Title:
ADAPTIVE LIVE COMMENTARY IN HOSTED GAME
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A live commentary experience is provided to a plurality of users participating in a multiplayer game hosted by a gaming service. A live output stream comprising live commentary on the game play is providing by a human being from the gaming service. A gaming device determines which of three types of commentary—pre-recorded game commentary, periodic commentary and live commentary from a human being—to provide to the user for a live commentary experience.



Inventors:
Clowes, Jo (Redmond, WA, US)
Whitten, Marc R. (Sammamish, WA, US)
Application Number:
12/122284
Publication Date:
11/19/2009
Filing Date:
05/16/2008
Assignee:
MICROSOFT CORPORATION (Redmond, WA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GARNER, WERNER G
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
VIERRA MAGEN/MICROSOFT CORPORATION (SAN FRANCISCO, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method for providing a live commentary experience in a video game executing on a client device coupled to a network, comprising: receiving game state information from the game that the game is in a state requiring commentary on the game; determining whether a stream of live commentary generated by a human viewing data about the game is available via the network; determining whether to provide the stream of live commentary or a source of pre-recorded commentary to provide a commentary to the user responsive to the game state information.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein the source of pre-recorded commentary comprises one of temporally recent periodic content or pre-recorded game event commentary.

3. The method of claim 2 wherein the temporally recent periodic content comprises recorded comments reflecting real-world events relevant to actions in the game which have occurred within a time period prior to execution of the game.

4. The method of claim 2 further including retrieving a temporally recent periodic content file at intervals defined by a game service provider.

5. The method of claim 1 wherein the stream of live commentary is generated by a gaming service provider receiving game state information for a plurality of users all concurrently executing the video game.

6. The method of claim 1 wherein the step of (c) comprises determining whether the game state information requires a live comment type, a temporally relevant content type or a pre-recorded content type, and further includes determining whether network bandwidth is available to retrieve the stream.

7. The method of claim 1 wherein the stream of live commentary includes at least a first set of comments provided by a gaming service provider relevant to the game and a second source of comments provided by a third party, and the method further includes determining whether to provide the second set of comments to the user.

8. The method of claim 1 wherein a first group of users and a second group of users are commonly executing the video game in a common gaming experience, and the stream of live commentary includes a first set of comments directed to a first group of users and a second set of comments directed to a second group of users, and the method further includes the step of determining membership of the user in the first group or the second group and accessing a set of comments based on said step of determining membership.

9. A method for providing a simulated live commentary gaming experience in a multiplayer gaming environment, comprising: receiving a periodic commentary data file; receiving a live commentary data stream, the live commentary stream including comments generated by a human being interacting with a multiplayer game in progress; responsive to a call from an executing game application to determine whether to provide a comment from the periodic commentary data file, selecting a comment from the pre-recorded commentary file, the live commentary data stream or a pre-recorded game content file, and outputting the file to a user.

10. The method of claim 9 wherein the temporally recent periodic content comprises recorded comments reflecting real-world events relevant to actions in the game which have occurred within a time period prior to execution of the game.

11. The method of claim 10 wherein the stream of live commentary is generated by a gaming service provider receiving game state information for a plurality of users all concurrently executing the video game.

12. The method of claim 11 wherein the step of selecting comprises determining whether the game state information requires a live comment type, a temporally relevant content type or a pre-recorded content type, and further includes determining whether network bandwidth is available to retrieve the stream.

13. The method of claim 12 wherein the stream of live commentary includes at least a first set of comments provided by a gaming service provider relevant to the game and a second source of comments provided by a third party, and the method further includes determining whether to provide the second set of comments to the user.

14. The method of claim 12 wherein a first group of users and a second group of users are commonly executing the video game in a common gaming experience, and the stream of live commentary includes a first set of comments directed to a first group of users and a second set of comments directed to a second group of users, and the method further includes the step of determining membership of the user in the first group or the second group and accessing a set of comments based on said step of determining membership.

15. A method for providing live commentary in a gaming experience, comprising: receiving game status information for a plurality of users participating in a multiplayer game environment, the multiplayer game environment ensuring all users are participating in the same game; generating a live commentary data stream, the live commentary stream including comments provided by a live host comprising human being interacting with a multiplayer game in progress; recording at least one periodic commentary file including temporal commentary for the multiplayer game; streaming the live commentary data stream to a network, said plurality of users being coupled to said network; outputting the periodic commentary file to the network.

