Title:
Roaming Saved Game
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Various systems and methods are disclosed for a roaming saved game function allowing for location independent access to saved game data. In various embodiments, users may upload saved games when they sign in to an online gaming service, and download them later from another console, PC or other device so that they can continue a saved game wherever they have access to the online gaming service. In one embodiment, users may manage saved game files after signing in to the online gaming service. In other embodiments, the roaming saved game function may provide users with ease of managing their saved games. For example, users may be able to compare two saved games by comparing their level, checkpoint number and screenshot listing. The user may then select one of the saved game files to play and upload.



Inventors:
Zhou, Jinbo (Beijing, CN)
Guo, Weijun (Beijing, CN)
Shi, Lei (Beijing, CN)
Yang, Hongyun (Beijing, CN)
Un, Edward (Beijing, CN)
Application Number:
12/147268
Publication Date:
12/31/2009
Filing Date:
06/26/2008
Assignee:
Microsoft Corporation (Redmond, WA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Other References:
SaveGameServer, , 12/31/2006
Primary Examiner:
LEICHLITER, CHASE E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WOODCOCK WASHBURN LLP (MICROSOFT CORPORATION) (CIRA CENTRE, 12TH FLOOR, 2929 ARCH STREET, PHILADELPHIA, PA, 19104-2891, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. A method for providing roaming access to saved video game data, comprising: receiving authentication information for a player and configuring an account associated with said player in an online gaming service; receiving game data associated with said account for at least one game accessible via said online gaming service, said game data comprising game state, date, and time information; storing said game data in a data store; receiving authentication credentials and a request for access to said game data associated with said account; authenticating the request using said authentication information, and when authenticated, transmitting summary data associated with said game data associated with said account, said summary data operable for display on a user interface device, said summary data indicating game state, date, and time information for games associated with said account; receiving a selection indicating a selected saved game; and transmitting game data for said selected saved game.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein said storing said game data further comprises compressing and encrypting said game data.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein said transmitting game data further comprises decrypting and decompressing said game data.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein said game data further comprises game screenshot data.

5. The method of claim 1, wherein said summary data is further operable for providing comparisons of saved game data and management of said saved game data.

6. The method of claim 1, further comprising providing a parser for converting a cross-platform saved game.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein said player is a member of a video game clan, and said game data is further associated with said video game clan.

8. The method of claim 1, further comprising receiving and storing user comments associated with said at least one game.

9. A system for providing roaming access to saved video game data, comprising: circuitry configured to provide a user interface for retrieving video game data; circuitry configured to transmit authentication credentials and a request for access to game data associated with an account in an online gaming service, said account associated with authentication information for a player; circuitry configured to receive from said online gaming service summary data associated with said game data associated with said account, said summary data indicating game state, date, and time information for games associated with said account; circuitry configured to receive from a user a selection indicating a selected saved game and transmit said selection to said online gaming service; and circuitry configured to receive game data for said selected saved game.

10. The system of claim 9, further comprising: circuitry configured to provide a user interface for saving video game data; and circuitry configured to transmit authentication information to said online gaming service, said authentication information operable to configure said account associated with said player.

11. The system of claim 10, further comprising circuitry configured to transmit game data for at least one game to said online gaming service, said game data associated with said account and comprising game state, date, and time information, wherein said game data is stored in a data store and accessible by a user independent of location.

12. The system of claim 9, further comprising circuitry configured to provide an application programming interface (API) further configured to provide roaming game save functions to a video game application.

13. The system of claim 11, further comprising circuitry configured to compress and encrypt said game data.

14. The system of claim 13, wherein said circuitry configured to receive game data further comprises circuitry configured to decrypt and decompress said game data.

15. The system of claim 9, wherein said game data further comprises game screenshot data.

16. The system of claim 9, wherein said circuitry configured to provide a user interface further comprises circuitry configured to provide comparisons of saved game data and management of said saved game data.

17. A computer readable medium storing thereon computer executable instructions for providing roaming access to saved video game data, comprising instructions for: receiving authentication information for a player and configuring an account associated with said player in an online gaming service; receiving game data associated with said account for at least one game accessible via said online gaming service, said game data comprising game state, date, and time information; storing said game data in a data store; receiving authentication credentials and a request for access to said game data associated with said account; authenticating the request using said authentication information, and when authenticated, transmitting summary data associated with said game data associated with said account, said summary data operable for display on a user interface device, said summary data indicating game state, date, and time information for games associated with said account; receiving a selection indicating a selected saved game; and transmitting game data for said selected saved game.

18. The computer readable medium of claim 16 further comprising instructions for providing an API configured to provide roaming game save functions to a video game application.

19. The computer readable medium of claim 1, further comprising instructions for providing a parser for converting a cross-platform saved game.

