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Publication numberUS20060287027 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/432,003
Publication dateDec 21, 2006
Filing dateMay 11, 2006
Priority dateMay 13, 2005
Publication number11432003, 432003, US 2006/0287027 A1, US 2006/287027 A1, US 20060287027 A1, US 20060287027A1, US 2006287027 A1, US 2006287027A1, US-A1-20060287027, US-A1-2006287027, US2006/0287027A1, US2006/287027A1, US20060287027 A1, US20060287027A1, US2006287027 A1, US2006287027A1
InventorsMark Hardisty, Nicholas John-Adams, Nicholas Dixon, Christopher Swan
Original AssigneeMark Hardisty, Nicholas John-Adams, Dixon Nicholas G, Christopher Swan
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Real-time control system for console-based gaming
US 20060287027 A1
Abstract
A control layout for a game console that supports intuitive play of a game comprising both first person point of view (FPPOV) and third person point of view (TPPOV) control elements. The game control layout uses a plurality of functions that support in-depth third person control and large-scale unit commands that require a minimum of buttons to achieve complex motion and strategic decision making.
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Claims(18)
1. A process for selection of a portion of a group of characters in a game, the process comprising:
positioning a reticule in a space occupied by characters of interest using a directional controller;
defining a circular reticule boundary centered on the reticule by depressing a trigger button, wherein a circular reticule boundary circumference increases while the trigger button remains depressed; and
selecting characters from the characters of interest within the circular reticule boundary by releasing the trigger button.
2. The process for selection of a portion of a group of characters of claim 1, wherein the circular reticule boundary is adjustable to encompass from one character of interest to all of the characters of interest within the space.
3. A process for selection of a portion of a group of characters in a game, the process comprising:
selecting characters by tapping a trigger; and
representing the selection made via a center view reticule.
4. The process for selection of a portion of a group of characters of claim 3, wherein tapping the trigger selects one character per tap.
5. A process for selection of a portion of a group of units in a game, the process comprising:
positioning a reticule in a space occupied by units of interest using a directional controller;
defining a circular reticule boundary centered on the reticule by depressing a trigger button, wherein a circular reticule boundary circumference increases while the trigger button remains depressed; and
selecting units from the units of interest within the circular reticule boundary by releasing the trigger button.
6. The process for selection of a portion of a group of units of claim 5, wherein the circular reticule boundary is adjustable to encompass from one unit of interest to all of the units of interest within the space.
7. A process for selection of a portion of a group of units in a game, the process comprising:
selecting units by tapping a trigger; and
representing the selection made via a center view reticule.
8. The process for selection of a portion of a group of characters of claim 7, wherein tapping the trigger selects one unit per tap.
9. A process for fast grouping of characters or units in a game space, the process comprising:
defining an area that starts from a point within the game space and radiates outwards from that point in a pre-defined direction and dimension; and
stopping outward radiation of the area, thereby establishing a capture area,
wherein the capture area will increase in size based on a time period defined by the depression of a selection button and the release of the selection button; and
selecting characters or units that fall within the capture area to be part of a group.
10. The process for fast grouping of units in a game of claim 9, wherein the point within the game space comprises a cursor.
11. The process for fast grouping of units in a game of claim 9, wherein the point within the game space comprises a reticule.
12. The process for fast grouping of units in a game of claim 9, wherein the pre-defined direction and dimension comprise a circle with an increasing radius.
13. A process for fast grouping of characters or units in a game space, the process comprising:
defining an area that starts from a point within the game space and radiates outwards from that point in a pre-defined direction and dimension; and
stopping outward radiation of the area, thereby establishing a capture area,
wherein the capture area will increase in size based on a pressure applied to a selection button and will become fixed in size upon the release of the selection button, and
selecting characters or units that fall within the capture area to be part of a group.
14. The process for fast grouping of units in a game of claim 13, wherein the point within the game space comprises a cursor.
15. The process for fast grouping of units in a game of claim 13, wherein the point within the game space comprises a reticule.
16. The process for fast grouping of units in a game of claim 13, wherein the pre-defined direction and dimension comprise a circle with an increasing radius.
17. A process for controlling combat in a console game, the process comprising:
selecting a command using a switching element of a console game controller;
assigning a the selected command to a trigger button of the console game controller;
assigning a first mode to the first trigger button, wherein the first mode comprises pressing and releasing the first trigger button and wherein executing the first mode results in a single execution of the selected command; and
assigning a second mode to the first trigger button, wherein the second mode comprises pressing and holding the first trigger button and wherein executing the second mode results in a plurality of executions of the selected command.
18. The process for controlling combat in a console game of claim 17, wherein the command is selected from the group consisting of attack, follow, mutate, and guard.
Description
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. § 119(e) of provisional application No. 60/680,785 filed May 13, 2005. The 60/680,785 provisional application is incorporated by reference herein, in its entirety, for all purposes.

BACKGROUND

The present invention pertains to computerized gaming. More particularly, the present invention pertains to a control system for a console-based game. The description that follows may make reference to console-based games by trademarked names. In particular, XBox is a trademark of Microsoft Corporation. PlayStation is a trademark of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.

Computerized games, particularly those that involve shooting, are loosely classified in either a “first-person shooter” (FPS) genre or “third-person shooter” (TPS) genre. The FPS genre is generally defined as a combat computer or video game genre in which the player controls a character that provides a first-person view of the action. The player thus sees the action from the screen character's eyes. The player also has significant control over the character and can interact directly with the game environment.

In a TPS game, the action is viewed from behind or above the main player character.

The genre lines are often blurred in games in which the point of view can change depending on game playing circumstances. For example, many strategy-based and squad-based game use elements of both FPS and TPS genres.

A challenge to the designers of hybrid games is to provide an intuitive interface for the player so that the player can become competent in dealing with the game environment. Intuitive interface and real-time capable ease of use for strategy/squad-based gaming has been the differentiating feature of PC (i.e. non-console) games with respect to console gaming. Previous implementations of console-based gaming (e.g., Xbox, PlayStation) have not been intuitive to use and have not provided sufficient ease of use so as to enable real-time game play for strategy based or squad-based games.

