U.S. Patent No. 6,488,505: System and method of vehicle competition with enhanced ghosting features
Issued December 3, 2002, to Midway Games West Inc.
Priority Date July 15, 1999

U.S. Patent No. 6,488,505 (the ‘505 Patent) concerns “ghosting” in auto-racing games, a process where a player races against a previously recorded best effort of a previous player. The ‘505 Patent is a one of a number of ghosting patents which originated from a mode in the Atari arcade game Hard Drivin’. Hard Drivin’ was the first car racing game that allowed players to race against a translucent “ghost” recording of a previous race. In this particular patent, if a player finishes a race time fast enough, they are rewarded with free game time. If a player beats the sufficient time to qualify for a free game, this data would be stored in the game along with the finish time and the name of the player. The patent allows the storage of past routes of the cars over which the ghost car travels. By accumulating a plurality of competition scores from multiple past competitions, the game selects one of the scores as the threshold for free game time. The score is calculated according to the ability of the players in the system. Once a player surpasses that threshold, they receive the award.

A system and method for computerized competition useful for rewarding a player. The system and method may be utilized in arcade games, personal computer games, dedicated video games, networked games, and simulators. The method may include selecting a target reward level or threshold such as by selecting a score from a list of past scores, and dynamically adjusting the reward level according to the ability of the players of the system. The method may further include adjusting the playback of a previous competition sequence according to the adjusted reward level. In one embodiment, a previous vehicle race sequence is stored and played back as a ghost or phantom vehicle simultaneously with a present vehicle of a player.

Illustrative Claim:
A simulated vehicle system, comprising: a simulated vehicle configured to traverse a simulated course; a data structure holding a plurality of course finish times; a present course buffer configured to store a present course path of the simulated vehicle and a course finish time of the simulated vehicle as it traverses the simulated course; a recorded course storage configured to store a recorded course path; and a playback adjuster configured to adjust the speed of playback of the recorded course path when a course finish time in the data structure which corresponds to the recorded course path is different than a selected one of the course finish times which is based on an adjusting ratio.

Research By: Rachel Johns
Edited By: Andrew F. Thomas

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