U.S. Patent No. 9,186,575: Online game with animal-breeding mechanic
Issued November 17, 2015
To Zynga Inc.


For anyone that has wanted to try out being a farmer in the comfort of their own home, this patent is for you. U.S. Patent No. 9,186,575 concerns the breeding of virtual animals. Many online computer games are operated on an online social network such as Facebook. In many online games, there are a number of in-game actions that a character can make within the game. For example, a player in an online role-playing game may have the ability to interact with other players, build a city, go on a quest, and so on. In this patent, a mechanic enables the generation of a virtual animal offspring in an online game. The mechanic combines the features of a virtual male and a female animal. Important features of this method may include a base color for the animal, potentially with a different colored pattern added. Possible additions to this mechanic could include ways to increase the chance of generating an offspring, decreasing the time to produce the offspring, and nurturing the offspring to full size. This allows a player to grow their farm to ensure they have plenty of sheep or cows.


An animal-breeding mechanic enables the generation of an offspring virtual animal in an online game system by combining features of a male virtual animal and a female virtual animal. Relevant features may include a base color and optional pattern markings with a corresponding pattern color. Additional game aspects may include options for enhancing the likelihood of generating a successful offspring, decreasing the time for generating the offspring, and nurturing the offspring to maturity. Parameter representations for color features enable substituting color values for a specific virtual animal into source artwork to generate a variety of distinctive displays.

Illustrative Claim:

1. A method of breeding virtual animals in an online game that is accessed through a website of game networking system that supports the online game, the method comprising:

receiving instructions for initiating an animal breeding in the online game, the instructions being received through a game interface of a user machine corresponding to a player in the online game, the game interface being enabled by communications with the website of the game networking system that supports the online game, the instructions including a selection of a male animal and a female animal of a virtual animal type, and each of the selected animals being visually characterized by a corresponding parameter set that includes one or more color parameters;

generating, with at least one computer, from the male-animal parameter set and the female-animal parameter set, an offspring-animal parameter set that visually characterizes an offspring animal of the virtual animal type, the generating of the offspring-animal parameter set including:

identifying a first parent-animal parameter from a selected one of the male-animal parameter set or the female-animal parameter set; and

determining a corresponding first offpring-animal parameter for the offspring-animal parameter set by modifying the first parent-animal parameter based on a threshold test that includes a comparison of the first parent-animal parameter with a record of parameter values, the record of parameter values being stored in a computer-readable medium in the at least one computer; and

providing values from the offspring-animal parameter set to the user machine corresponding to the player in the online game for a corresponding display at the game interface.

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