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U.S. Patent No. 9,393,486: Character simulation and playback notification in game session replay
Issued July 17, 2016, to Amazon Technologies, Inc.
Priority June 27, 2014


Summary:
U.S. Patent No. 9,393,486 (the '486 Patent) relates to U.S. Patent No. 9,409,083 (the '083 Patent) titled Spawning new timelines during game session replay. The '083 Patent describes a method for allowing players to "step into" a replay and restart a session from that given point. For a more in-depth summary of the '083 Patent, click here. The '486 Patent builds on the '083 Patent by describing a system to send out a notification to all players involved in the previous session. The notified players can either participate or spectate the session.
Not all players from a previous session are required to replay a previous session. The '486 Patent also describes a system to allow a person to replay a multiplayer session without needing the other players. The system creates a profile based on the behavior of a given player. If a single player wishes to replay a past multiplayer session, then AI bots will take over missing human players. AI will use the player's profile to inform how the character should behave in a given circumstance.
Abstract:
A game system in which game sessions may be recorded and saved as game records. A previously recorded game session may be selected and replayed, and players may step into and assume control of respective game characters during the replay. When a player steps into and takes control of game a character during replay of a game session, a new timeline is spawned from the original timeline, and a new game record corresponding to the new timeline is generated and stored. Players that were involved in a previously recorded game session that is being replayed may be manually or automatically notified that the game session is being replayed. The notification may occur upon initiation of the replay and/or when a new timeline is spawned. Notified players may view the game session without participating, or may take control their respective characters to participate.
Illustrative Claim:
1. A system, comprising; one or more computing devices configured to implement a game system configured to: store a game record comprising a game session involving one or more game characters acting within a game universe, wherein the game characters are associated with one or more of a plurality of players; begin a playback of the game session as recorded in the stored game record to at least one client device; and for at least one of the one or more game characters involved in the game session being played back, send a notification to a player associated with the respective game character via one or more communications channels, said notification indicating to the player that the game session involving the player's game character is being played back.

Researched By: Andrew F. Thomas
U.S. Patent No. 9,409,083: Spawning new timelines during game session replay
Issued August 9, 2017, to Amazon Technologies, Inc.
Priority date: June 27, 2014
 


 
Summary:
Traditionally, to restart a multiplayer session requires that all the players begin anew. For co-op multiplayer games, restarting means starting from a point designated by the level designers. Restarting from a designated point can become frustrating when fighting a challenging boss. U.S. Patent No. 9,409,083 (the '083 Patent) describes an alternative method. Every gaming session is recorded by a game using the '083 Patent system. If the players were to die, the game would use the record to show the players a replay of their last session. The players can watch the replay and see the exact moment where things went wrong. Players can then decide to "step in" and start a new session from that point, creating a new timeline or universe that diverges from the original game session. The new (altered) gaming session will create a new record from which players can repeat the process.
 
Abstract:
A game system in which game sessions involving one or more players may be recorded and saved as game records. A previously recorded game session may be selected and replayed. However, in addition to providing a static replay of the game session, the game system may allow one or more players to step into and assume control of respective game characters at any point during the replay of the game session. When a player steps into and takes control of game a character during the playback, a new timeline is spawned from the original timeline with potentially different outcomes, and a new game record corresponding to the new timeline is generated and stored. 
 
Illustrative Claim:
1. A system, comprising; one or more computing devices configured to implement a game system configured to: store game records comprising previously played game sessions, each game session involving one or more game characters acting within a game universe along a game session timeline; receive selection input from one of one or more client devices, said selection input selecting one of the stored game records for playback; begin playback of the game session as recorded in the selected game record to at least one client device; receive game input from a game client instance on one of the one or more client devices, said game input causing an action by one of the one or more game characters within the game universe; and in response to said game input, spawn a new game session timeline from the game session timeline as recorded in the selected game record and generate a new game record for the new game session timeline.

Researched By: Andrew F. Thomas

U.S. Patent No. 10,004,981: Input method and apparatus
Issued June 26, 2018 to Nintendo Co. Ltd
 
 
Summary:
U.S. Patent No. 10,004,981 (the '981 Patent) describes a method for displaying a digital driving wheel on a touch screen which can control a car in driving games. The '981 Patent specifically relates to the Nintendo DS system and how to optimize the bottom, touch screen for driving games. The DS is a dual-screen handheld console. The top screen is a standard screen while the bottom screen had touch capabilities. Driving games could use the bottom screen to display a driving wheel. A player could choose to control their vehicle using this virtual driving wheel. The virtual driving wheel gave players more control over their car than the traditional D-pad control scheme.  
 
