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Publication numberUS20080280683 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 12/149,778
Publication dateNov 13, 2008
Filing dateMay 8, 2008
Priority dateMay 10, 2007
Publication number12149778, 149778, US 2008/0280683 A1, US 2008/280683 A1, US 20080280683 A1, US 20080280683A1, US 2008280683 A1, US 2008280683A1, US-A1-20080280683, US-A1-2008280683, US2008/0280683A1, US2008/280683A1, US20080280683 A1, US20080280683A1, US2008280683 A1, US2008280683A1
InventorsChihiro Nakaji
Original AssigneeNamco Bandai Games Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Information supply system, information supply method, and information storage medium
US 20080280683 A1
Abstract
An information supply device including: a communication section that communicates with a plurality of terminal devices; a determination section that determines whether or not the number of intending human players who desire to participate in a multi-player game has reached a setting value; a game calculation section that performs single-player game calculations or multi-player game calculations of the multi-player game; a storage section that stores practice management data that indicates a state of the multi-player game for each of the terminal devices for which the single-player game calculations are performed; an update section that updates the practice management data when the single-player game calculations are performed, and stops updating the practice management data when the multi-player game calculations are started; and an information generation section that generates game calculation result information.
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Claims(10)
1. An information supply system comprising:
a communication section that communicates with a plurality of terminal devices having a communication function and a game execution function;
a determination section that determines whether or not the number of intending human players who desire to participate in a multi-player game has reached a setting value based on participation request information from the terminal devices;
a game calculation section that performs single-player game calculations of the multi-player game in which one human player and at least one computer player participate when the number of the intending human players is less than the setting value, and suspends the single-player game calculations and starts multi-player game calculations of the multi-player game in which a plurality of human players and at least one computer player participate or a plurality of human players participate when the number of the intending human players has reached the setting value, based on operation information from the terminal devices;
a storage section that stores practice management data that indicates a state of the multi-player game for each of the terminal devices for which the single-player game calculations are performed;
an update section that updates the practice management data when the single-player game calculations are performed, and stops updating the practice management data when the multi-player game calculations are started; and
an information generation section that generates game calculation result information that indicates results of the single-player game calculations or the multi-player game calculations,
wherein the communication section receives the participation request information and the operation information from the terminal devices, and transmits the game calculation result information to the terminal devices; and
wherein, when the suspended single-player game calculations are resumed, the game calculation section resumes the single-player game calculations from the suspended state based on the practice management data.
2. The information supply system as defined in claim 1,
wherein, when the communication section has detected that at least one of the terminal devices of the human players has been disconnected from the information supply system during the multi-player game calculations, the game calculation section stops the multi-player game calculations and resumes the suspended single-player game calculations from the suspended state based on the practice management data.
3. The information supply system as defined in claim 1, further comprising:
a matching section that determines a combination of the human players based on the participation request information,
wherein the game calculation section calculates results of the multi-player game for each of the terminal devices of the human players;
wherein the storage section stores user data that indicates the results;
wherein the update section updates the user data based on the results calculated by the game calculation section; and
wherein the matching section determines the combination of the human players based on the user data.
4. An information supply system having a plurality of terminal devices and an information supply device,
each of the terminal devices including:
an operation section;
a terminal-side information generation section that generates participation request information based on operation information from the operation section, the participation request information indicating a participation request for a multi-player game;
a terminal-side communication section that communicates with the information supply device;
a terminal-side storage section that stores practice management data that indicates a state of the multi-player game;
a terminal-side game calculation section that performs single-player game calculations of the multi-player game in which one human player and at least one computer player participate, and, when a predetermined condition has been satisfied, suspends the single-player game calculations and starts multi-player game calculations of the multi-player game in which a plurality of human players and at least one computer player participate or a plurality of human players participate, based on the operation information from the operation section; and
a terminal-side update section that updates the practice management data based on results of the single-player game calculations;
the information supply device including:
a supply-side communication section that communicates with the terminal devices;
a determination section that determines whether or not the number of intending human players who desire to participate in the multi-player game has reached a setting value based on the participation request information from the terminal devices; and
a supply-side information generation section that generates stop control information that causes the terminal-side game calculation section to suspend the single-player game calculations and notification information that indicates that the number of the intending human players has reached the setting value when the number of the intending human players has reached the setting value;
the supply-side communication section receiving the operation information and the participation request information from the terminal devices, and transmitting the operation information, the stop control information, and the notification information to the terminal devices;
the terminal-side communication section transmitting the operation information and the participation request information to the information supply device, and receiving the operation information of another terminal device, the notification information, and the stop control information from the information supply device;
the terminal-side update section stopping updating the practice management data based on the stop control information; and
the terminal-side game calculation section suspending the single-player game calculations based on the stop control information, and starting the multi-player game calculations based on the notification information, the terminal-side game calculation section resuming the suspended single-player game calculations from the suspended state based on the practice management data when the single-player game calculations are resumed after the suspension.
5. An information supply method comprising causing a computer to:
receive participation request information from a plurality of terminal devices;
determine whether or not the number of intending human players who desire to participate in a multi-player game has reached a setting value based on the participation request information from the terminal devices;
receive operation information from the terminal devices;
perform single-player game calculations of the multi-player game in which one human player and at least one computer player participate based on the operation information from the terminal devices when the number of the intending human players is less than the setting value;
update practice management data during the single-player game calculations, the practice management data indicating a state of the multi-player game for each of the terminal devices for which the single-player game calculations are performed;
stop updating the practice management data when the number of the intending human players has reached the setting value;
suspend the single-player game calculations when the number of the intending human players has reached the setting value, and start multi-player game calculations of the multi-player game in which a plurality of human players and at least one computer player participate or a plurality of human players participate; and
when resuming the single-player game calculations after the suspension, resume the single-player game calculations from the suspended state based on the practice management data.
6. The information supply method as defined in claim 5, causing the computer to:
stop the multi-player game calculations and resume the suspended single-player game calculations from the suspended state based on the practice management data when disconnection between the computer and at least one of the terminal devices of the human players has been detected during the multi-player game calculations.
7. The information supply method as defined in claim 5, causing the computer to:
calculate results of the multi-player game for each of the terminal devices of the human players;
update user data that indicates the results; and
determine a combination of the human players based on the participation request information and the user data.
8. An information storage medium storing a program readable by a computer including a communication section that communicates with a plurality of terminal devices having a communication function and a game execution function, the program causing the computer to function as:
a communication control section that controls the communication section;
a determination section that determines whether or not the number of intending human players who desire to participate in a multi-player game has reached a setting value based on participation request information from the terminal devices;
a game calculation section that performs single-player game calculations of the multi-player game in which one human player and at least one computer player participate when the number of the intending human players is less than the setting value, and suspends the single-player game calculations and starts multi-player game calculations of the multi-player game in which a plurality of human players and at least one computer player participate or a plurality of human players participate when the number of the intending human players has reached the setting value, based on operation information from the terminal devices;
an update section that updates practice management data when the single-player game calculations are performed, and stops updating the practice management data when the multi-player game calculations are started, the practice management data indicating a state of the multi-player game for each of the terminal devices for which the single-player game calculations are performed; and
an information generation section that generates game calculation result information that indicates results of the single-player game calculations or the multi-player game calculations,
wherein the communication control section causes the communication section to receive the participation request information and the operation information from the terminal devices, and transmit the game calculation result information to the terminal devices; and
wherein, when the suspended single-player game calculations are resumed, the game calculation section resumes the single-player game calculations from the suspended state based on the practice management data.
9. The information storage medium as defined in claim 8,
wherein, when the communication section has detected that at least one of the terminal devices of the human players has been disconnected from the computer during the multi-player game calculations, the game calculation section stops the multi-player game calculations and resumes the suspended single-player game calculations from the suspended state based on the practice management data.
10. The information storage medium as defined in claim 8,
the program causing the computer to function as a matching section that determines a combination of the human players based on the participation request information,
wherein the game calculation section calculates results of the multi-player game for each of the terminal devices of the human players;
wherein the update section updates user data that indicates the results based on the results calculated by the game calculation section; and
wherein the matching section determines the combination of the human players based on the user data.
Description

