Title:
SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR ALTERING A VIDEO GAME EXPERIENCE BASED ON A CONTROLLER TYPE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A rhythm-action game for a home gaming platform provides a plurality of different gaming experiences depending on what type of controller is plugged into the game. The different experience may comprise a different set or ordering of songs, a different gameplay mechanism, and/or a different sets level data. For example, a game may vary the song list depending on whether the player has plugged in a simulated drum set or a simulated guitar to the game platform. Or, for example, a player may plug in a microphone to experience the game as a vocalist and be measured based on pitch matching, and then plug in a simulated drum set to experience the game as a drummer and be measured based on timing of drum pad strikes. In this way, a single game can be sold that allows users to select among a plurality of unique instrumental experiences.



Inventors:
Kay, Robert (San Francisco, CA, US)
Teasdale, Daniel Charles (Cambridge, MA, US)
Lopiccolo, Gregory B. (Brookline, MA, US)
Application Number:
12/139983
Publication Date:
04/02/2009
Filing Date:
06/16/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F13/00
View Patent Images:



Other References:
Konami corporation, The computer game "Dance Dance Revolution Max", released in the US by Konami corporation on October 29, 2002, as evidenced by the game manual.
Primary Examiner:
HENRY, THOMAS HAYNES
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WILMERHALE/BOSTON (BOSTON, MA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method for altering game content responsive to detecting a type of controller used by a player of a rhythm action game, the method comprising: a. detecting, by a game executing on a game platform, that a first simulated musical instrument type of a plurality of simulated musical instrument types is connected to the game platform; b. selecting, by the game in response to the detection, a first song progression from a plurality of song progressions, each song progression corresponding to a different simulated musical instrument type, and wherein at least two of the song progressions comprise different sequences of songs; and c. providing, by the game, a session of a rhythm-action game with the selected first song progression.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the plurality of simulated instrument types comprise a guitar, a drum set, and a microphone.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein at least two of the song progressions comprise an identical set of songs in different sequential order.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein at least one of the song progressions comprises a song not included in at least one other song progression.

5. A method for altering game content responsive to detecting a type of controller used by a player of a rhythm action game, the method comprising: a. detecting, by a game executing on a game platform, that a first simulated musical instrument type of a plurality of simulated musical instrument types is connected to the game platform; b. selecting, by the game from a plurality of gameplay mechanics each corresponding to a different simulated musical instrument type, a first gameplay mechanic corresponding to the first simulated musical instrument type; and c. providing, by the game, a session of a rhythm-action game with the selected gameplay mechanic.

6. The method of claim 5, wherein the plurality of simulated instrument types comprise a guitar, a drum set, and a microphone.

7. The method of claim 5, wherein the selected gameplay mechanic comprises evaluating input signals received from a microphone for at least one of pitch and phoneme.

8. The method of claim 5, wherein the selected gameplay mechanic comprises evaluating input signals corresponding to strikes of a simulated drum pad.

9. The method of claim 5, wherein the selected gameplay mechanic comprises evaluating input signals corresponding to strums and fret button presses of a simulated guitar.

10. A method for altering game content responsive to detecting a type of controller used by a player of a rhythm action game, the method comprising: a. detecting, by a game executing on a game platform, that a first simulated musical instrument type of a plurality of simulated musical instrument types is connected to the game platform; b. selecting, by the game from a plurality of collections of level data, each collection corresponding to a different simulated musical instrument type, a first collection of level data corresponding to the first simulated musical instrument type; and c. providing, by the game, a session of a rhythm-action game with the selected collection of level data.

11. The method of claim 10, wherein the plurality of simulated instrument types comprise a guitar, a drum set, and a microphone.

12. The method of claim 10, wherein the selected collection of level data comprises a sequence of musical target data corresponding to a guitar track of a song.

13. The method of claim 10, wherein the selected collection of level data comprises a sequence of musical target data corresponding to a vocal track of a song.

14. The method of claim 10, wherein the selected collection of level data comprises a sequence of musical target data corresponding to a drum track of a song.

15. The method of claim 10, wherein the selected collection of level data comprises a sequence of cues.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/944,054, filed Jun. 14, 2007 and titled “Systems and Methods for Simulating a Rock Band Experience,” the contents of which are expressly incorporated by reference herein.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to video games and, more specifically, video games that utilize a plurality of controller types.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Music making is often a collaborative effort among many musicians who interact with each other. One form of musical interaction may be provided by a video game genre known as “rhythm-action,” which involves a player performing phrases from a pre-recorded musical composition using a video game's input device to simulate a musical performance. If the player performs a sufficient percentage of the notes or cues displayed, he may score well and win the game. If the player fails to perform a sufficient percentage, he may score poorly and lose the game. Two or more players may compete against each other, such as by each one attempting to play back different, parallel musical phrases from the same song simultaneously, by playing alternating musical phrases from a song, or by playing similar phrases simultaneously. The player who plays the highest percentage of notes correctly may achieve the highest score and win. Two or more players may also play with each other cooperatively. In this mode, players may work together to play a song, such as by playing different parts of a song, either on similar or dissimilar instruments. One example of a rhythm-action game is the GUITAR HERO series of games published by Red Octane and Activision. Another example of a rhythm-action game is the KARAOKE REVOLUTION series of games published by Konami.

Past rhythm action games that have been released for home consoles have utilized a variety of controller types. For example, GUITAR HERO II, published by Red Octane, could be played with a simulated guitar controller or with a standard game console controller.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Broadly speaking, the present invention relates to a rhythm-action game for a home gaming platform that provides a plurality of different gaming experiences depending on what type of controller is plugged into the game. For example, a game may provide a certain song list if the player has plugged in a simulated drum set, but provide a different song list if a player has connected a simulated guitar to the platform. In this way, a single game can be sold that allows users to select among a plurality of unique instrumental experiences. Or, for example, a player who wants to experience the game as a vocalist may plug in a microphone and be presented with a gameplay scenario in which the player must successfully sing the pitches and/or words to a song. The same player may then decide to experience the game as a drummer, connect a simulated drum set in place of the microphone, and be presented with a gameplay mechanic in which the player must successfully strike the pads of the drum set in time with the music. The game may be sold in a package with each of a plurality of instrument types, or the instruments may be sold separately from the game.

In one aspect, the present invention relates to a method for altering game content responsive to detecting a type of controller used by a player of a rhythm action game, the method comprising: detecting, by a game executing on a game platform, that a first simulated musical instrument type of a plurality of simulated musical instrument types is connected to the game platform; selecting, by the game in response to the detection, a first song progression from a plurality of song progressions, each song progression corresponding to a different simulated musical instrument type, and wherein at least two of the song progressions comprise different sequences of songs; and providing, by the game, a session of a rhythm-action game with the selected first song progression.

In another aspect, present invention relates to a method for altering game content responsive to detecting a type of controller used by a player of a rhythm action game, the method comprising: detecting, by a game executing on a game platform, that a first simulated musical instrument type of a plurality of simulated musical instrument types is connected to the game platform; selecting, by the game from a plurality of collections of level data, each collection corresponding to a different simulated musical instrument type, a first collection of level data corresponding to the first simulated musical instrument type; and providing, by the game, a session of a rhythm-action game with the selected collection of level data.

