US20070142106A1 - Progressive puzzle - Google Patents

Progressive puzzle Download PDF

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Publication number
US20070142106A1
US20070142106A1 US11303819 US30381905A US2007142106A1 US 20070142106 A1 US20070142106 A1 US 20070142106A1 US 11303819 US11303819 US 11303819 US 30381905 A US30381905 A US 30381905A US 2007142106 A1 US2007142106 A1 US 2007142106A1
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Prior art keywords
puzzle
product
clue
solution
progressive
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Abandoned
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US11303819
Inventor
Nathan Proch
Bryan Benedict
Wayne Scott
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Mattel Inc
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Mattel Inc
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F3/00Board games; Raffle games
    • A63F3/04Geographical or like games ; Educational games
    • A63F3/0423Word games, e.g. scrabble
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F9/00Games not otherwise provided for
    • A63F9/0098Word or number games

Abstract

A progressive puzzle dispersed throughout a thematic product universe is provided. The thematic product universe includes a plurality of different product genres sharing a common theme. The progressive puzzle includes a plurality of clues, and for each clue, a solution. The clues are progressive, such that the solution to at least one clue leads to a different clue. According to some aspects of the disclosure, at least one clue can be associated with a different product genre than at least one other clue, and/or at least one solution can be derived from a different product genre than at least one other solution.

Description

    BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY
  • [0001]
    The toy industry has evolved along with technology and marketing techniques. In the past, many toys were individual items that were not related to other toys. Of course, over time, many make-belief universes that include several different toys have come into being. In fact, some thematic toy universes now include conventional physical toys, audio-visual entertainment including audio-visual representations of the physical toys, as well as written materials, games, clothing, Internet websites, food, and just about everything else that can be based on the physical toys. Dispersing a toy line throughout several different product genres can create a more immersive experience and can more fully cater to the varied interests of different consumers. However, as thematic toy universes become more and more expansive, spanning across several different types of product genres, it can be difficult to keep the different product genres closely linked to one another. In particular, it can be difficult to encourage exploration across different product genres existing within the same thematic product universe.
  • [0002]
    According to a nonlimiting aspect of the present disclosure, a progressive puzzle can be dispersed throughout a thematic product universe that includes a plurality of different product genres sharing a common theme. The progressive puzzle can include a plurality of clues, where at least one clue can be associated with a different product genre than at least one other clue. For each clue, there can be a solution, and different solutions can be found in different product genres. The clues can be progressive, such that a solution to one clue leads to a different clue.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0003]
    FIG. 1 shows an exemplary thematic product universe.
  • [0004]
    FIG. 2 shows an exemplary stage of a progressive puzzle based on a thematic product universe.
  • [0005]
    FIG. 3 shows an example of a plural-stage linear progressive puzzle.
  • [0006]
    FIG. 4 shows an example of a plural-stage parallel progressive puzzle including a dead end.
  • [0007]
    FIG. 5 shows an example of a plural-stage parallel progressive puzzle including a false level.
  • [0008]
    FIG. 6 shows an example of a portion of a plural-stage parallel progressive puzzle including a funneling validation.
  • [0009]
    FIG. 7 shows an exemplary progressive puzzle based on a thematic product universe.
  • [0010]
    FIGS. 8 and 9 show examples of toy car packaging in a thematic toy car product universe.
  • WRITTEN DESCRIPTION
  • [0011]
    A progressive puzzle can be used to encourage exploration of a thematic product universe. As used herein, a thematic product universe is used to describe the entirety of all products based on the same conceptual theme. A nonlimiting example of a thematic product universe is the Acceleracers™ product universe distributed by Mattel® Inc. The Acceleracers™ product universe includes several characters in the form of make-believe persons, aliens, and vehicles. These characters are physically embodied by toy action Figs. and toy vehicles. In addition to physical toys, the Acceleracers™ product universe includes animated movies, a collectible card game, an Internet web site, and various other product genres that focus on the Acceleracers™ characters.
  • [0012]
    While the various product genres of the Acceleracers™ product universe are conceptually related, it can be challenging to introduce each of the different product genres to a particular person that is interested in a limited subset of product genres within the product universe. Of course, this problem is not unique to the Acceleracers™ product universe. Many different thematic product universes include several different product genres, and encouraging exploration of the various product genres within each of these thematic product universes can be challenging. The present disclosure describes a progressive puzzle that can be used to encourage exploration across different product genres existing within virtually any thematic product universe.
