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U.S. Patent No. 9,616,329: Adaptive learning system for video game enhancement
Issued April 11, 2017, to Electronic Arts, Inc. 
Priority Date June 28, 2012






Summary:
U.S. Patent No. 9,616,329 (the '329 Patent) describes a system for adaptive learning in a video game engine. AI opponents often fail to replicate the adaptive learning abilities of a human opponent. A human can quickly analyze an opponent's strategy and adjust easily. The '329 Patent hopes to change that by providing a system to implement adaptive learning into a video game. According to the patent, the game will begin to record the gameplay of an initial match. Upon completion of the match, the system will analyze the recording for key moments and player habits which lead to the outcome. For example, in Madden, the game will analyze the sequence and moments that allowed the human player to score a touchdown. The resulting analysis and recorded sequence are stored within the system's memory. During the second match, the system uses the recording to identify human player's habits. Using the analysis from earlier, the computer opponent adjusts its tactics to counter the human player. The player may find that the running play that once scored touchdowns is no longer a viable option.


Abstract:
Techniques are disclosed that can capture sequences of player input in response to situations confronting a player of a video game while playing the video game on a game console. A game engine within the game console may associate an archetype with the captured sequences. The outcomes of the captured sequences are determined with respect to the game situations and a score is applied to the captured sequences based on the outcomes. The captured sequences, the outcomes and the scores are stored in a runtime memory within the game console used to play the video game. Upon completion of the video game, the stored captured sequences, the outcomes and the scores may be downloaded and stored to an external memory associated with the game console. Subsequent video game sessions may load the captured sequences, the outcomes and the scores into the runtime memory to be used in the next session.

Illustrative Claim:
1. A method comprising: during runtime execution of a video game application on a computing device, the video game application comprising a virtual environment, capturing sequences of player input in response to one or more virtual events confronting a player controlled virtual agent within the virtual environment of the video game application; for individual captured sequences, determining an outcome of the captured sequence with respect to a virtual event of the one or more virtual events; applying a score to the captured sequence based, at least in part, on the outcome; storing the captured sequence, the outcome, and the score in a runtime memory within the computing device used to play the video game application; in response to a virtual event confronting a computer controlled virtual agent within the virtual environment, identifying one or more captured sequences based, at least in part, on a game status and computer controlled virtual agent status associated with the virtual event confronting the computer controlled virtual agent; selecting a captured sequence from the one or more captured sequences based, at least in part, on the scores and outcomes associated with the individual sequences; and executing the selected captured sequence by the computer controlled virtual agent in response to the virtual event confronting the computer controlled virtual agent within the virtual environment.


Researched By: Andrew F. Thomas


U.S. Patent No. 5,885,156: Video game apparatus, method of controlling the growth of play character in video game, and video game medium therefor
Issued March 23, 1999, to Konami Holding Corp.
Priority Date November 24, 1995




Summary:
U.S. Patent No. 5,885,156 (the '156 Patent) describes a method for achieving experience points through dialog. The '156 Patent specifically relates to Konami's Pawapuro or Power Pros series, which is a baseball game that features some role-playing game elements. Power Pros features a mode called "Success Mode," which entailed users playing the life of an up-and-coming baseball player. Users start off with low stats and must train to become a better player. Part of the mode is managing the baseball player's social life as well. The game generates random events that impact the baseball player's stats. The '156 Patent describes the method of how the social events affect the player's stats. For every random event, a set of options are given to the user, each generating a different outcome. The user earns experience points for choosing an option, but not every option is treated equally. Some options may give players more experience points than others, while some may hurt a player's stats. Every play-through of "Success Mode" is different because the events are randomly generated.
Abstract:
A game cartridge is inserted into a game device, and a controller is operated to display and perform a game stored in the game cartridge on a display monitor. The game cartridge has a ROM for storing a game program and a RAM for storing data of a play character having unique abilities. The controller is operated to instruct a play character to repeat various patterns of speech and action to increase the number of "remaining experience credits". Obtained "remaining experience credits" are assigned to abilities of the play characters to achieve desired ability values for thereby growing the play character until it develops unique abilities.