Japanese Patent Application No. 2007-125478, filed on May 10, 2007, is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an information supply system, an information supply method, and an information storage medium that cause a game device to execute a multi-player game.

As disclosed in JP-A-2004-344300, when executing a multi-player game in which a plurality of players participate using a client-server method, the server performs a matching process.

When the number of players who participate in the multi-player game has not reached a number necessary for starting the multi-player game, the server cannot start the multi-player game. In this case, a method which starts the multi-player game by causing a computer player to participate in the multi-player game, or a method which waits for a human player to participate in the multi-player game while causing a game device (client) to execute a mini-game differing from the multi-player game, is generally employed.

When using the method which waits for a human player to participate in the multi-player game, the mini-game is forcibly terminated when the number of players has reached a number necessary for starting the multi-player game during the mini-game, and the multi-player game then starts. In this case, when the player again participates in the multi-player game after the multi-player game has ended, it is necessary to start the mini-game from the beginning.

Although it is desirable that a human player participates in the multi-player game, the player must play the mini-game differing from the multi-player game from the beginning when using the method which waits for a human player to participate in the multi-player game.

SUMMARY

According to a first aspect of the invention, there is provided an information supply system comprising:

a communication section that communicates with a plurality of terminal devices having a communication function and a game execution function;

a determination section that determines whether or not the number of intending human players who desire to participate in a multi-player game has reached a setting value based on participation request information from the terminal devices;

a game calculation section that performs single-player game calculations of the multi-player game in which one human player and at least one computer player participate when the number of the intending human players is less than the setting value, and suspends the single-player game calculations and starts multi-player game calculations of the multi-player game in which a plurality of human players and at least one computer player participate or a plurality of human players participate when the number of the intending human players has reached the setting value, based on operation information from the terminal devices;

a storage section that stores practice management data that indicates a state of the multi-player game for each of the terminal devices for which the single-player game calculations are performed;

an update section that updates the practice management data when the single-player game calculations are performed, and stops updating the practice management data when the multi-player game calculations are started; and

an information generation section that generates game calculation result information that indicates results of the single-player game calculations or the multi-player game calculations,

wherein the communication section receives the participation request information and the operation information from the terminal devices, and transmits the game calculation result information to the terminal devices; and

wherein, when the suspended single-player game calculations are resumed, the game calculation section resumes the single-player game calculations from the suspended state based on the practice management data.

According to a second aspect of the invention, there is provided an information supply system having a plurality of terminal devices and an information supply device,

each of the terminal devices including:

an operation section;

a terminal-side information generation section that generates participation request information based on operation information from the operation section, the participation request information indicating a participation request for a multi-player game;

a terminal-side communication section that communicates with the information supply device;

a terminal-side storage section that stores practice management data that indicates a state of the multi-player game;

a terminal-side game calculation section that performs single-player game calculations of the multi-player game in which one human player and at least one computer player participate, and, when a predetermined condition has been satisfied, suspends the single-player game calculations and starts multi-player game calculations of the multi-player game in which a plurality of human players and at least one computer player participate or a plurality of human players participate, based on the operation information from the operation section; and

a terminal-side update section that updates the practice management data based on results of the single-player game calculations;

the information supply device including:

a supply-side communication section that communicates with the terminal devices;

a determination section that determines whether or not the number of intending human players who desire to participate in the multi-player game has reached a setting value based on the participation request information from the terminal devices; and

a supply-side information generation section that generates stop control information that causes the terminal-side game calculation section to suspend the single-player game calculations and notification information that indicates that the number of the intending human players has reached the setting value when the number of the intending human players has reached the setting value;

the supply-side communication section receiving the operation information and the participation request information from the terminal devices, and transmitting the operation information, the stop control information, and the notification information to the terminal devices;

the terminal-side communication section transmitting the operation information and the participation request information to the information supply device, and receiving the operation information of another terminal device, the notification information, and the stop control information from the information supply device;

the terminal-side update section stopping updating the practice management data based on the stop control information; and

the terminal-side game calculation section suspending the single-player game calculations based on the stop control information, and starting the multi-player game calculations based on the notification information, the terminal-side game calculation section resuming the suspended single-player game calculations from the suspended state based on the practice management data when the single-player game calculations are resumed after the suspension.