  • [0013]
    FIG. 1 schematically shows an exemplary thematic product universe 10, which includes a plurality of different product genres. As shown, product universe 10 includes toys 12, games 14, audio/visual content 16, video games 18, Internet/electronic media 20, and literature 22. A thematic product universe can include more or fewer product genres, including product genres different than those illustrated in FIG. 1. In particular, while the present disclosure uses a thematic toy universe as an example, the present disclosure is not limited to thematic toy universes.
  • [0014]
    Toys 12 can include tangible products such as action figures, vehicles, dolls, sports equipment, models, accessories, etc. As used herein, “toy” does not necessarily refer to a product solely intended for use by a child, but rather any product sold for enjoyment, collectibility, recreation, sport, and/or other leisurely pursuit. Toys can be used by persons of all ages.
  • [0015]
    Games 14 can be characterized as an activity, competitive or otherwise, which is intended for the entertainment, amusement, education, or stimulation of the player(s). Games may be embodied as a physical product, exist electronically, or be a combination thereof. Examples may include board games, collectible card games, computer games, video games, jigsaw puzzles, etc.
  • [0016]
    Audio/visual content 16 can include live or pre-recorded audio, video, and/or static images. Nonlimiting examples of audio/visual content includes movies, television programs, television commercials, product placements, computer programs, video games, music, radio programming, pod casts, etc.
  • [0017]
    Video games 18 can include arcade, console, computer, Internet, handheld, or combinations thereof. Some video games may also be categorized as games 14, and some video games may also be categorized as audio/visual content. In general, a particular products inclusion in one product genre should not be interpreted to exclude that product from inclusion in other product genres.
  • [0018]
    Internet/electronic media 20 can include an assortment of written material, audio/visual content, games, activities, and/or other content existing in an electronic format that can be accessed via a computer network such as the Internet.
  • [0019]
    Literature 22 can include comic books, books, web content, billboards, magazines, newspapers, product information, advertisements, packaging, and various other content distributed in physical and/or electric format.
  • [0020]
    The above categorization is provided to demonstrate the types of products that can be made available in an exemplary product universe. In no way do the above examples limit a product universe to the product genres described above, or the various types of products existing within the listed product genres. A product universe can include virtually any combination of different product genres, and the product genres can be categorized in virtually any number of different ways.
  • [0021]
    A plurality of products existing within a thematic product universe can be linked by a progressive puzzle, thus promoting exposure of a variety of products or product genres to a larger audience. In some examples, progressive puzzles may include a series of clues, with each clue having a solution that in some way leads to a subsequent clue. In order to facilitate a progressive puzzle, there can be one or more methods of validating solutions to clues. Furthermore, there can be one or more intermediate or ultimate prizes, which can be awarded to players that successfully solve the clues.
  • [0022]
    As described herein, the clues, solutions, validation methods, and/or prizes can be dispersed throughout different product genres in a thematic product universe. Accordingly, a player encountering a clue in one product genre, may be required to look to a different product genre to find a solution, and yet another product genre to submit a solution and have the solution validated. Furthermore, a product from yet another product genre can serve as a prize for submitting a correct solution to the clue. In this manner, a player can be lead to different product genres while playing the progressive puzzle. Of course, not every aspect of a progressive puzzle needs to be in a different product genre. Several aspects (e.g., clues, solutions, validations, and prizes of one or more puzzle stages) can be in the same product genre.
  • [0023]
    FIG. 2 shows a stage of a progressive puzzle, which includes a clue 202 and a solution 204 to the clue. Solutions to clues can be submitted by players, and the puzzle stage can include a validation 206 to determine whether the submitted solution is a correct solution. Some stages may include one or more prizes 208 that can be awarded for attempting to solve a clue and/or for submitting a correct solution. FIG. 2 also shows a subsequent clue 210, which a player can attempt to solve after clue 202 is solved.
  • [0024]
    Clues 202 may take the form of a direct or indirect question, allusion or other reference. In some examples, clues may reference products, general knowledge, or knowledge associated specifically with the thematic product universe. Therefore, clues may be issued in a variety of ways by utilizing a plurality of thematic product genres. In some examples, clues can be issued via toys, games, movies, websites, etc.
  • [0025]
    Solutions 204 to clue 202 can vary greatly depending on the nature of clue 204. In some embodiments, clue 202 can be a question, and thus, solution 204 can be an answer to the question. In some embodiments, solution 204 may include making an observation and/or recognizing a fact, although a formal question has not been set forth. In general, it should be understood that the nature of clues and solutions can vary greatly from one puzzle stage to the next.