20. The computer readable medium of claim 1, further comprising instructions for receiving and storing user comments associated with said at least one game.

Description:

COPYRIGHT NOTICE AND PERMISSION

A portion of the disclosure of this patent document may contain material that is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent files or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever. The following notice shall apply to this document: Copyright © 2006, 2007 Microsoft Corp.

FIELD OF TECHNOLOGY

The presently disclosed subject matter relates to the field of computing, and more particularly, to fields such as entertainment consoles, although these are merely exemplary and non-limiting fields.

BACKGROUND

In computer and video gaming, players typically save the progress of their games locally on a console memory or local personal computer (PC) memory. When the player subsequently desires to continue a saved game on another console or computer, a portable memory device is usually needed, such as a thumb drive, disk or memory stick. While PC users can manually copy saved game data to another machine and continue the game, it is often difficult for the users to manage their saved games and to keep the saved games files updated because it if difficult to determine which game files are associated with the game the player wishes to continue.

Players typically do not know where a saved game file is located. Many systems include anti-cheating functions that make it further difficult to located saved game files. Furthermore, if a player's hard disk malfunctions or the player desires to play on another machine, the player may lose all progress and may need to start the game from the very beginning. Finally, users typically are not able to determine which saved game they desire unless the user actually launches the game and visually determines the desired saved game file.

It would be desirable for players to be able to more easily manage their saved games and update saved games, selected and continue a console game on another console without having to save the game on a portable memory device, and continue a saved game from the last check point if the player's local gamer profile is deleted. It would further be desirable to allow a player to share game progress with other players and solicit help in passing difficult check points.

SUMMARY

Various systems, methods, and computer readable instructions are disclosed herein for a roaming saved game function allowing for location independent access to saved game data. In various embodiments, users may upload saved games when they sign in to an online gaming service, and download them later from another console, PC or other device so that they can continue a saved game wherever they have access to the online gaming service. In one embodiment, users may manage saved game files after signing in to the online gaming service.

In other embodiments, the roaming saved game function may provide users with ease of managing their saved games. For example, users may be able to compare two saved games by comparing their level, checkpoint number and screenshot listing. The user may then select one of the saved game files to play and upload.

In further embodiments, the roaming saved games function may allow users to upload the saved games more quickly. For example, when a user uploads a saved game, the saved game files may first be compressed. When the user downloads a saved game, the saved game may be decompressed, downloaded and then validated. In another embodiment, the roaming saved game function may provide users a secure method for storing saved games. For example, the upload process may use a secure network and the saved games may be encrypted prior to compression.

It should be noted that this Summary is provided to introduce a selection of concepts in a simplified form that are further described below in the Detailed Description. This Summary is not intended to identify key features or essential features of the claimed subject matter, nor is it intended to be used as an aid in determining the scope of the claimed subject matter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing Summary, as well as the following Detailed Description, is better understood when read in conjunction with the appended drawings. In order to illustrate the present disclosure, various aspects of the disclosure are illustrated. However, the disclosure is not limited to the specific aspects shown. The following figures are included:

FIG. 1 illustrates an exemplary console for subject matter discussed in FIGS. 4-8;

FIG. 2 illustrates an exemplary computing environment for subject matter discussed with reference to FIGS. 4-8;

FIG. 3 illustrates an exemplary networking environment for subject matter discussed with reference to FIGS. 4-8;

FIG. 4 illustrates an exemplary and non-limiting system that may implement an embodiment of a roaming saved game function;

FIG. 5 illustrates an exemplary file collaboration diagram of a roaming saved game function;

FIGS. 6a and 6b illustrate an exemplary method of providing a game clan matchmaking function;

FIG. 7 illustrates an exemplary method of accessing a roaming saved game function; and

FIGS. 8a and 8b illustrate an exemplary method of providing a roaming saved game function.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Exemplary Game Console, PC, and Networking Aspects

This section of the present disclosure provides the general aspects of an exemplary and non-limiting game console. Referring now to FIG. 1, a block diagram shows an exemplary multimedia console. The multimedia console 100 has a central processing unit (CPU) 101 having a level 1 (L1) cache 102, a level 2 (L2) cache 104, and a flash ROM (Read-only Memory) 106. The level 1 cache 102 and level 2 cache 104 temporarily store data and hence reduce the number of memory access cycles, thereby improving processing speed and throughput. The flash ROM 106 may store executable code that is loaded during an initial phase of a boot process when the multimedia console 100 is powered. Alternatively, the executable code that is loaded during the initial boot phase may be stored in a flash memory device (not shown). Furthermore, ROM 106 may be located separate from CPU 101.