What is needed is a control system for a console-based game system that is intuitive to use and provides sufficient ease of use so as to enable real-time game play for strategy based or squad-based games that incorporate first and third person viewpoints.

SUMMARY

An embodiment of the present invention is a control layout that supports intuitive play of an exemplary hybrid game comprising both first person point of view (FPPOV) and third person point of view (TPPOV) control elements. In the exemplary game, the player is in control of many Zombie units while controlling a third person avatar. The game control layout uses a plurality of functions that support in-depth third person control and large-scale unit commands. In this embodiment, a right hand trigger button is adapted to: (i) select characters or units either by holding the trigger down (which selects anything from 1 to 100% of units) or tapping the trigger (which selects one unit per tap). The selection is represented via a center view reticule.

In another embodiment of the present invention, the control layout supports a fast grouping feature. A first aspect of this fast grouping feature is the selection of characters or units inside an area that starts from a point on the screen (for example, the cursor/reticule) and radiates outwards from that point in a pre-defined direction and dimension (for example, a circle with an increasing radius) until stopped by the player to establish a capture area. The second aspect of this fast grouping is that the capture area will increase in size based on the time the player holds down the relevant selection button and/or the pressure applied on the selection button by the player. When the selection button is released, characters or units that fall within this capture area become part of a group.

The fast grouping feature uses a TPPOV when issuing the fast grouping selection command and the capture area emanates from an on-screen cursor/reticule, not from the FP POV character (e.g. a zombie enslaver or a commanding general). Once grouped, the selected units may be given any one of a large number of commands.

It is therefore an aspect of the present invention to provide an intuitive interface to a player of a game.

It is another aspect of the present invention to provide an interface that allows a player to become competent to deal with the environment of a game.

It is still another embodiment of the present invention to provide a game control layout that controls both TPPOV elements and FPPOV elements.

It is yet another embodiment of the present invention to provide an interface for a game console that provides the features of a PC gaming interface.

It is an aspect of the present invention to provide a control layout that can be implemented on commercially available console-based gaming device, as for example, but not as a limitation, Xbox and PlayStation.

It is another aspect of the present invention to provide a control layout that allows the player to engage in massed battles without feeling overwhelmed, without having to learn a complicated system and without having to memorize long combination of button sequences.

It is still another aspect of the present invention to enable players to learn new ways to beat enemies and to use small-scale tactics.

It is yet another aspect of the present invention to provide a combat system that uses only three buttons of a console-based gaming device.

It is another aspect of the present invention to maintain control consistency between combat performed by different characters.

These and other embodiments of the present invention will be apparent from the general and detailed discussion that follows.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates an “Enslaver” control system implemented on an XBox controller according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrate an “insta-grouping” operation according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 illustrates the methods of attack of the Enslaver according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 illustrates an exemplary scoring system for damage caused to various body parts of a Civilian character according to an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

An embodiment of the present invention is a control layout that supports intuitive play of an exemplary hybrid game comprising both first person point of view (FPPOV) and third person point of view (TPPOV) control elements. In the exemplary game, the player is in control of many Zombie units while controlling a third person avatar. The exemplary game uses a plurality of functions that support in-depth third person control, and large-scale unit commands.

An Exemplary Game

Embodiments of the present invention are most readily illustrated by reference to an exemplary game played using an XBox® controller. As will appreciated by those skilled in the art, aspects of the present invention that are described in the context of the exemplary game may be applied to other games and to other physical controllers. Thus, the description that follows is intended to be illustrative and not limiting.

In the exemplary game, the character the player plays is a man turned into an intelligent zombie via exposure to experimental chemicals from a laboratory he had broken into. In this embodiment, the player controls the intelligent zombie, known as “The Enslaver”, who in turn commands the other undead. The Enslaver, himself once human, is the result of a twisted experiment by an unscrupulous corporation (the “Corporation”). Having escaped from the lab in which he was created, The Enslaver sets about laying waste to the Corporation-owned city (the “City”) building an army of the dead from inhabitants of the City and marching them through the streets toward the offices of the Corporation.

A preternaturally strong and agile character, the Enslaver may raise, command and mutate a huge horde of Zombies. In controlling The Enslaver, players choose for themselves how best to use the powers of The Enslaver and his Zombie horde, either commanding directly from the front-lines or from a distance—neither option is invalidated. Both will carry their own distinct risks.

The Enslaver can survey the battlefield remotely by using the Angry Cam, though distance imposes limits with a fog of war. From the Angry Cam, he may not only gain a tactical overview but can also possess any single zombie, using their unique vision, special abilities and attacks as he wishes.

Arrayed against The Enslaver are all the forces that the civil authorities can muster—police, riot police, SWAT, National Guard and the might of the US Army. In addition the civilians themselves will form bands of hardened survivors, willing to fight with whatever arms they can scavenge. Finally the Corporation itself will send their own deadly Black-ops units, who are specifically trained to target and hunt the Enslaver.

The City will react to the threat of The Enslaver accordingly. Every act of death and destruction committed by both directly by him or one of his Zombies is remembered and applied to an increasing scale—the Enemy Response Level (ERL). As the ERL climbs, the enemy numbers, aggression, skill, rollout, distribution and armament will increase accordingly, intensifying the enemy threat as The Enslaver and his zombies push forward.

While primarily an action game, the player can reduce the increasing threat of the Enemy Response Level, by carefully choosing the order in which The Enslaver and his forces target various groups of enemies and opponents. If the player targets one group or location first, the forces at another may have built stronger and better-armed defenses by the time the Enslaver reaches them. However, destroying a certain enemy arms supply, vehicle depot or command center first means that those forces will never gain a chance to increase the threat in that manner. Direct media and radio feed information, combined with a dynamic in-game map and careful exploration, will reveal the potential targets and routes for the player so that they can determine the best tactical approach.

Successful outcomes of engagements with the enemy will, in the end, be determined by how the player chooses to approach each situation and how well they learn to use strengths and weaknesses of The Enslaver and his Zombie mutations—the hard-to-kill but slow Shamblers, the fast but vulnerable Runners, the wide-spread infection capabilities of the Bloaters, the pack-hunting abilities of the Shredders or the sheer brute strength of the Monster.

