Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20080004094 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/734,925
Publication dateJan 3, 2008
Filing dateApr 13, 2007
Priority dateJun 30, 2006
Publication number11734925, 734925, US 2008/0004094 A1, US 2008/004094 A1, US 20080004094 A1, US 20080004094A1, US 2008004094 A1, US 2008004094A1, US-A1-20080004094, US-A1-2008004094, US2008/0004094A1, US2008/004094A1, US20080004094 A1, US20080004094A1, US2008004094 A1, US2008004094A1
InventorsRaymond J. Mueller, Andrew S. Van Luchene
Original AssigneeLeviathan Entertainment, Llc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method and System to Provide Inventory Management in a Virtual Environment
US 20080004094 A1
Abstract
The present disclosure provides various novel concepts to a video game environment. The disclosure describes video game environments that include a method and system for regulating the amounts of virtual items that may be found or created in a virtual environment.
Images(9)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(20)
1. A method comprising:
providing a first video game environment in which there exists certain items;
altering the amount of items available in the first video game environment by importing items from a second video game environment; wherein the amount of items altered is based on one or more variables.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein the item is selected from the group consisting of: a skill, a natural resource, an attribute, a NPC, a creative work, a created object, and a raw material.
3. The method of claim 1, wherein the variable is selected from the group consisting of: the length of time the first video game environment has been in existence, the population of the first video game environment, a predetermined amount of a particular resource, the market price of a resource, the wealth of a first video game environment, the era of a first video game environment, the completion of a game parameter, and the completion of a game condition.
4. The method of claim 1, wherein altering the amount of items available includes decreasing the availability of items.
5. The method of claim 1, wherein the amount of items available in the second video game environment is also altered.
6. The method of claim 5, wherein the second video game environment is in a different game.
7. The method of claim 1, wherein the amount of items available in the first video game environment may be altered by a vote of resident entities.
8. The method of claim 1, wherein the resident entities are characters, players, third parties, companies, unions, guilds, governments or religious groups.
9. The method of claim 1, wherein the amount of items may be altered between fixed amounts.
10. The method of claim 1, wherein a total amount of items in the video game environment is variable.
11. A method comprising:
providing a first video game environment in which there exists certain items;
removing an amount of a items from the first video game environment and transferring them to a second video game environment, based on one or more events.
12. The method of claim 11, wherein the event is the use of the item to create another item, consumption of the item, expiration of the item, a change in the era of the first video game environment, use of the item, burial of the item, burning of the item, breaking down the item into its constituent components, or recycling of the item.
13. The method of claim 11, wherein the event is obsolescence of the item.
14. The method of claim 13, wherein obsolescence is determined by a change in era of the first video game.
15. The method of claim 13, wherein obsolescence is determined by the creation of a replacement item.
16. A method comprising:
providing first and second video game environments in which there exist certain items;
controlling the amount of items available in a first and second video game environments by transferring items from the first environment to the second environment.
17. The method of claim 16, wherein the control is exercised by a game environment manager.
18. The method of claim 16, wherein control is exercised by vote of residents of a first video game environment.
19. The method of claim 16, wherein control in a first video game environment is exercised by entities in a second video game environment.
20. The method of claim 16, wherein the amount of control available is infinite.
Description
    PRIORITY CLAIM
  • [0001]
    The following application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/428,263, “Video Game Environment” filed Jun. 30, 2006, which is hereby incorporated by reference.
  • BACKGROUND
  • [0002]
    Video games which are accessible to multiple players via a server or peer to peer network are well known. For example, hundreds of thousands of players access games known as massive multi-player online games (MMOGs) and massive multi-player online role playing games (MMORPGs). Players of these games customarily access a game repeatedly (for durations typically ranging from a few minutes to several days) over a given period of time, which may be days, weeks, months or even years. The games are often constructed such that players pay a periodic subscription price (e.g., $15 per month) rather than, or in addition to, paying a one time purchase price for the game. Often, though not necessarily, these games have no ultimate “winner” or “winning goal,” but instead attempt to create an enjoyable playing environment and a strong player community.
  • [0003]
    It would be advantageous to provide improved methods and apparatus for increasing the enjoyment and/or longevity of video games including, but not necessarily limited to MMOGs and MMORPGs.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0004]
    FIG. 1 is a block diagram depicting a network according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.
  • [0005]
    FIG. 2 is a block diagram depicting a system 100 according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0006]
    FIG. 3 is an embodiment of a method of reallocating resources in a virtual environment according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0007]
    FIG. 4 is an embodiment of a method of importing a virtual object into a virtual environment according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0008]
    FIG. 5 is a block diagram depicting a system 200 according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0009]
    FIG. 6 is an embodiment of a method of controlling production of a virtual object according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0010]
    FIG. 7 is a block diagram depicting a system 300 according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0011]
    FIG. 8 is a block diagram depicting a system 400 according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • [0012]
    Massive multi player online games (MMOGs) or massive multi-player role-playing games (MMORPGs) are computer game which are capable of supporting hundreds, thousands, or millions of players simultaneously. Typically, this type of game is played in a giant persistent world where the game continues playing regardless of whether or not real players are logged in. Players commonly access these games through a network such as the Internet, and may or may not be required to purchase additional software or hardware in order to play the game. Such networks allow for people all over the world to participate and interact with each other in a virtual environment. The present disclosure provides systems and methods which contribute to the evolution and longevity of such a game.
  • [0013]
    The herein described aspects and drawings illustrate components contained within, or connected with other components that permit play in the virtual environment. It is to be understood that such depicted designs are merely exemplary and that many other designs may be implemented to achieve the same functionality. Any arrangement of components to achieve the same functionality is effectively associated such that the desired functionality is achieved. FIG. 1 provides an exemplary network which may be used to support a virtual environment.
  • [0014]
    Referring to FIG. 1, a network 10 according to one embodiment includes a central server 20 in communication with a plurality of video game playing units 18. Those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that any number of video game playing units may be in communication with the central server. Typically, the number of video game playing units changes at various times as players join games and as players stop playing games. Similarly, more than one server may operate to coordinate the activities of the video game playing units, as is well known in the art.
  • [0015]
    Central server 20 may comprise any computing device (e.g., one or more computers) capable of communicating with other computing devices. The server 20 typically comprises a processor which is in communication with a storage device, such as an appropriate combination of RAM, ROM, hard disk, and other well known storage media. Central server 20 may comprise one or more personal computers, web servers, dedicated game servers, video game consoles, any combination of the foregoing, or the like.
  • [0016]
    Each video game device 18 may comprise any device capable of communicating with central server 20, providing video game information to a player, and transmitting the player's desired actions to the central server. Each video game device typically comprises a processor which is in communication with a storage device, such as an appropriate combination of RAM, ROM, hard disk, and other well known storage media. Suitable video game devices include, but are not limited to, personal computers, video game consoles, mobile phones, and personal data assistants (PDAs).
  • [0017]
    Some or all of video game 17 can be stored on central server 20. Alternatively, some or all of video game 17 may be stored on the individual video game devices 18. Typically, the video game devices are able to communicate with one another. Such communication may or may not be facilitated by central server 20. Accordingly, a player 19 a accessing video game 17 via game device 18 a may be able to play with a player 19 b accessing video game 17 via game device 18 b. As shown, it may be possible for multiple players (e.g. 19 c, 19 d) to access central server 20 via the same game device (e.g. 18 c).
  • [0018]
    Regardless of whether video game 17 is stored on central server 20 or video game devices 18, server 20 is typically configured to facilitate play of the game between multiple game players.
  • [0019]
    Those having skill in the art will recognize that there is little distinction between hardware and software implementations. The use of hardware or software is generally a choice of convenience or design based on the relative importance of speed, accuracy, flexibility and predictability. There are therefore various vehicles by which processes and/or systems described herein can be effected (e.g., hardware, software, and/or firmware) and that the preferred vehicle will vary with the context in which the technologies are deployed.
  • [0020]
    At least a portion of the devices and/or processes described herein can be integrated into a data processing system with a reasonable amount of experimentation. Those having skill in the art will recognize that a typical data processing system generally includes one or more of a system unit housing, a video display device, memory, processors, operating systems, drivers, graphical user interfaces, and application programs, interaction devices such as a touch pad or screen, and/or control systems including feedback loops and control motors. A typical data processing system may be implemented utilizing any suitable commercially available components to create the gaming environment described herein.
  • [0021]
    One of the attractions of virtual environments is endless possibilities and endless resources. However, if everything is available to everyone or can be created by anyone, things lose their value and the attraction of a virtual environment becomes diminished.
  • [0022]
    Various embodiments of the present invention address this issue by providing methods and systems for controlling access to items in a game and/or game environment, the amounts available, as well as the amounts of things that can be created in a virtual environment. Scarcity of items whether on a macro or micro level increases the sense of accomplishment and purpose in a virtual environment, increasing the enjoyment and length of time individuals are willing to invest in a virtual environment.
  • [0023]
    According to various embodiments:
  • [0024]
    Alert—includes the communication, transfer or storage of information with, by, between or among any two or more real, virtual or computer generated entities involved in a virtual environment. Such a transfer may take place between the virtual and real world, may be limited to the virtual world, may be limited to virtual world devices, may be limited to the real world, or may be limited to real world devices. An alert may be triggered by an alert event.
  • [0025]
    Alert Event—includes any event which triggers a communication. Such events may be initiations or completions of missions, transactions, communications; changes in the status of events in the virtual world, for example, a change in availability, a change in a trend, a change in price, or the alteration of any other aspect of a virtual object or entity in a virtual environment.
  • [0026]
    Avatar—includes the virtual representation of a player character.
  • [0027]
    Billing Information—includes any information pertaining to billing a player for playing a game, accessing a game, purchasing goods or services, or any other reasons. Billing information may include such real world information as a billing address, credit card account number, bank account number, pay pal account number or other payment facilitator, or the account number of any other financial entity providing a real world credit line or any other payment-related information.
  • [0028]
    Blueprint component—may include any sub sections of a virtual blueprint that can be treated as a whole. For instance, the hilt and blade of a sword blueprint or components. Blueprint components can be items that are made from their own blueprints. For example the tire blueprint component for a virtual car can be assembled from the tire blueprint.
  • [0029]
    Character Account—includes an account that tracks character attributes.
  • [0030]
    Character Attribute—includes any quality, trait, feature or characteristic a particular Character can have that is stored in the corresponding Character Account or is otherwise generally associated with a Character or Character Account. Character Attributes may include, but are not be limited to:
      • 1. A character score
      • 2. A genetic profile or makeup
      • 3. A ranking
      • 4. A relationship with another character
      • 5. A score for subsequent matching of later game parameters
      • 6. A skill or skill level
      • 7. A synthetic voice
      • 8. A virtual object
      • 9. The ability to join groups of other players at a later time
      • 10. The physical appearance of a character
      • 11. An Emblem or Mark
      • 12. Virtual Currency
      • 13. Virtual Help Points or Credits
      • 14. A character's avatar
      • 15. A character's clothing or other personal effects
  • [0046]
    Character Life—includes a fixed or variable, finite or infinite period of virtual or real world time that a player character can exist in a game environment.
  • [0047]
    Character or “player character”—includes a persona created and controlled by a player in a video game.
  • [0048]
    Character Skills—includes game attributes inherent in or acquired by a player character during game play such as, but not limited to: the ability to cast (certain) spells, foretell the future, read minds, use (certain) weapons, cook, hunt, find herbs, assemble herbs into potions, mine, assemble objects into other objects, fly, and/or enchant other player characters.
  • [0049]
    Computer Generated (CGC) or Non-Player (NPC) Character—includes any character that is controlled by the game system and/or a computer program and/or rules established by the game system and/or a player and not by a player on a continuous basis.
  • [0050]
    Credit Card—includes a credit instrument issued by a real or virtual world institution to a player that allows the player to make purchases by providing an account identifier (e.g. a credit card number) rather than cash or other currency. An example is a credit card like those issued by Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express. For the purposes of the present disclosure, the term “Credit card” is intended in a very broad sense and is not limited to those situations in which a player's purchases are made on credit (i.e. where payments for those purchases is not due until a later time) but also includes financial instruments such as debit cards, check cards, lines of credit and the like.
  • [0051]
    Game Environment—includes a particular level or area within a virtual world. Each game environment may have its own rules, regulation, currency, government, managers, etc. Game environments may exist within other game environments.
  • [0052]
    Game environment manager: entity that administers a game environment. The game environment manager may be a character, player, group of characters, group of players, NPC, group of NPCs, committee, company, religion, government, business entity, third party, or any combination thereof.
  • [0053]
    Game Objective or Game Goal—includes a desired state, condition, result, action, cessation of action, or a desired outcome and/or change or a delay in change to any of the preceding.
