People Make Games, Not Development Studios

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People Make Games, Not Development Studios

When looking at games, look at the people behind them for a good indication of a game's quality.

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I honestly think there was a lot of concern that Dark Souls 2 wasn't being directed by the same person that directed the first game, so I'm starting to think that people are seeing your point and viewing games that way. Granted, from what I've heard the good guy seems to have done a good job anyway, so maybe there are just a lot of talented people working at From Software.

In just angry that Ken Levine left the Bioshock IP with 2K. They're going to totally fuck it up.

While there is a good deal of truth to this, it's important to remember that a studio isn't just the individuals within it. Different studios have different budgets to work with (less relevant if the publisher is bankrolling the whole game, but that doesn't always happen), different hiring practices, different structures... You can have the exact same group of people, but if you arrange 'em differently you can get a vastly different result. The individuals are the ingredients, and the studio is the recipe that says how they all fit together.

P.S. Thanks

Perhaps the Escapist itself could help by prominently featuring the names of developers in their reviews? For instance, here's what the Dark Souls II review has in its info box (copy-and-pasted from another tab):

"Developed by From Software. Published by Bandai Namco Games. Released March 11, 2014. PS3 (reviewed), PC (April 25th) and Xbox 360."

Maybe that should be:

"Developed by From Software (Directed by Whoever McEverson). Published by Bandai Namco Games. Released March 11, 2014. PS3 (reviewed), PC (April 25th) and Xbox 360."

It's kind of amazing that we've gotten to the point where, in order to follow our favorite game makers, we have to start looking in the credits of the games we like and dig for names. Twenty years ago in the Super NES days we'd all just follow the IPs since the game franchises were still in their infancy and teams were relatively small.

I dunno about this one. I've seen plenty of people make development studios, not just games. But I get the feeling that's not what Yahtzee was talking about.

shtoops:
In just angry that Ken Levine left the Bioshock IP with 2K. They're going to totally fuck it up.

That's assuming that they even touch it. The guys in charge full well know that the name alone won't keep the franchise alive. We all saw how much bile got thrown on Infinite when Levine WAS at the helm (still got good ratings, but there was a LOT of doubt and debate). One bad game in the franchise and it gets tainted for a LONG time, and the executives know this.

I think the question we need to ask here (about big titles at least) is "Are games actually made by people?" The code is written on one continent, the soundtrack and voices are record on another, the artwork is done by somebody who probably never met the programers and so on. Not only games aren't made by people according to our perception but components of the same project aren't made by people even for those involved in the development. Everything is the work of a department, every decision is taken by a committee and it takes at least one meeting. The dev. process allows for as much personal involvement as in the production of fish fingers or IKEA furniture.

Thing is, that's a double-edged sword. It's essentially auteur theory and that has a bad side effect: giving the people credited MASSIVE egos. The film industry dealt with that when the New Hollywood movement collapsed due to too many idiot visionaries wasting too much money. Sure, Japan does credit people as directors, but in all honesty I would argue that's just a formality. Sure, one guy is the director but game making is a group effort.

I must disagree.

Anyone who has made games knows that a game is not one person's vision. A game is a collection of many different (sometimes competing) artistic visions that come together to deliver a final product. I think Hideo Kojima being solely credited for MGS undercuts the other creative talents necessary for those games to be made, and diminishes the fact that games as collaborative products is one of the things that make them great. We don't need one person taking credit for a game.

We still have some name. Schafer for example still gets his name tossed out. And you can expect something good when it is.

Oh and Peter Molyneux is a big name. And he gets his name on the cover most of the time. And then you know you can expect something... Very strange. Though that usually goes for Schafer as well.

But yeah, more names. I like names. Easy to remember.

alphamalet:
I must disagree.

Anyone who has made games knows that a game is not one person's vision. A game is a collection of many different (sometimes competing) artistic visions that come together to deliver a final product. I think Hideo Kojima being solely credited for MGS undercuts the other creative talents necessary for those games to be made, and diminishes the fact that games as collaborative products is one of the things that make them great. We don't need one person taking credit for a game.

But the exact same thing can be said of movies. In fact, movies are a far bigger collaborative effort because the individual actors have much more input on the final film relative to the director than, say, a VA has relative to a lead designer.

