Should individual game developers receive greater recognition (be it good or bad)?


That is a very humorous quote indeed. I feel as though the time of rock star game developers such as Shigeru Miyamoto, Sid Meier, and your friend Will Wright has been increasingly supplanted by monolithic studios. Kojima being the main exception, in part because he puts his name on his studio.

To quote Geoff Keighley:

You know “Call of Duty.” You know “Grand Theft Auto.” You know “Candy Crush.” But you don’t necessarily know who makes them, and I’ve always felt like they’re some of the most creative individuals out there in the entertainment field.

Do you feel that it is wrong to follow key talent because of how many people are involved with a game’s development? For the record, I’m looking forward to what Warren Spector does with System Shock 3.


I was being silly and goofing around. To answer your fair post more correctly I think YES I would like to see more name developers, but on the other hand everyone wants to be fair to the team. Its often why games can come across as soulless. They are genuinely team efforts with no central guiding figure or auteur at the center.

I happen to think that as an art form we need to associate the artists name more with the work.

So yea, I strongly agree we should do it more. But the practical impact of that on showing up to work with 90 other people looking at you angrily after your name was the only one mentioned in the games reviews or stories is a tough tough ask for anyone.


Yeah, that’s a problem when you’re Warren Spector.

Great directors are often less great without their cinematographers. Great screenwriters rarely get recognition. With the exception of literature and indie games (and even then–editors? playtesters?), more people are responsible for a work than you can practically take into account. To call out auteurs or visionaries as responsible for the work is usually as much a fiction as associating it with a studio that is nothing but a name.


So would you suspect that this is also true for the film industry, but we’ve just been sold a different kind of marketing gimmick packaged in the form of the auteur director (as Nightgaunt suggests)? Or is there a crucial difference in the way these two industries are managed that enables auteurs to exist in one but not in the other?

Coming from the guy who personally showed up to my Sims 2 house to hand me a free computer ;)


Not unless their name is splashed on the front cover or they are the owner of the company. Games are forced out the door every day for various reasons and often the developer is not to blame.

Take for example ME:A. It is March 20th today. The EA fiscal year ends on March 31st. Does anyone in their right mind think that the developer had little choice but to release the game in its present state? The animations and lip synching is the type of function that often is tweaked after all of the dialog is put in the game which is quite late in the process. It is likely that the game needed to slip another month or two to smooth out some of the rough edges but was not given the time because it could greatly impact the almighty yearly results for EA.

ME3 sold about a million units in the first week and 3 million in the first five weeks. That is about an extra $60 - $100m of gross revenue or about 5-10% of the quarterly revenue for the company. It would have taken an Act of Congress to get that game to slip especially if the fiscal results would be disappointing otherwise. Blaming an individual for this type of corporate decision seems short sighted to me.


I don’t think EA’s shareholders are responsible for Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age: Origins being good games. I also think it’s possible for someone to splash their name on the front cover (Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri), even when most of the credit belongs to a different person (Brian Reynolds).

Have we seen another AAA game (not made by Bioware) with animations this egregiously bad? Even from other studios owned by EA?


I don’t think an individual developer really can be praised or blamed for a game, other than perhaps the project manager.

However, I think a given team can be assigned praise or blame for a game, to the extent that such info can be used to predict future efforts.

At one point, companies like Bioware were small enough that such thinking worked. But at some point, it became such a huge company that you couldn’t really apply the same line of thinking to it, because past works were not necessarily made by the same team of developers. The only similarity was a corporate brand name.

We’ve seen this before various times… A good example is the Call of Duty franchise. Originally, when Infinity Ward made it, it was amazing. But currently, it’s basically the shooter equivalent of Madden. The folks running that franchise don’t have the same raw talent that the original IW guys had for making that kind of game.

But if you follow those guys, to their new company Respawn, you see the Titanfall franchise… and it has the same quality that you saw with the COD franchise when they ran it.

Likewise, there were the guys who worked for Rare way back in the day, and made Goldeneye… these guys eventually left there, and went on to form Free Radical, where they made Timesplitters, which captured more of the magic of Goldeneye than anything Rare ever made afterwards.

I think that teams of folks can consistently make good games… but giant corporations, or individual people? Nah.


Two thoughts:

I wonder if there are differences between the importance of game directors in Japanese and Western games.

Regarding the movie analogy, do movie studios have crunch? Do they have to rush things or cut promised features? This is more along the lines of “why did this game go bad?”


nice arms

who needs knees am I right?

so is there like a number you’re looking for or…?

Not to say ME: A doesn’t have some cringe worthy animations going on, I just don’t remember pitchforks and fire for these other games… well Aliens had a pretty big backlash overall… across the board. I bet if I look for Doom i might find a few weird animations too.


snip my self indulgent babble.