  • [0054]
    Game performance parameter—includes any aspect of a Video Game by which a player character's performance can be measured. Game Parameters shall include, but not be limited to:
      • 1. accuracy with weapons
      • 2. achieving deity or other status
      • 3. Completing all or part of a mission
      • 4. decreasing or increasing Karma Points
      • 5. earning a higher rank in an army
      • 6. earning income
      • 7. the proper weapon
      • 8. getting married
      • 9. getting through or to a certain geographic area
      • 10. getting, buying, exchanging or learning a new skill or player attribute
      • 11. having a child
      • 12. status or caste
      • 13. kill/death ratios
      • 14. killing a certain character/creature
      • 15. obtaining, buying, trading, producing or developing raw materials
      • 16. obtaining, creating or modifying an object
      • 17. producing goods or services
      • 18. Reaching a certain level or score
      • 19. Playing for a certain period of time
      • 20. solving a puzzle
      • 21. using or obtaining an ability or technology
      • 22. completing a game objective
      • 23. Winning a match against another player character or computer generated character
      • 24. winning an election among two or more player characters
      • 25. assisting other player characters with any of the above.
      • 26. the speed of accomplishing or changing the rate or trends of any or all of the above.
  • [0081]
    In-game Marketplace—includes a virtual environment where Characters can exchange items, attributes, or any other exchangeable game element.
  • [0082]
    Item Attributes—includes any attributes of a virtual item in a game environment. For example, effective use of item attribute for virtual armor could be “plus 2 strength for improving player character wearing the armor.
  • [0083]
    Novice Player—includes a player that is identified as requiring the help of an expert to complete a Game Parameter.
  • [0084]
    Player—includes an individual who can register an account with a Video Game Central Server or within a peer-to-peer network and create Characters that can interact with other Characters in a Virtual Environment, and/or that can authorize a NPC to act on the player's behalf.
  • [0085]
    Player Account—includes an account on the Video Game Central Server or within a peer-to-peer network that contains a Player profile including personal, billing, and character account information.
  • [0086]
    Player Attribute—includes any attribute that can be applied to a player account. Player Attributes shall include, but not be limited to:
      • 1. Discount of monthly fees for playing game.
      • 2. Interest rates for use of or borrowing real or virtual cash amounts.
      • 3. Monthly fee for playing a game
      • 4. Real Currency.
      • 5. Rewards for encouraging another player to signup to play.
      • 6. Global character attribute settings for all characters created by player across multiple games
  • [0093]
    Player to Player Contract—includes a real and/or virtual but binding contract between player characters that allows the players to provide or exchange game attributes to one another. Once a player-to-player contract is established, the game server or peer-to-peer network automatically distributes acquired game attributes between the player characters based on the contract conditions.
  • [0094]
    Real Cash Value—includes the value in real dollars of the virtual currency. This value can be determined by multiplying the value of a virtual currency amount by the current exchange rate to real dollars.
  • [0095]
    Total virtual obligation amount—may include the total amount of the virtual financial obligation(s) associated with a player character's account.
  • [0096]
    Video Game—includes a game played on a Video Game Console that may or may not be networked to a Video Game Central Server or within a peer-to-peer network.
  • [0097]
    Video Game Central Server—may include a CPU, memory and permanent or temporary storage that is connected to multiple Video Game Consuls that allows for Massive Multi Player Online Video Games to be played.
  • [0098]
    Video Game Console—includes any device comprising a CPU, memory, optional permanent storage and/or other components residing at a player location that can allow for the interaction with or playing of video games. Examples include, home PCs, Microsoft Xbox, and Sony Playstation and/or any devices attached thereto, e.g., hand controllers, joysticks, etc.
  • [0099]
    Virtual—shall mean in a video game environment or other intangible space.
  • [0100]
    Virtual Blueprints—includes virtual designs for virtual items that include information such as dimensions, materials, skills, and other virtual items or attributes that are required to assemble a virtual item specified by the blueprint. Virtual Blueprints may define virtual objects, and/or business methods, business processes, software, games, and/or definitions to create any or all of the foregoing.
  • [0101]
    Virtual Blueprint Registration—includes a virtual registration number assigned to a virtual blueprint.
  • [0102]
    In Game Patent Office—includes an entity in a game environment where blueprints and/or copyrights can be registered to indicate the inventor of the blueprint or copyright.
  • [0103]
    Digital Patent—the registration of a virtual blueprint with a virtual patent office.
  • [0104]
    Virtual Contract—includes an enforceable agreement between a first player character and either another player character, a game server, or a third party. Some examples of virtual contracts are provided in U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/652,036, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety for all purposes.
  • [0105]
    Virtual credit card—includes a financial instrument issued in a virtual environment by a real or virtual world institution or entity that acts in the virtual environment for virtual currency the way a real world credit card acts in the real world for real currency.
  • [0106]
    Virtual Credit Score—includes a score given to player characters in a video game based on one or more of the following criteria, including, but not limited to: the virtual assets they possess, the age of the character account, the type of account, e.g. basic or premium, the available credit line of the credit card associated with the account, the existing virtual financial obligations of the player character account, the player character's payment history including days to pay, amounts overdue or delinquent, and/or the player character's real world credit score, and/or the factors used in the real world to determine a credit score.
  • [0107]
    Virtual Creditor—includes a first player character or other entity who is owed a virtual obligation by a second player character.
  • [0108]
    Virtual Financial Account—includes a virtual account issued to a player character by a virtual bank, game server or third party where virtual cash can be deposited and withdrawn.
  • [0109]
    Virtual Financial Intermediary—includes virtual institutions including depository institutions, contractual savings institutions, and investment intermediaries which offer financial products and services for use within the virtual environment. The various financial intermediaries available in the virtual environment may each serve different or overlapping purposes and provide means for using, saving, borrowing and transferring currency.
  • [0110]
    Virtual Financial Obligation—includes an agreement by a player character or entity to pay one or more game attributes to another player character, entity or game server. This obligation can be a one time payment, or multiple payment over time. The obligation can specify that payments are due on virtual or real dates.
  • [0111]
    Virtual Financial Obligation Value—includes the in game value of the obligation. For virtual cash the value may be stated as a virtual and/or real cash amount. For other game attributes, the value can be determined by generating a virtual cash market value for the item based on the current value in an online marketplace or exchange. The value of the obligation may be fixed or variable and may also be set as a condition of the player contract and/or by the game server or other entity.
  • [0112]
    Virtual Resource Assignment—may include the act of assigning resources to components of a virtual blueprint and/or the database record created from the act.
  • [0113]
    Virtual World—includes a world created in an online game such as World of Warcraft, or a virtual community such as Second Life, Eve or There.com.
  • [0114]
    Virtual environments may be created with items such as resources, including but not limited to, natural resources, raw materials, skills, attributes, and NPCs; objects, whether existing or created by characters; and creative works including, but not limited to, poems, plays, and other literary works, movies, choreographic works, musical compositions, audio recordings, paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, software, radio and television broadcasts, podcasts, and industrial designs. In some embodiments, characters may make such items in a virtual environment, and/or may import such items into a game environment from other game environments, games, or the real world. Such virtual items may be improved upon, altered, or developed into other game attributes depending on aspects of gameplay. For ease of description, virtual natural resources, raw materials, attributes, skills, objects, NPCs and creative works may collectively be referred to as virtual items throughout the application.
  • [0115]
    In some embodiments, resource availability and limitations on creating and/or importing objects, and creative works may be controlled on a macro level, e.g., by the parameters of the game, the game server, game owner, game manufacturer, game administrator, an overseeing game entity, applicable third party, algorithms that may include randomness, or any combination thereof. For example, there may be a master server that may control a finite set of virtual items for all participating sub-servers. In other embodiments, such availability and limitations may be further controlled or exclusively controlled at a micro level by the rules and regulations of a particular game, game environment, the game environment manager, governing entity, corporation, character, player, group of characters, group of players, NPC, group of NPCs, board, committee, guild, union, company, religious group, government, or any combination thereof.
  • [0116]
    Controls at the macro or micro level or both may determine when and how much of particular virtual resources are available or may be imported, the types of creative works or the amounts of creative works that may be created or imported, as well as when, what type, and how many objects can be created or imported. Limitations can be placed on specific items as well as groups or classes of items. In some embodiments, limitations may be imposed through control of the monetary supply. Control of the money supply may limit exports and imports, or the cost of exports and imports, as well as the availability of funds for investment and development in the virtual world. Such controls may be imposed by a central banking authority or other central agency as described in U.S. application Ser. No. 11/535,585, “Financial Institutions and Instruments in a Virtual Environment” incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.
  • [0117]
    The amount of virtual items available or available for creation may be fixed or variable, finite or infinite. For example, in one embodiment, there may be a fixed amount of virtual resources available for allocation at the time of commencement of the game, regardless of the growth of the game or the number of game environments that develop within a game. In another embodiment, there may be a set amount of virtual resources that are available for allocation for each game environment that forms. In an additional embodiment, there may be a set amount of virtual resources that are available for each type of game environment that forms. For example, virtual cities may receive a different amount of virtual resources than countries; virtual islands may receive a different amount of virtual resources than continents. In a further embodiment, there may be a set value of virtual resources available when or at some point after each game environment forms. In still another embodiment, there may be a set amount or value of virtual resources available at a particular level, within a particular era, after a particular length of time, or at any other determined point within the game. In a further embodiment, there may be additional virtual resources which are made available when existing virtual resources are partially or completely depleted. In yet another embodiment, the amount of virtual resources or the value of the virtual resources available may depend on market rates; a rate setting agency; the choices made at the time of formation of other game environments; choices made by other players; character wealth; the size or type of game environment; the discretion of the game manufacturer, game server, genetic algorithm or other managing entity; open or closed seasons for acquisition; the number of permits available; an auction; or any combination thereof. In a further embodiment, the amount of resources in a game may depend on the population of a particular class or race of creature in that game environment. For example, the amount of pixie dust available may depend on the number of pixies who live in that environment.
  • [0118]
    The number of virtual creative works or virtual objects that may be created or imported into a game environment may depend on similar factors. For example, some objects may only be made by characters of a particular type, class, or race. In other embodiments, the number of virtual creative works or virtual objects that may be created or imported may depend on the type or class of object or creative works, the number of creative works or objects already in existence, the population density of the game, the population density of characters with particular traits, the population density of the game environment, the absolute number of objects or creative works in existence, the particular time period or era, the length of time a game environment has been in existence, the age of the character, the age of a game environment, the amount of wealth in the game environment, the size of a particular game environment, the achieving of particular game objectives or goals, obsolescence of other objects, or any combination thereof.
  • [0119]
    In yet another embodiment, the amount of virtual items in a game environment may be established by market forces. For example, each resource may be assigned a maximum price at which it may be sold. When market forces exceed that price, additional amounts of that resource may be allocated. In another embodiment, each created object or work may be assigned a maximum price at which it may be sold. When market forces exceed that price, additional objects or works may be allowed to be made. In a further embodiment, the availability and amount of virtual items in a game environment may be controlled in whole or in part by taxes. For example, if there is an overabundance of a particular item, taxes may be instituted to make it either prohibitively expensive. In another embodiment, subsidies may be used to control the availability or amount of a particular item. For example, if there is a scarcity of a particular item, subsidies may be granted to either encourage or discourage its production. In some embodiments, subsidies may be imposed to make the item more affordable. In other embodiments, subsidies may be granted to make an item so inexpensive as to be unprofitable to make. In some embodiments, combinations of taxes and subsidies may be imposed to appease different groups. Subsidies may be given on particular items, particular groups of characters, particular skills, or any combination thereof.
  • [0120]
    In another embodiment, the amount of items available, the amount to be imported or the amount that may be created, or the amount which exists may depend in whole or in part on the decisions of the residents or resident entities of a game environment including, but not limited to, characters, players, unions, guilds, third parties, companies, governments, religious groups, or combinations thereof. For example, such decisions may be put to a vote. In one embodiment, the voting system is a single vote system, in which each member may cast one vote. Each resident may be entitled to an equal number of votes, or the number or value of votes may be weighted depending on a variety of factors, including but not limited to, length of time as a resident, skills, position in the game environment, length of time a character has been in existence, type of account held by player, wealth, or any other criteria as determined by the game, or other overseeing authority. For example, in some embodiments, a proposal to change the number of items in a game environment or in the game may be submitted or put on a ballot. In order to alter the number of items or other resources available or which can be made, the proposal may be required to obtain a simple majority, the highest score, a supermajority, consensus, a unanimous decision, or slightly less than a unanimous decision such as unanimity minus one, unanimity minus two, etc., or a derivative thereof.