16. The method of claim 15 further including the step of aggregating game status information according to one of a plurality of statistical categories and providing said aggregated game status to the live host.

17. The method of claim 15 wherein the temporally recent periodic content comprises recorded comments reflecting real-world events relevant to actions in the game which have occurred within a time period prior to execution of the game, and wherein the method further includes the step of outputting the periodic content file at intervals defined by a game service provider.

18. The method of claim 15 wherein the game status information is received from a console service hosting the game environment.

19. The method of claim 15 wherein the stream of live commentary includes at least a first set of comments provided by a gaming service provider relevant to the multiplayer game and a second source of comments provided by a third party.

20. The method of claim 15 wherein a first group of users and a second group of users are participating in the multiplayer game, and the stream of live commentary includes a first set of comments directed to the first group of users and a second set of comments directed to the second group of users.

Description:

BACKGROUND

Gaming systems have evolved from those which provided an isolated gaming experience to networked systems providing a rich, interactive experience which may be shared in real time between friends and other gamers. With Microsoft's Xbox® video game system and Xbox Live® online game service, users can now easily communicate with each other while playing to share the gaming experience.

Users can track their own and their friends' progress through different games is through the concept of game scores and achievements. Another innovation in current gaming systems is the ability to quickly and easily download games. For example, Microsoft introduced a gaming disc known as Microsoft Arcade which is able to connect to a server through the Internet when the gaming console is connected to the Internet. From the server site, the Arcade gaming disc is able to enumerate full version games which are available for download to the user's hard disc drive on the XBox console.

Large scale or “massively multiplayer” games allow large numbers of players to interact. Currently, console games are generally limited to multi-user games hosted by one of the console users.

Many games seek to inject “realistic” commentary into the gameplay. This commentary typically includes pre-recorded content stored with the game which is accessed and presented to the user at appropriate events in the game or when the state of the game reaches a certain point. After playing the game for some time, this pre-recorded content becomes stale and repetitive.

SUMMARY

Technology is presented which provides a live commentary experience to a plurality of users participating in a multiplayer game hosted by a gaming service. A live output stream comprising live commentary on the game play is providing by a human being from the gaming service. A gaming device with which a user interacts to participate in the game determines which of three types of commentary—pre-recorded game commentary, periodic commentary and live commentary from a human being—to provide to the user to provide a live commentary experience.

In one embodiment, the technology provides a method for providing a live commentary experience in a video game executing on a client device. The method includes receiving game state information from the game that the game is in a state requiring commentary. Next, a determination is made as to whether a stream of live commentary generated by a human game is available. Finally, a determination is made as to whether to provide the stream of live commentary, a comment from temporally recent periodic content, or a comment from pre-recorded game content.

In another embodiment, a method allows a gaming service provider to provide live commentary in a gaming experience. The method includes receiving game status information for a plurality of users participating in a multiplayer game environment. Live commentary is generated into a data stream. The live commentary stream includes comments provided by a live host comprising human being interacting with a multiplayer game in progress. A periodic commentary file is also recorded which includes temporal commentary for the multiplayer game. The periodic commentary file is output at intervals determined by the provider, while the live commentary is streamed to users in the multiplayer game.

This Summary is provided to introduce a selection of concepts in a simplified form that are further described below in the Detailed Description. This Summary is not intended to identify key features or essential features of the claimed subject matter, nor is it intended to be used as an aid in determining the scope of the claimed subject matter. The claimed subject matter is not limited to implementations that solve any or all disadvantages noted in the Background.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of an exemplary gaming and media system.

FIG. 2 is an exemplary functional block diagram of components of the gaming and media system shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a block diagram of an exemplary operating environment for rendering achievement information.

FIG. 4 is a flow diagram of a method for creating periodic content.

FIG. 5 is a flow diagram illustrating the process of selecting a commentary type for use in a gaming experience.

FIG. 6 is a flow diagram illustrating a method for filtering group specific live commentary.

FIG. 7 is a flow diagram illustrating a method for providing aggregated game information to a live host.

FIG. 8 is a flow diagram illustrating a method of filtering for non-game commentary.

FIG. 9 illustrates a user interface for live hosting tools.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present system will now be described with reference to FIGS. 1-9, which in general relate to technology providing a live commentary experience in a shared gaming environment. The technology selects from three types of commentary—pre-recorded game commentary, periodic commentary and live commentary from a human being—which is provided to users sharing a common game. This provides the users with a more realistic live commentary experience during play of the game.

