Title:
Video game program and system, including control method and computer-readable medium therefor, for determining and displaying character relations
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A network video game for allowing a player to easily grasp a relation between the player's own character and another character. A computer 1a capable of being connected with a server 116 via a network 100 decides whether or not a player's own character 201 manipulated by the computer, and another character 210 manipulated by another computer 1b and connected with the server 116 via the network 100 are in a predetermined relation. If it is decided that the player's own character and another character are in the predetermined relation, another character is displayed in a display mode according to the predetermined relation. The player may thus easily understand the relation between the player's own character and another character by confirming the display on another character.



Inventors:
Sakaguchi, Hironobu (Honolulu, HI, US)
Application Number:
09/817338
Publication Date:
07/25/2002
Filing Date:
03/27/2001
Assignee:
SQUARE CO., Ltd (Tokyo, JP)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
463/8
International Classes:
A63F13/33; A63F13/45; A63F13/52; A63F13/5372; A63F13/5378; A63F13/55; A63F13/79; (IPC1-7): A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
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20060258440Detachable vehicle entertainment system for the armrest/console of a vehicleNovember, 2006Vitito
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Primary Examiner:
ASHBURN, STEVEN L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GREENBLUM & BERNSTEIN, P.L.C. (RESTON, VA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A computer-readable recording medium recorded with a program of a video game for allowing a group of players to cause each of a respective plurality of characters to act in a common virtual space, wherein the program of said video game causes a computer capable of being connected with a server via a network, when read, to execute: deciding whether or not a player's own character manipulated by the computer, and another character manipulated by another computer connected with said server via the network, are in a predetermined relation; and displaying said another character in a display mode according to said predetermined relation when it is decided that said own character and said another character are in said predetermined relation.

2. The recording medium according to claim 1, wherein the program of said video game further causes said computer to execute: interchanging, in response to a designation from the player, a first game mode capable of attacking the character of another player and a second game mode incapable of attacking the character of another player; and receiving such a notification from the server that said another character has been interchanged to said first game mode, and wherein the decision on whether or not said own character and said another character are in said predetermined relation includes deciding, when said notification is received, that said own character and said another character are in said predetermined relation.

3. The recording medium according to claim 1, wherein the program of said video game further causes said computer to execute storing identification data of said another character when said own character is attacked by said another character, and wherein the decision on whether or not said own character and said another character are in said predetermined relation includes deciding includes deciding, when identification data of said another character are stored, that said own character and said another character are in said predetermined relation.

4. The recording medium according to claim 1, wherein the program of said video game further causes said computer to execute storing identification data of another character in response to a designation from the player, and wherein the decision on whether or not said own character and said another character are in said predetermined relation includes deciding when identification data of said another character are stored, that said own character and said another character are in said predetermined relation.

5. The recording medium according to claim 1, wherein the program of said video game prepares a plurality of predetermined relations between said own character and said another character, wherein the decision on whether or not said own character and said another character are in said predetermined relation includes deciding whether or not said own character and said another character are in each of a plurality of relations, and wherein the display of said another character in the display mode according to said predetermined relation includes: deciding, when the relation between said own character and said another character belongs to at least two of said plurality of relations simultaneously, the one of highest priority of said at least two relations on the basis of predetermined priorities; and displaying said another character in a display mode according to the decided relation.

6. The recording medium according to claim 1, wherein the display of said another character in the display mode according to said predetermined relation includes displaying the name of said another character in a color according to said predetermined relation.

7. The recording medium according to claim 1, wherein the display of said another character in the display mode according to said predetermined relation includes displaying an icon according to said predetermined relation in the vicinity of said another character.

8. The recording medium according to claim 1, wherein the display of said another character in the display mode according to said predetermined relation includes displaying a cursor to be displayed around said another character when the player designates said another character, in a color according to said predetermined relation.

9. The recording medium according to claim 1, wherein the display of said another character in the display mode according to said predetermined relation includes: displaying the image of said another character; and displaying a marker indicating said another character, in a display region of a portion of a screen and in a color according to said predetermined relation.

10. A video game program for allowing a plurality of players to cause each of a respective plurality of characters to act in a common virtual space, wherein said video game program causes a computer capable of being connected with a server via a network, when read, to execute: deciding whether or not a player's own character manipulated by said computer, and another character manipulated by another computer connected with said server via the network, are in a predetermined relation; and displaying said another character in a display mode according to said predetermined relation when it is decided that said own character and said another character are in said predetermined relation.

11. The video game program according to claim 10, wherein said video game program further causes said computer to execute: interchanging, in response to a designation from the player, a first game mode capable of attacking the character of another player and a second game mode incapable of attacking the character of another player; and receiving such a notification from said server that said another character has been interchanged to said first game mode, and wherein the decision on whether or not said own character and said another character are in said predetermined relation includes deciding, when said notification is received, that said own character and said another character are in said predetermined relation.

12. A video game program according to claim 10, wherein the video game program further causes said computer to execute storing identification data of said another character when said own character is attacked by said another character, and wherein the decision on whether or not said own character and said another character are in said predetermined relation includes deciding includes deciding, when identification data of said another character are stored, that said own character and said another character are in said predetermined relation.

13. The video game program according to claim 10, wherein said video game program further causes said computer to execute storing identification data of another character in response to a designation from the player, and wherein the decision on whether or not said own character and said another character are in said predetermined relation includes deciding when identification data of said another character are stored, that said own character and said another character are in said predetermined relation.

