Title:
Feature eroding video game demonstration software
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A demonstration video game permits garners a more complete game experience while promoting a desire to acquire permission to continue playing. In some embodiments, a video game is implemented with trigger metrics. While a user may initially experience most or all of the full version of the game in a demonstration mode, the mode implements trigger metrics to erode game play characteristics, such as character, object, event and/or environmental features, during video game play in the demonstration mode. Thus, fewer play characteristics may be available as play continues in this mode. Multiple trigger metrics may gradually and successively limit play characteristics as play with the game continues. As the gamer loses functionality, the user may be prompted with the trigger metrics to purchase permission to continue the game in a non-demonstration mode that disables the trigger metrics and returns the game to the more complete version.



Inventors:
Zalewski, Gary (Oakland, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/231485
Publication Date:
03/04/2010
Filing Date:
09/03/2008
Assignee:
Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. (Foster City, CA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20060073893Touchscreen audio feedback in a wagering game systemApril, 2006Dahl
20060281513Poker game method and systemDecember, 2006Kirkpatrick
20090258686SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR PLAYING A MUSIC VIDEO GAME WITH A DRUM SYSTEM GAME CONTROLLEROctober, 2009Mccauley et al.
20060287058Methods and devices for displaying multiple game elementsDecember, 2006Resnick et al.
20090298567LOTTERY TICKET WITH A REGISTERED HOLOGRAPHIC LAYERDecember, 2009Grotkowski et al.
20090023501Graphical training decal for video game controllerJanuary, 2009Kidakarn
20090121433Draw poker with bonus betMay, 2009Snow et al.
20090104992GAME CONTROL PROGRAM, GAME MACHINE, AND GAME CONTROL METHODApril, 2009Kouno
20080287173Projectile video gameNovember, 2008Rohde
20060084491Implementing wagering games using a pari-mutuel configurationApril, 2006Dicarlo et al.
20080227532APPARATUS FOR PARI-MUTUEL RACING GAME WITH FINISH ORDER BETTINGSeptember, 2008Gelman et al.



Foreign References:
EP17246992006-11-22
EP09772002000-02-02
Primary Examiner:
COPPOLA, JACOB C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SCEA (Lerner, David, Littenberg, Krumholz & Mentlik, LLP 600 South Avenue West, Westfield, NJ, 07090, US)
Claims:
1. A method of distributing a software game to induce a user to obtain a permission to continue playing the game, the method comprising: providing a software game with a plurality of play characteristics including at least one of a character feature, object feature, environmental feature and event feature, the software game being programmed to permit the user to use the plurality of play characteristics, the software game being further programmed with at least one trigger metric; gradually eroding availability of at least one of the play characteristics as a function of the at least one trigger metric as a consequence of use of the software game by the user while continuing to permit the user to play the game, and wherein the at least one trigger metric is a game event-based function; restoring availability of the eroded play characteristics upon receipt of the permission to continue playing the game.

2. The method of claim 1 further including a trigger metric that is a time-based function.

3. The method of claim 2 wherein the time based function is a lapsed real time.

4. The method of claim 2 wherein the time based function is a lapsed game time.

5. The method of claim 2 wherein the time based function is both a lapsed real time and a lapsed game time.

6. (canceled)

7. The method of claim l wherein the game event-based function is a completion of a certain stage of play.

8. The method of claim 7 wherein the game event-based function is a completion of the certain stage of play a plurality of times.

9. The method of claim 1 wherein the receipt of the permission disables the at least one trigger metric.

10. The method of claim 1 wherein the gradually eroding of the game removes play characteristics as a successive function of a plurality of trigger metrics.

11. The method of claim 1 further including a trigger metric that is an event-based function and a time-based function.

12. The method of claim 1 wherein the gradually eroding availability of at least one of the play characteristics comprises disabling use of an object feature of the play characteristics of the game.

13. The method of claim 1 wherein the gradually eroding availability of at least one of the play characteristics comprises disabling access to an environmental feature of the play characteristics of the game.

14. The method of claim 1 wherein the gradually eroding availability of at least one of the play characteristics comprises disabling access to an event feature of the play characteristics of the game.