The Enslaver begins the game with a small number of Zombie minions to whom he can give simple orders, such as “Attack”, “Defend” and “Infect”. The latter command causes the Zombies to seek out the nearest uninfected humans and kill them. Immediately after, the victims will get back up as mindlessly loyal undead servants of the Enslaver. The more Zombies under the Enslaver's command, the more humans can be killed and infected, and the more of the City can be overtaken. At its full extent, the Zombie army can reach numbers of up to 300 fully controllable creatures, which can be divided into multiple squads and assault divisions and commanded to launch complex, multi-directional assaults on enemy positions, just like real military forces.

The City is a huge metropolis populated by millions of ordinary citizens. These civilians therefore will make up the majority of the people which the Enslaver and his armies encounter on their rampage through the streets. Weak and easy to kill, civilians are good for swelling the zombie horde. The thousands of different civilian characters all react in certain ways to the Enslaver's path of destruction. They generally flock together into groups, with the strongest civilians taking the lead, and try to find their way to designated safe points (police stations, hospitals, army bases etc.). When two such groups meet, they join together into a single large gaggle of civilians, with the stronger of the two group leaders becoming the “shepherd”. Some civilians may even try to fight back.

The exemplary game is based around both a tactical command system and close combat. The Enslaver is a fearsome warrior with massively upgradeable strength and abilities, and can engage in wholesale frontline slaughter on his own. Also, he can “hijack” members of his zombie army and control that member in first-person combat.

Much of the single-player control mirrors that of traditional console first person shooter (FPS) controls. Movement, although predominantly controlled in third person, uses an input method similar to that of most console FPS games.

Controls Overview

FIG. 1 illustrates an XBox controller layout as known in the prior art. XBox controller 100 comprises a D-Pad 110, right trigger 115, left trigger 125, Right Analog Stick 120, Left Analog Stick 130, “Y” button 140, “B” button 145, “X” button 150, “A” button 155, “Q” Button 160, and “R” Button 165. D-Pad 110 is adapted to issue a signal when rocked to a left position, a right position, an up position and a down position. Right Analog Stick 120 and Left Analog Stick 130 are adapted to issue an analog signal that is both pressure sensitive and directional. The Right Analog Stick 120 and the Left Analog Stick 130 will toggle a switch when pressed downward.

Table 1 maps commands of the Enslaver commands of the exemplary game to the control elements of the XBox Controller according to an embodiment of the present invention.

TABLE 1
ENSLAVER COMMAND MAP
XBOX
Control
Element EXEMPLARY GAME ASSIGNED FUNCTION
Move Enslaver
The Left Analog Stick 130 is used to move the Enslaver. Movement will be
screen relative and sensitive to the degree of analog input. If the Left
Analog Stick 130 is pushed forward slightly then the Enslaver will walk
forward at a steady pace. If the Left Analog Stick 130 is pushed fully
forward then the Enslaver will walk quickly and purposefully. Pressing left
or right on the Left Analog Stick 130 will cause the Enslaver to strafe in the
corresponding direction. When moving forwards, the Enslaver will
automatically vault over or move around small environment objects. The
Enslaver will also jump down from edges or grab hold of ladders automatically.
Look/Turn
The Right Analog Stick 120 is used to look around and turn the character.
The yaw speed will accelerate when the player is pushing towards the
extremes in the X-axis, up to a maximum turn speed. This will allow the
player to have precise aiming without losing the ability to turn quickly.
Pushing up or down on the Right Analog Stick 120 will change the pitch of
the character viewpoint accordingly, with the pitch sensitivity being reduced
slightly over that of the yaw sensitivity.
Aim Mode
By clicking the Right Analog Stick 120, the Enslaver will enter Aim Mode.
This mode will allow the Enslaver to more specifically direct commands
about the terrain, targeting longer-range objectives. This is particularly
effective if the Enslaver is on higber ground. When entering Aim Mode, the
camera will quickly move to a position close to and just over the character's
right shoulder, and will zoom in on the environment beyond the Enslaver. In
addition, a targeting reticule (appropriate to the game aesthetic) will appear
around the Command Reticule (see FIG. 2 described below). The player
may exit Aim Mode by simply re-pressing the Right Analog Stick 120.
Attack
The “A” button 155 is designated as the “Attack button.” Pushing the
Attack button will cause the Enslaver to lash out with a head butt, punch or
kick. The actual move will depend upon the Enslaver's proximity to the
enemy with each move reaching progressively further. There will be several
different versions of each to keep variety high and in addition each time the
Enslaver mutates (as he progresses through the game) his moves will
become more powerful and new attack animations will be added.
Grab
The “X” button 150 is designated as the “Grab button.” Pressing the Grab
150 button will enable the Enslaver to lift an enemy by the throat and hold it
above the ground. By continually holding the grab button the Enslaver will
eventually strangle the enemy one-handed —a silent act that will allow the
Enslaver to kill stealthily. Once grappled, most enemies won't be able to
attack back thus allowing the Enslaver to target specific threats and remove
them from the combat. With a grappled enemy in hand the Enslaver won't
be able to move, leaving him vulnerable to attack. He will, however, be able
to turn on the spot, allowing him to use the grappled enemy as a “bullet shield.”
Additional Grab Moves
Neck Snap
The Neck Snap is an additional move available during a grab. The Enslaver
can execute this move by pressing Grab (“X” button 150) followed by
Attack (“A” button 155).
Throw
Grappled characters (enemies and Zombies) can also be thrown by double
tapping the Grab button (“X” button 150). This move can prove particularly
useful when used on Bloaters or burning Zombies.
Evade
The “B” button 145 is designated the “Evade” button. Pressing the Evade
button 145 will cause the Enslaver to dodge or block hand-to-hand attacks.
Evading attacks will be a reaction based gameplay element whereby the
player will be warned of an incoming attack (via a visual cue) and will be
able to react in time to avoid taking damage. The evade command will also
be used to add a layer of depth to the hand-to-hand combat system whereby
a successful block will temporarily leave an enemy in a stunned during
which time the player will be able to deliver a more substantial or even
lethal blow. The player will also be able to chain a series of consecutive
blocks enabling them to inflict substantial damage on multiple enemies in
one go.
Context Action
The Evade button (“B” button 145) will also double up as a context
sensitive action button. Whenever the Enslaver is near an “action point” an
onscreen prompt will appear during which time the Context Action button
will become active enabling the Enslaver to carry out the designated action
for that point (for example smashing a panel, ripping out wires or inputting
into a terminal).
Sprint
Clicking the Left Analog Stick 130 will put the Enslaver into sprint mode.
While in sprint mode the Enslaver will be able to move faster than a normal
human for a short duration.
When the player returns to normal move mode, the Enslaver will begin to
recover, enabling him to sprint again shortly after. Clicking the Right
Analog Stick 120 while in sprint mode will return the Enslaver back to
normal move mode.
Angry Cam
Button 165 is designated the “Angry Cam” button. Activating the Angry
Cam will cause the camera to shift from the Enslaver third person view to a
first person perspective allowing the player to explore the environment,
survey the opposition and possess Zombie units.
While in Angry Cam mode the Enslaver will enter a hibernation state
making him vulnerable to attack and adding a degree of risk. Should the
Enslaver come under attack while in this state, HUD information will alert
the player and by pressing the Angry Cam button again the player will be
enable to return to the Enslaver to take defensive action. The Command
Reticule (see FIG. 2 and description below) will be available in this
mode, to help the player correctly target a Zombie for possession.
Other than a “possess” context action (described below) the player will have
no ability to issue commands while in Angry Cam mode.
Possessing Zombie Units
The “Y” button 140 is designated the “Select Zombie” button. By moving
the Angry Cam to view a Zombie unit and pressing the Select Zombie
button 140 when a Possess context icon appears, the Enslaver may possess
any Zombie under his command. When in possession of a Zombie unit, the
viewpoint will change to first person, retaining the same Enslaver control
mechanisms and swapping the Enslaver's attack routines for those of the
possessed Zombie unit.
Summon Energy
Button 160 is designated the “Summon Energy” button. As previously
described, the player will be able to mutate Zombies during the course of
the game by using the Enslaver's “mutation power”. If the Enslaver runs out
of mutation power he won't be able to mutate any more Zombies until one
of his Zombies dies. When this happens, a portion of the mutation power
used to mutate the Zombie will be left-in the world. The Enslaver can re-
claim this energy by either walking over it or holding down the Summon
Energy button (button 160) causing the Enslaver to draw all the energy in
his immediate vicinity towards him.