Dead Island and Mirror’s Edge are both first-person games, and are not meant to be viewed in third-person. According to the Youtube descriptions, the Dead Island video was from a dev build, whereas the Mirror’s Edge video is from a mod.

Morrowind was made nearly 15 years ago and I’ve still seen worse walking animations in Andromeda:

The soccer game is showing a bug, whereas most of the embarassing Andromeda footage I’ve seen plays for everyone as far as I’m aware. I’m not going to hold the Sara Ryder crab walk against the animation team as funny as it looks, that falls under QA and even then you expect bugs on the launch of any game. To your credit though, I haven’t seen any Andromeda glitches which look quite that bad.

I would say that the xenomorph scene had more to do with bad design (the alien doesn’t react to you whatsoever) rather than bad animation (not to say the animation is particularly good).

@Rod_Humble Thank you very much for your input.


You’re trying to say the forward Moonwalk is worse than the Beegees strut?

The point is, there are a gazillion games that you can go find weird animations in at any given time, regardless of year throughout many of the developers studios. It sounds like Bioware might patch some of these so that would make at least a few of them a bug too.

If there were individual animators dragged through the mud for each of those… I never heard about it. You can explain it away as design decisions, bugs, whatever… they look weird, and no one tried to burn the hut down for them, or if they did it was like a one pitchfork and two torches in the middle of the forest where no one heard them scream.


The only other time I’ve seen people mention an animator by name was when it concerned a person working on Fallout 3, which to be fair had pretty bad animations.


But this is Morrowind. It’s 15 years old.

For some of those games, are they showing a third person view to games that didn’t actually have a third person camera?

Like mirror’s edge, I seen to recall that game being from a first person view. So in that case, you don’t really expect that animations that were never intended to be seen to be polished.


Everquest came out in what 1999… the models bent their knees. And don’t get me started on the original Skyrim horse animations… did anyone in that studio ever actually ride a horse?


I think this already happens in the indie market. I’ve seen alot of Kickstarters the last few years advertising that the developers on the new game will be the same as the game its channeling (e.g. Yooka-Laylee, Hex, Battletech, Grim Dawn). You also have single indie developers who make an amazing game and suddenly they have alot of people following their careers and any subsequent games they make.

AAA gaming is harder because as mentioned above it involves significantly more work to complete and more expensive games will more have more money riding on its success and so publishers will have more authority and control over the final product, just like with movies. Does anyone really care who the screenwriter and cinematographer is when they go see a new Die Hard movie? It’s all about the franchise at that point.


Yep, Kickstarter really represents the artists skirting the big publishers and appealing directly to the fans, somewhat like the original United Artists and Image Comics but with crowdfunding. Projects were all about name recognition. I think some examples like Chaos Reborn by Julian Gollop and Pillars of Eternity by the team at Obsidian (including Josh Sawyer and Chris Avellone) show that there really were some talented creators responsible for those beloved classics that can still make an impact today, whereas other projects showed that credit may have not been given where credit was really due:

Wouldn’t you say that more movie-goers know who James Cameron is compared to gamers knowing who Sam and Dan Houser are?


It seems like individual developers do get a lot of recognition already, don’t they? Fans of Metal Gear Solid worship Hideo Kojima. I’m pretty sure Planescape fans will play anything Chris Avellone is involved with. Sid Meier, Brian Reynolds, Carmack and Romero. Even way back in the day, as a kid playing adventure games, I knew the names Roberta Williams, Steve Meretzky, Dave Lebling, Brian Moriarty, Jordan Mechner, Richard Garriott.

As far as downline producers, animators, programmers, I’m not sure why anyone would care, any more than they care to know the name of the visual effects artist who’s airbrushing Brad Pitt’s face in his latest movie.


Many games justify you knowing the Art Director’s name as much as the lead designer’s or producer’s, but you basically never see that. A mere UI artist can make a fine game transcendent and never receive the credit. Since video games are both complex and creative, it’s basically impossible to say where the vision and/or the execution comes from. You can declare that the creative director or executive producer or sometimes the lead designer is responsible for however the game turns out, because if nothing else it was their duty to find and nurture the talent that makes the game great. But sometimes you should know the graphics programmer or the facial animator, but you likely won’t. It’s not a crime, but it’s kinda a shame.


Kojima is the biggest outlier at this point, and he makes sure to put his name on everything (the studio, the box cover). Same goes for Sid Meier, minus the studio name.

The rest of those developers have a primarily old-school following because they come from a nascent industry characterized as a small pond with not too many fish in it.

Nowadays games are mostly referred to as “Blizzard games”, “Bioware games”, “Ubisoft games”, “Rockstar games”, “Telltale games”.

As with the quote from Bartle, I was thinking more about lead developers. Although individual (non-lead) writers seem to carry more individual importance than those belonging to other fields, and there are typically fewer of them.

I try to take note of more people when it comes to my all-time favorite games.