According to a third aspect of the invention, there is provided an information supply method comprising causing a computer to:

receive participation request information from a plurality of terminal devices;

determine whether or not the number of intending human players who desire to participate in a multi-player game has reached a setting value based on the participation request information from the terminal devices;

receive operation information from the terminal devices;

perform single-player game calculations of the multi-player game in which one human player and at least one computer player participate based on the operation information from the terminal devices when the number of the intending human players is less than the setting value;

update practice management data during the single-player game calculations, the practice management data indicating a state of the multi-player game for each of the terminal devices for which the single-player game calculations are performed;

stop updating the practice management data when the number of the intending human players has reached the setting value;

suspend the single-player game calculations when the number of the intending human players has reached the setting value, and start multi-player game calculations of the multi-player game in which a plurality of human players and at least one computer player participate or a plurality of human players participate; and

when resuming the single-player game calculations after the suspension, resume the single-player game calculations from the suspended state based on the practice management data.

According to a fourth aspect of the invention, there is provided an information storage medium storing a program readable by a computer including a communication section that communicates with a plurality of terminal devices having a communication function and a game execution function, the program causing the computer to function as:

a communication control section that controls the communication section;

a determination section that determines whether or not the number of intending human players who desire to participate in a multi-player game has reached a setting value based on participation request information from the terminal devices;

a game calculation section that performs single-player game calculations of the multi-player game in which one human player and at least one computer player participate when the number of the intending human players is less than the setting value, and suspends the single-player game calculations and starts multi-player game calculations of the multi-player game in which a plurality of human players and at least one computer player participate or a plurality of human players participate when the number of the intending human players has reached the setting value, based on operation information from the terminal devices;

an update section that updates practice management data when the single-player game calculations are performed, and stops updating the practice management data when the multi-player game calculations are started, the practice management data indicating a state of the multi-player game for each of the terminal devices for which the single-player game calculations are performed; and

an information generation section that generates game calculation result information that indicates results of the single-player game calculations or the multi-player game calculations,

wherein the communication control section causes the communication section to receive the participation request information and the operation information from the terminal devices, and transmit the game calculation result information to the terminal devices; and

wherein, when the suspended single-player game calculations are resumed, the game calculation section resumes the single-player game calculations from the suspended state based on the practice management data.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING

FIG. 1 is a diagram showing the entire system according to a first embodiment.

FIG. 2 is a functional block diagram showing an information supply device according to the first embodiment.

FIG. 3 is a table showing an example of user data according to the first embodiment.

FIG. 4 is a table showing an example of practice management data according to the first embodiment.

FIG. 5 is a table showing an example of match management data according to the first embodiment.

FIG. 6 is a diagram showing an example of a main menu image according to the first embodiment.

FIG. 7 is a diagram showing an example of a standby image according to the first embodiment.

FIG. 8 is a flowchart showing the flow of a process according to the first embodiment in a practice state.

FIG. 9 is a diagram showing an example of a practice start image according to the first embodiment.

FIG. 10 is a flowchart showing the flow of a process according to the first embodiment in a match state.

FIG. 11 is a diagram showing the entire system according to a second embodiment.

FIG. 12 is a functional block diagram showing an information supply device and a portable telephone according to the second embodiment.

FIG. 13 is a flowchart showing the flow of a process according to the second embodiment during single-player game calculations.

FIG. 14 is a flowchart showing the flow of a process performed by an information supply device according to the second embodiment in a match state.

FIG. 15 is a flowchart showing the flow of a process performed by a portable telephone according to the second embodiment in a match state.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENT

The invention may provide an information supply system, an information supply method, and an information storage medium enabling a smooth transition from a previously-played single-player game to a multi-player game in which a plurality of human players participate, and also enabling reproduction of the previous game state when resuming the single-player game.

According to one embodiment of the invention, there is provided an information supply system comprising:

a communication section that communicates with a plurality of terminal devices having a communication function and a game execution function;

a determination section that determines whether or not the number of intending human players who desire to participate in a multi-player game has reached a setting value based on participation request information from the terminal devices;

a game calculation section that performs single-player game calculations of the multi-player game in which one human player and at least one computer player participate when the number of the intending human players is less than the setting value, and suspends the single-player game calculations and starts multi-player game calculations of the multi-player game in which a plurality of human players and at least one computer player participate or a plurality of human players participate when the number of the intending human players has reached the setting value, based on operation information from the terminal devices;

a storage section that stores practice management data that indicates a state of the multi-player game for each of the terminal devices for which the single-player game calculations are performed;

an update section that updates the practice management data when the single-player game calculations are performed, and stops updating the practice management data when the multi-player game calculations are started; and

an information generation section that generates game calculation result information that indicates results of the single-player game calculations or the multi-player game calculations,

wherein the communication section receives the participation request information and the operation information from the terminal devices, and transmits the game calculation result information to the terminal devices; and

wherein, when the suspended single-player game calculations are resumed, the game calculation section resumes the single-player game calculations from the suspended state based on the practice management data.

