On Monday we read about the possibility of Apple choosing AMD's Fusion Processor for Apple TV to boost gaming. Today we've learnt from a new Apple patent that a wild new application could be in development that would record your personal journey through a video game like Mass Effect and then give you the option of turning it into a custom comic or ibook when you're done playing. What a phenomenal idea. Video games like Mass Effect not only allow you to customize the appearance of the characters that you'll be playing, they also allow you to choose which direction the story line could actually play out by choosing different dialog options. The possibilities are almost endless in how the game's ending could play out. Instead of just discussing how your version of a game played out with a friend, you could now show them with your very own customized comic. Now how cool is that? Our report today takes you through some of the mechanics of how this magic is actually accomplished - in addition to providing you with various screenshots of the Mass Effect video game as they pertain to this patent. At the end of the day, I see a possible new iLife app in the making here that could be associated with with a new online Apple-centric comic book store print service. This could be a lot of fun for die-hard gamers!
Videogames may be played on devices such as computers, game consoles and portables such as phones, PDA's, portable media players, handheld videogame devices, etc. During play of videogames, a user interacts with the electronic device by using input devices to respond to the game, such as by solving puzzles, making choices, and executing hand-eye coordination movements in response to the displayed videogame images.
Many videogames allow customization of the user's representation of a game character in a videogame. Further, the videogames often offer the user a variety of choices that determine a course of action, e.g., multiple ways to solve a puzzle, multiple dialogue choices to interact with a non-player character in a role playing videogame. In many games, the user's character and choices are integrated into a story. The story may or may not be responsive to the user's character and choices. Typically, the user's position in the game (or place in the story) is recorded automatically or manually though the use of recorded data in the form of a "game save." However, after completion of the videogame, the user's interaction with the game (and any story presented in the game) is complete. Further, the user may be unable to directly access the saved game file to view any data recorded throughout the game. Even if the user is able to access the saved game file, the recorded data may be difficult to relate to the game and/or the story, and may be recorded in a format unrecognizable to the user.
Apple's patent generally relates to systems and method for generating a book, e-book, or comic book from data recorded from a videogame. In accordance with one disclosed embodiment, data may be recorded from a videogame executed on an electronic device. The recorded data may include character information, dialogue from the videogame, and results and metrics reflecting the performance of the user in the videogame. The recorded data may be inserted into a narrative data structure having pregenerated text. In some embodiments, the recorded data may be used as the basis for selecting among a plurality of pregenerated text.
A book, e-book, or comic book may be produced from the narrative data structure. The electronic device may send the e-book to a user of the electronic device, or send the narrative data structure to a server for printing.
In another embodiment, the recorded data may be sent from the electronic device to a server. The server may generate a narrative data structure from the recorded data. The server may send an e-book to the electronic device and/or to a user of the electronic device. Additionally, the server may print a book from the narrative data structure, and the book may be mailed to a user.
Computer and Gaming Systems
Embodiments of the present disclosure include systems, devices, and techniques for recording data from a videogame and generating a book, e-book, or comic book from the recorded data. Embodiments may include a computer or video game console which generates a narrative structure from the recorded data.
The types of video gaming systems that could be used in Apple's new system may include any Mac running OS X or any Windows System using Windows Vista or Windows 7.
Furthermore, the system may also include a gaming console (#16) hooked to a display or HDTV. The consoles are specifically clarified as being any Playstation from Sony, any Xbox from Microsoft, the Nintendo Gamecube or Wii. The patent already acknowledges "motion-activated" controllers. The patent also points to the iPod, iPhone and other portable systems such as the Nintendo DS, Game Boy, and Playstation Portable.
Interestingly Apple also states that a console could also mean a DVR, DVD player, a cable converter box, a satellite receiver and streaming video player. To clarify oddities in FIG. 1, #20 is noted as being a networking interface to enable communication to and from a network 22. #30 is a server coupled to the network so as to receive software updates, video game data etc.
Recordable Video Game Data Flowchart
Apple's patent FIG. 4 is a flowchart (100) depicting a user's play of a videogame, and the various data that may be recorded at different points in the game. A user may play a videogame, and resume playing at a later time, such that data may be recorded throughout the play until the user completes the videogame. Further, each user's play through a videogame may result in different recorded data, resulting in a different experience for each user.