Illustrative Claim:
7. A method of controlling growth of a player character in a video game performed by a video game apparatus having a display unit for displaying said player character and player event patterns of of said player character, and menus corresponding to said player event patterns, an input control unit for permitting a video game player to select said menus, event memory means for storing said player event patterns selected by said input control unit, and event control means for reading said player event patterns selected by said input control unit from said event memory means and controlling said player character to perform said player event patterns, said method comprising the steps of: imparting a number of at least one type of credit to said player character; varying said number of said at least one type of credit by a variance amount selected based on a random probability from a range of amounts depending on said player event patterns selected by said input control unit; storing said number of said at least one type of credit after said varying; permitting said video game player to operate said input control unit to distribute said number of said at least one type of credit to a plurality of ability values representing a plurality of abilities of said player character; and storing said ability values with said number of said at least one type of credit distributed thereto.



Researched By: Andrew F. Thomas



U.S. Patent No. 9,061,205: Music video game with user directed sound generation
Issued June 23, 2015, to Activision Publishing, Inc.
Priority Date July 14, 2008







Summary:
U.S. Patent No. 9,061,205 (the '205 Patent) describes a method to add more variety in a music rhythm game during a free play routine. Music rhythm games like Guitar Hero often feature a free play feature. The '205 describes a method where if the player holds the plastic guitar in a certain position during free play, the game will enter into a different mode. Pointing the head of the guitar downward would access a power chord mode. The game would mute the normal audio sample and begin to play a power chord version of the same song. The idea is to recreate the artistic nature that takes place during live performances. A real guitarist can add or subtract elements from a song while playing, and that is the type of freedom the '205 Patent aims to give players.


Abstract:
A music based video game provides a user directed sound generation feature. In some embodiments, the user is provided a video game controller simulating a musical instrument, which the user may operate similarly to its real musical instrument counterpart. A free play feature is provided for users to operate the video game controller, where a processor of a video game console receives input signals from the video game controller and outputs audio samples based on the received input signals. During the free play feature, multiple suggestions as to how to operate the video game controller are simultaneously provided to give users some guidance as to what to play using the video game controller.


Illustrative Claim:
1. A method of generating audio tracks in a music video game, comprising: receiving a first input signal indicating status of a first plurality of input devices of a video game controller; outputting a polyphonic audio compilation based on the first input signal, the polyphonic audio compilation including at least two audio tracks featuring a sequence of notes or chords of different instruments; receiving a second input signal indicating status of a second plurality of input devices of the video game controller; selecting at least one of the at least two audio tracks based on the second input signal; and muting the at least one of the at least two audio tracks.


Researched By: Andrew F. Thomas


U.S. Patent No. 5,390,937: Video game apparatus, method and device for controlling same
Issued February 21, 1995, to Square Co., Ltd.
Priority Date July 16, 1991








Summary:
U.S. Patent No. 5,390,937 (the '937 Patent) describes the active battle system found in games like Final Fantasy IV or Chrono Trigger. Traditionally, RPG's used a turn-based battle system, where each character has to wait for their turn to attack.  Turn order is based on who has the highest agility or speed stat. The active battle system, as described by the '937 Patent, scrapes the traditional turns for constant action. Player characters and enemies can attack at any time in an active battle system. A timer governs when each character may attack. The active battle system creates a dynamic feeling compared to the static nature of a turn-based system. Players must choose their next move wisely because of the unpredictable nature of when the next attack will occur.


Abstract:
Disclosed in a video game of enhanced realism in which actual combat is closely simulated. The game is so adapted that an enemy character on a display screen may launch an attack against a player character on the same screen, even while the player character is in the process of inputting a command, at elapse of a set time period specific to the enemy character. The attack is made without an interruption in the flow of time of the game.



Illustrative Claim:
1. In a video game apparatus in which a player character and an enemy character are displayed on a display screen of a display unit and the player character and enemy character carry out attacks on each other in accordance with an inputted action command or a predetermined action schedule, a method of controlling the video game apparatus comprising the steps of: clocking a time, which has been stipulated for each character, from the end of a previous action of a character; generating a signal for character when the time clocked in said clocking step is equal to or greater than a predetermined time assigned to that character; allowing, in response to said generated signal, input of an action command if the character is a player character, and processing in accordance with the inputted action command; and processing, in response to said generated signal, an action in accordance with the predetermined action schedule if the character is an enemy character.

