Title:
DISTRIBUTED MULTI-PLAYER STRATEGY GAME
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention discloses a system for collaborative development of documents according to a method for collaboratively developing the documents. The method comprises the steps of: displaying on a computers pre-defined templates that assist corresponding users of each of the computers to formulate candidate documents on the corresponding computers; receiving, on the computers, information from the corresponding users of the computers, the information performing at least one of commenting on a document displayed on the corresponding computer, and amending a document displayed on the corresponding computer; The information received on one of the computers affects an associated document on all the computers; accumulating scores for each of the documents based upon the comments; and displaying summary information on the computers reflecting the scores, the scores ranking the candidate documents.



Inventors:
Zamel, Joel (Tel Aviv, IL)
Application Number:
13/390248
Publication Date:
06/28/2012
Filing Date:
08/11/2010
Assignee:
WIKISTRAT LTD. (Tel Aviv, IL)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
GRIFFIN, TAMARA JEAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
E.Waks & Co. (2015) LTD (24 Hatavor Street Apt. 1 Tel Aviv 6552524)
Claims:
1. 1-12. (canceled)

13. A system for collaborative competition, said system comprising: a plurality of computers communicating over a network; and a computer program comprising one or more functional modules, wherein the modules are distributed among the computers, and the modules are configured to execute a method for collaborative competition, said method comprising the steps of: displaying on the computers pre-defined templates that assist corresponding users of each of the computers to formulate candidate documents on the corresponding computers; displaying on each of the computers all the candidate documents formulated on all the computers, each formulated document being displayed on a separate page on each of the computers; receiving, on the computers, information from the corresponding users of the computers, said information performing at least one of commenting on a document displayed on the corresponding computer, and amending a document displayed on the corresponding computer; wherein said information received on one of said computers affects an associated document on all the computers; accumulating scores for each of the documents based upon said comments; and displaying summary information on the computers reflecting the scores, said scores ranking the candidate documents.

14. A system according to claim 13, wherein the received information performs one of merging a candidate document and deleting a candidate document.

15. A method for collaborative competition, said method comprising the steps of: a. displaying on a plurality of computers communicating over a network pre-defined templates that assist corresponding users of each of the computers to formulate candidate documents on the corresponding computers; b. displaying on each of the computers all the candidate documents formulated on all the computers, each formulated document being displayed on a separate page on each of the computers; c. receiving, on the computers, information from the corresponding users of the computers, said information performing at least one of commenting on a document displayed on the corresponding computer, and amending a document displayed on the corresponding computer; wherein said information received on one of said computers affects an associated document on all the computers; d. accumulating scores for each of the documents based upon said comments; and displaying summary information on the computers reflecting the scores, said scores ranking the candidate documents.

16. A computer readable storage medium having a computer program recorded thereon, the program being executable by a plurality of networked computers to make the computers perform a method for collaborative development of a document, said method comprising the steps of: a. displaying on the plurality of computers communicating over a network predefined templates that assist corresponding users of each of the computers to formulate candidate documents on the corresponding computers; b. displaying on each of the computers all the candidate documents formulated on all the computers, each formulated document being displayed on a separate page on each of the computers; c. receiving, on the computers, information from the corresponding users of the computers, said information performing at least one of commenting on a document displayed on the corresponding computer, and amending a document displayed on the corresponding computer; wherein said information received on one of said computers affects an associated document on all the computers; d. accumulating scores for each of the documents based upon said comments; and displaying summary information on the computers reflecting the scores, said scores ranking the candidate documents.

17. A game system in which a plurality of teams, each playing on behalf of an associated entity, each team comprising a plurality of players, simultaneously formulate and refine, in a collaborative competitive manner, competing strategies for achieving defined goals on behalf of their associated entities in order to maximise player scores, said system comprising, for each player: a. a presentation module for displaying: a pre-defined template on a player display, said template enabling modelling of an entity profile and a general environment profile, said entity profile including at least one goal of the entity; and multiple editable pages upon which said competing strategies are displayed; b. a data input module for receiving modelling inputs for said profiles; c. a strategy formulation module for formulating, based on said profiles and information from said player, at least one intermediate strategy satisfying the goal; d. a comparative analysis and scoring module for awarding, based upon information from said player, player scores to all the intermediate strategies formulated by players in the team of which said player is a member, said intermediate strategies being displayed on multiple editable pages by the presentation module; e. a decision, collaboration and merging module for transforming, based upon information from said player, the displayed intermediate strategies formulated by the players in the team of which said player is a member to a set of Round 1 strategies; and f. a collaborative analysis, simulation and scoring module for producing, based upon information from said player, rating information for all the Round 1 strategies produced by all the players in all the teams, said Round 1 strategies being displayed on multiple editable pages by the presentation module, said rating information being Round 2 information; wherein said Round 2 information can be used together with the profiles and the modules in paragraphs (a) to (e) to form refined Round 1 strategies in order to maximise said player scores.

18. A game system in which a plurality of teams, each playing on behalf of an associated entity, each team comprising a plurality of players, formulate and refine competing strategies for achieving defined goals on behalf of their associated entities in order to maximise player scores, said system comprising, for each player: a. a presentation module for displaying a pre-defined template on a player display, said template enabling modelling of an entity profile and a general environment profile, said entity profile including at least one goal of the entity; b. a data input module for receiving modelling inputs for said profiles; c. a strategy formulation module for formulating, based on said profiles and information from said player, at least one intermediate strategy satisfying the goal; d. a comparative analysis and scoring module for awarding, based upon information from said player, player scores to all the intermediate strategies formulated by players in the team of which said player is a member; e. a decision, collaboration and merging module for transforming, based upon information from said player, the intermediate strategies formulated by the players in the team of which said player is a member to a set of Round 1 strategies; and f. a collaborative analysis, simulation and scoring module for producing, based upon information from said player, rating information for all the Round 1 strategies produced by all the players in all the teams, said rating information being Round 2 information; wherein said Round 2 information can be used together with the profiles and the modules in paragraphs (a) to (e) to form refined Round 1 strategies in order to maximise said player scores.

19. A game system in which a plurality of teams, each playing on behalf of an associated entity, each team comprising a plurality of players, formulate and refine competing strategies for achieving defined goals on behalf of their associated entities in order to maximise player scores, said system comprising, for each player: a memory for storing a program; and a processor for executing the program, said program comprising: a. code for displaying a pre-defined template on a player display, said template enabling modelling of an entity profile and a general environment profile, said entity profile including at least one goal of the entity; b. code for receiving modelling inputs for said profiles; c. code for formulating, based on said profiles and information from said player, at least one intermediate strategy satisfying the goal; d. code for awarding player scores, based upon information from said player, to all the intermediate strategies formulated by players in the team of which said player is a member; e. code for transforming, based upon information from said player, the intermediate strategies formulated by the players in the team of which said player is a member to a set of Round 1 strategies; and f. code for producing, based upon information from said player, rating information for all the Round 1 strategies produced by all the players in all the teams, said rating information being Round 2 information; wherein said Round 2 information can be used together with the profiles and the modules in paragraphs (a) to (e) to form refined Round 1 strategies in order to maximise said player scores.

20. A game system method in which a plurality of teams, each playing on behalf of an associated entity, each team comprising a plurality of players, formulate and refine competing strategies for achieving defined goals on behalf of their associated entities in order to maximise player scores, said method comprising: a. displaying, by a presentation module, a pre-defined template on a player display, said template enabling modelling of an entity profile and a general environment profile, said entity profile including at least one goal of the entity; b. receiving, by a data input module, modelling inputs for said profiles; c. formulating, by a strategy formulation module, based on said profiles and information from said player, at least one intermediate strategy satisfying the goal; d. awarding, by a comparative analysis and scoring module based upon information from said player, player scores to all the intermediate strategies formulated by players in the team of which said player is a member; e. transforming, by a decision, collaboration and merging module based upon information from said player, the intermediate strategies formulated by the players in the team of which said player is a member to a set of Round 1 strategies; and f. producing, by a collaborative analysis, simulation and scoring module based upon information from said player, rating information for all the Round 1 strategies produced by all the players in all the teams, said rating information being Round 2 information; wherein said Round 2 information can be used together with the profiles and the modules in paragraphs (a) to (e) to form refined Round 1 strategies in order to maximise said player scores.

