U.S. Patent No. 8,814,675: Method of operating an online game using terraformed game spaces
Issued August 26, 2014
To Zynga Inc.


U.S. Patent No. 8,814,675 relates to a method allowing players to terraform an online game’s environment. Many online games allow players to build their own digital worlds and share their creations with other players. Many of these games use static environments where the number of rivers and mountains are fixed. Players are allowed to plant crops and trees but cannot modify the underlying topography. The ‘675 patent describes a method that allows for players in an online game to change the environment in an online game, like Farmville. In addition to getting the ability to modify topography, the patent also describes a method for providing in-game awards to players who do change the environment. For example, a game designer may want to provide a player with gold ore for reshaping the ground, which would result in additional in-game benefits. Also, a player may be willing to pay to add a stream or mountain to their game space, which would give additional revenue to game developers. Therefore, this patent allows players to modify the topographical features in an online social game. A player could, therefore, have the ability to raise the topography to create hills and mountains, or lower the topography to create ponds, rivers, and lakes. Each of these additions can give more benefits to the player so they can keep growing their online crops and raising their online cows.


The present invention provides methods for modifying the topography of a game space to produce in-game benefits. In a preferred embodiment, a player may raise the topography to create hills and mountains, or lower the topography to create ponds, rivers, and lakes, with each such modification resulting in additional in-game benefits.

Illustrative Claim:

1. A method, comprising operations of: displaying to a user a virtual game space for an online game space, wherein the virtual game space is terraformed and has a corresponding topography; receiving a first modification to the topography from the user, wherein the modification creates a terraformed feature; and providing a game benefit to the user that includes a virtual object, wherein the virtual object corresponds to the terraformed feature and wherein each of the operations is executed by one or more processors.

Research By: Rachel Johns

Edited By: Andrew F. Thomas