In a third aspect, the present invention relates to a method for altering game content responsive to detecting a type of controller used by a player of a rhythm action game, the method comprising: detecting, by a game executing on a game platform, that a first simulated musical instrument type of a plurality of simulated musical instrument types is connected to the game platform; selecting, by the game from a plurality of collections of level data, each collection corresponding to a different simulated musical instrument type, a first collection of level data corresponding to the first simulated musical instrument type; and providing, by the game, a session of a rhythm-action game with the selected collection of level data.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing and other objects, aspects, features, and advantages of the invention will become more apparent and better understood by referring to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1A is an example screenshot of one embodiment of a multiplayer rhythm-action game;

FIG. 1B is a second example screenshot of one embodiment of a multiplayer rhythm-action game;

FIG. 1C is a block diagram of a system facilitating network play of a rhythm action game;

FIG. 1D is an example screenshot of one embodiment of network play of a rhythm action game;

FIG. 2A is a flow diagram of one embodiment of a method for altering game content responsive to detecting a type of controller used by a player of a rhythm action game;

FIGS. 2B and 2C illustrate one embodiment of a game which alters a song progression depending on a type of controller attached;

FIG. 3A illustrates a flow diagram of a method for altering gameplay mechanic responsive to detecting a type of controller used by a player of a rhythm action game;

FIG. 3B illustrates a flow diagram of a method for altering level data responsive to detecting a type of controller used by a player of a rhythm action game;

FIGS. 3C and 3D illustrate one embodiment of a game which alters level data and/or a gameplay mechanic depending on a type of controller attached; and

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring now to FIG. 1A, an embodiment of a screen display for a video game in which four players emulate a musical performance is shown. One or more of the players may be represented on screen by an avatar 110. Although FIG. 1A depicts an embodiment in which four players participate, any number of players may participate simultaneously. For example, a fifth player may join the game as a keyboard player. In this case, the screen may be further subdivided to make room to display a fifth avatar and/or music interface. In some embodiments, an avatar 110 may be a computer-generated image. In other embodiments, an avatar may be a digital image, such as a video capture of a person. An avatar may be modeled on a famous figure or, in some embodiments, the avatar may be modeled on the game player associated with the avatar.

Still referring to FIG. 1A, a lane 101 102 has one or more game “cues” 124, 125, 126, 127, 130 corresponding to musical events distributed along the lane. During gameplay, the cues, also referred to as “musical targets,” “gems,” or “game elements,” appear to flow toward a target marker 140, 141. In some embodiments, the cues may appear to be flowing towards a player. The cues are distributed on the lane in a manner having some relationship to musical content associated with the game level. For example, the cues may represent note information (gems spaced more closely together for shorter notes and further apart for longer notes), pitch (gems placed on the left side of the lane for notes having lower pitch and the right side of the lane for higher pitch), volume (gems may glow more brightly for louder tones), duration (gems may be “stretched” to represent that a note or tone is sustained, such as the gem 127), articulation, timbre or any other time-varying aspects of the musical content. The cues may be any geometric shape and may have other visual characteristics, such as transparency, color, or variable brightness.

As the gems move along a respective lane, musical data represented by the gems may be substantially simultaneously played as audible music. In some embodiments, audible music represented by a gem is only played (or only played at full or original fidelity) if a player successfully “performs the musical content” by capturing or properly executing the gem. In some embodiments, a musical tone is played to indicate successful execution of a musical event by a player. In other embodiments, a stream of audio is played to indicate successful execution of a musical event by a player. In certain embodiments, successfully performing the musical content triggers or controls the animations of avatars.

In other embodiments, the audible music, tone, or stream of audio represented by a cue is modified, distorted, or otherwise manipulated in response to the player's proficiency in executing cues associated with a lane. For example, various digital filters can operate on the audible music, tone, or stream of audio prior to being played by the game player. Various parameters of the filters can be dynamically and automatically modified in response to the player capturing cues associated with a lane, allowing the audible music to be degraded if the player performs poorly or enhancing the audible music, tone, or stream of audio if the player performs well. For example, if a player fails to execute a game event, the audible music, tone, or stream of audio represented by the failed event may be muted, played at less than full volume, or filtered to alter its sound.

In certain embodiments, a “wrong note” sound may be substituted for the music represented by the failed event. Conversely, if a player successfully executes a game event, the audible music, tone, or stream of audio may be played normally. In some embodiments, if the player successfully executes several, successive game events, the audible music, tone, or stream of audio associated with those events may be enhanced, for example, by adding an echo or “reverb” to the audible music. The filters can be implemented as analog or digital filters in hardware, software, or any combination thereof. Further, application of the filter to the audible music output, which in many embodiments corresponds to musical events represented by cues, can be done dynamically, that is, during play. Alternatively, the musical content may be processed before game play begins. In these embodiments, one or more files representing modified audible output may be created and musical events to output may be selected from an appropriate file responsive to the player's performance.

In addition to modification of the audio aspects of game events based on the player's performance, the visual appearance of those events may also be modified based on the player's proficiency with the game. For example, failure to execute a game event properly may cause game interface elements to appear more dimly. Alternatively, successfully executing game events may cause game interface elements to glow more brightly. Similarly, the player's failure to execute game events may cause their associated avatar to appear embarrassed or dejected, while successful performance of game events may cause their associated avatar to appear happy and confident. In other embodiments, successfully executing cues associated with a lane causes the avatar associated with that lane to appear to play an instrument. For example, the drummer avatar will appear to strike the correct drum for producing the audible music. Successful execution of a number of successive cues may cause the corresponding avatar to execute a “flourish,” such as kicking their leg, pumping their fist, performing a guitar “windmill,” spinning around, winking at the “crowd,” or throwing drum sticks.

Player interaction with a cue may be required in a number of different ways. In general, the player is required to provide input when a cue passes under or over a respective one of a set of target markers 140, 141 disposed on the lane. For example, the player associated with lane 102 (lead guitar) may use a specialized controller to interact with the game that simulates a guitar, such as a Guitar Hero SG Controller, manufactured by RedOctane of Sunnyvale, Calif. In this embodiment, the player executes the cue by activating the “strum bar” while pressing the correct fret button of the controller when the cue 125 passes under the target marker 141. In other embodiments, the player may execute a cue by performing a “hammer on” or “pull off,” which requires quick depression or release of a fret button without activation of the strum bar. In other embodiments, the player may be required to perform a cue using a “whammy bar” provided by the guitar controller. For example, the player may be required to bend the pitch of a note represented by a cue using the whammy bar. In some embodiments, the guitar controller may also use one or more “effects pedals,” such as reverb or fuzz, to alter the sound reproduced by the gaming platform.