  • [0121]
    In further embodiments, the amount of resources or objects and creative works in a particular embodiment may be constant or may increase or decrease at a steady or variable rate. In some embodiments, the amount of items available or which can be created may be constant, or may increase or decrease at determined points in the game play. In further embodiments, in order for new resources, objects or creative works to appear or be allowed to be created, existing resources, objects or creative works must be used. In some embodiments, they may be used to create other items, they may be consumed, they may be broken, they are used in a game parameter that destroys or alters them, the real or virtual time limit for their existence expires, the era in which they are allowed to exist lapses, they are buried, burned, sacrificed or otherwise destroyed. In other embodiments, the resources are renewable or recyclable regardless of whether the amounts are constant or variable.
  • [0122]
    The renewability of some of the virtual resources may be determined by the game environment managing entity, the game server, game owner, server owner, a character, a player, a group of characters or group of players, chance, one or more genetic algorithms, or any combination thereof. For example, certain virtual resources may be renewable at certain times, such as agricultural resources which may have growing seasons. In another embodiment, virtual resources are available until they are depleted or nearly depleted or at some other pre- or otherwise determined point during their depletion. Virtual resources may be renewable or non-renewable according to the renewability or non-renewability of that virtual resource in the real world, or may be governed by a different set of physical laws. For example, fish are generally considered a renewable resource unless an area is over fished. In the virtual environment, fish may be a renewable resource, or there may be a set number of virtual fish available, or the number of fish may depend upon “natural selection” or available food, rates of reproduction of fish, or environmental conditions. Minerals such as types of ores are generally considered to be non-renewable in the real world. In the virtual environment, virtual mineral deposits may be static, or may replenish themselves once they sink to or are consumed to a certain level. In another embodiment, they may be replenished by one or more players or characters, for example, by paying a fee, achieving a goal, learning or acquiring a skill, a potion, a spell, or any combination thereof. There may be additional factors which influence renewability or non-renewability of a resource including, but not limited to, weather, natural disasters, demand for the resource, era of the game environment, growth of the game environment, wealth of the game environment, population, overuse, underutilization, or any combination thereof.
  • [0123]
    Virtual resources or parts of virtual resources may also be recycled. For example, if a character dies or stops playing, the character's various acquisitions including virtual natural resources, raw materials, assets, NPCs, and skills may be available, in whole or in part for redistribution within the parameters of the game or may simply disappear. In another embodiment, some objects may have a natural rate of decay, for example food stuffs may have an expiry date. When that expiry date is reached, the food stuffs may disappear, become available somewhere else, or become available for redistribution within the game. Skills may have continuation requirements, or “use it or lose it” provisions so that if the skill is not used within a certain amount of time, or additional training is not pursued, a character may lose all or part of a skill. In one embodiment, such a skill may then become available elsewhere in the game. Objects may also be disassembled and their component parts used to build other objects. In some embodiments, there may be disposal fees for non-consumed items.
  • [0124]
    In yet another embodiment, the game server, game owner, game environment owner or other governing entity may add virtual resources and/or objects that were not originally part of the game environment or remove virtual resources that were originally part of the game or added thereafter. In some embodiments, such entities may be petitioned to alter the amounts of allowed virtual items. In other embodiments, objects and/or resources may become obsolete.
  • [0125]
    In some embodiments, virtual resources and objects may be tagged with a unique identifier to ensure that they are not being illegally replicated. In other embodiments, anything made with a virtual resource may be tagged with a unique identifier that identifies the source of the virtual resources used to create the virtual object. When the item decays or becomes obsolete, the virtual resources or other items may return to their source, may be reallocated elsewhere in the game or game environment, or may simply disappear.
  • [0126]
    The availability, renewability, importability, abundance and selection of particular resources, creative works, and created objects may be fixed or variable or fixed and variable at different points in the game, altered due to changing parameters in the game, to advance game play, to address inequities, at random or for any other reason as determined by the game server, game environment manager, residents of the game environment, resident entities or any other controlling entities.
  • [0127]
    An exemplary system 100 configured to provide the virtual environment described above is depicted in FIG. 2.
  • [0128]
    Master game server 102 may host a program such as game environment creation and set up program 106. Master game server 102 may further host a plurality of databases including, for example, game environment database 118 and player database 120. Game environment server 104 may host a plurality of programs including, for example, item management program 108, game environment management program 110, game item valuation program 112, exchange multiplier determination program 114, game item assembly program 116, as well as a variety of databases such as current date database 122, raw material database 124, NPC database 126, skill database 128, natural resources database 138, item database 140, era database 130, exchange multiplier database 132, player database 134, and player character database 136.
  • [0129]
    Item management may take place at a macro or micro level. In some embodiments, items are managed by the game or a master server for multiple games. In other embodiments, item management may be controlled in individual game environments, levels of game environments or areas within game environments. Control may be exerted over access to or the amount of resources available as well as the use of such resources to create other objects, the formation of objects, the use of the virtual objects or the formation and/or use of creative works. Control may additionally be imposed on the amount and types of items that may be imported or exported from a particular game environment or game.
  • [0130]
    In some embodiments, the allowed amounts of particular items may be established during game environment creation and setup using, for example, game environment creation and setup program 106. In other embodiments, information regarding how items and resources are to be allocated, or parameters for changing the allowed amounts or allocations may be determined using game environment creation and setup program 106. Each game environment may have the same, similar or different features. Such features may be designated by the game server, allocated upon creation of the game environment, or selected by the owner. For example, the owner or other controlling entity may configure the game environment to meet certain parameters including, but not limited to, establishing the initial resources, available skills and maximum levels, available resources, limits on creation of objects, limits on creative works, game play types, taxes, permits, government types, exchange types, types of businesses and the maximum number of each business type, mission types and quantities along with allowed rewards, magic spells, licenses, etc. As the game develops, features may alter or disappear as they are used. In some embodiments, the features may be constant. In other embodiments, the total number of features must remain constant, but the types of features may vary.
  • [0131]
    The amounts of items such as virtual resources and other objects which are available or which may be created may be predetermined wherein every game environment starts with the same amount of resources and other objects, or resources and other objects may be distributed according to any relevant criteria including, but not limited to, randomly; as determined by the game sever or other game parameters; as determined by the game owner; as determined by the game environment owner; according to an evaluation of the game environment owner character(s) or player(s) such as, the amount of wealth the player(s) and/or character(s) has accumulated, the amount of time the character(s) has been in existence or the player(s) behind the character(s) has played the game, assessments of the skill level of the character(s), the completion of particular game parameters, any other criteria relevant for assigning resources, or a combination of the above. For example, a game environment owner could receive a certain allocation of resources or other items to be distributed and/or created in the game environment for each month the character has been in existence. In another embodiment, each game environment is initially worth a total number of points which may be attributable to items within the game environment. Once a game environment reaches its point limit, it cannot create or import more objects and/or resources unless something else is destroyed or otherwise consumed.
  • [0132]
    In another embodiment, the amount of resources, other objects, and creative works available, the amount to be imported or the amount that may be created may depend in whole or in part on the decisions of the residents or resident entities including, but not limited to, characters, players, third parties, unions, guilds, companies, governments or religious groups, of a game environment. Residents may establish an initial allocation, may adapt an allocation they are given and/or may alter, whether increasing or decreasing, the allocation at any time point during the game. Mechanisms for allocations of resources and other virtual items and changes in resource and other item allocation and amounts may be managed using game environment management program 110. Allocation of resources and other virtual items and changes in the allocation and allowable virtual resources and virtual objects may be controlled using item management program 108.
  • [0133]
    In one embodiment, game environment database 118 may store information regarding the game environment such as the game environment ID, identification of the owners, percentage ownership, configurations, creation date, fee structure, allowed resources, allowed objects, allowed creative works, amounts of resources, amounts of objects, amounts of creative works, issued or used resources, issued or used objects, issued or used creative works, means for altering allocations, or any other information relating to the game environment.
  • [0134]
    In some embodiments, petitions to alter the amount of items available or which may be created may be prepared. Such petitions may be put to a vote, or presented to the game environment owner, game environment manager, game server, or any other governing entity. For example, such a petition could be made using some or all of the steps in FIG. 3. A request could be made to acquire a resource, create a virtual object, or create a creative work. If the resource or other item is available, it could be transferred to the requesting character for the appropriate fee, if any. If the resource or other item is not available, a request could be made to determine whether the amount of that item allowed in that game environment has been exceeded. If the amount has not been exceeded, the character may seek to import the item using some or all of the steps in FIG. 4. If the allowed amount has been exceeded, the character may petition the appropriate entity in that game environment to alter the allowed amounts of that particular resource or item. If the petition is granted or approved by a vote, then the allowed amounts may be altered and more of that resource or particular item may be permitted.
  • [0135]
    In some embodiments, the amount of resources or other items permitted in a game environment may be determined by market forces. Each item including virtual resources, virtual creative works and virtual objects may have a maximum or minimum price at which it may be sold. Such a price may be determined using, for example, game item valuation program 112. When market forces exceed that price, additional amounts of that item may be permitted to be made, imported or renewed. When market forces are below that price, additional amounts of that item may be prevented from being made, imported or renewed. For example, if an item has not reached or exceeded its price threshold, it may not be permitted to be constructed using game item assembly program 116. Such determinations can be made using, for example, some or all of the following steps:
      • 1. Retrieve Item ID.
      • 2. Determine whether item has exceeded a price threshold.
      • 3. If item has exceeded a price threshold, allow new items to be created.
  • [0139]
    In some embodiments, the amounts of virtual items allowed in a particular environment may be determined by the era of date of a particular game environment. For example, certain resources may only exist at certain points of game play, or the amount of objects allowed to be created may increase, for example, after the industrial age. In other embodiments, it may take a particular amount of time to create a virtual object. Information regarding the current date or the era may be stored in current date database 122 and era DB 130 respectively. Current date database 122 may be configured to track the passage of time and the amount or type of virtual items available at the particular point in the game play. Era database 130 may include information as Era ID, date range, and the skills, resources, virtual objects, creative objects, raw materials and NPCs available as well as the quantities available in each era.
  • [0140]
    In other embodiments, the amounts of items allowed in a particular environment may be altered by the completion of a game parameter. When a game parameter is met or completed some or all of the following steps may be performed:
      • 1. Receive indication that game parameter has been completed.
      • 2. Determine if game parameter completion alters the allowable amount of available items in a game.
      • 3. If allowable amount of available items is altered, increase or decrease the allowed amount of items to the new amount.
  • [0144]
    The allocations of a virtual environment may effect the types of interactions between characters, and the types of items that can be acquired or built. Information regarding item availability in a game environment may be stored in a variety of databases such as raw material database 124, NPC database 126, skill database 128, natural resources database 138, player database 134 and player character database 136.
  • [0145]
    In one embodiment, raw material database 124 may include, for example, the type of raw material available in a game environment, the location of the raw material, the first date available, conditions for use, conditions for discovery, conditions for availability, maximum quantity allowed, quantity issued, quantity remaining, license or permit fee, and times when available. NPC database 126 may include information such as, but not limited to, NPC ID, type, location, conditions for use, cost, skills, license or permit fee, number allowed, number allocated, number remaining, skills allowed, skills allocated, skills remaining and available eras. Skills database 128 may include information such as skill ID, types of skills, prerequisites for skills, amount of skill available, characters with skill, NPCs with skill, amount of skill issued, skill levels, permits required, continued training required, available date range, and attributes. Natural resources database 138 and may include information such as, but not limited to: resource ID, resource descriptor, last market value, maximum allowed, issued to date, remaining to be issued, permit price, available date range, resource attributes 1-n, renewability, perishability, decay rate and level in which it exists. Player database 134 may include information such as, but not limited to, player ID, the character(s) controlled by the player, billing information and personal information. Player character database 136 may include information such as, but not limited to, character ID, player ID, assets, skills, obligations, and game environment access.
  • [0146]
    An overview of what is available, what has been created, and the components of any creation may be stored, for example in item database 140. Item database 140 may include information such as item ID, amount used, amount left, allowed era, time for construction, decay rate, permits required, available date range, maximum price, item price, item quantity, maximum quantity, salvage value by era, variability, item status, perishability, renewability, and permit requirements.
  • [0147]
    In some embodiments, the types of items that can be created may be controlled by item management program 108. Such a program may use some or all of the following steps:
      • 1. Retrieve Item ID.
      • 2. Determine maximum number allowed based on conditions.
      • 3. Determine if item ID has equal or less than quantity to maximum allowed.
      • 4. If item ID has less than maximum allowed, create new items.
  • [0152]
    In other embodiments, items may be permitted to be imported from other game environments. Such determinations may be made, for example using some or all of the steps in FIG. 4. Determinations may be made as to the ability of such an item to exist in a particular game environment as well as whether the amount of that item allowed in a particular game environment has been reached. In the event that the maximum allowed amount of a particular item has not been exceeded, it may be imported. In some embodiments, the amount to be imported may depend on the market value of a particular item. Such a value may be fixed or variable. For example, items from particular game environments or with a particular provenance may have a higher value than items from other game environments or without a particular provenance.