In an embodiment of the present invention, the effective distance that the Enslaver will be able to move the Angry Cam or a possessed Zombie unit from the Enslaver is subject to a preset maximum. Should the Angry Cam or possessed Zombie unit begin to approach this preset maximum, a filter effect will apply (fog of war) and the viewpoint will become increasingly poor as the maximum range is reached.

Because only a portion of the mutation power invested into a Zombie is released on its death, the Enslaver runs the risk of exhausting his supply. In order to ensure that this does not happen, the Enslaver will need to keep killing enemies (high yield) or use his Zombies to do so (lower yield) and acquire the new power that becomes available as a result of this action.

As previously described, the Enslaver commands his Zombie units, so that he may destroy level opposition and tactically overwhelm the environment. Commands are designed to be simple to issue and control from the perspective of the player, yet complex enough from an artificial intelligence (AI) perspective to yield different AI related results, depending on how they are applied. Although under the direct command of the player, the Zombies' AI routines allow them a degree of autonomy that exists within the parameters of the command state. This will ensure that, while under the control of the player, Zombies will still carry out enough AI activity so as to be strategically useful to a player who cannot possibly keep an eye on all things at all times, in addition to being interesting to simply sit and watch if desired.

When not directly engaged in command activity, Zombie units will perform a variety of Idle Routines. Specific Idle Routine activity may also be initiated if the Zombie unit is idling within range of an Interest Point, attracting a Zombie unit to its vicinity whereupon the Zombie unit will begin to conduct activity particular to the Interest Point in question.

The Command Reticule allows the player to see what the point of origin for a command will be within the environment. Without a clear indication of aiming point, the player will only be able to hazard a guess as to who or what they are targeting, for an Attack or Guard Command, with the risk that their command may be issued or interpreted incorrectly.

The Command Reticule exists at the absolute center of the screen. As the player moves the viewpoint of the character, whether vertically or horizontally, the reticule moves accordingly, and uses a camera ray, that is fired out from the character/camera POV to a point beyond the Enslaver. When the camera ray impacts with a potential target, the Command Reticule will alter to indicate that an attack opportunity is available. When doing so the effect will hang for a brief time before fading, so that it does not irritate when passing across multiple targets.

Referring again to FIG. 1, the Zombie commands are now described. D-pad 110 is used as a Command Selector. Four commands are available—Attack, Guard, Follow and Mutate, which are all selected via the Command Selector by pressing the D-Pad in the direction of the command required. The selected command is assigned to the right trigger 115. The command selected will remain assigned to the right trigger 115 until the user changes the command selection to a different type of command.

According to an embodiment of the present invention, pressing the right trigger 115 once commands a single Zombie Unit to perform the selected command. Each single press of the right trigger 115 will commit a further single Zombie unit to the action. Therefore pressing the right trigger 115 5 times will order 5 Zombie units to commit to the action. The player may also hold down the right trigger 115, which assigns an increasing percentage (1% to 100%) of Zombie Units to a task. In another embodiment, the increase is staged in predefined increments. By way of illustration and not as a limitation, holding down the right trigger 115 will increase the percentage of Zombie units committed to action in stages of 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%.

In an alternate embodiment of the present invention, game play default is a commitment of all fighting units. Holding down the right trigger 115 reduces the commitment of fighting units (from 100% to 1%). In still another embodiment, the decrease of fighting units committed to action is staged in predefined increments. By way of illustration and not as a limitation, holding down the right trigger 115 decreases the percentage of fight units committed to action in stages of 75%, 50%, and 25% and 1 unit.