A graphics processing unit (GPU) 108 and a video encoder/video codec (coder/decoder) 114 form a video processing pipeline for high speed and high resolution graphics processing. Data is carried from the graphics processing unit 108 to the video encoder/video codec 114 via a bus. The video processing pipeline outputs data to an A/V (audio/video) port 140 for transmission to a television or other display. A memory controller 110 is connected to the GPU 108 and CPU 101 to facilitate processor access to various types of memory 112, such as, but not limited to, a RAM (Random Access Memory).

The multimedia console 100 includes an I/O controller 120, a system management controller 122, an audio processing unit 123, a network interface controller 124, a first USB host controller 126, a second USB controller 128 and a front panel I/O subassembly 130 that are preferably implemented on a module 1 18. The USB controllers 126 and 128 serve as hosts for peripheral controllers 142(1)-142(2), a wireless adapter 148, and an external memory unit 146 (e.g., flash memory, external CD/DVD ROM drive, removable media, etc.). The network interface 124 and/or wireless adapter 148 provide access to a network (e.g., the Internet, home network, etc.) and may be any of a wide variety of various wired or wireless interface components including an Ethernet card, a modem, a Bluetooth module, a cable modem, and the like.

System memory 143 is provided to store application data that is loaded during the boot process. A media drive 144 is provided and may comprise a DVD/CD drive, hard drive, or other removable media drive, etc. The media drive 144 may be internal or external to the multimedia console 100. Application data may be accessed via the media drive 144 for execution, playback, etc. by the multimedia console 100. The media drive 144 is connected to the I/O controller 120 via a bus, such as a Serial ATA bus or other high speed connection (e.g., IEEE 1394).

The system management controller 122 provides a variety of service functions related to assuring availability of the multimedia console 100. The audio processing unit 123 and an audio codec 132 form a corresponding audio processing pipeline with high fidelity, 3D, surround, and stereo audio processing according to aspects of the present disclosure described above. Audio data is carried between the audio processing unit 123 and the audio codec 126 via a communication link. The audio processing pipeline outputs data to the A/V port 140 for reproduction by an external audio player or device having audio capabilities.

The front panel I/O subassembly 130 supports the functionality of the power button 150 and the eject button 152, as well as any LEDs (light emitting diodes) or other indicators exposed on the outer surface of the multimedia console 100. A system power supply module 136 provides power to the components of the multimedia console 100. A fan 138 cools the circuitry within the multimedia console 100.

The CPU 101, GPU 108, memory controller 110, and various other components within the multimedia console 100 are interconnected via one or more buses, including serial and parallel buses, a memory bus, a peripheral bus, and a processor or local bus using any of a variety of bus architectures.

When the multimedia console 100 is powered on or rebooted, application data may be loaded from the system memory 143 into memory 112 and/or caches 102, 104 and executed on the CPU 101. The application may present a graphical user interface that provides a consistent user experience when navigating to different media types available on the multimedia console 100. In operation, applications and/or other media contained within the media drive 144 may be launched or played from the media drive 144 to provide additional functionalities to the multimedia console 100.

The multimedia console 100 may be operated as a standalone system by simply connecting the system to a television or other display. In this standalone mode, the multimedia console 100 may allow one or more users to interact with the system, watch movies, listen to music, and the like. However, with the integration of broadband connectivity made available through the network interface 124 or the wireless adapter 148, the multimedia console 100 may further be operated as a participant in a larger network community. In this latter scenario, the console 100 may be connected via a network to a server.

Second, now turning to FIG. 2, illustrated is a block diagram representing an exemplary computing device that may be suitable for use in conjunction with implementing the subject matter disclosed above. Numerous embodiments of the present disclosure may execute on a computer. For example, the computer executable instructions that carry out the processes and methods for providing PC experiences on gaming consoles may reside and/or be executed in such a computing environment as shown in FIG. 1. The computing system environment 220 is only one example of a suitable computing environment and is not intended to suggest any limitation as to the scope of use or functionality of the presently disclosed subject matter. Neither should the computing environment 220 be interpreted as having any dependency or requirement relating to any one or combination of components illustrated in the exemplary operating environment 220. In some embodiments the various depicted computing elements may include circuitry configured to instantiate specific aspects of the present disclosure. For example, the term circuitry used in the disclosure can include specialized hardware components configured to perform function(s) by firmware or switches. In other examples embodiments the term circuitry can include a general purpose processing unit, memory, etc., configured by software instructions that embody logic operable to perform function(s). In example embodiments where circuitry includes a combination of hardware and software, an implementer may write source code embodying logic and the source code can be compiled into machine readable code that can be processed by the general purpose processing unit. Since one skilled in the art can appreciate that the state of the art has evolved to a point where there is little difference between hardware, software, or a combination of hardware/software, the selection of hardware versus software to effectuate specific functions is a design choice left to an implementer. More specifically, one of skill in the art can appreciate that a software process can be transformed into an equivalent hardware structure, and a hardware structure can itself be transformed into an equivalent software process. Thus, the selection of a hardware implementation versus a software implementation is one of design choice and left to the implementer.