FIG. 1 shows an exemplary gaming and media system 100. The following discussion of FIG. 1 is intended to provide a brief, general description of a suitable environment in which concepts presented herein may be implemented. As shown in FIG. 1, gaming and media system 100 includes a game and media console (hereinafter “console”) 102. In general, console 102 is one type of computing system, as will be further described below. Console 102 is configured to accommodate one or more wireless controllers, as represented by controllers 104(1) and 104(2). Console 102 is equipped with an internal hard disk drive (not shown) and a portable media drive 106 that support various forms of portable storage media, as represented by optical storage disc 108. Examples of suitable portable storage media include DVD, CD-ROM, game discs, and so forth. Console 102 also includes two memory unit card receptacles 125(1) and 125(2), for receiving removable flash-type memory units 140. A command button 135 on console 102 enables and disables wireless peripheral support.

As depicted in FIG. 1, console 102 also includes an optical port 130 for communicating wirelessly with one or more devices and two USB (Universal Serial Bus) ports 110(1) and 110(2) to support a wired connection for additional controllers, or other peripherals. In some implementations, the number and arrangement of additional ports may be modified. A power button 112 and an eject button 114 are also positioned on the front face of game console 102. Power button 112 is selected to apply power to the game console, and can also provide access to other features and controls, and eject button 114 alternately opens and closes the tray of a portable media drive 106 to enable insertion and extraction of a storage disc 108.

Console 102 connects to a television or other display (such as monitor 150) via A/V interfacing cables 120. In one implementation, console 102 is equipped with a dedicated A/V port (not shown) configured for content-secured digital communication using A/V cables 120 (e.g., A/V cables suitable for coupling to a High Definition Multimedia Interface “HDMI” port on a high definition monitor 150 or other display device). A power cable 122 provides power to the game console. Console 102 may be further configured with broadband capabilities, as represented by a cable or modem connector 124 to facilitate access to a network, such as the Internet. The broadband capabilities can also be provided wirelessly, through a broadband network such as a wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) network.

Each controller 104 is coupled to console 102 via a wired or wireless interface. In the illustrated implementation, the controllers 104 are USB-compatible and are coupled to console 102 via a wireless or USB port 110. Console 102 may be equipped with any of a wide variety of user interaction mechanisms. In an example illustrated in FIG. 1, each controller 104 is equipped with two thumbsticks 132(1) and 132(2), a D-pad 134, buttons 136, and two triggers 138. These controllers are merely representative, and other known gaming controllers may be substituted for, or added to, those shown in FIG. 1.

In one implementation, a memory unit (MU) 140 may also be inserted into controller 104 to provide additional and portable storage. Portable MUs enable users to store game parameters for use when playing on other consoles. In this implementation, each controller is configured to accommodate two MUs 140, although more or less than two MUs may also be employed.

Gaming and media system 100 is generally configured for playing games stored on a memory medium, as well as for downloading and playing games, and reproducing pre-recorded music and videos, from both electronic and hard media sources. With the different storage offerings, titles can be played from the hard disk drive, from an optical disk media (e.g., 108), from an online source, or from MU 140.

During operation, console 102 is configured to receive input from controllers 104 and display information on display 150. For example, console 102 can display a user interface on display 150 to allow a user to select a game using controller 104 and display achievement information as discussed below.

FIG. 2 is a functional block diagram of gaming and media system 100 and shows functional components of gaming and media system 100 in more detail. Console 102 has a central processing unit (CPU) 200, and a memory controller 202 that facilitates processor access to various types of memory, including a flash Read Only Memory (ROM) 204, a Random Access Memory (RAM) 206, a hard disk drive 208, and portable media drive 106. In one implementation, CPU 200 includes a level 1 cache 210 and a level 2 cache 212, to temporarily store data and hence reduce the number of memory access cycles made to the hard drive 208, thereby improving processing speed and throughput.

CPU 200, memory controller 202, and various memory devices are interconnected via one or more buses (not shown). The details of the bus that is used in this implementation are not particularly relevant to understanding the subject matter of interest being discussed herein. However, it will be understood that such a bus might include one or more of serial and parallel buses, a memory bus, a peripheral bus, and a processor or local bus, using any of a variety of bus architectures. By way of example, such architectures can include an Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) bus, a Micro Channel Architecture (MCA) bus, an Enhanced ISA (EISA) bus, a Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) local bus, and a Peripheral Component Interconnects (PCI) bus also known as a Mezzanine bus.

