US 20090197679 A1
Improvements relating to a control device for controlling a display of a computer system for use with a video game.
1. A control device for operation by a user for controlling a display of a computer system for use with a video game, the control device comprising:
a housing having a shape adapted to be handled by a user of a video game;
a first motion sensor included within said housing, said housing being adapted to be handled by the user for generating input information related to a vertical and a horizontal tilt of the control device;
a second motion sensor included within said housing adapted to be handled by the user for generating input information related to roll movement about an axis of the control device; and
a controller adapted to process the input information from the first provide to the computer system point of view information of an avatar in a video game virtual environment, and adapted to process said input information from the second sensor to provide to the computer system information representative of at least changes in an angular position of the avatar in the video game virtual environment.
This application claims priority under 35 USC 120 of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/021,611 filed Jan. 16, 2008, entitled “Video Game Controller.” The entire disclosure of the aforementioned provisional application is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
The present invention relates generally to a control device for a video game, and more particularly to controllers for use by a player of a “first person shooter” type of video game.
As computers have become a part of every day life, video games playable on computers have similarly become a very popular means of entertainment. While software and computer graphics innovations have made video games very realistic, most video games rely on more contemporary input devices such as a keyboard, computer mouse or joystick to allow a player to interact with the video game. While these traditional input devices are familiar to most users, they tend to take away from the realism of the video game and are not easy/intuitive in their operation.
My prior PCT application PCT/US04/41396 filed Dec. 9, 2004, and published as WO/2005/058434 and incorporated herein by reference, discloses an improved game controller.
The present application discloses further improvements to a controller of the type known by my prior PCT application, which improvements add to the realism of the environment being controlled by the controller, such as a video game.
The present invention relates to a control device particularly well suited for use by a player of a “first person shooter” type of video game. In such video games, the player typically is presented with a first person view of an environment in the video game and in order to play the game, the user is required to aim at and shoot various targets. The user is commonly provided with a fixed point of view, typically, in the center of the display. The point of view of the user in the game typically moves left, right, up, down, etc. based on the input from the computer mouse, keyboard, etc. to allow the user to aim at various targets in the video game. Targeting or aiming is typically accomplished by positioning the center of the fixed point of view at the desired position, generally using the computer mouse or keyboard or gamepad controls to change the point of view of the user in the video game. Shooting the target is typically accomplished by pressing a dedicated shoot button. The dedicated shoot button is typically one of the mouse buttons or a key on the keyboard or gamepad. Similarly, joysticks may also be used to change the point of view of the user in the game, and shooting is typically accomplished by pressing a shoot button, generally located on the top of the joystick or on a base of the joystick.
The control device of the present invention can quickly change the point of view of the user by simply moving the control device, thereby providing a more intuitive and realistic interaction with the video game.
While the control device of the present invention is particularly well suited for use in such video games, the control device is preferably operable with any video game and may be used as a mouse-type pointing or control device in conventional computer and/or video graphic display applications as well.
In addition, the control device of the present invention is preferably compatible with video game systems such as the SONY PLAYSTATION, a registered trademark of Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. Similarly, the control device may be utilized with other computer simulations and virtual reality systems such as those commonly used by law enforcement and military agencies as training aids.
More specifically, a control device according of the present invention is described with reference to
Referring first to
As disclosed in my above-noted PCT application PCT/US04/41396, the control device is preferably shaped as a firearm, which preferred shape is described further with reference to
The game play control unit 16 preferably includes game play controls and is illustrated in
In addition, game play controls may include a jump button 52, a run button 53, a crouch button 54 and a special action button 55. These game play controls may be positioned on a side surface of the hand grip 20 of the control device such that they are easily operated by the thumb of the user as it wraps around the hand grip (See
The coordinate control unit 12 of
A coordinate activation button 57, shown in
In the present embodiment a lever type switch 58 as shown in
In accordance with a first improvement described herein and shown in
This improvement allows the player, in one embodiment, to roll the gun-shaped controller along the midline axis of the length of the barrel, as opposed to movements in the pitch and yaw axes required for aiming in the virtual space. The roll axis motion would be sensed by use of an accelerometer or gyroscope, or similar motion detection device. Such roll control signal might be used to reproduce a “lean” input which is utilized in some games, or for adding a “peeking around corners” functionality which is also utilized in some games. This functionality might be usable only when the player/avatar is against a wall or a corner in the virtual world. This input might be such that the controller needs to be kept past a certain roll angle in order to keep the function active in the game, or it might be that once the roll function is engaged, it stays active until the player cancels it by, for example, rolling the controller strongly to an opposite extreme, so that in a neutral stance the avatar is still leaning until cancelled.