Researched By: Andrew F. Thomas


U.S. Patent No. 5,805,784: Computer story generation system and method using network of re-usable substories
Issued September 8, 1998, to Christopher C. Crawford
Priority Date September 28, 1994







Summary:
U.S. Patent No. 5,805,784 (the '784 Patent) describes a method and system for creating procedurally generated storylines. The system ties together a bunch of substories to create a larger throughline. A key aspect of the '784 Patent is that each substory is reusable meaning that every substory can be executed by any character and involve any character. For example, substory #1 could be about Character A looking for Character B, or vice-versa, Character B looking for Character A. Substory #1 could also involve Character B looking for Character C. There are an initial set of substories that all the characters start in. After completing the initial substory, the character moves to the next substory. The computer system generates a plan list that maps out the substory path the character follows. The plan list can change depending on actions taken by the player. Creating a generated plan which can change results in dynamic storytelling where a player could play the same character twice and experience two different stories.


Abstract:
The storyline of a dynamically generated entertainment program, such as a video game, is generated using a matrix of reusable storyline fragments called substories. A set of characters that participate in the storyline is established and a set of reusable substories is defined. Each substory represents a "fragment of a story", usually involving an action by a subject, where the subject is one of the characters. Most substories can be reused multiple times with different ones of the characters being the subject and different ones of the characters being the direct object of the substory. Each substory has a set of possible reaction substories, which are a subset of the defined substories. A plan list stores plan data indicating ones of the substories to be performed at specified times. An initial "seed story" in the form of an initial set of substories is stored in the plan list. The substories stored in the plan list are executed at times corresponding to their respective specified times. For at least a subset of the executed substories, the end user of the system is either shown a video image representing the executed substory or is otherwise informed of the executed substory. In reaction to each executed substory, plans to perform additional ones of the substories are generated. The additional substories are ones of the set of possible reaction substories for each executed substory. Each plan to perform an additional substory is assigned a specified time and plan data representing the plan is stored in the plan list.

Illustrative Claim:
1. A method of generating a sequence of images representing a dynamically generated story line, comprising: establishing a set of characters; defining a set of re-usable substories, a multiplicity of the substories representing an action by a subject comprising a selectable one of the characters where the action is performed with respect to at least one object comprising at least a selectable one of the characters; for each substory, establishing a set of possible reaction substories comprising a subset of the set of re-usable substories; establishing a plan list for storing plans indicating ones of the substories to be performed; storing in the plan list an initial set of plans, each of the stored plans representing a substory to be performed; executing ones of the substories represented by the plans stored in the plan list; establishing a physical position for each of the characters and updating the characters' physical positions during the executing step; establishing a current time and advancing the current time during the executing step; generating, in reaction to each executed substory, additional plans to perform additional ones of the substories wherein the additional substories comprise selected ones of the set of possible reaction substories for the executed substory; and storing the generated plans in the plan list; the plan list at times storing a multiplicity of the generated plans; the generating plans step including receiving, in reaction to at least a subset of the executed substories, input from an end user and selecting at least a subset of the additional substories in accordance with the end user input; the plan generating step including assigning each generated plan an earliest execution time and a set of associated characters including a subject and an object, wherein the subject and object are each a specified one of the characters; each stored plan in the plan list including the assigned earliest execution time, subject and object, such that at various times at least a subset of the plans in the plan list have respective earliest execution times that are later than the current time; at least a subset of the generated plans comprising deferred plans, where each deferred plan's execution is deferred because its earliest execution time is later than the current time and/or its associated characters are not physically proximate each other; the executing step including selecting for execution one plan from those of the stored plans in the plan list whose associated earliest execution time is at least as early as the current time and that meet opportunity availability criteria, the opportunity availability criteria including a requirement that the characters associated with the one plan have physical positions that are proximate to one another; wherein the generated plans are executed in a different order than those generated plans are added to the plan list by the generated plans storing step.