In one implementation, CPU 200, memory controller 202, ROM 204, and RAM 206 are integrated onto a common module 214. In this implementation, ROM 204 is configured as a flash ROM that is connected to memory controller 202 via a PCI bus and a ROM bus (neither of which are shown). RAM 206 is configured as multiple Double Data Rate Synchronous Dynamic RAM (DDR SDRAM) modules that are independently controlled by memory controller 202 via separate buses (not shown). Hard disk drive 208 and portable media drive 106 are shown connected to the memory controller 202 via the PCI bus and an AT Attachment (ATA) bus 216. However, in other implementations, dedicated data bus structures of different types can also be applied in the alternative.

A three-dimensional graphics processing unit 220 and a video encoder 222 form a video processing pipeline for high speed and high resolution (e.g., High Definition) graphics processing. Data are carried from graphics processing unit 220 to video encoder 222 via a digital video bus (not shown). An audio processing unit 224 and an audio codec (coder/decoder) 226 form a corresponding audio processing pipeline for multi-channel audio processing of various digital audio formats. Audio data are carried between audio processing unit 224 and audio codec 226 via a communication link (not shown). The video and audio processing pipelines output data to an A/V (audio/video) port 228 for transmission to a television or other display. In the illustrated implementation, video and audio processing components 220-228 are mounted on module 214.

FIG. 2 shows module 214 including a USB host controller 230 and a network interface 232. USB host controller 230 is shown in communication with CPU 200 and memory controller 202 via a bus (e.g., PCI bus) and serves as host for peripheral controllers 104(1)-104(4). Network interface 232 provides access to a network (e.g., Internet, home network, etc.) and may be any of a wide variety of various wire or wireless interface components including an Ethernet card, a modem, a wireless access card, a Bluetooth module, a cable modem, and the like.

In the implementation depicted in FIG. 2, console 102 includes a controller support subassembly 240 for supporting four controllers 104(1)-104(4). The controller support subassembly 240 includes any hardware and software components needed to support wired and wireless operation with an external control device, such as for example, a media and game controller. A front panel I/O subassembly 242 supports the multiple functionalities of power button 112, the eject button 114, as well as any LEDs (light emitting diodes) or other indicators exposed on the outer surface of console 102. Subassemblies 240 and 242 are in communication with module 214 via one or more cable assemblies 244. In other implementations, console 102 can include additional controller subassemblies. The illustrated implementation also shows an optical I/O interface 235 that is configured to send and receive signals that can be communicated to module 214.

MUs 140(1) and 140(2) are illustrated as being connectable to MU ports “A” 130(1) and “B” 130(2) respectively. Additional MUs (e.g., MUs 140(3)-140(6)) are illustrated as being connectable to controllers 104(1) and 104(3), i.e., two MUs for each controller. Controllers 104(2) and 104(4) can also be configured to receive MUs (not shown). Each MU 140 offers additional storage on which games, game parameters, and other data may be stored. In some implementations, the other data can include any of a digital game component, an executable gaming application, an instruction set for expanding a gaming application, and a media file. When inserted into console 102 or a controller, MU 140 can be accessed by memory controller 202.

A system power supply module 250 provides power to the components of gaming system 100. A fan 252 cools the circuitry within console 102.

An application 260 comprising machine instructions is stored on hard disk drive 208. When console 102 is powered on, various portions of application 260 are loaded into RAM 206, and/or caches 210 and 212, for execution on CPU 200, wherein application 260 is one such example. Various applications can be stored on hard disk drive 208 for execution on CPU 200.

Gaming and media system 100 may be operated as a standalone system by simply connecting the system to monitor 150 (FIG. 1), a television, a video projector, or other display device. In this standalone mode, gaming and media system 100 enables one or more players to play games, or enjoy digital media, e.g., by watching movies, or listening to music. However, with the integration of broadband connectivity made available through network interface 232, gaming and media system 100 may further be operated as a participant in a larger network gaming community, as discussed below in connection with FIG. 3.

FIG. 3 provides a block diagram of an environment for implementing the present technology. In one example, multiple consoles 300A-300X are coupled to a network 306 and can communicate with a console service 302 having one or more servers 304 through network 306. Also present and coupled to the network is a gaming service provider 350 and one or more gaming service servers 375. In one embodiment, network 306 comprises the Internet, though other networks such as LAN or WAN are contemplated. Server(s) 304 include a communication component capable of receiving information from and transmitting information to consoles 300A-X and provide a collection of services that applications running on consoles 300A-X may invoke and utilize.