15. The method of claim 1 wherein the gradually eroding availability of at least one of the play characteristics comprises disabling access to a character feature of the play characteristics of the game.

16. A machine readable medium having processor control instructions, the processor control instructions to control a processor as a software game to induce a user to obtain a permission to continue playing the game, the processor control instructions further comprising: instructions to initially generate a plurality of play characteristics of the software game including at least one of a character feature, object feature, environmental feature and event feature to permit the user to use the plurality of play characteristics; instructions to control use of the plurality of play characteristics of the game by the user with at least one trigger metric; instructions to gradually erode availability of at least one of the play characteristics as a function of the at least one trigger metric as a consequence of use of the software game by the user while continuing to permit the user to play the game, and wherein the at least one trigger metric includes a game event-based function; and instructions to restore availability of the eroded play characteristics upon receipt of the permission to continue playing the game.

17. The medium of claim 16 further including a trigger metric that is a time-based function.

18. The medium of claim 17 wherein the time-based function is a lapsed real time.

19. The medium of claim 17 wherein the time-based function is a lapsed game time.

20. The medium of claim 17 wherein the time-based function is both a lapsed real time and a lapsed game time.

21. The medium of claim 16 wherein the trigger metric is a game event-based function.

22. The medium of claim 21 wherein the game event-based function is a completion of a certain stage of play.

23. The medium of claim 22 wherein the game event-based function is a completion of the certain stage of play a plurality of times.

24. The medium of claim 16 further comprising instructions to disable the at least one trigger metric upon receipt of the permission.

25. The medium of claim 16 wherein the instructions to gradually erode availability remove play characteristics as a successive function of a plurality of trigger metrics.

26. The medium of claim 16 wherein the at least one trigger metric is an event-based function and a time-based function.

27. The medium of claim 16 wherein the instructions to gradually erode availability of at least one of the play characteristics comprises disabling use of an object feature of the play characteristics of the game.

28. The medium of claim 16 wherein the instructions to gradually erode availability of at least one of the play characteristics comprises disabling access to an environmental feature of the play characteristics of the game.

29. The medium of claim 16 wherein the instructions to gradually erode availability of at least one of the play characteristics comprises disabling access to an event feature of the play characteristics of the game.

30. The medium of claim 16 wherein the instructions to gradually erode availability of at least one of the play characteristics comprises disabling access to a character feature of the play characteristics of the game.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present technology relates to video games. More specifically, it relates to methods and systems for implementing demonstration versions of video games.

BACKGROUND

Video games are often promoted through the use of demonstrations versions. For example, some software video game distributors make demo versions available for download on the Internet at low or no cost to gamers. They may also distribute such versions on recordable medium such as optical disks (e.g., CD or DVD) at low or no cost to gamers. Distributors do so with the hope of raising the interest of gamers who are more likely to try a free or low cost demonstration version than the full version of the game. When a gamer enjoys the demonstration game, it is believed that the gamer will then develop a desire to purchase a more complete version of the video game. However, typically, the demonstration version of the software does not permit the gamers to have a true experience of the full version of the software that the demonstration version is promoting. Demonstration versions typically permit the user to play only a small subset of the play characteristics of the full version of the video game. In this way, it fails to provide gamers with a more complete experience of the actual video game and, as such, does not fully and accurately promote the video game.

It may be desirable to implement demonstration versions of video games in a manner that more fully promotes the features or characteristics of the game while still providing protections that will induce gamers to purchase the right to use the video game.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

The present technology is illustrated by way of example, and not by way of limitation, in the figures of the accompanying drawings, in which like reference numerals refer to similar elements including:

FIG. 1 is a diagram illustrating an example system for distributing embodiments of demonstration video games of the present technology;

FIG. 2 is a illustration of some components of a special purpose computer or game console for implementing an embodiment of the present video game demonstration technology;

FIG. 3 is a flow chart illustrating example steps in an embodiment the present video game demonstration technology;

FIG. 4 illustrates play characteristics of an example embodiment of the present video game demonstration technology; and

FIG. 5 illustrates additionally play characteristics of another example embodiment of the present video game demonstration technology;

SUMMARY OF THE TECHNOLOGY

In accordance with one aspect of the present technology demonstration versions of video games are provided to promote users or gamers to purchase the video games.

