The following are the ways GDRI determines game developers.
Primary methods used
An "actual mention" is when a company name is actually mentioned in or on the game. Sometimes, a game or game package will say upfront it was developed/programmed by a certain company.
Other times, the mention is not-so-forthcoming. It might say "Produced by Company" or "Designed by Company." And other times still, the company might just be mentioned in the copyright notice. In these cases, we might need to infer that the company is the developer. Hopefully, there will be other evidence to back up that initial inference.
Thanks to a program called Hobo Hunt developed especially for GDRI, we can now do code comparisons. This program can look at two different files and tell you what is shared between them. For our purposes, we compare two ROMs for games we know to be by the same developer and see what code is shared between the two. From there, we can search for this shared data in other ROMs. If there's a significant amount of shared code in these other ROMs, there is a good possibility that these were programmed by the developer of the two games we originally compared.
Sometimes, this is not particularly helpful if there is a lot of generic code used or there are drastically different programming teams. Other times, this can be a powerful tool (especially if it can be backed up by other evidence).
The aforementioned program is not available for download yet, as it is not in a distributable state.
On rare occasion, GDRI is able to make contact with former staffers who are willing to help and share info with us. We just wish it would happen more often.
If you are a former staffer with one of the developers featured on GDRI and want to help us, please contact us at smsgenny [@] vgrebirth.org.
Company websites are great resources for information, especially if the company is open about the games it worked on in the past (thus eliminating a lot of legwork for us).
Failing that, a great resource is SIT Developer Table, a Japanese site that was the inspiration for GDRI. There, you'll find works lists for a multitude of developers. If we're interested enough in a developer listed, we might be inspired to do some of our own research.
Sometimes, information can be culled from message boards and discussion forums such as 2ch, the large Japanese Internet forum.
You never know what you will find when you open up a ROM (which is as easy as opening it in Microsoft Notepad). One might find the name of the developer, names of staffers, or other "secret" text strings not otherwise accessible by playing the game.
Take, for example, the following text string found in the Master System Sonic the Hedgehog 2 ROM:
MS SONIC¥THE¥HEDGEHOG.2 Ver1.00 1992/09/05 SEGA /Aspect Co.,Ltd
GDRI scours the Internet, ROMs, and other sources to find game credits. We might even play through an entire game just to get them. When we've gathered enough credits from various games, we can compare them, see what is shared between them, and hopefully come to some sort of conclusion.
As we mentioned before, credits can be found in the ROMs. Usually, these are the same credits that can be seen by finishing the game. This is not to be confused with ROM text (described above), which is typically not meant to be seen by the general public.
Finding out what methods were used
Many of our entries will use one of the following "configurations" to display what methods were used to determine our works lists.
The most common of the two configurations is essentially a straightfoward list toward the top of the page like this:
- Research Methods: Code comparisons, e-mail, online resources (see external links), shared credits
If you need a reminder of what each "research method" entails, you can just click on Research Methods.
This configuration is more specific and more time-consuming to put together, so it will only be used with a few smaller developers. Instead of one general list, each game will have listed the methods used to figure out the developer.
- Sonic Labyrinth (under SIMS) (JP/US Publisher: Sega)
If a method listed has a link, you can click it to find out more. In the case of "[Shared credits]," you will be taken to a page containing the game's credits. Relevant staffers will be linked. Click the link and you can see all the other games the person has worked on.