  • [0153]
    Conversion rates to determine the value of an item in any particular game environment may be determined by any means applicable. They may be fixed, on an automated trading system, or as determined by an exchange on the open market or any combination thereof. In one embodiment, exchange multiplier determination program 114 may be used to determine the conversion rate between assets. Exchange multiplier program 114 may use some or all of the following steps to convert assets between game environments.
      • 1. Generate a conversion value for two or more game environments based on activity and conditions in the game environments.
      • 2. Create a conversion multiplier based on the relationship of the values between two or more game environments.
      • 3. Store multiplier.
        In some embodiments, the multiplier may be stored in exchange multiplier database 132. Exchange multiplier database 132 may include information such as multiplier ID, game environment ID(s), game ID, assets for conversion, date of conversion, and expiration of multiplier. In some embodiments, a multiplier may be calculated for each transaction. In other embodiments, a multiplier may be calculated at specific time points during the game such as once, periodically, every so many transactions, for example every 100 transactions, or any combination thereof.
  • [0157]
    Items bought and sold on an exchange may generate virtual currency, and/or real currency and/or may generate an exchange of assets. The value of a currency or an asset may be based on a conversion factor as described above or on an exchange rate.
  • [0158]
    The exchange rate for one type of virtual currency for another type of virtual currency, virtual currency for real currency, virtual assets for real assets, real assets for virtual assets, real assets for virtual currency, virtual assets for real currency or virtual assets for virtual currency may be fixed in that the rate does not change for the duration of the game or segment of the game. Alternatively, the exchange or conversion rate may be variable. Such a variable rate may be pegged to a floating real world exchange relationship, for example the U.S. dollar/Japanese yen spot exchange rate, a percentage thereof, a plus or minus adjustment thereof, some other economic indicator, or a combination thereof. The exchange rate may also vary depending on the country of origin of the player, or may be fixed to a particular real world currency, i.e., all exchange rates are quoted in dollars. In another embodiment, the exchange rate may be floating and determined by market forces such as the relative demand for virtual currency versus real world currency, or the relative demand of particular types of virtual currency. Said exchange rates may further be established or determined by any suitable method including, but not limited to, by a) the game manufacturer, b) the owner(s) of the server(s) upon which the game resides, c) one or more player characters, d) market forces, e) law or regulation of the game or within the real world, f) negotiation among the affected parties, or g) any combination of the above.
  • [0159]
    In some embodiments, items may decay, perish, expire or become obsolete. At such a time, the component parts may be recycled or reallocated to other aspects of the game environment, thereby allowing more items to be made and/or keeping the amount of virtual resources available constant. Such determinations may be made using, for example, some or all of the following steps:
      • 1. Receive indication that game has advanced to a new era.
      • 2. Retrieve IDs of items permitted in that era.
      • 3. Determine if item is obsolete based on new era.
      • 4. Flag item record as obsolete based on new era conditions.
  • In other embodiments, items may be renewable.
  • [0164]
    Controls may exist on the type and quantity of items that may exist in a particular environment. The type of objects that may be created in a virtual environment is additionally impacted by the virtual resources such as raw materials, natural resources, skills and NPCs available in a particular game environment. In some embodiment, images created or imported into a game environment by players or characters are converted into blueprints from which the virtual object may be constructed. There may be controls at a micro or macro level on the types of blueprints that may be imported, the resources or component parts needed to create items in the blueprints, the subject of the blueprints, the number of images, the types of images, the number of blueprints that may be imported or any combination thereof.
  • [0165]
    An exemplary system 200 configured to provide a virtual environment as described above is shown in FIG. 4. As shown in FIG. 4, system 200 includes a master game server 202 for running the game and a game environment server 204 for one or more game environments within the game.
  • [0166]
    Master game server 202 may host a program such as game environment creation and set up program 206 and digital file import program 214. Master game server 202 may further host a plurality of databases including, for example, game environment database 208, player database 210 and item database 212. Game environment server 204 may host a plurality of programs including, for example, object creation program 220, game item valuation program 224, game item assembly program 222, exchange multiplier determination program 226, and blueprint generation program 228.
  • [0167]
    Game Environment server 204 may include a plurality of databases including, for example, item database 232, raw material database 230, NPC database 234, skill database 236, natural resources database 238, design database 240, exchange multiplier database 242, player database 244 and character database 246.
  • [0168]
    The use of resources or component parts to create objects or creative works may be controlled by access to resources, the types of objects sought to be created, the types of creative works sought to be created, the skills required to make such objects and creative works, the skill required to acquire particular resources, the number of objects or creative works that already exist in a particular environment, the types of objects or creative works that already exist in a given environment, the labor required to create objects or creative works, the component parts available, the use of the component parts available, or any combination thereof.
  • [0169]
    Determinations regarding access and production amounts may be made at the time the game environment is formed, for example using game environment creation and setup program 206, or may evolve as the game progresses and/or the game environment develops. For example, particular game environments may have limitations on the number of objects created in that game environment and the types of objects that may be created in that game environment. Such limitations may depend on the type of game environment, the era of the game environment, or the resources available in the game environment. For example, some game environments may limit the creation of mechanized objects, or may limit the creation of mechanized objects that perform certain functions, e.g. cars are only allowed to be created for emergency use. Information regarding the game environment may be stored, for example in game environment database 208. In one embodiment, game environment database 208 may store information regarding the game environment such as the game environment ID, identification of the owners, percentage ownership, governance structure, restrictions on imports or exports, restrictions on object creation, configurations, resources permitted, amounts of resources permitted, prices of resources permitted, price floors and ceilings, creation date, fee structure, or any other information relating to the game environment. Information about the items specifically created or available in a game environment may be stored, for example in item database 212. Item database 212 may include information such as item ID, creator ID, perishability, renewability, availability, number of reproductions allowed, construction costs, length of time of construction, price floors and ceilings, and eras available.
  • [0170]
    In some embodiments, limitations may be placed on the number of items that may be created in a particular game environment. Such limitations may apply to the entire game, particular game environments, particular levels of game environments, particular levels of the game, particular time periods, particular eras, sections of game environments, sections of the game, or any combination thereof. In one embodiment, such limitations may be altered by petition; bribery; trickery; decisions by the game server, game environment manager, government, religious group, guild, union; combinations thereof, or other approval. In some embodiments, such limitations may apply to a particular class of objects, a specific type of object, or a specific object itself.
  • [0171]
    Limitations on the creation of items in a particular game environment may apply at different points in development. In some embodiments, it may not be possible to design particular types of objects if the virtual object is not permitted or if the resources required by the virtual object are not available. In other embodiments, all items may be designed, but the creation of particular objects or types of objects may be blocked, or the creation may be blocked at a particular stage of production.
  • [0172]
    Virtual objects to be created may be designed using digital renderings. Digital renderings of objects to be created in a game environment may be constructed in a virtual environment or brought in by any means applicable, for example using digital import program 214. In some embodiments only digital renderings of virtual objects that may be created in that particular environment at that particular time may be imported. In other embodiments, all digital renderings may be imported, but only some digital renderings may be made into virtual objects.
  • [0173]
    In some embodiments, the digital images and software applications used to make digital renderings may be converted into blueprints for creating the requested virtual object using, for example, blueprint generation program 228. In some embodiments, blueprints that require items that are not available in a particular environment may be prevented from being formed. In other embodiments, all blueprints may be created, but virtual objects may not necessarily be made from blueprints. In further embodiments, substitutions for available components or other resources may be supplied so that a virtual object may be formed from a blueprint. In some embodiments, some or all of a blueprint may be acquired, for example, from design database 240. Design database 240 may include substitutions for elements based on virtual resource or component part availability. For example, if all of the virtual resources necessary to make an item are not available at a particular time point in the game play, design database 240 may supply a list of substitute resources that may be used to make the virtual object, or virtual objects which can be broken down so that component pieces can be used to make the requested virtual object.
  • [0174]
    In one embodiment, system 200 may be configured to create blueprints using some or all of the following steps:
      • 1. Receive digital image(s) of item from a player character.
      • 2. Receive specifications from player character about item.
      • 3. Apply specifications to digital image(s).
      • 4. Generate a blueprint draft from specifications and digital images.
      • 5. Generate a list of additional specifications required to create a virtual item from the image and specifications.
      • 6. Output list of additional specification requirements.
      • 7. Receive additional specification requirements.
      • 8. Generate virtual blueprint draft of virtual item based on digital image(s), specifications, and additional specifications that includes item design, virtual materials for each portion of the item, etc.
      • 9. Output blueprint draft and identify missing specifications.
      • 10. Receive modifications of blueprint draft.
      • 11. Create final blueprint from blueprint draft and modifications.
  • [0186]
    In another embodiment, blueprints may be created, for example, using some or all of the steps in the method outlined in FIG. 6. In some embodiments, a request may be made to import a digital image. Some digital images may be more or less suitable for creating blueprints. In some embodiments, additional images may be required, in other embodiments, additional information may be required or both additional images and additional information may be required. Generally when an image is imported, a determination is made regarding its sufficiency. If it is sufficient, a blueprint may be generated. The game server or other controlling entity may automatically assign particular materials to the construction of a virtual object or may request assignment of the materials to be used. For example, system 200 may use some or all of the following steps to determine the particular materials that are required to construct a virtual object:
      • 1. Receive a request to assign resources to components of a virtual blueprint.
      • 2. Output blueprint and resource assignment request for each component of blueprint.
      • 3. Receive resource assignments for each component of a blueprint.
      • 4. Generate resource quantities necessary to assemble item components based on blueprint specifications.
      • 5. Determine availability of resources.
      • 6. Store resource quantities and availability with blueprint.
  • [0193]
    In addition to the raw materials and natural resources to be used in constructing a virtual object, there may be attributes imbued into the virtual object, for example certain spells, powers, healing, longevity, invincibility, armor piercing ability, clean running, accelerating, strength or any other attribute generally found in virtual objects. The attributes to be attributed to a virtual object may be requested. Once the specifications for a virtual object are provided, determinations may be made regarding the amount of materials and the skills required to produce a virtual object. Such a determination may be made, for example, using some or all of the following steps:
      • 1. Retrieve a blueprint that includes resource allocations and attributes.
      • 2. Generate a list of skills required to assemble the item based on the blueprint and the resource allocations.
      • 3. Store skill requirements with blueprint file.
  • In other embodiments, the amount of materials and the skills available may be supplied and the type of objects that can be made with those materials and skills may be determined.
  • [0197]
    As seen in FIG. 6, prior to determining if the requesting character has the necessary skills, an assessment may be made as to the permissibility of this type of object. In other embodiments, such a determination may be made after determining if the requesting character has the necessary skills. The virtual object may be prohibited in a particular game environment, or the number of that particular type of class of object may be exceeded. In other embodiments, a virtual object may be allowed to be created, but may be confiscated if it exceeds the number of allowable objects of that type or class in a particular game environment. In a further embodiment, warnings may be issued prior to confiscation. In yet another embodiment, it may be possible to bribe an official agency in order to permit creation of a virtual object that exceeds the number of a particular type or class of object. In yet another embodiment, there may be a wait to create a virtual object. In some embodiments, it may be possible to move further ahead in a queue to make a virtual object. In a further embodiment, it may be possible to create objects that are “off the books” and do not form part of the official count of objects in that particular environment. In some embodiments, it may be necessary to recycle or reduce other objects to component parts before a new object can be made.
  • [0198]
    In certain embodiments, all of the necessary materials to create a virtual object must be assembled prior to initiation of the assembly project. In the event that the necessary materials cannot be assembled, construction of the virtual object may be halted. In other embodiments, such materials may be provided and/or arrive at other points after project initiation, for example, such materials may arrive “just in time” so as to minimize the associated storage costs, if any.
  • [0199]
    Virtual natural resources and raw materials used to make virtual objects may be purchased, found, harvested, gathered, mined, husbanded, grown, distilled, raised, leeched, pumped, drilled, purified or otherwise acquired from the game environment. Information regarding virtual natural resources may be stored, for example, in natural resources database 238 and may include information such as, but not limited to: resource ID, resource descriptor, last market value, maximum allowed, issued to date, remaining to be issued, permit price, available date range, resource attributes 1-n, renewability, perishability, decay rate and level in which it exists. Raw material database 230 may include, for example, raw material ID, raw material type, location, first date available, conditions for use, conditions for discovery, conditions for availability, maximum quantity allowed, quantity issued, quantity remaining, license or permit fee, resource attributes, renewability, level at which it exists, expiration date, natural decay rate/perishability factor, and available times during the game.
