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Publication numberUS20100035689 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 12/538,898
Publication dateFeb 11, 2010
Filing dateAug 11, 2009
Priority dateAug 11, 2008
Publication number12538898, 538898, US 2010/0035689 A1, US 2010/035689 A1, US 20100035689 A1, US 20100035689A1, US 2010035689 A1, US 2010035689A1, US-A1-20100035689, US-A1-2010035689, US2010/0035689A1, US2010/035689A1, US20100035689 A1, US20100035689A1, US2010035689 A1, US2010035689A1
InventorsYaniv Altshuler, Raviv Nagel, Yair Shapira, Adi Ashkenazy
Original AssigneeYaniv Altshuler, Raviv Nagel, Yair Shapira, Adi Ashkenazy
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
System and method for a gaming community
US 20100035689 A1
Abstract
A method and system for providing highlights to game players, including ranking of the highlights, also optionally coaching and other types of interactions between players and also between each player and an external entity.
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Claims(19)
1. A method for ranking a plurality of highlights of a computer game being played by a game player through a user computer, the method being performed by a computer, the method comprising:
Determining the highlights; determining a score according to at least one criterion for each highlight; and ranking the highlights according to the scores.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein said ranking the highlights further comprises performing context based analysis of the highlights.
3. The method of claim 2, wherein said context based analysis further comprises weighting said score according to at least one criterion by an owner of the computer game.
4. The method of claim 2, further comprising ranking a plurality of game sessions, by ranking highlights for each game session and ranking said plurality of game sessions according to ranked highlights for each game session.
5. The method of claim 1 further comprising sending at least one highlight to a game player for instruction.
6. The method of claim 1 further comprising analyzing a plurality of components of the highlight in context to at least one other component.
7. The method of claim 6, wherein said components relate to use of virtual objects within the computer game.
8. The method of claim 6, wherein said analyzing said plurality of components of the highlight further comprises analyzing at least one component of game play before the highlight to determine a state of game play.
9. The method of claim 1 comprising receiving a request for a highlight from a third party website; and sending said highlight if said highlight is suitable.
10. The method of claim 9, further comprising receiving financial remuneration for distribution of highlights of a particular game, a particular game instance or a particular type of game according to said request.
11. A method for assisting a game player in playing a computer game being played by a game player through a user computer, the method being performed by a computer, the method comprising: analyzing behavior of the game player while playing the computer game; determining whether said behavior fits at least a portion of a pattern; if said behavior fits said at least a portion of said pattern, recommending performing or not performing at least one additional action by the game player.
12. The method of claim 11, wherein said recommending performing or not performing said at least one additional action further comprises recommending remaining or leaving a portion of virtual geography of the computer game.
13. The method of claim 11, wherein said recommending performing or not performing said at least one additional action further comprises recommending using or ceasing to use a virtual object of the computer game.
14. The method of claim 11, wherein said recommending performing or not performing said at least one additional action further comprises providing a virtual gauge to indicate a level of performance by the game player.
15. A method for coaching a game player in playing a computer game being played by a game player through a user computer, the method being performed by a computer, the method comprising: analyzing behavior of the game player while playing the computer game; and coaching the game player to change at least one behavior to improve performance while playing the computer game, said coaching including at least providing a highlight of game play of the computer game.
16. The method of claim 15, wherein said highlight demonstrates a positive instance of game play.
17. The method of claim 16, wherein said highlight demonstrates a negative instance of game play.
18. The method of claim 17, wherein said highlight is of game play by a different game player.
19. The method of claim 15, further comprising providing a mini-game sequence for the game player to play, wherein said mini-game sequence is related to said behavior of the game player; playing said mini-game sequence by the game player; and rating the game player on playing said mini-game sequence.
Description

This Application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/136,063, filed on Aug. 11, 2008, which is hereby incorporated by reference as if fully set forth herein.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a system and method for a gaming community, and in particular, for such a system and method which supports interactions between players and/or interaction between an external entity, such as a coach, and a player.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Modern video games consume many processing and storage resources, mainly since the games usually involve progressive 3D (three dimensions) computer graphics and sound effects. A video game exists in a computerized world, which comprises various graphical objects. Every object is attributed to a game element, i.e., background, articles, characters etc. Each object is accompanied by a corresponding logic, which defines the operations the object can perform and the rules of actions upon the occurrence of any event.