21. A computer readable storage medium having a computer program recorded thereon, the program being executable by a computer apparatus to make the computer perform a method in which a plurality of teams, each playing on behalf of an associated entity, each team comprising a plurality of players, formulate and refine competing strategies for achieving defined goals on behalf of their associated entities in order to maximise player scores, said program comprising: a. code for displaying, by a presentation module, a pre-defined template on a player display, said template enabling modelling of an entity profile and a general environment profile, said entity profile including at least one goal of the entity; b. code for receiving, by a data input module, modelling inputs for said profiles; c. code for formulating, by a strategy formulation module, based on said profiles and information from a said player, at least one intermediate strategy satisfying the goal; d. code for awarding, by a comparative analysis and scoring module based upon information from said player, player scores to all the intermediate strategies formulated by players in the team of which said player is a member; e. code for transforming, by a decision, collaboration and merging module based upon information from said player, the intermediate strategies formulated by the players in the team of which said player is a member to a set of Round 1 strategies; and f. code for producing, by a collaborative analysis, simulation and scoring module based upon information from said player, rating information for all the Round 1 strategies produced by all the players in all the teams, said rating information being Round 2 information; wherein said Round 2 information can be used together with the profiles and the modules in paragraphs (a) to (e) to form refined Round 1 strategies in order to maximise said player scores.

22. The system of claim 13, wherein each of said formulated documents comprises vertical shocks; wherein said formulated document formulate an environment of a collaborative competition strategy game; wherein said vertical shocks change the environment of the collaborative competition strategy game.

23. The system of claim 17, further comprises a successive round per each of the rounds; wherein each successive round comprises new strategies.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to formulation and refinement of strategies in a multi-player environment.

BACKGROUND

Strategy formulation and refinement has long played a part in many fields of human endeavour.

In the entertainment game context considering the game of chess for example, two players pit their strategic skills against each other in the framework of a board game. Serious chess players study historic chess games in order to identify winning strategies which they can use in their own games.

In the commercial context, companies competing for market share in the same area of commercial endeavour pit their strategic skills against each other in the framework of their competitive commercial activities. Numerous study courses are available which impart and hone strategic business skills, and effective business managers often avail themselves of these courses in order to improve their business performance.

In the geopolitical arena, countries engage in a mixture of collaborative and competitive activities on the basis of strategies they formulate and refine, in order to maximise the benefit to their own citizens moderated by other geopolitical factors.

SUMMARY

It is an object of the present invention to provide a computer-implemented system which can be used for formulating and refining strategies, whether such strategies form the subject matter of entertainment or educational games, or are used in a business or geopolitical context.

Disclosed are arrangements, referred to as Market-based Collaborative Strategy formulation arrangements (i.e. MCS arrangements), which in one example enable teams representing different interests, or different instances of a particular interest, using a computer-implemented collaborative framework, to (a) formulate and refine strategies (or more generally, a set of documents) on an intra-team basis in a first round using a real-time collaborative computer system supporting multi-page presentation of alternate strategies, and then (b) further refine their strategies in an inter-team context in a second round using the multi-page presentation of alternate strategies, wherein in the second round all the teams have access to all the strategies formulated in the first round. Further iterations of the first and second round may be performed in order to further refine the strategies. After a number of iterations, one or more optimised or leading strategies emerge. The MCS arrangements thus use “collaborative competition” by which different teams collaborate, in collaborative competition with other teams, to arrive at optimum strategies. Alternate strategy options are thus proposed and developed in parallel, using a collaborative competitive approach.

According to a first aspect of the present invention, there is provided a system for collaborative development of a set of documents, said system comprising:

a plurality of computers communicating over a network; and

a computer program comprising one or more functional modules, wherein the modules are distributed among the computers, and the modules are configured to execute a method for collaboratively developing the documents, said method comprising the steps of:

displaying on the computers pre-defined templates that assist corresponding users of each of the computers to formulate candidate documents on the corresponding computers;

displaying on each of the computers all the candidate documents formulated on all the computers, each formulated document being displayed on a separate page on each of the computers;

receiving, on the computers, information from the corresponding users of the computers, said information performing at least one of commenting on a document displayed on the corresponding computer, and amending a document displayed on the corresponding computer; wherein said information received on one of said computers affects an associated document on all the computers;

accumulating scores for each of the documents based upon said comments; and

displaying summary information on the computers reflecting the scores, said scores ranking the candidate documents.

According to another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a game system in which a plurality of teams, each playing on behalf of an associated entity, each team comprising a plurality of players, simultaneously formulate and refine, in a collaborative competitive manner, competing strategies for achieving defined goals on behalf of their associated entities in order to maximise player scores, said system comprising, for each player:

(a) a presentation module for displaying:

    • a pre-defined template on a player display, said template enabling modelling of an entity profile and a general environment profile, said entity profile including at least one goal of the entity; and
    • multiple editable pages upon which said competing strategies are displayed;

(b) a data input module for receiving modelling inputs for said profiles;

(c) a strategy formulation module for formulating, based on said profiles and information from said player, at least one intermediate strategy satisfying the goal;

(d) a comparative analysis and scoring module for awarding, based upon information from said player, player scores to all the intermediate strategies formulated by players in the team of which said player is a member, said intermediate strategies being displayed on multiple editable pages by the presentation module;

(e) a decision, collaboration and merging module for transforming, based upon information from said player, the displayed intermediate strategies formulated by the players in the team of which said player is a member to a set of Round 1 strategies; and

(f) a collaborative analysis, simulation and scoring module for producing, based upon information from said player, rating information for all the Round 1 strategies produced by all the players in all the teams, said Round 1 strategies being displayed on multiple editable pages by the presentation module, said rating information being Round 2 information; wherein:

said Round 2 information can be used together with the profiles and the modules in paragraphs (a) to (e) to form refined Round 1 strategies in order to maximise said player scores.

According to another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a game system in which a plurality of teams, each playing on behalf of an associated entity, each team comprising a plurality of players, formulate and refine competing strategies for achieving defined goals on behalf of their associated entities in order to maximise player scores, said system comprising, for each player:

(a) a presentation module for displaying a pre-defined template on a player display, said template enabling modelling of an entity profile and a general environment profile, said entity profile including at least one goal of the entity;

(b) a data input module for receiving modelling inputs for said profiles;

(c) a strategy formulation module for formulating, based on said profiles, at least one intermediate strategy satisfying the goal;

(d) a comparative analysis and scoring module for awarding player scores to all the intermediate strategies formulated by players in the team of which said player is a member;

(e) a decision, collaboration and merging module for transforming the intermediate strategies formulated by the players in the team of which said player is a member to a set of Round 1 strategies; and

(f) a collaborative analysis, simulation and scoring module for producing rating information for all the Round 1 strategies produced by all the players in all the teams, said rating information being Round 2 information; wherein

said Round 2 information can be used together with the profiles and the modules in paragraphs (a) to (e) to form refined Round 1 strategies in order to maximise said player scores.

According to another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method operative to be performed on the aforementioned apparatus.

According to another aspect of the present invention there is provided a computer program product including a computer readable medium having recorded thereon a computer program for implementing any one of the aforementioned methods.

Other aspects of the invention are also disclosed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

At least one embodiment of the present invention will now be described with reference to the drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 shows a systems hardware schematic diagram of the disclosed MCS system;

FIGS. 2A and 2B form a schematic block diagram of a general purpose computer system, showing in particular a player computer in FIG. 1, upon which the disclosed MCS arrangements can be practiced;

FIG. 3 shows an example of a “round one” dataflow diagram;

FIG. 4 depicts an example of a strategy game in a commercial context;

FIG. 5 shows an example of a “round two” dataflow diagram;

FIG. 6 shows a flowchart of a method for effecting strategy formulation in round one;

FIG. 7 shows a process flowchart for strategy formulation in round two; and

FIG. 8 shows an example of a functional block diagram for an extended Wild platform (ie an MCS platform).