Another aspect of the technology provides a method of distributing a software game to induce a user to obtain a permission to continue playing the game. The method may include providing a software game with a plurality of play characteristics including at least one of a character feature, object feature, environmental feature and event feature. The software game may be programmed to permit the user to use the plurality of play characteristics. The software game may also be programmed with at least one trigger metric. The method includes eroding availability of at least one of the play characteristics as a function of the at least one trigger metric as a consequence of use of the software game by the user while continuing to permit the user to play the game. The method may further include restoring availability of the eroded play characteristics upon receipt of the permission to continue playing the game.

Another aspect of the technology involves a machine readable medium having processor control instructions. The processor control instructions may control a processor as a software game to induce a user to obtain a permission to continue playing the game. For example, the processor control instructions may include instructions to initially generate a plurality of play characteristics of the software game including at least one of a character feature, object feature, environmental feature and event feature to permit the user to use the plurality of play characteristics. The processor control instructions may also include instructions to control use of the plurality of play characteristics of the game by the user with at least one trigger metric. The processor control instructions may also include instructions to erode availability of at least one of the play characteristics as a function of the at least one trigger metric as a consequence of use of the software game by the user while continuing to permit the user to play the game. Additionally, the processor control instructions may also include instructions to restore availability of the eroded play characteristics upon receipt of the permission to continue playing the game.

In some embodiments, the trigger metric can be a time-based function, which may be a lapsed real time and/or a lapsed game time. Optionally, the at one least trigger metric can be a game event-based function such as a completion of a certain stage of play or a completion of the certain stage of play a certain number or plurality of times.

In some embodiments, the receipt of the permission disables the at least one trigger metric. In still further embodiments, the eroding of the game removes play characteristics as a successive function of a plurality of trigger metrics. In some embodiments, the eroding availability of at least one of the play characteristics comprises disabling use of one or more of an object feature of the play characteristics of the game, an environmental feature of the play characteristics of the game, access to an event feature of the play characteristics of the game and/or a character feature of the play characteristics of the game.

Further embodiments and features of the technology will be apparent from the following detailed disclosure, abstract, drawings and the claims.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

An example distribution system with respect to a demonstration video game 102 is illustrated in FIG. 1. The system will typically include video game distributor systems 104. The distributor systems may typically include one or more servers 106 with input and output components as well as processors (e.g., one or more CPUs) and memory or other data storage mediums, such as an accessible database, hard drives, RAM, ROM, optical drives, etc., to store one or more demo video game 104. The distribution system may be capable of transmitting demo video game 102 software directly or indirectly to one or more user game apparatus 110 such as over a network 108. Thus, it may be configured with communication devices such as a modem, network card, telephone, etc.

The user apparatus may typically be a general or specific purpose computer, video game console, hand-held game device, mobile phone or other device that may include one or more programmable processors and memory capable of executing the processor control instructions of the demonstration video game 102. The processor may comprise any number of well known processors, such as processors from Intel Corporation. Alternatively, the processor may be a dedicated controller such as an ASIC.

These devices will also typically include input and output components such as a user interface and/or display for playing the video game. For example, a keyboard, mouse, joystick, haptic response devices/motors, motion sensors and/or buttons may be included to permit gamer interaction with the demonstration video game 102. The game device may also optionally include a communications device such as a wireless or wired interface for data transfer with other devices, computers or the network 108. For example, it may include a wireless or wired network card, WIFI communications device, Bluetooth communications device, etc. Additionally, a display screen such as an LCD, LEDs, touch screen, etc. can also be provided to permit visualization of particular play characteristics which will typically differ depending on the type or genre of the particular video game implemented with the demonstration features described herein.

Optionally, the distributor systems 104 may also include other components for storing or writing demonstration video games on memory mediums 109. By way of further example, the distributor system(s) may be configured to store or write demonstration video games 102 on optical disks, memory cards, magnetic mediums, SIM cards, flash memory etc. In such as case, the user game apparatus 110 will typically have access to a suitable reader device or interface for these mediums for transferring data and instructions from the mediums to the user game apparatus 110 either directly or indirectly with other devices configured to communicate with the user game apparatus 110.