Abstract:
A vehicle simulation such as for example a driving game can be provided by displaying an image of a steering wheel on a touch sensitive screen. Touch inputs are used to control the rotational orientation of displayed steering wheel. The rotational orientation of the displayed steering wheel is used to apply course correction effects to a simulated vehicle. Selective application of driver assist and different scaling of touch inputs may be provided.
 
Illustrative Claim:
1. A handheld device comprising: a housing shaped and dimensioned for being held by a hand; a touch sensitive screen disposed on the housing; a graphics processor operatively connected to the touch sensitive screen, the graphics processor generating display of a virtual object on the touch sensitive screen; and a processor operatively connected to the touch sensitive screen and to the graphics processor, the processor being responsive to input sensed by the touch sensitive screen to detect movements along a multiplicity of paths on the screen, the processor defining vectors in response to said detected touch movements and causing the orientation of the displayed virtual object to change in response to the defined vectors.


Researched By: Andrew F. Thomas
U.S. Patent No. 9,120,016: Interactive guitar game designed for learning to play the guitar
Issued September 9, 2015, to Ubisoft Entertainment SA
 
 
 
Summary:
In 2008, music rhythm games was a billion dollar industry with Guitar Hero and Rock Band leading the way. Rocksmith was Ubisoft's answer to Guitar Hero and Rock Band. While Guitar Hero and Rock Band only let players pretend to be a rockstar, Rocksmith teaches the player how to play a real guitar by using the instrument as the controller. One of the problems during the development was how to translate the fretboard and chords into an easily understood gameplay interface. U.S. Patent No. 9,120,016 (the '016 Patent) addresses this issues and describes the gameplay mechanics of RocksmithGuitar Hero and Rock Band had addressed this issue by reducing the guitar down to a five button rhythm game, where button icons would travel down a vertical "note highway." Rocksmith took the vertical "note highway" and combined it with a horizontal representation of the fretboard. As notes travel down the "highway," the horizontal fretboard shifts left and right to the corresponding position on the guitar. Since all of the gameplay prompts corresponded with the actual chord positions on the guitar, a player must successfully play the song on a real guitar to succeed in the game.
 
The '016 Patent also describes a system that adjusts to the player's skill and provides methods for the player to improve. If a player struggled with a particular portion of a song, Rocksmith would generate a mini-game related specifically to part troubling the player. The game also provides other forms of feedback to help the player learn how to play the guitar.
 
 
Abstract:
An interactive game designed for learning to play a guitar. A guitar may be connected to a computer or other platform, capable of loading music and displaying notes and chords and other feedback and visual learning aids on a display screen, allowing a user to read music and play along. The goal of the software or interactive game engine is for players to learn how to play a guitar. Users may operate the game in a number of modes with different goals, playing mini-games throughout the levels of the game. The game provides feedback and statistics to help users learn how to play the guitar.
 
Illustrative Claim:
5. An interactive guitar playing system as in claim 1, wherein the notation is presented in a timeline view, the timeline view having notation scrolling from right to left and a video in the background, wherein an audio output of the song is timed to the scrolling notation, and wherein the scrolling notation includes notes or chords that reach a hit area indicating to the user to play the notes or chords within the hit area.

Researched by: Andrew F. Thomas
 
U.S. Patent No. 8,929,721: Methods for identification of highlight game events and automated generation of videos for same
Issued January 6, 2015, to Sony Interactive Entertainment America

 
Summary:
Streaming and posting videos of gameplay footage used to be difficult for the average gamer. Recording gameplay used to require expensive equipment or to use a camera to record the gameplay from a television, which lowers the quality of the videos.  Also, a player needed to be recording right when the cool moment occurred, which could be difficult given the technological limitations. Despite the difficulties, people still posted video highlights from multiplayer matches onto websites like YouTube.

U.S. Patent No. 8,929,721 (the '721 Patent) describes a method for a computer system to high light pivotal events during a multiplayer video game and create videos for the same. The system creates a video archive of the multiplayer match from which it selects events it deems significant. A player may also tag a moment or event that she wishes to preserve. The system generates video clips based on the significant events and tags. The video clips can be saved and played back by the player. Players are also able to change views to find the best angle to highlight the action.
 