DETAILED DESCRIPTION INCLUDING BEST MODE

Where reference is made in any one or more of the accompanying drawings to steps and/or features, which have the same reference numerals, those steps and/or features have for the purposes of this description the same function(s) or operation(s), unless the contrary intention appears.

It is to be noted that the discussions contained in the “Background” section and that above relating to prior art arrangements relate to discussions of devices which form public knowledge through their use. Such discussions should not be interpreted as a representation by the present inventor or the patent applicant(s) that such documents or devices in any way form part of the common general knowledge in the art.

FIG. 4 depicts an example of a strategy game 400 which, in this particular example, takes the form of an entertainment game in which the aim of the game is to develop the best business strategy.

From a terminology perspective, the MCS approach can conveniently be described in the context of a “game”, irrespective of whether the particular example is concerned with an entertainment game in which a number of players compete with each other for fun, a commercial context in which a company formulates and refines a strategy upon which to base its competitive commercial activities, or a geopolitical context in which a country formulates and refines a strategy upon which to base its foreign policy.

The illustrated entertainment game pits a number of teams of players against each other in a commercial entertainment game context. The idea of the game is for teams 403, 404, . . . , 405 to each arrive at the best strategy for their allocated respective companies 407, 409, . . . , 408. Each of the teams has one or more players. In the example shown team no. 2 has players 401, . . . , 402. The companies 407, 409, . . . , 408 compete against each other in the context of a general environment 406. Company No. M (i.e. 408), team No. M (i.e. 405), and player No. N can be referred to symbolically as CM, TM, and P2N respectively. This terminology is used later as a shorthand way of referring to the company, the team and the player in question.

Each of the teams aims to formulate the “best” strategy for the company which it represents given the presence of the other companies and the general environment. Considering the team no. 403 which represents the company 407 and formulates the strategy 410 for the company 407, if the strategy 410 is determined to be the best strategy in the set of strategies 410, 411, . . . , 412, then the team no. 403 wins.

The relative “quality” of any particular strategy is defined by scores ascribed to the strategy in question by the players using a “market-based” approach. In one example, competing strategies are lined up against each other on a display (such as 214 in FIG. 2A), which is part of a real-time collaborative computer system 200, to enable players to compare the displayed strategies and decide how a particular strategy will perform vis-a-vis the strategies of his opponents. The evaluation and scoring is thus performed by the participating players, based upon their skill and knowledge, and assisted by pre-defined prompts, drop-down menus, and a multi-page display of alternate strategies supported by the MCS arrangements.

The scoring approach, by which each player attempts to achieve the highest score, is an effective mechanism for arriving at the “best” strategies on a team basis. The best strategy is thus representative of a consensus that is arrived at by the players in the game after academic evaluation and consideration.

From an individual player perspective the incentive to rate highly the good strategy of a competing team member is that if that good strategy scores highly and merges with their own strategy (see 321 in FIG. 3), they (ie the individual player in question) will benefit in Round 2.

The game firstly requires each of the teams to formulate and refine one or more alternate intermediate strategies (not shown here but see 311 in FIG. 3 for example) in an intra-team context with the involvement of only members of the particular team in question. The players in the team analyse and score each other's intermediate strategies, which are presented using the multi-page competitive-collaborative approach in which each strategy is presented on a separate page in a side by side manner, in one example on a display such as 214 in FIG. 2A. The players may amend, merge and/or delete some of the displayed strategies, using the collaborative computer system 200, to thus transform a current set of intermediate strategies to another, possibly smaller, set of strategies based upon their assessment. These strategies are referred to as the “Round 1” strategies and this segment of the game is referred to as “Round 1” (also referred to as the first round).

Thereafter in “Round 2” (also referred to as the second round), all the players in all the teams get to see all the Round 1 strategies that have been developed in Round 1, again using the multi-page display referred to above. All the players then critique the Round 1 strategies through appending comments and critiques, analysis and scoring, again performed on the basis of the knowledge of the players involved and assisted by pre-defined prompts, drop-down menus, and a multi-page display of alternate strategies supported by the MCS arrangements. The output of Round 2 is a Round 2 analysis for each Round 1 strategy.

The game can then iterate back to a second instance of Round 1, in which each of the teams formulate and refine one or more alternate intermediate strategies in an intra-team context with the involvement of only members of the particular team in question. The difference between the second Round 1 instance and the first Round 1 instance is that in the second Round 1, the players in each team have a Round 2 analysis as additional information. This makes a significant contribution to the ability of the player in a team to account for the other teams. Accordingly, successive Round 1 plays typically result in significantly refined strategies of improved quality. After a number of successive rounds, strategies typically converge on a “best” set of strategies, the aspect of being “best” being defined on the basis of consensus of the players.

The MCS arrangements use a platform which enables the various players in the game to simultaneously create and edit displayed content in a collaborative interactive fashion. One example of such a platform extends the “Wiki” web-based technology known in the art in order to form an MCS platform as will be described in regard to FIG. 8. This approach supports hyperlinks and simple text syntax for creating new pages and cross-links between internal pages on the fly. It also enables the organization of contributions to be edited in addition to the content itself. The advantages of this approach include:

    • Easy and flexible editing;
    • An environment that encourages collaboration and evolution of ideas;
    • Reliable change tracking; and
    • The ability to secure pages against permissions or clearance levels.

The “normal” Wiki approach uses a collaborative cooperative approach in which a population of participants incrementally edit the same displayed page in order to get closer to “the truth”. The MCS platform implements a market-based approach which uses multiple pages to develop strategies through collaborative competition, rather than the conventional “purely collaborative” approach of using one page per topic, these pages evolving incrementally as different players edit the page in question. The MCS arrangement uses an extended Wiki type of approach referred to as a “collaborative market-based competitive approach” (ie the MCS arrangement) which displays multiple displayed pages rather than the collaborative cooperative model which incrementally edits the same page in order to get closer to the truth. The MCS approach thus uses multiple pages to develop alternate parallel strategies through collaborative competition, ultimately selecting one or more “best” strategy pages from a population of candidate strategy pages.

Clearly different sets of multi-page presentations are made according to the stage of the game, as can be seen, for example, in FIG. 3. Accordingly, in Round 1 intermediate strategies 311, 313, . . . , 315 are each presented on a separate page on the display of each of the players in the team no. 1. In contrast, in Round 2, each strategy such as 323, in each of the sets of strategies such as 327, . . . , 503, are each presented on a separate page on the display of each of the players in all the teams. It is apparent that normal scrolling and other known display manipulation techniques can be used to peruse a large number of separate pages.

The disclosed MCS platform can be run on the Internet or on an internal secured intranet. The MCS software 233 (see FIG. 2A), which may be made up of one or more software application modules, is hosted on a central server 108, and accessed by a number of PCs 101, 104, . . . , 106 over a network 103 (see FIG. 1) using a regular Internet browser such as Firefox, Internet Explorer or Safari. In one MCS platform implementation, “Adaptivist” has been used to assist in providing the hosting service, and the Wiki software “Confluence” developed by “Atlassian” has been used to assist in implementing one example of the MCS arrangement.

In the example shown in FIG. 4, scoring takes place both in Round 1 and in Round 2 in order to ascribe a quality measure to the strategies that have been developed thus far. Thus for example, in Round 1 a player whose intermediate strategy is selected as the only accepted Round 1 strategy is awarded 10 points. Two players whose intermediate strategies are merged to form the only accepted Round 1 strategy are awarded 5 points each. Other scoring approaches can also be used. In Round 2, the player having the strategy which is assigned the highest score is awarded 20 points. The player having the strategy having the next to highest score is awarded 10 points. Other scoring approaches can also be used.