14. A video game program according to claim 10, wherein said video game program prepares a plurality of predetermined relations between said own character and said another character, wherein the decision on whether or not said own character and said another character are in said predetermined relation includes deciding whether or not said own character and said another character are in each of a plurality of relations, and wherein the display of said another character in the display mode according to said predetermined relation includes: deciding, when the relation between said own character and said another character belongs to at least two of said plurality of relations simultaneously, the one of highest priority of said at least two relations on the basis of predetermined priorities; and displaying said another character in a display mode according to the decided relation.

15. The video game program according to claim 10, wherein the display of said another character in the display mode according to said predetermined relation includes displaying the name of said another character in a color according to said predetermined relation.

16. The video game program according to claim 10, wherein the display of said another character in the display mode according to said predetermined relation includes displaying an icon according to said predetermined relation in the vicinity of said another character.

17. The video game program according to claim 10, wherein the display of said another character in the display mode according to said predetermined relation includes displaying a cursor to be displayed around said another character when the player designates said another character, in a color according to said predetermined relation.

18. The video game program according to claim 10, wherein the display of said another character in the display mode according to said predetermined relation includes: displaying the image of said another character; and displaying a marker indicating said another character, in a display region of a portion of a screen and in a color according to said predetermined relation.

19. A video game system comprising: a computer-readable recording medium recorded with a program of a video game for allowing a plurality of players to cause each of a respective plurality of characters to act in a common virtual space; first and second computers manipulated by first and second players, respectively, for reading and executing said program from said recording medium; and a server connected with said first and second computers via a network, wherein the program of said video game causes said first computer to execute: deciding, when read by said first computer, whether or not a first character manipulated by using said first computer and a second character manipulated by using said second computer are in a predetermined relation; and displaying said second character in a display mode according to said predetermined relation when it is decided that said first character and said second character are in said predetermined relation.

20. A control method for a video game system including: first and second computers; first and second display units connected with said first and second computers, respectively; and a server connected with said first and second computers via a network, for displaying such a video game on said first and second display units as allows a plurality of players to cause their respective characters to act in a common virtual space, wherein said control method causes said first computer to execute: deciding whether or not a first character manipulated by using said first computer and a second character manipulated by using said second computer are in a predetermined relation; and displaying said second character in a display mode according to said predetermined relation when it is decided that said first character and said second character are in said predetermined relation.

21. A video game device comprising: a computer-readable recording medium recorded with a program of a video game for allowing a plurality of players to cause their respective characters to act in a common virtual space; a computer capable of being connected with a server via a network for reading and executing said program from said recording medium; and a display unit connected with said computer, wherein said computer executes by reading said program from said recording medium: deciding whether or not a player's own character manipulated by said computer, and another character manipulated by another computer connected with said server via the network, are in a predetermined relation; and displaying said another character on said display unit in a display mode according to said predetermined relation when it is decided that said own character and said another character are in said predetermined relation.

22. A control method for a video game device including: a computer capable of being connected with a server via a network; and a display unit connected with said computer, for displaying such a video game on said display unit as allows a plurality of players to cause their respective characters to act in a common virtual space, wherein said computer is caused to execute: deciding whether or not a player's own character manipulated by said computer and another character manipulated by another computer connected with said server via the network, are in a predetermined relation; and displaying said another character on said display unit in a display mode according to said predetermined relation when it is decided that said own character and said another character are in said predetermined relation.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] The present disclosure relates to subject matter contained in Japanese Patent Application No. 2001-16176, filed on Jan. 24, 2001, the disclosure of which is expressly incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] The present invention relates to a video game system and its control method, a video game device and its control method, and a program of a video game and a computer-readable recording medium recorded with the program, and, more particularly, to a network video game for allowing a plurality of players to participate therein via a network.

[0004] 2. Related Art

[0005] In recent years, there has been an increasing number of network video games, in which a group of players participate simultaneously to battle or to play in cooperation by using the network. This video game may be called the “network game” or “online game”.

[0006] In the online game, the group of players individually using a respective group of computers connected with a server allows individual characters to act in a common virtual space. The players frequently battle or cooperate by communicating with one another.

[0007] In the online game each player may desire to acquire information for judging whether or not another player's character is hostile to or friendly with a player's own character. If the player recognizes that another player's character displayed on the screen has attacked the player's own character in the past, for example, the player can be prepared for attack from the character. On the contrary, if the player recognizes that the other player's character is an acquaintance, the player can ask for cooperation from the other player. The judgment factor for determining the hostility or friendliness, another character is usually the name of the character.

[0008] However, the player must rely on the power of memory to decide the relation between the player's own character and another character exclusively on the basis of the name. It is thus burdensome for the player to make accurate and prompt decisions. Therefore, a technique for allowing the player to easily grasp the relation between the player's own character and another character is desired.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0009] The invention provides a video game system for allowing a player to easily grasp the relation between a character manipulated by the player and a character manipulated by another player, and a control method for the system, a video game device and a control method for the device, and a video game program and a computer-readable recording medium recorded with the program.

[0010] According to the invention, there is provided a video game for allowing individual characters of a group of players to act in a common virtual space. According to the invention, a computer capable of being connected with a server via a network, decides whether or not a player's own character, which is manipulated by the computer, and another character manipulated by another computer connected with the server via the network, are in a predetermined relationship, and displays the another character in a display mode according to the predetermined relation when it is determined that the own character and the another character are in the predetermined relation.