The console service 302 and the gaming service 375 may be combined and offered by a single service provider and/or on a single server. Alternatively, the service providers may be different entities. In yet another embodiment, the gaming service server may be provided as a product in the form of hardware and software included on a non-volatile storage medium.

Consoles 300A-X may invoke user login service 308, which is used to authenticate a user on consoles 300A-X. During login, login service 308 obtains a gamer tag (a unique identifier associated with the user) and a password from the user as well as a console identifier that uniquely identifies the console that the user is using and a network path to the console. The gamer tag and password are authenticated by comparing them to user records 310 in a database 312, which may be located on the same server as user login service 308 or may be distributed on a different server or a collection of different servers. Once authenticated, user login service 308 stores the console identifier and the network path in user records 310 so that messages and information may be sent to the console.

User records 310 can include additional information about the user such as game records and friends list. Game records 314 include information for a user identified by a gamer tag and can include statistics for a particular game, achievements acquired for a particular game and/or other game specific information as desired.

Friends list 316 includes an indication of friends of a user that are also connected to or otherwise have user account records with console service 302. The term “friend” as used herein can broadly refer to a relationship between a user and another gamer, where the user has requested that the other gamer consent to be added to the user's friends list, and the other gamer has accepted. This may be referred to as a two-way acceptance. A two-way friend acceptance may also be created where another gamer requests the user be added to the other gamer's friends list and the user accepts. At this point, the other gamer may also be added to the user's friends list. While friends will typically result from a two-way acceptance, it is conceivable that another gamer be added to a user's friends list, and be considered a “friend,” where the user has designated another gamer as a friend regardless of whether the other gamer accepts. It is also conceivable that another gamer will be added to a user's friends list, and be considered a “friend,” where the other user has requested to be added to the user's friends list, or where the user has requested to be added to the other gamer's friends list, regardless of whether the user or other gamer accepts in either case.

Friends list 316 can be used to create a sense of community of users of console service 302. Users can select other users to be added to their friends list 316 and view information about their friends such as game performance, current online status, friends list, etc.

User records 310 also include additional information about the user including games that have been downloaded by the user and licensing packages that have been issued for those downloaded games, including the permissions associated with each licensing package. Portions of user records 310 can be stored on an individual console, in database 312 or on both. If an individual console retains game records 314 and/or friends list 316, this information can be provided to console service 302 through network 306. Additionally, the console has the ability to display information associated with game records 314 and/or friends list 316 without having a connection to console service 302.

Server(s) 304 also include a message service 320 which permits one console, such as console 300A, to send a message to another console, such as console 300B. The message service 320 is known, the ability to compose and send messages from a console of a user is known, and the ability to receive and open messages at a console of a recipient is known. Mail messages can include emails, text messages, voice messages, attachments and specialized in-text messages known as invites, in which a user playing the game on one console invites a user on another console to play in the same game while using network 306 to pass gaming data between the two consoles so that the two users are playing from the same session of the game. Friends list 316 can also be used in conjunction with message service 320.

In accordance with the technology, a gaming service provider 375 may host a gaming service server 350 to allow a multitude of users on consoles 300A-300×participate in a group game environment. The group may be as small as two users and may include hundreds of thousands of users. The gaming service server 350 obtains game data and state information from the console service, which it uses to provide information to a live host 352 and period relevant commentator 353 which in turn provides information back to a local game client 300X. It will be understood that the gaming service provider 375 and the console service 302 may be integrated into a single service. Alternatively, the gaming service 375 may not be managed by the same administrator of the console service 302.

The gaming service provider 375 employs live individuals comprising a live host and a period relevant commentator 353. In one embodiment, the live host and the period relevant commentator may be the same individual. Gaming service provider 375 operates one or more gaming service servers. The gaming service server includes a set of live host tools 380 which aggregate information from the console service with respect to game status for those users participating in a group game. Generally, the gaming service provider 375, in conjunction with the game application 360 and the commentary controller 365, provides true live commentary a user running the game application on consoles 300A-300X. The commentary controller may be incorporated into the operating system of the console, or may be a separate application running on the console, having an application programming interface (API) which is accessible by game applications 360 designed to work with a gaming service 375 and the commentary controller 365. Generally, the commentary controller chooses amongst available commentary types, including live commentary specific to each shared game, to provide a live commentary experience for those users who are members of a group game hosted by the gaming service provider 375.