  • [0026]
    Once a player forms solution 204 to clue 202, the player may proceed to validation 206 of their solution. If the solution offered by the player is successfully validated, the player may move to the subsequent puzzle stage (beginning with clue 210). Alternatively, if the solution offered by the player is incorrect, the player may try again by submitting another solution. If validation is again unsuccessful, the player may continue in this manner until a solution is validated. In some embodiments, some puzzle stages may not allow a player to attempt another solution after a predetermined number of incorrect solutions are submitted.
  • [0027]
    A solution may be validated via a variety of different methods, which may include direct communication between the player and puzzle manager, or by an indirect method such as by self validation by the individual player or among groups of players. In some embodiments, solution validation can be automatic, so that a subsequent clue is effectively hidden until a correct solution is obtained, and once obtained, the subsequent clue becomes apparent. In such a case, the player may not even have to “submit” a solution, because discovering the solution makes apparent a subsequent clue that was actually available, although undiscovered, prior to the solution.
  • [0028]
    A player successfully validating their solution at step 206 may be awarded a prize 208. Prizes may or may not be awarded to an individual or group of players depending on a variety of factors (e.g., number of available prizes, difficulty of puzzle stage, etc.). Prizes awarded for completion of a puzzle stage may serve to reward successful problem solving and encourage puzzle participation, and thus, exploration of the related thematic product universe.
  • [0029]
    Two or more puzzle stages can be arranged such that upon completion of a first puzzle stage, a player moves to a subsequent puzzle stage. In some embodiments, it may be impossible to advance to the subsequent puzzle stage until the prior puzzle stage is successfully completed. For example, as shown in FIG. 2, successful validation of solution 204 leads to subsequent clue 210. Clue 210, the solution to clue 210, the validation of the solution, and/or a prize awarded for the solution can lead a player to a different product genre within a thematic product universe. In this manner, a progressive puzzle can encourage further exploration of the thematic product universe by the player.
  • [0030]
    A player may navigate a progressive puzzle by following the underlying puzzle structure of clue, solution, validation, and, optionally, prize. A progressive puzzle may include a one or more stages to arrive at a solution or set of solutions. Specifically, the progressive puzzle may require a set of solutions that are solved utilizing linear or parallel structures, or combinations thereof. Various example progressive puzzle structures are discussed below with reference to FIGS. 3, 4, 5, and 6. It should be understood, however, that other puzzle structures are within the scope of this disclosure.
  • [0031]
    FIG. 3 shows a nonlimiting example of a progressive puzzle 300 having multiple puzzle stages. The stages of puzzle 300 are arranged linearly, so that each stage is directly followed by a single puzzle stage. In other words, each clue has a single correct solution, and only upon finding the single correct solution does a player move to a subsequent clue in the next puzzle stage. In the illustrated embodiment, puzzle 300 includes exactly three stages, each including a clue, solution, and validation. This is not required. In some embodiments, a linear progressive puzzle may include fewer or more puzzle stages.
  • [0032]
    In some embodiments, a progressive puzzle may enhance a player's enjoyment of a thematic product universe by encouraging an immersive experience leading the player from one product genre to another as the player moves forward in the progressive puzzle. Furthermore, each progressive puzzle level may become increasingly difficult, thus encouraging a player to delve deeper into the thematic product universe in an attempt to solve difficult clues.
  • [0033]
    In some embodiments, a progressive puzzle may include a parallel puzzle configuration. For example, FIG. 4 shows a parallel progressive puzzle 400 that includes Clue1, which may be crafted in a manner so that there are a plurality of correct solutions, including Solution A1, Solution B1, and Solution C1. A clue that has multiple correct solutions, such as Clue1 in FIG. 4, can be referred to as a branching clue. Depending on the solution a particular player arrives at for a branching clue, the player may end up following one of different possible parallel puzzle tracks (e.g., Track A, Track B, Track C).
  • [0034]
    In some embodiments, some parallel puzzle tracks can be different than other parallel puzzle tracks. For example, some parallel puzzle tracks can be longer than others, having more puzzle stages. Likewise, some puzzle tracks can be shorter, effectively offering a “short cut” to the end of a progressive puzzle. Such a short cut may correspond to a particularly clever solution, and thus serve as a reward to a player arriving at the clever solution. Different puzzle tracks can also correspond to aspects of chance, so that some players progress down a particular track based at least partially on luck.