In other embodiments, player interaction with a cue may comprise singing a pitch and or a lyric associated with a cue. For example, the player associated with lane 101 may be required to sing into a microphone to match the pitches indicated by the gem 124 as the gem 124 passes over the target marker 140. As shown in FIG. 1A, the notes of a vocal track are represented by “note tubes” 124. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1A, the note tubes 124 appear at the top of the screen and flow horizontally, from right to left, as the musical content progresses. In this embodiment, vertical position of a note tube 124 represents the pitch to be sung by the player; the length of the note tube indicates the duration for which the player must hold that pitch. In other embodiments, the note tubes may appear at the bottom or middle of the screen. The arrow 108 provides the player with visual feedback regarding the pitch of the note that is currently being sung. If the arrow is above the note tube 124, the player needs to lower the pitch of the note being sung. Similarly, if the arrow 108 is below the note tube 124, the player needs to raise the pitch of the note being sung. In these embodiments, the vocalist may provide vocal input using a USB microphone of the sort manufactured by Logitech International of Switzerland. In other embodiments, the vocalist may provide vocal input using another sort of simulated microphone. In still further embodiments, the vocalist may provide vocal input using a traditional microphone commonly used with amplifiers. As used herein, a “simulated microphone” is any microphone apparatus that does not have a traditional XLR connector. As shown in FIG. 1A, lyrics 105 may be provided to the player to assist their performance.

In still other embodiments, a player interaction with a cue may comprise any manipulation of any simulated instrument and/or game controller.

As shown in FIG. 1A, each lane may be subdivided into a plurality of segments. Each segment may correspond to some unit of musical time, such as a beat, a plurality of beats, a measure, or a plurality of measures. Although the embodiment shown in FIG. 1A show equally-sized segments, each segment may have a different length depending on the particular musical data to be displayed. In addition to musical data, each segment may be textured or colored to enhance the interactivity of the display. For embodiments in which a lane comprises a tunnel or other shape (as described above), a cursor is provided to indicate which surface is “active,” that is, with which lane surface a player is currently interacting. In these embodiments, the viewer can use an input device to move the cursor from one surface to another. As shown in FIG. 1A, each lane may also be divided into a number of sub-lanes, with each sub-lane containing musical targets indicating different input elements. For example, the lane 102 is divided into five sub-lanes, including sub-lanes 171 and 172. Each sub-lane may correspond to a different fret button on the neck of a simulated guitar.

Referring now to FIG. 1B, a second embodiment of a screen display for a video game in which four players emulate a musical performance is shown. In the embodiment shown, the lanes 103. 104 have graphical designs corresponding to gameplay events. For example, lane 103 comprises a flame pattern, which may correspond to a bonus activation by the player. For example, lane 104 comprises a curlicue pattern, which may correspond to the player achieving the 6× multiplier shown.

In other embodiments, a game display may alternate the display of one or more avatars and/or the display of the band as a whole. For example, during the performance of a song, a display may switch between a number of camera angle providing, for example, close-ups of the guitarist, bassist, drummer, or vocalist, shots of the band as a whole, shots of the crowd, and/or any combination of the avatars, stage, crowd, and instruments. In some embodiments, the sequence and timing of camera angles may be selected to resemble a music video. In some embodiments, the camera angles may be selected to display an avatar of a player who is performing a distinctive portion of a song. In other embodiments the camera angles may be selected to display an avatar of a player who is performing particularly well or poorly. In some embodiments, an avatar's gestures or actions may correspond to the current camera angle. For example, an avatar may have certain moves, such as a jump, head bang, devil horns, special dance, or other move, which are performed when a close-up of the avatar is shown. In some embodiments, the avatars motions may be choreographed to mimic the actual playing of the song. For example, if a song contains a section where the drummer hits a cymbal crash, the drummer avatar may be shown to hit a cymbal crash at the correct point in the song.

In some embodiments, avatars may interact with the crowd at a venue, and camera angles may correspond to the interaction. For example, in one camera angle, an avatar may be shown pointing at various sections of the crowd. In the next camera angle the various sections of the crowd may be shown screaming, waving, or otherwise interacting with the avatar. In other embodiments, avatars may interact with each other. For example, two avatars may lean back-to-back while performing a portion of a song. Or for example, the entire band may jump up and land simultaneously, and stage pyrotechnics may also be synchronized to the band's move.

In some embodiments, the “lanes” containing the musical cues to be performed by the players may be on screen continuously. In other embodiments one or more lanes may be removed in response to game conditions, for example if a player has failed a portion of a song, or if a song contains an extended time without requiring input from a given player.

Although depicted in FIGS. 1A and 1B, in some embodiments (not shown), instead of a lane extending from a player's avatar, a three-dimensional “tunnel” comprising a number of lanes extends from a player's avatar. The tunnel may have any number of lanes and, therefore, may be triangular, square, pentagonal, sextagonal, septagonal, octagonal, nonanogal, or any other closed shape. In still other embodiments, the lanes do not form a closed shape. The sides may form a road, trough, or some other complex shape that does not have its ends connected. For ease of reference throughout this document, the display element comprising the musical cues for a player is referred to as a “lane.”

In some embodiments, a lane does not extend perpendicularly from the image plane of the display, but instead extends obliquely from the image plane of the display. In further embodiments, the lane may be curved or may be some combination of curved portions and straight portions. In still further embodiments, the lane may form a closed loop through which the viewer may travel, such as a circular or ellipsoid loop.

It should be understood that the display of three-dimensional “virtual” space is an illusion achieved by mathematically “rendering” two-dimensional images from objects in a three-dimensional “virtual space” using a “virtual camera,” just as a physical camera optically renders a two-dimensional view of real three-dimensional objects. Animation may be achieved by displaying a series of two-dimensional views in rapid succession, similar to motion picture films that display multiple still photographs per second.

To generate the three-dimensional space, each object in the three-dimensional space is typically modeled as one or more polygons, each of which has associated visual features such as texture, transparency, lighting, shading, anti-aliasing, z-buffering, and many other graphical attributes. The combination of all the polygons with their associated visual features can be used to model a three-dimensional scene. A virtual camera may be positioned and oriented anywhere within the scene. In many cases, the camera is under the control of the viewer, allowing the viewer to scan objects. Movement of the camera through the three-dimensional space results in the creation of animations that give the appearance of navigation by the user through the three-dimensional environment.

A software graphics engine may be provided which supports three-dimensional scene creation and manipulation. A graphics engine generally includes one or more software modules that perform the mathematical operations necessary to “render” the three-dimensional environment, which means that the graphics engine applies texture, transparency, and other attributes to the polygons that make up a scene. Graphic engines that may be used in connection with the present invention include Gamebryo, manufactured by Emergent Game Technologies of Calabasas, Calif., the Unreal Engine, manufactured by Epic Games, and Renderware, manufactured by Criterion Software of Austin, Tex. In other embodiments, a proprietary graphic engine may be used. In many embodiments, a graphics hardware accelerator may be utilized to improve performance. Generally, a graphics accelerator includes video memory that is used to store image and environment data while it is being manipulated by the accelerator.