Typically, the demonstration video game 102 will include data and processor control instructions for memory and one or more processors or other integrated circuits that execute the functions, methods, algorithms and/or routines of the video game in accordance with features explained in more detail below. In some embodiments, these processor control instructions may comprise any set of instructions to be executed directly (such as machine code) or indirectly (such as scripts) by the processor. In that regard, the terms “instructions,” “steps”, “algorithm” and “programs” may be used interchangeably herein. The instructions may be stored in object code for direct processing by a processor, or in any other computer language including scripts or collections of independent source code modules that are interpreted on demand or compiled in advance.

As illustrated in FIG. 1, a typical embodiment of the demonstration video game 102 will include control instructions capable of forming a video game with particular play characteristics such as character features, environmental features, object features and event features. The control instructions are also capable of forming one or more trigger metrics 112 of the video game. The trigger metrics 112 will typically control access to associated play characteristics of the video game as a function of the use of the video game. For example, trigger metrics 112 may be implemented into a demonstration video game 110, which may include all of the play characteristics of a full version of the video game. Depending on the particular trigger metric and the type of play characteristic to which it is linked, the trigger metric may be configured to erode play characteristics of the video game, such as to limit, remove or disable one or more such characteristics from use by the gamer as the play in the video game advances in a demonstration mode. However, such trigger metrics 112 may be deactivated, if full permission to the video is acquired by the gamer, for example, by purchasing right to use the full version and for example, by entering a key code or password etc. into the demonstration version of the video game. The permission may, in essence, convert the demo version to the full version of the video game when the trigger metrics are disabled by the presence of the permission.

For example, as further illustrated in FIG. 2, the demonstration version of the video game will typically include a play generator or game engine that control the logic and play of the video game based on the gamer's input. The play generator will typically differ for each video game depending on the type of video game implemented such as an adventure game, simulation game, shooter game, vehicle game, action game, etc. The game instructions and data will also include one or more trigger metrics 218 to control gamer access to play characteristics 220. Thus, trigger metrics may control access to one or more character features of game play. A character feature may be one or more specifications of the avatar that is controlled by the gamer through the user interface when playing the particular video game as it may be generated during game play by the play generator or game engine of the video game. For example, the avatar may be a particular fighter in an action combat game or a particular ability of the avatar. It may also be a particular vehicle in a vehicle simulation game or an ability or specification for the particular vehicle such as a top speed. Thus, the trigger metrics 218 of the game instructions and data 202, which may be stored in memory 205, can be implemented to control a processor 203 to permit the gamer to play some or all of the character features of the video game in a demonstration mode until a certain threshold of game play is reached. Thus, a trigger metric may typically include a threshold associated with game play. Thereafter, during game play in the demonstration mode, the trigger metric is configured to limit, prevent or otherwise disable one or more associated character features while permitting the gamer to continue to play other character features.

For example, a trigger metric may, such as gradually during game play, remove or limit access to a top speed of a particular vehicle that would otherwise be available in normal, non-demonstration mode play, such as by successively reducing the speed after reaching several thresholds of play. Alternatively, the trigger metric may prevent access to a certain vehicle after a certain threshold is reached. By way of further example, trigger metrics may be implemented to gradually reduce a maximum strength value of a battle avatar. By so eroding character features as illustrated in these examples with one or more trigger metrics, a gamer can initially experience much or all of the game play characteristics similar to the full version of the game while in a demonstration mode and yet be induced into purchasing a permission to continue as the features of the game in the demonstration mode are disabled, gradually taken away or otherwise diminished as compared to the full version of the video game. Moreover, it may be done in a manner that permits the gamer to play the game with less or fewer desirable game features after initially experiencing them. Normal or full play may then optionally be returned in a non-demonstration mode when a permission, such as a key, password, etc., is/are obtained and provided to the game instructions and data.