 
Abstract:
Methods, systems and computer readable media for automated creation of videos for interactive entertainment involving at least one individual, based on events that occur within that interactive entertainment are provided. One method includes storing a video history of a session of the interactive entertainment for an individual and examining the interactive entertainment for the session to identify events designated as significant. The designation as significant for each event being predefined to meet a threshold. Then, selecting segments of video from the video history of the session of the interactive entertainment. The selected segments being for a set of the identified events. The method then generates a video defined from the selected segments of video. The video is playable to show the selected segments of video in a selected order for the individual and saving the video.
 
Illustrative Claim:
1. A method for automated creation of videos for interactive entertainment involving at least one individual, based on events that occur within that interactive entertainment, comprising:
(a) storing a video history of a session of the interactive entertainment for an individual;
(b) examining the interactive entertainment for the session to identify events designated as significant, wherein the events are designated as significant based on performance by the individual in relation to events that occur during the session of the interactive entertainment, the designation of an event as significant is based on number of votes received for the event from multiple individuals meeting a predefined threshold, wherein
the multiple individuals are participants or observers of at least part of the session of the interactive entertainment or viewers of the stored video history
(c) selecting segments of video from the video history of the session of the interactive entertainment, the selected segments being for a set of the identified events;
(d) generating a video defined from the selected segments of video, the video being playable to show the selected segments of video in a selected order for the individual; and
(e) storing the video; and wherein the method being executed by a processor.

Researched By: Andrew F. Thomas

U.S. Patent No. 9,427,668: Storage medium storing game program and game apparatus for improved collision detection in a video game
Issued August 30, 2016, to Nintendo Co., Ltd.
Priority Date May 29, 2009





Summary:
U.S. Patent No. 9,427,668 helps fans of fighting and shoot ‘em up games make sure lag does not stop them from winning a game. In these sort of games, “determination areas” help figure out if objects in a game contact each other, which helps determines if a bullet shot from an enemy hits a player. Conventional televisions usually temporarily store a program received from a broadcast station in its memory and process the image to improve the image quality before displaying it. For game consoles, the temporary storage causes a lag between the execution of a player’s action and the display of the result on the television.

Therefore, this patent provides a solution using a storage medium for a game program and a game apparatus. In the game apparatus, the aforementioned “determination areas” repeatedly determine whether or not a player contacts something. The results of these determinations are stored in succession, permitting the player to move when there is an indication the player contacts something. Storing the determinations reduces lag and helps players keep fighting and dodging both enemies and bullets.

Abstract:
A computer readable storage medium storing a game program and a game apparatus capable of preventing a game process which is performed, depending on a result of contact determination with respect to objects from being illogical for a player are provided. In the game apparatus, a contact determination section repeatedly determines whether a player object contacts a block. The results of determination are successively stored into a determination result storing section. A first processing section permits the player object to jump when, of the results of determination stored in the determination result storing section, at least one result of determination including a result of determination a predetermined period of time before indicates that the player object contacts the block.

Illustrative Claim:
1. A non-transitory computer readable storage medium storing a game program executable by a computer of a game apparatus which outputs to a display device a game image showing a behavior of an object in a game space, the game program causing the computer to execute instructions comprising: repeatedly determining whether or not a first object contacts a second object at a first point in time and at a second point in time, the second point in time being a latest result of determination stored after the first point in time; successively storing results of the repeated determination; and performing a predetermined process with respect to the first object when, of the results of the stored determination, at least one result of determination includes determining that the first object contacted the second object at the first point in time.


Research By: Rachel Johns
Edited By: Andrew F. Thomas




U.S. Patent No. 9,454,849: Augmented reality playspaces with adaptive game rules
Issued September 27, 2016, to Microsoft Technology Licensing, LLC


