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U.S. Patent No. 8,678,891: Video game systems and methods including protecting game character(s)
Issued March 25, 2014



Summary:

The ‘891 patent applies to multi-player games, in which each player controls a separate character. A player may input a command that protects that player’s character from harm, shown by a visual indicator, such as a bubble around the character, on the screen. Once a character is protected, the player loses control of the character, and the character moves according to the action of the other, unprotected characters, for example due to the scrolling of the screen. Certain conditions remove the character’s protection, returning that character to control through player input.

Abstract:

Example systems and methods relate to a video game in which multiple players each supply inputs to a respective input device to control a corresponding game character in a game world. Movements and actions of each game character are controlled in accordance with a first game character control operation during the playing of the video game. If one or more conditions is satisfied by one of the players, the one player's game character is protected from harm in the gameworld. Movements and actions of the protected game character are controlled in accordance with a second game character control operation. The protecting of the one player's game character is stopped in response to one or more protecting stopping conditions, whereby the game character is again controllable in accordance with the first game character control operation. If all game characters are protected, current playing of the video game ends.

Illustrative Claim:

1. A method comprising:
       while playing a multi-player video game in which multiple players each supply inputs to a respective input device to control a corresponding game character in a game world displayed on a display screen, controlling movements of each game character in the game world in accordance with respective first game character control operations during the playing of the multi-player video game;          in response to satisfaction of one or more conditions, protecting the one player's game character from harm in the game world; controlling movements of the protected game character in the game world; stopping the protecting of the one player's game character in response to one or more protecting stopping conditions, whereby the movements of the one player's game character in the game world are controllable in accordance with the first game character control operation for that game character; and if all game characters are protected during the playing of the multi-player video game, causing current playing of the multi-player video game to end.
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