[0011] Here, the “displaying another character” includes not only displaying an image (e.g., an image showing the appearance of another character, or a marker or an indicator in a radar map) showing another character, but also includes displaying an object (e.g., an icon corresponding to another character, or a cursor adjusted to another character) accompanying another character.

[0012] According to the invention, the display mode of another character is changed according to the relation between the player's own character and another character. Therefore, the player may easily understand the relationship between another character and the player's own character, by determining the way another character is displayed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0013] FIG. 1 is a block diagram showing a construction of a video game device according to an embodiment of the present invention;

[0014] FIG. 2A is a top plan view showing a keypad, and FIG. 2B is a back elevation showing the key pad;

[0015] FIG. 3 is a diagram showing one example of a game system utilizing a network;

[0016] FIG. 4 is a flow chart showing a procedure for controlling the game device;

[0017] FIG. 5 is a diagram showing one example of a display screen;

[0018] FIG. 6 is a flow chart showing procedures to be executed in the game device and a game server;

[0019] FIG. 7 is a diagram showing another example of the display screen;

[0020] FIG. 8 is a flow chart showing a procedure to be executed in the game device;

[0021] FIG. 9 is a flow chart showing another procedure to be executed in the game device;

[0022] FIG. 10 is a flow chart showing a procedure to be executed in the game device according to a second embodiment;

[0023] FIG. 11A to FIG. 11D are diagrams showing examples of the display screen according to the second embodiment;

[0024] FIG. 12 is a diagram showing an example of the display screen according to a third embodiment;

[0025] FIG. 13 is a flow chart showing a procedure to be executed in the game device according to the third embodiment;

[0026] FIG. 14 is a diagram showing an example of the display screen according to a fourth embodiment; and

[0027] FIG. 15 is a flow chart showing a procedure to be executed in the game device according to the fourth embodiment.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0028] [First Embodiment]

[0029] A first embodiment of the invention will be described with reference to the accompanying drawings. FIG. 1 is a block diagram showing a video game device according to this embodiment. A video game device 1 is provided, for example, with a control unit 2 for controlling the video game device 1, and an input unit (e.g., a keypad) 3 and an output unit (e.g., a TV set) 6 connected with the control unit 2. The game unit 1 is provided with a memory card 5 for storing game data such as proceeding data of a game or environment setting data.

[0030] The control unit 2 is a computer. In this embodiment, the control unit 2 is exemplified by a home game machine but should not be limited thereto.

[0031] As shown in FIG. 1, the control unit 2 is equipped, in the present example, with a main control unit 11, a RAM (Random Access Memory) 12, an interface unit 13, a sound processing unit 14, a graphic processing unit 15, a CD-ROM drive 16, a communication interface 17, an HDD (Hard Disk Drive) 18, and a bus 19 connecting those components with one another. On the other hand, the CD-ROM drive 16 can be loaded with a CD-ROM (Compact Disk Read Only Memory) 4 or a recording medium which is stored with a program for processing the later-described game, image data, sound data and so on.

[0032] The main control unit 11 is a circuit including a CPU (Central Processing Unit), a ROM (Read Only Memory), of which the CPU controls the individual portions of the control unit 2 in accordance with the program stored in the RAM 12 (or the ROM, as the case may be). The ROM is stored with a basic program such as the boot program or the OS (Operating System) of the control unit 2. On the other hand, the main control unit 11 is equipped with an oscillator or timer counter (neither shown) and measures time by generating clock signals on the basis of the timing signals outputted for predetermined periods from the oscillator and by counting the clock signals with the timer counter.

[0033] The RAM 12 is a main storage unit to be used for the CPU of the main control unit 11 to execute the program, and is stored with a program to be executed by the CPU and data needed for executions. The RAM 12 is also used as a work area at the program executing time.

[0034] The interface unit 13 is so constructed as to detachably connect to the input unit 3 and the memory card 5. This interface unit 13 controls data transfers between the individual units (mainly, the main control unit 11) connected via the bus 19 and the input unit 3 or the memory card 5.

[0035] The sound processing unit 14 is a circuit for processing or regenerating the voice data such as the BGM (Back Ground Music) or sound effects of the game. In accordance with instructions from the main control unit 11 and on the basis of the data stored in the RAM 12, this sound processing unit 14 generates and feeds voice signals to the output unit 6.

[0036] The graphic processing unit 15 is equipped with a frame buffer (not-shown) for drawing an image thereon, in response to the instructions from the main control unit 11. The graphic processing unit 15 generates and feeds graphic signals to the output unit 6 by adding predetermined synchronizing signals to the image data drawn on the frame buffer.

[0037] The CD-ROM drive 16 is a reader for reading the data which are stored in the CD-ROM 4 or the recording medium. The game unit 1 uses the game controls, later-described, by instructing the control unit 2 to execute the controls according to the game program recorded in the CD-ROM 4.

[0038] The communication interface 17 is a circuit for communication controls at the time of exchanging the various data with another unit on a network 100 and is connected, if necessary, with the network 100 via a communication line 99. The communication interface 17 controls the information (e.g., the program or the data) transfers between the control unit 2 and the communication network 100. The HDD 18 can be stored with the game program and the data, which are downloaded from the external communication network 100 via the communication interface 17 and the communication line 99.

