MobyGames: Failure to Give Credit Where Credit is Due?

by Darius Kazemi on August 6, 2007

in credits

Game credits are a prickly issue. Often, when I bring the topic up with developers, they cringe visibly. Many a developer has worked on a game for years, only to not be credited in the end for one pretty unfair reason or another.

Now, the question of whose name goes in the game credits is usually left up to developers (less often publishers). I’m going to skip over the many flaws in the current crediting system, although I will pause to note that the IGDA has been working to improve the state of crediting. Instead I focus on something that has typically been a shining example of game industry crediting: MobyGames. MobyGames is a user-contributed database of game information, and the most important piece of game information they collect (in my opinion) is credits.

The way this works is that you go out and buy a game, and then you log into MobyGames and you transcribe the entire credits for the game. This earns you points as a contributer, and there’s a big moderation system in place in case you screw up or don’t know what you’re doing. It’s all pretty low-tech.Anyway, this typically works well. People enter the names of folks who end up in the manual. For example, if you take a look at my MobyGames developer profile, you’ll see that I’m credited on D&D Online, Lord of the Rings Online, and… The Truth About Game Development. The neat thing is that I didn’t enter any of this information. Someone else cared enough to do it.

The problem is this: the MobyGames credits for D&D Online don’t match what’s in the manual. And the reason’s pretty simple: MMOs usually have two teams of people that work on the game. There’s the launch team, which are the folks who worked on the game up to launch and are in the game manual. And then there’s the live team, which is responsible for the content updates we all know and love. These teams often have overlapping developers, but they’re usually pretty different in their makeup.So the MobyGames credits at the moment consist of the live team. Which I suppose is accurate in a sense: who is working on the game right now? It’s the live team. But that’s different from the people who worked hard for many years and have their names in the manual. Check out Justin Quimby’s developer profile. He’s credited on every Turbine game except for D&D Online. Which is weird, because he was the Director of Game Systems Engineering for DDO, and it says so in the manual!

I’m not saying that live team shouldn’t be credited on MobyGames. If anything, they deserve it more than the launch team, since at least the launch team gets a printed manual–the live team gets squat!

What I’m getting at here is that maybe MobyGames should revisit their crediting structure, because it doesn’t work for ongoing games. Why not have two credit sections for an MMO? I sent them a nice email about this, and didn’t hear back, so I’m deliberately making some noise on this blog in hopes that I can at least get some people talking about this issue.


Ian Schreiber August 7, 2007 at 8:23 pm

I probably hold some kind of record for being screwed over the most from this sort of thing. All three games I worked on at Genetic Anomalies, I was added to the projects after they went live. Total number of professional credits to my name from that studio: zero. (And I was too young and inexperienced at the time to make more noise about this.)

Just to add to the difficulty, something you didn’t mention is expansion sets. Let’s use the recent LOTRO expansion as an example; we’re now talking about potentially FOUR teams of devs here: the original dev and live teams, and the expansion set dev and live teams. Maybe at Turbine there was overlap, I don’t know, but at GA there wasn’t…

Sciere August 8, 2007 at 3:54 pm

MobyGames is not to blame here. To maintain accuracy, we can only go by what is listed in the manual or in-game. We have lots of developers who try to associate them with games, rightfully of not, but without a decent, objective source it just can’t be verified. If we freely allowed this, the credit listings would soon become worthless. It is actually up to the developers, or possible an umbrella organization to push for credit where due, listing an entire development team and including new or revised credits with patches or updates.

Keep in mind that MobyGames credit listings don’t have to be final. If a game update includes a new or revised listing, you can update it at MobyGames with a new credits group.

In the case of Justin Quimby, that was either an oversight by the original contributor and approver, or his name got lost in the localization of the game/manual, which is unfortunately the case sometimes.

Currently, we advise developers who find their name not included in the official credit listings to update their MobyGames bio and mention the additional games they worked on there. It’s up to the publisher and dev teams to provide correct credit listings, we can only list what is made available. Be glad you don’t work at a primary EA team, most of their games don’t even have credits in-game or in the manual.

Darius Kazemi August 8, 2007 at 4:06 pm

Sciere: I agree with you 100%! I wasn’t complaining that MobyGames doesn’t give appropriate credit to people who aren’t listed in games or in manuals. That’s a problem the game industry has to solve. You can only go by what we give you.

I was just complaining that there are in fact two teams credited for most MMOs, one in manual, and one in game, and it looked like at least in the case of DDO, one of those legitimately credited teams was left out in the cold.

I said it before and I’ll say it again: I love MobyGames. You guys are a credit to the industry (pun intended, ouch).

I’m interested to know how “credit groups” work. I will look into this later on the site.

Dave S. August 8, 2007 at 5:05 pm

I’ve bought tons of games that don’t have complete credits in the manual. Often times, I have to look at both the manual and the game ending to see the complete credits.

A perfect example of this is The King of Fighters 2006 for the Playstation 2. The game credits have the Japanese development team, the US marketing team, and the US voice actors. But, the manual has extended credits for the US voice actors, detailing who did what. The in-game credits do not.

Thankfully these wrong credits CAN be fixed. It’s not like Wikipedia where anyone can come around and delete your credits, we have a system where we go back and forth between the submitters and the approvers to make sure that things are correct.

Sciere August 8, 2007 at 5:18 pm

Credits groups (though we could use subgroups as well) are sections for a listing, like the Activision people grouped together at “Published by Activision” and the Neversoft developers at “Developed by Neversoft”, or “Turbine: Development”, “Turbine: Art” for groups within a single company. It mostly depends on the original lay-out in-game or in the manual. If you can provide an additional credits group, for DDO for instance, feel free to add additional groups or update the existing ones.

Other developers have complained about the issue too. The movie industry has adapted and is now very careful to give credit where due. The time when Japanese companies used to hide or obfuscate the name of developers so as not to expose them is now long gone. Claim your credit, our dear game developer heroes =)

WildKard August 9, 2007 at 2:15 am

From experience, in-game credits and manual credits seldom match. Or rather: one of those sources will typically have more names than the other (I’m tempted to say in-game credits are longer, because they’re not adding paper to the manual, but I’m sure there are a LOT of exceptions to my thinking here, so don’t take it as gospel). What often happens because of that is that even a properly contributed information on credits might have to be added to based on another source.

As you mention the “live team” for MMOs and/or dynamic content, I imagine that even credits displayed here in-game might change over time, as new staff are brought on board or changeover through the normal evolution of the online product.

P.S. Developers/Publishers… If you use in-game credits, put a Credits button on the main menu to your product. Don’t make me wait until the end of the game (and often after a difficult “final boss” that I may not be able to beat every time I attempt it) to see who should get credit :)

Jason Booth August 23, 2007 at 3:59 am

And then there were those of us who spent years of our life writing the core game play code, and in fact the very language DDO is written in, that wern’t given credit where it’s due simply because Turbine is a shitty company that acts in spite when developers leave a rotting project.. Personally, I consider that a bigger problem in this industry than anything happening at MobyGames.

Darius Kazemi August 23, 2007 at 2:31 pm

Yes Jason, you’re right, you and others did get screwed out of your DDO credits by Turbine. But I did frame my whole post by saying that I was not focusing on the issue of developers giving credit, but rather the documentation of who is given credit by developers.

I would like to tackle the larger issue of credit, but I don’t really know enough about it. I might give it a crack in the next week.

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