No More Superstar Programmers?

I grabbed “Dirt 2” for the xbox 360 recently, looking for anaccessible late-night gaming distraction from coding.

The game is a stunning technical achievement, and it is amazingwhat they squeeze out of the almost half-decade-old era hardware ofthe device.

What makes the game spectacular isn’t specific to some mysticalart of console gaming, however, but is simply great software designand execution. While many in “mainstream” development (businessprocesses, websites, etc) consider game development foreign to whatthey do, it’s all just algorithms and code: One person doesfinancial projections and another does particle effects, differingless than many imagine

The Bruce Trail near Mt NemoThe game was so excellent thatI decided that I’d try to find who the talent behind it was, myquest thwarted because this game, like many recent releases bylarge game studios, has an apparently anonymous development team.My search for credits has yielded only a listing of artistsresponsible for the songs in the game.

It would be great if there was an industry credits site similarto imdb, where you could find out the people responsible for gamesand applications: I can easily discover who did the foley mixerwork on Joe Dirt, but can’t discover the team behind Dirt 2 after alot of digging. Maybe I’ll make one.

I did find a “studio tour” video,in which the only person deemed worthy of naming was the “SeniorExecutive Producer”. Maybe if I finish the game I’ll discover whodid the magic to make this game happen. I’d like to read how these guys operate and do what they do,because they are clearly successful at their craft, and I imaginethey’d have interesting things to say.

Are they just cogs in the gears of CodeMasters Crank it and agreat game pops out, quality determined only by your SeniorExecutive Director in charge of North American Marketing?

Are we past the era of superstars like John Carmack Are we intoan era where everyone is nameless “team players”…unless of coursethey’re in senior management/marketing, in which case theircontributions and name will be heralded everywhere.

As a mostly unrelated aside, the “all contributors are equal, but some are more equal than others” policy reminds me of a conversation I once had with a peer, during which they bragged about how their workplace followed a policy that strongly discouraged fancy-pants work titles (e.g. no lead architect, senior developer, etc). My appreciation for that egalitarian workplace dissolved, however, when I learned that the speaker had granted themselves a lofty, important sounding title, as did the other senior members, and they failed to see the hypocrisy in it.

Sidenote: The website for the game is mildlyoffensive to Canadians. They decided that the landing page wouldrequire you to first select a country, with the options being theNetherlands, Belgium, Germany, Spain, the UK, Italy, France, andthe USA.

As a Canadian I’m left not knowing which I’m supposed to pick.Maybe I’m supposed to pick the UK to get words with superfluous ‘u’still intact. Maybe I’m supposed to pick the US just because ofproximity Two of those countries (the Netherlands and Belgium) aresignificantly smaller than Canada, so I have to guess it’s a hybridlanguage/proximity thing.

Lots of websites pull this cheap navigation technique and it’slame. Often a US flag really means “English”, other times a UnionJack means English. Nationality and language aren’t the same thing,so it’s a lazy tactic, made especially confusing when both appeartogether.

Then again, if I recall correctly the old Codemasters siteworked by having you select on a world map, where all of NorthAmerica was labeled “United States of America”. Us Canadians getaccustomed to it.