[0039] The HDD 18 is an auxiliary storage unit which is used for the CPU of the main control unit 11 to execute the program. The HDD 18 can be stored with various data and program such as the information downloaded by using the communication interface 17 or the information read out from the CD-ROM 4.

[0040] The CD-ROM 4 is stored with the game software. This game software contains not only the game program for causing the main control unit to perform the processing necessary for executing the computer game but also the necessary data. These game programs contain programs for instructing the game unit 1 to execute a method according to this embodiment. The game software stored in the CD-ROM 4 can be read out by activating the CD-ROM drive 16.

[0041] Here, the game unit 1 can also store the game software in the HDD 18. This game software can be pre-installed in the HDD 18, installed from the CD-ROM 4 or downloaded from another unit on the communication network 100, as described hereinbefore.

[0042] The input unit 3 is equipped with a group of manipulation tools which are manipulated by the player to input the various instructions on the game to the control unit 2. When the manipulation tools are manipulated, the input unit 3 transmits command signals according to the manipulation tools, to the control unit 2 through the interface unit 13. In this embodiment, there is prepared as an example of the input unit 3 a keypad 30 which generally belongs to a home game machine.

[0043] FIG. 2A is a top plan view showing a keypad, and FIG. 2B is a back elevation showing the keypad. As shown in FIG. 2A, the keypad 30 is equipped with a cross key 31 for inputting directional designations and manipulation keys (i.e., a ◯ button 32, a Δ button 33, a □ button 34, a X button 35, a start button 36 and a select button 42) as the manipulation tools. The keypad 30 is further equipped with a joystick 37 as the manipulation tool. As shown in FIG. 2B, the keypad is also equipped on its back with a group of manipulation keys (i.e., an R1 button 38, an R2 button 39, an L1 button 40 and an L2 button 41) as the manipulation tools. In addition, the keypad 30 has a vibration function. In the keypad 30, specifically, a motor is included, which is activated in response to a predetermined control signal from the control unit 2 so that it can vibrate the entire keypad 30.

[0044] The memory card 5 is an auxiliary storage unit which is constructed of a flash memory controlled by the control unit 2 to store the game data. The write of the data in the memory card and the read of the data from the memory card 5 are controlled by the main control unit 11 through the interface unit 13.

[0045] On the basis of the graphic signals and the voice signals from the control unit 2, the output unit 6 displays the game image and outputs the voice. In this embodiment, a television (TV) set is prepared as the output unit 6. This TV set is provided with an image displaying display screen 61 and a voice outputting speaker 62. The TV set displays the image in the display screen 61 in response to the video signals from the graphic processing unit 15, and outputs the voice from the speaker 62 in response to the sound signals from the sound processing unit 14. Therefore, the TV set functions as both the display unit and the voice output unit.

[0046] The main control unit 11 controls the actions of the control unit 2 on the basis of the basic software stored in the ROM and the game software read from the CD-ROM 4 by the CD-ROM drive 16 and stored in the RAM 12. For example, the main control unit 11 reads and transfers the graphic data from the CD-ROM 4 to the graphic processing unit 15, and designates the graphic processing unit 15 to generate the image. In response to this designation, the graphic processing unit 15 generates video signals by using the graphic data. These video signals are transmitted to the output unit 6. As a result, the image is displayed on the display screen of the output unit 6.

[0047] In this embodiment, the video game, which allows a group of players to participate via the network, is displayed on the screen 61. FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram showing a construction of the online game system for servicing a video game of the network corresponding type. In this system, video game devices 1a, 1b, . . . , and so on, having the configuration shown in FIG. 1, are connected with a server group 102 via the internet 100. In other words, each video game device 1 is connected with any of the servers in the server group 102 so that it becomes a client of that server.

[0048] The server group 102 contains: an authentication server group 111 for account administrations for user authentication; a contents server group 112 for providing interfaces between the game unit 1 and other server groups and for providing perusal services of contents such as voices or animation; a message server group 113 for providing environments such as chats or messengers; a mail server group 114 for providing services of electronic mails; a profile server group 115 for administering profiles of users; and a game server group 116 for providing game environments. These server groups 111 to 116 are connected with one another via a LAN 117.

[0049] The game server group 116 contains a server with which the group of game units 1 are connected for the player to search for a partner with whom to play. This server 116 provides a virtual lobby for the players to gather for communications, and may also be called the “lobby server”. When the game unit 1 is connected with the lobby server, a screen indicating the virtual “lobby” is displayed in the output unit 6. On this lobby screen, there are displayed the own player character and another player character which is connected with the lobby server. The player can “chat” to make interchanges with another player or to search a partner with whom to play the game. When the “game start” is selected from the menu displayed on the lobby screen, the game unit 1 is connected with any of the game servers in the game server 116 so that the game screen is displayed on the output unit 6 to start the game. On this game screen, there is displayed not only the player's own character, but also the character of the other players when there is another player to participate in the game.

[0050] FIG. 4 is a flow chart showing the log-in processing to connect the game unit 1 with the game server. By setting the control unit 2 with the CD-ROM 4 recorded with the game program, an ordinary game basic process is performed (at Step S102) including the display of an initial screen (e.g., a maker's LOGO), the check of the memory card 5, the display of the title screen and the loading of the data.