The example 400 has been described in entertainment game terms however the MCS arrangement this can also be applied to a “real world” commercial or geopolitical situation. Accordingly, the companies such as 407 can, in a general sense be referred to as entities.

In an entertainment game example each of the teams 403, 404, . . . , 405 is allocated to their respective company 407, 409, . . . , 408 and these teams have as their objective the goal of producing the “best” strategy for their respective company. In the entertainment game context each of the teams 403, 404, . . . , 405 will, during the course of the MCS entertainment game, be given the opportunity of seeing the strategies produced by “competing” teams.

In real world commercial or geopolitical applications, many of the details required to use the MCS arrangement are the same as or are similar to those associated with the entertainment game example. However, since in real world situations teams for each entity (be it a company or a country) will generally not make their own strategies and deliberations available to the teams of competing entities, a slightly different approach is adopted.

Take for example a real world commercial application in which the company 407 uses the MCS approach to develop and refine a strategy for itself in the face of competing companies 409, . . . , and 408. The company 407 firstly constructs, from it's own staff members or from outside groups of “contractors”, as many teams as there are competing companies. Each of these teams is directed to “stand in the shoes” of the entity which it represents, and to use the best available knowledge of their allocated company in order to represent that company in the game. These teams “play” against each other in the same manner as occurs in the entertainment game, and the result of this activity will be to lead to “best” strategies based upon the available information.

In another real world commercial application, the company 407 uses the MCS approach to develop and refine a strategy for itself without reference to competing companies, having regard only for the general environment 406. In one example, the company 407 firstly constructs as many teams as desired, each team representing the same company 407. Each of these teams is directed to “stand in the shoes” of the company 407, and to use the best available knowledge of the company 407 in order to represent the company in the game. In one example, each team formulates (see FIG. 3 for more details) a profile of the general environment 406, and a profile of the company 407. The various teams could, for example, be instructed to adopt a “best case”, “middle case” or “worst case” approach in formulating the aforementioned profiles. These teams “play” against each other in the same manner as occurs in the entertainment game, and the result of this activity will be to lead to “best” strategies based upon the available information.

The MCS arrangement can also be used in geo-political situations, where the approach is similar to the above-noted commercial examples. In the geo-political context, the companies 407, 409, . . . , 408 are replaced by countries or regions, and the general environment 406 includes geo-political factors instead of mere commercial factors.

The game examples described have been based on two rounds, the first round being limited to players of a single team collaborating with each other, and the second round involving all the players of all the teams collaborating with each other. This is only one approach which can be used in the MCS system, and different numbers of rounds and different configurations of rounds can also be used.

The disclosed MCS approach, when used for real world applications in commercial or geopolitical contexts, provides significant benefits over traditional approaches which involve physical meetings of multiple strategists sitting around a table to brain-storm various strategic options. Particularly in the geopolitical context the MCS arrangement is of significant advantage as it requires that the interests, threats, capabilities and trends of player be formulated and refined both on an individual basis (in Round 1) and then in an overall context (in Round 2) enabling each player to look through the eyes of each actor and develop their strategies independently.

FIG. 1 shows a systems hardware schematic diagram of the disclosed MCS system 100. In FIG. 1, four computers 101, 104, 106 and 108 are connected by respective connections 102, 105, 107 and 109 to a wide-area computer network 103 to which is also connected a database 110 by a corresponding connection 111. This arrangement supports a distributed, multi-player game activity. The computer 104 is associated with the player 401 in FIG. 4. A central server 108 runs one part of an MCS software application, while the other “player” computers 101, 104 and 106 run complementary parts of the MCS software application. The database 110 contains information used in the MCS game. The MCS software (see 233 in FIG. 2A) can be distributed throughout the system 100 in other ways as well.

FIGS. 2A and 2B is another view of the system in FIG. 1, and collectively form a schematic block diagram of a general purpose computer system 200, upon which the various MCS arrangements described can be practiced.

As seen in FIG. 2A, the computer system 200 is formed by the computer 104, input devices such as a keyboard 202, a mouse pointer device 203, a scanner 226, a camera 227, and a microphone 280, and output devices including a printer 215, a display device 214 and loudspeakers 217. An external Modulator-Demodulator (Modem) transceiver device 216 may be used by the computer module 104 for communicating to and from the computers 101, 106, 108 over the communications network 103 via a connection 221. The network 103 may be a wide-area network (WAN), such as the Internet or a private WAN. Where the connection 221 is a telephone line, the modem 216 may be a traditional “dial-up” modem. Alternatively, where the connection 221 is a high capacity (eg: cable) connection, the modem 216 may be a broadband modem. A wireless modem may also be used for wireless connection to the network 103.

The computer module 104, which is used by player 401 in FIG. 4, typically includes at least one processor unit 205, also referred to as a game controller, and a memory unit 206 for example formed from semiconductor random access memory (RAM) and semiconductor read only memory (ROM). The module 104 also includes an number of input/output (I/O) interfaces including an audio-video interface 207 that couples to the video display 214, loudspeakers 217 and microphone 280, an I/O interface 213 for the keyboard 202, mouse 203, scanner 226, camera 227 and optionally a joystick (not illustrated), and an interface 208 for the external modem 216 and printer 215. In some implementations, the modem 216 may be incorporated within the computer module 104, for example within the interface 208. The computer module 104 also has a local network interface 211 which, via a connection 223, permits coupling of the computer system 200 to a local computer network 222, known as a Local Area Network (LAN). As also illustrated, the local network 222 may also couple to the wide network 103 via a connection 224, which would typically include a so-called “firewall” device or device of similar functionality. The interface 211 may be formed by an Ethernet™ circuit card, a Bluetooth™ wireless arrangement or an IEEE 802.11 wireless arrangement.

FIG. 2A also shows the computers 101, 106 and 108 as well as the database 110 being connected by their respective connections to the wide-area computer network 103. Although the aforementioned description and that which follows relate primarily to the computer 104 which is used by player number 1 in the team 2, the other computers in the MCS arrangement have similar structural and functional features and characteristics.

Returning to the computer 104, the interfaces 208 and 213 may afford either or both of serial and parallel connectivity, the former typically being implemented according to the Universal Serial Bus (USB) standards and having corresponding USB connectors (not illustrated). Storage devices 209 are provided and typically include a hard disk drive (HDD) 210. Other storage devices such as a floppy disk drive and a magnetic tape drive (not illustrated) may also be used. An optical disk drive 212 is typically provided to act as a non-volatile source of data. Portable memory devices, such optical disks (eg: CD-ROM, DVD), USB-RAM, and floppy disks for example may then be used as appropriate sources of data to the system 200.

The components 205 to 213 of the computer module 104 typically communicate via an interconnected bus 204 and in a manner which results in a conventional mode of operation of the computer system 200 known to those in the relevant art. Examples of computers on which the described arrangements can be practised include IBM-PC's and compatibles, Sun Sparcstations, Apple Mac™ or similar computer systems evolved therefrom.

The MCS method may be implemented using the computer system 200 wherein the processes of FIGS. 3, 5, 6 and 7, to be described, may be implemented as one or more MCS software application programs 233 executable within the computer system 200. In particular, the steps of the MCS method are effected by instructions 231 in the software 233 that are carried out within the computer system 200. The software instructions 231 may be formed as one or more code modules, each for performing one or more particular tasks. The software may also be divided into two separate parts, in which a first part and the corresponding code modules performs the MCS methods and a second part and the corresponding code modules manage a user interface between the first part and the user. As previously noted, the MCS software application can be distributed, according to functional requirements and structural limitations, amongst the various computers depicted in FIG. 1.