Summary:
U.S. Patent No. 9,454,849 (the ‘849 Patent) describes a method for generating a virtual gaming environment based on real-world objects. The patent describes a scenario where a player puts on an augmented reality head set and begins to travel around the real world. During the player’s travels, he may encounter monsters or puzzles which is generated by the headset. The headset will generate the monsters based on the real world environment surrounding the player. For example, a player in a forest is more likely to encounter a forest monster than an ocean monster. While wearing the headset, players will be able to interact with both real objects and virtual objects. Virtual objects will be created based on a variety of factors, including the real world environment.
Abstract:
A system for generating a virtual gaming environment based on features identified within a real-world environment, and adapting the virtual gaming environment over time as the features identified within the real-world environment change is described. Utilizing the technology described, a person wearing a head-mounted display device (HMD) may walk around a real-world environment and play a virtual game that is adapted to that real-world environment. For example, the HMD may identify environmental features within a real-world environment such as five grassy areas and two cars, and then spawn virtual monsters based on the location and type of the environmental features identified. The location and type of the environmental features identified may vary depending on the particular real-world environment in which the HMD exists and therefore each virtual game may look different depending on the particular real-world environment.
Illustrative Claim:
1. A method for generating an augmented reality environment, comprising: generating one or more virtual objects associated with a computing application using a mobile device, the one or more virtual objects include a first virtual object: identifying one or more real-world objects within a first real-world environment that are of a particular type; acquiring a computing application requirement that a particular number of real-world objects of the particular type be identified within the first real-world environment from the computing application; determining that a number of the one or more real-world objects identified within the first real-world environment of the particular type is not equal to the particular number of real-world objects required by the computing application; adjusting the one or more virtual objects in response to determining that the number of the one or more real-world objects identified within the first real-world environment of the particular type is not equal to the particular number of real-world objects required by the computing application, the one or more virtual objects include a first virtual object that moves within the augmented reality environment; detecting a particular sound using the mobile device; determining a distance between the first virtual object within the augmented reality environment and the mobile device; setting a degree of transparency for the first virtual object based on the distance between the first virtual object within the augmented reality environment and the mobile device in response to detecting the particular sound; generating one or more images associated with the first virtual object based on the degree of transparency; and displaying on the mobile device the one or more images, the one or more images are displayed such that the first virtual object is perceived to exist within the augmented reality environment.

U.S. Patent No. 9,566,503 Massively single-playing online game
Issued February 14, 2017, to Nintendo Co. Ltd.


Summary:
A huge draw to online games, especially MMORPGs, is the impact one person can have on another person’s game. Games like World of Warcraft, Second Life, or Minecraft are built around the concept of people interacting in an online digital world. Minecraft allows players to interact with features built by other players. To affect the world in these multi-player games, all the players inhabit the same world. Interacting with all the players can both be a positive and a negative experience.

What if a player wants to play a single-player game but still have other people affect the game world? U.S. Patent No. 9,566,503 (the ‘503 Patent) describes a method for a massively single-player online game. According to the patent, the game will be a traditional single-player game, but every player occupies the same digital world. Players will not be able to see or interact directly with other players, but the actions of a player can affect others by changing the game world. For example, a player could build a house in this digital world. A second player would be able to see and interact with the house, but could not see or communicate with the person who built the house.

The ‘503 Patent sounds similar to the kind of multiplayer experience found in the Dark Souls games. Dark Souls is primarily a single-player game but has a few multiplayer features. Players in Dark Souls can invade another player’s game, leave “helpful” notes in the world, or summon a friend to defeat a demanding boss. Demon Souls, the predecessor to Dark Souls, would alter gameplay depending upon world and individual character tendencies. The ‘503 Patent describes a game where foreign players affect the game world more directly than what happened in Demon Souls, but also more isolated than that of Dark Souls.

Abstract:
A method and apparatus that allows a player to play a massively single-player online game without directly interacting with other players, while affecting and being affected by other players playing the online game.


Illustrative Claim:
1. A method for playing a massively multiplayer online game that provides a massively multiplayer-affected shared game experience without requiring interaction between human-controlled player characters, comprising: simulating a virtual game environment using an online server processor; establishing connections between human players and the online server processor to establish respective game sessions which include player characters that interact with the simulated virtual game environment under direct control received from said human players over said established connections; storing, with the server processor, updated parameters related to the game sessions being played by the human players, said updated parameters related to changes to the simulated virtual game environment caused by massively multiplayer-controlled player characters interacting with the simulated virtual game environment; in response to the updated parameters, using the processor to simulate changing game conditions within the simulated virtual game environment, the changing game conditions dynamically changing over time based on interactions of massively multiplayer-controlled player characters with the simulated virtual game environment to thereby reflect said massively multiplayer-controlled player character interactions with the simulated virtual game environment; establishing a connection between an additional human player and the server processor to establish a further game session which includes a further player character directly controlled by said additional human player; and using the server processor, displaying, in the further game session played by the additional human player, game images according to the simulated virtual game environment and changing game conditions simulated in accordance with the updated parameters thereby exposing the additional human player's controlled player character to the effect of changing game conditions reflecting said massively multiplayer-controlled player character interactions within the simulated virtual game environment, said additional human player's controlled player character being at the same position in the simulated virtual game environment and at the same time with the simultaneously-online human players'-controlled player characters, without allowing said additional human player's controlled player character to see or interact with the other simultaneously-online human players'-controlled player characters.