[0051] Next, the initial menu is displayed (at Step S104) on the output unit 6. When the player selects the “Internet Connection” (at Step S106), the game unit 1 is connected (at Step S108) with one server in the contents server group 112 via the internet 100.

[0052] Next, the player is authenticated (at Step S110). When the game unit 1 is connected with the contents server 112, the authentication request screen is displayed on the output unit 6. The player inputs information necessary for the authentication in the authentication request screen displayed. The input information is transmitted from the game unit 1 through the contents server 112 to the authentication server group 111, in which the authentication is performed.

[0053] When the authentication is obtained, the service menu is displayed (at Step S112) on the output unit 6. If the player selects the “Game” (at Step S114) from the service names displayed in the service menu, the game unit 1 is connected (at Step S116) with the lobby server contained in the game server group 116, and the lobby screen is displayed (at Step S118) on the output unit 6. If the “Game Start” is selected (at Step S120) from the menu displayed in the lobby screen, the game unit 1 is connected (at Step S122) with one game server in the game server group 116, and the game screen is displayed (at Step S124) on the output unit 6. Thus, the game is started.

[0054] FIG. 5 shows the initial game screen displayed at Step S124. In this initial game screen, there is displayed a character 201 of the player, as arranged in the virtual space, together with the character name 202. On the lefthand upper portion of the screen (as viewed in the Figure), the name 203, the growth level 204, the hit point (HP) 205 and the magic point (MP) 206 of the character 201 are displayed. On the lefthand lower portion of the screen, there is displayed a radar map 207 which is taken from a downward perspective of the space around the character 201. At the central portion of the radar map 207, there is displayed a marker 208 indicating the character 201 (shown here as an isosceles triangle). When the character of another player (hereinafter called the “another character”) is within the display range of the radar map, as will be described hereinafter, the marker of the another character is also displayed in the radar map 207.

[0055] The video game according to this embodiment is an action game in which the player controls and manipulates his/her own character (as will be called the “own character”) in the virtual space to do battles or otherwise engage with the non-player character or the character of another player. In this video game, the battle with another player character is not allowed when in default mode. In order for the own character to attack another player character, the player has to change the battle mode through the menu displayed on the screen, from “ordinary mode” to “antipersonnel mode,” which provides for the attacking of another player.

[0056] In order to avoid attack from another player just after the game start, the own character is in “safe zone” so that the own character is not displayed in the display unit, when the initial screen is displayed. Nor is the character of another player displayed on the initial screen. While the initial screen is being displayed, the player is enabled to prepare for battles by changing the equipment of the own character.

[0057] FIG. 6 is a flow chart showing a procedure to be executed by the game unit 1 (according to this embodiment) and the game server after the initial screen of FIG. 5 has been displayed. This procedure is executed such that the control unit 2 of the game unit 1 executes the game program stored in the CD-ROM 4, and such that the game server executes the dedicated program. In the procedure executed by the game unit 1, the game program and the necessary data are sequentially read from the CD-ROM 4 in accordance with the progress of the procedure, and are transferred to the RAM 12. In the following description, however, the detailed description may be omitted regarding the read from the CD-ROM 4 and on the transfer to the RAM 12.

[0058] When the start button 36 of the keypad 30 is pushed (at Step S202) while the initial screen is displayed on the output unit 6 of the game unit 1, the appearance position of the own character in the virtual space is determined at random (at Step S203). Thus, any ambush by another player character is prevented by not fixing the appearance position of a newly-participating player character. The appearance position determined is stored as the position data of the own character in the RAM 12.

[0059] Next, the game unit 1 transmits the appearance position data of the own character to the game server (at Step S204). This game server receives and stores the appearance position data as the prevailing position data of the character in the storage unit (at Step S205). The position data are transmitted, if necessary, to the game unit of another player, as connected with the game server.

[0060] Next, the game unit 1 requests the game server for the information on another character to be displayed on the screen 61 of the output unit 6 (at Step S206). The game server uses, when it receives that demand (at Step S207), the position data of the own character and another character, as stored in the game server, to specify another character positioned within the display range of the game unit 1 in the virtual space, and transmits the information on another character to the game unit 1 (at Step S208). This information is necessary for displaying another character and contains: the identifier (ID) and the name data of another character; the position data of another character; and the display designation data for designating components of the display elements stored in the CD-ROM 4 as are necessary for displaying another character.

[0061] When the information of another character is received (at Step S209) from the game server, the game unit 1 displays another character (at Step S210) by using the character information and the display elements stored in the CD-ROM 4. FIG. 7 shows one example of the screen on which the own character 201 and another character 210 are displayed. Not only are the image and the name 211 indicating the another character displayed, but also a marker 212 indicating the another character 210 is displayed on the radar map 207. The detail of the display of another character will be made hereinafter.

[0062] The game unit 1 then receives an input from the player (at Step S212). If the instruction from the player is inputted (at Step S212: YES route), the procedure according to the input is executed (at Step S214). It is then decided (at Step S216) whether or not the game is to end. If the predetermined game ending condition is satisfied (at Step S216: YES route), the ending procedure is performed, including the loading of data and the display of the “game over” screen (at Step S218). If the game ending condition is not satisfied (at Step S216: NO route), the routine returns to Step S206, and the procedures at and after Step S206 are repeated.