When Zombie units are created and mutated, they are assigned to Zombie Unit Types. The Enslaver may wish to command numbers from a type of Zombie, rather than simply issuing commands to any or all Zombie units currently under his command.

To do this the player must simply press the Zombie Select Button 110. This will bring up a radial selector displaying all the available Zombie types. The player must then simply move the left analog stick 130 towards whichever Zombie type he wants to select. This will then select that Zombie type and remove the radial selector. Pressing the Zombie Select Button 110 again or selecting “all” will remove the radial selector with the Enslaver able to order any Zombie type.

Table 2 maps other Zombie commands of the exemplary game to the control elements of the XBox Controller according an embodiment of the present invention.

TABLE 2
ZOMBIE COMMAND MAP
XBOX
Control
Element EXEMPLARY GAME ASSIGNED FUNCTION
Attack
The Attack Command is issued by rocking the D-pad 100 upward. The
Attack Command can be issued against opponents and designated structures
such as barricades. The Zombie units will take the quickest route to reach the
target, which they will attack using their default attack. The Zombie units will
continue to attack the specified target until either they or the target has been
destroyed. The player selects an attack target by issuing an Attack Command,
based on the current positioning of the Command Reticule.
Guard
The Guard Command is issued by rocking the D-pad 100 to the right. Issuing
a Guard Command will cause the Zombie units to remain within a designated
guard area and attack any viable target that comes within range. The position
of the Command Reticule, when the Guard Command was issued, will
become the centre point for the Guard Radius. The Guard Radius is
automatically set dependent upon the number of Zombie units committed to
the Guard command. Zombie Units will not pass beyond the guard Radius
boundary.
Follow
The Follow Command is issued by rocking the D-pad 100 to the left. The
Follow Command instructs the Zombie units to follow the Enslaver's path.
Zombie units will surround and follow the Enslaver on all sides, rather than
trail behind him. The Zombie units will continue to follow the Enslaver until
otherwise directed or unless an attacking threat becomes apparent. If either
the Enslaver or Zombie units come under attack they will deal with the threat
but then return to the Follow command as soon as possible. The Follow
Command does not require the use of the Command Reticule as it uses the
Enslaver as the commands point of reference.
Mutate I, II, III & IV
The Mutate Command is issued by rocking D-pad 100 downward. At the
start of the game, the Enslaver already has the Mutate I command, which
allows him to mutate any Shambler Type Zombies into Runners. As the
Enslaver progresses through the single-player game and finds each Genetic
Upgrade, he will gain one of four additional Mutate commands. Each
Mutation will offer differing capabilities that will offer various strategies. All
Zombie units, regardless of what Zombie Type infected them in the first
place, will start off as Shamblers. Zombie units can be mutated up the scale at
any stage, but can never be mutated back down the scale. To mutate a Zombie
unit, the player simply selects the Mutate level (if available) by pressing
down on the D-Pad until the desired command appears. Any selected Zombie
units are mutated into the selected type, when the right trigger 115 is pressed
(for single Zombie units) or held and released (for a percentage of Zombie
units). The Mutate Command does not require the use of the Command
Reticule but the player may target a specific Zombie unit for mutation, via the
Command Reticule, if desired.
LEFT Insta-Group exists for players who want to quickly create a Zombie unit
TRIGGER group. Holding down the left trigger 125 activates a variable radius effect,
centered from the position of the Command Reticule. The longer the left
trigger 125 is held down the larger the Insta-Group radius will be. Any
Zombie units caught within the radius are assigned to this temporary group,
but only if they are of the type selected by the player (see above). So if the
player had selected Shamblers the Insta-Group radius would only select
Shamblers and would ignore other Zombies. This “Insta-Group” will commit
to the very next command issued, unless the Insta-Group is cancelled by
another action (selecting a Zombie Type instead or creating a new Insta-
Group).

FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrate an “insta-grouping” operation according to an embodiment of the present invention. An Enslaver 205, a command reticule 210, a group of zombies 215 and a small group of Civilian units 220 are illustrated. The Enslaver 205 (and Command Reticule 210) are looking north, towards the top of the image. At this time the Enslavers Zombie units are idling at the west end of a street. The Enslaver 205 wishes to quickly command a large number of Zombies 215 to attack the Civilian units 220 at the east end of the street section. The Enslaver turns towards the Zombie units and uses the look controls (see, FIG. 1, right analog stick 120) to position the Command Reticule 210 roughly in the center of the idling Zombies. Then holding down the left trigger 125, the Enslaver 205 creates an expanding Insta-Group radius 225 (illustrated in FIG. 2B), which instantly groups the Zombies 220 caught within it who can now be commanded to attack the Civilian units 215.

In an embodiment of the present invention, the control of a possessed Zombie is similar as to the control of the Enslaver layout. This will enable the player to possess a Zombie and start fighting and issuing commands immediately. As a result all of the Zombie types will use the Attack button (see FIG. 1, “A” button 155) for their primary attack and the Evade/Context button (see FIG. 1, “B” button 145) for their “special” attack. These commands are explained in Table 3 below.

TABLE 3
COMBAT WHILE CONTROLLING ZOMBIES
Zombie B Button 145
Shambler Shoot whichever weapon the Zombie is carrying. If the
Zombie is unarmed then this button activates
“Zombie attack 2”, which is a slower but more
powerful lunge attack.
Runner Burst of speed. Pushing this sends the Runner diving forward
at increased speed for a short distance (the player has to
keep pressing the button again to maintain the speed).
Bloater Explode Zombie. This button activates the Bloater's explode
function, releasing the gas as normal.
Shredder Toggle wall-climbing mode. Once this button is pushed the
Shredder can stick to vertical surfaces. Pushing attack
while stuck to a wall will cause the Shredder to dive forward
at the point it's looking at. Pushing X again while already
on a wall will cancel wall-climbing mode, dropping the
Shredder to the ground.
Monster Pound attack. This causes the Monster to smash both arms
down onto the ground, sending out a shockwave of dirt
and debris and stunning any nearby enemies.

