Namco Has “Finished The Polygon Models, Moves, and Systems,” For Tekken X Street Fighter

Tekken series producer Katsuhiro Harada was in an interview recently with Famitsu and he was asked about the awaited game that was revealed in San Diego Comic-Con 2010, Tekken X Street Fighter.

Harada states that Namco are deep into development and assures people that they haven’t forgotten the game.

“That’s not true! I’ve been saying this since before, but the fact of the matter is that we’re at a pretty far stage into its development,” responds Harada.

He also stated that Namco’s team had already decided the game’s lineup of powerful fighters from both Street Fighter and Tekken rosters since the game was announced and that they have finished the fighters’ models and moves already.

“It might seem like we haven’t started on it at all, but the character lineup has been decided upon since a very long time ago, and we’ve already finished the polygon models, moves, and systems,” says Harada.

Tekken X Street Fighter still didn’t have a release date but we’re happy to even get a development status update about the game and check that it’s still alive. ( Credit: Siliconera )

Namco’s 20-Year Hold on Loading Screen Minigames Is Coming to an End

Namco

In 1995 Namco released Ridge Racer, the first in the long-running racing series. Ridge Racer also saw Namco’s first implementation of a loading screen minigame, in this case 80’s arcade classic Galaga. It was a time when PC gamers were used to seeing loading screens, but console gamers weren’t thanks to the prevalence of Nintendo’s cartridge technology. Ridge Racer was on the new CD technology, so Namco used the minigame to fight the tedium of the loading screens. They even incorporated the minigame into the main game – if the player could defeat all enemies before the main game loaded, they would unlock extra vehicles.

Namco liked the idea of having a minigame in loading screens so much they had it patented, which is why you’ve never seen a loading screen minigame in anything that wasn’t made by Namco. But that may be about to change. Namco’s Yoichi Hayashi filed the patent, number 5718632, on November 27 1995, which means it expires on that date this year. Does that mean we’ll see loading screen minigames on November 28? Well, it’s not likely, because working on those minigames before the expiry date, even with the intent of releasing them after, still violates the patent. So we’ll be waiting a while before we see anything. This patent remains one of the most controversial within the games industry, with Namco accused of abusing the patent system to block innovation. But as much as I hate to defend big companies patenting things, it’s unfair to blame Namco for trying to work within a broken system.

Patenting has existed in US law since the 1700’s. It enabled inventors to invest their time and money in their inventions because they had a guarantee that they would be able profit from it without having to compete with copycats. It gave them 20 years of exclusive rights to their creations. Of course, back then having a patent was an honour. Now, thousands and thousands of patents are granted every week. Is this because everybody is just more inventive these days? Of course not. Patents are just much easier to come by, and it’s ruining the very thing they were created to protect.

Patents exist for the purpose of enabling innovation. Today, for something to be patentable, it must meet three requirements; novel, non-obvious, and useful. In the case of Namco’s minigame patent, its usefulness is obvious. Anything that makes loading screens less boring is a blessing. But non-obvious? Well, this point is debateable, but most people would agree that it’s quite obvious. To qualify as non-obvious, it must be something that a person of average skill within the industry would not think of. Would a game developer of average skill think of putting minigames in loading screens to make them less boring? It seems clear that a lot would.

Namco’s patent really falls apart when it comes to the first requirement – that the idea is novel. Namco was not the first to include minigames in loading screens. A notable example is Invade-A-Load, a space-invaders minigame created by Richard Aplin for Mastertronics titles in 1987, 8 years before Namco filed its patent. Even if we assume the minigame idea was non-obvious, nobody can deny it wasn’t novel.

What does this mean? Basically, it means Namco never should have received the patent. So why did they? Well, that’s not entirely clear. It beggars belief that the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) would grant a patent when it so clearly didn’t meet the requirements. But since then, the situation’s only gotten worse. One just needs to look at the Apple-Samsung patent war to see the ridiculous “innovations” companies can patent.

So shouldn’t these greedy companies just back off? Well, no. I hate to defend these companies, but in this case, they’re just doing what they have to do. In 1991, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos patented 1-click buying (having a website store your credit card information so you can buy something with one click). This move was heavily criticised and with good reason. Jeff Bezos himself acknowledged the patent system is broken, but said he had no choice but to file for the patent. The system may be broken, but he, and all other businesses, still have to work within it.

Bezos suggested that, at least when it comes to the internet sector, patents be granted for 3 years instead of the current 20 years. Technology advances too quickly for 20 year patents to do anything but hinder innovation. This would be a good step forward, but it would only fix one of the litany of problems plaguing the patent system. There’s still the matter of how prohibitively expensive challenging a patent can be. But real issue with patents is the three requirements I mentioned earlier, or rather, the lack of their being upheld.

In 1998, Sega patented the core mechanic of its Crazy Taxi game. Patent Number 6200138 itself is worded terribly, but is also vague enough to include any game where a car drives around a city, with an arrow indicating the next objective hovering above, where pedestrians and other cars move out of the player’s way to avoid collision. Having virtual people move out of the way of a virtual car so they don’t virtually get run over doesn’t sound like a revolutionary new idea, but this patent has actually been enforced. In 2003 Sega sued Fox Interactive, EA, and Radical Entertainment over The Simpsons Road Rage for its inclusion of missions where the player has to pick up passengers and drive them somewhere quickly. Oh, and its inclusion of pedestrians that don’t want to be run over. The case was settled for an undisclosed amount, but it’s clear that this is another case of a patent that never should have been granted. There’s nothing non-obvious about driving people around and pedestrians that don’t want to die.

Over the years, the patent situation has grown more and more out of hand, now to the point where there’s almost nobody left who doesn’t agree that the system is broken. But in addition to Bezos’ suggestion of limiting some patents to 3 years, there’s a really obvious solution. Follow your own patent requirements and stop handing them out like lollies on Halloween. Sooner or later, somebody at the patent office is going to have to start doing their job.

Dark Souls II Getting DLC Trilogy

Dark Souls

After Dark Souls II‘s critical success, it is no surprise that DLC is on the way. Bandai Namco announced that three pieces of DLC will be arriving over the next several months for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3.

The DLC trilogy, titled ‘The Lost Crowns’, will take place over three new locales, and offer a variety of new challenges for the most brazen of fans.

The following statement discusses the first expansion and what it entails:

“The Crown of the Sunken King sends players on a quest to reclaim the Crown that King Vendrick once owned. With an entirely new areas to explore within the Dark Souls II universe, players will find pyramids, underground caverns, and unknown foes. It is said that the Ancient Crown is buried deep below the surface, but surely it cannot sit unguarded?”

Though not much else is known outside of the press release,  we’ve been informed of the titles, their respective release dates and that each piece of content will be $9.99. If you have the utmost confidence in the quality of the DLC, or want to save a few pennies, a season pass can be purchased for $24.99.

  • The Crown of the Sunken KingJuly 22, 2014
  • The Crown of the Old Iron KingAugust 26, 2014
  • The Crown of the Ivory KingSeptember 24, 2014

What’s more, Bandai Namco included a trailer for your viewing pleasure.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ioo0ukZ6P-4