Home Gaming Namco’s loading-screen mini-game patent expires this year

Namco’s loading-screen mini-game patent expires this year

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Galaga

Have you ever played any of Namco’s games and found yourself playing the Galaxian or Galaga mini-games while stages or levels load and thought “I wish more companies would give us things to play during load screens; that’s so much better than reading a bit of silly text or watching a loading bar!” There’s a reason for that; Namco holds a patent on the very idea of loading-screen mini-games. It ends this year.

According to a community post on Gamasutra by video game lawyer David Hoppe, Namco’s US patent for the idea is set to expire at the end of this year. Says David:

“Back in 1995, loading screens may have been familiar to computer gamers, but they were a new annoyance for console gamers raised on Nintendo and Sega cartridges. Most new CD-based games displayed a static “now loading” screen. Some games disguised the loading, such as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night’s transitional rooms between sections of Dracula’s castle, or Resident Evil’s distinctive door-opening sequences. Namco’s Ridge Racer, on the other hand, quickly loaded a very small, unrelated game (‘80s classic Galaxian) that could tide the player over while the Playstation loaded the much larger Ridge Racer data. It seemed like a great feature for future disc-based games, but Namco took the opportunity to patent this process. Since then, Namco-published games have often featured fun mini-games during long loading periods. Other studios, however, have not licensed the process from Namco. As such, games often simply display advice on static screens, or feature ways to hide the loading (The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker’s vast ocean between playable areas, for instance).”’

It’s a feature that I think could be used for so much more than shooting at a couple of aliens; a quick mini game that – if completed – infers some sort of bonus, like a refilled health bar, extra ammo or some or other in-game bauble would be infinitely better than watching a bar progress across the screen.

Last Updated: January 14, 2015

12 Comments

  1. Fnuik

    January 14, 2015 at 10:10

    Fifa uses a mini game of trying to score goals against only the goalie

    Reply

  2. Hammersteyn

    January 14, 2015 at 10:14

    Destiny should make our ships fly around and have you shoot things during their load screens. Even orbital bombardment would be fun, maybe have you take out enemies before you land or weaken bosses before the strike or raid begins. At least they allowed us to customize the load screen which is nice of them I guess.

    Reply

    • HairyEwok

      January 14, 2015 at 10:19

      Wouldn’t that mean the whole map and NPC need to be loaded anyway if you want to weaken bosses or enemies?

      Reply

      • Hammersteyn

        January 14, 2015 at 10:21

        I’d make a minigame run during the load screens and after the minigame based on the performance of the player apply the results to the map that has just loaded.

        Reply

        • HairyEwok

          January 14, 2015 at 10:24

          So basically a quick pre-load of whats ahead that’s interactive and probably timer based since each load wont be the same speed, and within that time frame you do what you can to better your chances in the main mission/game.

          Reply

          • Hammersteyn

            January 14, 2015 at 10:26

            Something like that.

          • HairyEwok

            January 14, 2015 at 10:28

            We should do job applications at Bungie. We are now pro game developers with the above idea.

          • Hammersteyn

            January 14, 2015 at 10:30

            LOL it’s just an idea, no idea how I would code it.

          • HairyEwok

            January 14, 2015 at 10:43

            The idea is the one with the $$$$$ I’m sure they have coders to code the code of the coding? Codeception.

        • Skyblue

          January 14, 2015 at 22:38

          NO! Force gamer’s to play Resogun and the retro-revolution will begin… again…

          Reply

          • Hammersteyn

            January 15, 2015 at 07:46

            You don’t need to force anything. It’s was a fantastic present that waited on the PS store when I first switched on my PS4. We need more games like it.

  3. Ragnar The Vengeful

    January 14, 2015 at 12:23

    I’d like an opportunity to clean some of my guns while waiting for BF4 to load.This can have an impact on your accuracy and reduce the frequency of jams (which should be included in the game).

    Reply

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