None of the attacks above will have any affect on the player's own Zombies if used against them. If the player also tries to attack a Zombie as the Enslaver he will simply play his “backhanding objects” animation to shove the Zombie out of the way. This removes any worry that the player might attack his own Zombies in the midst of a panicked, swirling melee. The player can however pick up his own Zombies using the grab button (see FIG. 1, “X” button 150) as mentioned previously. In addition the Enslaver can also choose to snap the neck of any Zombie he has grappled in the same way as snapping an enemy's neck. The player might want to do this to remove a specific Zombie from his horde (for example to lower the number of Zombies in his horde so he can mutate new, more powerful Zombies).

Multi-Player Mode

In an embodiment of the present invention, the exemplary game may be played as a single player game or a multiple player game. In a multiplayer embodiment of the present invention, one player acts as the Enslaver using the third person control from the single-player game. In this embodiment, the Enslaver will command a massive Zombie Horde against the survivors, and the other players will take the role of these survivors, adopting a traditional FPS control system, attempting to survive the onslaught of the Enslaver's Zombie Horde. The Enslaver multiplayer control system is identical to that of the single-player layout. As has been previously stated, the Enslaver controls have been specifically created in order to allow the player to command large numbers of Zombie units quickly and efficiently, without the necessity of navigating complex menu systems. This will allow the player to comfortably command the Zombie hordes against the Survivor players, reacting quickly to the speed of their FPS attacks.

In the multiplayer embodiment of the present invention, the survivor controls are defined. Table 4 maps other survivor commands of the exemplary game to the control elements of the XBox Controller according an embodiment of the present invention. Button references are to FIG. 1.

TABLE 4
Multiplayer Controls (Survivor)
XBOX
Control
Element EXEMPLARY GAME ASSIGNED FUNCTION
Move Survivor
The Left Analog Stick 130 is used to move the Survivor. Movement will be
screen relative and sensitive to the degree of analog input. If the Left Analog
Stick 130 is pushed forward slightly then the Survivor will walk forward at a
steady pace. If the Left Analog Stick 130 is pushed fully forward then the
Survivor will walk quickly and purposefully. Pressing left or right on the Left
Analog Stick 130 will cause the Enslaver to strafe in the corresponding
direction. When moving forwards, the Survivor will automatically vault over or
move around small environment objects. The Survivor will also jump down
from edges or grab hold of ladders automatically.
Look/Turn
The Right Analog Stick 120 is used to look around and turn the character. The
yaw speed will accelerate when the player is pushing towards the extremes in
the X-axis, up to a maximum turn speed. This will allow the player to have
precise aiming without losing the ability to turn quickly. Pushing up or down on
the Right Analog Stick 120 will change the pitch of the character viewpoint
accordingly, with the pitch sensitivity being reduced slightly over that of the
yaw sensitivity.
Aim Mode
By clicking the Right Analog Stick 120 the Survivor will be able to enter Aim
Mode. During this mode the camera will shift to an over the shoulder
perspective and present a zoomed in view of the action as the player literally
aims down the length of their weapon. During Aim Mode, the player's accuracy
will almost certainly improve. However to balance this advantage, their
movement speed will reduce making them more vulnerable to attack.
Sprint
Clicking the Left Analog Stick 130 will put the Survivor into sprint mode.
While in sprint mode the Survivor will be able to move faster than a normal
human for a short duration. When the player returns to normal move mode, the
Survivor will begin to recover, enabling him to sprint again shortly after.
Clicking the Right Analog Stick 120 while in sprint mode will return the
Survivor back to normal move mode.
Right Primary Weapon Fire
Trigger Pressing or holding down the Right Trigger 115, will fire the current primary
weapon. Some weapons will have multiple fire modes. An automatic rifle, for
example, may have both full auto and a three-round-burst fire mode. In this
instance pressing the Right Trigger 115 will use the three-round-burst, whereas
holding down the Right Trigger 115 will initiate a full auto fire mode.
Left Secondary Weapon Fire
Trigger There will be various types of secondary weapon, though these weapons will
predominantly be small, one-handed weapons such as grenades, pistols or small
sub-machineguns. Pressing the Left trigger 125 will fire or throw the secondary
weapon. Certain weapons will be double handed and fill both primary and
secondary weapon slots (such as a double barreled shotgun or machine gun with
grenade launcher). In these instances, the secondary fire will activate the
secondary attack of the weapon.
Switch Primary Weapon/Switch Secondary Weapon
The player may switch the currently selected primary weapon to another by
pressing left or right on the D-Pad 110. In the same manner the player may
switch the secondary weapon carried to another by pressing up or down on the
D-Pad 110. A Survivor may only carry a limited number of weapons,
dependent on size of the weapons being carried, and the carrying combination
chosen (during game the set-up phase). Weapons are classed as primary
weapons, secondary weapons or both. In principal, a weapon that requires two
hands to wield will always be considered a primary weapon, whereas weapons
that can be used single-handedly can double as either primary or secondary
weapons.
Melee Attack
Melee fighting involves the use of the primary weapon in the character's hands.
Each press of the “A” button 155 will initiate a quick, close-range melee attack.
This is handy when the enemy is in close or when the player is out of
ammunition. If the character is already wielding a melee-specific weapon, the
attack will be a further, close range attack that is appropriate to the weapon
being used. Otherwise, when performing a melee attack, the player's currently
selected weapon will be used as a crude, blunt instrument.
Reload Weapon
In an embodiment of the present invention, the player is required to initiate a
weapon reload by pressing the “X” button 150. This will emulate real-life and
will help to stimulate a sensation of heightened panic reaction when the player
runs out of ammunition during tense moments. For example, a player may find
himself being overwhelmed by Zombies, firing happily into them only to hear
the sudden click, click, click of the trigger action as the ammunition runs out. In
this situation, the player will have to back off in order to quickly reload the
weapon.
Context Action
When the player is in range of a context object, an on screen prompt will
inform the player that a context action is available. This will be initiated by
pressing the “B” button 145. Context actions will cover many activities from
opening or locking doors to placing barricades and picking up objects and
weapons.
Toggle Flashlight/Night-Vision
Survivors may choose to carry either a flashlight or a pair of night-vision
goggles. Night-vision goggles cover the player's peripheral vision however
they are susceptible to bright lights, explosions and flashlights causing the
player's view to partially whiteout. Flashlights have a more limited cone of
vision and are thus less effective however they don't have the disadvantages
associated with night-vision. Teams will need to be careful when choosing their
preference in order to prevent selections from clashing and team members
hampering each other. Night-vision goggles and Flashlights are switched on
and off using the “Y” button 140.