A simplified example of a game world in car racing video game is as follows: The game world comprises objects, such as racetrack, racing cars, sky, observers, etc. The racetrack, the sky and the observers are used as background elements, where the logic of the sky objects can be defined to change according to the weather; the observers can be defined to applaud whenever a specific car is passing, and so on. One car is controlled by the game player and the rest of the cars are automatically controlled by the computer. The logic of the player's car defines the movement options (left, right, accelerate, decelerate) and the rules of actions upon events. For example, a collision between the player's car and another object causes the graphical representation of the car to change, and will also typically induce some other change in the game experience, for example by altering the performance of the car and/or loss of credits in the game. Exceeding the racetrack boundaries will slow down the car, and so on. Some of the computer controlled cars are defined to drive at a certain speed, and some are defined to follow the player's car. Objects can also be defined to perform no action.

Creating a 3D Image of a Video Game

Although the screen of a video game is only two dimensional, it simulates a 3D world. Every graphical object in the game world has physical 3D dimensions, texture and opacity/transparency, and is located and/or moved in the game space. A 3D computer graphics video can be considered as a movie production. Like in a filming location, the video game objects always exist in the game space, even if the objects are not shown all the time. After all the objects are located in the game space, in order to get video images, a camera is located in a certain point. The camera can be located at any point in the game space at any angle, and can move in any direction and at any desired speed. The camera will project the images (on the computer's screen) according to graphical definitions and the locations of the objects in the game space, as if it was a camera shooting a real movie.

Recently, multiplayer games, which are played over the data network (online games), have become very popular. There are games in which each player plays against the rest of the players, and there are games in which players can form a team and play as a team against other teams, against other individual players, as a team against the “game itself” and/or against “bots” (automated software agents that play the game). Some of these games comprise huge game worlds, which are populated by many players simultaneously, and exist in a dedicated server. Many online games of any type have associated online communities, making online games a kind of social activity.

The server of an online video game comprises the game world and the engine. Each player uses his or her own computer, on which a dedicated application is installed. The application may optionally handle the local game, which means that it receives the game objects from the server of the game and renders it for the local game output (e.g. display, audio, etc.). Alternatively, the local game is also provide by the server, such that the player's computer may not operate the game or provide game objects. The application sends the actions of the player (e.g. pressed keys of the keyboard, mouse clicks, joystick operations, etc.) to the server to be translated at the server for performing game actions.

Gaming communities are the fuel of the gaming industry—the more culture exists around a game, the longer it stays on the shelves; the higher the prices are maintained; and the better the ROI is. It is not surprising that console providers (Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo), game publishers (Valve, EA, Activision-Blizzard), and media giants (NewsCorp)—all invest heavily in gaming communities. The community waves are the main factor in lifespan expansion and proliferation of games. Recognizing the significance of a game fan club, leading industry players promote gaming communities, or even establish their own mass. Nevertheless, most communal activities are very shallow. The meta-gaming experience frequently only provides information rather than applications and services. Most gaming communities are merely a social web site, in which one percent of the users are contributing and 99% are observing. As a result gaming communities are far from showing their full potential.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The background art does not teach or suggest techniques for gaming which provide many features for community interaction.

The present invention overcomes these drawbacks of the background art by providing a system and method for better interaction between gamers through a community. By “community” it is meant a plurality of individuals who communicate electronically, whether through chat, IM (instant messaging), cellular telephone communication (whether for data and/or voice communication), email, on-line forums, any type of computer based communication and the like.

According to one embodiment of the present invention, the method provides players the ability to share experiences, compare performance, learn other peoples' tricks, improve skills, socialize, and the like.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, game-play highlights (key events) are recorded and stored to be viewed by the game player and by other members of the community. Such highlights are preferably extracted from the game play as “clips”, as described in the corresponding PCT Application No. PCT/IL2009/000260 entitled “TECHNOLOGICAL PLATFORM FOR GAMING”, filed Mar. 9, 2009 and with the same owner and at least one inventor in common, which is hereby incorporated by reference as if fully set forth herein. However, it should be noted that optionally any type of highlights and/or system and method for obtaining such highlights may be used.

Also, the highlights may optionally be extracted at the time of game play and/or may alternatively be extracted from stored data after game play has occurred. For example, optionally all of the game play data may be stored, after which users may execute queries on this data in the future, in order to define “interesting” clips one or more times after game play has occurred. Preferably, such queries are executed “on demand”, more preferably by using a pay-per-use method, or any other suitable payment methods.