Initially, at the start of the videogame, the user may create a character (block 102) having attributes (e.g., name, appearance, etc.) and other information. After character creation, the attributes and any other character information may be written (block 104) as recorded data 105. As the user progresses in the videogame, the user may be confronted with a choice (block 106), such as a choice of dialogue, choice of action, etc. For example, the user may have the choice of selecting a first dialogue response (block 108), a second dialogue response (block 110), or a third dialogue response (block 112). In this particular embodiment, the user may select the third dialogue (as indicated by the bold line). The selection of the third dialogue (block 112) may be written to the recorded data 105. In some embodiments, the user's progress may be periodically recorded (block 114), such as through a manual or automatic "save game" command.
As the user progresses through the videogame, the user may encounter a conflict (block 116), such as combat with another player character, a non-player character, etc. Depending on the user's performance, the conflict may resolve in either a first result (block 118) or second result (block 120). In the illustrated embodiment, the user may reach the first result (block 118) as shown by the bolded line. The first result (block 118), and any other data relating to the first result may be written to the recorded data 105. In some embodiments, the user's progress in the videogame may be noted as an achievement (block 122), such as resolving the conflict 116, reaching a specific point in the story of the videogame, reaching a specific character level, etc. This achievement, any other information relating to the achievement, may be written to the recorded data 105. In some embodiments, the videogame may include a puzzle (block 124). As the user attempts to solve the puzzle, any metric relating to the puzzle (e.g., time taken to solve the puzzle), may be written to the recorded data 105. The user may continue to play the videogame (line 128), encountering any number of choices, conflicts, achievements, puzzle, etc., any or all of which (and any related data) may be written to the recorded data 105. Each choice, conflict, achievement, and/or puzzle may result in data specific to the user's results, metrics, and other performance written to the recorded data.
Flowchart of the Interaction between a videogame and Recorded Data
FIG. 5 is a block diagram illustrating the interaction between a videogame 130 and recorded data in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure. The videogame may be played on a Mac or PC and the recorded data may be written to the storage 50 during or after playing of the videogame. The recorded data may be written to the storage continuously during play of the videogame, or the recorded data may be written to the storage at discrete points of the videogame, such as at the end and/or beginning of chapters, levels, areas, etc. of the videogame.
As mentioned above, the videogame may write various other data to the recorded data. In some embodiments, the videogame may record data suitable for conversion into a narrative data structure and generation of a book, e-book, comic book, etc. from the narrative data structure.
In yet other embodiments, screenshots 158 of the videogame may be written to the recorded data. The screenshots may be captured at any point during play of the videogame.
Apple's patent FIG. 6 is a block diagram illustration generation of a narrative data structure from the recorded data of FIG. 5. In some embodiments, generation of the narrative data structure 170 may be performed on a Mac (or PC) and an e-book/ibook, book, or comic book may be generated on your Mac.
Apple's New Comic, iBook Service: Free, Pay-As-You-Go or Subscription
Apple's patent FIG. 7 depicts a process 300 for generating a narrative data structure from the recorded data of the videogame. During the videogame, or after completion of the videogame, the user may initiate a request for a book, an e-book, a comic book, etc. (block 306). In some embodiments, the user may initiate this request from within the videogame. In other embodiments, the user may initiate this request from OS X (or Windows) or any other software. Alternatively, the Mac may automatically initiate the request for a book, e-book, comic book, etc. (block 308), such as after completion of the videogame or after a specific amount of progress by the user. The Mac may then generate the narrative data structure from the recorded data (block 310), using the pregenerated text and placing portions of the recorded data into sections of the narrative data structure as described above in FIG. 6.
After generation of the narrative data structure, the Mac may perform one or more actions. In some embodiments, these actions may be selected and/or specified by the user, such that the action only occurs if the user has enabled that particular action after generation of the narrative data structure. The Mac may send an electronic copy of the book (e.g., an e-book) to the user (block 312), such as via email or other electronic communication. The Mac may have the capability to send email directly, or it may send the e-book to a server with email capability. Additionally, the Mac may send the e-book to the user's contacts (block 314), such as via email or other electronic communication. For example, a user may maintain a "network" of other users who interact with the user via their own electronic devices. These users are often referred to as "friends," "buddies," etc.
