In the business of video games, intellectual property is critical to success, and Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks are the bricks with which your IP portfolio is built. The Patent Arcade is the web’s primary resource for video game IP law, news, cases, and commentary.

U.S. Patent No. 10,500,488: Method of simultaneous playing in single-player video games


Issued December 12, 2019, to Bloober Team SA
Filed/Priority to March 30, 2016




Overview:

U.S. Patent No. 10,500,488 (the ‘488 patent) relates to simultaneous control of multiple characters, in different game universes, in a single-player game. The ‘488 patent details a method of simultaneous playing of at least two characters controlled by the same player in different story universes, simultaneously displayed in separate viewports. When inputs are sent from the controller, a synchronization layer, with predefined modifiers for each story universe, transforms characters and their interactions with the universes respectively. Actions taken by a character in one universe have consequences in functioning and story development in another. An output signal executed by a given character is synchronized with movement of all characters, by the various modifiers in the synchronization layer.

The ‘488 patent can be characterized as story-focused, able to sometimes crop scene parts in additional viewports to highlight elements of the story. The different universes may include tips related to further developing the story in another, and the viewports could be displayed on the same display device or different display devices.

The ‘488 patent may be familiar as implemented in the horror game, The Medium, which has players control characters between two worlds and sometimes even both at once.

 

Abstract:

The invention relates to the method of simultaneous playing in video games designed for a single player. The invention is realized with a computer unit and uses at least one display device, at least one computer device that generates the game image display and at least one game controller controlled by the user. The method of controlling the figure according to the invention is characterized in that the player using one controller simultaneously controls at least two characters (1), (2) while each of the characters controlled by the same user is displayed simultaneously in a separate viewport (6), (7), which makes a separate story universe (A), (B) and the input signal from the controller is transformed by the software synchronization layer including predefined modifiers specific for a given story universe (A), (B).

 

Illustrative Claim:

  1. A method of simultaneous playing in single-player games, with a storyline and narrative, realized with a use of a computer device, using at least one device for image display, at least one computer device to generate game images and at least one game controller controlled by a player characterized in that the player using one controller controls simultaneously at least two characters (1), (2), wherein each of the characters controlled by the same player acts in a different story universe simultaneously displayed in a separate viewport (6), (7), which makes a separate story universe (A), (B) and an input signal sent from the controller is transformed by a synchronization layer involving predefined modifiers different for each given story universe (A), (B), wherein action taken by the character (1), (2) in one story universe have consequences on character's (1), (2) functioning and development of a plot in other story universe (A), (B) generated by the game, and wherein an output signal executed by given character (A), (B) depends on three groups of modifiers assigned to the character, assigned to the given story universe, and assigned to the synchronization layer which synchronizes movement of all characters (1), (2).

U.S. Patent No. 10,977,872: Graphical Style Modification for Video Games Using Machine Learning


Issued April 13, 2021, to Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc.
Filed/Priority to October 31, 2018



Overview:


U.S. Patent No. 10,977,872 (the ‘872 patent) relates to modifying and enhancing graphics of a video stream via machine learning to accommodate users’ disabilities or preferences. The ‘872 patent details a system which adapts video frames in a buffered video stream of preexisting media. The video frames are treated as a source image to be altered by a style adapted from a target image, and the target image provides a desired style which a user chooses. The system can be implemented in hardware, software, or a combination of the two and uses machine learning to apply the modifications to media, so it potentially could offer a wide range of modifications. The style adapted video stream is generated by applying the style from the target image to the source image while the video buffers, so the user receives the media with their selected style change as the video stream plays, ideally without creating synchronization problems. This manifests as an On-Demand Accessibility system which disabled and nondisabled players can use to customize already existing media to their needs or preferences, and can be used over a variety of media such as video games and movies.


The system described in the ‘872 patent presently relates to Graphical Style Modification but also mentions several more potential functionalities providing support for a range of disabilities and preferences such as: Acoustic Effect Annotation, Color Accommodation, and Scene Annotation. This potentially could make games previously inaccessible to disabled players accessible, and lessen the workload of game developers who want to accommodate a wider audience.


 


Abstract:


Graphical style modification may be implemented using machine learning. A color accommodation module receives an image frame from a host system and generates a color-adapted version of the image frame. A Graphical Style Modification module receives a first image frame from a host system and applies a style adapted from a second image frame to the first image frame to generate a style adapted first image frame.


 


Illustrative Claim:



  1. A system for enhancing Audio Visual content, the system comprising: a processor; a memory coupled to the processor; non-transitory instructions embedded in memory for a method of Graphical Style Modification comprising receiving a source image frame from a host system; applying a style adapted from a target image frame to the source image frame to generate a style adapted source image frame, wherein the source image frame is part of a buffered video stream; and generating a style adapted video stream wherein generating the style adapted video steam includes applying the style adapted from the target image frame to each image frame in the buffered video stream for a duration of the buffered video stream that is less than or equal to the time it takes for a Graphical Style Modification neural network to apply the style adapted from the target image frame to the source image frame.



Famous VR developer Palmer Luckey recently developed a virtual reality headset rigged with bombs such that, if you lose the game, the headset explodes and kills the user.  Per Luckey’s blog:






The idea of tying your real life to your virtual avatar has always fascinated me – you instantly raise the stakes to the maximum level and force people to fundamentally rethink how they interact with the virtual world and the players inside it.  Pumped up graphics might make a game look more real, but only the threat of serious consequences can make a game feel real to you and every other person in the game.  This is an area of videogame mechanics that has never been explored, despite the long history of real-world sports revolving around similar stakes.










We note that Luckey is only somewhat correct–the idea of physically punishing users for poor performance is not exactly new.  For instance, way back in 2002, two German designers developed a form of Pong that painfully shocked users when they lost.  The console (titled the “Painstation”) was, hopefully like Luckey’s user-killing VR headset, more of an art project than a real product destined for market.  In fact, Luckey’s own blog seems to concede that his idea came from watching the anime Sword Art Online (and the title of the blog post itself references the hilariously-awkward line “If you Die in the Game, You Die for Real” line from the 2006 horror movie Stay Alive).





Though it might sound surprising, it is entirely legal to file a patent application for seemingly dangerous (if not outright murderous) inventions like Luckey’s user-killing VR headset.  As detailed at length in my paper in the Georgetown Technology Law Review, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (the “USPTO”) once rejected “immoral” inventions.  Along those lines, courts once invalidated patents that seemed morally questionable, such as patents directed to making cheap tobacco look expensive and patents directed to putting imitation seams into stockings to make them look more expensive. That legal doctrine applied by the USPTO and the Courts (that is, the so-called doctrine of “Moral Utility”) is long-since gone, and now virtually all matter of trickery can be included in a patent application.  Nowadays, the USPTO’s utility requirement is mostly used as a weapon against inventions that are outright inoperative (e.g., an invention that doesn’t work at all for any purpose) and/or unbelievable (e.g., a perpetual motion machine).  In other words, if Luckey wanted to, he could absolutely file a patent application for his user-killing VR device (though it might not fare so well against existing prior art, especially given how much Luckey admits his ideas came from anime).



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