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U.S. Patent No. 6,425,827: Game machine and information storage medium
Issued July 30, 2002, to Namco Ltd.


Summary:

The ‘827 patent describes a game machine which can vary at least one of a pitch, volume, and tone of a character that appears in a game. The pitch and volume of the character’s voice is raised when the magnitude of the difference between two characters increases. The patent also details the variance in voice of the character as different stages of the game are cleared.

Abstract:

The objective of the present invention is to provide a game machine and an information storage medium that make it possible to intensify the dramatic effect of a game by the voices sounded by a character. The pitch, volume, or tone of each voice sounded by characters (20) and (22) is varied in accordance with a physical strength parameter, the remaining play time, the progressing degree through game stages, or a number of wins. The pitch and volume of a voice sounded by a character increase as an opponent's physical strength parameter becomes larger, the remaining play time decreases, the final game stage approaches, or the opponent's number of wins becomes larger. The pitch, volume, or tone of voices is varied after the remaining play time has reached a given value or a given game stage has been passed. The increase in pitch of a voice sounded by a character is a whole tone or less.

Illustrative Claim:

1. A game machine for generating a game image and a game sound, said game machine comprising: means for varying at least one of a pitch, volume, and tone of a voice sounded by a character that appears in a game, in accordance with at least one of a magnitude of a status parameter of the character and a magnitude of a difference between status parameters of the character and another character; means for generating a game image that comprises an image of the character; and means for generating a game sound that comprises a voice of the character, wherein the pitch of the voice sounded by the character is raised and the volume of the voice sounded by the character is increased as the magnitude of the difference between the status parameters of the character and the another character increases.

If there are any law students out there looking for an internship, send me an email with your resume.  We're looking for some summer help with lawsuit research, patent research, writing of blog entries, etc. It's unpaid, but you will get some great experience. Persons local to the DC area are preferred, but we will consider remote work if it makes sense.

One caveat: we can only consider candidates who are NOT eligible to take the patent bar. This basically means we cannot consider anyone with a science or engineering degree. So, liberal arts folks, this is a great opportunity to get some exposure to video games and IP without competing against "patent people".

Send a resume, writing sample, and law school and undergrad transcripts to me at my law firm email address.  I trust you are smart enough to find it on the web.  

-Ross

U.S. Patent No. 6,422,939: Storage medium for storing an application program for a car racing game
Issued on July 23, 2002, to Genki Co., Ltd.


Summary:

The ‘939 patent provides for a car racing game where the player has unrestricted access to the racecourse before the start of the race. A race does not begin until the player passes an opposing car and is then passed by the same car in return. The game is set up on a point system where each player begins with a certain number of points and then points are deducted in various amounts. Players lose points for colliding with walls, hitting other cars, or trailing the leader. Thus, players should strive to drive carefully and to lead the race at all times. The game ends when one player’s points reach zero.

Abstract:

A car racing game in which a player drives unrestrictedly on a racecourse until the start of a race. A race begins when a player passes an opposing car and is passed by the same car in return. The player loses points when trailing the leading car, based on the distance the player is behind, and also when colliding with walls or other cars. A player wins the race when the opposing car's points drop to zero.

Illustrative Claim:

1. A storage medium storing an application program for a car racing game comprising: a main menu subprogram enabling a player to select a car for racing, change car parts, view information on opposing cars, change a functional arrangement of controller buttons before the player begins driving on a predetermined racecourse; a free driving subprogram enabling the player to drive freely on a predetermined racecourse while searching for opponents until a race begins; a car racing subprogram for implementing passing and other aspects of a race from a point the race between the player and an opponent begins until the end of the race; and an end-of-race processing subprogram for displaying results of the race, displaying or saving a replay of the race, and allowing the player to select whether to return to free driving or to the main menu; wherein the car racing subprogram includes a race result determining subprogram for providing players with an initial point value at the beginning of a first race to enable the players to start and continue races, determining a positional relationship between cars and calculating the distance there between at prescribed periods, decreasing points of a car trailing a leading car by a predetermined subtraction value corresponding to the distance between the cars, and determining a winner of the race when the opponent's points drop to 0 and ending the race at that point.


U.S. Patent No. 6,368,111: System and method for interactively simulating and discouraging drug use
Issued April 9, 2002

Summary:

The ‘111 patent describes a system for interactively simulating and discouraging drug taking behavior. The invention allows a player to simulate ingestion of drugs. Let that sink in for a moment. In the game, whenever a character ingests a drug, the screen simulates the effects. This allows the player to feel enhanced sensations, as if he were truly ingesting the drug. After a predetermined amount of time, the effects wears off. The character then begins to go through withdraws and the player must obtain and take another dose. With each repetition, the character’s “highs” begin to shorten and the player must find and ingest more and more drugs in order for them to have an effect on the character. Thus, like in real life, the character’s tolerance builds and the need for more drugs grows stronger. Finally, the game also allows the player to drive while his character is on drugs. The intention, obviously, is to show how uncool drugs are. Much like in South Park when Randy Marsh became addicted to Heroin Hero:


No matter how hard you try, you’ll never catch the dragon.