The software 233 is generally loaded into the computer system 200 from a computer readable medium, and is then typically stored in the HDD 210, as illustrated in FIG. 2A, or the memory 206, after which the software 233 can be executed by the computer system 200. In some instances, the application programs 233 may be supplied to the user encoded on one or more CD-ROM 225 and read via the corresponding drive 212 prior to storage in the memory 210 or 206. Alternatively the software 233 may be read by the computer system 200 from the networks 220 or 222 or loaded into the computer system 200 from other computer readable media. Computer readable storage media refers to any storage medium that participates in providing instructions and/or data to the computer system 200 for execution and/or processing. Examples of such storage media include floppy disks, magnetic tape, CD-ROM, a hard disk drive, a ROM or integrated circuit, USB memory, a magneto-optical disk, or a computer readable card such as a PCMCIA card and the like, whether or not such devices are internal or external of the computer module 104. Examples of computer readable transmission media that may also participate in the provision of software, application programs, instructions and/or data to the computer module 104 include radio or infra-red transmission channels as well as a network connection to another computer or networked device, and the Internet or Intranets including e-mail transmissions and information recorded on Websites and the like.

The second part of the MCS application programs 233 and the corresponding code modules mentioned above may be executed to implement one or more graphical user interfaces (GUIs) to be rendered or otherwise represented upon the display 214. Through manipulation of typically the keyboard 202 and the mouse 203, a user of the computer system 200 and the application 233 may manipulate the interface in a functionally adaptable manner to provide controlling commands and/or input to the applications associated with the GUI(s). Other forms of functionally adaptable user interfaces may also be implemented, such as an audio interface utilizing speech prompts output via the loudspeakers 217 and user voice commands input via the microphone 280.

FIG. 2B is a detailed schematic block diagram of the processor 205 and a “memory” 234. The memory 234 represents a logical aggregation of all the memory devices (including the HDD 210 and semiconductor memory 206) that can be accessed by the computer module 104 in FIG. 2A.

When the computer module 104 is initially powered up, a power-on self-test (POST) program 250 executes. The POST program 250 is typically stored in a ROM 249 of the semiconductor memory 206. A program permanently stored in a hardware device such as the ROM 249 is sometimes referred to as firmware. The POST program 250 examines hardware within the computer module 104 to ensure proper functioning, and typically checks the processor 205, the memory (209, 206), and a basic input-output systems software (BIOS) module 251, also typically stored in the ROM 249, for correct operation. Once the POST program 250 has run successfully, the BIOS 251 activates the hard disk drive 210. Activation of the hard disk drive 210 causes a bootstrap loader program 252 that is resident on the hard disk drive 210 to execute via the processor 205. This loads an operating system 253 into the RAM memory 206 upon which the operating system 253 commences operation. The operating system 253 is a system level application, executable by the processor 205, to fulfil various high level functions, including processor management, memory management, device management, storage management, software application interface, and generic user interface.

The operating system 253 manages the memory (209, 206) in order to ensure that each process or application running on the computer module 104 has sufficient memory in which to execute without colliding with memory allocated to another process. Furthermore, the different types of memory available in the system 200 must be used properly so that each process can run effectively. Accordingly, the aggregated memory 234 is not intended to illustrate how particular segments of memory are allocated (unless otherwise stated), but rather to provide a general view of the memory accessible by the computer system 200 and how such is used.

The processor 205 includes a number of functional modules including a control unit 239, an arithmetic logic unit (ALU) 240, and a local or internal memory 248, sometimes called a cache memory. The cache memory 248 typically includes a number of storage registers 244-246 in a register section. One or more internal buses 241 functionally interconnect these functional modules. The processor 205 typically also has one or more interfaces 242 for communicating with external devices via the system bus 204, using a connection 218.

The MCS application program 233 includes a sequence of instructions 231 that may include conditional branch and loop instructions. The program 233 may also include data 232 which is used in execution of the program 233. The instructions 231 and the data 232 are stored in memory locations 228-230 and 235-237 respectively. Depending upon the relative size of the instructions 231 and the memory locations 228-230, a particular instruction may be stored in a single memory location as depicted by the instruction shown in the memory location 230. Alternately, an instruction may be segmented into a number of parts each of which is stored in a separate memory location, as depicted by the instruction segments shown in the memory locations 228-229.

In general, the processor 205 is given a set of instructions which are executed therein. The processor 205 then waits for a subsequent input, to which it reacts to by executing another set of instructions. Each input may be provided from one or more of a number of sources, including data generated by one or more of the input devices 202, 203, data received from an external source across one of the networks 220, 222, data retrieved from one of the storage devices 206, 209 or data retrieved from a storage medium 225 inserted into the corresponding reader 212. The execution of a set of the instructions may in some cases result in output of data. Execution may also involve storing data or variables to the memory 234.

The disclosed MCS arrangements use input variables 254, that are stored in the memory 234 in corresponding memory locations 255-258. The MCS arrangements produce output variables 261, that are stored in the memory 234 in corresponding memory locations 262-265. Intermediate variables may be stored in memory locations 259, 260, 266 and 267.

The register section 244-246, the arithmetic logic unit (ALU) 240, and the control unit 239 of the processor 205 work together to perform sequences of micro-operations needed to perform “fetch, decode, and execute” cycles for every instruction in the instruction set making up the program 233. Each fetch, decode, and execute cycle comprises:

(a) a fetch operation, which fetches or reads an instruction 231 from a memory location 228;

(b) a decode operation in which the control unit 239 determines which instruction has been fetched; and

(c) an execute operation in which the control unit 239 and/or the ALU 240 execute the instruction.

Thereafter, a further fetch, decode, and execute cycle for the next instruction may be executed. Similarly, a store cycle may be performed by which the control unit 239 stores or writes a value to a memory location 232.

Each step or sub-process in the processes of FIGS. 3, 5, 6 and 7 is associated with one or more segments of the MCS program 233, and is performed by the register section 244-247, the ALU 240, and the control unit 239 in the processor 205 working together to perform the fetch, decode, and execute cycles for every instruction in the instruction set for the noted segments of the program 233.

The MCS system may alternatively be implemented in dedicated hardware such as one or more gate arrays and/or integrated circuits performing the MCS functions and/or sub-functions. Such dedicated hardware may also include the graphic processors, digital signal processors, or one or more micro processors and associated memories. Where gate arrays are used, the process flowcharts in FIGS., 3, 5, 6 and 7 are converted to hardware description language (HDL) form. This HDL description is converted to a device level net list which is used by a place and route (P&R) tool, to produce a file which is downloaded to the gate array to program it with the design specified in the HDL description.

FIG. 3 shows an example 300 of a Round 1 dataflow diagram. The dataflow 300 relates to team 403 which acts on behalf of their associated company 407. Teams 404, . . . , 405 conduct their own processes, associated with similar dataflow diagrams to that shown in FIG. 3, on behalf of their respective companies 409, . . . , 408. Accordingly, while the following description relates to the dataflow 300 associated with the team 403 acting on behalf of the company 407, it should be appreciated that many such processors are in fact occurring in parallel, and as will be explained, in a collaborative-competition interactive fashion using multiple displayed pages.

Returning to FIG. 3, the dataflow commences with a START symbol 331. Thereafter the team 403 formulates, in response to presentation of pre-defined template information on respective team member displays such as 214, a profile 303 of the general environment 406 and inputs, as depicted by an arrow 304, this general environment profile 303 into a data input module 305. The general environment profile 303 can be entered manually via the keyboard 202 or alternately can be downloaded from the database 110 if the profile 303 has been previously compiled and stored in that database 110. The general environment profile 303 in the context of the present MCS entertainment game includes details such as the health of the global financial system, global commercial trends in the products and/or services in which the company 407 is active or is influenced, and any other relevant factors associated with the general environment 406. The profile 303 of the general environment can also, in the first Round 1 segment, include known information on the other companies 409, . . . , 408.

Forecasting scenarios in a vertical/horizontal manner has been strongly advocated by strategists in the US military establishment. The rationale behind this approach lies in the notion that trends (e.g., demographic trends, economic trends, political trends, technological trends, etc.) don't evolve in isolation. Instead, the actions of various actors in the context of these trends promote the occurrence of “vertical shocks” or “system perturbations” which dramatically shock the environment and the actors in it. These vertical shocks are followed by “horizontal after-shocks”—lasting effects that alter the way in which the environment operates. By thinking in this “vertical-horizontal manner”, the impact of a single event on the environment and its many dimensions can be methodically anticipated. “Horizontal after-shocks” can then lead, alongside the emerging trends, to “second generation vertical shocks”, and also to “third generation vertical shocks”.