Similarly, the trigger metrics 218 may also control access to play characteristics 220 that may include object features of the game. For example, in a shooter or battle game, certain objects, such as weapons, may be disabled from play to remove one or more by different trigger metrics. By way of further example, different weapons may be successively removed based on different play thresholds of the trigger metrics so that as game play continues, a shooter can lose more advanced or more destructive weapons first compared to less advanced or less destructive weapons to successively wind up with only simple or no weapons while still permitting the gamer to play the game but without the removed features.

Similarly, the trigger metrics may also be configured to erode play characteristics 220 that involve environmental features of game play. For example, play sounds, haptic responses, brightness, intensity or color of visualization of game play, other characters controlled by the game or other players such as in a multi-player environment, can each be eroded as a function of one or more the trigger metrics as game play advances. Similarly, other environmental features like haptic responses, sound, visualization, other players, etc. can be eroded from play as a function of trigger metrics but may then be re-enabled upon obtaining and entering appropriate permission as previously discussed.

Similarly, one or more trigger metrics may be configured to erode event characteristics of the video game. For example, in a race game a finish event of a particular race track of the game may be disabled after a certain play threshold is reached so that the player may continue to use the race track but can no longer complete the race. By way of further example, different levels of play may be removed by trigger metrics. For example, certain levels of play that may be initially available to the demo gamer, can be removed based on some threshold of game play based on the trigger metric so that the gamer can no longer access the level without seeking permission. By way of example, in a vehicle simulation game, such as a race car game, different race tracks may be successively removed as a threshold of game play based on one or more trigger metrics. However, the gamer may still continue to play other levels of the game which are not associated with the trigger metric. As the game still advances without the access to certain levels, other trigger metrics may then remove still further levels of play.

As further illustrated in FIG. 2, various types of the trigger metrics may be implemented. In some embodiments, the trigger metrics may be based on time. For example, one or more real time thresholds may be stored to control or erode one or more play characteristics. A present time may be compared to each threshold and the play characteristics associated with each threshold may then be limited or disabled as the present real time meets or exceeds each real time threshold. In such a case, the threshold may be based on the date and/or time of the installation of the demonstration video game and the threshold may be a certain time period thereafter regardless of the amount of time that the video game is actually played.

In some embodiments, the time-based trigger metric may involve an accrued time of actual game play with the demonstration video game. Thus, one or more thresholds may each be a time value that is compared to a play timer that monitors or records the amount of time that a user has played the demonstration video game. In such a case, the thresholds may be associated with different play characteristics. Thus, different play characteristics may be phased out as a result of continuing play by the gamer using several thresholds with different time values.

In still further embodiments, several trigger metrics may be implemented with threshold of actual time play values and real time values. For example, a particular play characteristic may be associated with multiple trigger metrics such that eroding the associated play characteristic will not occur until both a real time trigger metric threshold and an actual time play trigger metric threshold are reached. By way of further example, different play characteristics of a demonstration video game may be controlled by different trigger metrics such that some play characteristics are controlled by real time trigger metrics and others are controlled by actual time of play trigger metrics.

In still further embodiments, the trigger metrics may be stage-based. For example, a threshold number of times that a gamer accesses or completes a certain stage of play or accesses or completes a certain event or level of a video game may be implemented to control eroding of one or more play characteristics. Thus, a counter may be implemented to monitor access to an event, level or stage feature of the play characteristics of the game. The counter may then be compared to a number of times thresholds. When the counter meets or exceeds the threshold, the particular play characteristic that is controlled by the trigger metric may then be disabled. In some embodiments, the particular play characteristic that is controlled by the trigger metric may be the same as the event that is being counted. However, in others, the counted event and the play characteristic controlled by the trigger metric may be different. For example, in some embodiments when a game completes a certain track of a race game a particular number of times, a different play characteristic, such as a type of vehicle, may be eroded by a particular event-based trigger metric. In such an embodiment, the gamer may then continue to play the same track in the demonstration video but without the vehicle disabled by the first trigger metric. Optionally, an additional trigger metric based on an additional threshold number of the time for the same track may be implemented. When the threshold of the additional trigger metric is reached, the track itself may then be disabled under control of the additional trigger metric. In this way, various play characteristics or groups of play characteristics may be gradually eroded from the demonstration game.