Abstract:

A system and method is disclosed for interactively simulating and discouraging drug taking behavior, in which a simulated ingestion of drugs provides an initial enhanced sensation of movement and sound, and apparent enhanced player performance. After a determined time, the effect wears off, the player must take time to obtain and take another dose. The scenario is repeated, but with each repetition, tolerance to the drug grows, the "highs" are shorter, and a growing percentage of the player's time must be devoted to obtaining and taking the drugs. A series of repetitions turns initial elation into frustration and strongly discourages drug use. The invention is illustrated by an implementation in the form of a modified multimedia motorcycle racing game.

Illustrative Claim:

1. A system adapted to the use of discouraging drug use by the user of said system, comprising:

a processor for playing an interactive game program;

an interactive game program, wherein the game characteristics thereof, being one or more of the group of characteristics consisting of the speed and intensity of audiovisual output, responsiveness to input, and gameplay characteristics of said game program, may be controlled by a set of elements comprising:

data recorded in connection with said program which sets a base range of parameters for controlling said game characteristics;

an input control whereby the user is presented the simulated opportunity to ingest a dose of a drug;

a circuit, responsive to said input, to alter at least one of said parameters in accordance with characteristics of said drug, so as to cause the execution of said program to simulate the drug-influenced state resulting from said ingestion, and enhance said game characteristics;

a timer, and a circuit responsive to said timer to further alter said at least one parameter in a manner responsive to the elapsed time from said ingestion, as indicated by said timer, so as to reduce said enhancement of said game characteristics, until the same are reduced below said base level;

instructions in the instruction set of said processor that cause the execution to said program to loop, in a manner responsive to said timer, so as to represent the user with the opportunity to ingest a further dose of said drug, and to continue the execution of said program in a manner responsive to said choice.


U.S. Patent No. 6,358,148: Control method, apparatus and carrier wave for difficulty in a video game
Issued March 19, 2002, to Square Co., Ltd.


Summary:

The ‘148 patent provides methods for controlling the difficulty in a role playing game. In the game the player can progress his character by clearing stages with varying difficulties. Each stage features a variety of challenges which the player has the option of completing. This gives the player the ability to level his character in a manner he desires. For example, if he wants to progress slowly he can complete challenges which offer fewer points. But if the player wants to progress through the game quickly he can complete the challenges which will give him the biggest point value.

Abstract:

Methods and apparatus for controlling the difficulty in a video game are disclosed. According to one aspect of the present invention, a role playing video game is allowed to progress by clearing a plurality of stages for which individual difficulties are set. A control method for such a video game includes selecting one stage from said plurality of stages in response to a command provided by a game player. The difficulty of the selected stage is adjusted substantially each time an event that is voluntarily challengeable on the selected stage is cleared by the game player during execution of the game, and the difficulties of at least one of the plurality of stages is adjusted in accordance with the difficulty of the selected stage at a clearing time when the selected stage is cleared by the game player's operation during execution of the game.

Illustrative Claim:

1. A computer data signal embodied in a carrier wave for controlling the difficulty in a video game, the game being made to progress by clearing at least one of a plurality of stages for which individual difficulties are set, the computer data signal comprising:

computer code for selecting one stage from said plurality of stages in response to a command provided by a game player;

computer code for gradually adjusting the difficulty of said selected stage substantially every time an event that is voluntarily challengeable on the selected stage is cleared by the game player during execution of the game; and

computer code for adjusting the difficulties of at least one of said plurality of stages in accordance with the difficulty of said selected stage at a clearing time when said selected stage is cleared by an operation of the game player during execution of the game.


U.S. Patent No. 6,336,861: Game machine and information storage medium
Issued Jan. 8, 2002, to Namco, Ltd.


Summary:

The ‘861 patent provides a video game system where it encourages players to join together and play a multiplayer mode. The game has a maximum number of stages that a player can advance to by playing in single player mode. If the player wants to advance to further levels he must play against an opponent. The invention is described as only advancing the player in the game with the higher score. Thus, a player who wishes to complete all the levels of the game must find an opponent and then subsequently beat that opponent to advance. The game can be used in an arcade set up. In this fashion, the player who loses can remain on the current level if he pays another coin. After paying the coin, the player can then compete against another opponent in hopes of winning so he can advance to the next level.

Abstract:

The objective of the present invention is to provide a game machine and information storage medium that make it possible to encourage players who have selected multi-player mode to continue playing. The maximum number of game stages that can be cleared by players in multi-player mode is set to be greater than the maximum number of game stages that can be cleared by a player in single-player mode. In single-player mode, the game is over at the point at which each course is cleared. In multi-player mode, a continuation privilege in the next course (a course that is more difficult) is granted when the current course is cleared. The privilege to continue playing the next course is granted to the player with the higher score, and is also given at a certain probability to the player with the lower score. The player who was not granted the play continuation privilege is allowed to continue playing on condition that a coin is paid, and also an encouragement screen is displayed to induce this payment for play continuation.

Illustrative Claim:

1. A game machine for a multi-player type of game that enables a plurality of players to play, said game machine comprising:

means for performing a game computation, based on operation data that a player inputs by using an operation means;

means for generating at least one of a game image and a game sound in accordance with said game computation; and

means for making a maximum number of game stages that can be cleared by players in a multi-player mode played by a plurality of players greater than a maximum number of game stages that can be cleared by a player in a single-player mode played by a single player.

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