Highlights are preferably automatically extracted and accessible through the user's web browser as a video, optionally and preferably at a specific internet address, such as a specific IP address. A link to the address of this video can be sent to friends or through emails or any other type of electronic communication as described below. Alternatively, the highlights may optionally be available as a downloadable file. Also alternatively, the highlights may optionally be accessible through the user's mobile device (for example by using a web browser or other application for viewing streaming video, MMS message (or other mobile messaging protocol or service)).

In order to assist users in locating highlights of interest, according to another embodiment of the present invention, the system and method identifies the context, and retrieves the most relevant recording from records uploaded by other users, according to preferences set by the user, or optionally and alternatively according to one or more parameters that are automatically set by monitoring the user's activities.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, the system and method provide debriefing capabilities, to assist the player in improving game play. The system and method preferably highlight good and bad scenes, or useful and non-useful action(s) within the scenes, according to predefined and user-defined and/or automatically defined (optionally, based on statistics gathered by the system) parameters.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, the system preferably rates the clips and more preferably periodically selects the top clips to enter the hall of fame or to otherwise receive particular recognition. Being competitive by nature, game players will strive to make it to the hall of fame. In addition, the system enables the generation of dynamic or user-defined “hall of fame” categories or nominations for such categories (for example, users (or superusers) may define new categories, according to which the rating of the clips would be ordered and ranked).

According to another embodiment of the present invention, every game session is analyzed to obtain ranking of the player for a set of skills, such as sniping, driving, close-distance fighting, puzzle solving and more. This granular ranking provides the player with a feedback and a reward for skills improvement and enables other gamers to choose a partner, or opponent for the game. The granular skill ranking may be helpful when forming a squad or team of players, which is also optionally supported by some embodiments of the present invention.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, the system can identify cheaters who perform bug abuse (such as entering a wall and shooting without being harmed), by analyzing the game data to determine whether an illegal action occurred due to exploitation of one or more software bugs or faults by the player. Other non-limiting examples of abuse include the use of non-legal third party software, the use of “Aim bots”, exploitation of “Easter eggs” and other “back door” features of the software, hacking, “bots” to assist the user with performing various actions.

According to some embodiments, any of the above analyzing, rating and/or debriefing activities may optionally be performed after game play has occurred, by reviewing stored game play data. Statistical analysis may optionally be used for such analyzing, rating and/or debriefing activities, as well as manual review by one or more individuals.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, the system can provide statistics to the game developers, so that they can improve their games according to the users' behavior. For example, it may be determined statistically that players are much less likely to use a particular weapon, and so the game developer may decide to adjust the price or other aspects of the weapon accordingly, to encourage its use.

The system may also optionally analyze game play statistically in order to locate any anomalies or unusual actions or features, for example to determine the level of QA (quality assurance) which has been performed on the game at the time of development and programming, for example according to whether any bugs are detected, the type of bugs and so forth. The quality of QA performed can also be defined as the amount of “coverage” achieved during the QA process.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, the system preferably analyzes the game play in real-time (or alternatively by analyzing stored data after game play has occurred), and marks every game period with an interest grade. Interest is assessed according to pre-defined profiles (e.g. shooting mayhem, extravagant blasts, thrill driving) as well as user-defined parameters. Alternatively or additionally, interest is assessed according to statistical analysis.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, the system preferably allows the user to track back games played by players of interest, for example players with high rank in a certain aspect(s) of the game, in order to improve user's ability in this aspect of the game. For example, a user interested in improving his or her sniping skills, or other special game related skill, may optionally use the system to locate a game played by a sniping-master some three weeks ago. This game can then be re-rendered, but this time from other viewing points or perspectives, to see how the position of the master player affects performance in relation to other entities in the game, such as the targets. This may allow the user to better understand how master-snipers operate, in order to improve his or her skills in that area.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, the system preferably generates an automatic personal profile for each player by keeping track of all the activities of the player, analyzing them, and producing a categorization of gaming skills, style and preference. According to this embodiment, any player can access his or her latest gaming events, review successes and failures, share interesting experiences with his or her friends, or watch interesting videos of games that were played by others. In addition, the profile contains the evolution of the player in terms of various skills-related factors (such as his sniping capabilities, logistics, strategic planning, etc').