In other embodiments, a three-dimensional engine may not be used. Instead, a two-dimensional interface may be used. In such an embodiment, video footage of a band can be used in the background of the video game. In others of these embodiments, traditional two-dimensional computer-generated representations of a band may be used in the game. In still further embodiments, the background may be only slightly related, or unrelated, to the band. For example, the background may be a still photograph or an abstract pattern of colors. In these embodiments, the lane may be represented as a linear element of the display, such as a horizontal, vertical or diagonal element.

Still referring to FIG. 1B The player associated with the middle lane 103 (drummer) may also use a specialized controller to interact with the game that simulates a drum kit, such as the DrumMania drum controller, manufactured by Topway Electrical Appliance Co., Ltd. of Shenzhen, China. In some embodiments, the drum controller provides four drum pads and a kick drum pedal. In other embodiments, the drum controller surrounds the player, as a “real” drum kit would do. In still other embodiments, the drum controller is designed to look and feel like an analog drum kit. In these embodiments, a cue may be associated with a particular drum. The player strikes the indicated drum when the cue 128 passes under the target marker 142, to successfully execute cue 128. In other embodiments, a player may use a standard game controller to play, such as a DualShock game controller, manufactured by Sony Corporation.

Referring back to FIG. 1A, in some embodiments, improvisational or “fill” sections may be indicated to a drummer or any other instrumentalist. In FIG. 1A, a drum fill is indicated by long tubes 130 filling each of the sub-lanes of the center lane which corresponds to the drummer.

In some embodiments, a player is associated with a “turntable” or “scratch” track. In these embodiments, the player may provide input using a simulated turntable such as the turntable controller sold by Konami Corporation.

Local play may be competitive or it may be cooperative. Cooperative play is when two or more players work together in an attempt to earn a combined score. Competitive play may be when a player competes against another player in an attempt to earn a higher score. In other embodiments, competitive play involves a team of cooperating players competing against another team of competing players in attempt to achieve a higher team score than the other team. Competitive local play may be head-to-head competition using the same instrument, head-to-head competition using separate instruments, simultaneous competition using the same instrument, or simultaneous competition using separate instruments. In some embodiments, rather than competing for a high score, players or teams may compete for the best crowd rating, longest consecutive correct note streak, highest accuracy, or any other performance metric. In some embodiments, competitive play may feature a “tug-of-war” on a crowd meter, in which each side tries to “pull” a crowd meter in their direction by successfully playing a song. In one embodiment, a limit may be placed on how far ahead one side can get in a competitive event. In this manner, even a side which has been significantly outplayed in the first section of a song may have a chance late in a song to win the crowd back and win the event.

In one embodiment, competition in local play may involve two or more players using the same type of instrument controller to play the game, for example, guitar controllers. In some embodiments, each player associates themselves with a band in order to begin play. In other embodiments, each player can simply play “solo,” without association with a band. In these embodiments, the other instruments required for performance of a musical composition are reproduced by the gaming platform. Each of the players has an associated lane and each player is alternately required to perform a predetermined portion of the musical composition. Each player scores depending on how faithfully he or she reproduces their portions of the musical composition. In some embodiments, scores may be normalized to produce similar scores and promote competition across different difficulty levels. For example, a guitarist on a “medium” difficulty level may be required to perform half of the notes as a guitarist on a “hard” difficulty level and, as such, should get 100 points per note instead of 50. An additional per-difficulty scalar may be required to make this feel “fair.”

This embodiment of head-to-head play may be extended to allow the players to use different types of game controllers and, therefore, to perform different portions of the musical composition. For example, one player may elect to play using a guitar-type controller while a second player may play using a drum-type controller. Alternatively, each player may use a guitar-type controller, but one player elects to play “lead guitar” while the other player elects to play “rhythm guitar” or, in some embodiments, “bass guitar.” In these examples, the gaming platform reproduces the instruments other than the guitar when it is the first player's turn to play, and the lane associated with the first player is populated with gems representing the guitar portion of the composition. When it is time for the second player to compete, the gaming platform reproduces the instruments other than, for example, the drum part, and the second player's lane is populated with gems representing the drum portion of the musical composition. In some of these embodiments, a scalar factor may be applied to the score of one of the player's to compensate for the differences in the parts of the musical composition.

In still other embodiments, the players may compete simultaneously, that is, each player may provide a musical performance at the same time as the other player. In some embodiments, both players may use the same type of controller. In these embodiments, each player's lane provides the same pattern of cues and each player attempts to reproduce the musical performance identified by those elements more faithfully than the other player. In other embodiments, the players use different types of controllers. In these embodiments, one player attempts to reproduce one portion of a musical composition while the other player tries to represent a different portion of the same composition.

In any of these forms of competition, the relative performance of a player may affect their associated avatar. For example, the avatar of a player that is doing better than the competition may, for example, smile, look confident, glow, swagger, “pogo stick,” etc. Conversely, the losing player's avatar may look depressed, embarrassed, etc.

Instead of competing, the players may cooperate in an attempt to achieve a combined score. In these embodiments, the score of each player contributes to the score of the team, that is, a single score is assigned to the team based on the performance of all players. As described above, a scalar factor may be applied to the score of one of the player's to compensate for the differences in the parts of the musical composition.

Still referring to FIG. 1A, an indicator of the performance of a number of players on a single performance meter 180 is shown. In brief overview, each of the players in a band may be represented by an icon 181, 182. In the figure shown the icons 181 182 are circles with graphics indicating the instrument the icon corresponds to. For example, the icon 181 contains a microphone representing the vocalist, while icon 182 contains a drum set representing the drummer. The position of a player's icon on the meter 180 indicates a current level of performance for the player. A colored bar on the meter may indicate the performance of the band as a whole. Although the meter shown displays the performance of four players and a band as a whole, in other embodiments, any number of players or bands may be displayed on a meter, including two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, or ten players, and any number of bands.

The meter 180 may indicate any measure of performance, and performance may be computed in any manner. In some embodiments, the meter 180 may indicate a weighted rolling average of a player's performance. For example, a player's position on the meter may reflect a percentage of notes successfully hit, where more recent notes are weighted more heavily than less recent notes. In another embodiment, a player's position on the meter may be calculated by computing a weighted average of the player's performance on a number of phrases. In some embodiments, a player's position on the meter may be updated on a note-by-note basis. In other embodiments, a player's position on the meter may be updated on a phrase-by-phrase basis. The meter may also indicate any measure of a band's performance. In some embodiments, the meter may display the band's performance as an average of each of the players' performances. In other embodiments, the indicated band's performance may comprise a weighted average in which some players' performances are more heavily weighted.

In some embodiments, the meter 180 may comprise subdivisions which indicate relative levels of performance. For example, in the embodiment shown, the meter 140 is divided roughly into thirds, which may correspond to Good, Average, and Poor performance.

In some embodiments, a player or players in a band may “fail” a song if their performance falls to the bottom of the meter. In some embodiments, consequences of failing a song may include being removed from the rest of the song. In these embodiments, a player who has failed may have their lane removed from the display, and the audio corresponding to that player's part may be removed. In some embodiments, if a single member of a band fails a song, the band may consequently fail the song. In other embodiments, if a member of a band fails a song, one or more other members of the band may continue playing. In still other embodiments, one or more other members of a band may reinstate the failed player.