According to one embodiment of the invention, there is provided an information supply system having a plurality of terminal devices and an information supply device,

each of the terminal devices including:

an operation section;

a terminal-side information generation section that generates participation request information based on operation information from the operation section, the participation request information indicating a participation request for a multi-player game;

a terminal-side communication section that communicates with the information supply device;

a terminal-side storage section that stores practice management data that indicates a state of the multi-player game;

a terminal-side game calculation section that performs single-player game calculations of the multi-player game in which one human player and at least one computer player participate, and, when a predetermined condition has been satisfied, suspends the single-player game calculations and starts multi-player game calculations of the multi-player game in which a plurality of human players and at least one computer player participate or a plurality of human players participate, based on the operation information from the operation section; and

a terminal-side update section that updates the practice management data based on results of the single-player game calculations;

the information supply device including:

a supply-side communication section that communicates with the terminal devices;

a determination section that determines whether or not the number of intending human players who desire to participate in the multi-player game has reached a setting value based on the participation request information from the terminal devices; and

a supply-side information generation section that generates stop control information that causes the terminal-side game calculation section to suspend the single-player game calculations and notification information that indicates that the number of the intending human players has reached the setting value when the number of the intending human players has reached the setting value;

the supply-side communication section receiving the operation information and the participation request information from the terminal devices, and transmitting the operation information, the stop control information, and the notification information to the terminal devices;

the terminal-side communication section transmitting the operation information and the participation request information to the information supply device, and receiving the operation information of another terminal device, the notification information, and the stop control information from the information supply device;

the terminal-side update section stopping updating the practice management data based on the stop control information; and

the terminal-side game calculation section suspending the single-player game calculations based on the stop control information, and starting the multi-player game calculations based on the notification information, the terminal-side game calculation section resuming the suspended single-player game calculations from the suspended state based on the practice management data when the single-player game calculations are resumed after the suspension.

According to one embodiment of the invention, there is provided an information supply method comprising causing a computer to:

receive participation request information from a plurality of terminal devices;

determine whether or not the number of intending human players who desire to participate in a multi-player game has reached a setting value based on the participation request information from the terminal devices;

receive operation information from the terminal devices;

perform single-player game calculations of the multi-player game in which one human player and at least one computer player participate based on the operation information from the terminal devices when the number of the intending human players is less than the setting value;

update practice management data during the single-player game calculations, the practice management data indicating a state of the multi-player game for each of the terminal devices for which the single-player game calculations are performed;

stop updating the practice management data when the number of the intending human players has reached the setting value;

suspend the single-player game calculations when the number of the intending human players has reached the setting value, and start multi-player game calculations of the multi-player game in which a plurality of human players and at least one computer player participate or a plurality of human players participate; and

when resuming the single-player game calculations after the suspension, resume the single-player game calculations from the suspended state based on the practice management data.

According to one embodiment of the invention, there is provided an information storage medium storing a program readable by a computer including a communication section that communicates with a plurality of terminal devices having a communication function and a game execution function, the program causing the computer to function as:

a communication control section that controls the communication section;

a determination section that determines whether or not the number of intending human players who desire to participate in a multi-player game has reached a setting value based on participation request information from the terminal devices;

a game calculation section that performs single-player game calculations of the multi-player game in which one human player and at least one computer player participate when the number of the intending human players is less than the setting value, and suspends the single-player game calculations and starts multi-player game calculations of the multi-player game in which a plurality of human players and at least one computer player participate or a plurality of human players participate when the number of the intending human players has reached the setting value, based on operation information from the terminal devices;

an update section that updates practice management data when the single-player game calculations are performed, and stops updating the practice management data when the multi-player game calculations are started, the practice management data indicating a state of the multi-player game for each of the terminal devices for which the single-player game calculations are performed; and

an information generation section that generates game calculation result information that indicates results of the single-player game calculations or the multi-player game calculations,

wherein the communication control section causes the communication section to receive the participation request information and the operation information from the terminal devices, and transmit the game calculation result information to the terminal devices; and

wherein, when the suspended single-player game calculations are resumed, the game calculation section resumes the single-player game calculations from the suspended state based on the practice management data.

According to the above embodiments, the information supply system and others enable a smooth transition from the single-player game to the multi-player game by stopping updating the practice management data at the start of multi-player game calculations while updating the practice management data in the single-player game calculations, when the single-player game has been played before the multi-player game.

According to the above embodiments, when the suspended single-player game calculations are resumed, the information supply system and others can reproduce the suspended game state by causing the single-player game calculations to be resumed from the suspended state based on the practice management data.

When the communication section has detected that at least one of the terminal devices of the human players has been disconnected from the information supply system during the multi-player game calculations, the game calculation section may stop the multi-player game calculations and resume the suspended single-player game calculations from the suspended state based on the practice management data.

This enables the information supply system and the others to resume the single-player game from the suspended state even if the terminal device of the human player has been disconnected from the information supply system.

The information supply system and others may further comprise:

a matching section that determines a combination of the human players based on the participation request information,

wherein the game calculation section calculates results of the multi-player game for each of the terminal devices of the human players;

wherein the storage section stores user data that indicates the results;

wherein the update section updates the user data based on the results calculated by the game calculation section; and

wherein the matching section determines the combination of the human players based on the user data.

This enables the information supply device and others to allow players with similar skill to play a match, for example.

The invention is described below with reference to the drawings taking the case of applying the invention to an information supply device as an example. Note that the embodiments described hereunder do not in any way limit the scope of the invention defined by the claims laid out herein. Note also that not all of the elements of the embodiments should be taken as essential requirements to the means of the invention.

First Embodiment

A first embodiment in which the functions of an information supply system according to the invention are implemented by an information supply device is described below.

FIG. 1 is a diagram showing the entire system according to the first embodiment. An information supply device 100 which functions as the information supply system is connected to a plurality of portable telephones (terminal devices) 200-1 to 200-n through a network 300. The information supply device 100 exchanges various types of information with the portable telephone 200.

Specifically, the information supply device 100 generates game calculation result information relating to a mah-jong game (multi-player game), and transmits the game calculation result information to the portable telephone 200 which participates in the mah-jong game. The portable telephone 200 has a communication function (e.g., communication section) and a game execution function (e.g., image generation section, display section, sound generation section, sound output section, and operation section).

In this embodiment, a group made up of two human players and two computer players plays a mah-jong match game. When only one human player is included in the group, the human player practices a mah-jong match game with three computer players.

The functional blocks of the information supply device 100 having such functions are described below. FIG. 2 is a functional block diagram showing the information supply device 100 according to the first embodiment. The information supply device 100 includes a communication section 110 that exchanges various types of information with the portable telephone 200, a storage section 120 that stores various types of data, a determination section 130 that makes various determinations, and a matching section 140 that combines (matches) players registered in a group.