Computer 241 typically includes a variety of computer readable media. Computer readable media can be any available media that can be accessed by computer 241 and includes both volatile and nonvolatile media, removable and non-removable media. The system memory 222 includes computer storage media in the form of volatile and/or nonvolatile memory such as read only memory (ROM) 223 and random access memory (RAM) 260. A basic input/output system 224 (BIOS), containing the basic routines that help to transfer information between elements within computer 241, such as during start-up, is typically stored in ROM 223. RAM 260 typically contains data and/or program modules that are immediately accessible to and/or presently being operated on by processing unit 259. By way of example, and not limitation, FIG. 2 illustrates operating system 225, application programs 226, other program modules 227, and program data 228.

The computer 241 may also include other removable/non-removable, volatile/nonvolatile computer storage media. By way of example only, FIG. 2 illustrates a hard disk drive 238 that reads from or writes to non-removable, nonvolatile magnetic media, a magnetic disk drive 239 that reads from or writes to a removable, nonvolatile magnetic disk 254, and an optical disk drive 240 that reads from or writes to a removable, nonvolatile optical disk 253 such as a CD ROM or other optical media. Other removable/non-removable, volatile/nonvolatile computer storage media that can be used in the exemplary operating environment include, but are not limited to, magnetic tape cassettes, flash memory cards, digital versatile disks, digital video tape, solid state RAM, solid state ROM, and the like. The hard disk drive 238 is typically connected to the system bus 221 through an non-removable memory interface such as interface 234, and magnetic disk drive 239 and optical disk drive 240 are typically connected to the system bus 221 by a removable memory interface, such as interface 235.

The drives and their associated computer storage media discussed above and illustrated in FIG. 2, provide storage of computer readable instructions, data structures, program modules and other data for the computer 241. In FIG. 2, for example, hard disk drive 238 is illustrated as storing operating system 258, application programs 257, other program modules 256, and program data 255. Note that these components can either be the same as or different from operating system 225, application programs 226, other program modules 227, and program data 228. Operating system 258, application programs 257, other program modules 256, and program data 255 are given different numbers here to illustrate that, at a minimum, they are different copies. A user may enter commands and information into the computer 241 through input devices such as a keyboard 251 and pointing device 252, commonly referred to as a mouse, trackball or touch pad. Other input devices (not shown) may include a microphone, joystick, game pad, satellite dish, scanner, or the like. These and other input devices are often connected to the processing unit 259 through a user input interface 236 that is coupled to the system bus, but may be connected by other interface and bus structures, such as a parallel port, game port or a universal serial bus (USB). A monitor 242 or other type of display device is also connected to the system bus 221 via an interface, such as a video interface 232. In addition to the monitor, computers may also include other peripheral output devices such as speakers 244 and printer 243, which may be connected through a output peripheral interface 233.

The computer 241 may operate in a networked environment using logical connections to one or more remote computers, such as a remote computer 246. The remote computer 246 may be a personal computer, a server, a router, a network PC, a peer device or other common network node, and typically includes many or all of the elements described above relative to the computer 241, although only a memory storage device 247 has been illustrated in FIG. 2. The logical connections depicted in FIG. 2 include a local area network (LAN) 245 and a wide area network (WAN) 249, but may also include other networks. Such networking environments are commonplace in offices, enterprise-wide computer networks, intranets and the Internet.

When used in a LAN networking environment, the computer 241 is connected to the LAN 245 through a network interface or adapter 237. When used in a WAN networking environment, the computer 241 typically includes a modem 250 or other means for establishing communications over the WAN 249, such as the Internet. The modem 250, which may be internal or external, may be connected to the system bus 221 via the user input interface 236, or other appropriate mechanism. In a networked environment, program modules depicted relative to the computer 241, or portions thereof, may be stored in the remote memory storage device. By way of example, and not limitation, FIG. 2 illustrates remote application programs 248 as residing on memory device 247. It will be appreciated that the network connections shown are exemplary and other means of establishing a communications link between the computers may be used.

FIG. 3 provides a schematic diagram of an exemplary networked or distributed computing environment. The environment comprises computing devices 153, 156, and 157 as well as object 155 and database 158. Each of these entities 153, 155, 156, 157, and 158 may comprise or make use of programs, methods, data stores, programmable logic, etc. The entities 153, 155, 156, 157, and 158 may span portions of the same or different devices such as PDAs, audio/video devices, MP3 players, smart phones, DVD players, cable box tuners, or just about any computing devices capable of remoted content provided by server PCs. Each entity 153, 155, 156, 157, and 158 can communicate with another entity 153, 155, 156, 157, and 158 by way of the communications network 154. In this regard, any entity may be responsible for the maintenance and updating of a database 158 or other storage element.