According to another embodiment of the present invention, the system offers a “match-making” service, whether manual or automatic, based on user profile, by allowing players to team up with other players of similar, completing or competing gaming skill level, style and preferences. By “completing” it is meant players for whom at least one skill completes a deficiency or at least a reduced skill level in another player.

For example, players of the leading FPS-Strategy game Battlefield-2 (which involves a group of players who try to capture a city which is defended by another group of players) can often be divided between various gaming styles. Beginner players sometimes tend to seek hiding places, search for enemies from a great distance, and try to shoot them down. This behavior, known as “camping” is considered to show poor game play. As the system continuously monitors the gaming style of the players, a user can request not to be assigned to groups in which “campers” are also taking part. Furthermore, as some players prefer the more “lone wolf” approach—storming and shooting their enemies away, while others find entertainment in the complicated logistics and cooperative techniques offered by the game (for example—providing air or mortars support for an attack squad, while a medic is standing by to assist in case of an ambush)—users can even request that the other players in the group they are assigned to, will share their preferences on this issue (as well as others).

In addition, this match making capability can be done automatically by the game operator, in order to prevent misuse of the game, for example, in order to prevent strong game players from playing with or against weaker game players.

According to another embodiment of the present invention the system and method can optionally be used without any installation in the user computer. However, alternatively it is installed on the user computer.

By “online”, it is meant that communication is performed through an electronic and/or optic communication medium, including but not limited to, telephone data communication through the PSTN (public switched telephone network), cellular telephones, IP network, ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) network, frame relay network, MPLS (Multi Protocol Label Switching) network, any type of packet switched network, or the like network, or a combination thereof; data communication through cellular telephones or other wireless or RF (radiofrequency) devices; any type of mobile or static wireless communication; exchanging information through Web pages according to HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) or any other protocol for communication with and through mark-up language documents or any other communication protocol, including but not limited to IP, TCP/IP, UDP and the like; exchanging messages through e-mail (electronic mail), instant messaging services such as ICQ™ for example, and any other type of messaging service or message exchange service; any type of communication using a computer as defined below; any type of computer network, such as a LAN (local area network), WAN (wide area network), MAN (metropolitan area network), intranet, Internet and the like, as well as any other type of communication which incorporates an electronic and/or optical medium for transmission. The present invention can be implemented both on the internet and the intranet, as well as on any type of computer network. However, it should be noted that the present invention is not limited to on-line gaming.

Unless otherwise defined, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention belongs. The materials, methods, and examples provided herein are illustrative only and not intended to be limiting.

Implementation of the method and system of the present invention involves performing or completing certain selected tasks or stages manually, automatically, or a combination thereof. Moreover, according to actual instrumentation and equipment of preferred embodiments of the method and system of the present invention, several selected stages could be implemented by hardware or by software on any operating system of any firmware or a combination thereof. For example, as hardware, selected stages of the invention could be implemented as a chip or a circuit. As software, selected stages of the invention could be implemented as a plurality of software instructions being executed by a computer using any suitable operating system. In any case, selected stages of the method and system of the invention could be described as being performed by a data processor, such as a computing platform for executing a plurality of instructions.

Although the present invention is described with regard to a “computer” on a “computer network”, it should be noted that optionally any device featuring a data processor and memory storage, and/or the ability to execute one or more instructions may be described as a computer, including but not limited to a PC (personal computer), a server, a minicomputer, a cellular telephone, a smart phone, a PDA (personal data assistant), a pager, TV decoder, VOD (video on demand) recorder, game console or other dedicated gaming device, digital music or other digital media player, ATM (machine for dispensing cash), POS credit card terminal (point of sale), electronic cash register, Gaming consoles, Handheld gaming consoles or UMPC (Ultra Mobile Personal Computer). Any two or more of such devices in communication with each other, and/or any computer in communication with any other computer, may optionally comprise a “computer network”.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention is herein described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings. With specific reference now to the drawings in detail, it is stressed that the particulars shown are by way of example and for purposes of illustrative discussion of the preferred embodiments of the present invention only, and are presented in order to provide what is believed to be the most useful and readily understood description of the principles and conceptual aspects of the invention. In this regard, no attempt is made to show structural details of the invention in more detail than is necessary for a fundamental understanding of the invention, the description taken with the drawings making apparent to those skilled in the art how the several forms of the invention may be embodied in practice.

