U.S. Patent no. 10,315,113: System and method for simulating gameplay of nonplayer characters distributed across networked end user devices

Issued June 11, 2019 to Activision Publishing, Inc.
Priority Date May 14, 2015

Summary:
U.S. Patent No. 10,315,113 (the ‘113 Patent) relates to simulating gameplay of non-player characters (NPCs) in video games. The invention attempts to address drawbacks in networked video games by using NPCs to test performance and other metrics on users’ devices. The system will choose end user devices to run these NPC tests on and use this data for multiple purposes. It can be used to address quality of player versus NPC matches. Network strength and computer hardware tests can also be measured using these NPC tests. If NPC actions can be controlled in the end user devices it allows for better testing of gameplay as well as the systems the gameplay is played on. This advancement thus has wide-ranging software and hardware implications because of the data it can collect.

Abstract:
A system and method is provided that simulates gameplay of non-player characters (NPCs) distributed across networked end user devices. The system may identify end user devices that are connected to the system through a network and are available to participate in a simulation in which each participating end user device is provided with one or more NPCs to be executed. An end user device may be available to participate when it has sufficient computing capacity, such as when in an idle or standby state. As such, the system may leverage spare computing capacity of networked end user devices to execute NPCs at networked end user devices during a simulation. In this manner, the behavior of an NPC may be tested using real-world conditions that may affect gameplay, such as a network connection quality, user-to-user game engine coordination and data exchanges, and/or other real-world conditions associated with networked end user devices.

Illustrative Claim:
1. A computer implemented method of simulating gameplay of non-player characters (NPCs) distributed across networked end user devices remote from a computer system, the method being implemented in the computer system having one or more physical processors programmed with computer program instructions that, when executed by the one or more physical processors, cause the computer system to perform the method, the method comprising: identifying, by the computer system, a first end user device by determining whether the first end user device has a first spare computing capacity that exceeds a minimum threshold value; based on identifying the first end user device, providing, by the computer system, a first NPC specification to the first end user device, wherein the first NPC specification specifies at least a first NPC and wherein the first NPC specification is configured to be used by a simulated NPC gameplay session to generate the first NPC at the first end user device; identifying, by the computer system, a second end user device by determining whether the second end user device has a second spare computing capacity that exceeds the minimum threshold value; based on identifying the second end user device, providing, by the computer system, a second NPC specification to the second end user device, wherein the second NPC specification specifies at least a second NPC and wherein the second NPC specification is configured to be used by the simulated NPC gameplay session to generate the second NPC at the second end user device; causing, by the computer system, an initiation of the simulated NPC gameplay session that includes simulated gameplay of the first NPC and the second NPC; and obtaining, by the computer system, one or more simulation metrics that describes an aspect of the simulated NPC gameplay session.

U.S. Patent no. 10,315, 108: Local application quick start with cloud transitioning