As the player sweeps the target reticule over an enemy, the pitch and yaw rate decreases. This makes the enemy “sticky” to the view control, aiding rapid targeting. As the figure to the left demonstrates, the speed of turning decreases as the target reticule passes over the enemy's screen area. The amount of screen area surrounding the enemy that is made sticky will require experimentation so that the correct balance is achieved. It may be required to increase this area beyond the outline of the enemy.

Climbing is activated as an automatic response to pushing the Survivor against a climb object, such as a ladder. Normally, when approaching a wall or other solid surface, the Survivor will come to a halt (he will neither run or smash into it). With a climbing surface, if the user continues to push the Survivor into it, he will begin to climb as appropriate. When climbing a ladder the player must push upwards on the Left Analog Stick 130 for the Survivor to continue climbing up, or push down on the Left Analog Stick 130 to make him climb back down. When reaching the uppermost part of the climb object, the Survivor will automatically climb up and off the object. If climbing down an object, the Survivor will dismount the object when reaching the bottom. When climbing a ladder the player may still fire a single-handed weapon, though when firing the character will be unable to continue climbing.

Survivors will jump in the same way as the Enslaver—under context sensitive control. If the player is near a ledge and walks toward it, the Enslaver will stop when he reaches the edge and acknowledge the presence of the ledge via a suitable animation. If however, the Enslaver is sprinting as he approaches the ledge, the Enslaver will jump down off of the ledge as his momentum carries him forward. By utilizing the sprint mode only to perform a jump, the player will always be in control of when and where they jump thus removing any ambiguity or unintended jumps.

In an embodiment of the present invention, a player may invest as much or as little effort into the fighting as the player elects. Thus, the Enslaver does not have to fight. In this embodiment, the presence of the Enslaver in a battle will make a difference, and will significantly improve the player's odds.

In another embodiment of the present invention, the combat system of the exemplary game is based on the player dealing with two buttons. Thus, the player is either continually pressing the attack button (see FIG. 1, “A” button 155) or the evade button (see FIG. 1, “B” button 145) or holding down the grab button (see FIG. 1, “X” button 150). According this embodiment, these mechanics never swap over so the attack button is not held down and the grab button is not repeatedly pressed. By keeping the mechanics consistent the player has one less thing to remember and can concentrate on other things. Thus, the interface is more intuitive.

In this embodiment of the present invention, the other control element involved in combat is the Left Analog Stick 130 (used for moving the Enslaver and to aim the Enslaver's attacks.

The Enslaver has a set amount of health (more later in the game when he has mutated). If this runs out the Enslaver has “died” and it's game over. However if the Enslaver avoids taking any damage for a few seconds then his health begins to recover, eventually returning to its maximum. This means that taking damage can kill the Enslaver in the short term (in one fight) but has no effect in the long term (if the Enslaver survives a fight then he is back to full health). This approach means that the player needs to be aware of the damage inflicted on the Enslaver taking but avoids the “hunt for the health pack” issue utilized in other games.

In an embodiment of the present invention, an intelligent manual aiming system assists the player in combat thereby reduces the likely incidence of missed attacks. To engage manual aiming, the player pushes the Left Analog Stick 130 in the required direction while pushing the attack button (see FIG. 1, “A” button 155). The game will then deduce where exactly the attack should most likely be aimed and execute the attack accordingly. In this embodiment, the manual aiming system is designed to facilitate the selection of the enemy that the Enslaver attacks but does not to require aiming with 100% accuracy. To facilitate this, in an embodiment of the present invention, manual aiming system will “snap” the Enslaver's manually aimed attacks to the enemy considered closest to the player's intended aim (with closer targets also having priority over more distant ones). The “snap zone” will allow for a fairly comfortable margin of error ensuring that unless the player misses wildly, they will not have to endure the frustration of continually missing a desired target. Once the Enslaver has executed a manually aimed attack he will either return to his default combat pose, or blend seamlessly into another attack (depending on whether the player is still pressing attack buttons). This blending between Enslaver attacks will also make the combat look spectacular.

FIG. 3 illustrates the methods of attack of the Enslaver according to an embodiment of the present invention. As illustrated, the Enslaver has four primary methods of attack. The specific nature of the attack will be dictated by the player's choice of action and the proximity of the Enslaver to his targeted enemy.

The effect of distance on the attack is also illustrated in FIG. 3. When the player launches an attack the game will calculate the move most appropriate for the situation and execute it accordingly (either head butt, punch or kick but not grab). The game will always default to the closest range attack due to the fact that close range attacks will always do more damage than long range attacks. If the player decides to execute a grab the game will check that the character is close enough. If they are within grab range the appropriate animation will play. If the player is out of range the Enslaver will play a “failed grab” animation and is vulnerable to damage while the animation plays.

The exact nature of the outcome will also be dependent on where the attack hits the target. Table 5 below illustrates each of the possible outcomes.

TABLE 5
OUTCOMES OF ATTACK BY ENSLAVER
Target
Attack Areas Outcome
Head Head Enslaver leans back then smashes his forehead into the
butt enemy's nose
Punch Head Enslaver jabs the enemy in the mouth
Torso Enslaver brings his arm back then slams it into the
enemy's stomach
Arms Enslaver grabs the enemy's arm at the elbow and snaps
the bone with a twist
Kick Torso Enslaver slams his foot up into the enemy's groin
Arms Enslaver swings his foot round from the side, catching
the enemy's arm and breaking it
Legs Enslaver steps forward and brings his foot down on the
enemy's knee, snapping the bone

FIG. 4 illustrates an exemplary scoring system for damage caused to various body parts of a Civilian character according to an embodiment of the present invention.