The information supply device 100 also includes a game calculation section 150, an update section 160 that updates data stored in the storage section 120, and an information generation section 170 that generates information indicating game calculation results and the like.

The storage section 120 stores user data 122, practice management data 124, match management data 126, and the like. The above-mentioned data is described in detail below.

FIG. 3 is a table showing an example of the user data 122 according to the first embodiment. The user data 122 indicates the grade of each player and the like. Examples of items of the user data 122 include an “ID” that is identification information relating to each player (portable telephone 200), a “screen name” that indicates the name of each player in the mah-jong game, “total points” that indicate the cumulative value of points acquired by each player in the mah-jong game, a “rank” that indicates the rank of each player in the mah-jong game, a “grade” that indicates the grade of each player in the mah-jong game, a “practice management data presence” that indicates the presence or absence of the practice management data 124 relating to each player, a “state” that indicates the state of each portable telephone 200 in the game, and the like. The items “total points”, “rank”, and “grade” constitute result data that indicates the results of each player.

The practice management data 124 is described below. FIG. 4 is a table showing an example of the practice management data 124 according to the first embodiment. The practice management data 124 is data for managing the state of each player in the mah-jong game during practice. Examples of items of the practice management data 124 include a “group ID” that is identification information relating to each group, a “game state” that indicates the game state of each group (e.g., the arrangement of mah-jong tiles, mah-jong tiles possessed by each player, and dora), an “ID” that is identification information relating to each player, “points” that indicate the points of each player in the game, and the like.

The match management data 126 is described below. FIG. 5 is a table showing an example of the match management data 126 according to the first embodiment. The match management data 126 is data for managing the state of each player in the mah-jong game during a match. The items of the match management data 126 are the same as those of the practice management data 124.

The storage section 120 also stores a game program for executing the mah-jong match game, data relating to the computer player, and the like.

The mah-jong game according to this embodiment is performed from East, first round to East, fourth round. The game ends when East, fourth round has been completed. The information supply device 100 manages the results for one game as the practice management data 124 or the match management data 126, and manages the cumulative results as the user data 122.

The function of each section of the information supply device 100 may be implemented by the following hardware, for example. The communication section 110 may be implemented by a LAN card or the like, the storage section 120 may be implemented by an HDD or the like, the determination section 130, the matching section 140, the game calculation section 150, the update section 160, and the information generation section 170 may be implemented by a CPU or the like.

The functions of the determination section 130 and the like may be implemented by causing the information supply device 100 to read a program that causes a computer to function as the determination section 130 and the like from an information storage medium 400 that stores the program. As the information storage medium 400, a CD-ROM, a DVD-ROM, a ROM, a RAM, an HDD, or the like may be applied. The program reading method may be a contact method or a non-contact method.

The flow of a process performed by the information supply device 100 is described below. The information generation section 170 generates image information relating to a main menu image. The communication section 110 transmits the image information to the portable telephone 200. The portable telephone 200 displays the main menu image based on the image information.

FIG. 6 is a diagram showing an example of a main menu image 500 according to the first embodiment. A plurality of options are displayed on the main menu image 500. Examples of these options include “match” that allows the player to participate in the game, “current results” that requests the information supply device 100 to display the player's results, “ranking” that requests the information supply device 100 to display the rank of the player, “play rules” that requests the information supply device 100 to display the rules of the game, “setting” that allows the player to set a screen name and the like, and the like.

When the player has selected the option “match” by operating a button of the portable telephone 200, for example, a communication section of the portable telephone 200 transmits participation request information that indicates that the player desires to participate in the game to the information supply device 100.

The communication section 110 receives the participation request information, and the determination section 130 determines whether or not the number of intending human players who desire to participate in the mahjong game has reached a setting value (two in this embodiment) based on the participation request information and the match management data 126. Data indicating the setting value may be stored in the storage section 120, or may be possessed by the determination section 130.

When the number of intending human players who desire to participate in the mah-jong game is less than the setting value, the information generation section 170 generates image information that indicates a standby image, and the communication section 110 transmits the image information to the portable telephone 200. The portable telephone 200 displays the standby image based on the image information. The mah-jong game thus transitions from an initial state to a standby state.

FIG. 7 is a diagram showing an example of a standby image 510 according to the first embodiment. For example, an image that indicates characters “competitors wanted” or the like, an option “practice” that allows the player to practice the mah-jong game with three computer players, an option “return” that causes the main menu image 500 to be displayed again, and the like are displayed in the standby image 510.

When the player has selected the option “practice” by operating the portable telephone 200, the mah-jong game transitions from the standby state to a practice state. The flow of a process performed by the information supply device 100 in the practice state is described below.

FIG. 8 is a flowchart showing the flow of a process according to the first embodiment in the practice state. The determination section 130 determines whether or not data relating to the portable telephone 200 is stored as the practice management data 124 based on the identification information relating to the portable telephone 200 contained in the participation request information and the ID contained in the practice management data 124 (step S1).

When the data relating to the portable telephone 200 is stored as the practice management data 124, the information generation section 170 generates selection image information for a practice start image which allows the player to select whether to newly start or resume the mah-jong game, and the communication section 110 transmits the selection image information to the portable telephone 200 (step S2).

The portable telephone 200 displays the practice start image based on the selection image information. FIG. 9 is a diagram showing an example of a practice start image 520 according to the first embodiment. For example, an option “from the beginning” that allows the player to play the mah-jong game from the beginning, an option “resume” that allows the player to play the mah-jong game where the player left off, an option “return” that causes the main menu image 500 to be displayed again, and the like are displayed in the practice start image 520.

The portable telephone 200 transmits selection information that indicates the option selected by the player to the information supply device 100. The communication section 110 receives the selection information, and the determination section 130 determines whether or not the player has selected the option “from the beginning” based on the selection information (step S3).

When the player has selected the option “from the beginning”, the update section 160 initializes data relating to the player contained in the practice management data 124 (step S4). In this case, the update section 160 may delete the data, and add data relating to the player to the practice management data 124.