One example to Vertical/Horizontal shock in the business world is the following: Vertical Shock: A competitor enters the shoes industry with a new product—shoes with massage devices. The consequential Horizontal aftershocks which may occur as a result of the vertical shock event are the following: decrease in demand for other regular shoes; salaries for employees rise because the competitor pays well; the world is shifting to use the technology of the new product in other categories such as: sandals, hats and jackets with massage devices. Another example to Vertical/Horizontal shocks in the Geo-Political world is the following: Vertical Shock: Sudden death of prominent secular president in a rather religious country, replaced by his young and inexperienced son. The consequential Horizontal aftershocks which may occur as a result of the vertical shock event are the following: calls for religious revolution appear more public; religious parties gain momentum and support for them increases; economy fluctuates for 2-3 years; neighbouring countries are cautious to continue political relations with the new president, leading to less FDI and military cooperation; stricter health examinations standards are set for state leaders around the world.

According to different embodiments, different scenarios regarding the future of the environment may be used for enhancing the knowledge base and understanding of an environment to better plan the strategies of the actors. According to some embodiments, Vertical/Horizontal planning may be part of a “Forecasting” phase of the system, which usually would occur after strategic profiles were built for the actors, and regional trends were mapped for the environment. The “Forecasting” phase may be performed before the strategy formulation module 309 (In FIG. 3). For example, this can be done in the step in which general environment profile 303 is formulated. In the “Forecasting” phase, users brainstorm the projected regional developments in order to have a better idea on what to expect in the future. This way they are better equipped to start the Strategy Development phase (in strategy formulation module 309 of FIG. 3), of creating actual strategies 311, 312, 313, . . . , 315.

The formulation of the Vertical/Horizontal planning may be performed in the following process: A vertical shock is presented by one of the users, or alternatively by the system (e.g., via a template). For example, an initiation of such shock can be done by the head of department or as a casual procedure in the user's entity, depending on the entity's preference. The vertical shock may be an imaginary but yet feasible event. Following the presentation of the vertical shock, an after shock event may be presented by at least one of the users, or by the system. For example, users may be expected to brainstorm “horizontal after-shocks”, and to present them to the other members of their team. According to some embodiments, second/third generations of shocks/after-shocks may also be presented by the users of the system. The whole procedure of the Vertical/Horizontal planning creates a knowledge base of shocks and after-shocks which may serve the following needs:

    • a. Creating a knowledge base that will serve as a reference. This can be used for example when a specific similar shock occurs. In this case users can then go back to the vertical shock in the environmental profile 303 and examine what were the expected after-shocks, and be more ready for reaction. This may be performed by to taking into consideration that the environment and exact details might vary and need modifications.
    • b. Creating knowledge that will impact other spaces in the system. The Vertical/Horizontal planning process may create knowledge that may have an effect on the understanding of the environment, the actors, the projected future etc. This knowledge may be used in order to consider impact of vertical and/or horizontal shock events on the other components of the environment profile. It is therefore highly valuable as a tool which helps to shape the following issues/models/profiles which characterize the environment: Actors' strategic profiles; Trends; Forecasting; Actors' Strategies—the process provides a method for stress-testing strategies and their resilience to turbulence in the security environment; Net Assessment—Injecting vertical-horizontals into the Round 2 (FIG. 5) in which all the leading strategies are presented to all the actors, to consider the shock's impact on the level of strategic interaction.

The profile of the general environment 406 may incorporate “vertical scenarios” being global large scale events such as rising water levels arising from climate change that would perturb the global or regional commercial environment (considering a commercial game). Players can incorporate such information by filling out an appropriate template. Players can also incorporate associated “horizontal aftershocks”, which are flow-on events that would follow the above vertical scenario, e.g. a change in housing approval policy for real estate on the seaside waterfront forever. The disclosed MCS arrangements structure these scenarios in a way that analysts (i.e. players) can see the interaction between alternate vertical and horizontal scenarios, with macros in the templates displaying the vertical and horizontal scenarios.

According to different embodiments of the present invention, the profile of the general environment 406 (and general environment profile 303) may include the following issues/models/profiles:

    • 1. Strategic Profiles: These profiles may include profiles of companies CM (e.g., profiles of countries, competitors, actors etc.), such as: (a) A model of the interests, threats, capabilities and trends of actors in a region; (b) A model of the regime agenda and decision making calculus; (c) Identification of key strategic objectives; (d) Determination of prioritization and weighting of key strategic objectives, interests and threats. According to different embodiments, the strategic profiles may be also used to compare the tensions between the interests of actors on specific issues, and to compare the tensions between the regional objectives of different actors.
    • 2. Trends and Net assessment of the environment: According to different embodiments of the present invention, the general environment 406 may also include models of external trends shaping the environment: (a) The trends can be, for example: environmental trends, demographic trends, economic trends, military trends, political trends, energy security trends, technological trends; and, (b) Net assessments of the current environment: (i) Outline of the balance of power: uni-polar, bi-polar, multi-polar or non-polar; (ii) Outline of the nature of intervention by foreign forces, the impacts of globalization; and (iii) Outline of regional fractures, alliance blocs, status-quo/revisionist powers, rising powers.
    • 3. Rule sets according to the strategic profiles and the trends of the system;
    • 4. Alternative future scenarios: According to different embodiments of the present invention, general environment 406 may include possible future environments which may be projected by the players of the system, or may be proposed by the system itself. These scenarios may include the mentioned above Vertical/Horizontal planning.

It is herein acknowledged that present invention is a computer implemented system. In practice, where there is a high complexity of analysing large amount of data in a limited period of time, the system of the present invention cannot be implemented without a computer. For example, when the number of competing teams is large, the general environment is information rich; and the incoming data is plentiful, varied and changes over time, the computer is an essential element by which the present invention can be implemented.

The team 403 also formulates a profile 301 for its own company 407. This profile 301 can include a SWOT (i.e. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis, and characterises the interests, threats, capabilities and trends being followed by the company 407 as well as the goals and objectives of the company. The profile 301 for the company 407 can be entered, as depicted by an arrow 302, into the data module 305 via the keyboard 202 or downloaded from the database 110, or can be input as information on the disk storage medium 225 which is read by the optical disk drive 212.

The data input module 305 is one instance of a more general data input module 806 that will be described in more detail in regard to the extended Wiki platform (also referred to as the MCS platform) depicted in FIG. 8. Once the aforementioned profiles 303 and 301 are input into the data input module 305, the data module 305 directs the profiles to a presentation module 307 which presents these profiles in a suitable format to the various players belonging to the team 403. The profiles 301 and 303 are also directed, as depicted by an arrow 308, to a strategy formulation module 309. The module 309 uses predefined templates stored in a template database 811, and displays these templates on the respective video displays such as 214 for each player in the team 403. The templates can contain pre-defined data such as questions to be posed to the players, and can also contain macros for control purposes.

Each of the players in the team 403 manipulate the information on their respective video displays 214 using the input devices associated with their respective computers, in order to collaboratively formulate, as depicted by respective arrows 310, 312, . . . , 314 one or more intermediate strategies 311, 313, . . . , 315 for the company 407.

As will be described in more detail in regard to FIG. 8, in one example the MCS application program 233 uses an extended “Wiki” approach that allows all the members of the team to simultaneously freely create and edit the content displayed by the presentation module 307 on their respective video displays 214. This extended Wild approach enables the members of the team to collaborate and interact freely, providing easy and flexible editing via a graphical user interface or simplified programming language that shields the users from technical intricacies of the content presented on their video displays, while provided reliable change tracking in order to provide a historic record of which changes have been made by which team members in which sequence. The extended Wiki approach also allows security constraints to be formulated and maintained as desired.