Researched By: Andrew F. Thomas
U.S. Patent No. 9,616,345: Systems and methods for crowd-sourced game strategy
Issued April 11, 2017, to Electronic Arts Inc.
Priority Date July 1, 2014

Summary:
Playing EA’s Madden can be daunting because of the number of systems and strategies concurrently happening, especially for a person who does not understand American Football. The playcall selection menu can very be confusing to a novice who may not understand the differences between a running play and a passing play. To help the player, Madden will provide suggested playcalls based on the situation, but early incarnations of the suggestion system were all based on pre-programmed suggestions. The game had no way of learning a players habits or adjusting the suggestion based on the opponent. U.S. Patent No.9,616,345 addresses this problem by creating a system and method to collect game play strategy data from online matches and use the data to adjust suggestions accordingly. Now, Madden will provide you suggestions not only based off your previous calls but also what you did in your previous matches as well as how other players handled similar situations. The game will even show you the number of times you have called a play and your success rate. The patent also suggests that this data could be used to alter AI player strategy, but the primary focus of the patent is on playcall suggestions.
Abstract:
Various embodiments provide systems and methods that collect data regarding game strategy decisions by human players during video game, and utilize the collected data to either adjust or replace behaviors of computer players and/or suggest game strategies to human players during video game sessions. The game strategy decisions may be harvested from human-vs-human and human-vs-computer video game sessions. The data may be harvested from online-connected video game sessions, which may be hosted over an online video game network. Depending on the embodiment, the harvested data can include information regarding game strategies used by players during the video game sessions, the game contexts in which the game strategies were respectively used, and the results achieved by the respective use of the game strategies. Systems and methods described herein may facilitate a computer player having behavior that is (at least partially) "crowd-sourced" based on game strategies used by online-connected video game sessions.


Illustrative Claim:
1. A method comprising: as implemented by a processor configured with computer-executable instructions, receiving first data from a first client device, the first data regarding a first game strategy used, by a first game player, in a first game context of a first video game session between the first game player and at least a second game player, the first video game session executing within a video game, the first game strategy being a playcall; updating a game strategy dataset based on the first data, the first data at least including an identity of the first game strategy and an association between the first game context and the first game strategy, the game strategy dataset including a set of one or more previous playcalls used in a set of one or more previous game contexts; receiving gameplay data from a second client device during a second gameplay session, the gameplay data identifying a second game context of the second video game session, the second video game session being between a third player and a fourth player; identifying in the game strategy dataset a set of one or more relevant game strategies based, at least in part, on the second game context during the second video game session, wherein individual game strategies are playcalls available for use within the second video game session; and transmitting to the second client device second data regarding the set of one or more relevant game strategies, the second client device being configured to use the second data to identify at least one suggested game strategy of the set of one or more relevant game strategies for use in the second game context of the second video game session, and generate instructions to output the at least one suggested game strategy within a video game user interface during the second video game session.

Researched By: Andrew F. Thomas
U.S. Patent No. 9,704,350: Musical Combat Game
Issued July 11, 2017, to Haramonix Music Systems, Inc.
Priority Date March 14, 2013

H



Summary: 
Call of Duty: Rock Band. U.S. Patent No. 9,704,350 (the ‘350 Patent) describes a technique for creating a first person shooter game but with the game mechanics of rock band. The ‘350 Patent describes a game like Halo or Call of Duty, but the player has to hit the buttons in time with the music to move around. The patent describes a concept similar to the 2D roguelike rhythm game Crypt of the Necro Dancer. In Crypt, a player moves and attacks in time with the music, but the game is a 2D sprite game reminiscent of the 16-bit era. 

Abstract:
A computerized technique for use with a game console, the technique including providing, using the game console, a combat video game that includes a weapon, providing, using the game console, and an audiovisual system, music as a player plays the video game, analyzing, using the game console, at least one of i) the music, and ii) metadata relating to the music, to determine a property, and controlling the operation of weapon, using the game console, as a function of the property.
Illustrative Claim:
1. A non-transitory computer readable medium including computer readable instructions that, when executed by a computer, cause the computer to: provide a shooter combat video game having an on-screen character with a weapon situated in a virtual world, in which a player controls when the on-screen character triggers the weapon; provide music as the player plays the video game; analyze at least one of i) the music, and ii) metadata relating to the music, to determine a timing parameter related to the music; and cause the on-screen character to fire projectiles from the weapon, wherein firing the projectiles comprises varying a parameter of the projectiles fired from the weapon as a function of the timing parameter.


Researched By: Andrew F. Thomas
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