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GPG's Taylor: Developers Should Interact More Directly With Press

Controversy abounds when developers don't receive their deserved credits on a title -- but what about credit and acknowledgment in the press? Gas Powered Games' Chris Taylor (Dungeon Siege, Demigod) explains to Gamasutra why it's important, even es

August 27, 2008

3 Min Read

Author: by Chris Remo, Leigh Alexander

The recent revelation that only current Mythic Entertainment employees will receive credits for Warhammer Online prompted the International Game Developers Association to call for a crediting standard for the industry. But end credits and box credits aren't the only sort of acknowledgment developers can receive. What about the credits that aren't on the box? Publisher interaction with the media often means that the names that get attached to games aren't necessarily those that had hands-on with the development of those titles, and Gas Powered Games' Chris Taylor, talking to Gamasutra, says press questions ought to go right to the people best qualified to answer them. Total Annihilation creator Taylor founded Gas Powered Games in 1998, with RPG Dungeon Siege as the studio's kickoff title, and Gas Powered also developed Supreme Commander, published by THQ in 2007, and the just-debuted Space Siege. Accustomed to developer recognition, Taylor hopes that the press will speak directly to the development team about Gas Powered's upcoming, Stardock-distributed real-time strategy/RPG hybrid Demigod. "I have been very spoiled, and get more attention than I deserve," Taylor says. "So I like to see the team interacting more with the press, and see questions go from the press straight to the guys who create the AI, or [lead artist] Nate [Simpson], who's created this incredible look for the world, or Mike [Marr], who's now the lead designer on the game." So rather than shelter his staff from the media as larger studios often do, Taylor says, "If people in the press want to interview individuals, I love that. I think that's the best thing, to get the story from the people who are working on the specifics of the game, rather than being filtered through me and getting my version of it." Taylor says the appropriate team members can provide the press with better, more thorough answers to inquiries. "If you ask, 'I'm in the beta, and I'm wondering why the Demigod turns around and runs away when he's at full health. Is that a bug?' Well, who could answer that best other than the guy who wrote the actual AI code?" Besides, Taylor admits he can't know every single thing going on with a game, no matter how many check-ins he reads -- especially as the volume of such status reports builds. Plus, he says, getting some time in the sun is good for the team -- and saves him some stress, too. "It's a lot of work out there talking, and I have other stuff to do too, so it kind of works! It's a nice balance." Of course, in Gas Powered Games' case, Taylor's wishes are complicated somewhat by the fact that the aforementioned Mike Marr is taking over for former design lead John Comes. But importantly, Taylor isn't about to let Comes' contribution be discredited. "John was really the guy who forged the vision for the game, and he had a great opportunity to go do something else he wanted to go after," he says. One of the concerns many publishers cite when they hesitate to provide full developer credits is the fear that such lists open their staff up to poaching by recruiters, or otherwise encourage team members to move on. "It's a deep belief of mine that you should be free to do whatever you want, and you shouldn't feel if you have a great opportunity that you have to stay with the company," says Taylor. As far as Demigod's concerned, he says the title's near-complete status at the time of Comes's departure made it easier to transition over to Marr as lead. The IGDA, who represents the industry's development professionals, might be right on when it forcefully stresses the need for every staffer to receive proper acknowledgment in the game's credits. But Taylor's perspective illuminates the idea that proper credits in the media are good for everyone, too.

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