  • [0200]
    The requesting character's assets may be inventoried to determine if they possess the necessary materials or the rights to receive the necessary materials when needed, to make the requested virtual object. Information regarding the character and the player controlling the character may be stored, for example in player database 244 and player character database 246, respectively. Player database 244 may include information such as, but not limited to, player ID, the character(s) controlled by the player, blueprints imported, design concepts, objects created, billing information, account information and personal information. Player character database 246 may include information such as, but not limited to, character ID, player ID, assets, skills, obligations, objects created, objects requested, raw materials, natural resources, rates for use of skills, and game environment access.
  • [0201]
    If they do not have the necessary materials or reasonable access to the necessary materials, the name of a supplier may be requested. If they do have the necessary materials, an assessment regarding their skills may be made. If they have the necessary skills, the requesting character may be permitted to make the virtual object. If they do not have the necessary skills, the requesting character may request the game server, an NPC or another character assemble the virtual object.
  • [0202]
    Restrictions may also be placed on the skills available to create virtual objects. In some embodiments, skills may only be used a certain number of times, or characters with a particular skill may only be able to work a certain length of time. In other embodiments, certain skills may be prohibited.
  • [0203]
    Information regarding the skills and NPCs available in a particular environment may be stored, for example, in skill database 236 and NPC database 234 respectively. Availability of particular skills may be stored, for example, in skill database 236 which may contain information such as the skill ID, type, conditions for use, amount of skill available to be assigned to particular characters, amount assigned, skill levels, available era(s), characters with skills, NPCs with skills, skill levels, and use of skills. NPC database 234 may include information such as NPC ID, type, location, conditions for use, amount available, amount in use, license or permit fee, available eras, costs for use, and skills. In some embodiment, the particular characters or NPCs with the necessary skill(s) may not exist in that game environment. Information regarding players with characters or NPCs with the necessary skills in other game environments may be stored, for example, in Player database 210. Player database 210 may include information regarding the players in a virtual environment, their ID(s), the character(s) they control, the skills and assets of the characters, billing information and the game environments in which the players have characters.
  • [0204]
    In one embodiment, a request to create a virtual object could be processed by system 200 which may be configured to perform some or all of the following steps:
      • 1. Receive a request to assemble a game item, including a blueprint.
      • 2. Verify that game item is in a class that can be produced in a particular game environment.
      • 3. Verify that the number of items of that type that are allowed in a particular game environment have not been exceeded.
      • 4. Create an item record, including a unique serial number, item creator, blueprints used, and other asset information.
      • 5. Determine raw materials and skills necessary to complete assembly of item from blueprint.
      • 6. Determine existing skills and raw materials in the player character account.
      • 7. Determine missing resources required to complete assembly of item.
      • 8. Determine availability of missing resources in that game environment.
      • 9. Output list of missing skills and raw materials to player character.
      • 10. Identify suppliers of missing skills and raw materials in that or other game environment.
      • 11. Output list of suppliers to requesting player character.
  • [0216]
    In some embodiments, system 200 could also indicate if the amount of resources needed to create a virtual object can be imported or acquired in a particular game environment, or if the maximum amount of that resource available in a particular game environment has been exceeded. In other embodiments, system 200 could generate forms for petitions to have resource allocations altered. Such petitions could be submitted to a vote, submitted to the game environment manager, game server, game environment owner, or other governing entity that exerts control over the amount or allocation of a particular resource or item allocation.
  • [0217]
    Information regarding all finished objects may be stored, for example, in new item database 232. New item database 232 may include information such as new item ID, creator ID, new item digital images, new item blueprints, new item materials, new item construction cost, and new item salvage value.
  • [0218]
    In one embodiment, exchanges may be used to acquire the necessary blueprints and resources for assembling a virtual object. In one embodiment, a blueprint can be posted on an exchange and player characters having the appropriate skills can bid to assemble the item. In another embodiment, all resources required for a project may be purchased on an exchange. In some embodiments, there may be limitations of the types of items that may be acquired or purchased on an exchange. For example, some items may not be allowed to be sold on an exchange. In other embodiments, some items may not be allowed to be imported or exported.
  • [0219]
    The value of projects and items on an exchange and the determination of the value to different games and game environments may be calculated by any means applicable. In one embodiment, exchange multiplier database 242 may track the exchange ID number and track or store the multiplier number calculated by exchange multiplier determination program 226 for purchases and acquisitions of objects or resources between exchanges, game environments, game environment jurisdictions and/or games. In some embodiments, game attribute valuation program 224 may track and/or calculate the market for particular game attributes, whether finished objects or parts of objects.
  • [0220]
    In some embodiments, the availability of resources may be controlled in whole or in part by market prices. Each item including virtual resources, virtual creative works and virtual objects may have a maximum or minimum price at which it may be sold. Such a price may be determined using, for example, game item valuation program 224. When market forces exceed that price, additional amounts of that item may be permitted to be made, imported or renewed. When market forces are below that price, additional amounts of that item may be prevented from being made, imported or renewed.
  • [0221]
    Payment terms for items acquired on exchanges or through other means may be established by the game, players and/or agreed to between the requesting player and the supplier player or NPC. Terms may be created using any financial arrangement including, but not limited to: cash up front, partial initial payment and lump sum upon completion, barter, trade, virtual loan, credit card or other financing instrument, series of equal or unequal payments, total amount upon completion, etc. Methods to provide for use of credit cards and other financial instruments in virtual environments are disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 11/279,991, 11/380,489, and 11/421,025, each of which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety for all purposes.
  • [0222]
    Once the blueprints are created and the resources and skills are acquired or hired, or otherwise accounted for or provided, a virtual object may be assembled. Such an assembly may take place using any means applicable. In one embodiment, the actions of characters and NPCs may be executed using game item assembly program 222. In another embodiment, the game server may assemble the virtual object using object creation program 220.
  • [0223]
    In some embodiments, the amount of items available in a particular environment may be controlled in whole or in part by the tax structure and subsidies in a game or game environment. Taxes and subsidies may be used to encourage or discourage the use and or production of particular items. In some embodiments, taxes may be used to increase the price of items so that they become unobtainable. Taxes may be proportional, regressive or progressive. They may be direct or indirect and may be imposed at any or all levels of use, consumption or production. Taxes may be capital gains taxes, excise taxes, corporate taxes, income taxes, labor taxes, poll taxes, use taxes, property taxes, gift taxes, sales taxes, tariffs, tolls, transfer taxes, value added taxes, wealth taxes or any combination thereof.
  • [0224]
    In other embodiments, subsidies may be used to increase the production or use of particular items. Subsidies may include, but are not limited to grants, tax breaks, or trade barriers. Such subsidies may be direct, indirect, labor subsidies, tax subsidies, production subsidies, regulatory advantages, infrastructure subsidies, trade protection, export subsidies, procurement subsidies, consumption subsidies, or any combination thereof.
  • [0225]
    An exemplary system 300 configured to provide a virtual environment as described above is shown in FIG. 7. As shown in FIG. 7, system 300 includes a master game server 302 for running the game and a game environment server 304 for one or more game environments within the game.
  • [0226]
    Master game server 302 may host a program such as game environment creation and set up program 306, digital file import program 314, and subroutine import program 316. Master game server 302 may further host a plurality of databases including, for example, game environment database 308, player database 310, new item database 312, and tax database 318.
  • [0227]
    Game environment server 304 may host a plurality of programs including, for example, object creation program 320, game item assembly program 322, game item valuation program 324, and exchange multiplier determination program 336.
  • [0228]
    Game Environment server 304 may include a plurality of databases including, for example, new item database 332, raw material database 330, NPC database 334, skill database 336, natural resources database 338, design database 340, exchange multiplier database 342, player database 344 character database 346, item database 348, and blueprint database 350.
  • [0229]
    The ability to create a virtual object in a virtual environment may depend in part on the type of game environment, its game objectives or goals, and/or the game in which a character resides. For example, particular game environments may have limitations on the types of objects that may be created in that game environment, the number of objects that may be created in that game environment, there may be limitations based on the era of the game environment, the resources in the game environment, or the type of programs that may be created and used in a game environment. Restrictions on use, or conversely, activities that are desirous may be controlled in whole or in part through the tax structure and subsidies of a game and/or game environment.
  • [0230]
    For example, a character may want to import a software application that creates a virtual car wash that, once added to the game space, can provide virtual car washes for virtual cars. In an environment that does not encourage the use of a car wash, certain taxes may be imposed that discourage the use of such a car wash. Such taxes may be imposed at any point in the transaction. For example, taxes may be imposed on importing programs from other environments that perform activities that are prohibited or discouraged, taxes may be imposed on the users of the car wash, on virtual property for the construction of a car wash, on the materials used in building and/or running the car wash, on virtual employees of the car wash or a combination thereof. In another embodiment, certain types of car washes may be discouraged, for example air car washes while other car washes, for example, water car washes may be discouraged. Air car washes could be subsidized while water use could be heavily taxed thus encouraging the use and development of one type of car wash and discourage the use and development of another.
  • [0231]
    Taxes may be raised and lowered as circumstances or game parameters dictate. For example, there may be an optimum number of objects of a certain type that are desirous in a particular game environment. Taxes may be raised and/or lowered or subsidies may be granted to discourage or encourage the construction of the items desired. In other embodiments, certain resources may be preserved or used. Permit fees, and use taxes of such resources may be increased or decreased to encourage the use or preservation of those resources. In some embodiments, taxes may be imposed on the end use of resources, for example, all products made with resources that are in low supply, i.e. endangered, may be taxed to the point that no characters can afford to purchase them.
  • [0232]
    Information regarding the game environment and the number and types of objects that may be used in a game environment, the types of taxes imposed, the minimum and maximum use of resources may be created, for example, when game environment creation and setup program 306 is run. Such information may be stored, for example in game environment database 308. In one embodiment, game environment database 308 may store information regarding the game environment such as the game environment ID, identification of the owners, percentage ownership, governance structure, configurations, resources, creation of objects, allowable technologies, prohibited technologies, creation date, fee structure, amounts of objects allowed, amounts of resources allowed, types of taxes, amounts of taxes, percentages of taxes, or any other information relating to the game environment.
  • [0233]
    In some embodiments, players may create programs or subroutines to create and/or assemble virtual objects in the game environments. Such programs and subroutines may be vetted for appropriateness to the era or game environment, viruses, completeness and functionality. In some embodiments, such programs and subroutines may be imported using subroutine import program 316. Taxes may be imposed or subsidies granted on the importation of programs and subroutines brought in using subroutine import program 316.
  • [0234]
    Once an imported design concept is determined to be acceptable to a particular game environment, the image created by the software applications may be converted into blueprints for creating the requested virtual object. Blueprints may contain all or some of the design elements of a concept or may contain a general outline of the virtual object sought to be replicated. In one embodiment, blueprints may include information regarding required or prohibited materials, costs, and/or skills required to assemble a virtual object. In some embodiments, parts of a blueprint generated by the importation of a subroutine could be supplemented, for example using information from a design database such as design database 340. Design database 340 may include images of items or may include algorithms that can be used to create an image or representation of items that may be used as part of virtual objects, as inspiration for virtual objects, as features or substitutions of virtual objects, as blueprints for objects created by other players, subroutines and programs for virtual objects, and decorative elements. In another embodiment, programs may be supplemented or complemented by other digital images such as photographs or sketches. Such digital images may be imported using any means applicable, such as digital file import program 314. For example, a program or subroutine could provide an outline of a virtual object, or the general formation or workings of a virtual object. Decorative details, information regarding the materials to be used, and attributes given to the virtual object may be supplied from other sources such as design database 340 or digital file import program 314. Such a compilation of a program, design and image may be compiled using, for example, object creation program 320.
  • [0235]
    When a program is imported, a determination is made regarding its sufficiency. If it is sufficient, a blueprint may be generated. If it is not sufficient, additional information, programs or images may be requested. The game server or other controlling entity may automatically assign particular materials to the construction of a virtual object or may request a list of materials to be used, including required, optional or substitute resources. In addition to the raw materials and natural resources to be used in constructing a virtual object, there may be attributes imbued into the virtual object, for example certain spells, powers, healing, longevity, invincibility, armor piercing or deflecting ability, clean running, accelerating, top speed, handling, stopping, strength, healing or any other attribute found in virtual objects. Information regarding the availability of particular attributes and their effects may be stored, for example in attribute database 348 which may include such information as attribute ID, amount, availability, descriptor, last market value, strength, maximum allowed, remaining amount, available date range, attributes, restrictions on use and level. Once the specifications for a virtual object are provided, determinations may be made regarding the amount of materials and the skills required to produce a virtual object to generally match or otherwise satisfy the design requirements of the imported subroutine. The final blueprints with or without determinations regarding the amount of materials and the skills required may be stored, for example, in blueprint database 350.