Once the members of the team 403 have formulated one or more intermediate strategies 311, 313, . . . , 315, these intermediate strategies are provided, as depicted by respective arrows 316, 317, . . . , 318 to a comparative analysis and scoring module 319. This module 319 presents the intermediate strategies 311, 313, . . . , 315 on multiple pages on the respective video displays 214 using the presentation module 307, and enables the various team players to provide information in order to simultaneously comment on the intermediate strategies and to amend them as desired. The comparative analysis and scoring module 319 can use pre-defined templates displayed on respective displays of the team players such as 214 to assist the players.

According to some embodiments, following the exploration of the spectrum of options and building of a strategic plan for each option during the strategic planning phase, evaluation of the strategies may be performed. This may be performed by the Competitive analysis and scoring module 319 illustrated in FIG. 3. As part of this analysis, the following steps may be performed by the player of the team: (i) critiquing and commenting and responding to criticism; (ii) comparing strategies based on their advantages, disadvantages and/or comparison matrices (which take into account how each strategy helps achieve each of the actor's weighted objectives); and, (iii) stress testing of strategies by prompting each strategy with verticals-horizontals analyzed before.

Once the comparative analysis and scoring process performed by the module 319 is completed, the intermediate strategies as amended, together with the associated comments, are directed, as depicted by an arrow 320, to a decision, collaboration and merging module 321. The decision, collaboration and merging module 321 can use pre-defined templates displayed on respective displays of the team players such as 214. The module 321 rates all the strategies proposed by other members of the team by accepting scoring information from the players, processing this information and displaying it to the various players as desired. From a player perspective the incentive to rate highly the good strategies is that if another good strategy scores highly and merges with their own, they will benefit in Round 2. This module 321 presents the output of the comparative analysis and scoring module 319 using the presentation module 307 on the respective video displays 214 of the various players in the team 407. This enables the various team members to make decisions in regard to the intermediate strategies 311, 313, . . . 315, and to merge these intermediate strategies and/or prioritise them and/or delete them as the case may be.

According to a specific embodiment of the present invention, the decision, collaboration and merging module 321 may compare between the different strategies by comparing how each strategy achieves the different objectives which were pre-defined in the environment. Each objective has its own weight. For example, the players of the team may vote how well each strategy serves the objectives of each strategy. According to the pre-defined weights of each objective, an algorithm may compare between the proposed strategies, and provide a score for each one of the strategies as present in Table 1.

TABLE 1
An example to the scoring of the proposed strategies
Objec-Objec-Objec-Objec-Objec-
tive 1tive 2tive 3tive 4tive 5
Weighting: (%)40302055Score
Strategy A7855366
Strategy B9948276
Strategy C4800542.5
Strategy D2899657.5
Strategy E5793965

According to some embodiments of the present invention, prior to estimating different intermediate strategies 311, 313, . . . , 315, the system of the present invention may be used for estimation of the different scenarios regarding the future of the environment, which may compete one against the other. The estimation of the future of the environment (an “environment projection phase”) may be conducted in the form of “competing scenarios” or “alternative futures”. The Future environments compete in the same way the strategies compete between each other. In other words, the player of the team will try to forecast how the future of the environment will look like in case of a specific vertical shock event.

According to some embodiments, the different alternatives future environments 303 may be used for stress-testing the different strategies (e.g., strategy 311, strategy 312, . . . , strategy 315). According to these embodiments, the relevance of the proposed strategies may be judged in the context of each one of the alternatives futures, or at least part of them. The stress testing may be performed in the light of the different domains which characterize each future environment such as: political, military, economic, psychological, etc.

Once the process associated with the module 321 is completed, depending upon the view of the team members, the dataflow can either loop, as depicted by an arrow 326, back to the strategy formulation module 309, or alternately, can proceed to the completion of Round 1 with production, as depicted by respective arrows 322, . . . , 324, of Round 1 strategies 323, . . . , 325. FIG. 5 shows an example 500 of a Round 2 dataflow diagram. As noted above, in Round 1 each team operates in isolation from the other teams in order to arrive at one or more Round 1 strategy options for their respective companies. Round 2 broadens the collaborative exposure of the strategies, enabling all the players from all the teams to view and comment upon the strategies developed both by their own team and by the other teams.

Round 1 is characterised by the fact that the players in a particular team are aware only of their own models of both the general environment 406 and their own company such as 407. These players have no access to information held by or formulated by the players of other teams.

Looking back at FIG. 3 it is seen that the Round one strategies 323, . . . , 325 form a set 327 of Round 1 strategies referred to by the symbol S1. The superscript “1” in S1 indicates that the set of strategies being referred to relates to team number “1” (i.e. 403). FIG. 5 depicts the dataflow 500 which relates to a process conducted by all the teams 403, 404, . . . , 405 on behalf of their respective companies 407, 409, . . . , 408. Accordingly, the input to the Round 2 dataflow 500 comprises the set S1 of Round 1 strategies produced by the team T1, the corresponding set of strategies S2 developed by the team T2, and the set of strategies SM produced by the team TM. These various sets of strategies are provided, as depicted by respective arrows 501, 502, . . . , 504, to a comparative analysis simulation and scoring module 505. The comparative analysis simulation and scoring module 505 can make use of pre-defined templates displayed on respective displays of the player displays such as 214. This module 505 presents the aforementioned sets of strategies S1, . . . , SM on the respective video displays 214 for all the members of all the teams T1, T2, . . . , TM. The module 505 enables collaborative interaction using the extended Wiki platform 800, and the module 505 displays the sets of Round 1 strategies S1, . . . , SM using the multi page approach so that the various team players can clearly assess the relative effectiveness of the Round 1 strategies presented using their skill, experience and knowledge.

The aforementioned collaborative interaction performed by all the players produces, for each set of strategies such as S1, a corresponding set of ratings, scores and critiques 508 referred to as A1, this also being referred to a Round 2 information.

Once all the sets of critiques Ai, where 1≦i≦M have been formulated by the total population of teams T1, T2, . . . , TM, then the round one strategy sets Si, where 1≦i≦M, as well as the corresponding analysis sets Ai, where 1≦i≦M, are provided, as depicted by respective arrows 514, 513 in FIG. 5, and by dashed arrow 329 in FIG. 3, to the beginning of the dataflow 300 associated with the team T1. The team T1 then commences a second Round 1 process in order to formulate refined alternate Round 1 strategies for their respective company.

Similarly, once all the sets of critiques Ai, where 1≦i≦M have been formulated by the total population of teams T1, T2, . . . , TM, then the round one strategy sets Si, where 1≦i≦M, as well as the corresponding analysis sets Ai, where 1≦i≦M, are provided to the beginning of the respective dataflows (not shown) associated with the respective teams Ti. Each team Ti then commences a second Round 1 process in order to formulate refined alternate Round 1 strategies for their respective company.

FIG. 6 shows a flowchart of a process 600 for effecting strategy formulation according to the MCS arrangement in Round 1. The process 600 relates to the Round 1 dataflow diagram shown in FIG. 3, which is conducted by the players in the team 403 on behalf of their allocated company 407. Accordingly, the process 600 is performed by the team 403 in the context of the entertainment game on behalf of their associated company 407. As noted in regard to the data flow diagrams in FIGS. 3 and 5, processes equivalent to the process 600 are performed in parallel by the other teams 404, . . . , 405 on behalf of their respective associated companies 409, . . . , 408.

The process 600 commences with a start step 601, after which, at the beginning of the game, a step 603 develops profiles for both the general environment 406 and for company 407.

The step 603 is performed by the players in the team 403 using templates from the template database 811. Considering the step 603, in regard to the manual operations performed by the players in the team 403, the players use their respective user input interfaces such as the keyboard 202 and the mouse 203 to input data, guided by the content of one or more templates (not shown) retrieved from the template database 811, under the control of the processor 205 which executes the MCS software application 233, to develop the profiles for the general environment and the company 407.

The other steps in the method 600 are also performed by the players in the team 403 using templates from the template database 811.