Each enemy character will have specific damage points for their head, torso and limbs. The Enslaver's attacks will randomly strike different locations on the targeted enemy dependent on the factors listed in the table below. FIG. 4 illustrates how much damage the Enslaver's attacks will do, the chances of different attacks hitting different body parts and the effects of different body parts being destroyed. When the Enslaver attacks a character, the game determines the location that has been hit. If the attack is deemed to have hit a location, the system will automatically target the enemy's torso instead. As illustrated in FIG. 4, the value assigned to the body parts of the Civilian character are 50 torso damage points, 25 per limb and 15 for the head. Additionally, the chances of different Enslaver attacks hitting different body parts is illustrated. As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, the point values assigned to the Civilian body parts is exemplary only and is not limited. Other point systems may be assigned without departing from the scope of the present invention.

Once the hit location has been determined, the damage caused by the attack is calculated. According to an embodiment of the present invention, what happens next is dependent upon whether the damage caused by the attack will kill the attacked character or not. In this embodiment, if the damage caused does not kill the character, the Enslaver will play an appropriate attacking animation, causing him to head butt, punch or kick the enemy before returning to his ready state. If the damage caused does kill the character the Enslaver will play a “killing blow” animation. This will knock the character away and drop them to the ground.

In another embodiment of present invention, the animations are overridden by the “moving characters into dynamic objects” system. By way of illustration and not as a limitation, the following are “killing blow” animations:

    • Smashing both fists into the enemy's chest at the same time.
    • A rapid series of blows to the throat/face, with the last sending the enemy sprawling
    • Kicking the enemy in the stomach and when they're reeling, booting them again

It should be noted that the choice of killing blow animation will be irrelevant as the resulting action will always be the same (i.e., the enemy is killed). The enemy's state at the time of death is recorded so that the resulting Zombie will accurately reflect the state of the enemy just before it was killed.

Each enemy body part will have a specific health level that will if reduced to zero will become destroyed. This is of course significant because if an enemy is raised as a Zombie, its state (or indeed its ability to be raised) will be affected by the state of the enemy's body before it was killed. Table 6 illustrates a set of consequences that follow from the destruction of each enemy's body part according to an embodiment of the present invention.

TABLE 6
CONSEQUENCES OF DESTRUCTION
OF VARIOUS BODY PARTS
Body
Part Effect of Body Part's Destruction
Head Character is killed but can still be raised as a Zombie
(neck broken for instance)
Torso Character is killed and will not be raised as a Zombie
Arm Arm is broken or removed and can't be used
Leg Leg is broken and can't be used. Characters with a
broken leg move much more slowly

In an embodiment of the present invention, the Enslaver is endowed with an Evade move that enables him to block attacks and counter them with even more lethal blows. In this embodiment, the Evade move is a reaction based game-play element whereby the player will be warned of an incoming threat and will have a short window of opportunity in which to use the Evade move to avert the threat. The warning itself is integrated into the game and will take the form of a “sixth sense” whereby the Enslaver's appearance will alter slightly to alert the player of impending danger. Threats will come in a variety of forms from claymores to missiles. In an embodiment of the present invention, bullets are not be detected in this way. In yet another embodiment of the present invention, the “sixth sense” will also detect impending blows in melee combat.

In yet another embodiment of the present invention, the Evade move is used to stun an enemy leaving it temporarily vulnerable to a significantly more powerful and potentially lethal counter attack. This transforms the Evade move from a defensive move into an attacking one. Having stunned an enemy with a block, in addition to being able to counter with a more damaging attack, the player will also have the option to select another enemy and block another attack. The player can then continue to chain a number of these blocks together and if quick enough will be faced with a number of stunned enemies around him. It is at this point that the player can choose to execute a massacre move whereby the Enslaver will counter attack all stunned enemies inflicting massive damage in one lethal fluid movement.

It should be noted that when faced with multiple enemies the AI will coordinate its attacks so that the Enslaver will not be hit by several characters at the same time. When an enemy is attacking the Enslaver the other enemies will hold back before taking their turn. This will also enable the player to chain multiple stuns in order to execute a massacre.

While the exemplary game is described using an XBox controller, the present invention is not so limited. By way of illustration and not as limitation, the commands and controls may be implemented on a PlayStation controller. Table 7 is a button assignment map illustrating the controls of the XBox controller implemented on a PlayStation Controller according to an embodiment of the present invention.

TABLE 7
XBOX TO PLAYSTATION MAP
PLAYSTATION
XBOX CONTROL ELEMENT CONTROL ELEMENT
D-Pad 110 D-Pad
right trigger 115 Right Trigger 1
left trigger 125 Left Trigger 1
Right Analog Stick 120 Right Analog stick
Left Analog Stick 130 Left Analog Stick
“Y” button 140 “Triangle” Button
“B” button 145 “Circle” Button
“X” button 150 “Square” Button
“A” button 155 “X” button
Button 160 Left Trigger 2
Button 165 Right Trigger 2

The various aspects of the present invention have been explained by way of description of exemplary embodiments. It will be understood by those skilled in the art that the present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the scope of the invention disclosed and that the examples and embodiments described herein are in all respects illustrative and not restrictive. Those skilled in the art of the present invention will recognize that other embodiments using the concepts described herein are also possible. Further, any reference to claim elements in the singular, for example, using the articles “a,” “an,” or “the” is not to be construed as limiting the element to the singular.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification463/8
International ClassificationA63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationA63F2300/6661, A63F2300/306, A63F2300/6623, A63F2300/1018, A63F2300/6045, A63F13/10
European ClassificationA63F13/10
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Aug 4, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: BLITZ GAMES LIMITED, UNITED KINGDOM
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:HARDISTY, MARK;ADAMS, NICHOLAS JOHN;DIXON, NICHOLAS GRANT;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:018053/0063
Effective date: 20060802