  • [0035]
    In some embodiments, a particular parallel puzzle track may have more, fewer, and/or different prizes than other parallel puzzle tracks. For example, FIG. 4 shows that parallel puzzle Track A leads to a Prize A, while parallel puzzle track B leads to a Prize B. Furthermore, as shown in FIG. 4, a portion of the progressive puzzle may “dead end”, as demonstrated by Track C. For example, a correctly validated solution at Validation C2 may cause the progressive puzzle to effectively terminate. In other words, after even a successful solution to Clue C2 has been validated, there may not be any further clues in that puzzle track. In the case of a dead end, a player may proceed to a previous puzzle stage in order to circumvent the dead end. In this manner, a player returning to Clue1 may progress by offering an alternative correct Solution A1 or B1, thus encouraging exploration and interaction by the player.
  • [0036]
    FIG. 5 shows a progressive puzzle 500 that includes “false levels.” False levels may be used to redirect players to a specific puzzle stage or region of a puzzle. False levels can be used to effectively add puzzle levels to a progressive puzzle depending on the particular solution arrived at for a particular clue, such as Clue1 of FIG. 5. Further, false levels may allow players to progress through the puzzle stages in a non-sequential manner.
  • [0037]
    For example, a player may begin with a branching Clue1. Next, a Solution A1 may be offered by the player, where it may be validated at Validation A1 as one of multiple correct solutions. Although the player's response was correctly validated, the player may be redirected back to previous Clue1, and thus have an opportunity to submit a different solution to Clue1.
  • [0038]
    A player may offer a Solution B1 to Clue1, either as a first try, after previously offering Solution A1 and progressing down a false level, and/or offering one or more incorrect solutions. Solution B1 can be validated at Validation B1. However, after successful validation of Solution B2, a player may be redirected to Clue C2. In this manner, the player may bypass Solution C1 and Validation C1. Only by offering Solution C1 as the initial solution to Clue1 can a player progress to the end of the progressive puzzle in the most direct manner. In some embodiments, some false levels may include prizes that make it desirable for players to discover and explore the false levels. In some embodiments, it may be desirable to find the shortest and/or fastest path to the end of the progressive puzzle.
  • [0039]
    FIG. 6 shows a portion 600 of a progressive puzzle that includes a parallel structure including a funneling validation at 602. Funneling validation 602 requires successful validation of the solution to two or more different clues (in this case Clue A1, Clue B1, and Clue C1) before the next clue is issued.
  • [0040]
    The overall structure of a progressive puzzle may contain elements of the various puzzle structures presented above. The utilization of linear structures, parallel structures, dead ends, false levels, funneling validation, as well as various combinations thereof, may provide the puzzle manager the ability to control the puzzle structure and direction. In some embodiments, the puzzle manager may utilize multiple parallel puzzle stages in a manner that associates each of the various alternatives with a related theme or sub-theme of the thematic product universe. In another example, the progressive puzzle may be configured in a manner that differentiates players based on a variety of player characteristics such as age, skill level, product preference, past puzzle solving behavior, and various others.
  • [0041]
    Regardless of puzzle structure, each stage of a progressive puzzle can begin with a clue, which serves as the stimulus for the player's solution. A clue may be issued to players by dispersing them in a variety of ways among various aspects or product genres of the thematic product universe. A puzzle manager may exercise control over various aspects of the progressive puzzle, which may include puzzle difficulty, duration, player progression, prize attainment, product placement, product genre selection, and/or various others.
  • [0042]
    Passive dissemination of clues to players across a variety of product genres may be utilized by the puzzle manager to further promote exploration of different products dispersed throughout the thematic product universe. Passive dissemination of clues may include non-direct communication between the player and the puzzle manager such as occurs with a purchased product. For example, a clue associated with a card game may require the player to find a solution associated with a movie. Another example may include a clue found in connection with a toy suggesting that a solution is to be found within an Internet webpage. Further passive dissemination of clues may be discovered by a variety of methods, which may include the use of chromatic filter glasses, 3D glasses, chromatic paint, digital signatures, digital watermarking, thumb prints, code breaking, and/or various others.
  • [0043]
    In some embodiments, one or more puzzle stage may include a clue that is actively issued to players or specific player groups by direct communication. For example, a clue may be presented directly to players in various forms, which may include mail, email, advertisements, postings, subscriptions, announcements, etc. Further, direct communication between the puzzle manager and the player may provide for the placement of clues among specific players or groups of players. Specifically, variations in puzzle progression among players due to differences in player skill level or age group may be reduced or enhanced at the discretion of the puzzle manager through the direct communication of clues.
