U.S. Patent No. 9,566,503 Massively single-playing online
Issued February 14, 2017, to Nintendo Co. Ltd.
Priority Date February 2, 2010
A huge draw to online games, especially MMORPGs, is the impact one person can have on another person’s game. Games like World of Warcraft, Second Life, or Minecraft are built around the concept of people interacting in an online digital world. Minecraft allows players to interact with features built by other players. To affect the world in these multi-player games, all the players inhabit the same world. Interacting with all the players can both be a positive and a negative experience.
What if a player wants to play a single-player game but still have other people affect the game world? U.S. Patent No. 9,566,503 (the ‘503 Patent) describes a method for a massively single-player online game. According to the patent, the game will be a traditional single-player game, but every player occupies the same digital world. Players will not be able to see or interact directly with other players, but the actions of a player can affect others by changing the game world. For example, a player could build a house in this digital world. A second player would be able to see and interact with the house, but could not see or communicate with the person who built the house.
The ‘503 Patent sounds similar to the kind of multiplayer experience found in the Dark Souls games. Dark Souls is primarily a single-player game but has a few multiplayer features. Players in Dark Souls can invade another player’s game, leave “helpful” notes in the world, or summon a friend to defeat a demanding boss. Demon Souls, the predecessor to Dark Souls, would alter gameplay depending upon world and individual character tendencies. The ‘503 Patent describes a game where foreign players affect the game world more directly than what happened in Demon Souls, but also more isolated than that of Dark Souls.
A method and apparatus that allows a player to play a massively single-player online game without directly interacting with other players, while affecting and being affected by other players playing the online game.
1. A method for playing a massively multiplayer online game that provides a massively multiplayer-affected shared game experience without requiring interaction between human-controlled player characters, comprising: simulating a virtual game environment using an online server processor; establishing connections between human players and the online server processor to establish respective game sessions which include player characters that interact with the simulated virtual game environment under direct control received from said human players over said established connections; storing, with the server processor, updated parameters related to the game sessions being played by the human players, said updated parameters related to changes to the simulated virtual game environment caused by massively multiplayer-controlled player characters interacting with the simulated virtual game environment; in response to the updated parameters, using the processor to simulate changing game conditions within the simulated virtual game environment, the changing game conditions dynamically changing over time based on interactions of massively multiplayer-controlled player characters with the simulated virtual game environment to thereby reflect said massively multiplayer-controlled player character interactions with the simulated virtual game environment; establishing a connection between an additional human player and the server processor to establish a further game session which includes a further player character directly controlled by said additional human player; and using the server processor, displaying, in the further game session played by the additional human player, game images according to the simulated virtual game environment and changing game conditions simulated in accordance with the updated parameters thereby exposing the additional human player’s controlled player character to the effect of changing game conditions reflecting said massively multiplayer-controlled player character interactions within the simulated virtual game environment, said additional human player’s controlled player character being at the same position in the simulated virtual game environment and at the same time with the simultaneously-online human players’-controlled player characters, without allowing said additional human player’s controlled player character to see or interact with the other simultaneously-online human players’-controlled player characters.