U.S. Patent No. 9,446,312: Video game systems and methods for protecting game characters during game play
U.S. Patent No. 9,446,312 helps both experts and beginners gamers play together. Often in a video game, if a player’s character hits an obstacle or fails a challenge, the character may lose health, return to the beginning of a level, or die. This becomes complicated if multiple players are playing a level together and the level is much too easy or difficult for certain players. It is neither enjoyable for a player if the game is much too easy or difficult for them.
A solution to this problem was shown at the E3 convention in 2009. During the demo for a Super Mario Bros. game, a character became encased in a protective bubble when the character lost a life. The character remained in the bubble until freed by another player. The character could not be harmed in the bubble, but also could not participate in the game. The player was penalized by not being able to participate directly but could continue playing once released from the bubble. This example helps to exemplify the ‘312 Patent. More generally, the patent outlines that if a certain condition is satisfied (a player dies, for example), the player’s game character is protected from harm for a period. Movements of the protected game character are controlled based on another player. In the example above, for instance, it is not until a non-protected character popped the bubble that the protected player could continue in the game.
Example systems and methods relate to playing a multi-player video game in which multiple players each supply inputs to a respective input device to control a corresponding game character in a game world displayed on a display screen. Movements of each game character in the game world are controlled in accordance with respective first game character control operations during the playing of the multi-player video game. In response to satisfaction of one or more conditions, one player’s game character is protected from harm in the game world, wherein one of the one or more conditions is a condition triggered voluntarily by the one player. Movements of the protected game character in the game world are controlled based on a position of another, unprotected game character.
1. A method for playing a multi-player video game, the method comprising: generating, in accordance with execution of a video game program by a computer, a virtual game world including multiple player-controllable game characters; generating, by the computer, images of the virtual game world for display on a display screen; receiving, by the computer, during the playing of the video game, game character movement control signals, the game character movement control signals being based on inputs to input devices, each used by a respective player, for controlling a corresponding game character in the virtual game world; controlling, by the computer, movements of each game character in the virtual game world in accordance with the respective game character movement control signals; in response to an input, predetermined by the video game program, to the input device of a first one of the players controlling a first one of the game characters during the playing of the multi-player video game, controlling, by the computer, the virtual game world so that the first game character becomes a protected game character protected from harm in the game world; and controlling, by the computer, movements of the protected first game character in the virtual game world based on a position of another, unprotected game character, wherein the first game character becomes a protected game character without a loss of vitality of the first game character or without a loss of life of the first game character.
Research By: Rachel Johns
Edited By: Andrew F. Thomas