[0063] According to this embodiment, the display mode of another character is different according to the relation between the own character and the another character so that the player may be able to grasp easily and promptly what relationship another character displayed on the screen has to the own character. There are four types of relations, as prepared in this embodiment, for the player characters: “Hostile Relation”, “Warning Relation”, “Friendly Relation” and “Ignoring Relation”. Here, the character relations may be one kind or more in this embodiment.

[0064] The hostile relation is the character relation when the battle mode of another character is set to the antipersonnel mode. When the player sets the battle mode to the antipersonnel mode, the game unit 1 notifies the game server of the setting of the antipersonnel mode. In response to the notification, the game server turns ON the antipersonnel mode flag which is prepared for the character of the player. With this antipersonnel mode flag ON, at Step S208 the game server transmits this information to the game unit 1, together with the name data of another character, that another character within the display range is in the antipersonnel mode. As a result, the game unit 1 can be informed that another character is in the antipersonnel mode.

[0065] The warning relation is the character relation when another character previously attacked the own character. The game unit 1 adds, when the own character is attacked by another character, the ID of another character to the warning character file which is stored in the RAM 12. This warning character file is stored in the memory card 5 at the game ending step (at Step S218) and is read in the RAM 12 from the memory card 5 when the initial screen (of FIG. 5) is displayed again.

[0066] The ignoring relation is the character relation when another character is registered as the character to be ignored by the player. The player is enabled to register the character of the player to be ignored as the “ignoring character,” by selecting and inputting a command from the menu displayed in the screen. Specifically, the ID and name of another character are added to the ignoring character file stored in the RAM 12. When the ignoring character file is recorded with the ID, the speech of another character having the ID is not displayed on the screen. This ignoring character file is stored in the memory card 5 at the game ending procedure (at Step S218), and is read in the RAM 12 from the memory card 5 when the initial screen (of FIG. 5) is displayed again. The player is enabled to retrieve a list of the names of the ignoring characters registered, by selecting and inputting the command from the menu displayed in the screen.

[0067] The friendly relation is the character relation at the time when another character is registered by the player as the friendly character. The player is enabled to register the character of an intimate player as the friendly character by selecting and inputting the command from the menu displayed in the screen. Specifically, the ID and name of another character are added to the friendly character file stored in the RAM 12. This friendly character file is stored in the memory card 5 at the game ending procedure (at Step S218) and is read in the RAM 12 from the memory card 5 when the initial screen (of FIG. 5) is displayed again. The player is enabled to retrieve a list of the names of the friendly characters registered, by selecting and inputting the command from the menu displayed in the screen.

[0068] FIG. 8 is a flow chart showing the detail of the display procedure (of Step S210) of another character to be executed by the game unit 1 for realizing the aforementioned characteristics. This procedure is practiced such that the game program stored in the CD-ROM 4 is executed by the control unit 2.

[0069] First, it is sequentially decided (at Step S300) whether or not the relations between the own character and another character belong to the aforementioned four relations. FIG. 9 is a flow chart showing the detail of this character relation deciding procedure. In this procedure, the four flags, as made in the RAM 12 to correspond to the four relations, respectively, are initialized and turned OFF (at Step S302). These flags are made in the RAM 12 when the information of another character is initially received from the game server, and are stored together with the information on another character.

[0070] Next, it is decided (at Step S304) whether or not the own character and another character are in the hostile relation. The game unit 1 decides, when it receives such information from the game server (at Step S209), that another character is in the hostile mode, that the own character and another character are in the hostile relation (at Step S304: YES route), and turns ON the corresponding flag, i.e., the “Hostile Flag” (at Step S306). If there are not received the information that another character is in the antipersonnel mode, on the other hand, it is decided (at Step S304: NO route) that the own character and another character are not in the hostile relation, and the hostile flag remains OFF.

[0071] Next, it is decided (at Step S308) whether or not the own character and another character are in the hostile relation. The game unit 1 examines whether or not the ID of another character received from the game server is recorded in the aforementioned warning character file. If the ID of another character is determined from the warning character file, the game unit 1 decides (at Step S308: YES route) that the own character and another character are in the hostile relation, and turns ON the corresponding flag, i.e., the “Warning Flag” (at Step S310). If the ID of another character is not determined from the warning character file, on the contrary, it is decided (at Step S308: NO route) that the own character and another character are not in the warning relation, and the warning flag remains OFF.

[0072] Next, it is decided (at Step S312) whether or not the own character and another character are in the ignoring relation. The game unit 1 examines whether or not the ID of another character received from the game server is recorded in the aforementioned ignoring character file. If the ID of another character is determined from the ignoring character file, the game unit 1 decides (at Step S312: YES route) that the own character and another character are in the hostile relation, and turns ON the corresponding flag, i.e., the “Ignoring Flag” (at Step S314). If the ID of another character is not discovered from the ignoring character file, on the contrary, it is decided (at Step S312: NO route) that the own character and another character are not in the ignoring relation, and the ignoring flag remains OFF.

[0073] Next, it is decided (at Step S316) whether or not the own character and another character are in the friendly relation. The game unit 1 examines whether or not the ID of another character received from the game server is recorded in the aforementioned friendly character file. If the ID of another character is determined from the friendly character file, the game unit 1 decides (at Step S316: YES route) that the own character and another character are in the hostile relation, and turns ON the corresponding flag, i.e., the “Friendly Flag” (at Step S318). If the ID of another character is not discovered from the friendly character file, on the contrary, it is decided (at Step S316: NO route) that the own character and another character are not in the friendly relation, and the friendly flag remains OFF.