FIG. 1 shows an exemplary, illustrative method for ranking a plurality of highlights and optionally also one or more game sessions and/or players according to some embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 2 shows an exemplary, illustrative method for context-based analysis of a highlight according to some embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 3 shows an exemplary, illustrative method for franchising highlight distribution according to the present invention;

FIG. 4 relates to an exemplary method for coaching according to some embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 5 shows an exemplary, illustrative method for specialized game interactions according to the present invention;

FIG. 6 shows an exemplary method of coaching according to map analysis in a computer game, according to some embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 7 shows an illustrative method according to some embodiments of the present invention for determining a player “fingerprint”, for example to prevent cheating;

FIG. 8 shows an illustrative method according to some embodiments of the present invention for analyzing the skills and abilities of individual users, whether for an actual team or to assemble a “fantasy” or virtual team for a computer game; and

FIG. 9 shows an illustrative method according to some embodiments of the present invention for partial pattern analysis and matching.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention is of a system and method for better interaction between gamers through a community. According to some embodiments of the present invention, game-play highlights (key events) are recorded and stored to be viewed by the game player and by other members of the community. Such highlights are preferably extracted from the game play as “clips”, as previously described. However, it should be noted that optionally any type of highlights and/or system and method for obtaining such highlights may be used.

The present invention includes the ability to rank highlights, in some embodiments, according to one or more criteria. In addition, this method may optionally also be used to rank a game session and/or a player or a group of players or a game server or a game MOD.

According to some embodiments of the present invention, the ranking of highlights is optionally and preferably performed through context-based analysis of the highlights.

According to an embodiment of the present invention, the method provides players the ability to share experiences, compare performance, learn other peoples' tricks, improve skills, socialize, and the like. Optionally and preferably, a social network is also provided according to some embodiments of the present invention, which may also optionally be used for squad or group formation; a non-limiting example of the latter is selecting pairs of players (or other group sizes) for matches.

According to other embodiments of the present invention, there is provided a method for franchising highlight distribution, or acting as a content publisher or provider, according to the present invention, for example to monetize distribution of highlights of a particular game, a particular game instance, a particular type of game and so forth.

According to other embodiments of the present invention, there is provided a method for specialized game interactions according to the present invention. As described in greater detail below, such interactions may optionally include, without wishing to be limited, one or more of instructing a game player in a game, collecting statistics about how players interact with the game, and so forth.

According to still other embodiments of the present invention, one or more virtual items are provided for game players to interact with the game. The virtual items may optionally be provided through the game API or alternatively may be provided through a separate user interface or other interface. The virtual items may optionally be sold to a game player. The virtual items may optionally provide one or more special abilities, for example. As a non-limiting example, a virtual item called “goggles” may optionally enable the game player to receive a message from the system of the present invention if another player is lying in ambush.

Referring now to the drawings, FIG. 1 shows an exemplary, illustrative method for ranking a plurality of highlights and optionally also a game session and/or player according to some embodiments of the present invention. As shown, in stage 1, a plurality of highlights is obtained through an analysis according to one or more criteria. Preferably the analysis includes context-based analysis, as described in greater detail with regard to FIG. 2 below. Optionally, at least some of the criteria may be set by a company that produces the game, for example in order to encourage players to use one or more specific features, strategies and/or characters. Optionally, the criteria are also weighted, such that a score for a particular criterion has a value in the overall ranking at least partially according to the weight for that criterion.

In stage 2, determine a combined score for each highlight, optionally and preferably according to the above described weighting scheme. The score for each criterion is optionally determined according to level of difficulty, request of the company producing the game and so forth.

In stage 3, each highlight is ranked according to the combined score, which is optionally weighted, for the criteria. Optionally and preferably, one or more rules may be used in case of a tie between two highlights. The ranking is preferably determined according to the relative scores, such that the highest score receives the highest ranking and the lowest score receives the lowest ranking.

In stage 4, optionally a plurality of game sessions is ranked in a similar manner. For example, preferably a plurality of highlights from the game sessions is ranked. Next, the total score of the highlights is preferably used to rank the game sessions. Optionally, certain types of highlights, for example featuring certain actions, receive a higher weight in the scoring process.

In stage 5, optionally a plurality of players is ranked according to a plurality of game sessions, again in the manner described above.

FIG. 2 shows an exemplary, illustrative method for context-based analysis of a highlight according to some embodiments of the present invention. In stage 1, the highlight is preferably analyzed to determine one or more components, which preferably include at least one action and which more preferably include at least one result.