In some embodiments, a book, comic book, or any other publication may be created from the generated narrative data structure. The Mac may also send other information about the user to the server, such as the user's identify, billing information, shipping information, etc. The server may have the capability to print the book (block 320) or cause the book to be printed from a printing location. After printing, the book may be mailed to the user (block 322) and/or the user's friends (block 324). This service may be offered to a user of a Mac as a free, pay-as-you-go or as a subscription service.
Flowchart: Requesting a Book
Apple's patent FIG. 8 depicts a process 400 for generating the narrative data structure from the recorded data at a remote location.
During the game, or after completion of the videogame, the user may initiate a request for a book, e-book, comic book, etc. from the service (block 406). For example, in some embodiments, a user may initiate this request from within the videogame. In some embodiments, the user may externally initiate the request from a web page (block 408) or an application (block 410). The user may request the book from a Mac or other device.
Alternatively, the Mac may automatically request a book, e-book, comic book, etc. from the service (block 412), such as after completion of the videogame or a specific amount of progress by the user. After the request, the Mac may send the recorded data to a server (block 414). The server receives the recorded data and generates the narrative data structure from the recorded data (block 416).
In some embodiments, the server may send an electronic copy of the book (e.g., an e-book) back to the Mac that sent the recorded data (block 418). After receiving the e-book, the Mac may then send the book to a user, save the book, etc.
From the Video Game Mass Effect: A Glimpse of what the Comic Book Could Contain
Apple's patent Figures 9A through 9G depict screenshots of the popular video game Mass Effect gameplay session which illustrates the data that could be recorded and inserted into the narrative data structure for generation into a book, e-book, or comic book.
Apple's patent FIG. 9A is a first screenshot of Mass Effect depicting the attributes of a user's player character. As shown in FIG. 9A, the attributes (shown as part of the character's profile) may include the Name, Origin, Reputation, and Class of the player character. Each of these attributes may be selected by a user. For example, as shown in FIG. 9B, a user may select an Origin ("Pre-Service History") of "Spacer," "Colonist," or "Earthborn." As shown in FIG. 9C, a user may select a Reputation ("Psychological Profile) as "Sole Survivor," "War Hero," or "Ruthless." Similarly, as shown in FIG. 9D, a user may select from a Class ("Military Specialization") as "Soldier," "Engineer," "Adept," etc. Finally, as shown in FIG. 9E, a user may customize the appearance of the player character.
Update: Apple's patent FIG. 9G is a key figure in respect to the appeal of Mass Effect in concert with this patent. The character in this figure is Captain John Shepard. One of the key attributes of this type of role playing game is that the captain is asked many questions throughout the game and depending on his answers and/or actions, the game could take on a different direction. It could be accepting new crew members to taking new side missions or building strategic relationships. With so many characters and side missions to choose from throughout the game, the odds of your experience with the game being different from another players experience is pretty high. This is why giving the user the option to create a custom comic book that reflects the decisions that they've made throughout the game is so unique and personal. It also doubles as a great memento and/or souvenir for that particular game.
Now - Is that cool or what? And how cool will it be to show off your Custom Comics on your new iPad? Very!
Apple credits Eric Hope as the sole inventor of patent application 20100203970, originally filed in Q1 2009.
About other patents today: There were six continuation patents today dating back to 2004 which aren't worth covering. The only other patent today of mild interest dealt with GPS. It's an in-depth patent that is likely to put you to sleep unless this is your particular field of interest. One little twist states that one of the GPS data formats is from the National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA). I'm not sure that's available today or not on an iPhone. If it's something coming, that could be of interest for the many among us who are avid sailors. GPS for marine applications have to be deadly accurate. It's not like pointing to a clear cut intersection of a city. In the middle of the ocean, your GPS better be bang on if you're in trouble. Check out patent 20100201567 if you're interested by placing that patent number into this search engine.
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Note: When the patent was filed, Apple's engineers used the term e-book or ebook. In light of the iPad and the iBook App, interpret references to an e-book as equating to iBook.
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