FEATURE: No Credit? That’s a Problem
How would you feel if you spent months, weeks—years—of your life on a project and weren’t given credit? Oh, it has happened to you? One of Manhunt 2′s "forgotten" producers and others speak out.
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A new stink was raised regarding the recently-released Manhunt 2 from Rockstar and parent Take-Two. No, we’re not talking about the game’s endless struggles with ratings boards, the media or self-serving politicians. The issue here is the alleged omission of over 55 individual developers from Manhunt 2′s credits.
The “forgotten” Manhunt 2 devs were part of Rockstar Vienna, which closed down in May 2006, well before the release of the game. One of those developers was former Rockstar Vienna producer Jurie Horneman, and he’s the one that brought the specific instance to the attention of Internet denizens via a recent blog post.
Horneman, who has since gone freelance, explained the situation in further detail for Next-Gen. “Rockstar Vienna had a fairly clear credits process,” he says, adding that he can only theorize as to why so many developers were left off the list. (Take-Two hadn’t offered an explanation of the Manhunt 2 issue or crediting in general as of press time.)
He continues, “I get the impression that Rockstar New York tried to close the Vienna branch as quickly and quietly as possible. The offices were closed down during E3 2006, making it likely that the news would be buried…. As I recall there was never an official press release stating we were closed – it even took some time before it was officially acknowledged we’d been closed down.”
Horneman however, using his blog, made a post that still made headlines during that E3 week, spreading news of the studio’s closure.
moscallout"We became an embarrassment, and it was easier to pretend we had never existed."/moscallout”I have never found out why it was necessary to close a studio with 100 employees that was working on important projects, but I think the fact that they did it was an embarrassment to them,” he believes. “By extension, we became an embarrassment, and it was easier to pretend we had never existed than to admit to mistakes or vulnerability. This included not mentioning us in the credits of Manhunt 2.”
The former Rockstar producer also made damning accusations against his former employer about a “with us or against us” attitude.
”I noticed a special vibe within Rockstar Games. You are either with them working hard to revolutionize the games medium, or you are against them, one of the rubes who don’t get it. As soon as Rockstar Vienna was gone, we were no longer with them…
“The rule of ‘If you’re not there when the game ships, you don’t get a credit’ seems to be quite common. This is probably caused by the tough crunch periods game development projects often have at the end. Living through those periods changes you and makes it very easy to say, ‘Why should this person get a credit if he or she didn’t go through hell with us?’”
Career disaster or bruised ego?
Taking a step back, is this really that big of a deal? So a dev doesn’t get his or her name listed among the dozens of people lumped at the back of a game manual.
Activision designer James Portnow (also a Next-Gen columnist) said in a recent Game Theory podcast that it’s not just about seeing your name in print or having tangible bragging rights.
“Putting something on your resume which HR then can’t find easily, I definitely see problems with that,” he says. “It definitely does cost people jobs to some degree. It’s hard to say that I’ve launched 17 titles if I’ve only been credited for seven of them.
“…[Credit omission] definitely happens…. But there’s nothing you can do once the game goes out. The manual’s been published, the disc’s been burnt, that’s all that can happen.”
Horneman echoes Portnow’s sentiments. “It’s important to realize how credits are important to developers in managing their careers, as it plays a big role when applying for new jobs. And the games industry being the way it is, every developer needs to look for a new job every couple of years.”