When the determination section 130 has determined that data relating to the portable telephone 200 is not stored as the practice management data 124 in the step S1, the update section 160 creates data relating to the player as the practice management data 124 (step S5).

The information supply device 100 then starts the mah-jong game in the practice state. Specifically, the determination section 130 determines whether or not the communication section 110 has received operation information that indicates a player's operation from the portable telephone 200 possessed by the player (step S6).

When the communication section 110 has received the operation information, the game calculation section 150 performs single-player mah-jong game calculations based on the operation information and the game program (step S7). Examples of the game calculations include changing the tile arrangement, determining whether or not a mah-jong hand has been created, calculating points, and the like. The game calculation section 150 may perform the single-player game calculations using the practice management data 124.

The update section 160 updates the practice management data 124 based on the game calculation results obtained by the game calculation section 150 (step S8). The user data 122 may be updated by the process in the step S8, or may be updated when the game has ended.

The information generation section 170 generates game calculation result information (e.g., HTML data, the game calculation result information may include sound data) that indicates the single-player game calculation results obtained by the game calculation section 150 based on the information from the game calculation section 150 and the practice management data 124, and the communication section 110 transmits the game calculation result information to the portable telephone 200 possessed by the player who plays the single-player game (step S9).

The determination section 130 determines whether or not the game has ended (step S10). When the game has not ended, the information supply device 100 repeats the process in the steps S6 to S10. When the game has ended, the information supply device 100 finishes the process. The information supply device 100 enters the standby state when the game has ended.

When the information supply device 100 has received a match request from another player in the practice state, the information supply device 100 enters the match state. A process in the match state is described below.

FIG. 10 is a flowchart showing the flow of the process according to the first embodiment in the match state. The determination section 130 determines whether or not a match request has been issued by determining whether or not the communication section 110 has received the match request information (participation request information) from the portable telephone 200 in the standby state or the practice state (step S11).

When a match request has been issued, the matching section 140 matches the human players (determines the combination of the human players) based on the match request information and the user data 122 (step S12). The matching method is arbitrary. For example, a method which matches players whose points or grades are within a specific range in FIG. 3, a method which matches players whose ranks are identical, or the like may be employed.

Specifically, players whose ranks are identical are matched as follows, for example. For example, when the player whose “ID” is “U0000009” and “rank” is “beginner” in FIG. 3 has issued a match request, the matching section 140 matches the player with the player whose “ID” is “U0006008”, “state” is “standby”, and “rank” is “beginner” instead of the player whose “ID” is “U0000003”, “state” is “practice”, and “rank” is “senior”. The matching target player (portable telephone 200) is a player whose “state” contained in the user data 122 is “practice” or “standby”, for example.

The determination section 130 determines whether or not matching (step S12) has enabled the player to play a match (step S13). When the player cannot play a match, the portable telephone 200 possessed by the player which has issued the match request transitions to the standby state.

When the player can play a match, the information supply device 100 causes the portable telephones 200 possessed by the players who have been matched to transition to the match state (step S14). Specifically, when the portable telephone 200 is in the practice state, for example, the game calculation section 150 stops single-player game calculations for the portable telephone 200 in the practice state. In this case, the information generation section 170 may generate image information that indicates characters “A competitor joins the game”, and the communication section 110 may transmit the image information to the portable telephones 200 possessed by the players who have been matched.

In this case, the update section 160 generates a new group as the match management data 126, and adds the IDs of the two human players who have been matched and the IDs of two computer players to the generated group.

The information supply device 100 then starts the mah-jong game in the match state. Specifically, the determination section 130 determines whether or not the communication section 110 has received operation information that indicates a player's operation from the portable telephone 200 possessed by one of the players who have been matched (step S15).

When the communication section 110 has received the operation information, the game calculation section 150 performs multi-player mah-jong game calculations based on the operation information and the game program (step S16). The game calculation section 150 may perform the multi-player game calculations using the match management data 126.

The update section 160 updates the match management data 126 based on the game calculation results obtained by the game calculation section 150 (step S17). The user data 122 may be updated by the process in the step S17, or may be updated when the game has ended.

The information generation section 170 generates game calculation result information that indicates the multi-player game calculation results obtained by the game calculation section 150 based on the information from the game calculation section 150 and the match management data 126, and the communication section 110 transmits the game calculation result information to the two portable telephones 200 possessed by the players who play the multi-player game (step S18).

The determination section 130 determines whether or not the game has ended (step S19). When the game has not ended, the information supply device 100 repeats the process in the steps S15 to S19. When the game has ended, the information supply device 100 finishes the process. The information supply device 100 enters the initial state when the game has ended.

According to this embodiment, the information supply device 100 enables a smooth transition from the single-player game to the multi-player game by stopping updating the practice management data 124 at the start of the multi-player game calculations while updating the practice management data 124 in the single-player game calculations, when the single-player game has been played before the multi-player game.

According to this embodiment, when the suspended single-player game calculations are resumed, the information supply device 100 can reproduce the suspended game state by causing the single-player game calculations to be resumed from the suspended state based on the practice management data 124.

According to this embodiment, the information supply device 100 can reflect not only the match management data 126 but also the practice management data 124 in the user data 122. Therefore, since the game results for practice are also reflected in ranking and the like, the player can more earnestly enjoy playing the game in the practice state.

According to this embodiment, since the game in the practice state is identical to the game in the match state, the player can comfortably enjoy playing the game in the match state.

According to this embodiment, the information supply device 100 allows players with similar skill to play a match. Therefore, the players can enjoy a more exciting game.

Second Embodiment

A second embodiment in which the functions of an information supply system according to the invention are distributed over an information supply device and a terminal device is described below.

FIG. 11 is a diagram showing the entire system according to the second embodiment. In the second embodiment, an information supply device 101 and portable telephones 201-1 to 201-n (terminal devices) function as an information supply system.

FIG. 12 is a functional block diagram showing the information supply device 101 and the portable telephone 201 according to the second embodiment.