This network 154 may itself comprise other computing entities that provide services to the system of FIG. 3, and may itself represent multiple interconnected networks. In accordance with an aspect of the presently disclosed subject matter, each entity 153, 155, 156, 157, and 158 may contain discrete functional program modules that might make use of an API, or other object, software, firmware and/or hardware, to request services of one or more of the other entities 153, 155, 156, 157, and 158.

It can also be appreciated that an object, such as 155, may be hosted on another computing device 156. Thus, although the physical environment depicted may show the connected devices as computers, such illustration is merely exemplary and the physical environment may alternatively be depicted or described comprising various digital devices such as PDAs, televisions, MP3 players, etc., software objects such as interfaces, COM objects and the like.

There are a variety of systems, components, and network configurations that support distributed computing environments. For example, computing systems may be connected together by wired or wireless systems, by local networks or widely distributed networks. Currently, many networks are coupled to the Internet, which provides an infrastructure for widely distributed computing and encompasses many different networks. Any such infrastructures, whether coupled to the Internet or not, may be used in conjunction with the systems and methods provided.

A network infrastructure may enable a host of network topologies such as client/server, peer-to-peer, or hybrid architectures. The “client” is a member of a class or group that uses the services of another class or group to which it is not related. In computing, a client is a process, i.e., roughly a set of instructions or tasks, that requests a service provided by another program. The client process utilizes the requested service without having to “know” any working details about the other program or the service itself. In a client/server architecture, particularly a networked system, a client is usually a computer that accesses shared network resources provided by another computer, e.g., a server. In the example of FIG. 12, any entity 153, 155, 156, 157, and 158 can be considered a client, a server, or both, depending on the circumstances. And, moreover, regarding the entertainment console, it can be a client to a server.

A server is typically, though not necessarily, a remote computer system accessible over a remote or local network, such as the Internet. The client process may be active in a first computer system, and the server process may be active in a second computer system, communicating with one another over a communications medium, thus providing distributed functionality and allowing multiple clients to take advantage of the information-gathering capabilities of the server. Any software objects may be distributed across multiple computing devices or objects.

Client(s) and server(s) communicate with one another utilizing the functionality provided by protocol layer(s). For example, HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is a common protocol that is used in conjunction with the World Wide Web (WWW), or “the Web.” Typically, a computer network address such as an Internet Protocol (IP) address or other reference such as a Universal Resource Locator (URL) can be used to identify the server or client computers to each other. The network address can be referred to as a URL address. Communication can be provided over a communications medium, e.g., client(s) and server(s) may be coupled to one another via TCP/IP connection(s) for high-capacity communication.

In light of the diverse computing environments that may be built according to the general framework provided in FIG. 3 and the further diversification that can occur in computing in a network environment such as that of FIG. 3, the systems and methods provided herein cannot be construed as limited in any way to a particular computing architecture or operating system. Instead, the presently disclosed subject matter should not be limited to any single embodiment, but rather should be construed in breadth and scope in accordance with the appended claims. Thus, for example, although game consoles and server PCs have been discussed, just as easily full desktops could be remoted to smart phones as a means to access data and functionality that is otherwise unavailable to smart phones.

Finally, it should also be noted that the various techniques described herein may be implemented in connection with hardware or software or, where appropriate, with a combination of both. Thus, the methods, computer readable media, and systems of the presently disclosed subject matter, or certain aspects or portions thereof, may take the form of program code (i.e., instructions) embodied in tangible media, such as floppy diskettes, CD-ROMs, hard drives, or any other machine-readable storage medium, where, when the program code is loaded into and executed by a machine, such as a computer, the machine becomes an apparatus for practicing the subject matter.

In the case of program code execution on programmable computers, the computing device may generally include a processor, a storage medium readable by the processor (including volatile and non-volatile memory and/or storage elements), at least one input device, and at least one output device. One or more programs that may utilize the creation and/or implementation of domain-specific programming models aspects of the present disclosure, e.g., through the use of a data processing API or the like, are preferably implemented in a high level procedural or object oriented programming language to communicate with a computer system. However, the program(s) can be implemented in assembly or machine language, if desired. In any case, the language may be a compiled or interpreted language, and combined with hardware implementations.

Roaming Saved Game

Various systems, methods, and computer readable instructions are disclosed herein for a roaming saved game function providing location independent access to saved game data. In various embodiments, users may upload saved games when they sign in to an online gaming service, and download them later from another console, PC or other device so that they can continue a saved game wherever they have access to the online gaming service. In one embodiment, users may manage saved game files after signing in to the online gaming service.

