Saturday, September 6, 2014

Who Are the Creators?

Zubon at Kill Ten Rats wondered how much meaning "From the Makers of" really has.  It's a good question, especially with the way the software industry works.  Big layoffs after games ship are not uncommon; case in point, ZeniMax's recent layoffs.  Which parts of Elder Scrolls Online were the devs who are no longer there responsible for?  If another company ends up hiring a decent subset of those devs, does that mean the project they work on next is "from the makers of Elder Scrolls Online?"

It gets a little easier to anticipate what you'll get when you start paying attention to individuals.  Of course that only works with the relatively rare superstar developer who makes a name for himself.  If Peter Molyneux, or Richard Garriott designs a new game, you'll have a pretty good idea of what that game's genereal feel will be before you play it.  When Double Fine was founded after Lucasarts decided to quit making games that weren't Star Wars, I knew that these were the guys that made Day of the Tentacle and Grim Fandango, so I could feel pretty certain that whatever they made next, I would enjoy.  And sure enough, Psychonauts is one of my all-time favorite games.

 You see the same thing in other collaborative media, such as comic books.  Marvel Comics puts out a lot of books, and they vary greatly in feel.  Most readers aren't going to like every single thing they publish.  You can follow specific characters, but you'll find that as the creative team in control of a particular character changes, the feel of that character's adventures will change too.  Spider-Man written by Todd McFarlane was vastly different from Spider-Man written by J.M. DeMatteis.  If you want stories with a particular feel, you're better off following creators from book to book.  I know if I pick up a story by Mark Waid, or by Kurt Busiek, that I'll likely enjoy it, no matter what characters are involved, or even which publisher it's from.

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