In stage 2, interactions between the analyzed components are also preferably examined, for example to determine whether a player used a particular tool that was available, the manner in which the tool was used to have an effect on another player or object, and so forth.

In stage 3, one or more components occurring before and after the highlight are also optionally and preferably analyzed, for example preferably to determine the state of play at the start of the highlight and the resultant state of play at the end of the highlight.

In stage 4, the analysis preferably combines the results from stages 1-3, in order to determine the overall context in which game play occurred during the highlight.

Any of the above analysis may optionally be determined according to one or more requests of the game designer and/or company producing the game. Also optionally, any of the above analysis may optionally be altered or determined according to one or more requests from the gaming community, such as a social network, in which case voting is preferably used. Also optionally, any of the above analysis may optionally be altered or determined according to one or more requests from highly ranked members of the gaming community, or gaming experts, in which case again voting is preferably used. For any type of voting scenario, optionally the weight of a particular vote is adjusted according to a rank of the player within a group, social network or other type of community of players.

The social network may optionally be provided through a web site. Optionally and preferably, the web site may also be used to sell virtual or actual goods. Examples of the latter relate to physical products, including but not limited to clothing, DVDs, music and/or other merchandise. Examples of the former include but are not limited to clips, avatars, other game components and the like.

Also optionally and preferably, the web site may support one or more tools for the “game outside the game”. These tools do not necessarily require access to the API (application programming interface), but may instead optionally and preferably be organized through one or more interactions between game players in the game community of the web site. For example, the tools may optionally include one or more of a manager tool, for organizing and/or managing a team or squad; the team manager is preferably a designated user who may optionally promote players, trade or pay for them with other teams and so forth.

FIG. 3 shows an exemplary, illustrative method for franchising highlight distribution according to the present invention and/or acting as a content publisher or provider. In stage 1, a request for receiving at least one highlight is received from at least one other web site, or from a broadcaster of television or other video, whether on-line or off-line. The request preferably relates to the type of game, specific game and/or game instance, and/or player(s) in the game.

In stage 2, a plurality of highlights is collected and is preferably analyzed, for example as described above with regard to FIG. 2. The highlights may optionally be specifically analyzed for television broadcasting (for example and without limitation, for excitement, interest and so forth).

In stage 3, the analyzed highlights are compared to the request. If one or more highlights are found to match the request, then in stage 4, the highlights are examined to determine whether they may be sent to the franchise web site or the recipient broadcaster. For example, the game producer may optionally restrict the transmission of highlights from a particular game, whether overall, according to the recipient, according to the type of highlights and so forth. In stage 5, if it is determined that the highlights may be sent to the recipient web site, then they are sent and a fee is preferably collected. The fee may optionally feature an “in kind” payment, for example placing advertisements on the recipient web site and/or on the broadcasts of the recipient broadcaster and the like.

Coaching is also provided according to some embodiments of the present invention. Such coaching may optionally encompass any type of instruction as described herein, for example with regard to FIGS. 4-6. Coaching may optionally be provided through interactions of players with a human instructor and/or may also optionally be provided automatically.

FIG. 4 relates to an exemplary method for coaching according to some embodiments of the present invention. In stage 1, the user performs a plurality of actions within a computer game. In stage 2, an initial pattern of such actions is detected, for example by software operating at a server, preferably for on-line games. In stage 3, the user fails to perform one or more actions, such that the initial pattern is a partial pattern. In stage 4, it is determined that performing such one or more actions would complete a beneficial pattern to the user in terms of game play. In stage 5, the user receives a suggestion to perform such one or more actions, for example by having the server providing the on-line game communicate with the computer of the user. The user may then optionally choose whether to perform such one or more actions. This method provides a non-limiting example of pattern recognition and its application to coaching.

FIG. 5 shows an exemplary, illustrative method for specialized game interactions according to some embodiments of the present invention, as another example of coaching according to some embodiments of the present invention. In stage 1, a game player receives an offer for special instruction in a particular game or type of game. In stage 2, the game player preferably views one or more highlights of previous game play in the particular game or type of game, preferably from a game instance which demonstrates either a positive aspect (ie how to play the game well) or a negative aspect (ie how not to play the game). In stage 3, the game player optionally performs one or more actions in a “mini-game” or shortened game sequence. In stage 4, the player is then preferably scored on any improvement(s) noted. The player may also optionally receive one or more product offers for the exact game or the type of game that was played and/or coupons or advertisements or the like, in order to induce the player to purchase one or more items associated with the game or type of game. In stage 5, the statistics from such instruction are preferably collected, for example to aid the game designer or producer of the game to make changes or improvements.

