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Where Credit Is Due – Video Game Credits That Innovate

You just conquered the last boss or finished off a trilogy. Besides
your initial excitement and maybe an achievement or trophy, what is
left? Most likely a plain, black screen scrolling through the names of
hundreds of talented people. A standard credit scroll makes sense for
movies, but it doesn’t make as much sense in video games. As games
mature and embrace what makes them unique, credits need to evolve to
reflect the interactivity that makes them special (while still giving
proper recognition to creators). Here are lessons that the industry
needs to learn about end-game credits from games that got it right.

Make The Credits An Extension Of The Game

Awesome Non-Interactive Credits
MadWorld extends its humor to its credits by allowing its announcers – comedian Greg Proops and voice actor John DiMaggio – to riff on the development team as the main character drives down a highway decorated in billboards of developer names.

Portal’s infamous Still Alive song also matches the game’s humor along with being a fitting – if temporary – send-off for the villain GLaDOS.

Shadow of the Colossus uses the finality of credits as a way to force the player to reflect on what they’ve done. The slain colossi it scrolls through are reminders of the horrific deeds you’ve done throughout your journey.

Devil May Cry 3 and 4
marry their gameplay to scrolling names in the most appropriate way.
After a climactic final boss fight and short, calm ending cutscene,
demons pour into an arena and the names start to scroll. Mixing combat
and credits is both respectful to the hard-working team and perfectly
emblematic of the game’s relentless action. Devil May Cry 3 and 4’s
credits maintain the tempo of the rest of the game and take full
advantage of the interactivity of the medium. Bayonetta replicates this formula, replacing hard rock with sexy jazz.

Katamari Damacy and Flower
both directly channel their gameplay systems during the credits.
Katamari Damacy lets the player roll up all the countries on Earth into a
ball, while Flower strings together collectible petals to guide you
from name to name. Using the game’s mechanics means the credits are
essentially a short, bonus stage that entertains the player like any
other normal level.

Directly interacting with the names is another possible avenue, which
a few games have explored. Instead of only being serenaded by their
delightful soundtracks, Rayman Origins and New Super Mario Bros. Wii let players treat the thousands of names like destructible platforms, free to be jumped on or butt-stomped. Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U also takes this approach by letting fighters directly combat the names as they speed by. Noby Noby Boy
even lets players eat and poop out every letter of the credits. While
very basic examples, they place their mechanics into the credits, albeit
with no goal other than to goof around.

Turn The Credits Into A Mini-Game

Some games turn the credits into a different genre altogether. Vanquish and Super Smash Bros. Melee flip the script and turn the credits into an on-rails shooting mini-game where the targets are the names of the creative team. Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars
turns the credits in an odd bike-riding mini-game where the player can
jump around and collect golden letters to unlock a hidden shoot ‘em up
mode. While gameplay consistency is noteworthy in titles like Devil May
Cry 3 and Flower, these one-off mini-games work because of their
interactivity in addition to their novelty. Surprising the player with
something completely different from the main game is a good change of
pace and an alternate way to add playability into the credits.

Think Outside The Box

More Awesome Non-Interactive Credits
Batman: Arkham City

plays Joker’s voicemails during the credits as he creepily sings for
Batman. It’s deeply unsettling and plays brilliantly off the shocking
ending.

God Hand’s
goofy credit sequence plays the corniest song with stiff background
dancers that have the rhythm and coordination of most suburban dads.
It’s stupid, memorable, funny, and catchy in the most endearing ways.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
shows what Zelda was doing while Link was on his adventure in a series
of dialogue-free cutscenes that play during the closing credits.

This could be just the beginning. The aforementioned games have interacted with credits in some capacity, but games like Chrono Trigger, The Stanley Parable, and Ratchet and Clank
explore possible avenues for the next step in interactive credits.
After unlocking the most difficult ending, Chrono Trigger lets you walk
around and chat with the pixelated representations of the development
staff. Although not technically during the credits, Stanley Parable and
some of the Ratchet and Clank games allow you to wander around a museum
and check out fragments of the game during its development along with
cut content and explanations from the team.

Both approaches sow seeds of interacting with the developers directly
and seeing how games are made and who did what. Imagine walking around a
virtual Naughty Dog as Joel in The Last of Us and going into different
sections of the office to meet the staff and hear about or see what
their involvement was. It’s a little like what Doom
did during its fantastic credits by juxtaposing individual names next
to stills of what they worked on, albeit more interactive. This process
is exponentially more involved but fully exercises the unique strengths
of games.

