US 20080227549 A1
The networked game system uses a local area network to allow multi-player competition between terminals in real time. The game software of each terminal allows that terminal to act as the communication server if that terminal initiates an invitation to play in a networked mode. In a preferred aspect the game software allows an initiating player to send an open invitation or a restricted invitation that requires a PIN to respond. In a different aspect each terminal includes a player activated Do Not Disturb feature if the player does not want to receive invitations.
1. In a game system having a series of networked game terminals, each game terminal having a display and including a series of games with at least some of said games being playable in a networked mode by two or more players at different networked terminals, and wherein said terminals include a player selected notice function for sending a communication to at least some of said networked terminals of an invitation to play a game in a networked mode.
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11. In a game system comprising a series of networked terminals that cooperate to allow game play on each individual terminal or game play in a networked mode between said terminals; each game terminal having a series of games with at least some of said games being playable in said networked mode by two or more players at different terminals, each of said terminals including a player selected function to send a communication to other terminals of a desire to play a game in said networked mode; each of said terminals including a normal function where notice of an opportunity to participate in a networked game is actively communicated to a player of the terminal and a private function where notice of the opportunity to participate in a networked game is not actively communicated to a player of the terminal.
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The present invention is directed to a local area network game system. In a preferred aspect of the invention the local area network game system allows different terminals to act as a server for particular game communications.
Amusement arcade games have the ability to connect to various networks and communicate with a local or remote server to implement various game functions including game result reporting, game set-up procedures, game downloading, tournament management, and other functions. Many of the prior art terminals have a telephone dial up capability for communicating with the server on an occasional or preprogrammed basis. Often these preprogrammed sessions are carried out after normal business hours and often during the very early morning. In other arrangements, the server is online and always available.
It is also known to provide a local connection between game terminals at a particular premise to allow head to head competition between players. This is certainly a desirable feature, however, it typically requires the players to organize themselves for this particular competition and the number of networked terminals may be limited.
It is known in casino environments to have various dedicated terminals for carrying out multi-player tournaments over a very short time. In these systems, each player competes at a terminal at the same time.
It is also known to implement using an individual terminal or a series of networked terminals, a high score tournament having a duration of several weeks or months and may include a series of rounds.
Traditional amusement games terminals are normally located in an arcade type premise or perhaps a gambling casino environment. In contrast, some amusement terminals are located in other environments such as restaurants and bars. Many of the games provided on the terminals are designed for intuitive play and the games are of a short duration. To a significant extent, the games provide entertainment value. It has become more and more desirable to have player to player competitive games available to increase competition and interest.
In some sophisticated environments, game terminals are connected to the INTERNET or other wide area networks to allow communication with a host of terminals located in remote locations. The cost to operate these global type systems can be a deterrent.
The present invention and terminal allows effective networking between terminals in a local environment and using a local area network. The arrangement is cost effective to operate and allows game terminals in non adjacent areas to be available for multi-player competition or cooperation.
Such a system that operates on a local area network allows the operator to carry out multi-player games in a cost effective manner.
The present invention also allows an individual player to organize and control play of a network game of their choice in a multi-player mode.
In a game system according to the present invention, the system includes a series of networked game terminals where each game terminal has a display and includes a series of games with at least some of the games being playable in a network mode by two or more players at different network terminals. The terminals include a player selected notice function for sending a communication to at least some of said networked terminals of an invitation to play a game in a network mode.
In a preferred aspect of the invention, the series of networked terminals are connected by a local area computer network.
In a further aspect of the invention, the networked terminals are networked over an ETHERNET network.
According to a different aspect of the invention, at least some of the networked games allow both real players at networked terminals and computer simulated players to compete in the networked games.
In a further aspect of the invention, at least some of the networked games include poker games and up to six real players can participate at different networked terminals.
In a further aspect of the invention, each networked game includes an indication on said display or access to a menu of invitations that have been received for possible participation in a networked game.
In a further aspect of the invention, each terminal includes an indication display on the display of the receipt of an invitation.
In a different aspect of the invention, each invitation includes a programmed time period after which the invitation is automatically withdrawn. With this arrangement, management of invitations by individual networked terminals is simplified as invitations expire after a predetermined time duration and are essentially self clearing.
In yet a further aspect of the invention, each terminal includes a player initiated action to withhold the display of invitations received. This feature allows a player to operate the terminal in a private mode where general invitations from other terminals are withheld or suppressed. Some players may not wish to be interrupted by the receipt of invitations, or may merely decide that he is not interested in multi-player game participation.
In a game system according to the present invention, a series of networked game terminals cooperate to allow game play on each individual terminal or game play in a network mode between terminals. Each game terminal has a series of games with at least some of the games being playable in the network mode by two or more players at different terminals. Each of the terminals includes a player selected function to send a communication to other terminals of a desire to play a game in the network mode and the ability to respond to such communications. Each of the game terminals include a normal function where notice of opportunity to participate in a networked game is actively communicated to a player of the terminal and a player selected private function where notice of the opportunity to participate in a networked game is not actively communicated to a player of the terminal.
In a different aspect of the invention, each terminal tracks notices of opportunities communicated in a networked game and remove any notices where the opportunity to play has terminated.