Alternatively, in another embodiment of this aspect of the invention, the amount or degree of roll of the avatar can be correlated to the amount or degree of roll of the controller.
In another embodiment of this aspect of the invention, in lieu of a gyroscope or accelerometer, specialized switches could be affixed to the controller, to intuitively input the desired stance of the avatar, such as a toggle or rocker switch mounted perpendicular to the body of the controller, in which a downward push would indicate a given amount of leftward lean, while an upward push would indicate a rightward lean.
In accordance with a second improvement described herein and shown in
It is noted that the intuitive headset will require not only the ordinary microphone output and speaker input signals to be conducted between the headset and the game controller, but for this improvement, the headset will also need a data line connection to the game controller for transmitting to the controller the auxiliary switch information. In one embodiment, this data line connection can be provided by a USB connection, which would allow bidirectional control of data signals between the headset and the game controller, so that it may even be possible for the game computer to program the headset in order to control the functionality of the headset mounted switches.
In accordance with a third improvement described herein and shown in
In accordance with a fourth improvement described herein and shown in
In accordance with a fifth improvement (not specifically shown in the drawings), a software anti-piracy circuit/technique is built into the controller. In the prior art, in order to help ensure that the copy of a game being played is a legal copy, that is, it is not pirated, security key, commonly called a “dongle” has been used. A dongle is a small piece of hardware that connects to a computer. Electrically, dongles mostly appear as two-interface security tokens with transient data flow that does not collide with the dongle function and a pull communication that reads security data from the dongle. The usual function of a dongle is to authenticate a piece of software. Without the dongle, the software will run only in a restricted mode, or not at all. One currently popular dongle form is a USB based electronic circuit, which a user attaches to their computer, and is shipped with retail office software.
Typical anti piracy techniques used in games played on personal computers often involves the computer periodically polling software media (such as a CD) to check that a licensed version of the game CD is in the computer's drive, which many players find annoying, in that the CD drive becomes “conscripted” to the game, together with the psychological issue of the player being made to feel that he is a criminal until proven innocent by constantly providing the legitimate CD. A big advantage of the present invention, that is, by having a controller based anti piracy dongle, is that by definition, the controller needs to be plugged into the computer to play the game in any case, so there is no added annoyance of having the game poll for the appropriate controller, and therefore no feeling of “criminalization.”
An alternative embodiment for including an anti-piracy dongle in the controller, requires the player to press input switches mounted on the controller in a specific order, thereby forming a “security key code”, in order to unlock the game software. The security key code input to the computer playing the software must come from the controller. The game itself will check for a correct match. The security key code input may be as simple as requiring the player to input a simultaneous keystroke using switches mounted on the controller, which keystrokes would be impossible using a mouse and keyboard or gamepad, or the key code may require input from an additional add-on to the controller, such as a second or third LCD, or auxiliary weapon attachment, etc. Such keys might be specific to the owner of the controller, and games may not play fully if the controller input sequence is not correct. Normally, the way a retail game operates, the player installs the game and then the game asks for a text input, usually a long series of numbers found inside the manual that came with the game. One way people “crack” a games' antipiracy technology is to develop a “key generator” program, which generates a workable series of text which is then input when the pirated copy of the game asks for the key.
However, when in accordance with the present invention where the controller is used to input the “key” via a specific operation of controls on the controller, the game could avoid having any text input box at all. For example, when the game starts, the player may find themselves in an empty room. The game would ask the player to perform a correct sequence of moves (forward/backward, crouch, etc) to unlock the game. That sequence might be specific to that individual controller/game combination. Alternatively, it might be combined with the dongle technology mentioned above.
In accordance with a sixth improvement (not specifically shown in the drawings), the existing motion sensor, or an additional motion sensor which is independent from the existing motion sensor, is mounted to the body of the controller so as to sense specific movements of the controller, and in response to such sensing, supply additional control signals which will control additional movement of the user in video game, that is, control additional movements of the user's avatar.
More specifically, in the embodiment where the controller looks like a gun, for example, the player could deliver an in-game, i.e., virtual, “butt stroke” or “bayonet thrust” of his weapon, (typically called “melee effects”) by quickly spinning/moving the controller in a similar real-world fashion. A quick forward motion would be translated by the game to indicate a stabbing/bayonet thrust effect.
In one embodiment, one motion sensor in addition to the main sensor that controls the avatar's point of view, is used to detect a forward or backward thrust, sometimes called a “surge” (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degrees_of freedom (mechanics)). Thus, to sense a “butt stroke”, for example, which is a combination of spin (yaw) and a backwards “surge”, the main and the surge sensors can be used, which would each provide a control signal to the video game computer, which computer would then interpolate both of these sensor control signals to create the desired in-game affect.