The icons 181, 182 displayed to indicate each player may comprise any graphical or textual element. In some embodiments, the icons may comprise text with the name of one or more of the players. In another embodiment the icon may comprise text with the name of the instrument of the player. In other embodiments, the icons may comprise a graphical icon corresponding to the instrument of the player. For example, an icon containing a drawing of a drum 182 may be used to indicate the performance of a drummer.

The overall performance of the band may be indicated in any manner on the meter 180. In the embodiment shown, a filled bar 180 indicates the band's performance as a whole. In other embodiments, the band's performance may be represented by an icon. In some embodiments, individual performances may not be indicated on a meter, and only the performance of the band as a whole may be displayed.

Although described above in the context of a single player providing a single type of input, a single player may provide one or more types of input simultaneously. For example, a single player providing instrument-based input (such as for a lead guitar track, bass guitar track, rhythm guitar track, keyboard track, drum track, or other percussion track) and vocal input simultaneously.

Still referring to FIG. 1A, meters 150 151 may be displayed for each player indicating an amount of stored bonus. The meters may be displayed graphically in any manner, including a bar, pie, graph, or number. In some embodiments, each player may be able to view the meters of remote players. In other embodiments, only bonus meters of local players may be shown. Bonuses may be accumulated in any manner including, without limitation, by playing specially designated musical phrases, hitting a certain number of consecutive notes, or by maintaining a given percentage of correct notes.

In some embodiments, if a given amount of bonuses are accumulated, a player may activate the bonus to trigger an in-game effect. An in-game effect may comprise a graphical display change including, without limitation, an increase or change in crowd animation, avatar animation, performance of a special trick by the avatar, lighting change, setting change, or change to the display of the lane of the player. An in-game effect may also comprise an aural effect, such as a guitar modulation, including feedback, distortion, screech, flange, wah-wah, echo, or reverb, a crowd cheer, an increase in volume, and/or an explosion or other aural signifier that the bonus has been activated. An in-game effect may also comprise a score effect, such as a score multiplier or bonus score addition. In some embodiments, the in-game effect may last a predetermined amount of time for a given bonus activation.

In some embodiments, bonuses may be accumulated and/or deployed in a continuous manner. In other embodiments, bonuses may be accumulated and/or deployed in a discrete manner. For example, instead of the continuous bar shown in FIG. 1A, a bonus meter may comprise a number of “lights” each of which corresponds to a single bonus earned. A player may then deploy the bonuses one at a time.

In some embodiments, bonus accumulation and deployment may be different for each simulated instrument. For example, in one embodiment only the bass player may accumulate bonuses, while only the lead guitarist can deploy the bonuses.

FIG. 1A also depicts score multiplier indicators 160, 161. A score multiplier indicator 160, 161 may comprise any graphical indication of a score multiplier currently in effect for a player. In some embodiments, a score multiplier may be raised by hitting a number of consecutive notes. In other embodiments, a score multiplier may be calculated by averaging score multipliers achieved by individual members of a band. For example, a score multiplier indicator 160 161 may comprise a disk that is filled with progressively more pie slices as a player hits a number of notes in a row. Once the player has filled the disk, the player's multiplier may be increased, and the disk may be cleared. In some embodiments, a player's multiplier may be capped at certain amounts. For example, a drummer may be limited to a score multiplier of no higher than 4×. Or for example, a bass player may be limited to a score multiplier of no higher than 6×.

In some embodiments, a separate performance meter (not shown) may be displayed under the lane of each player. This separate performance meter may comprise a simplified indication of how well the player is doing. In one embodiment, the separate performance meter may comprise an icon which indicates whether a player is doing great, well, or poorly. For example, the icon for “great” may comprise a hand showing devil horns, “good” may be a thumbs up, and “poor” may be a thumbs down. In other embodiments, a player's lane may flash or change color to indicate good or poor performance.

Each player may use a gaming platform in order to participate in the game. In one embodiment, the gaming platform is a dedicated game console, such as: PLAYSTATION2, PLAYSTATION3, or PLAYSTATION PERSONAL, manufactured by Sony Corporation; DREAMCAST, manufactured by Sega Corp.; GAMECUBE, GAMEBOY, GAMEBOY ADVANCE, or WII, manufactured by Nintendo Corp.; or XBOX or XBOX360, manufactured by Microsoft Corp. In other embodiments, the gaming platform comprises a personal computer, personal digital assistant, or cellular telephone. In some embodiments, the players associated with avatars may be physically proximate to one another. For example, each of the players associated with the avatars may connect their respective game controllers into the same gaming platform (“local play”).

In some embodiments, one or more of the players may participate remotely. FIG. 1C depicts a block diagram of a system facilitating network play of a rhythm action game. As shown in FIG. 1C, a first gaming platform 100a and a second gaming platform 100b communicate over a network 196, such as a local area network (LAN), a metropolitan area network (MAN), or a wide area network (WAN) such as the Internet or the World Wide Web. The gaming platforms connect to the network through one of a variety of connections including standard telephone lines, LAN or WAN links (e.g., T1, T3, 56 kb, X.25), broadband connections (e.g., ISDN, Frame Relay, ATM), and wireless connections (e.g., 802.11a, 802.11g, Wi-Max). The first gaming platform 100a and the second gaming platform 100b may be any of the types of gaming platforms identified above. In some embodiments, the first gaming platforms 100a and the second gaming platform 100b are of different types.

When a networked multiplayer game session begins at the direction of one of the players, that player's gaming platform 100a (the “host”) transmits a “start” instruction to all other gaming platforms participating in the networked game, and the game begins on all platforms. A timer begins counting on each gaming platform, each player's game cues are displayed, and each player begins attempting to perform the musical composition.

Gameplay on gaming platform 100a is independent from game play on gaming platform 10b, except that each player's gaming platform contains a local copy of the musical event data for all other players. The timers on the various gaming platforms communicate with each other via the network 196 to maintain approximate synchrony using any number of the conventional means known in the art.

The gaming platforms 100a, 100b also continually transmit game score data to each other, so that each system (and player) remains aware of the game score of all other systems (and players). Similarly, this is accomplished by any number of means known in the art. Note that this data is not particularly timing sensitive, because if there is momentary disagreement between any two gaming platforms regarding the score (or similar game-related parameters), the consequences to gameplay are negligible.

In one embodiment, as each player plays the game at their respective location, an analyzer module 180a, 180b on that player's gaming platform 100a, 100b continually extracts data from an event monitor 185a, 185b regarding the local player's performance, referred to hereafter as “emulation data”. Emulation data may include any number of parameters that describe how well the player is performing. Some examples of these parameters include:

    • whether or not the most recent event type was a correctly-played note or an incorrectly-played noted;
    • a timing value representing the difference between actual performance of the musical event and expected performance of the musical event;
    • a moving average of the distribution of event types (e.g., the recent ratio of correct to incorrect notes);
    • a moving average of the differences between the actual performance of musical events and the expected performance times of the musical events; or
    • a moving average of timing errors of incorrect notes.

