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Aloading screen is a picture shown by a computer program, often a video game, while the program is loading or initializing.
In early video games, the loading screen was also a chance for graphic artists to be creative without the technical limitations often required for the in-game graphics.Drawing utilities were also limited during this period. Melbourne Draw, one of the few 8-bit screen utilities with a zoom function, was one program of choice for artists.
While loading screens remain commonplace in video games, background loading is now used in many games, especially open world titles, to eliminate loading screens while traversing normally through the game, making them appear only when using warps or fast travel.
Loading screens that disguise the length of time that a program takes to load were common when computer games were loaded from cassette tape, a process which could take five minutes or more.Nowadays, most games are downloaded digitally, and therefore loaded off the hard drive meaning faster load times, however, some games are also loaded off of an optical disc, faster than previous magnetic media, but still include loading screens to disguise the amount of time taken to initialize the game in RAM.
Because the loading screen data itself needs to be read from the media, it actually increases the overall loading time. For example, with a ZX Spectrum game, the screen data takes up 6 kilobytes, representing an increase in loading time of about 13% over the same game without a loading screen.
The loading screen does not need to be a static picture. Some loading screens display a progress bar or a timer countdown to show how much data has actually loaded.
Other loading screens double as briefing screens, providing the user with information to read. This information may only be there for storytelling and/or entertainment or it can give the user information that is usable when the loading is complete, for example the mission goals in a game. In fighting games the loading screen is a versus screen, which shows the fighters who will take part in the match.
Some games have even included minigames in their loading screen, notably the 1983 Skyline Attack for the Commodore 64 and Joe Blade 2 on the ZX Spectrum. One well-known loader game was Invade-a-Load. Another example is "the shop keepers quiz" in Dota 2 which is more like a game finding screen rather than loading screen.
Namco has used playable mini-games during a loading screen. Examples include variations of their old arcade games ( Galaxian or Rally-X or for example) as loading screens when first booting up many of their early PlayStation releases. Even to this day, their PlayStation 2 games, like Tekken 5 , still use the games to keep people busy while the game initially boots up. Despite the Invade-a-Load prior art, Namco filed a patent in 1995that prevented other companies from having playable mini-games on their loading screens, which expired in 2015. Recent EA Sports games have "warm up" sessions. For example, FIFA 11 has the player shooting free-kicks solo and NBA Live 10 has 2-player shootouts, while the game loads. NBA Live 08 features a 4-player general knowledge quiz. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of THQ's MX vs. ATV: Untamed lets the player partake in a free-ride session on the test course.
Some games like a number of Call of Duty titles have videos that give an introduction to the level while the game loads in the background. Normally, when the level is completely loaded, the remaining video can be skipped. The video does not necessarily apply to what is happening in the level, as Red Faction: Guerrilla sometimes shows news reports foreshadowing events that will become important later on, or that give tidbits about the game's universe.
On the Commodore 64, tape loading screens would often feature music in the form of a chiptune making use of the machines advanced SID sound chip.
The ZX Spectrum is an 8-bit personal home computer developed by Sinclair Research. It was first released in the United Kingdom on 23 April 1982 and went on to become Britain's best selling microcomputer.
Jeff Minter is an independent English video game designer and programmer who often goes by the name Yak. He is the founder of software house Llamasoft and has created dozens of games during his career, which began in 1981 with games for the Sinclair ZX80. Minter's games are often arcade style shoot 'em ups which contain titular or in-game references demonstrating his fondness of ruminants. Many of his programs also feature something of a psychedelic element, as in some of the earliest "light synthesizer" programs including Trip-a-Tron.
Pole Position is an arcade racing simulation video game that was released by Namco in 1982 and licensed to Atari, Inc. for US manufacture and distribution, running on the Namco Pole Position arcade system board. It is considered one of the most important titles from the golden age of arcade video games. Pole Position was an evolution of Namco's earlier arcade racing electro-mechanical games, notably F-1 (1976), whose designer Sho Osugi worked on the development of Pole Position.
Wonder Boy in Monster Land, known by its original arcade release as Wonder Boy: Monster Land, is an action role-playing platform video game developed by Westone Bit Entertainment and released by Sega in Japanese arcades in 1987 and for the Master System in 1988, with a number of other home computer and console ports following. The game is the sequel to the 1986 game Wonder Boy and takes place eleven years after the events in the previous game. After enjoying over a decade of peace on Wonder Land following the defeat of the evil King by Tom-Tom, later bestowed the title "Wonder Boy", a fire-breathing dragon called the MEKA dragon appeared; he and his minions conquered Wonder Land, turning it into "Monster Land". The people, helpless due to their lack of fighting skill, call for Wonder Boy, now a teenager, to destroy the monsters and defeat the MEKA dragon. Players control Wonder Boy through twelve linear levels as he makes his way through Monster Land to find and defeat the MEKA dragon. Players earn gold by defeating enemies and buy weapons, armor, footwear, magic, and other items to help along the way.
Manic Miner is a platform video game originally written for the ZX Spectrum by Matthew Smith and released by Bug-Byte in 1983. It is the first game in the Miner Willy series and among the early titles in the platform game genre. The game itself was inspired by the Atari 8-bit family game Miner 2049er. It is considered one of the most influential platform games of all time and has been ported to numerous home computers, video game consoles and mobile phones. Original artwork was created by Les Harvey. Later Software Projects artwork was supplied by Roger Tissyman.
