flower: credits

There’s one sadness about flower for me – the credits.  Why does it take so many developers to make such a simple idea?  Huge!  I can’t find the complete list, but the credits feels like 100 people, including tons of support and publishing personnel as well.  The credits level of flower (fantastic!) feels far too long, like somehow the credits list wasn’t designed properly.

It’s not a simple game, by any means.  Fantastic polish.   And I know (from experience!) how much work such titles take these days.  But that doesn’t mean we should accept it.  flower is a simple idea, and should require straightforward execution.   Compare it to Jenova Chen’s first work, Cloud.  Cloud was done by one person, Jenova himself..  And yet it incorporates a similar aesthetic and ideas.  Flash forward to consoles 5 years later and flower takes a full team.

It’s not surprising, but it makes me sad.  What will it take for games this good to be simple to make again?  When the auteur can be the author again?

(Edit:  Check out Michael and CrashT in the comments who gave some hard team numbers that seem inspiring)

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9 thoughts on “flower: credits

  1. Do you think there’s any relevance looking over to the film industry?

    There it’s often hard to see the “invisible hand” of the auteur, except for stylistic or thematic trends across a whole oeuvre (this stands out in the more outlier directors like von Trier, or Cronenberg, or the Coen Bros).

  2. I need to try the game (anyone got a spare PS3? 🙂 ) but how many of those extra staff are typical Sony publisher deals? Half the “credits” for games nowadays seem to be regional marketing, producers, executives, more marketing, more PR, accountants, IT staff, egad, even receptionists – all for the publisher, not even the developer.

    It’d be interesting to know that 🙂 It might be that Flower just used a large team to produce the game quickly (I’ve no idea), which would make awesome sense (I’m all for game turnaround in a year on year basis!) but I agree, it would be nice to know why it’s so large if it appears a problem.

  3. I would suspect that, as with most titles, the overwhelming majority of the staff on Flower is for content creation. e.g. the art models and “level design” such as it is. That pipeline will be a thorn in our side for quite some time.

  4. I was not on the team and have not talked to them, so I can only theorize. It seems like publisher and test credits are the majority. And those people are play an important role. But it is not the creator’s role, and yet they require the creator’s time. To guess I’d say the core team was about 20, including some Sony devs.

    It’s significant not because it’s bad for flower’s design directly. Chen’s voice is very clear in flower. It’s significant because it creates a friction, and a cost that must be paid for someone to participate. It means artists spend less time exploring the problem and more time communicating the basic idea. We can see the difference in places where tools have been great – Adventure Game Studio and Game Maker and even Unreal Engine have churned out hordes of games with great variety, compared to places where those tools aren’t available.

    Chen is an inspiring designer, but he has also been a lucky designer. He is likely one of many artists on that team with an interesting game vision. But with such high costs, only his could be afforded. Or, to put it another way, Chen’s ideas themselves are harder to do, take longer, and require more negotiating. A simpler craft could generate more work, more competition, and more quality.

  5. It is interesting to compare the number of people in the credits for Flower for those in the credits for Half Life 2: Episode 1. There are far less in the latter.

    I have to agree with Andrew that most of those credits are for the corporate side of Sony and though they were helpful it is likely a requirement that everybody above a certain level at Sony is credited on any title released by them.

    ThatGameCompany itself has seven employees.

    • That’s good to know. I failed tracking that down. My argument is flawed then – Cloud certainly seems to have taken just as long or longer, with a similar core team. But there’s still a lot of extra support on flower whose contribution and role isn’t clear. It’d be interesting to hear more about influences then, too. The press has spun this as Chen’s baby, and he is listed as Creative Director, but Kellee Santiago has worked with him the whole way, so I’d hazard there’s a lot of credit to go around.

      Maybe there’s more optimism here then I realized. I’ll hope. Thanks.

  6. My game was created by 3 full time people, but our credits have 24 people listed. So even if a game is made with a small core team, the number of people that touched the game is some way can be huge. There’s a big different between a developer putting 5000 hours in a project and someone drawing a few images and putting in 80 hours. The credits normally don’t show that difference well.

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