Accordingly, a typical example embodiment of the present technology can be configured with a methodology as illustrated in FIG. 3. In step 322, a video game is implemented as a demonstration mode video game by including trigger metrics for eroding play characteristics based on game play. In step 324, play characteristics are eroded during game play as a function of the trigger metrics. In step 326, game play may be restored to a full video game mode or non-demonstration mode by acquiring an appropriate permission to disable the trigger metrics and thereby restore the demonstration video game to its full featured or more complete version.

A further example is shown in the illustrations of FIG. 4. FIG. 4 shows a first video game display 430 and second video game display 432. An illustrated play characteristic shown as first object 01 in first game display 430 is initially available to the gamer playing the demonstration video game. However, absent a permission to disable the trigger metrics associated with the first object, based on the associated trigger metric(s) meeting or exceeding its threshold, the first object 01 is eroded from game play so that it is not available or available at a less desirable form during further game play. Thus, as a result of the trigger metric(s), further game play with the demonstration mode of the video game as illustrated in second game display 432 would only permit the gamer to use a less desirable second object 02. However, if a suitable permission was entered to disable the trigger metric and the demonstration mode, object 01 would be available to the game in the ordinary course of game play at the particular play time associated with the second game display 432.

A further embodiment of a demonstration video game implemented with at least one trigger metric is illustrated with respect to the game displays 534, 536, 538 and 540 of the FIG. 5. In this example, the demonstration video game implements a vehicle simulation race game. Thus, in a first game display 534, the gamer, after installing the demonstration video game, may initially access all of tracks A, B, C or D of the full version of the video game. However, as the gamer continues to play, one or more trigger metrics that may be based on access and/or completion of a number of races, may then successively erode access to the tracks while continuing to permit some reduced level of play.

Thus, as illustrated in second game display 536, after completing or accessing further races based on a suitable trigger metric and threshold, race tracks C and D, which were initially available to the demo game user, may be disabled. As play continues with still further races, additional track B may become disabled with a further trigger metric and threshold such as the situation illustrated in third game display 538 of FIG. 5. Finally, when a suitable permission has been acquired, such as by the user purchasing the right to the full version of the video game, the play characteristics may return to their initial availability to the gamer as illustrated in the fourth game display 540 of FIG. 5.

In the example of FIG. 5, a play counter that may be associated with one or more trigger metrics may be based on a number of races as a simple total count of races or events regardless of the particular track utilized by the gamer for each race. However, in some embodiments, the total number may be based on a particular race track where the trigger metric erodes the particular race track that has been played while leaving others that have not been played. Moreover, while FIG. 5 illustrates elements A, B, C and D as race tracks, they may be any other game play characteristic. For example, these elements may even be particular vehicles in a vehicle simulation game or even particular characters in a character-based action or adventure game etc.

In the foregoing description and in the accompanying drawings, specific terminology and drawing symbols are set forth to provide a thorough understanding of the present technology. In some instances, the terminology and symbols may imply specific details that are not required to practice the technology. For example, although the terms “first” and “second” have been used herein, unless otherwise specified, the language is not intended to provide any specified order or count but merely to assist in explaining elements of the technology.

Moreover, although the technology herein has been described with reference to particular embodiments, it is to be understood that these embodiments are merely illustrative of the principles and applications of the technology. It is therefore to be understood that numerous modifications may be made to the illustrative embodiments and that other arrangements may be devised without departing from the spirit and scope of the technology. For example, any combination of multiple trigger metrics of the example trigger metrics discussed herein maybe implemented to control any single particular play characteristic such as the play characteristics described herein. Moreover, any combination of such trigger metrics may be implemented to control different groups of play characteristics in a demonstration video game. Still further, in some embodiments, an activation of a trigger metric that erodes a particular play characteristic may be accompanied by a message to the user or game to inform the user or gamer of the eroded play characteristic. The message may also provide the gamer with an opportunity to input and/or acquire a permission to enter the non-demonstration mode of the video game or to otherwise disable the trigger metric and any additional (previous and/or subsequent) trigger metrics that may be part of the demonstration mode of the video game.