Console 300X illustrates functional components which may be present on each of the consoles 300A-300X. Each console may be of a type such as that illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, in which embodiment the functional components may comprise one or more sets of instructions or applications instructing the processor 200 to perform the functions described herein.

In general, three types of commentary are available to a game application 360: game specific pre-recorded commentary 362; period relevant recorded commentary 364 and live commentary 385. Game specific pre-recorded commentary is pre-recorded commentary which accompanies a game application 360 which is generated by game events 355 which occur in an executing game application 360 and which the application plays to a user to simulate commentary on the game. It generally comprises a bank of audio that uses random seeds and weightings to select an audio clip from a database and play it in the experience to appear somewhat live. Generally this commentary is scripted purely to the experience and does not contain references to real life events, unless the game is somewhat period set so that it can be contextually relevant. Examples of this kind of commentary today exist in sports games with the commentator announcing the plays and players names, game variables my weight the exact phrase chosen to allow for the excitement when a player is nearing scoring or a win loss situation. For example, when the game application is a golf game and the user makes a particularly close shot, game specific pre-recorded commentary may indicate “good shot” from a “professional” announcer who simulates a broadcast announcer to the user. Normally, there are a limited number of game specific pre-recorded commentaries which can be returned to the user and after a certain number of repetitions of the game, the user exhausts all of the game specific pre-recorded commentary.

In accordance with the present technology, two additional types of commentary are provided. Period relevant recorded commentary 364 is commentary which is recorded by the game service provider 375 based on information which is temporally relevant to the game. Period relevant commentary brings in temporally relevant events which may have occurred in the news relative to the game. Examples of this type of commentary include, in the case of the sports game example, reference to player's current stats in the real world, something going on in the players life off the field, or general news worthy items that may be relevant to the sport or game activity. For example the commentary may reference a player's girlfriend or that they had just broken up and it may be impacting their play on the field. In the above golf game example, if one of the golfers participating in the game as simulating, for example, a professional golfer, and the professional golfer recently won a tournament, period relevant commentary may insert a comment relating to this recent tournament win at an appropriate point in the game application. This type of commentary includes temporally relevant real world events having a relation to the game experience. In accordance with the technology, a period relevant commentator 353 records period relevant commentary at regular intervals and the period relevant commentary may be downloaded to the local game client by the adaptive commentary controller 365 at appropriate intervals.

The third type of commentary available to the game application 360 is a live commentary stream 385. A live commentary stream 385 is generated by a live host 352 employed by the gaming service provider 375. Using live host tools 380, a live host 352 can monitor the status of a group game, and provide live commentary which is converted to a stream of audio information by encoder 390 and streamed directly to a local game client 385. The live commentary stream is truly live commentary which allows a live human being to add comments into the game play experience that may call out a particular players performance by gamer tag, or add color commentary to team play, such as saying that East is outperforming the West coast on a particular question in a trivia game. In one embodiment, the encoder outputs the stream in Windows Media Audio format.

Commentary provided by the live host 352 can take many forms. In one example, the live host can monitor the status of a golf game between, for example, a user on console 300A and a user on console 300X. If one of the users makes a particularly good shot in a golf game, and that user is trailing in a golf match, the live commentator can note this fact and comment on the fact that the good shot will increase the trailing user's chances of catching up in the match. In this example, two users are described as playing a golf game. An alternative embodiment exists where a larger number of consoles and users are participating in a hosted game event. In this case, because the number of users is exceeding large, the live host tools 380 will aggregate game status information 320 provided by the console service into more generalized categories for the live host 352. In this example, the live host can initiate commentary which is relevant to certain groups of users or trends which may be occurring within the game. In one example, a quiz show game may pit one user against a multitude of users, asking both the multitude and the individual user a question with the results of game play determined on the success of the individual user versus the multitude of users. The live host tools can aggregate, for example, age groups of people in the group game who were successful or unsuccessful in answering a question, how successful people in a particular geographic region were in answering the question, or other factors which may be of interest to those people playing the game. Commentary can then be generated which notes particular game trends by region or age group, or other items of interest to a level reflecting achievements of individual users in the current game or other games.

Live commentary by the live host 352 will be recorded and encoded by encoder 390 and output as a stream which is available to the local game clients 300A-300X. As discussed below, when game events 355 indicate that commentary is desirable for the executing game application 360, the adaptive commentary controller will choose between live commentary, period relevant commentary, or game specific pre-recorded commentary based on a number of factors.