Researched By: Andrew F. Thomas


U.S. Patent No. 8,858,328: Storage medium having game program stored therein, hand-held game apparatus, game system, and game method
Issued October 14, 2014, to Nintendo Co., Ltd.
Priority Date June 2, 2010







Summary:
U.S. Patent No. 8,858,328 (the '328 Patent) describes a game that uses real pictures as the basis for the puzzle. Using the Nintendo DSi, the player takes a picture that the system converts into the puzzle. The system divides the image into sections assigning each section a number. The numbers corresponded to the sections' original location. Once the system determines the starting points, it shuffles the sections. The player must rearrange the picture sections to their original position to complete the puzzle. Players can adjust the difficulty by increasing the number of sections.



Abstract:
An information processing section of a game apparatus executes a program including: a step of setting a puzzle area to be cut from an image taken by an outer camera; a step of setting the division number representing the number of portions into which the puzzle area is divided in accordance with a stage; a step of generating one-dimensional arrangement data representing a state in which puzzle pieces are positioned at random: a step of executing a game process by updating the one-dimensional arrangement data of the puzzle pieces which are selected based on a tilt of the game apparatus; and a step of switching, in accordance with the one-dimensional arrangement data, texture coordinate data of the puzzle pieces calculated based on a tilt of a virtual camera, and displaying an obtained image.



Illustrative Claim:
1. A non-transitory computer-readable storage medium having stored therein a game program executed by a computer of a hand-held game apparatus including an imaging device and a display device, the game program causing the computer to perform at least: sequentially acquiring taken-image data representing a plurality of taken-images which are taken by the imaging device; image dividing, into a plurality of small areas, an image of a predetermined area in a taken-image which is one of said plurality of taken-images represented by the acquired taken-image data; positioning, in the predetermined area, the plurality of small areas into which the image of the predetermined area is divided, so as to form an image different from the taken-image which is taken by the imaging device and is one of said plurality of taken-images; retaining a positioning state in which the plurality of small areas are positioned, by using, as an initial value, an obtained positioning state; image changing for sequentially changing, by using the taken-image data having been sequentially acquired, images to be displayed on the plurality of small areas, respectively, of which the positioning state is retained; display control for causing the display device to display images changed by the image changing; changing the positioning state of the plurality of small areas, which is retained, in accordance with an operation performed by a user viewing the images displayed by the display device; determining whether or not the positioning state of the plurality of small areas, which is changed, satisfies a predetermined condition; and a game process for performing a predetermined game process in accordance with a result of a determination of whether or not the positioning state of the plurality of small areas, which is changed, satisfies a predetermined condition.



Researched By: Andrew F. Thomas



U.S. Patent No. 4,738,451: Multi-player, multi-character cooperative play video game with independent player entry and departure
Issued April 19, 1988, to Atari Games Corp.
Priority Date May 20, 1986






Summary:
U.S. Patent No. 4,738,451 describes the gameplay of the Gauntlet series, where multi-players navigate a maze. Gauntlet was a four-player dungeon crawler. Each player would select a fantasy troupe with unique abilities. In the first Gauntlet, each player was forced to take a different troupe, but in Gauntlet II, everyone in the party could be wizards if they desired. The players would need to cooperate with each other to escape. Progress could only be made if the players move together since all the characters must remain visible on the screen. Locking the camera with all the characters created a competitive cooperation feeling in the game. Even though all the players had to progress through the maze together, each player could independently control their character on the screen. There were game items the players could obtain to help their journey, but only a limited number of items are available to the players must choose who gets what. Players could also join or leave the game at any time. This patent was reissued in 1996 which we covered here

Abstract:
A multi-player, multi-character video game where the game rules force the players to cooperate in negotiating the maze at least until the characters reach a portion of the maze where a specific objective is located. Certain limited resources to change the attributes of the characters or to increase their longevity are displayed in a maze. The players may compete to obtain possession of these limited resources when the characters have cooperated in their movements sufficiently to move to the location of the limited resources. Cooperation among the characters is forced by forcing all characters active in the game to remain visible in the displayed window. Players may enter the game at any time, and they may leave the game at any time without affecting the status of the game or the status of the other characters in the game. All active players may simultaneously, independently control their characters so long as they do not attempt to move their characters outside the currently displayed window.