Just because a director is credited in a film, viewers are smart enough to know that he doesn't deserve the entire credit for it's failure or success. Likewise, highlighting a few key individuals doesn't magically cover up the fact that games are a group effort.

IMO, the benefits of putting the people at the forefront outweighs the drawbacks. Sure it will breed egos, but Orson Welles was an egotistical d-bag, and every gaming fan is trying to find his reincarnation these days.

Problem is, the more a name seems to be attached to a Western game the worse the game seems to be. Examples:

Warren Spector -> Epic Mickey
Clive Barker -> Jericho
Peter Molyneux -> Take your pick

And then there's our good friends like Phil Fish, Cliffy B, and Randy P.

The more I know about the developers the more I hate them. I'm fine with them toiling in obscurity and spitting out wonderful games.

Thanatos2k:
Problem is, the more a name seems to be attached to a Western game the worse the game seems to be. Examples:

Warren Spector -> Epic Mickey
Clive Barker -> Jericho
Peter Molyneux -> Take your pick

And then there's our good friends like Phil Fish, Cliffy B, and Randy P.

The more I know about the developers the more I hate them. I'm fine with them toiling in obscurity and spitting out wonderful games.

If Derek Smart falls in a forest and no one is around to hear him, can he still spark a flame war?

Woah, Silent Hill 3 is the overrated one? In a series with Silent Hill and Silent Hill 2 I find that too bizarre to believe. Then again I'm of the opinion that Silent Hill 4 is almost criminally underrated so I must be mad.

But I do agree on attaching names to brands. Tearing down companies is just irrational (no pun intended), just sack the creative director and hire a new one. The games might not improve by any dramatic extent but at least people will not be drove away should a game be awful. Western names don't seem to have much success. Has Peter Molyneux been praised for anything in the last 15 years? Tim Schafer in the last 8? Clive Barker ever? Tom Clancy?

craddoke:
Perhaps the Escapist itself could help by prominently featuring the names of developers in their reviews? For instance, here's what the Dark Souls II review has in its info box (copy-and-pasted from another tab):

"Developed by From Software. Published by Bandai Namco Games. Released March 11, 2014. PS3 (reviewed), PC (April 25th) and Xbox 360."

Maybe that should be:

"Developed by From Software (Directed by Whoever McEverson). Published by Bandai Namco Games. Released March 11, 2014. PS3 (reviewed), PC (April 25th) and Xbox 360."

+1 to this. If people want to see this, then everyone should really do their part. Critics can help by adding the names of developers, and even we as regular consumers can do so by researching more developer names and including them in our regular vocabulary.

image

etc., etc.

Thanatos2k:
Problem is, the more a name seems to be attached to a Western game the worse the game seems to be. Examples:

Warren Spector -> Epic Mickey
Clive Barker -> Jericho
Peter Molyneux -> Take your pick

And then there's our good friends like Phil Fish, Cliffy B, and Randy P.

The more I know about the developers the more I hate them. I'm fine with them toiling in obscurity and spitting out wonderful games.

Evonisia:
But I do agree on attaching names to brands. Tearing down companies is just irrational (no pun intended), just sack the creative director and hire a new one. The games might not improve by any dramatic extent but at least people will not be drove away should a game be awful. Western names don't seem to have much success. Has Peter Molyneux been praised for anything in the last 15 years? Tim Schafer in the last 8? Clive Barker ever? Tom Clancy?

Shameful how much the Western developers seem to be in the gutter. But both of you forgot to mention David Cage, but lets agree that all he does is bad long films with auto-pause built in...

We do have stuff like that though. Look at Titanfall. One of their taglines pretty much says "From the guys who made the good Call of Duty before that whole thing went downhill."

Yahtzee Croshaw:
People Make Games, Not Development Studios

When looking at games, look at the people behind them for a good indication of a game's quality.

Read Full Article

"BioShock Infinite was my 2013 game of the year. It was a slightly controversial choice among people with no taste or sense of fun."

HEY! Feelings!

"Ken Levine worked as part of Looking Glass Studios and Irrational Games, and every game he's worked on has worn some of his auteur influence, regardless of the developer logo at the start."