Each analyzer module 180a, 180b continually transmits the emulation data it extracts over the network 196 using transceiver 190a, 190b; each event monitor 185a, 185b continually receives the other gaming platform's emulation data transmitted over the network 196.

In one embodiment, the emulation data essentially contains a statistical description of a player's performance in the recent past. The event monitor 185a, 185b uses received emulation data to create a statistical approximation of the remote player's performance.

In one particular example, an incoming emulation parameter from a remote player indicates that the most recent remote event was correctly reproduced. When the local event monitor 185a, 185b reaches the next note in the local copy of the remote player's note data, it will respond accordingly by “faking” a successfully played note, triggering the appropriate sound. That is, the local event monitor 185a, 185b will perform the next musical event from the other players' musical event data, even though that event was not necessarily actually performed by the other player's event monitor 185a, 185b. If instead the emulation parameter had indicated that the most recent remote event was a miss, no sound would be triggered.

In another particular example, an incoming emulation parameter from a remote player indicates that, during the last 8 beats, 75% of events were correctly reproduced and 25% were not correctly reproduced. When the local event monitor 185a reaches the next note in the local copy of the remote player's note data, it will respond accordingly by randomly reproducing the event correctly 75% of the time and not reproducing it correctly 25% of the time.

In another particular example, an incoming emulation parameter from a remote player indicates that, during the last 4 beats, 2 events were incorrectly performed, with an average timing error of 50 “ticks.” The local event monitor 185a, 185b will respond accordingly by randomly generating incorrect events at a rate of 0.5 misses-per-beat, displacing them in time from nearby notes by the specified average timing error.

The above three cases are merely examples of the many types of emulation parameters that may be used. In essence, the remote player performances are only emulated (rather than exactly reproduced) on each local machine.

In this embodiment, the analyzer module 180a, 180b may extract musical parameters from the input and transmit them over a network 196 to a remote gaming platform. For example, the analyzer module 180a, 180b may simply transmit the input stream over a network 196 or it may extract the information into a more abstract form, such as “faster” or “lower.” Although described in the context of a two-player game, the technique may be used with any number of players.

Still referring to FIG. 1C, in another embodiment, analyzer module 180a, 180b extracts data from the event monitor 185a, 185b regarding the local player's performance. In this embodiment, however, the extracted data is transmitted over the network 550 using the transceiver 190a, 190b. When the analyzer 180a, 180b receives the transmitted data, it generates an emulation parameter representing the other player's musical performance and provides the locally-generated emulation parameter to the event monitor 185a, 185b, as described above. One advantage of this embodiment is that each player may locally set their preference for how they want the event monitor 185a, 185b to act on emulation parameters.

In other embodiments, the transmitted data is associated with a flag that indicates whether the transmitted data represents a successfully executed musical event or an unsuccessfully executed musical event. In these embodiments, the analyzer 180a, 180b provides a locally-generated emulation parameter to the event monitor 185a, 185b based on the flag associated with the transmitted data.

One unusual side effect of these techniques is that each local player does not hear an exact reproduction of the remote players' performances; only a statistical approximation. However, these statistical approximations have two countervailing positive attributes: because they are synchronized to the local player's timer and the local copy of the remote players' note data, they are synchronous with the local player's performance; and while not exact reproductions, they are “close enough” to effectively communicate to the local player the essence of how well the remote players are performing musically. In this model, delays in the transmission of the data over the network 196 do not have the intolerable side effect of causing cacophonous asynchronicity between the note streams triggering sounds on each player's local system.

In other embodiments, a central server may be used to facilitate communication between the gaming platforms 100a, 100b. Extraction of emulation parameters is performed, as described above. The server distributes data, whether music performance data or emulation parameter data, to all other gaming platforms participating in the current game. In other embodiments, the server may store received data for use later. For example, a band may elect to use the stored data for the performance of a band member who is unavailable to play in a specific game.

Referring now to FIG. 1D, one embodiment of a screen display for remote multiplayer play is shown. The embodiment of the screen display shown in FIG. 1D may be used for head-to-head play, for simultaneous competition, and for cooperative play. As shown in FIG. 1D, a local player's lane 109 is shown larger than the lanes 106 107 of two remote players. The avatars for remote players may appear normally on stage in a similar manner as if the avatars represented local players. In other embodiments, the lanes may be displayed in a similar manner for both local multiplayer and remote multiplayer. In still other embodiments, in remote multiplayer, only the local player or player's avatars may be shown.

As shown in FIG. 1D, the lanes 106, 107 associated with the remote players are shown smaller than the local player's lane 109. In other embodiments, the lanes of one or more remote players may be graphically distinguished in any other way. For example, the remote players' lanes may be shown translucently. Or for example, the remote players' lanes may have a higher transparency than local player's lanes. Or the remote players' lanes may be shown in grayscale, or in a different screen location than local players' lanes. In some embodiments, a remote vocalist's lane may not be shown at all, and instead only the lyrics of the song may be displayed.

In some embodiments, multiple players participate in an online face-off between two bands. A “band” is two or more players that play in a cooperative mode. In some embodiments, the two bands need to have the same types of instruments at the same difficulty level selection, i.e., a guitarist playing on “hard” and a bassist playing on “medium” playing against a guitarist playing on “hard” and a bassist playing on “medium.” In other embodiments, the two bands still need to have the same types of instruments but the difficulty selections can be different: Players participating at a lower difficulty level simply have fewer gems to contribute to the overall score. The song to be played may be selected after the teams have been paired up. Alternatively, a band may publish a challenge to play a particular song and a team may accept the challenge.

For example, a local group of players may formed a band and give their band a name (“The Freqs.”). Each of the four players in the “The Freqs” is local to one another. They may then competing against a team of players located remotely, who have formed a band called “The Champs.” In some cases “The Champs” may each be local to one another. In other cases, members of “The Champs” my be remote to each other. Each player in “The Freqs” and “the Champs” may see a display similar to FIG. 1A or FIG. 1B. However, in some embodiments, an additional score meter may be displayed showing the score of the other band. In other embodiments any other measure and indication of performance of a band may be given. For example, in some embodiments, meters may be displayed for each band indicating relative performance, crowd engagement, percentage of notes hit, or any other metric. In some embodiments, a four-in-one meter 180 as depicted in FIG. 1A may be displayed for each band. In some embodiments, avatars from both bands may be depicted on the stage.

In some embodiments, the bands “trade” alternating portions of the musical composition to perform; that is, the performance of the song alternates between bands. In these embodiments, musical performance output from “The Champs” is reproduced locally at the gaming platform used by “The Freqs” when “The Champs” are performing. Similarly, the musical performance of “The Freqs” is reproduced remotely (using the emulation parameter technique described above) at the gaming platform of “The Champs” when “The Freqs” are performing. In other embodiments, the bands play simultaneously. In these embodiments, the displayed score may be the only feedback that “The Freqs” are provided regarding how well “The Champs” are performing.

In some particular embodiments, members of cooperating bands may be local to one another or remote from one another. Similarly, members of competing bands may be local to one another or remote from one another. In one example, each player is remote from every other player.