Illustrative Claim:
1. A video game comprising: a central processing unit; a video display; a plurality of sets of controls coupled to said central processing unit; sofware means run by said central processing unit and coupled to said controls, and to said video display for reading player input from said controls and generating, storing, changing and outputting data for causing said video display to display a maze populated by a plurality of different kinds of characters each having attributes, said maze also being populated by a plurality of attribute-affecting entities including monsters, each said character having attributes including longevity and abilities including the ability to fight and to move, said attributes defined by stored data, said longevity attribute defined by stored data and decreasing over time and when that character is damaged by a monster, and including means for displaying different types of resources having characteristics defined by stored data and displayed on said video display throughout said maze in quantities and loctions established by said software means, said resources increasing the longevity attribute or otherwise affecting the attributes of the first character which is displayed to have obtained possession of them, and for causing said video display to display action by said characters and said monsters in accordance with rules of said game implemented by the following included means: first means for allowing a plurality of players to each simultaneously and independently control the movements and actions of one of said plurality of characters in the video game via said controls; second means for allowing any one of said plurality of players to enter the game at any time and simultaneously and independently control the movements and actions of one of said characters independently of when the other players started playing or when any other said player or players stops playing; and third means for encouraging the players to cooperate during play by displaying on said video display only a window portion of said maze which is related to the relative positions of all the characters being active in that they are controlled by a player at that time and by not allowing any active character to move outside the bounds of said window portion and by moving the window portion to display different portions of said maze only so long as all the active characters are contained in said window portion.



Researched By: Andrew F. Thomas



U.S. Patent No. 8,282,491: Game-based incentives for location-based actions
Issued October 9, 2012, to Zynga, Inc.
Priority Date August 13, 2010




Summary:
Smart Phones have allowed people to play games anywhere. U.S. Patent No. 8,282,491 (the '491 Patent) describes a method and system for giving in-game rewards to players for performing an action at a physical location. The game may give a player in-game currency for scanning the receipt for coffee from Starbucks. The '491 Patent relates more to how the game determines the reward for the player, than how the game determines a player's location. Rewards are determined based on the player's demographic information, how often the player visits the location, how often the player buys something from the location.

Abstract:
Systems and methods for providing game-based incentives to users of online games as a reward for performing actions at physical locations are provided.

Illustrative Claim:
1. A method comprising: accessing a game state of one or more computer-implemented games associated with a user; determining, using at least one processor of a machine, an incentive reward for the user based at least in part on the game state of the one or more computer-implemented games, the incentive reward being an in-game asset in the one or more computer-implemented games; determining a location-based action for the user based at least in part on the game state of the one or more computer-implemented games, the location-based action being an action performable by the user at a physical location that is external to the one or more games; and transmitting, to a device associated with the user, a message comprising a description of the location-based action, a description of the incentive reward, and an offer of the incentive reward for performing the location-based action at the physical location.


Researched By: Andrew F. Thomas
U.S. Patent No. 7,887,403: Method and system for controlling a game involving battles
Issued February 15, 2011, to Sony Interactive Entertainment, Inc.
Priority Date October 14, 2005





Summary:
U.S. Patent No. 7,887,403 (the '403 Patent) describes an RPG battle system where player characters and enemies share magic points (MP). Traditionally, in an RPG every character is given their own MP. MP can be used for magic attacks that may have different effects than a standard attack. When a character no longer has any MP, that character may not cast any magic attacks. The '403 Patent describes a battle system where both sides share MP. Sharing MP could change a player's strategy in battle. Typically, players try to maintain their MP so their characters can keep performing magic attacks. With shared MP, a player may find it more beneficial in some situations to entirely drain the MP so an enemy character cannot cast any magic attacks of their own.


Abstract:
In a game system, a PC control unit controls an attack on an enemy character by a player's character. An enemy character control unit controls an attack on the player's character by the enemy character. An MP management unit stores, in an MP storage, a current value of a magic point indicative of the power required for a magic attack and manages an increase and decrease in the current value of the magic point. The magic point stored in the MP storage is used commonly by the player's character and the enemy character. When the player's character attacks the enemy character and the enemy character attacks the player's character, the MP management unit subtracts a value required for the attack, from the current value of the magic point.