In other embodiments, the roaming saved game function may provide users with ease of managing their saved games. For example, users may be able to compare two saved games by comparing their level, checkpoint number and screenshot listing. The user may then select one of the saved game files to play and upload. The roaming saved game function may initially only provide summary game data that may be displayed on the player's display device, to enable the display of a summary of the user's profile and saved game data. Such summary data may include level, checkpoint, and screenshot data. Screenshot data may initially comprise thumbnail data to minimize the amount of data transmitted during saved game file management. The actual game files may be transmitted when the user selects the file and requests that the file be downloaded.

In further embodiments, the roaming saved games function may allow users to upload the saved games more quickly. For example, when a user uploads a saved game, the saved game files may first be compressed. When the user downloads a saved game, the saved game may be decompressed, downloaded and then validated. In another embodiment, the roaming saved game function may provide users a secure method for storing saved games. For example, the upload process may use a secure network and the saved games may be encrypted prior to compression.

In one exemplary and non-limiting aspect of the present disclosure, roaming saved games provide users the ability to save a game once and continue the saved game anywhere. In an embodiment, a roaming saved game function may enable users to upload locally saved games when they sign in to an online gaming service. The user, or any other person who has access to the user's authentication credentials, may download the saved games from another console, PC or other device. The saved games may thus be continued wherever users have access to the online gaming service via the Internet, intranet, and the like.

Roaming saved game functions may be provided to a player upon creating an account with an online gaming service. For example, when creating an account, the player may be asked to provide authentication credentials such as a user name and password. The player may further be provided an option to receive online roaming game save services. Alternatively, the roaming game save service may be bundled with the online gaming service.

In other embodiments, users may manage their saved game files when they sign in to the online gaming service and access the roaming saved game function. When determining a saved game to load, it may be difficult to determine which file is the latest game file or where a game file is located. In an embodiment, a user may be provided with metadata, level, checkpoint number and screenshot listings and other information for two or more saved games. Users may then choose one of saved games to upload and play.

In another embodiment, key events may be automatically saved and may be automatically uploaded to the online game server. For example, a game's progress may be automatically saved at every checkpoint that is passed, or every ten minutes, or at various other time intervals or game epochs. The game application or game system may automatically transmit the saved game file to the roaming saved game function for saving to a data store. Such an automatic function may be performed in the background. Thus, in the event that power is lost, the player unintentionally terminates the game, or otherwise unexpectedly terminates the game, the player's game progress may have been saved and the player may not be required to start from the beginning.

In another embodiment, a roaming saved game function may provide users a secure method for storing saved games by using encryption techniques prior to compression and storage. Various encryption techniques may be used, such as key-based encryption. The online gaming service may further, for example, provide secure connections to users for secure access and transmission. At a minimum, users may be required to logon to the online gaming service using account information to retrieve data. Secure authentication methods may be used to prevent unauthorized access to game files and tampering or theft of the game files. For example, Kerberos is an authentication method that may be provided that involves clients receiving a ticket that keeps the user authenticated for a specified period of time. When the ticket expires, the user must re-authenticate with the server.

In many cases a user may desire to share saved game data with other players. A player may, for example, seek assistance in overcoming a particularly difficult challenge in a game and request assistance from another player in another locale. The player may upload the game file, and provide the player's authentication credentials to the other player. The other player may then use the authentication credentials to access the game file, upload the game file, execute the game file, successfully overcome the difficult game challenge, save the game file, and upload the game file to the online gaming service. The first player may then retrieve the uploaded game file and continue the game using the game file which now has progressed beyond the point at which the first player desired assistance.

In another embodiment, a player may share game data with other players by identifying the players and authorizing access to one or more game files. For example, the player may select a game file, identify one or more players with whom the player desires to share the game data, and authorize the one or more players to access the game file. The player may identify the players using an online gaming ID, email address, or other means. The authorized players may be notified by receiving an email notification or may be notified when they logon to the online gaming service.

In a further embodiment, the roaming saved game function may be provided to cooperative or multi-player games or games played by clans. A clan, also known as a guild, is typically a group of players who regularly play multiplayer games together in a particular (or various different) multiplayer game. Games played by clans may be saved by the roaming saved game function, and such games may be associated with a clan ID or user ID. One or more players who belong to a clan may identify a clan saved game for sharing with another player or clan.

In another embodiment, the roaming saved game feature may provide a blog-like system that enables the player and other authorized players to add comments regarding the saved game file. For example, if a player sought assistance from another player for overcoming a game challenge, the second player may add comments indicating how the player overcame the challenge. In another example, a player who uploads a saved game may add comments indicating personal notes or comments that may later be useful for the player. The player may also add comments to provide details for a second player to better understand a particular aspect of the saved game file.