A following step 605 formulates and/or amends intermediate strategies such as 311 which are presented to each participating player in the relevant team using the multi-page approach. The intermediate strategies are subsequently comparatively analysed and scored in a step 607 using the multi-page approach. The scoring step 607 considers scores that have been assigned to various strategy options by the players, and determines the rank of the various strategies based upon these scores. The MCS arrangement is also capable of summarising information from multiple pages in order to assist players in assessing scores and critiques associated with various strategy options. Thereafter, a step 609 determines if further improvement of the intermediate strategies 311 is desired. This is determined by consensus of the players, or by predetermined criteria based upon scores allocated by the players, for example. If further improvement is desired, then the process 600 is directed by a “YES” arrow back to the step 605 in a looping fashion. If, on the other hand, no further improvement is required, then the process 600 is directed from the step 609 according to a “NO” arrow to a step 612. The step 612 scores and can merge and/or delete members of the intermediate strategy group such as 311 to form the Round 1 strategies such as 323. At this point the set 327 of Round 1 strategies is produced, this set being referred to as S1. The process 600 is then directed, as depicted by an arrow 613, to a collection symbol “B” which is also seen in FIG. 7.

As noted above, all the steps in the process 600 can be performed by the players in the team 403 using templates from the template database 811.

The templates typically include both a series of questions that prompt the user, and additional functions. Fir example, certain macros within a template can be read from other summary pages when comparing the strategy against other strategies (e.g. advantages, disadvantages, critiques, summaries). Certain macros can lead to additional templates in order to propose multiple tactics within the strategy in question. Templates also typically generate drop-down menus with suggestions throughout the strategy rounds, not only prompting a player with questions but also suggesting possible approaches.

As noted previously, the Round 1/Round 2 processes may be performed in an iterative manner as many times as desired, with the resultant strategies becoming more refined each time. For any given iteration, the Round 1 strategies form the “current strategies”. In an entertainment game context, the current strategies signify the end of a game round, and the game can cease at this time, with the game winners being determined on the basis of the scores accumulated in the step 607 and the step 703 (which would have been performed in a previous Round 2 process). In a real world commercial context, the MCS process can be performed in an ongoing fashion. The current strategies in such an application can be used to guide the operation of the company, and these current strategies can be updated and refined by “playing” the MCS method game on a regular basis, say monthly or yearly depending upon how dynamic the commercial environment is. Use of the MCS arrangement in a geopolitical context is similar to the use in a commercial context, with the current strategies forming the basis for decisions made by political and other leaders, these strategies being updated and refined as often as desired.

FIG. 7 shows a process flowchart for strategy refinement in Round 2. The process 700 relates to the Round 2 dataflow diagram shown in FIG. 5, which is conducted by all the players in all the teams on behalf of all their associated companies in a collaborative fashion. The process 700 commences with the connection symbol “B” and the arrow 613 which are directed to a step 701 which inputs the sets of Round 1 strategies S1, . . . , SM from all the teams for all the companies in the game. Thereafter, a step 703 performs comparative analysis and scoring of the various sets of strategies S1, . . . , SM. The step 703 is performed by the complete set of players participating in the game. The players view the various strategies, all of which are displayed in a multi-page fashion on their individual displays, and comment, critique, and score the various strategies in a competitive-collaborative real-time manner. Once the step 703 is completed, a subsequent step 705 outputs Round 2 analysis results A1, . . . , AM as well as the corresponding Round 1 sets of strategies S1, . . . , SM in regard to which the analysis results were derived. These outputs are provided, as depicted by an arrow 706 and a connection symbol “A” to the step 603 in FIG. 6.

All the steps in the process 700 can be performed by the players in the team 403 using templates from the template database 811.

FIG. 8 shows an example 800 of a functional block diagram for the MCS platform. The platform is implemented in software in the present example as part of the MCS application program 233, however the platform can be implemented as a special-purpose hardware module (not shown) suitably connected to the central server 108 and/or the player PCs 101, 104, . . . , 106 in FIG. 1.

The MCS platform 800 has a data input module 806 which is capable of supporting multiple instances of the team data input modules such as 305 that is shown in FIG. 3. In effect, the data input module 806 can receive inputs from all the players in all the teams T1, T2, . . . , TM simultaneously, enabling either intra-team collaboration as in the Round 1 process 600, or both intra and inter-team collaboration as depicted in the process 700 in FIG. 7. The data input module 806 provides, as depicted by a set of arrows 813, the inputs 805 coming from the various players in the various teams, to a strategy formulation module 804, a comparative analysis and scoring module 807, a decision, collaboration and merging module 809, and a simulation module 812. The aforementioned modules 804, 807, 809 and 812 are capable of supporting multiple instances of corresponding individual modules in a similar fashion to that described for the data input module 806. Thus, for example, the strategy formulation module 804 can support multiple instances such as the module 309 depicted in FIG. 3, where the module 309 is used by the players on team 1 in regard to the Round 1 process shown in FIG. 6. Similar comments apply to the other modules 807, 809 and 812.

Each of the modules 804, 807, 809 can access, as depicted by a set of arrows 810, templates stored in a template database 811. The database 811 can be implemented either as part of the external database 110 (see FIG. 1) or as a memory partition in the memory 206 (see FIG. 2A). A template creation/editing module 808 can be used to create and/or amend templates stored in the template database 811.

In one example, the templates take the form of a series of questions (which may include drop-down menus and so on) designed to best model background information such as the general environment 406, or develop a strategy such as 311. The company profile 301 (or equivalently the country profile in a geopolitical example) uses a template designed to model the interests, threats, capabilities and trends facing the company, country or group. The strategy formulation module 804, the comparative analysis and scoring module 807, the decision collaboration and merging module 809 and the simulation module 812 communicate, as depicted by a set of arrows 803, with a presentation module 802. The presentation module 802 is capable of supporting multiple instances of individual presentation modules such as 307 that is depicted in FIG. 3. The presentation module communicates, as depicted by a set of arrows 801, with a corresponding set of video displays such as 214.

As previously noted, the MCS platform supports collaborative interaction between the players in the game in a competitive context referred to as a market-based approach. The market-based approach uses multiple displayed pages to develop strategies through collaborative competition rather than the “purely collaborative” conventional approach of using one page per topic, these pages evolving incrementally as different players edit the page in question. The MCS arrangement uses a collaborative market-based competitive model using multiple displayed pages rather than a collaborative cooperative model which incrementally edits the same page in order to get closer to the truth. The MCS approach thus uses multiple pages to develop alternate parallel strategies through collaborative competition.

According to certain embodiments of the present invention, the system of the present invention may be used for interactive simulation of different strategies or future scenarios. This may be similar to dynamic War-games which are known in the art. According to these embodiments, the Vertical-Horizontal planning may be utilized as a tool for “Incidents and Reactions”. This is conducted in order to challenge a company's management team, a security analysis team and the like with possible shocks and examine the possible reactions they should take to counter the challenge. This dynamic process then leads to the development of horizontal (sometimes competing) strategies to deal with a vertical shock or change, thereby creating a “Book of options” to be used by the user entity when needed. The difference between this application and the application presented above, is that the application presented above is used for creating knowledge on the after-effects of the events (which can be used for better understanding the projected environment and perhaps affect actor's strategies), while this application aims at creating the actual responses (smaller-scale strategies) to an event.

INDUSTRIAL APPLICABILITY

The arrangements described are applicable to the computer and data processing industries and particularly for the computer game and simulator industries.

The foregoing describes only some embodiments of the present invention, and modifications and/or changes can be made thereto without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention, the embodiments being illustrative and not restrictive.

Accordingly, although the description is directed towards development of strategies in a competitive collaborative context, the MCS arrangement can be used in a more general context for development of documents in a competitive'collaborative context.

In the context of this specification, the word “comprising” means “including principally but not necessarily solely” or “having” or “including”, and not “consisting only of”. Variations of the word “comprising”, such as “comprise” and “comprises” have correspondingly varied meanings.