FIG. 4 illustrates a method for creating and outputting periodic content information to the local game client 300. As illustrated in FIG. 4, temporally relevant content events at 401 are aggregated over some period at step 403 until a threshold is reached for recording the periodic content file. This threshold may be a period of time such as a day, week or month, or may be based on having a specific number of periodic content comments generated. Once a sufficient number of periodic content has been accumulated, or after a specific time interval, periodic content is recorded at step 407 and a download file generated at step 409. At step 411, the download file is output to each local game client and stored as period relevant recorded commentary 364 on the console.

FIG. 5 illustrates the method performed by the adaptive commentary controller 365 for choosing between the three types of commentary available to a particular game application. Steps occurring in FIG. 5 within box 450 are generally performed by the application, while others are performed by the commentary controller. However, all steps in FIG. 5 may be incorporated into the application itself. At step 402, the adaptive commentary controller will check to determine whether or not periodic content is available for download. If a periodic content file 364 is available for download, then it will download the periodic content file at step 404. This process can operate at any point in time when the local client is operating, and can operate irrespective of whether the game application 360 is executing.

At some point before, during or after step 404, a game application 360 executes at step 406. The game application in this context will utilize the services of the console service to join a shared game. Participants in the shared game need not be friends in the context of the console service, but are all participating in a group game while the game application is active on their console. During game play, game events 355 will occur within the game and will change the status of the game. At step 408, a game event which changes the game status will occur. When the game reaches a particular game status, a determination will be made by the game application as to whether a comment is needed at step 410. As noted above, the game application 360 is adapted to take advantage of the availability of live commentary and periodic recorded commentary. Hence, at step 412, the game will return whether the comment is needed at step 410 and the type of comment—whether a live comment type, period comment type or pre-recorded comment type, at step 412.

If a live comment is desirable at step 412, then at step 416, a determination is made as to whether or not the live stream is available. The live stream may not be available for any number of reasons. There may be no commentary being recorded, for example. If the live stream is available at step 416, then a determination will be made as to whether bandwidth is available to retrieve the live stream at step 418. The bandwidth test at step 418 ensures that the large number of people using the game is not straining the bandwidth of the service provider. Alternatively, the gaming console may become disconnected from the network, causing no bandwidth to be available. If bandwidth is available, then that commentary being streamed at that time will be presented to the user at step 420. If the comment type is not a live comment type (step 412), or if the live stream is not available (step 416) or bandwidth is not available (step 418), then a determination will be made as to whether or not a periodic commentary type is suitable at step 414. If the periodic commentary type is suitable, then at step 422, a determination will be made as to whether or not the periodic commentary is available. Situations may occur where the periodic commentary is not available when the game is initialized for the first time and periodic commentary has not been downloaded, or the file has been deleted from permanent storage in the local game client due to space considerations. If the periodic commentary is available, it will be used at step 424. If not, or if the type of commentary calls for pre-recorded commentary, pre-recorded commentary will be used at step 422. Following use of the comment, the process returns to step 408 to await the next status changing event requiring commentary.

FIG. 6 illustrates a further embodiment of the technology wherein a group filter is implemented so that live commentary can be segregated to different groups in a gaming event. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 6, an exemplary use would be to direct specific messages to one of two groups who are competing against each other. The group filter 510 allows one group to receive comments directed to them, while filtering out comments from other groups.

Group messaging in this context is controlled by the game play status and by blocking or allowing live commentary based on game status to individual groups. Depending on the type of commentary required, periodic comments or pre-recorded comments can be used as well. When a group specific game event occurs in a game at step 508, then a determination is made at step 510 whether the user playing the game is a member of the group for whom a message is needed. If the user is not a member of the group, then the method may return to step 508 to await another group specific event. Alternatively, the method may proceed to step 424 to play game selected period comment types or pre-recorded commentary.

If the user is a member of a designated group, and a comment is desired at step 512 and the method proceeds to steps 416 and 418, which are equivalent to those in FIG. 5. If a live stream is not available, then at step 424, a determination is made as to whether it is appropriate to utilize other types of comments in place of the live stream commentary. IF so, then pre-recorded or periodic commentary is used at steps 420, 422,424, as in FIG. 5. At step 426, the method waits for additional game events (step 408) or group specific events (step 508).