The information supply device 101 includes the determination section 130, the matching section 140, and the update section 160 described relating to the first embodiment. The information supply device 101 includes a communication section 210 (supply-side communication section) that communicates with the portable telephone 201, an information generation section 171 (supply-side information generation section) that generates stop control information that causes the portable telephone 201 to stop single-player game calculations when the number of intending human players who desire to participate in a multi-player game has reached a setting value, and a storage section 121.

Note that the storage section 121 does not store the practice management data 124, but stores the user data 123, the match management data 126, and the like. Since the portable telephone 201 has a game calculation function, the information supply device 101 does not include the game calculation section 150.

In the second embodiment, the portable telephone 201 stores practice management data 222. Therefore, the user data 123 need not contain data relating to the item “practice management data presence”. The remaining items of the user data 123 are the same as those of the user data 122 according to the first embodiment.

The portable telephone 201 includes an operation section 230, an information generation section 270 (terminal-side information generation section) that generates participation request information that indicates a multi-player game participation request based on operation information from the operation section 230, a communication section 210 (terminal-side communication section) that communicates with the information supply device 101, and a storage section 220 (terminal-side storage section) that stores the practice management data 222, the match management data 224, and the like that indicate the state of the multi-player game.

The portable telephone 201 also includes a game calculation section 250 (terminal-side game calculation section) that performs the above-described single-player game calculations and multi-player game calculations based on the operation information from the operation section 230, operation information from another portable telephone 201, and the practice management data 222, and an update section (terminal-side update section) 160 that updates the practice management data 222 based on the single-player game calculation results and updates the match management data 224 based on the multi-player game calculation results.

The portable telephone 201 also includes a display section 280 that generates and displays a game image based on the game calculation results, and a sound output section 290 that generates and outputs game sound based on the game calculation results.

As hardware that implements the function of each section of the portable telephone 201, hardware generally used for portable telephones may be used. For example, the communication section 210 may be implemented by a wireless communication unit or the like, the storage section 220 may be implemented by a RAM or the like, the operation section 230 may be implemented by a button or the like, the game calculation section 250, the update section 260, and the information generation section 270 may be implemented by a CPU or the like, the display section 280 may be implemented by an image generation circuit, a liquid crystal display, and the like, the sound output section 290 may be implemented by a sound generation circuit, a speaker, and the like.

The flow of a process of the multi-player game using the information supply device 101 and the portable telephone 201 is described below. The communication section 110 regularly receives the participation request information in the same manner as in the first embodiment. The determination section 130 determines whether or not the number of intending human players who desire to participate in the mah-jong game has reached a setting value (two in this embodiment) based on the participation request information and the match management data 126.

For example, when the player has selected the option “match” by operating a button or the like of the portable telephone 200 in a state in which the main menu image 500 is displayed, the information generation section 270 generates the participation request information, and the communication section 210 transmits the participation request information to the information supply device 101.

The information supply device 101 determines the number of intending human players who desire to participate in the game and matches the player in the same manner as in the first embodiment. In this example, the number of intending human players who desire to participate in the game is less than the setting value, and the standby image 510 is displayed on the portable telephone 201.

For example, when the player has selected the option “practice” using the standby image 510, the portable telephone 201 performs single-player game calculations. FIG. 13 is a flowchart showing the flow of a process according to the second embodiment during single-player game calculations.

The game calculation section 250 performs single-player game calculations based on the operation information from the operation section 230, the practice management data 222, and the game program (step S21).

The update section 260 updates the practice management data 222 based on the game calculation results obtained by the game calculation section 250 (step S22). This allows the latest state of the multi-player game to be reflected in the practice management data 222.

The display section 280 generates and displays a game image based on the game calculation results obtained by the game calculation section 250 and game image data stored in the storage section 220, and the sound output section 290 generates and outputs game sound based on the game calculation results obtained by the game calculation section 250 and game sound stored in the storage section 220 (step S23).

The information generation section 270 generates competitor presence inquiry information that inquires of the information supply device 101 whether or not a competitor is present, and the communication section 210 transmits the competitor presence inquiry information to the information supply device 101 (step S24).

The communication section 110 of the information supply device 101 receives the inquiry information. The communication section 110 regularly receives the participation request information in the same manner as in the first embodiment. The determination section 130 determines whether or not the number of players who desire to participate in the mah-jong game has reached the setting value based on the participation request information, the user data 123, and the match management data 126.

When the number of players who desire to participate in the mah-jong game has reached the setting value, the information generation section 171 generates the stop control information that causes the portable telephone 201 to stop single-player game calculations and notification information that indicates that the player can play a match, and the communication section 110 transmits the stop control information and the notification information to the portable telephone 201 that has transmitted the competitor presence inquiry information.

The game calculation section 250 determines whether or not the player can play a match by determining whether or not the communication section 210 has received the stop control information and the notification information (step S25). When the player can play a match, the game calculation section 250 stops single-player game calculations based on the stop control information (step S26). The update section 260 stops updating the practice management data 222 based on the stop control information (step S27).

The information generation section 270 generates the game calculation result information that indicates the single-player game calculation results based on the practice management data 222, and the communication section 210 transmits the game calculation result information to the information supply device 101 (step S28).

The information supply device 101 updates the match management data 126 based on the game calculation result information. This allows the single-player game calculation results to be reflected in the match management data 126.

The portable telephone 201 thus completes single-player game calculations. When the player cannot play a match, the portable telephone 201 repeats the process in the steps S21 to S25.

The flow of a process according to the second embodiment in the match state is described below. When the matching section 140 has matched players, a plurality of portable telephones 201 possessed by the players who have been matched transition to the match state in the same manner as in the first embodiment. FIG. 14 is a flowchart showing the flow of a process according to the second embodiment in the match state.

The determination section 130 determines whether or not the communication section 110 has received the operation information from the portable telephone 201 (step S31). When the communication section 110 has received the operation information, the communication section 110 transmits the operation information to the portable telephone 201 that has been matched with the portable telephone 201 that has transmitted the operation information based on the match management data 126 (step S32). The identification information relating to the portable telephone 201 that has been matched, information indicating the transmission destination, and the like may be stored as the match management data 126.