Galaxian is a 1979 fixed shooter arcade game developed and published by Namco. It was licensed and distributed by Midway Manufacturing in North America. The player assumes control of the Galaxip starfighter in its mission to protect Earth from waves of aliens. Gameplay involves destroying each formation of aliens, who dive down towards the player in an attempt to hit them.
Jetpac is a shooter video game developed and published by Ultimate Play the Game and released for the ZX Spectrum and Commodore VIC-20 in 1983 and the BBC Micro in 1984. It is the first game to be released by Ultimate Play the Game, the company which later became Rare. The game follows Jetman as he must rebuild his rocket in order to explore different planets, while simultaneously defending against hostile aliens. It was written by Ultimate co-founder Chris Stamper with graphics designed by his brother, Tim Stamper. Jetpac was one of the few Spectrum games also available in a ROM format for use with the Interface 2, allowing "instantaneous" loading of the game when the normal method of cassette loading took minutes. Reviewers praised Jetpac's presentation and gameplay, and it won "Game of the Year" at the Golden Joystick Awards in 1983.
Dig Dug is a maze arcade game developed by Namco in 1981 and released in 1982, distributed in North America by Atari, Inc. The player controls Dig Dug to defeat all enemies per stage, by either inflating them to bursting or crushing them underneath rocks.
Tekken 5 (鉄拳5) is a fighting game developed and published by Namco in 2004 for the arcades and in 2005 for the PlayStation 2. It is the fifth main and sixth installment, in the Tekken series, marking the tenth anniversary of the series. The game was upgraded to Tekken 5.1, which had mostly balance changes to the gameplay, and later an update Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection which was released for arcades in 2005 and later ported to the PlayStation Portable as Tekken: Dark Resurrection and on the PlayStation 3.
Operation Wolf is a light gun shooter arcade game developed by Taito and released in 1987. It was subsequently ported to various home systems.
Underwurlde is a 1984 action-adventure platform video game in the Sabreman series by Ultimate Play the Game for the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64. The player controls the adventurer Sabreman as he jumps between platforms in a castle and its caverns to find an escape past the exit guardians. Underwurlde features about 600 flip screen areas. Unlike other games of its time, Sabreman is not injured when touched by enemies and is instead knocked backwards. Underwurlde is the second game in the series, between Sabre Wulf and Knight Lore, and released alongside the latter for the ZX Spectrum during Christmas in 1984. Another developer, Firebird, ported the game to the Commodore 64 the next year.
Ridge Racer Revolution is an arcade racing game developed and published by Namco for the PlayStation in 1995. It is the PlayStation sequel of Ridge Racer. Like the original Ridge Racer, the player races computer-controlled cars with the objective of winning a series of races, and supports Namco's NeGcon controller. Ridge Racer Revolution adds two hidden cars, and two-player support via the PlayStation Link cable, and took roughly the same time to develop as the first. The intention was to increase the depth and add features.
A fast loader is a software program for a home computer, such as the Commodore 64 or ZX Spectrum, that accelerates the speed of file loading from floppy disk or compact cassette.
Mega Man ZX Advent, known in Japan as Rockman ZX Advent, is an action-platform video game developed by Inti Creates and published by Capcom for the Nintendo DS handheld game console. It is the sequel to Mega Man ZX and its most recent installment. Taking place a few years after the events of the first game, Mega Man ZX Advent follows two new protagonists, Grey and Ashe, as they battle with various enemy Mega Men, the infamous Model W, and their own destinies.
Saboteur II: Avenging Angel, also known as just Saboteur 2, is an action-adventure game created by Clive Townsend and released by Durell Software in 1987 for the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64 and MS-DOS Compatible platforms. It is a sequel to the 1985 video game Saboteur where the players control a sister of Ninja from the first game on a mission to avenge his death. Saboteur II was one of the first action-adventure games to feature a female protagonist and was well received by critics.
Questprobe featuring The Hulk is a 1984 graphic adventure video game developed and published by Adventure International in collaboration with Marvel Comics and Commodore Business Machines. It is the first installment in Questprobe, a series of graphic adventure games. It was intended to consist of twelve installments, but only three were released before the developer's bankruptcy. The game's narrative follows the Marvel superhero Hulk and his human alter-ego Bruce Banner, who must explore the mysterious lair of the Chief Examiner. The graphics and story outline were created by Marvel artists and writers. Critical reception was generally positive, with much of the praise going to the visuals. Reactions to the gameplay were mixed, especially upon the game's budget re-release, by which time it was considered dated.
Rolling Thunder is a run-and-gun shooter action game produced by Namco, originally released as a coin-operated arcade game which ran on the Namco System 86 hardware in 1986. It was distributed in North America by Atari Games. The player takes control of a secret agent who must rescue his female partner from a terrorist organization. Rolling Thunder was a commercial success in arcades, and was released for various home computer platforms in 1987 and the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1989. The original arcade game has also been included in various classic game compilations as well. It influenced later arcade action franchises such as Shinobi and Time Crisis, which borrowed mechanics such as taking cover behind crates.
The Rats is a survival horror text adventure for the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum computers. It is based on the 1974 novel The Rats by James Herbert. The game was programmed by GXT, and published by Hodder & Stoughton, who were the publishers of James Herbert's book The Rats. An Amstrad CPC version was planned, but was never released.
Yabba Dabba Doo! is a 1986 video game developed by British studio Taskset and published by Quicksilva for the Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64 (C64), and ZX Spectrum. It is based on the television series The Flintstones and is the first Flintstones video game.