FIG. 7 illustrates a method performed by the live host tools 380 to provide information to a live host 352. At step 702, game play data is received from the console service. The game play data can include specific events, or game state information by individual user or for the aggregate of all users participating in the hosted game provided by the gaming service provider. Filtering of the information provided to the gaming service provider 375 can occur by the console service, or by the gaming service provider. At step 704, the live host tools aggregate game events and game status by, for example, category, statistic, or common interest for users in the group. For example, geographic information regarding the game play of users in a particular geographic region, users for a particular age group, or other common factors may be aggregated into statistical output and provided to the live host 352. At step 706, a determination is made as to whether any of the factors, or aggregate data, should generate commentary from the live host 352. If live host determines that a comment is suitable, then at step 708 a live host 352 will provide a comment into the live data stream. At step 710, the stream is encoded into, for example, WMA format or other suitable formats, and output into a stream via the network at step 712. The stream can be directed to a particular port on the console and the adaptive commentary controller can seek the stream at any of the aforementioned steps 416 when a live comment is necessary from the stream.

In certain situations, the content provided into the live commentary stream may be provided from alternative sources. For example, the console service provider may seek to interject service notifications into the stream, or an advertiser may seek to input advertisements into the live commentary stream.

FIG. 8 illustrates a method performed by the adaptive commentary controller to filter out live commentary which is not suitable for use in the gaming environment being used. At step 802, a determination will be as to whether or not the game state is in a suitable status to receive commentary from another input source. If the user is in the middle of a game, for example in the middle of answering a question in a quiz game, then it is likely that the user would not wish to receive live commentary at that particular point in time. As a result, comments will be blocked at step 808 and the method will wait until game state is suitable for alternative sourced comments. At step 802, if the game state is suitable for alternative sourced comments, at step 804 the method will determine whether or not the user or the game manufacturer, has implemented a non-game commentary filter. A non-game commentary filter can block non-game related comments from alternative sources. The non-game filter can be active based on the gaming service provider's 375 particular instructions, or the game manufacturer's instructions. In one embodiment, the game application will be downloaded specifically from the game service provider 375 and instructions with respect to the non-game filter being active or inactive can be set by the game service provider. If the game service filter is active, then the commentary regarding non-game activities will be blocked at step 808. If the non-game commentary filter is not active, then at step 806 the method then the method will determine whether the live stream is available. If the live stream is available, then at step 814 the method will determine whether bandwidth is available to receive the live commentary and if so at step 816 will use live commentary. The method then returns to wait for additional events at step 818.

FIG. 9 is a user interface illustrating the output of the live host tools which may be presented to a live host 352. As indicated in FIG. 9, the live host 352 may be presented with a number of different data sets which are aggregates of information provided by the live host tools as a result of the game status information 320. For example, in FIG. 9, the live host 352 has access to a list of all the individual users in a game (902), those users which are the highest scoring users in the game (904), those users scoring the last answer correctly (906), the users with the most correct answers (908), the correct number or percentage of answers by a particular geographic region (910), and/or the incorrect answers by a particular geographic region (912). Additionally, a user may select one of the individual users listed in any of the aforementioned data sets 902, 904, 906, 908, 910, 912, and obtain additional information regarding the individual game or tag information at 920. The game or tag information can indicate that the user individual tag name, the individual's avatar, and specific achievements which are saved in the user account records 310 of the console service. The live hose 352 may also the leader board service 318 of the present game or other games in which a user or users may participate in a view pane 925 to determine to find out if the particular gamer has additional achievements in other games. All this information can be utilized to generate comments which result in commentary being provided into the stream.

As a result of the aforementioned technology, a live commentary experience is provided in a common gaming experience for a plurality of users sharing the same game. As few as two and as many as hundreds of thousands of users participating in the same game will be receiving information which is up to date with respect to the particular game they are playing. Advantageously, more limited temporal comments such as identifying a particular region which is scoring best in this particular game play, rather than commentary on individual events, are best served by the present technology.

While the technology has been described above with respect to gaming consoles, it will be recognized that the technology does not require specific gaming consoles and may be performed on general purpose computing devices.

The foregoing detailed description of the inventive system has been presented for purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the inventive system to the precise form disclosed. Many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teaching. The described embodiments were chosen in order to best explain the principles of the inventive system and its practical application to thereby enable others skilled in the art to best utilize the inventive system in various embodiments and with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. It is intended that the scope of the inventive system be defined by the claims appended hereto.