Brushing off complaints from an anonymous developer who complained about a lack of credit for working on "Warhammer Online," the game's lead designer wants the ex-employee to stand up and let the world know who he/she is.
"If you really think that we're doing something wrong, at least have the balls to stand up and go 'Hi, my name is so-and-so,'" said Mark Jacobs, VP of EA-owned Mythic Entertainment.
He and I were talking about the recent Shacknews report that at least one ex-developer wants to sue EA for lack of credit. "[Leaving the person out of the credits] could be a mistake. I'm not saying it's not happening. I just don't know who the heck this person is. So come out, stop hiding behind the anonymity of the internet and the legal shield of 'I'm going to sue EA.'"
Jacobs and I discussed this during a longer conversation about just how creators of an MMO should and should not get credit.
Jacobs also told me that he's heard from former staff members who have called to say that it wasn't them. "If the three years is correct, there's only a few people it can be. But I don't know if the three years is correct because I know who was working on it three years ago, and most of those people are still with the company. Maybe this person was fired from Mythic and they don't want to say who they were publicly."
"I think the credits belong to the people who have been working on this game non-stop, whether they've been with us for a week or whether they've been with us for three years."
He admitted that there may have been some people who left the company on less than amicable terms. "In some of the cases that people left, some of them hadn't done a great job for us," he said. "Or some left just in a lurch. Do I feel badly for that? No, I don't feel badly at all. I'm not going to shed a single tear for any of those guys."
So how should MMO developers get credit?
Ultimately, he thought that only people who are working on the game when it launches should get credit for their work. "I'll worry more about the people who are with me right now, then those who decided that they didn't like the company or they wanted to take a better job somewhere else," he said. "I think the credits belong to the people who have been working on this game non-stop, whether they've been with us for a week or whether they've been with us for three years. If you're part of the team when we launch, you deserve to be in the credits. No question about it. That, in my estimation, is what the credits are for."
"If we set that precedent right now, that anyone who worked on the game at any point in time is going to be in the credits, the credits will be 20 pages long."
Jacobs explained that the problem with credits for MMOs in general is that there are always so many people working on the project. He cited games like "EverQuest," with its multiple expansions, as an example of game that just can't credit everybody. "Online games are ever-changing and [have] ever-changing credits," he explained. "Show me one MMO that has been up for seven years that has kept the credits for every single person who's worked on the game as long as they've had a large team. We have hundreds of people working on 'Warhammer' and what's going to happen a year from now is maybe some of that team goes on to another game, and we bring in other people to replace them. And then what happens the year after that or the year after that... if we set that precedent right now, that anyone who worked on the game at any point in time is going to be in the credits, the credits will be 20 pages long within a couple of years. And nobody does that."
"If all the game companies agree on [a standard for credits] -- on that day, I'll be thrilled."
I suggested that some people might want Mythic to set a precedent with 20-page credits. "But I don't want 20 pages!" he said, laughing. "One, I can't fit it in the manual. And second, I think that does a bit of a disservice as well to the people who are still part of the team, who are still working on the game. You know what, if people want to complain about credits, then how come we're not tracking the months? How come we don't have the five-star credit section for people who worked on it for three years? Then the four-star credit section and then the two-star credit... There are so many issues with it, and we want to keep it really simple: If you're on the team when we launch, you're in the full credits section with some exceptions into the 'Special Thanks' for certain people who have left under difficult circumstances."
Jacobs said if there was an agreed set of credit standards for the industry, he would follow it. "There is no requirement [to have credits]. A lot of companies don't give any credits, but we do. If all the game companies agree on something -- even internally there's no absolute plan within EA because it's up to the studios -- on that day, I'll be thrilled. ... Until then, everyone who is currently at Mythic who's worked on 'Warhammer' is going to be in the credits. And that's good enough for me."
Check back later for more from my interview with Jacobs.