In some embodiments, players may form persistent bands. In these embodiments, those bands may only compete when at least a majority of the band in available online. In some of the embodiments, if a member of a persistent band in not online and the other band members want to compete, a gaming platform may substitute for the missing band member. Alternatively, a player unaffiliated with the band may substitute for the missing band member. In still other embodiments, a stream of emulation parameters stored during a previous performance by the missing band member may be substituted for the player. In other embodiments, an online venue may be provided allowing players to form impromptu bands. Impromptu bands may dissolve quickly or they may become persistent bands.

Although FIGS. 1A, 1B and 1D show a band comprising one or more guitars, a drummer, and a vocalist, a band may comprise any number of people playing any musical instruments. Instruments that may be simulated and played in the context of a game may include, without limitation, any percussion instruments (including cymbals, bell lyre, celeste, chimes, crotales, glockenspiel, marimba, orchestra bells, steel drums, timpani, vibraphone, xylophone, bass drum, crash cymbal, gong, suspended cymbal, tam-tam, tenor drum, tom-tom, acme siren, bird whistle, boat whistle, finger cymbals, flex-a-tone, mouth organ, marching machine, police whistle, ratchet, rattle, sandpaper blocks, slapstick, sleigh bells, tambourine, temple blocks, thunder machine, train whistle, triangle, vibra-slap, wind machine, wood block, agogo bells, bongo drum, cabaca, castanets, claves, conga, cowbell, maracas, scraper, timbales, kick drum, hi-hat, ride cymbal, sizzle cymbal, snare drum, and splash cymbal), wind instruments (including piccolo, alto flute, bass flute, contra-alto flute, contrabass flute, subcontrabass flute, double contrabass flute, piccolo clarinet, sopranino clarinet, soprano clarinet, basset horn, alto clarinet, bass clarinet, contra-alto clarinet, contrabass clarinet, octocontra-alto clarinet, octocontrabass clarinet, saxonette, soprillo, sopranino saxophone, soprano saxophone, conn-o-sax, clar-o-sax, saxie, mezzo-soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, bass saxophone, contrabass saxophone, subcontrabass saxophone, tubax, aulochrome, tarogato, folgerphone, contrabassoon, tenoroon, piccolo oboe, oboe d'amore, English horn, French horn, oboe de caccia, bass oboe, baritone oboe, contrabass oboe, bagpipes, bugle, cornet, didgeridoo, euphonium, flugelhorn, shofar, sousaphone trombone, trumpet, tuba, accordion, concertina, harmonica, harmonium, pipe organ, voice, bullroarer, lasso d'amore, whip and siren), other stringed instruments (including harps, dulcimer, archlute, arpeggione, banjo, cello, Chapman stick, cittern, clavichord, double bass, fiddle, slide guitar, steel guitar, harpsichord hurdy gurdy, kora, koto, lute, lyre, mandola, mandolin, sitar, ukulele, viola, violin, and zither) and keyboard instruments (including accordion, bandoneon, calliope, carillon, celesta, clavichord, glasschord, harpsichord, electronic organ, Hammond organ, pipe organ, MIDI keyboard, baby grand piano, electric piano, grand piano, janko piano, toy piano, upright piano, viola organista, and spinets).

Referring now to FIG. 2A, a flow diagram illustrating one embodiment of a method for altering game content responsive to detecting a type of controller used by a player of a rhythm action game is shown. In brief overview, the method includes: detecting, by a game executing on a game platform, that a first simulated musical instrument type of a plurality of simulated musical instrument types is connected to the game platform (step 201); selecting, by the game in response to the detection, a first song progression from a plurality of song progressions, each song progression corresponding to a different simulated musical instrument type, and wherein at least two of the song progressions comprise different sequences of songs (step 203); and providing, by the game, a session of a rhythm-action game with the selected first song progression (step 205).

Still referring to FIG. 2A, now in greater detail, a game executing on a game platform may detect a first simulated musical instrument type of a plurality of simulated musical instrument types is connected to the platform in any manner (step 201). In some embodiments, the game may detect a unique serial number, device ID, control sequence, or other transmission sent from a device connected to the game platform. For example, a game may be released to be used with both guitars and drums. The game may receive a device ID (which may comprise any signal or sequence of bits used to identify a device) from a device connected to the platform, and check a list of known device IDs to determine whether the device is a simulated guitar controller or a simulated drum controller. Or for example, the device may transmit a unique string which identifies the devices as either a drum or guitar controller. The connection to the game platform may comprise any type of connection, including wired and wireless connections.

In some embodiments, the game may detect a musical instrument type and a corresponding game controller. For example, a game may detect a microphone is connected to the platform, as well as a standard game controller. The standard game controller may be used by the player using the microphone to navigate menus and other game functions.

A game may then select, in response to the detection, a first song progression from a plurality of song progressions, each song progression corresponding to a different simulated musical instrument type, and wherein at least two of the song progressions comprise different sequences of songs (step 203). A song progression may comprise any sequence of songs presented to a player of the game during the course of play.

For example, a song progression may comprise a linear sequence of songs, in which a player must successfully complete each song to advance to the next song. Or for example, a song progression may comprise a series of groups of songs, in which a player must complete a certain number of songs from a group before the player may advance to the next group.

Or for example, a song progression may comprise a matching of a number of songs with a plurality of difficulty levels. In this example, songs may be assigned different difficulties depending on which instrument is used to play the song. For example, a song may have a very difficult drum part, but a relatively easy vocal part. Thus the song may be placed higher in a song progression provided to a player using a drum controller than to a player using a microphone controller.

For example, the table below illustrates three song progressions which may be provided depending on whether a guitar, drum, or microphone controller is connected to the game platform.

DrumMicrophoneGuitar
Song ASong BSong A
Song BSong CSong C
Song CSong ESong B
Song DSong ASong F
Song ESong DSong E

Although in the above example, the three song progressions have the same number of songs, in some embodiments, different song progressions may comprise different numbers of songs. For example, more songs may be available to be played on drums than on guitar.

FIGS. 2B and 2C illustrate a player 250 using a game platform. Depending on whether the player has connected a guitar controller 260 or a drum controller 280, a different song progression is displayed to the player. In the example shown, the sequence of songs is different, and also a different number of songs are required for completion of the difficulty level.

Referring now to FIG. 3A a flow diagram of a method for altering gameplay mechanic responsive to detecting a type of controller used by a player of a rhythm action game is shown. In brief overview, the method includes detecting, by a game executing on a game platform, that a first simulated musical instrument type of a plurality of simulated musical instrument types is connected to the game platform (step 201); selecting, by the game from a plurality of gameplay mechanics each corresponding to a different simulated musical instrument type, a first gameplay mechanic corresponding to the first simulated musical instrument type (step 303); and providing, by the game, a session of a rhythm-action game with the selected gameplay mechanic (step 305).