  • [0044]
    While clues may be issued by the puzzle manager in a variety of ways, clues may also take the form of a validated solution of the previous puzzle stage. Further, clues may be formed from the summation of knowledge gained from prior clues, solutions and/or stages of the progressive puzzle. In this manner, the progressive puzzle may promote greater involvement and communication among players.
  • [0045]
    In general, validation of a solution occurs before a player may progress to a subsequent puzzle stage. Validation of an offered solution may utilize a variety of methods, which are typically catered to the particular solution and how the solution is delivered. For example, a solution that is entered via a webpage can be validated by a computer program that checks the accuracy of the entered solution. If a solution is mailed, the solution can be validated by manually and/or automatically inspecting the solution. In some embodiments, a correct solution makes apparent a subsequent clue without intervention by an outside source (self validation). For example, a first clue can be a code, and deciphering the clue can be the solution to the clue. When the code is successfully deciphered, it can be apparent that the clue has been solved. Furthermore, other clues that are written in the code can now be read. Even though the subsequent clues were always present, they could not be read until the code was deciphered.
  • [0046]
    At each puzzle stage, after a solution is validated, prizes may be awarded to a player or group of players. The act of awarding prizes among players may serve to encourage present or future involvement in the puzzle activity. In some examples, prizes may be awarded based on a range of operating parameters, which may include: player participation, puzzle stage, puzzle duration, past player performance, puzzle difficulty, skill level, level of effort, desired marketing goals, predictive behavior, puzzle manager input, and/or various others.
  • [0047]
    In one example, a player first to submit a correct solution may be awarded a prize, whereas subsequent solutions by other players are not awarded. Further, the prize value and award frequency may also be influenced by a variety of factors. For example, a solution to a difficult clue may be awarded a more valuable prize. Example prizes awarded to select players may include: future product savings, coupons, free products, special edition products, cash, exclusive access, memberships, etc.
  • EXAMPLE
  • [0048]
    FIG. 7 shows an example portion of a progressive puzzle 700 that is dispersed throughout a thematic product universe. In this embodiment, the progressive puzzle is dispersed throughout a thematic product universe that includes at least the following product genres: physical toys, product packaging, Internet websites, and audio/visual movies. Other progressive puzzles can include more, fewer, and/or different product genres.
  • [0049]
    One puzzle level of the progressive puzzle can include a clue 702 in the form of a hologram. FIG. 8 shows a product 800 that can include a toy car 802 that comes with a toy driver's license 804. Like many real driver's licenses, the toy driver's license can include a hologram that can have different appearances depending on how the hologram is viewed. In the illustrated embodiment, under some viewing conditions, the hologram can show a website address. This website address serves as clue 702. As shown at 704 of FIG. 7, clue 702 can be solved by visiting the Internet website address found in the hologram. This puzzle level self-validates, as shown at 706. The above described puzzle level spans across different product genres, namely, toys and Internet content. The above puzzle level is relatively simple to solve, in that a player need only recognize the Internet address and then navigate to the address using an appropriate device.
  • [0050]
    Upon reaching the Internet website, a player can find a password field that serves as a subsequent clue, as shown at 708. As shown in FIG. 8, driver's license 804 includes a driver's license number 808. At 710, clue 708 can be solved by entering driver's license number 808 into the password field. The website can be designed so as not to include any information indicating what type of password should be entered into the password field, thus making it difficult for a puzzle player to realize that the driver's license number is the correct solution. However, a parallel clue 712 can provide additional information that can be used to reach solution 710. For example, a movie in the same thematic product universe can show the character from driver's license 804 entering his driver's license number into a password field during a scene in the movie. A puzzle player can use this information to realize that the driver's license number from toy driver's license 804 should be entered into the password field found on the Internet website. Clue 712 incorporates a new product genre, audio/visual content in the form of a movie, into the progressive puzzle. Because clues to the puzzle can be found in movies, puzzle players are motivated to watch movies from the thematic product universe in order to find clues and/or solutions to the progressive puzzle.
  • [0051]
    When the player enters driver's license number 808 into the password field, the entered number can be validated at 716. If the correct number is entered, a player can proceed to prize 720. If an incorrect number is entered, the player can attempt a different entry. In the illustrated embodiment, prize 720 takes the form of hidden Internet content that is not available unless a player solves clue 708. In other embodiments, a prize can take virtually any other form, and in some embodiments, no prize is awarded.
