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First of all this is not a discussion for the best place to put credits, but rather where it's allowed.

So for instance is it fine if I just include a credits.txt file in the install directory, or will I have to make an in-game place where you can read them.

And is there any general rules, or is it up to the individual which need credit?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ They're not an industry standards body (rather more of an advocacy group), but the IGDA have a crediting SIG: igda.org/members/… \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Sep 16 '15 at 14:43
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You could follow the game crediting guide by the IGDA like many game studios do.

Its main bulk are several rules regarding who to credit, in what order and in what way. But page 10 also has rules regarding where to place the credits. To sumarize:

  • The credits should appear in the game
  • The credits should be easily accessible without having to beat the game.

General practice is to put a "credits" button on the main menu and also play the credits on completion of the game (if the game has a clear moment of completion).

However, this guide is only a recommendation. The only crediting requirements which you must follow are those which are part of the work contracts of those who contribute to the game (many work contracts in the game industry reference or quote the IGDA rules, though). When the contract you made with a staff member doesn't have a crediting clause, you are only morally obligated to give them credit, not legally.

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It depends on the contracts you are bound by. If nothing is specified then you can put it wherever you want. That being said you probably want to give due credit.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Often if you use open source material you are obligated to add attribution of that fact. This is best done in the credits. \$\endgroup\$ – ratchet freak Sep 16 '15 at 14:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ How to give attribution is typically decided by the source author. \$\endgroup\$ – Petah Sep 16 '15 at 22:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ratchetfreak attribution requirements will vary between different open source licences, so you have to check for each of them separately. For example, including GPL code will not obligate you to add any attribution or mention of that at all in your game, but will obligate you to relicence your code, for which credits will not be an option. \$\endgroup\$ – Peteris Sep 17 '15 at 9:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Peteris displaying the whole source code of your app as part of the credits would be fine I guess, would be weird though. \$\endgroup\$ – SztupY Sep 17 '15 at 11:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SztupY it would be weird, but it actually wouldn't be fine, since GPL stipulates that it needs to be machine-readable in "the preferred form of the work for making modifications to it" and all the scripts to actually build the distributed system from that form of source code. You might build a crazy enough credits subsystem (with an integrated editor and compiler) that fits that, but it would be quite an interesting feature. \$\endgroup\$ – Peteris Sep 17 '15 at 12:52
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It's up to the individual and whatever contract or agreement governs your use of whatever they did.

Some OSS licenses specify that credits have to be in particular places. IANAL, but I've seen cases where (when no location was specified) it was deemed correct by courts that the credit was in the application package (for a Mac app), which is not usually a place where people not reverse-engineering your app look. So you can probably get away with a lot as far as courts are involved.

That said, it's generally considered polite to put credits in an equivalent place to where you put the credits for your team/your main copyright notice. Not on the home screen, but your about screen or your Readme file are usually considered appropriate (the latter is the only sensible place for e.g. command line tools).

But when in doubt, ask whoever you're crediting where they want to be credited. Only way to be safe.

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