In accordance with a seventh improvement to a controller of the type noted above, and shown in
In accordance with this improvement, there may be a second, redundant set of directional movement and game input controls mounted on an attachment to a portion of the primary controller. This attachment may take the form of, for example, a grenade launcher or a bayonet, configured such as they are typically affixed to a rifle.
The attachment may also have its own ‘shoot’ button. In this manner, the attachment will not interfere with blocking access to the main movement controls on the body of the controller while providing easy access to control switches as necessary. The additional shoot button may specifically enable operations and functions of the secondary attachment. As such, there will be two independent sets of shoot buttons—the primary set on the body of the controller, which itself incorporates a primary and secondary shoot button, and the secondary set on the additional weapon element.
In this manner, the player may be able to shoot two weapons at once, or in the case of a bayonet, shoot with the primary trigger on the main weapon shoot button, while ‘stab’ with the secondary shoot button on the attachment.
Additionally, there may be an input switch mounted on the attachment which is a secondary weapon selection switch, which may be linked specifically to the form of the attachment. For instance, if the attachment takes on the shape of a grenade launcher, the weapon selection switch on the attachment might control the type of grenade the player wishes to use depending on game play requirements, as some games utilize smoke, fragmentation, concussion, and other types of grenades. By linking the secondary weapon selection switch to the attachment the task of choosing the desired weapon is simplified. The primary weapon selector switch, as described in my forenoted original application, might then serve only to select among primary weapon choices, such as type of rifle.
In accordance with an eighth improvement described herein and shown in
Such second input signal might incorporate traditional data, which in the prior art typically is presented on the primary display, such as a map of the current game environment, text dialog between players, or similar data, which in the present invention is presented on the second display so as to free up more room on the primary display for actual game images.
Alternatively the second input signal may prevent images which incorporate a new feature set specifically relevant to the design and functionality of a rifle shaped controller, such as a rear or side view mirror like attachment, so the user can see the scene behind or to the side of him as well as in front of him. Additionally, the dual controller-mounted displays could be used with other types of game controllers, such as in combination with a “steering wheel” type of controller typically used for “driving” type video games. When incorporating the present invention with such a controller, the first display would typically be used to provide an image of the view in front of the vehicle being steered, and the second display could be used to provide a rear or side view image. Even furthermore, if for example a second type of controller, such as a gun shaped one, was being used with the “steering wheel” type of controller, the second display on the “steering wheel” type of controller could provide the game scenes applicable for the gun shaped controller. Although there are some prior art controller systems which use a dual display, they are of the type that put such dual displays on the desktop, and they therefore can not move in space with the controller.
Another use of an additional display is, for example, if a game were particularly tedious or tense, a small auxiliary game could be provided to enable a small distracting game to be played using the second display, so that the user could take out a minute and play a quick round of Pac Man. Alternatively, the second display could be used as needed during special circumstances, such as to control the positioning of a remote object in the video game space (such as a guided missile), while the main game images continue to run on the primary, first, display.
In accordance with a ninth improvement a track ball or touch pad is mounted to the body of the controller, such that track ball or touch pad can be operated by one or the other of the player's thumbs. This would allow increased input options for game functions such as running on an auxiliary monitor, positioning a remote object in space or scrolling through text messages from other players.
While the present invention has been disclosed with reference to certain embodiments, numerous modifications, alterations and changes to the described embodiments are possible without departing from the sphere and scope of the present invention. For example, the controller could be shaped like a heavy duty power drill or drill/hammer of the type having not only a rearward facing grip, but also a hand grip protruding at a right angle from the body of the drill. Such as shape may be desirable for reasons related, for example to “political correctness”, so as to thereby provide a First Person Shooter controller which does not look “so much like a gun”, yet would still have a shape which easily facilitates handling in a manner which allows the user to intuitively play a First Person Shooter game. In this case, it would still be advantageous that the controller shape facilitates ease of handling, maintains the general layout (such as left hand for activation of positional movement switches) and the same type of body stance useful for motion controlled aiming. Any shape would be usable which has the ability to put the player's hands in the correct stance to control pitch/yaw and maybe roll, as well as putting the fingers in the correct places to operate the various input switches of a First Person Shooter controller, yet such shapes may not appear to be “guns” if they look more like a power tool. With the above as a guide, other “non-gun-like” shapes could also be used effectively, including other weapons, such as a cross bow, in which one hand is normally placed underneath the bow for increased stability.
Accordingly, it is intended that the present invention not be limited to the described embodiments, but that it has the full scope defined by the above language as well as the claims which follow, and equivalents thereof.