Lacking an inventive or interactive credits sequence doesn’t
automatically mean a game isn’t creative or fun. There are classic games
with boring credit sequences like Bioshock and not-so-classic games with excellent credit sequences like Double Dragon: Neon,
which features the game’s antagonist falling to his death and singing
for the duration of the scroll. But it’s time for more games to use the
defining aspects of the medium for something as universal as credits.
It’s the part of the game that pays respect to its creators so it deserves more attention.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Gears Of War 4 Multiplayer Update Drops Pack Costs, Ups Credit Rewards

After taking in feedback from the community in the days following the Gears of War 4 Ultimate Edition launch, The Coalition is loosening up its stingy credit system for multiplayer just in time for the broader release. 

The developer outlined its new plans in a forum post, which includes dropping the price of an Elite Pack from 4,000 to 3,500 credits and increasing the match completion bonus credits in versus multiplayer. The Coalition hopes this speeds up the progression for players. 

The update also comes with a known bug that may say you earned zero credits for a match completion bonus. "If you see this, you still earned your match bonus credits and XP," the forum post reads. "You should see your true gain reflected in your Credit Wallet in the main menu. We are fixing this bug in a future title update."

You can read Reiner's review of the game here

 

Our Take
The Coalition has ambitious goals for Gears of War 4 multiplayer, going as far as creating an eSports tab on its website. Given the seriousness of that endeavor, staying on top of issues like these is paramount. 

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

How the R& D tax credit usually works for indie game developers

“You have a couple options for how the tax man sees your dev costs. They depend on various factors such as how much income your studio is bringing in, what kind of game you’re making, and where the funds are coming from.” …


Gamasutra News

Mad Catz Reports Debt Warning And Secures Additional Credit To Ship Rock Band

Mad Catz has reported that the opinion letter for its independent audit carries concerns over the company’s ability to pay its debts. An audit opinion letter, a document prepared by the independent auditor as a narrative accompaniment to the financial assessment, includes what is known as a “going concern” note.

This happens when a company is at risk of defaulting on its debt obligations. Mad Catz’s 2016 success hinges on the performance of Rock Band 4 (via co-publishing agreement with Harmonix), according to form 10-K filed with the SEC on June 25.

The Company depends upon the availability of capital under the Credit Facility to finance operations. Compliance with the Adjusted EBITDA covenants in fiscal 2016, which are tied closely to our internal forecasts and include significant contributions from anticipated sales of products related to the Rock Band 4 video game, depends on the Company’s ability to increase net sales and gross profit considerably. 

Also, the Company operates in a rapidly evolving and often unpredictable business environment that may change the timing or amount of expected future sales and expenses. If the Company is unable to comply with the revised Adjusted EBITDA covenants contained in the Credit Facility, Wells Fargo could declare the outstanding borrowings under the facility immediately due and payable. 

If the Company needs to obtain additional funds as a result of the termination of the Credit Facility or the acceleration of amounts due thereunder, there can be no assurance that alternative financing can be obtained on substantially similar or acceptable terms, or at all. The Company’s failure to promptly obtain alternate financing could limit our ability to implement our business plan and have an immediate, severe and adverse impact on our business, results of operations, financial condition and liquidity. In the event that no alternative financing is available, the Company would be forced to drastically curtail operations, or dispose of assets, or cease operations altogether.

These uncertainties raise substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern. The consolidated financial statements do not include any adjustments that might result from the outcome of these uncertainties.

In short, the statement above indicates that Mad Catz is at risk (as of the close of its last fiscal year on March 31, 2015) of failing to comply with terms of its debt funding from Wells Fargo. In the event that it falls out of compliance, the lender can immediately call due all outstanding loan amount and applicable interest. Whether that happens or not is at the lender’s discretion at that time.

Mad Catz has since secured funding that will replace its Wells Fargo credit. The company provided us with an additional statement on the matter.

“This language was added because our debt covenants are tied to our budget and, as we have stated, we are anticipating significant growth in sales and gross profit from Rock Band 4 this year.  This is great news,” Mad Catz chief financial officer Karen McGinnis tells us. “However, for KPMG, there was not enough audit evidence for them to conclude that it is probable we will make those projections since we just started taking preorders. If we don’t meet the projections, we will violate a debt covenant, which means the bank has the right to call the loan. However, we have violated debt covenants several times in the past, and Wells Fargo has always provided us with a waiver of default. Unfortunately, KPMG cannot just assume Wells Fargo will provide a waiver, which is why they were required to include this language.”

Mad Catz’s new funding amounts to $ 30 million in two pieces. One element is a $ 20 million line of credit that will increase to $ 35 million from September 1 through December 31, 2015, in order to ship Rock Band 4. The other $ 10 million is secured funding to Mad Catz Europe (a wholly-owned subsidiary). That funding is termed at three years, but can be canceled by the lender with three months notice.