FIG. 6 shows an exemplary method of coaching according to map analysis in a computer game, according to some embodiments of the present invention. Such coaching relates to an analysis and understanding of the internal “map” of the virtual geography contained within the computer game; optionally and preferably the method is performed automatically. In this non-limiting example, the method is performed through an interaction of a server, providing an on-line game, and a computer of a user.

In stage 1, the geographical locations in the game are analyzed to determine “favorable” and “less favorable” or even “non-favorable” locations within the virtual geography of the computer game. The extent to which a location is more or less favorable may optionally be determined according to one or more factors, including but not limited to the character of the user within the game, the skill level of the user, any available weapons or other assisting devices or components, or abilities of the user, and so forth. The determination of whether a location is favorable may optionally, additionally or alternatively, be determined statistically from analysis of game play of multiple users and/or heuristically, for example according to game play of more successful and less successful users. In addition, such a designation may also optionally be adjusted manually.

In stage 2, the location of the user is analyzed, as well the direction of the user geographically within the game. In stage 3, the analysis is compared to the location and direction of the user. In stage 4, other optional but possible locations are considered within the virtual geography, according to the rules of the game. In stage 5, the user is optionally encouraged to move to a good location or is encouraged to stay in the current location.

Optionally, additionally or alternatively, one or more automatic gauges and pseudo indices are provided to assist the user with regard to location and the user's actions at that location. Each such index or gauge operates to calculate a single number in order to provide information about the user, the user's action or actions, or the location, such as for example whether a particular action is likely to be successful, the inherent danger or likelihood of success at a particular location, and so forth.

The above method may also optionally be adapted in order to assist game designers with designing maps of the virtual geography of computer games. By analyzing the behavior of users within the virtual geography of one or more specific computer games, for example according to some type of statistical analysis of one or more user behaviors and/or time spent in a particular part of the geography, game designers may optionally learn more about the best way to design such virtual geography. The term “best way” may for example relate to a way which makes all the areas of the map easily accessible to the (average) user, or alternatively to such a way which incentivizes gamers to become professionals in this map (which has “secret locations” etc). Also, the “best way” may optionally relate to a way to increase the probability of purchasing virtual goods or services, to increase the average play time, to increase the user of the internal communication mechanisms of the game, to increase the satisfaction of the gamers and so forth, for example relating to any other merit function.

According to some embodiments of the present invention, the behavior of users is analyzed for a variety of goals as described herein. For some embodiments, the method enables the behavior of individual users to be determined, for example to prevent cheating. In other embodiments, the method enables the skills and abilities of one or more users to be determined, for example for assembling teams.

FIG. 7 shows an illustrative method according to some embodiments of the present invention for determining a player's (user's) “fingerprint”, for example to prevent cheating. The fingerprint preferably involves a plurality of statistical measurements which collectively enable a player (user) to be identified through his/her actions and interactions with the game and with the computer itself.

In stage 1, the player's interactions with the computer are preferably measured during game play. More preferably, the interactions with the computer hardware, such as a mouse, joystick, keyboard and/or other type of peripheral device are preferably measured. As a non-limiting example, the usage of the mouse or other pointing device by the player is preferably measured, optionally including but not limited to one or more of mouse movement speed and/or number and/or rate of clicks. Similarly, keyboard hot-key usage may also optionally be measured. In addition, usage of the internal communication systems of the game (chat, voice messaging, and so forth) can be measured.

In stage 2, the player's usage of one or more items within the game (ie virtual items) is preferably measured. Such measurements preferably include the actual items used, frequency of changing items to be used, preferred or favorite items and so forth. For example and without wishing to be limited, such measurements may optionally relate to weapons used, favorite or preferred weapons, frequency of changing weapons and so forth.

In stage 3, the performance of one or more physical actions within the context of the game by the player is preferably measured. For example and without limitation, optionally the tendency of the player (or rather the player's character in the game) to walk/run/crouch/stand still is preferably measured.

In stage 4, the location of the player (or rather the player's character in the game) within the virtual geography of the game is preferably analyzed.