In an embodiment, a saved game may be a cross-platform saved game that may be played on more than one game platforms. The roaming saved game function may provide a transformation function that may parse the saved game file and transform the file into a format that can be executed on a different platform. For example, a game that is supported by two gaming platforms may initially be saved by a player using a console of one platform. The player may desire to retrieve the game file and continue play on a second platform. The roaming saved game function may provide an option for the player to select a second platform, and upon selection the roaming saved game function may transform the file into a format that may be executed on the second platform.

In another embodiment, the roaming saved game function may further support character based saving. A character-based game is typically a game that includes a narrative that drives the player through the game, a number of characters that interact with each other in different ways, and gameplay that is based around the movement of a particular character or small group of characters. The roaming saved game function may thus provide location independent access to character-based progress or progress associated with specific characters or actions within a game.

A roaming game save function may further provide an application programming interface (API) further configured to provide roaming game save functions to a video game application. Furthermore, a software development kit can be provided so that game developers may develop applications that incorporate the matchmaking feature. An API may be provided on a gaming console or local computer in order to provide access to roaming saved game services to the locally executing video game application. In other embodiments an API may be provided on the server side and provide in conjunction with the online gaming service. Alternatively, an API or components of an API may be provided both on the client side and the server side.

Referring now to FIG. 4, depicted is an exemplary system that may implement an embodiment of a roaming saved game function 400, wherein the roaming saved game may be implemented by the modules and related entities described herein. Saved game file transferring module 410 may set up a secure connection with the server database 430 and upload/download saved game files to a local device. Saved game managing/comparison UI module 450 may enable a display for a user to list exiting saved games, compare the saved games and manage the saved game files.

The compression/encryption module 420 may decompress the package downloaded from the server or compress the saved game files to package and transmit. If additional security is desired for the saved game file, the files may be encrypted prior to transmission or decrypted after downloading the saved game file.

The file validation module 440 may validate the integrity of the downloaded game file. If the saved game is a cross-platform saved game that can be continued by different platforms, the saved game transform module 450 may parse the file and transform the file so that the game can be continued by a current user on a current platform. A server database 430 may provide a data store for saved game files and gamer profiles.

A saved game data file may include but not be limited to various game metadata such as game title (e.g., Halo) and the date and time when the game was last saved. Other metadata may include file size and a rating of the game or a rating of the particular gaming session. The game data file may further include other data useful for managing and identifying game files. Such data may include screenshot data, checkpoint data (e.g., gamepoint 2), view before downloading, and view data.

Screenshot data may comprise the last game scene prior to the game save point, as viewed on the user display. Screenshot data may also comprise scenes that are indicative of a particular game's progress. Screenshot data, in many cases, may be useful for the player to identify a particular game session, in particular when multiple game files for the same game are stored in the user's profile. Other data such as last viewed information may be useful to locate saved game files that were recently viewed but not updated.

Player profile data may include personal storage space, authentication data, and clan data or data related to other players associated with the account. Personal storage space may enable the player to store game related documentation and comments. The player's personal storage area may also enable the player to store and retrieve any game related data, or even non-game related data, without having to save the data on a memory device.

Depicted in FIG. 5 are diagrams illustrating exemplary processes for uploading and downloading saved game files in accordance with an embodiment disclosed herein. The upper file collaboration diagram depicts an exemplary transaction wherein a video game file is saved. The lower file collaboration diagram depicts an exemplary transaction wherein a saved video game file is transmitted to a user.

A roaming saved game function may be implemented by the following modules and related entities. Referring to modules 505 and 580, a roaming saved game managing/comparison user interface (UI) may be an in-game UI that provides a scene for a user that lists various saved games that are available for management. The UI may further provide summary information useful for the user for comparing the saved games and managing the game files. Saved game file transferring modules 515 and 555 may set up a secure connection with a roaming saved game server database and upload/download the saved game files to a local device.

Referring to modules 510 and 565, a compression/encryption module may decompress a package downloaded from the server. Compression/encryption modules 510 and 565 may also compress the saved game files prior to packaging for transmission. If additional security is desired for the game, the files may be encrypted and decrypted. Referring to module 575, a file validation module may validate the integrity of a downloaded file.

In some embodiments, if the saved game is a cross-platform saved game that can be continued by different platforms, or if the saved game is to be used by a cross-game file that can be continued by different gamers, a saved game transformation module may parse the file and transform the file so that it can be continued by the current user on the current platform.

In another aspect of the presently disclosed subject matter, an exemplary method may be implemented for providing a roaming saved game function. However, it should be understood that similar systems, computer readable media, and other mechanisms could be used to carry out this aspect of the presently disclosed subject matter. Referring to FIG. 6a, at block 600, information from a user requesting roaming save game functionality may be received. The request may be from a new user, or the request may be from an existing user who desires to add roaming saved game functionality to an existing service account. The request may include authentication information to be used for future saved game access.