In a further aspect of the invention, each game terminal automatically removes an opportunity to participate in a networked game upon expiry of a certain time period.
In a different aspect of the invention, upon commencement of at least some networked games where it is still possible for the players to join in play of the networked game, a different notice is sent to the networked terminals that allows a potential multi game player to indicate a desire to join the multi-player game at a subsequent point in time.
In a further aspect of the invention, each terminal of the game system allows a player to send notice of a desire to join play of an active networked game where game play has already commenced.
In a different aspect of the invention, each terminal of the game system includes an indication of active networked games where additional players are welcome to join the game at a suitable point in time.
Preferred embodiments of the invention are shown in the drawings, wherein:
The prior art networked game system 2 of
With the game system of
The individual patrons or players may wish to play games in a non-network mode for their own enjoyment. Thus, the game terminals are capable of independent play where the player plays against the computer or plays against a second or additional players who use the same terminal.
Other players may wish to play in a network game mode that allows multiple players at different terminals to play against one another in a multi-player mode. There are a number of known multi-player networked game structures including independent multi-player games where for example, all players receive the identical settings. This may be a card game where each player is given the same initial hand for example a solitaire game. Each player plays the game and receives a score which can be based on performance and/or time. In these games, there is no real interaction between players. The moves of each player are independent of the moves of other players. The following data is most likely communicated to the terminals of other players; current score, final score, end of the game, and final standings. This data is typically available at each terminal by posting to a Hall of Fame, or ranking type table.
Networked games also include games that are turn by turn games conducted by a group of players. In these games, there is an order or sequence that is followed with players inputting their move in accordance with the sequence. There are interactions between the players and one player's move typically affects the subsequent moves of other players. No real time communication occurs with these games. With each turn, the essential information about the move is broadcast to all participating parties. Examples of these types of games include checkers, and card games such as poker games. In these types of games, one of the game terminals will act as a master or “host terminal” and communicates the correct information to the other terminals. Various arrangements for determining the “host terminal” are known and can be used. With this arrangement there is no requirement of a dedicated server or a predetermined default server terminal.
Networked games can also include real time games. With these games there is no predefined order of moves and a wide variety of input data and possible responses occur in a time related manner. Such games include air hockey, and auto racing, etc. These types of games create a challenging requirement due to the speed of communication and processing of game messages between the networked terminals. Player to player real time competition occurs.
Any of the above described networked game types can be used with the present system.
In order to implement the present game system, each terminal includes software that allows a player to issue a notice or desire to commence a networked game. The particular player's terminal will initially act as the host when the player has completed a certain number of steps. In some cases, the notice will be a challenge to other players available on the network. The software of each terminal preferably allows any terminal to act as a host terminal.
If a correct PIN is entered the initiating is taken to screen shot 110 where the initiating player selects his avatar. Once the avatar has been selected it is shown in screen shot 112 as avatar 114. Screen shot 116 indicates one further player, avatar 118, has accepted the invitation. In screen shot 120 the particular network is commenced with the two players.
The results of the networked game are shown in screen shot 122 and these results are communicated to other terminals as indicated by screen shot 124.
Screen shot 126 occurs if no one accepts the invitation and allows a player to play a non multi-player game.
If the initiating player at screen shot 104 selects active button 56 (Open to Everyone), screen shot 110 is produced and the PIN steps are eliminated.
Screen shot 150 shows two players for the game. The networked game with the two players is started in screen shot 152 and results shown in 154. All terminals can receive an update for a Hall of Fame type summary as indicated by screen shot 156.
Further details of the system are set out in the larger screen shots of
The screen shot 50 of
If the initiating player has indicated that he wishes to play in the challenge mode by selecting active button 52 he is presented with the initial set-up screen of
In the screen shot 56 of
The screen shot 58 of
Most of these multi-player network games allow players to play against each other and/or include additional computer generated players to participate in the network game. This type of arrangement is also valuable in a poker type game where the game is more interesting when more players are involved. Such additional features or options can be available for the initiating player to structure the particular network game.
Once the network game has been started, the initiating player's terminal effectively acts as host, and controls the communications and instructions to the other terminals. As can be appreciated, each of the terminals includes an IP address and other indications for effective communication therebetween. In addition, as is common, the individual players can create their own name and preferably, can select from a number of avatars available to them as shown in
One of the desirable features of the present invention is the capability of each network terminal to activate a “Do Not Disturb” feature 200 as shown in the invitations 201 and 202 of
The invitations 201 and 202 each include time window 204 showing the time remaining in the invitation before the game starts or the invitation expires.
In invitation 201, the player at the receiving terminal has not activated the ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ feature. If the player wishes to accept this invitation, he merely chooses a particular avatar from the available avatars 2006. If the player wants to decline the invitation, he touches the “X” button 208. In invitation 201, the player indicated by the avatar 210, the tiger, has issued the challenge for the game “Pyramid Runs” indicated at 212.
In the invitation 202 of
Although various preferred embodiments of the present invention have been described herein in detail, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, that variations may be made thereto without departing from the spirit of the invention or the scope of the appended claims.