Illustrative Claim:
6. A game system comprising: a player's character control unit which controls an action of a player's character in a battle between the player's character and an enemy character; an enemy character control unit which controls an action of the enemy character in the battle; and a first point management unit which stores, in a first point storage, a current value of a first point indicative of a power required for achieving a specific ability in the battle and which manages an increase and decrease in the current value of the first point; and a second point management unit which stores, in a second point storage, a current value of a second point indicative of a vitality of the player's character and the enemy character and manages an increase and decrease in the current value of the second point, wherein when one character attacks on the other character, said second point management unit subtracts a predetermined value, as a damage caused by the attack, from the current value of the second point, said first point management unit adds a value calculated according to the damage caused by the attack, to the current value of the first point, the first point stored in the first point storage is shared by the player's character and the enemy character, and wherein when the player's character exercises the specific ability or the enemy character exercises the specific ability, said first point management unit subtracts a value required for the exercise of the specific ability, from the current value of the first point; and wherein when an action has been executed by a first character and thereafter the first character is attacked by a second character during a time duration until the action by the first character is completed, said first program code module which controls the action of the player's character and said second program code module which controls the action of the enemy character cancel the action by the first character and when the first point in the first point storage has been reduced by the action by the first character, said first program code module which controls the action of the player's character and said second program code module which controls the action of the enemy character restore the value by adding an value equivalent to the amount subtracted.



Researched By: Andrew F. Thomas



U.S. Patent No. 8,914,136: Game control program and game device
Issued December 16, 2014, to Sega Corp.
Priority Date January 27, 2009








Summary:
U.S. Patent No. 8,914,136 (the '136 Patent) describes a method for dealing damage in a video game. A health bar is a means to communicate to the player how many hits the game's character can absorb before losing a life. Once the bar is depleted then the character loses a life. Typically games that use health bars do not distinguish between types of hits or damage. The '136 Patent describes a method for using health bars that uses two types of damages: fixed damage and scratch damage. Fixed damage is the traditional damage type, a player who is hit with a fixed damage attack has their health bar drained. Scratch damage does not immediately reduce the health bar like fixed damage. If a player gets hit with scratch damage, then a portion of the health bar turns a shade of red. The portion amount is determined by the amount of scratch damage received. The scratch damage only decreases the health bar after a set time frame has elapsed, giving the player a chance to recover the scratch damage. Scratch damage can be compounded with fixed damage by adding together and immediately applying to the player's health. The type of health system described in the '136 Patent is usually used in fighting games or 3D brawlers. 


Abstract:
Damages include ineffective damage (scratch damage) and effective damage (fixed damage). When scratch damage occurs, an amount Ds corresponding to the scratch damage is stored into a memory. When fixed damage occurs, a vitality parameter Lp is decreased by an amount Df corresponding to the fixed damage. Scratch damage decreases over time. If fixed damage Df occurs in the presence of scratch damage, the vitality parameter Lp is decreased by a total amount of the scratch damage and the fixed damage. Such controls on the vitality parameter diversify the game progress.


Illustrative Claim:
1. A game control method for making a computer, having a processor, a memory, and operation input means, perform game processing in which a player character that acts in response to a player operation and an enemy character attack each other, and in which a vitality parameter set for the player character is decreased in accordance with damage given to the player character when the enemy character makes an attack on the player character, the game control method comprising the steps of: setting by the processor the damage as ineffective damage or effective damage based on a value of an attack-power parameter of a weapon used in the attack by the enemy character; storing by the processor an amount of said ineffective damage into the memory when the player character is given the ineffective damage; restoring by the processor the amount of the ineffective damage stored in the memory decreased by a predetermined amount as time elapses after the player character is given the ineffective damage; calculating by the processor, as the player character is given effective damage while the amount of ineffective damage is stored in the memory, a total amount of damage that includes an amount of effective damage based on the effective damage and the amount of ineffective damage in the memory, and decreasing by the processor the vitality parameter of the player character based on the amount of damage; setting the attack-power parameter for the attack, wherein said setting the damage sets the damage as the effective damage or the ineffective damage based on the attack-power parameter; generating by the processor one or more points for the player character for each successful attack on the enemy character by the player character; and changing by the processor, when an accumulation of points reaches a predetermined amount, a state of the player character in which all damage incurred by the player character during a predetermined period of a remainder of a current game is set as ineffective damage regardless of the attack-power parameter value.

Researched By: Andrew F. Thomas


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