Stages 1-4 are optionally performed in any order. Also optionally, only one of any of the above stages, only two of any of the above stages or only three of any of the above stages are performed.

In stage 5, the collected measurements are preferably analyzed statistically, according to any type of statistical model that is suitable. Many such models are known in the art.

In stage 6, the statistical analysis is preferably compared to one or more previous analyses of the player to determine whether the analysis matches the player's fingerprint. Optionally, the consistency of the player's performances is also considered, as some players may naturally show greater variability between game play sessions than others.

FIG. 8 shows an illustrative method according to some embodiments of the present invention for analyzing the skills and abilities of individual users, whether for an actual team or to assemble a “fantasy” or virtual team for a computer game.

In stage 1, a plurality of skills and abilities are preferably assessed for an individual user. These skills and abilities may optionally relate to one or more of weapons handling, “physical” abilities within the virtual reality of the computer game, and so forth.

In stage 2, each team or “clan” is optionally evaluated according to the effect of each player on the team or clan, as well as for the team or clan overall.

In stage 3, a fantasy team is optionally created, in which a plurality of players (users) are assembled who do not actually play together, but instead who are virtually considered to play together for the fantasy team. The individual users are examined with regard to their abilities with particular skills; in each situation, as for fantasy sports teams, players are compared as though they were competing together. The player with skill levels that are considered to be most likely to succeed in any situation would then be determined to be the winner of a game or of a particular situation within a game; optionally the outcome of multiple virtual game situations is calculated as though the users were actually playing the game, in order to determine the winner (whether as an individual or as a team of players).

The methods of FIGS. 7 and 8 are also useful for virtual gambling on the outcome of computer games, whether for individual matches, series, team game play or other types of game play. Optionally, it is possible to determine the odds on individual players or teams, whether actual or virtual; player “fingerprinting” may optionally be used to prevent cheating.

FIG. 9 relates to a method for partial recognition to provide information to the user. As a non-limiting example of automated interactions, if a user performs one or more initial actions that are recognized as being part of a pattern, then information is preferably provided to the user, for example to assist the user to complete the pattern by performing one or more specific actions, and/or to indicate to the user the potential result of performing such one or more specific actions. Specific actions could also optionally relate to a particular situation, such as a particular geographical location. Such partial pattern recognition enables information to be provided to users to easily complete actions that provide benefit within the game, such as a higher score, and/or to avoid actions (or geographical or other situations) that could result in a loss of points, a reduced life score or so forth. Also such partial pattern recognition can lead to increased tactical awareness by the user.

Fingerprinting can also be used by the operators of the game, for example and without limitation to identify undesired behaviors prior to or during their occurrence (for example—players who annoy or interfere with the game play of other players intentionally). This use of fingerprinting can result in automatic ban of this user, or in adding him/her to a group of users who are monitored for violations of the game ethic rules, or by decreasing points, and so forth.

Turning now to the drawing, in stage 1, a plurality of actions performed by the player are analyzed in sequence by a pattern analysis engine, which for example could optionally be operated by the server which also operates the computer game itself.

In stage 2, the pattern analysis engine recognizes that the plurality of actions matches a partial pattern. The partial pattern could for example optionally be one of a plurality of such partial patterns that are stored as templates, or alternatively could be determined dynamically, in real time, according to a plurality of different rules.

In stage 3, the pattern analysis engine determines one or more actions by the user which would complete the pattern, as well as the outcome of completing the pattern for the user, whether positive or negative.

In stage 4, the pattern analysis engine preferably communicates at least a portion of this information to the user. Optionally and preferably, at least the outcome of the sequence of actions is communicated; more preferably, the pattern analysis engine also recommends one or more actions to be performed by the user. As described above, actions may also optionally relate to situations, such as geographical location. In addition, the recommended one or more actions may also feature one or more alerts, indicating better, improved tactics for the user, in addition to or in place of specific actions to be performed.

In stage 5, the user performs at least one additional action, which the pattern analysis engine may optionally use to further determine whether the pattern is being completed and/or whether a new pattern is being started.

Although embodiments of the invention have been described by way of illustration, it will be understood that the invention may be carried out with many variations, modifications, and adaptations, without departing from its spirit or exceeding the scope of the claims.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification463/39
International ClassificationA63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationA63F2300/558, A63F2300/535, A63F2300/634, A63F2300/5566, A63F13/12
European ClassificationA63F13/12