[0074] Here, the decisions of the individual relations and the settings of the corresponding flags, that is, Steps S304 and S306, Steps S308 and S310, Steps S312 and S314, and Steps S316 and S318 can be arbitrarily changed in the orders.

[0075] Referring to FIG. 8, when the decisions of the character relations are completed, the display color of the name of another character is determined (at Step S400) according to the character relation indicated by the four relation flags. In this embodiment, the following flags are designated: red for the hostile relation; yellow for the warning relation; green for the ignoring relation; and blue for the friendly relation. Among these four relations, priorities are determined in Hostile>Warning>Ignoring>Friendly. Where the character relations are multiple, that is, where several relation flags are ON, the display colors are determined according to those priorities. Where the character relations are in the hostile relation and in the ignoring relation, that is, where both the hostile flag and the ignoring flag are ON, the red corresponding to the hostile relation is determined as the display color of the character name. Where the character relation belongs to none of the relations, that is, where all the four relation flags are OFF, black is determined as the display color.

[0076] Next, there are displayed (at Step S500) on the screen 61 not only the image 210 and the marker 212 but also the name 211 of another character in the color, which is determined at Step S400.

[0077] Thus, in this embodiment, the name of another character is displayed in the color according to the character relation. On the basis of the color of the name of another character, therefore, the player can easily determine what relation another character has with respect to the player's own character, so that the player can quickly take the action according to the character relation.

[0078] The foregoing description has been made wherein a single another character displayed on the screen, but it will be readily understood by those skilled in the art that a similar procedure may be performed on another character even where a group of the another characters are displayed. This feature is similar to the embodiments to be described hereinafter.

[0079] [Second Embodiment]

[0080] A second embodiment according to the invention is now described. The configuration of a game device and a game system according to this embodiment are shown in FIG. 1 to FIG. 3. This embodiment is different from the first embodiment only in the display procedure (i.e., Step S210 of FIG. 6) of the another character. The remaining points are similar to those of Embodiment 1 so that their overlapping description will be omitted.

[0081] In this embodiment, in order to allow the player to promptly determine what relation another character displayed in the screen takes with respect to the player's own character, an icon indicating the relation between the own character and another character is displayed together with the image of another character. As in the first embodiment, the character relations are the aforementioned four: “Hostile Relation”, “Warning Relation”, “Ignoring Relation” and “Friendly Relation”.

[0082] FIG. 10 is a flow chart showing a display procedure of another character according to this embodiment. This procedure is executed such that the control unit 2 of the game unit 1 executes the game program stored in the CD-ROM 4.

[0083] In this embodiment, after the character relation decision procedure (at Step S300) shown in FIG. 9, it is determined (at Step S350) on the basis of the decided character relation whether or not the icon is to be displayed. Where the character relation belongs to at least one of the aforementioned four relations, it is decided (at Step S350: YES route) that the icon should be displayed, and the icon to be displayed is determined (at Step S401) according to the decided character relation. Where the character relation belongs to the group of relations, the icons are determined according to the priorities of Hostile >Warning>Ignoring>Friendly, as in the first embodiment.

[0084] After this, the image 210, the name 211 and the marker 212 of another character are displayed on the screen 61. At the same time, the icon determined at Step S401 is displayed over another character and on the left of the character name (at Step S501). This icon moves together with another character when this another character moves.

[0085] Where a character relation does not exist, it is decided (at Step S350: NO route) that the icon should not be displayed, and the image 210 and the name 211 of another character and the marker 212 (at Step S450) are displayed on the screen 61.

[0086] FIG. 11A to 11D show display modes of another character, as corresponding to the individual character relations. Here, an icon 221 of FIG. 11A indicates the hostile relation; an icon 222 of FIG. 11B shows the warning relation; an icon 223 of FIG. 11C indicates the ignoring relation; and an icon 224 of FIG. 11D indicates the friendly relation.

[0087] Thus, in this embodiment, the icon indicating the character relation is displayed in the vicinity of another character so that the player can easily determine what relation another character takes with respect to the player, in view of the icon, to thereby quickly take action according to the character relation.

[0088] [Third Embodiment]

[0089] Now will be described a third embodiment according to the invention. The configuration of a game device and a game system according to this embodiment are shown in FIG. 1 to FIG. 3. This embodiment is different from the foregoing embodiments only in the display procedure (i.e., Step S210 of FIG. 6) of the another character. The remaining points are similar to those of the foregoing embodiments so that their overlapping description will be omitted.

[0090] FIG. 12 shows a display mode of another character in this embodiment. In this embodiment, a ring-shaped cursor 230 is displayed close to the feet of the appearance image 210 of another character, as designated by the player. This cursor 230 can be moved when the player manipulates the cross key 31 or the joystick 37 of the keypad 30.

[0091] In this embodiment, in order to allow the player to promptly determine what type of relation another character displayed in the screen has with respect to the player's own character, the color of the cursor 230 is different according to the relation between the own character and another character. As in the foregoing embodiments, the character relations are the aforementioned four: “Hostile Relation”, “Warning Relation”, “Ignoring Relation” and “Friendly Relation”.

[0092] FIG. 13 is a flow chart showing a display procedure of another character according to this embodiment. This procedure is executed such that the control unit 2 of the game unit 1 executes the game program stored in the CD-ROM 4.