  • [0236]
    Virtual natural resources, attributes, and raw materials used to make virtual objects may be purchased, found, stolen, conjured, harvested, gathered, mined, husbanded, grown, distilled, raised, leeched, pumped, drilled, purified or otherwise acquired from the game environment. Information regarding virtual natural resources may be stored, for example, in natural resources database 338 and may include information such as, but not limited to: resource ID, resource descriptor, last market value, maximum allowed, issued to date, remaining to be issued, permit price, available date range, resource attributes 1-n, renewability, perishability, decay rate and level in which it exists. Raw material database 330 may include, for example, raw material ID, raw material type, location, first date available, conditions for use, conditions for discovery, conditions for availability, taxes, tariffs, ecological or environmental restrictions, max quantity allowed, quantity issued, quantity remaining, license or permit fee, resource attributes, renewability, level at which it exists, expiration date, natural decay rate/perishability factor, and available times during the game.
  • [0237]
    Taxes may be imposed to control the use of such resources. Such taxes may be progressive, graduated or flat. In some embodiments, taxes may be due immediately. In other embodiments, taxes may be due upon sale of the item being taxed. Taxes may include, but are not limited to, sales tax, labor tax, land tax, employment tax and capital gains tax. In some embodiments, the type and/or amount of the tax may vary depending on the item or the character acquiring or selling the item. Information regarding taxes to be applied may be stored, for example, in tax database 318. Tax database 318 may include information including, but not limited to, tax schedules for creating blueprints, creating items, using resources, obtaining resources, buying and selling items and blueprints. In some embodiments, taxes may be based on the assets of the character including but not limited to, net assets, total assets, some assets, market value of assets, book value of assets, assets from sales, or any combination thereof. Tax rates may be fixed or variable, or fixed and variable at different points in the game.
  • [0238]
    The requesting character's assets may be inventoried to determine if they possess the necessary materials to make the requested virtual object. Information regarding the character and the player controlling the character may be stored, for example in player database 344 and player character database 346, respectively. Player database 344 may include information such as, but not limited to, player ID, the character(s) controlled by the player, blueprints imported, design concepts, objects created, subroutines imported, billing information, account information and personal information. Player character database 346 may include information such as, but not limited to, character ID, player ID, assets, skills, obligations, objects created, objects requested, resources, rates for use of skills, and game environment access.
  • [0239]
    In the event that the building of the virtual object is to be discouraged, taxes may be imposed on the labor for construction, the use of the materials, assembly of the virtual object, assembly of the blueprint, the use of skills to make certain types of objects or any combination thereof. In the event that the building of the virtual object is to be encouraged, supplies, labor, import/export fees or any other taxes may be reduced, subsidized or eliminated.
  • [0240]
    If they do not have the necessary materials, the name of a supplier may be requested. If they do have the necessary materials, an assessment regarding their skills may be made. Such assessments may be made in either order or any order. For example, in some embodiments it may be determined if a character has the necessary skills and once that determination is made, an assessment may be made regarding the materials needed for constructing the virtual object. If they have the necessary skills, they may be permitted to make the virtual object. If they do not have the necessary skills, they may request the game server, an NPC or another character to assemble the virtual object. Information regarding the skills and NPCs available in a particular environment may be stored for example, in skill database 336 and NPC database 334 respectively. Skill database 336 may contain information such as the skill ID, type, conditions for use, available era(s), characters with skills, skill levels, fees for use, education requirements, prerequisites, availability, and use of skills. In the event that a skill is in high demand and the parameters of the game are such that obtaining the skill is encouraged, fees may be waived, education requirements may become easier to meet, license requirements and/or fees may decrease. In the event that the use of the skill is to be discouraged, requirements may become more stringent, licensing fees and use fees may increase, taxes may be imposed on projects, on contracts using characters with a particular skill, or any combination thereof.
  • [0241]
    NPC database 334 may include information such as NPC ID, type, location, conditions for use, license or permit fee, available eras, costs for use, and skills. In some embodiments, the particular characters or NPCs with the necessary skills may not exist in that game environment. Information regarding players with characters or NPCs with the necessary skills in other game environments may be stored, for example, in Player database 310. Player database 310 may include information regarding the players in a virtual environment, their ID(s), the character(s) they control, the skills and assets of the characters, billing information and the game environments in which the players have characters. The costs for assembling the virtual object may be determined based on any number of factors including but not limited to, who assembles the virtual object, the current era, game objectives or goals, the cost charged to other players or player characters to assemble similar or the same object, the number of objects and/or the time used to assemble the virtual object(s), the age of the player or player character, the relative or actual or perceived quality of one or more of the components, construction or other loan interest charges and/or fees, the plant or other equipment used in manufacture or assembly, union or other dues, artificial fees to encourage or discourage current or planned production, protection fees paid to the mafia or other surreptitious parties, and/or costs to pay for military or other government protection, and/or any other cost, duty, tariff or fee that may be applied and/or any combination of the forgoing. In order to encourage or discourage the construction of objects or the use of particular resources, taxes may be imposed or subsidies granted based on some or all of the above factors.
  • [0242]
    Information regarding all finished objects may be stored, for example, in new item database 312. New item database 312 may include information such as new item ID, creator ID, new item digital images, new item blueprints, new item materials, new item construction cost, taxes incurred, and new item salvage value.
  • [0243]
    Within a specific game environment, information regarding newly created items may be stored, for example in new item database 332. Such newly created items may be linked to the requester and creator of new items and new item database 332 may include information such as new item ID, originating character ID, creating character ID, required skills for replication, new item digital images, new item algorithms, new item blue prints, new item materials, new item construction cost, new item availability, and potential taxes for new item.
  • [0244]
    In one embodiment, exchanges may be used to acquire particular subroutines, resources, and component parts for assembling a virtual object or creative work. In one embodiment, a character can acquire all or some of the resources and skills needed to assemble a virtual object from an exchange. In another embodiment, a description of a subroutine or an image of the finished product can be posted on an exchange and player characters having the appropriate skills can bid to assemble the item. Such bids may or may not include the raw materials necessary to build the item. If raw materials are not included, the player making the request may be expected to supply, purchase or otherwise acquire (e.g., pillage, plunder, or steal) the raw materials and/or the component parts. The player character who posted the item can then accept one of the bids posted on the exchange to assemble the item. Taxes may be used to control the purchase of items on an exchange. Such taxes may be imposed on the purchase, on the sale, on the exchange, for the use of the exchange, for the transfer of funds, or on any combination thereof.
  • [0245]
    The value of items on an exchange and the determination of the value to different games and game environments may be calculated by any means applicable. In one embodiment, exchange multiplier database 342 may track the exchange ID number and track or store the multiplier number calculated by exchange multiplier determination program 326 for purchases and acquisitions of objects or resources between exchanges, game environments, game environment jurisdictions and/or games. In some embodiments, game attribute valuation program 324 may track and/or calculate the market for particular game attributes, whether finished objects or parts of objects.
  • [0246]
    Once the blueprints are created and the resources and skills are acquired or hired, a virtual object may be assembled. Such an assembly may take place using any means applicable. In one embodiment, the actions of characters and NPCs in constructing a virtual object may be executed using game item assembly program 322. In some embodiments, taxes may be imposed on the assembly of all or part of the virtual object. Such taxes may include use fees, labor fees, permits, disposal fees, or any combination thereof. Such taxes may additionally be one time or recurring costs. For example, to discourage the use of virtual objects that have already been created, or the recycling of such objects in order to renew resources, taxes may be imposed for each use of the virtual object. In another embodiment, in order to encourage use of a particular object or resource, payments may be made each time the character uses the virtual object.
  • [0247]
    Payment terms for items acquired on exchanges or through other means, and for the use of services or resources may be established by the game, players and/or agreed to between the requesting player and the supplier player or NPC. Terms may created using any financial arrangement including but not limited to: cash up front, partial initial payment and lump sum upon completion, credit card or other financing instrument, series of equal or unequal payments, total amount upon completion, etc. Methods to provide for use of credit cards and other financial instruments in virtual environments are disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 11/279,991, 11/380,489, and 11/421,025, each of which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety for all purposes.
  • [0248]
    In some embodiments, access to items, or the number of items available in a game environment may be controlled through an exchange. Access to the exchange and or the fees or prices on the exchange may be used to encourage, discourage, or prevent the importation of particular items or resources. In some embodiments, when the maximum amount of a particular item is acquired in a game environment, further purchases of that item may be prevented. In other embodiments, exchanges may be used to remove items from a particular game environment so that other items may be acquired.
  • [0249]
    In one embodiment, items are sold using a system such as the exemplary system 400 shown in FIG. 8. As shown, system 400 includes a master game server 402 a game environment server 406 and an exchange server 404.
  • [0250]
    Game environment server 406 may include databases such as player database 414, player character database 416, exchange open offers database 428, exchange transaction database 420.
  • [0251]
    In one embodiment, Player Database 414 may include information such as, but not limited to Player ID, Player Billing Info, Player Personal Info, Player Credit Info, Player Exchange Seat ID, and Player Assets. Player Character Database 416 may include information such as, but not limited to, Character ID, Player ID, Character Assets, Character inventory, Character Skills, Exchange Seat Owner Account Number, Exchange Seat Number, virtual account numbers.
  • [0252]
    Exchange Server 404 may include or host various programs, routines, subroutines and/or databases including, but not limited to an exchange database 408, an exchange open offers database 410, and an exchange transaction database 412.
  • [0253]
    In one embodiment, Exchange database 408 may include information such as, but not limited to, exchange ID, exchange type, allowable assets, allowable amounts, and allowed traders. In another embodiment, exchange database 408 may include information regarding seats on the exchange such as the exchange seat price, maximum exchange seats allowed, exchange seats issued, and exchange seat qualifying conditions. Exchange open offers database 410 could contain information such as, Offer ID, Offer type, Offer posting date, Offer expiration date, Offer Item, Offer Quantity, and Offer Price.
  • [0254]
    Exchange open offers may additionally be associated with the character or player submitting the offer. Such information could be stored in Exchange Open Offer Database 428 and include information such as the character ID, holdings, offer ID, offer type, offer posting date, offer expiration date, offer item, offer quantity, and offer price.
  • [0255]
    In one embodiment, each transaction could be stored in an Exchange Transaction Database, for example in Exchange Transaction Database 412. Such a database could store information such as, Order ID, Order Buyer, Order Seller, Order Date, Order Price, Order Type, Order terms and conditions.
  • [0256]
    In another embodiment, such transactions could be associated with the character in Exchange Transaction Database 420. Such a database could include information such as character ID, character inventory, order ID, order date, order, price, order type, and/or authentication number.
  • [0257]
    According to one embodiment, the game server or other controlling entity can set a minimum and maximum trade amount per time period on items both in the game environment and between game environments. This amount could be based on any one or more of: the total amount of an item available in a game parameter; the amount of open buy orders for an item in a game environment; the amount of open sell orders for an item in a game environment; any other factors and/or rules and regulations as disclosed herein above. In another embodiment, there may be permits required or import and export taxes imposed on items exchanged between game environments or between games. Such calculations may be made, for example, using some or all of the following steps:
      • 1. Receive a request to sell a virtual item on an exchange.
      • 2. Determine if item is unique.
      • 3. Determine if a permit exists to sell the item.
      • 4. If the item is unique and a permit exists, post item on exchange.
      • 5. Receive acceptance of request.
      • 6. Determine an import tax amount and an export tax amount.
      • 7. Apply import tax amount to purchase price.
      • 8. Withdraw virtual cash equal to purchase price plus tax from buyer.
      • 9. Transmit purchase price, less applicable export tax fees to seller.
  • [0267]
    Items bought and sold on the exchange may generate virtual currency, and/or real currency and/or may generate an exchange of assets. The value of a currency or an asset may be based on a conversion factor as described above or on an exchange rate.
  • [0268]
    The exchange rate for one type of virtual currency for another type of virtual currency, virtual currency for real currency, virtual assets for real assets, real assets for virtual assets, real assets for virtual currency, virtual assets for real currency or virtual assets for virtual currency (or any combination of these) may be fixed in that the rate does not change for the duration of the game or segment of the game. Alternatively, the exchange or conversion rate may be variable. Such a variable rate may be pegged to a floating real world exchange relationship, for example the U.S. dollar/Japanese yen spot exchange rate, a percentage thereof, a plus or minus adjustment thereof, some other economic indicator, or a combination thereof. The exchange rate may also vary depending on the country of origin of the player, or may be fixed to a particular real world currency, i.e., all exchange rates are quoted in dollars. In another embodiment, the exchange rate may be floating and determined by market forces such as the relative demand for virtual currency versus real world currency, or the relative demand of particular types of virtual currency, or based upon the affect of said rates on one or more game objectives or goals. Said exchange rates may further be established or determined by any suitable method including, but not limited to, by a) the game manufacturer, b) the owner(s) of the server(s) upon which the game resides, c) one or more player characters, d) market forces, e) law or regulation of the game or within the real world, f) negotiation among the affected parties, g) game objectives, or h) any combination of the above.