Still referring to FIG. 3A, now in greater detail, after detecting a type of controller connected to the game platform (step 201) a game may select a gameplay mechanic based on the detected controller type. A gameplay mechanic comprises any method for specifying input to be received from a player and evaluating the player's response. In a rhythm-action game, a gameplay mechanic may comprise any method for displaying musical cues to a player and evaluating a player's response. Although the method shown in FIG. 3A may be applied to any gameplay mechanics, three specific mechanics will be discussed to provide detailed examples.

The first gameplay mechanic, which may be referred to as the “guitar mechanic,” comprises displaying a series of cues to a player, which may correspond to a guitar track of a song. In this mechanic, the player executes the cue by activating the “strum bar” while pressing the correct fret button of the controller when the cue 125 passes under the target marker 141. The player may also execute certain cues by performing a “hammer on” or “pull off,” which requires quick depression or release of a fret button without activation of the strum bar. The player is judged based on how closely the activations of the strum bars and fret buttons match the provided cues. A guitar mechanic may be selected by a game if the game detects a guitar controller connected to the platform.

The second gameplay mechanic, which may be referred to as the “drum mechanic,” comprises displaying a series of cues to a player, which may correspond to a drum track of a song. The player executes the cues by striking an appropriate drum pad, or depressing a foot pedal, based on the displayed cues. The player is then evaluated based on how closely the player's activations of the drum pads and/or foot pedal match the provided cues. A drum mechanic may be selected by a game if the game detects a drum controller connected to the platform.

The third gameplay mechanic, which may be referred to as the “vocal mechanic,” comprises displaying a series of cues to a player, which may correspond to a vocal track of a song. The player executes the cues by singing the pitches and/or words indicated by the cues. The player is then evaluated based on how closely the player's pitches and words match the provided cues. A vocal mechanic may be selected by a game if the game detects a microphone connected to the platform.

Though three specific mechanics have been described, any other gameplay mechanics may be used. In some embodiments, the other gameplay mechanics may correspond to different musical instrument types. For example, a “keyboard mechanic” may be employed in which a player is evaluated based on their activation of keys and foot pedals on a simulated musical keyboard.

The selection of the gameplay mechanic occurs without requiring user input. That is, a user who has connected a guitar controller is not required to select “guitar” from a menu to be provided with the guitar gameplay mechanic (however, a user may select a part to play, such as whether to play a guitar part or a bass part of a song, both of which utilize the guitar mechanic). Likewise, a user connecting a simulated drum controller is not required to specify that they wish to play according to the drum mechanic.

In some embodiments, a game may select a gameplay mechanic for each of a plurality of local and/or remote players. For example, a multiplayer rhythm action game may allow for guitar, drums, and vocals simultaneously performed by three players. the game may detect a controller type corresponding to each player, and assign each player the appropriate gameplay mechanic.

After selecting a gameplay mechanic, the game may provide a session of a rhythm-action game with the selected gameplay mechanic (step 305). In addition to the gameplay mechanic, a session may comprise any game elements known to rhythm-action games, including without limitation song performance, avatar display, crowd and venue animations, menu navigation, character creation, song selection, gig selection, and career and tour modes. Any or all of these game elements may be determined based on the detected controller type. For example, if a drum controller is detected, a player's avatar may be displayed as a drummer, and career events may be tailored to reflect events that might happen to a drummer.

Referring ahead to FIG. 3C, a player 250 has connected a microphone 360 to a game platform 200. The game responds by selecting the vocal mechanic and providing a session of a rhythm action game on the audio/video device 220 using the vocal mechanic. In FIG. 3D, the same player 250 has connected a drum controller 380 to the platform, and the game responds by providing a session of the game featuring the drum mechanic. As shown in these figures, elements of the game's display and/or sound, such as the player's avatar, the relative volume of tracks in a song (such as by making the track of the instrument corresponding to the controller type louder), and the camera angles selected (such as by selecting camera angles focusing on the instrument corresponding to the controller type) may be changed based on the controller type.

Referring now to FIG. 3B, a flow diagram of a method for altering level data responsive to detecting a type of controller used by a player of a rhythm action game is shown. In brief overview, the method comprises: detecting, by a game executing on a game platform, that a first simulated musical instrument type of a plurality of simulated musical instrument types is connected to the game platform (step 201); selecting, by the game from a plurality of collections of level data, each collection corresponding to a different simulated musical instrument type, a first collection of level data corresponding to the first simulated musical instrument type (step 313); and providing, by the game, a session of a rhythm-action game with the selected collection of level data (step 315).

Still referring to FIG. 3B, now in greater detail, after detecting the controller type (step 201) a game may select a collection of level data corresponding to the controller type (step 313). As used herein “level data” refers to the series of cues displayed to a player for a given song. Thus, for a given song, the level data may comprise a plurality of cues, each cue specifying a time and an action to be performed. A collection of level data may comprise any set of level data. For example, a collection of level data might comprise level data for each of 15 songs. Or for example, a collection of level data might comprise level data for each of 15 songs, each at four different difficulty levels (that is, each difficulty level of a song may have a unique set of cues).

A collection of level data may correspond to a type of simulated musical instrument if the collection of level data is related to musical events of the instrument type. That is, a vocal collection of level data may comprise a collection of level data corresponding to vocal events (e.g. pitches and/or words sung) for each of the songs in the collection. Likewise a drum collection of level data may comprise a collection of level data corresponding to drum events (e.g. drums struck) for each of the songs in the collection. The level data may correspond to a type of simulated musical instrument by specifying actions that can be performed by the controller type. For example, level data might specify a particular pitch, which may be performed by singing into a microphone. Or for example, level data might specify a particular fret button and strum combination, which can be performed using a simulated guitar. Or for example, level data might specify a particular drum pad or foot pedal to activate on a simulated rum controller.

After selecting a collection of level data, the game may provide a session of a rhythm-action game with the selected collection of level data. Referring to FIG. 3C, the game on the game platform 200 is providing vocal level data (lyrics and relative pitches) to the player 250 responsive to detecting a microphone 360 connected to the platform. Likewise, in FIG. 3D, the game on the game platform 200 is providing drum level data (cues indicating drum pedal and foot pad activations) to the player 250 responsive to detecting a simulated drum controller connected to the platform.

Aspects of the present invention may be provided as one or more computer-readable programs embodied on or in one or more articles of manufacture comprising computer readable media. The article of manufacture may be a floppy disk, a hard disk, a CD-ROM, DVD, other optical disk, a flash memory card, a PROM, a RAM, a ROM, or a magnetic tape. In general, the computer-readable programs may be implemented in any programming language, LISP, PERL, C, C++, PROLOG, or any byte code language such as JAVA. The software programs may be stored on or in one or more articles of manufacture as executable instructions. In some embodiments, portions of the software programs may be stored on or in one or more articles of manufacture, and other portions may be made available for download to a hard drive or other media connected to a game platform. For example, a game may be sold on an optical disk, but patches and/or downloadable content may be made available online containing additional features or functionality.

Having described certain embodiments of the invention, it will now become apparent to one of skill in the art that other embodiments incorporating the concepts of the invention may be used. Although the described embodiments relate to the field of rhythm-action games, the principles of the invention can extend to other areas that involve musical collaboration or competition by two or more users connected to a network.