[0093] In this embodiment, after the character relation deciding procedure (at Step S300) shown in FIG. 9, the display color of the cursor 230 is determined (at Step S402) according to the decided character relation. In this embodiment, as in the first embodiment, the relation color designations are: red for the hostile relation; yellow for the warning relation; green for the ignoring relation; and blue for the friendly relation. Where the character relation belongs to any of the relations, the display colors are determined according to the priorities of Hostile>Warning>Ignoring>Friendly. Where a character relation does not exist, white is the display color. The determined display color is stored in the RAM 12 as to correspond to another character. Next, the image 210 and the name 211 of another character and the marker 212 (at Step S502) are displayed on the screen 61.

[0094] When the player manipulates the keypad 30 to designate another character 210, reference is made to the RAM 12 so that the cursor 230 is displayed in the color determined at Step S402. Thus, in this embodiment, the cursor according to another character is displayed in the color according to the character relation so that the player can easily determine what relation another character takes with respect to the player, on the basis of the color of the cursor, to thereby quickly take action according to the character relation. The character relation is not displayed on another character for which the player has not adjusted the cursor, so that the load needed for the screen display by the game unit 1 can be lightened.

[0095] [Fourth Embodiment]

[0096] Now will be described a fourth embodiment according to the invention. The constructions of a game device and a game system according to this embodiment are shown in FIG. 1 to FIG. 3. This embodiment is different from the foregoing embodiments only in the display procedure (i.e., Step S210 of FIG. 6) of another character. The remaining points are similar to those of the foregoing embodiments so that their overlapping description will be omitted.

[0097] FIG. 14 shows a display mode of another character in this embodiment. In this embodiment, the color of the marker 212 of another character, as displayed in the radar map 207, is different according to the relation between the own character and another character. As in the foregoing embodiments, the character relations are the aforementioned four: “Hostile Relation”, “Warning Relation”, “Ignoring Relation” and “Friendly Relation”.

[0098] FIG. 15 is a flow chart showing a display procedure of another character according to this embodiment. This procedure is executed such that the control unit 2 of the game unit 1 executes the game program stored in the CD-ROM 4.

[0099] In this embodiment, after the character relation deciding procedure (at Step S300) shown in FIG. 9, the display color of the marker of another character on the radar map is determined (at Step S403) according to the decided character relation. In this embodiment, as in the first embodiment, relation color designations are: red for the hostile relation; yellow for the warning relation; green for the ignoring relation; and blue for the friendly relation. Where the character relation belongs to the group of relations, the display colors are determined according to the priorities of Hostile>Warning>Ignoring>Friendly. Where a character relation does not exist, black is the display color. The determined display color is stored in the RAM 12 as to correspond to another character.

[0100] After this, the image 210 and the name 211 of another character are displayed on the screen 61. At the same time, the marker 212 is displayed (at Step S503) in the radar map 207 according to the color determined at Step S401.

[0101] Thus, in this embodiment, the marker indicating another character is displayed in the color according to the character relation so that the player can easily grasp what relation another character takes with respect to the player, on the basis of the color of the marker to thereby quickly take an action according to the character relation.

[0102] Although the invention has been specifically described in connection with its embodiments, it should not be limited to the embodiments, but could be modified in various manners without departing from the gist thereof. For example, the steps included in the method of the invention can be changed in their order without departing from the gist or scope of the invention.

[0103] When the player's own character and another character are in a predetermined relation, according to the invention, another character is displayed in the mode according to the relation. This display mode should not be limited to those enumerated in the embodiments but could be modified in various manners. According to the character relation, for example, different (visual) effects may be displayed around an image expressing another character. It is also conceivable to display another character of the ignoring relation in a semitransparent manner.

[0104] In the foregoing embodiments, the invention has been described in connection with the home game device, but the invention can also be applied to a general-purpose computer such as a personal computer or to an arcade game machine.

[0105] In the foregoing embodiments, the output unit and the input unit are separated from the control unit, but the invention can be applied to a video game device in which the output unit, the input unit and the control unit are integrated.

[0106] In the foregoing embodiments, the computer-readable recording medium for recording the game program and the data is exemplified by the CD-ROM. However, the recording medium should not be limited to the CD-ROM but may be either: other computer-readable magnetic or optical recording media such as the DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) or the ROM card; or semiconductor memories. Moreover, the program or data for realizing the invention may be serviced by pre-installing them in the storage unit of the game machine or the computer.

[0107] The program or data for realizing the invention may be downloaded for use to the HDD 18 from another device on the network 100 which is connected via the communication line 99 by the communication interface 17 shown in FIG. 1. On the other hand, the program or data may be recorded in the memory of another device on the communication line 99 so that they can be sequentially read, if necessary, for use in the RAM 12 via the communication line 99.

[0108] The program and data for realizing the invention may be serviced as computer data signals superposed on carriers from another device on the network 100. For example, the invention may be able to be realized such that the control unit 2 demands another device on the communication network 100 for the transmission of computer data signals from the communication interface 17 via the communication line 99 and receives and stores the transmitted computer data signals in the RAM 12.

[0109] According to the invention, the another character is displayed in the display mode according to the relation between the player's own character manipulated by the player and another character manipulated by another player, so that the player is enabled to confirm the relations between the player's own character and another character by easily confirming the display on another character.