At block 610, the roaming saved game feature may configure the user's saved game account. In block 612 a player may select a game file to be saved by the roaming saved game function. In block 615, the saved game file may optionally be compressed. In block 617, the saved game file may optionally be encrypted.

In block 620, the saved game file may be received for processing and storing by the roaming saved game function. In block 630 the roaming saved game function may save the file in a data store for subsequent file management and access by one or more players. In block 640, a player who desires access to the saved game file may send authentication credentials to the roaming saved game function. The authentication credentials may include, for example, a user name and password.

Continuing to FIG. 6b, in block 650, the roaming saved game function may receive a request for access to the roaming saved game function. In block 660 the roaming saved game function may authenticate the request by comparing the received authentication credentials with the authentication information saved for the saved game file. After the requested access is authenticated, summary information regarding the saved game data may be transmitted to the requesting player in block 670. The summary data may include saved game file metadata and other information useful for comparison and file management. In block 680, the roaming saved game function may receive an indication of a selected game file. In block 685 the roaming saved game function may optionally convert the selected game file if the player indicates that the game file is to be executed on a different platform than the platform for which the file is currently configured. Finally, in block 690 the roaming saved game function may transmit the file to the requesting player.

Turning now to FIG. 7, illustrated is an exemplary method of providing roaming saved game services on a local platform or console, wherein the player may access an online gaming service that may further provide an roaming saved game service. However, it should be understood that similar systems, computer readable media, and other mechanisms could be used to carry out this aspect of the presently disclosed subject matter. Referring to FIG. 7, at block 700, a player may launch a video game application, typically on a local computer or entertainment console. In block 705, the platform or console may further access an online gaming service via an Internet connection or other communications means. In block 710, the video game application may further interact with an application programming interface (API) that provides access and services to the roaming saved game services of an online gaming service. A roaming saved game API component may reside on the local computer or device, or on the server side, or both.

In block 715, a user interface for providing roaming saved game services may be provided to the video game player on the local PC or console. The user interface may allow the player to indicate various options such as automatically saving game progress and automatically transmitting saved game data in the background. Optionally, the user interface may be accessed at a later time such as after the game has been completed and the game data has been saved locally.

In block 720, the player may play the video game. In block 725, the player may exit the game and save the current game's progress. In block 730, the saved game file may optionally be compressed. In block 735, the saved game file may optionally be encrypted if additional security is desired. In block 740, the saved game file may be transmitted to the online gaming service for processing and storing by the roaming saved game service.

Turning now to FIG. 8a, illustrated is an exemplary method of providing roaming saved game services on a local platform or console, wherein the player may access an online gaming service that may further provide an roaming saved game service that enables the retrieval of a previously saved game. However, it should be understood that similar systems, computer readable media, and other mechanisms could be used to carry out this aspect of the presently disclosed subject matter. Referring to FIG. 8, at block 800, a player may access an online gaming service access an online gaming service via an Internet connection or other communications means. In block 805, the player may launch a video game application, typically on a local computer or entertainment console. In block 810, the video game application may further interact with an application programming interface (API) that provides access and services to roaming saved game services of the online gaming service. A roaming saved game API component may reside on the local computer or device, or on the server side, or both.

In block 815, a user interface for providing roaming saved game services may be provided to the video game player on the local PC or console. The user interface may allow the player to view various games that have been saved and are available for download. As discussed above, the information provided may include metadata and screenshot data, and the user may be provided options to compare the various files and determine which of the available files the player desires to download.

In block 820, the player may select a saved video game file. In block 825, the roaming saved game service may optionally convert the selected game file if the player indicates that the game file is to be executed on a different platform than the platform for which the file is currently configured. In block 830, the saved game file may optionally be compressed if the file has not been previously compressed. In block 835, the saved game file may optionally be encrypted if the file has not been previously encrypted. In block 840, the saved game file may be transmitted to the requesting player.

Referring now to FIG. 8b, in block 850 the transmitted video game may be received by the requesting video game player on the local PC or console. In block 860, the saved game file may optionally be decrypted if the file has been previously encrypted. In block 870, the saved game file may optionally be decompressed if the file has been previously compressed. In block 880, the received video game file may be executed by the video game application.

Lastly, while the present disclosure has been described in connection with the preferred aspects, as illustrated in the various figures, it is understood that other similar aspects may be used or modifications and additions may be made to the described aspects for performing the same function of the present disclosure without deviating there from. For example, in various aspects of the disclosure, the providing of time based control of entertainment consoles was disclosed. However, other equivalent mechanisms to these described aspects are also contemplated by the teachings herein. Therefore, the present disclosure should not be limited to any single aspect, but rather construed in breadth and scope in accordance with the appended claims.