The determination section 130 determines whether or not the communication section 110 has received finish notification information from the portable telephone 201 (step S33). The determination section 130 may determine that the portable telephone 201 has finished multi-player game calculations when communication with the portable telephone 201 that has been matched has been disconnected (e.g., when power has been removed from the portable telephone 201), and the communication section 110 may transmit finish control information (control information that causes the portable telephone 201 to stop multi-player game calculations) generated by the information generation section 171 to the portable telephone 201 that has been matched and connected to the information supply device 101.

When the determination section 130 has determined that the portable telephone 201 has finished multi-player game calculations, the information generation section 171 generates game calculation result request information that requests the multi-player game calculation results, and the communication section 110 transmits the game calculation result request information to the portable telephone 201 that has transmitted the latest operation information (step S34).

The communication section 110 receives the game calculation result information corresponding to the game calculation result request information from the portable telephone 201 (step S35). The game calculation result information is information that indicates the multi-player game calculation results.

The update section 160 updates the match management data 126 based on the game calculation result information (step S36). This allows the multi-player game calculation results obtained by the portable telephone 201 to be reflected in the match management data 126.

The flow of a process performed by the portable telephone 201 in the match state is described below. FIG. 15 is a flowchart showing the flow of a process performed by the portable telephone 201 according to the second embodiment in the match state.

The communication section 210 determines whether or not the player has performed an operation by determining whether or not the operation information is input from operation section 230 (step S41). When the player has performed an operation, the communication section 210 transmits the operation information to the information supply device 101 (step S42). The communication section 210 determines whether or not the operation information from another portable telephone 201 has been received from the information supply device 101 (step S43).

The game calculation section 250 performs multi-player game calculations based on the operation information from the operation section 230, the operation information from another portable telephone 201 received by the communication section 210, and the match management data 224 (step S44).

The update section 260 updates the match management data 224 based on the multi-player game calculation results (step S45). The display section 280 generates and displays a game image based on the game calculation results obtained by the game calculation section 250 and game image data stored in the storage section 220, and the sound output section 290 generates and outputs game sound based on the game calculation results obtained by the game calculation section 250 and game sound stored in the storage section 220 (step S46).

The portable telephone 201 determines whether or not to finish the game (step S47). The portable telephone 201 finishes the game when a series of game stages has been completed, when the player has issued a finish instruction, or when the above-mentioned finish control information has been received, for example. When the portable telephone 201 does not finish the game, the portable telephone 201 repeats the process in the steps S41 to S47.

When the portable telephone 201 finishes the game, the information generation section 270 generates finish notification information that indicates that the game has ended, and the communication section 210 transmits the finish notification information to the information supply device 101 (step S48).

In this case, the information generation section 270 generates game calculation result information that indicates the game calculation results (e.g., points of each player) based on the match management data 224, and the communication section 210 transmits the game calculation result information to the information supply device 101 (step S49).

The portable telephone 201 thus performs multi-player game calculations, and the multi-player game calculation results are reflected in the match management data 126 stored in the information supply device 101.

According to this embodiment, the same effects as in the first embodiment can be achieved even if the functions of the information supply device 100 according to the first embodiment are distributed over the information supply device 101 and the portable telephone 201.

According to the second embodiment, since the amount of data exchanged between the portable telephone 201 and the information supply device 101 is reduced when the portable telephone 201 performs single-player game calculations, the communication load imposed on the network 300 is reduced.

Other Embodiments

The invention is not limited to the above-described embodiments. Various modifications and variations may be made. For example, the number of players who participate in the multi-player games is not limited to that of the above-described embodiments. For example, single-player game calculations may be performed when one human player and at least one computer player participate in the game. For example, multi-player game calculations may be performed when only a plurality of (is not limited to two, but may be three or more) human players participate in the game or a plurality of human players and at least one computer player participate in the game.

The setting value based on which the determination section 130 makes determinations is not limited to two. An arbitrary value equal to or larger than two may be employed depending on the type and the contents of the multi-player game.

When the portable telephone 200 possessed by one human player has been disconnected when two human players play the multi-player game, the game calculation section 150 may stop multi-player game calculations, and resume the single-player game from the suspended state of the single-player game calculations for the other human player based on the practice management data 124. Note that the determination section 130 can detect disconnection of communication using a general session management method, for example.

In this case, the game calculation section 150 may stop multi-player game calculations, the information generation section 170 may generate information for displaying the main menu image 500, and the communication section 110 may transmit the generated information to the portable telephone 200 possessed by the other human player.

This enables a smooth transition from the multi-player game to the single-player game and enables the single-player game to be resumed from the suspended state of the single-player game calculations.

As the multi-player game, various games such as reversi, a quiz game, a card game, and a falling game may be applied in addition to the mah-jong game. The matching section 140 may combine (match) cooperative players instead of competitive players.

The terminal device is not limited to the portable telephone 200. For example, various devices having a communication function and a game execution function (e.g., portable game device, consumer game device, arcade game device, and personal computer (PC)) may be employed as the terminal device.

An embodiment in which the functions of the information supply device 100 distributed is not limited to the second embodiment. Various other embodiments may also be employed. For example, the portable telephone may perform only single-player game calculations, and the information supply device may perform multi-player game calculations.

Although only some embodiments of this invention have been described in detail above, those skilled in the art will readily appreciate that many modifications are possible in the embodiments without materially departing from the novel teachings and advantages of this invention. Accordingly, all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the invention.

Patent Citations
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8195809Mar 2, 2009Jun 5, 2012Microsoft CorporationMultigame multiplayer party session
US8795060 *Jul 9, 2013Aug 5, 2014DeNA Co., Ltd.Game processing server apparatus and recording medium
US20140087882 *Jul 9, 2013Mar 27, 2014DeNA Co., Ltd.Game processing server apparatus and recording medium
Classifications
U.S. Classification463/40
International ClassificationA63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationH04L67/38, A63F2003/086
European ClassificationH04L29/06C4
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jun 19, 2008ASAssignment
Owner name: NAMCO BANDAI GAMES INC., JAPAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:NAKAJI, CHIHIRO;REEL/FRAME:021126/0798
Effective date: 20080603