Mad Catz has been running a string of operating losses, with the last postiive operating income reported for fiscal year 2011. The losses have been diminishing, but still remain. Net income was positive for the most recently completed fiscal year for the first time since 2011. 

Harmonix indicates that this presents no disruption to its plans to ship Rock Band 4 for release on October 6.

 

Our Take
A “going concern” note in an audit opinion letter is reason for investigation, no matter how you spin it. I'm surprised that the chief financial officer admitted that the company has entered non-compliant status "several times" in the past and based solely on lender discretion avoided the loan being called.

The reason the lender would opt to agree to a waiver is based on a belief that there is a better chance of recovering more money (preferably through the established interest agreement) by waiting to see if the company can restore compliance than calling the loan immediately.

Everything might work out for Mad Catz if Rock Band 4 meets projections. However, it is clear the company is basing much of its future and its debt position on one title. Mad Catz is counting on people buying new hardware (guitars, drums, microphones) rather than using their old equipment. It's my hope that we don't see a repeat of the THQ/uDraw situation due to a surplus inventory of new Rock Band peripherals.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

[Update] Ubisoft Says Deactivated Far Cry Keys Purchased With Stolen Credit Card, EA Confirms

Update: EA has confirmed Ubisoft's assertion that the fraudulent keys in question were purchased from Origin. The company provided us with additional detail.

"A number of activation keys for Ubisoft products were purchased from Origin using fraudulent credit cards, and then resold online," an EA representative told us via email. "We identified the unauthorized keys and notified Ubisoft. If you are having trouble with an activation key, we recommend you contact the vendor who sold it to you for a refund. We strongly advise players only purchase keys from Origin or trusted resellers. For more information on our policy is available here: http://help.ea.com/en/article/should-i-purchase-my-ea-downloadable-games-from-cd-key-sellers/."

EA has since removed Ubisoft games from Origin. The publisher says this was to "protect against further fraudulent purchases."

We removed Ubisoft games from Origin to protect against further fraudulent purchases. We've followed up with EA with a request for more information, including why Ubisoft games were targeted and how removing that publisher's catalog improves security.

EA has declined to provide further detail at this time.

Original Story:

In an update to yesterday’s story about deactivated Far Cry 4 keys, Ubisoft has provided additional information about the situation. The company says that players affected are, essentially, in receipt of stolen property.

"We strongly recommend that players purchase keys and downloadable games only from the Uplay Store or their trusted retailers," the company said in a prepared statement. "We regularly work with our authorized resellers to identify and deactivate fraudulently obtained and resold keys. In this case, we confirmed activation keys were recently purchased from EA’s Origin store using fraudulent credit card information and then resold online. These keys may have been deactivated. Customers who may have been impacted should contact the vendor where they purchased the key for a refund."

We approached Kinguin, one of the retailers in question yesterday about the matter. At that time, the company told us something quite different.

"The banned game copies in question were acquired through licensed wholesale distributors and as such the origin of the ‘keys’ is the publisher himself,” said Kinguin chief marketing officer Bartłomiej Skarbiński.

We've reached out to Kinguin again for comment on this revelation. We'll update should we receive a response.

 

Our Take
Consumers still lose out here, but Ubisoft is operating appropriately. Given fraudulent and illegal activity, the company must protect itself. This is a hard and painful lesson for affected users and, quite frankly, it isn't fair. The best course of action is to contact your retailer and hold them accountable. Please let us know what happens.  

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

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[Update] Xbox Live Issues Resolved, PSN Attackers Taking Credit

Update: Xbox Live's earlier sign-in issues appear to be resolved. A separate problem pertaining to Diablo III, however, continues to persist.

I was just able to sign into Xbox Live on my Xbox 360 without issue.

 

Original story:

Xbox Live is currently experiencing sign-in issues and those claiming responsibility for the earlier PSN attacks, and the bomb threat against a flight carrying Sony online president John Smedley are taking credit.

The good news is, Microsoft is fully aware of the issue, and has this message posted on the Xbox Live status page:

Xbox members, are you having a hard time signing into Live? We’re aware of the issue and working hard to find a solution as quickly as possible. Thanks for being patient in the meantime. Please check back in a half hour for an update on our progress.

The issue does not appear to be entirely widespread. While I did have issues signing into Xbox Live with my Xbox 360, my Xbox One did not pose any problems.

We've reached out to Microsoft for details on Xbox Live's current issues and will update this story if more information emerges.

[Source: Xbox Live, twitter]

 

Our Take
The most confusing things about these attacks is I still did not know the ultimate goal. They have certainly crossed a line of annoyance and into a dangerous security issue, so I am glad the authorities are working on the case.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

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