Ok, as somebody who's been buying Levine's games religiously since "System Shock", this one I'd definitely agree with. I'm really hoping that his influence can be felt more strongly in his next projects than it could in "Infinite", which felt like a game designed by committee to me. Honestly, Levine's made at least three games that I seriously love. His name on a project is enough to convince me to buy it, even without the glowing reviews that his games inevitably get (and usually for good reason.) It SHOULD be front-and-centre in the marketing.

I don't care what you think, Yahtzee, BioShock Infinite was a pretentious and mediocre game with no place in a 'top number best'!

This is a great idea. That said, we do NOT need more games with people's names IN the title. That is an awful practice and makes the game look cheap, or desperate.

Braedan:
This is a great idea. That said, we do NOT need more games with people's names IN the title. That is an awful practice and makes the game look cheap, or desperate.

Unless it's Sid Meier.

Although, Sid Meier's Ace Patrol may have actually killed that horse, now that I think about it.

Even knowing who makes it is never an assurance of quality. Like film, actors and directors have plenty of terrible films in them in addition to their good stuff. I've NEVER followed a movie based on the actors or directors, but only based on the reception it gets apart from them.

Same with games. Hideo Kojima can be brilliant, or terrible, depending on circumstances, along with Suda51, Ninja Gaiden's Itagaki, Peter Molyneux, etc. I care not for who makes it; only whether what is made is good or not.

Andrew Szymanski also produced Lost Planet 3.

Make of that what you will.

vonSanneck:

Thanatos2k:
Problem is, the more a name seems to be attached to a Western game the worse the game seems to be. Examples:

Warren Spector -> Epic Mickey
Clive Barker -> Jericho
Peter Molyneux -> Take your pick

And then there's our good friends like Phil Fish, Cliffy B, and Randy P.

The more I know about the developers the more I hate them. I'm fine with them toiling in obscurity and spitting out wonderful games.

Evonisia:
But I do agree on attaching names to brands. Tearing down companies is just irrational (no pun intended), just sack the creative director and hire a new one. The games might not improve by any dramatic extent but at least people will not be drove away should a game be awful. Western names don't seem to have much success. Has Peter Molyneux been praised for anything in the last 15 years? Tim Schafer in the last 8? Clive Barker ever? Tom Clancy?

Shameful how much the Western developers seem to be in the gutter. But both of you forgot to mention David Cage, but lets agree that all he does is bad long films with auto-pause built in...

Agreed on Cage, but just because a "name-brand" developer puts out 1 less-than-amazeballs game doesn't negate his whole body of work. I was at the Developers Choice awards at GDC, where Warren Spector received their Lifetime Achievement Award, while showing clips of the ALL the games he worked on or lead in his career. Of special note: Deus Ex.

shtoops:
In just angry that Ken Levine left the Bioshock IP with 2K. They're going to totally fuck it up.

I dunno, I was one of the people that actually ENJOYED 2... I understand what Yahtzee said about it being a cash grab in his review, but despite that, it arguably did everything Bioshock 1 did but improved it, except for perhaps the story, writing and the atmosphere, although they were still way above average. Although that may be down to them already being presented with an established world- Rapture- and gameplay style. I doubt they're gonna be using Columbia again, and unless they can find someone as creative as Ken Levine to come up with ideas for the next one, I think the series will have definitely hit its peak with Infinite.

I had my doubts about Arkham Origins when I found out it was going to be a prequel. Because heaven forbid they make a Batman game without The Joker in it. And, as I found out it was being made by a different developer, that pretty much explained everything.

I was confident that it was going to be at least pretty good, but, while I guess that kind of holds true, the game pretty much falls into The Dark Knight Rises category where they made it just because, and, with the more I think about it, the more...not good it becomes.

In fact, Arkham Origins might actually be pretty bad. And it was probably due by the different developer. Not that they were worst, but the intention of why the game was being made in the first place had less to do of anybody really wanting to make a good game.

This is doubly interesting because today Kotaku had a very extensive and insightful piece about Peter Molyneux, who is definitely one of the game designers exposed most to being in the spotlight and it seems to be quite demanding of him.

I don't know if treating game designers like film regisseurs are currently treated would be a good way to go either. Some may be very good at game design but not very good at marketing their game. Especially AAA titles have such large teams that I'm not sure if a single designer is actually responsible for the whole direction a game is heading.
On the other hand there surely are many others that are totally comfortable in the lamplight but it might also mean "less presentable" designers get fewer important roles (or their role may be masked/lampshaded by employing them under a "top designer").