  • [0269]
    It will be appreciated that while, for the sake of discussion, various databases have been described separately, the data in these and any other suitable databases could be merged into a single large databases and/or maintained separately in additional databases, or in other structures besides a database. Moreover, any such databases could be independent or linked, and the data in these databases could be stored centrally on a server or separately on game devices.
  • [0270]
    The present disclosure provides numerous systems and methods related to virtual environments in online computer games. It should be appreciated that numerous embodiments are described in detail and that various combinations and subcombinations of these embodiments are contemplated by the present disclosure.
  • [0271]
    The term “variation” of an invention includes any embodiment of the invention, unless expressly specified otherwise.
  • [0272]
    A reference to “another embodiment” in describing an embodiment does not necessarily imply that the referenced embodiment is mutually exclusive with another embodiment (e.g., an embodiment described before the referenced embodiment), unless expressly specified otherwise.
  • [0273]
    The terms “include”, “includes”, “including”, “comprising” and variations thereof mean “including but not limited to”, unless expressly specified otherwise.
  • [0274]
    The term “consisting of” and variations thereof includes “including and limited to”, unless expressly specified otherwise. The terms “a”, “an” and “the” mean “one or more”, unless expressly specified otherwise.
  • [0275]
    The term “plurality” means “two or more”, unless expressly specified otherwise.
  • [0276]
    The term “herein” means “in this patent application, including anything which may be incorporated by reference”, unless expressly specified otherwise.
  • [0277]
    The phrase “at least one of”, when such phrase modifies a plurality of things (such as an enumerated list of things) means any combination of one or more of those things, unless expressly specified otherwise. For example, the phrase “at least one of a widget, a car and a wheel” means either (i) a widget, (ii) a car, (iii) a wheel, (iv) a widget and a car, (v) a widget and a wheel, (vi) a car and a wheel, or (vii) a widget, a car and a wheel.
  • [0278]
    The phrase “based on” does not mean “based only on”, unless expressly specified otherwise. In other words, the phrase “based on” describes both “based only on” and “based at least on”.
  • [0279]
    The term “represent” and like terms are not exclusive, unless expressly specified otherwise. For example, the term “represents” does not mean “represents only”, unless expressly specified otherwise. In other words, the phrase “the data represents a credit card number” describes both “the data represents only a credit card number” and “the data represents a credit card number and the data also represents something else”.
  • [0280]
    The term “whereby” is used herein only to precede a clause or other set of words that express only the intended result, objective or consequence of something that is previously and explicitly recited. Thus, when the term “whereby” is used in a claim, the clause or other words that the term “whereby” modifies do not establish specific further limitations of the claim or otherwise restricts the meaning or scope of the claim.
  • [0281]
    The terms “such as”, “e.g.” and like terms means “for example”, and thus does not limit the term or phrase it explains. For example, in the sentence “the computer sends data (e.g., instructions, a data structure) over the Internet”, the term “e.g.” explains that “instructions” are an example of “data” that the computer may send over the Internet, and also explains that “a data structure” is an example of “data” that the computer may send over the Internet. However, both “instructions” and “a data structure” are merely examples of “data”, and other things besides “instructions” and “a data structure” can be “data”.
  • [0282]
    The term “determining” and grammatical variants thereof (e.g., to determine a price, determining a value, determine an object which meets a certain criterion) is used in an extremely broad sense. The term “determining” encompasses a wide variety of actions and therefore “determining” can include calculating, computing, processing, deriving, investigating, looking up (e.g., looking up in a table, a database or another data structure), ascertaining and the like. Also, “determining” can include receiving (e.g., receiving information), accessing (e.g., accessing data in a memory) and the like. Also, “determining” can include resolving, selecting, choosing, establishing, and the like. It does not imply certainty or absolute precision, and does not imply that mathematical processing, numerical methods or an algorithm process be used. Therefore “determining” can include estimating, predicting, guessing and the like.
  • [0283]
    It will be readily apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art that the various processes described herein may be implemented by, e.g., appropriately programmed general purpose computers and computing devices. Typically a processor (e.g., one or more microprocessors, one or more microcontrollers, one or more digital signal processors) will receive instructions (e.g., from a memory or like device), and execute those instructions, thereby performing one or more processes defined by those instructions.
  • [0284]
    A “processor” may include one or more microprocessors, central processing units (CPUs), computing devices, microcontrollers, digital signal processors, or like devices or any combination thereof. Thus a description of a process is likewise a description of an apparatus for performing the process. The apparatus can include, e.g., a processor and those input devices and output devices that are appropriate to perform the method. Further, programs that implement such methods (as well as other types of data) may be stored and transmitted using a variety of media (e.g., computer readable media) in a number of manners. In some embodiments, hard-wired circuitry or custom hardware may be used in place of, or in combination with, some or all of the software instructions that can implement the processes of various embodiments. Thus, various combinations of hardware and software may be used instead of software only.
  • [0285]
    The term “computer-readable medium” includes any medium that participates in providing data (e.g., instructions, data structures) which may be read by a computer, a processor or a like device. Such a medium may take many forms, including but not limited to, non-volatile media, volatile media, and transmission media. Non-volatile media include, for example, optical or magnetic disks and other persistent memory. Volatile media include dynamic random access memory (DRAM), which typically constitutes the main memory. Transmission media include coaxial cables, copper wire and fiber optics, including the wires that comprise a system bus coupled to the processor. Transmission media may include or convey acoustic waves, light waves and electromagnetic emissions, such as those generated during radio frequency (RF) and infrared (IR) data communications. Common forms of computer-readable media include, for example, a floppy disk, a flexible disk, hard disk, magnetic tape, any other magnetic medium, a CD-ROM, DVD, any other optical medium, punch cards, paper tape, any other physical medium with patterns of holes, a RAM, a PROM, an EPROM, a FLASH-EEPROM, any other memory chip or cartridge, a carrier wave as described hereinafter, or any other medium from which a computer can read.
  • [0286]
    Various forms of computer readable media may be involved in carrying data (e.g. sequences of instructions) to a processor. For example, data may be (i) delivered from RAM to a processor; (ii) carried over a wireless transmission medium; (iii) formatted and/or transmitted according to numerous formats, standards or protocols, such as Ethernet (or IEEE 802.3), SAP, ATP, Bluetooth™, and TCP/IP, TDMA, CDMA, and 3G; and/or (iv) encrypted to ensure privacy or prevent fraud in any of a variety of ways well known in the art.
  • [0287]
    Thus a description of a process is likewise a description of a computer-readable medium storing a program for performing the process. The computer-readable medium can store (in any appropriate format) those program elements which are appropriate to perform the method.
  • [0288]
    Just as the description of various steps in a process does not indicate that all the described steps are required, embodiments of an apparatus include a computer/computing device operable to perform some (but not necessarily all) of the described process.
  • [0289]
    Likewise, just as the description of various steps in a process does not indicate that all the described steps are required, embodiments of a computer-readable medium storing a program or data structure include a computer-readable medium storing a program that, when executed, can cause a processor to perform some (but not necessarily all) of the described process.
  • [0290]
    Where databases are described, it will be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art that (i) alternative database structures to those described may be readily employed, and (ii) other memory structures besides databases may be readily employed. Any illustrations or descriptions of any sample databases presented herein are illustrative arrangements for stored representations of information. Any number of other arrangements may be employed besides those suggested by, e.g., tables illustrated in drawings or elsewhere. Similarly, any illustrated entries of the databases represent exemplary information only; one of ordinary skill in the art will understand that the number and content of the entries can be different from those described herein. Further, despite any depiction of the databases as tables, other formats (including relational databases, object-based models and/or distributed databases) are well known and could be used to store and manipulate the data types described herein. Likewise, object methods or behaviors of a database can be used to implement various processes, such as the described herein. In addition, the databases may, in a known manner, be stored locally or remotely from any device(s) which access data in the database.
  • [0291]
    Various embodiments can be configured to work in a network environment including a computer that is in communication (e.g., via a communications network) with one or more devices. The computer may communicate with the devices directly or indirectly, via any wired or wireless medium (e.g. the Internet, LAN, WAN or Ethernet, Token Ring, a telephone line, a cable line, a radio channel, an optical communications line, commercial on-line service providers, bulletin board systems, a satellite communications link, or a combination of any of the above). Each of the devices may themselves comprise computers or other computing devices, such as those based on the IntelŪ PentiumŪ or Centrino™ processor, that are adapted to communicate with the computer. Any number and type of devices may be in communication with the computer.
  • [0292]
    In an embodiment, a server computer or centralized authority may not be necessary or desirable. For example, the present invention may, in an embodiment, be practiced on one or more devices without a central authority. In such an embodiment, any functions described herein as performed by the server computer or data described as stored on the server computer may instead be performed by or stored on one or more such devices.
  • [0293]
    Of course it will be appreciated that the systems methods described herein are provided for the purposes of example only and that none of the above systems methods should be interpreted as necessarily requiring any of the disclosed components or steps nor should they be interpreted as necessarily excluding any additional components or steps. Furthermore, it will be understood that while various embodiments are described, such embodiments should not be interpreted as being exclusive of the inclusion of other embodiments or parts of other embodiments.
  • [0294]
    The invention is described with reference to several embodiments. However, the invention is not limited to the embodiments disclosed, and those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that the invention is readily applicable to many other diverse embodiments and applications as are reflected in the range of real world financial institutions, instruments and activities. Accordingly, the subject matter of the present disclosure includes all novel and nonobvious combinations and subcombinations of the various systems, methods configurations, embodiments, features, functions, and/or properties disclosed herein.
  • [0295]
    Where a limitation of a first claim would cover one of a feature as well as more than one of a feature (e.g., a limitation such as “at least one widget” covers one widget as well as more than one widget), and where in a second claim that depends on the first claim, the second claim uses a definite article “the” to refer to the limitation (e.g., “the widget”), this does not imply that the first claim covers only one of the feature, and this does not imply that the second claim covers only one of the feature (e.g., “the widget” can cover both one widget and more than one widget).
  • [0296]
    Each claim in a set of claims has a different scope. Therefore, for example, where a limitation is explicitly recited in a dependent claim, but not explicitly recited in any claim from which the dependent claim depends (directly or indirectly), that limitation is not to be read into any claim from which the dependent claim depends.
  • [0297]
    When an ordinal number (such as “first”, “second”, “third” and so on) is used as an adjective before a term, that ordinal number is used (unless expressly specified otherwise) merely to indicate a particular feature, such as to distinguish that particular feature from another feature that is described by the same term or by a similar term. For example, a “first widget” may be so named merely to distinguish it from, e.g., a “second widget”. Thus, the mere usage of the ordinal numbers “first” and “second” before the term “widget” does not indicate any other relationship between the two widgets, and likewise does not indicate any other characteristics of either or both widgets. For example, the mere usage of the ordinal numbers “first” and “second” before the term “widget” (1) does not indicate that either widget comes before or after any other in order or location; (2) does not indicate that either widget occurs or acts before or after any other in time; and (3) does not indicate that either widget ranks above or below any other, as in importance or quality. In addition, the mere usage of ordinal numbers does not define a numerical limit to the features identified with the ordinal numbers. For example, the mere usage of the ordinal numbers “first” and “second” before the term “widget” does not indicate that there must be no more than two widgets.
  • [0298]
    When a single device or article is described herein, more than one device/article (whether or not they cooperate) may alternatively be used in place of the single device/article that is described. Accordingly, the functionality that is described as being possessed by a device may alternatively be possessed by more than one device/article (whether or not they cooperate).
  • [0299]
    Similarly, where more than one device or article is described herein (whether or not they cooperate), a single device/article may alternatively be used in place of the more than one device or article that is described. For example, a plurality of computer-based devices may be substituted with a single computer-based device. Accordingly, the various functionality that is described as being possessed by more than one device or article may alternatively be possessed by a single device/article.
  • [0300]
    The functionality and/or the features of a single device that is described may be alternatively embodied by one or more other devices which are described but are not explicitly described as having such functionality/features. Thus, other embodiments need not include the described device itself, but rather can include the one or more other devices which would, in those other embodiments, have such functionality/features.
