 31, 2008 4:00 pm

    I hope they are not…

    Not that I recognize the people that write the games, but I do find an interest to see how many people it took to build the game.

    Not having a credits button on the menu is just lazy developing. Show respect for the people who pour their life into the game. It doesn’t have to be a huge mini-game or something. Just fade in-fade out, or scroll. Movies haven’t given up, even when there are plenty of databases online.

  10. August 1, 2008 12:47 pm

    I agree to David: leaving out the credits is plain disrespect to the people working on a game.

    I believe that credits are important because they tell about the people behind a game. It’s a pity that many people skip the credits. Though I guess one could make the credits more interesting. A black screen with white text scolling across the screen is just plain boring. Maybe put some artwork in it, play a nice song (i.e. like in Portal) or show some moving pictures. Especially artwork or images aren’t a big deal cost-wise. And of course, make the credits available from the beginning of the game.

  11. August 1, 2008 2:02 pm

    @Brenda: Welcome to the party, the IGDA Credit Standards Committee would love to have your input 🙂
    http://www.igda.org/credit/

    Suffice to say that there is a group of us working on this very problem, which is actually a host of related problems:
    * In-game credits are worth cash value to developers. Not all devs understand this. It’s important that they be educated about the importance of getting proper credit, to avoid getting burned.
    * Getting corporate/publisher buy-in. Some companies (I won’t name names) avoid placing credits ON PURPOSE to avoid getting their people poached by headhunters, or because the extra pages in a printed manual is extra cost, or all sorts of other silly reasons. It’s interesting that you bring up designers as rock-star names, because that can actually be dangerous to a company: if people associate the IP of a game with its designer (rather than the company) and the designer leaves…
    * Detailing what actually goes in the credits. What we know as “game designers” in most of North America are called something else in Japan, and a third thing at EA. We’re still struggling with industry-wide consistency.
    * Where do credits have to be? In the manual? Developer website? In the game (main menu or only after beating the game)?
    * What about games with DLC that was developed by a different team? How do you properly credit the people that made a new Xbox Live skin for the game or the expansion set for a PC MMO months after initial release?

    For the record, I’m looking at my copy of Civ Rev (360) and there are indeed credits in the printed manual. I looked there to see if Seth and Ken were mentioned, and they both are. It’s kind of neat to see a really awesome game with credit given to really awesome people that you know personally.

    Oh, and as long as we’re talking about evil credits, take a look at Guitar Hero 3 some time. Not only are there no credits in the manual or on the main menu, but if you beat the game the credits are scrolling while it gives you a song to play, so you’re too busy playing to actually read the credits! I’m all for interactivity, but I thought it was a dangerous precedent.

  12. August 1, 2008 7:50 pm

    I work for the team at microsoft game studios that makes manuals for first and second party games, and I remember hearing something about some new policy where they are phasing out credits in the manuals in favor of in-game credits. Though that’s just my half-remembered recollection. I could ask, though! Which I will do. *nods*

  13. Dale permalink
    August 2, 2008 2:46 am

    ‘Where credits do appear, they seem to have gone to the other end of the spectrum. Everyone is in there.’

    And now games magazines now seem to be full of interviews with ‘industry execs’ instead of the people who actually build the games. I can’t imagine music magazines interviewing some marketing guy at Sony Records instead of the artist themselves.

  14. August 2, 2008 11:27 pm

    I think, at the very least, that games need to go the way of film at some point. I think a lot of people realize that games share the same potential as film (if not more), but they get “steamrolled” a lot more, with people playing for a fraction of the game instead of sitting through the whole movie.
    That applies to credits in the sense that there are those who sit through film credits, but most people leave. I don’t think that having them in the manual or even having the button on a menu will change that. However! What if, as I do, you work in the game industry? Shouldn’t it be different for you?
    I work for LucasArts, a division of a well-known film company. When we attend a screening for a movie (even if the movie’s been out for years), we are required to sit through all of the credits – I now stay through the credits for all movies, even on my own. Shouldn’t there be a similar culture in games, with game developers sitting through the credits of each other’s games?

    P.S. I haven’t been on your blog since you changed the theme, and yes – I know that was a long time ago. Good stuff! I really need to catch up!

  15. August 3, 2008 7:56 am

    Obviously I’ve been playing the wrong games. While I’d admit Team Fortress 2 doesn’t have an easy credits option, all my other games I checked just now do.

    Maybe it’s more prevalent in console games however. I do know that most handhelds don’t bother with a “Credits” button and put it in the manual and end of the game. Not sure why though, usually because they put some form of “epilogue” scene in it (like Phoenix Wright, or Advance Wars does).

    Definitely I’d prefer manuals and a credits button is all I can say 🙂

  16. JCaskey permalink
    August 3, 2008 3:05 pm

    It’s interesting you brought that up. I was just playing through Battlefield: Bad Company and they happen to have opening credits. I know I’ve seen them in other games, but the one that comes to mind is the Half-Life series, every single iteration has opening credits that actually roll as you play.

    Good ol’ Valve. They think of everything.

  17. August 4, 2008 12:14 am

    Interestingly enough, I really didn’t care that much about credits before I started working at EA. I would only see them when they rolled at the end of the game, but not pay attention to them that much. However, I’m much more interested about them now, I like to see how many people it took to make a specific game, but also I’m interested to see how other companies treat UI (my specialty) in their credits (it saddens me to know that it usually doesn’t have it’s own section).

    I don’t blame consumers for not caring much about the entire team that worked on the game. While I’m sure they know that someone did actually work on the game, unless it’s one of the very few high profile designers or developers, the game could have been made by Johnny Down the Street and still have the same experience as far as they care to know.

  18. Floop permalink
    September 12, 2008 10:35 am

    Check out http://www.game-credits.org
    and the work of the IGDA Credits Standard in the IGDA Game Crediting Guide
    (http://www.igda.org/wiki/IGDA_Credits_and_Awards_Committee#Game_Crediting_Guide.2C_Draft_8-5_Beta.2C_April_2007)

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