However, studio names and publisher names don't really guarantee good quality either. Just because one studio made some good games (like Borderlands) it doesn't mean that they aren't capable of slapping their name on something bad (or "outsource" it) just to sell it (like Colonial Marines).

shtoops:
In just angry that Ken Levine left the Bioshock IP with 2K. They're going to totally fuck it up.

Bit late for that? I'd love to see a return to the first two. The gameplay was the main drive of those games but they completely watered it down so they could have their story in Infinite. That didn't matter much in the end anyway since it went completely off the rails story-wise.

I'm all for a good story, but when the main draw of a series is the sheer library of options you have, the last thing you should do is simplify it as much as possible in order to have flashy scenes or the mere semblence of a good story.

Darth_Payn:

vonSanneck:

Thanatos2k:
Problem is, the more a name seems to be attached to a Western game the worse the game seems to be. Examples:

Warren Spector -> Epic Mickey
Clive Barker -> Jericho
Peter Molyneux -> Take your pick

And then there's our good friends like Phil Fish, Cliffy B, and Randy P.

The more I know about the developers the more I hate them. I'm fine with them toiling in obscurity and spitting out wonderful games.

Evonisia:
But I do agree on attaching names to brands. Tearing down companies is just irrational (no pun intended), just sack the creative director and hire a new one. The games might not improve by any dramatic extent but at least people will not be drove away should a game be awful. Western names don't seem to have much success. Has Peter Molyneux been praised for anything in the last 15 years? Tim Schafer in the last 8? Clive Barker ever? Tom Clancy?

Shameful how much the Western developers seem to be in the gutter. But both of you forgot to mention David Cage, but lets agree that all he does is bad long films with auto-pause built in...

Agreed on Cage, but just because a "name-brand" developer puts out 1 less-than-amazeballs game doesn't negate his whole body of work. I was at the Developers Choice awards at GDC, where Warren Spector received their Lifetime Achievement Award, while showing clips of the ALL the games he worked on or lead in his career. Of special note: Deus Ex.

That's the thing though. Warren Spector hasn't done anything of note since Deus Ex which was............14 years ago. Epic Mickey showed us that either he's completely lost his touch since then, or maybe he got a bit too much credit for the other things in his career like Deus Ex and Thief 2....maybe he WASN'T the reason those games were so good. After all, lots of people helped make those games. Segway into something about George Lucas and Star Wars...

How much one person did or didn't do is extremely nebulous, which is why I'm not so sure Yahztee's "We gotta have a name to the game" desire is really going to do anything to promote accountability or help people decide which games are worth playing.

I have no reason to believe Sid Meier himself is the reason to believe Civ 5 is a good game, any more than why Hideo Kojima is the only one to blame for how bad Metal Gear Solid 4 was.

Despite Yahtzee's claims there is already such a great amount of creator-worship in the West.

But I guess it's been strangely absent in the Game-world, where most people blindly follow corporations and not the people who've been developing the games.

What you are proposing here was one of the reasons why Electronic Arts came into being back in the 80s. One famous ad was just a group shot of all of the programmers of various titles from those days, folks like Bill Budge and Dan(i) Bunten. http://static.wcnews.com/newestshots/full/ea_cry_ad.jpg

I guess what I'm saying is, this has been and is already being done for a long time now, perhaps since before most of you were born. But new ways to promote the same sorts of changes are always welcome so ultimately... YES!

Didn't the loss of arteur names pretty much occur after the failure of Jon Romero's magnum opus, bitch?

Do we need to restart March Madness with dev/director names instead of companies?

Personally I don't really care... Even if I saw a name on 2 games I don't know whether the bits I liked from the first game were actually attributed to that name!

Peter Molyneux - Made some good games and then made What's in the Box. Really? Would I play What's in the Box because I think it will have the same level of story telling and humour as Fable? No, of course I wouldn't!

It's swings and roundabouts really on this matter... Yes it will be nice to know a few more names, but then again I also read gaming magazines where they have a feature and interview with a designer every month so I do get to see what they have worked on and are working on now!

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