  • [0301]
    Numerous embodiments are described in this patent application, and are presented for illustrative purposes only. The described embodiments are not, and are not intended to be, limiting in any sense. The presently disclosed invention(s) are widely applicable to numerous embodiments, as is readily apparent from the disclosure. One of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that the disclosed invention(s) may be practiced with various modifications and alterations, such as structural, logical, software, and electrical modifications. Although particular features of the disclosed invention(s) may be described with reference to one or more particular embodiments and/or drawings, it should be understood that such features are not limited to usage in the one or more particular embodiments or drawings with reference to which they are described, unless expressly specified otherwise.
  • [0302]
    The present disclosure is neither a literal description of all embodiments of the invention nor a listing of features of the invention which must be present in all embodiments.
  • [0303]
    Neither the Title (set forth at the beginning of the first page of this patent application) nor the Abstract (set forth at the end of this patent application) is to be taken as limiting in any way as the scope of the disclosed invention(s). An Abstract has been included in this application merely because an Abstract of not more than 150 words is required under 37 C.F.R. § 1.72(b).
  • [0304]
    The title of this patent application and headings of sections provided in this patent application are for convenience only, and are not to be taken as limiting the disclosure in any way.
  • [0305]
    Devices that are described as in communication with each other need not be in continuous communication with each other, unless expressly specified otherwise. On the contrary, such devices need only transmit to each other as necessary or desirable, and may actually refrain from exchanging data most of the time. For example, a machine in communication with another machine via the Internet may not transmit data to the other machine for long period of time (e.g. weeks at a time). In addition, devices that are in communication with each other may communicate directly or indirectly through one or more intermediaries.
  • [0306]
    A description of an embodiment with several components or features does not imply that all or even any of such components/features are required. On the contrary, a variety of optional components are described to illustrate the wide variety of possible embodiments of the present invention(s). Unless otherwise specified explicitly, no component/feature is essential or required.
  • [0307]
    Although process steps, algorithms or the like may be described in a sequential order, such processes may be configured to work in different orders. In other words, any sequence or order of steps that may be explicitly described does not necessarily indicate a requirement that the steps be performed in that order. On the contrary, the steps of processes described herein may be performed in any order practical. Further, some steps may be performed simultaneously despite being described or implied as occurring non-simultaneously (e.g., because one step is described after the other step). Moreover, the illustration of a process by its depiction in a drawing does not imply that the illustrated process is exclusive of other variations and modifications thereto, does not imply that the illustrated process or any of its steps are necessary to the invention, and does not imply that the illustrated process is preferred.
  • [0308]
    Although a process may be described as including a plurality of steps, that does not imply that all or any of the steps are essential or required. Various other embodiments within the scope of the described invention(s) include other processes that omit some or all of the described steps. Unless otherwise specified explicitly, no step is essential or required.
  • [0309]
    Although a product may be described as including a plurality of components, aspects, qualities, characteristics and/or features, that does not indicate that all of the plurality are essential or required. Various other embodiments within the scope of the described invention(s) include other products that omit some or all of the described plurality.
  • [0310]
    Unless expressly specified otherwise, an enumerated list of items (which may or may not be numbered) does not imply that any or all of the items are mutually exclusive. Therefore it is possible, but not necessarily true, that something can be considered to be, or fit the definition of, two or more of the items in an enumerated list. Also, an item in the enumerated list can be a subset (a specific type of) of another item in the enumerated list. For example, the enumerated list “a computer, a laptop, a PDA” does not imply that any or all of the three items of that list are mutually exclusive—e.g., an item can be both a laptop and a computer, and a “laptop” can be a subset of (a specific type of) a “computer”.
  • [0311]
    Likewise, unless expressly specified otherwise, an enumerated list of items (which may or may not be numbered) does not imply that any or all of the items are collectively exhaustive or otherwise comprehensive of any category. For example, the enumerated list “a computer, a laptop, a PDA” does not imply that any or all of the three items of that list are comprehensive of any category.
  • [0312]
    Further, an enumerated listing of items does not imply that the items are ordered in any manner according to the order in which they are enumerated.
  • [0313]
    In a claim, a limitation of the claim which includes the phrase “means for” or the phrase “step for” means that 35 U.S.C. § 112, paragraph 6, applies to that limitation.
  • [0314]
    In a claim, a limitation of the claim which does not include the phrase “means for” or the phrase “step for” means that 35 U.S.C. § 112, paragraph 6 does not apply to that limitation, regardless of whether that limitation recites a function without recitation of structure, material or acts for performing that function. For example, in a claim, the mere use of the phrase “step of” or the phrase “steps of” in referring to one or more steps of the claim or of another claim does not mean that 35 U.S.C. § 112, paragraph 6, applies to that step(s).
  • [0315]
    With respect to a means or a step for performing a specified function in accordance with 35 U.S.C. § 112, paragraph 6, the corresponding structure, material or acts described in the specification, and equivalents thereof, may perform additional functions as well as the specified function.
  • [0316]
    Computers, processors, computing devices and like products are structures that can perform a wide variety of functions. Such products can be operable to perform a specified function by executing one or more programs, such as a program stored in a memory device of that product or in a memory device which that product accesses. Unless expressly specified otherwise, such a program need not be based on any particular algorithm, such as any particular algorithm that might be disclosed in this patent application. It is well known to one of ordinary skill in the art that a specified function may be implemented via different algorithms, and any of a number of different algorithms would be a mere design choice for carrying out the specified function.
  • [0317]
    Therefore, with respect to a means or a step for performing a specified function in accordance with 35 U.S.C. § 112, paragraph 6, structure corresponding to a specified function includes any product programmed to perform the specified function. Such structure includes programmed products which perform the function, regardless of whether such product is programmed with (i) a disclosed algorithm for performing the function, (ii) an algorithm that is similar to a disclosed algorithm, or (iii) a different algorithm for performing the function.
  • [0318]
    The present disclosure provides, to one of ordinary skill in the art, an enabling description of several embodiments and/or inventions. Some of these embodiments and/or inventions may not be claimed in this patent application, but may nevertheless be claimed in one or more continuing applications that claim the benefit of priority of this patent application. Applicants intend to file additional applications to pursue patents for subject matter that has been disclosed and enabled but not claimed in this patent application.
Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US5954332 *Jan 30, 1998Sep 21, 1999Mero; George T.Role playing game
US6009458 *May 9, 1996Dec 28, 19993Do CompanyNetworked computer game system with persistent playing objects
US6119229 *Apr 11, 1997Sep 12, 2000The Brodia GroupVirtual property system
US6229533 *Aug 2, 1996May 8, 2001Fujitsu LimitedGhost object for a virtual world
US6476830 *Aug 2, 1996Nov 5, 2002Fujitsu Software CorporationVirtual objects for building a community in a virtual world
US6591250 *Feb 15, 1999Jul 8, 2003Genetic Anomalies, Inc.System and method for managing virtual property
US6709336 *Nov 19, 2001Mar 23, 2004Radica China Ltd.Electronic gaming method using coded input data
US7249139 *May 2, 2002Jul 24, 2007Accenture Global Services GmbhSecure virtual marketplace for virtual objects and services
US7604525 *Jan 22, 2009Oct 20, 2009GanzSystem and method for toy adoption and marketing
US20040266505 *Jun 30, 2003Dec 30, 2004Microsoft CorporationInventory management of virtual items in computer games
US20050137015 *Aug 19, 2004Jun 23, 2005Lawrence RogersSystems and methods for a role-playing game having a customizable avatar and differentiated instant messaging environment
US20060003824 *Jul 1, 2005Jan 5, 2006Aruze CorporationGame system
US20060148545 *Dec 20, 2004Jul 6, 2006Rhyne V T IvMethod for dynamic content generation in a role-playing game
US20070293319 *Jun 20, 2006Dec 20, 2007Microsoft CorporationTransfer of Features Between Gaming Devices
US20080045283 *Aug 16, 2006Feb 21, 2008Microsoft CorporationTransfer of Game Characters
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7824253Apr 2, 2008Nov 2, 2010Thompson Scott EdwardSystem and method for providing real world value in a virtual world environment
US8099338 *Jun 9, 2008Jan 17, 2012International Business Machines CorporationManagement of virtual universe item returns
US8133116 *Sep 26, 2011Mar 13, 2012Zynga Inc.Social supply harvest mechanic for interactive social games
US8137193 *Sep 26, 2011Mar 20, 2012Zynga Inc.Supply delivery for interactive social games
US8137194 *Sep 26, 2011Mar 20, 2012Zynga Inc.Supply delivery for interactive social games
US8224891 *Jun 12, 2008Jul 17, 2012The Board Of Regents Of The University Of OklahomaElectronic game-based learning system
US8272956 *Nov 16, 2010Sep 25, 2012Zynga Inc.Social supply harvest mechanic for interactive social games
US8352871Dec 4, 2008Jan 8, 2013International Business Machines CorporationSystem and method for virtual environment preservation based on automated item reduction
US8375310 *May 16, 2008Feb 12, 2013International Business Machines CorporationProviding notification of a real-world event to a virtual universe user
US8491396Sep 4, 2012Jul 23, 2013Zynga Inc.Game supply delivery systems and methods
US8758119Oct 20, 2011Jun 24, 2014Zynga Inc.Asset transfers between interactive social games
US8863125Sep 15, 2012Oct 14, 2014International Business Machines CorporationOptimization of virtual appliance deployment
US8900044 *May 28, 2013Dec 2, 2014DeNA Co., Ltd.Game system for providing video games
US8910157 *Oct 30, 2011Dec 9, 2014International Business Machines CorporationOptimization of virtual appliance deployment
US8918783Jul 2, 2008Dec 23, 2014International Business Machines CorporationManaging virtual computers simultaneously with static and dynamic dependencies
US9021368Aug 16, 2012Apr 28, 2015International Business MachinesSystem and method for virtual environment preservation based on automated item reduction
US9044683 *Apr 26, 2012Jun 2, 2015Steelseries ApsMethod and apparatus for presenting gamer performance at a social network
US9056246 *Nov 20, 2009Jun 16, 2015Daybreak Game Company LlcDynamic reverse engineering
US20070087819 *Sep 27, 2006Apr 19, 2007Leviathan Entertainment, LlcFinancial institutions and instruments in a virtual environment
US20090013321 *Jul 2, 2008Jan 8, 2009Attilio MattioccoManaging virtual computers
US20090222560 *Feb 28, 2008Sep 3, 2009International Business Machines CorporationMethod and system for integrated deployment planning for virtual appliances
US20090253475 *Apr 2, 2008Oct 8, 2009Thompson Scott EdwardSystem and Method for Providing Real World Value in a Virtual World Environment
US20090287640 *Nov 19, 2009Hamilton Ii Rick AProviding notification of a real-world event to a virtual universe user
US20090307110 *Dec 10, 2009Boas BetzlerManagement of virtual universe item returns
US20100058207 *Mar 4, 2010Benjamin HameyInteractivity Platform System and Method
US20100146402 *Dec 4, 2008Jun 10, 2010International Business Machines CorporationSystem and method for virtual environment preservation based on automated item reduction
US20100210333 *Aug 19, 2010Sony Online Entertainment Llc.Dynamic reverse engineering
US20100233667 *Jun 12, 2008Sep 16, 2010Wilson Scott NElectronic Game-Based Learning System
US20110035802 *Feb 10, 2011Microsoft CorporationRepresenting virtual object priority based on relationships
US20110112662 *May 12, 2011Thompson Scott EdwardSystem and method for providing real world value in a virtual world environment
US20120122587 *May 17, 2012Zynga Game Network, Inc.Social Supply Harvest Mechanic for Interactive Social Games
US20120131578 *May 24, 2012International Business Machines CorporationOptimization of Virtual Appliance Deployment
US20130288759 *Apr 26, 2012Oct 31, 2013Steelseries HqMethod and apparatus for presenting gamer performance at a social network
US20130324209 *May 28, 2013Dec 5, 2013DeNA Co., Ltd.Game system for providing video games
US20150011281 *Sep 24, 2014Jan 8, 2015DeNA Co., Ltd.Game system for providing video games
Classifications
U.S. Classification463/1
International ClassificationA63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationG07F17/32
European ClassificationG07F17/32
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jun 4, 2007ASAssignment
Owner name: LEVIATHAN ENTERTAINMENT, NEW MEXICO
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:MUELLER, RAYMOND J;VAN LUCHENE, ANDREW S;REEL/FRAME:019373/0929;SIGNING DATES FROM 20070430 TO 20070504
Owner name: LEVIATHAN ENTERTAINMENT,NEW MEXICO
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:MUELLER, RAYMOND J;VAN LUCHENE, ANDREW S;SIGNING DATES FROM 20070430 TO 20070504;REEL/FRAME:019373/0929
Owner name: LEVIATHAN ENTERTAINMENT, NEW MEXICO
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:MUELLER, RAYMOND J;VAN LUCHENE, ANDREW S;SIGNING DATES FROM 20070430 TO 20070504;REEL/FRAME:019373/0929