  • [0052]
    As shown at 730, the next clue in puzzle 700 can be a series of undeciphered codes (e.g., a coded language) that have no readily apparent meaning. In order to solve clue 730, the codes must be deciphered. The meaning of the coded language can be attained by solving a parallel clue 732, as explained with reference to FIGS. 8 and 9.
  • [0053]
    FIG. 8 shows a package 810 for toy car 802, and FIG. 9 shows a package 910 for a toy car 902. Packages 810 and 910 are similarly sized and shaped and are designed to be displayed next to each other in the marketplace. As can be seen, package 810 includes English language writing 812 a, 812 b, and 812 c. On the other hand, package 910 includes coded language 912 a, 912 b, and 912 c, which does not have a readily apparent meaning.
  • [0054]
    Coded language 912 is designed such that every letter from the English language alphabet has a corresponding symbol in the coded language. Package 910 can serve as a Rosetta Stone for deciphering coded language 912, which can be the same coded language used in clue 730. Therefore, by decoding the packages, at least some of the information necessary to solve clue 730 is obtained. For example, it can be seen that package 810 includes the words: “ACCELERACERS” and “HOTWHEELS.” Likewise, package 910 includes these same words, but written in coded language. By comparing the two packages to one another the coded language equivalent of the following letters can be deciphered: a, c, e, h, l, o, r, s, t, w. These are the letters that are used to spell the words “ACCELERACERS” and “HOTWHEELS.” Other portions of the packages, or materials that come with the packages, may be used to decode other letters. Similarly, still other letters can be decoded using decoding tools other than the packaging and included materials.
  • [0055]
    A player can break the code and can successfully provide solutions 740 to clues 730. The solutions can be validated at 750 to ensure that they are correct. Upon successful validation, the player is rewarded with prize 760. In this case, prize 760 can include access to an otherwise inaccessible webpage. The webpage can provide a player with information pertaining to the thematic product universe in which the puzzle is based. For example, the website may provide secret information pertaining to toy cars 802 and 902.
  • [0056]
    As described above, progressive puzzle 700 allows a player to use toys, movies, and Internet content, which is all based on the same thematic universe, to advance through the progressive puzzle. Other progressive puzzles can include more, fewer, and/or completely different product genres, different types of puzzle levels that are characterized by different clues and solutions.
  • [0057]
    The present disclosure has been provided with reference to a nonlimiting subset of the various embodiments and operational principles defined by the appended claims. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various changes in form and detail may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the disclosure. Accordingly, the claims should not be interpreted as being limited to the particular embodiments disclosed herein, but rather, should be afforded a full breadth that embraces all alternatives, modifications, and variances allowed by the plain meaning of the claims. Where the disclosure or claims recite “a,” “a first,” or “another” element, or the equivalent thereof, they should be interpreted to include one or more such elements, neither requiring nor excluding two or more such elements.

Claims (20)

  1. 1. A progressive puzzle dispersed throughout a thematic product universe that includes a plurality of different product genres sharing a common theme, the progressive puzzle comprising:
    a plurality of clues, where at least one clue is associated with a different product genre than at least one other clue;
    for each clue, a solution;
    where the clues are progressive, such that the solution to at least one clue leads to a different clue.
  2. 2. The progressive puzzle of claim 1, where the thematic product universe includes a toys product genre including a plurality of characters existing in the thematic product universe, an audio-visual entertainment product genre including audio-visual representations of the plurality of characters, and a network product genre including network accessible information pertaining to the plurality of characters.
  3. 3. The progressive puzzle of claim 2, where characters in the toys product genre include toy cars.
  4. 4. The progressive puzzle of claim 1, where at least one solution is derived from a different product genre than at least one other solution.
  5. 5. The progressive puzzle of claim 1, where all but a first clue is hidden until a preceding clue is solved.
  6. 6. The progressive puzzle of claim 1, where at least one clue is found on an Internet site showcasing a character from the thematic product universe, and where the solution to that clue is derived from printed material sold with a toy embodying the character.
  7. 7. The progressive puzzle of claim 1, where at least one clue is associated with a printed material associated with a toy, and where the solution to that clue is derived from an audio visual media including an audio visual representation of the toy.
  8. 8. The progressive puzzle of claim 1, where at least one clue includes a toy package including coded writing, and where the solution to that clue is derived from a different toy package including normal writing corresponding to the coded writing.
  9. 9. The progressive puzzle of claim 1, further comprising, for at least one solution, a prize.
  10. 10. The progressive puzzle of claim 9, where the prize includes access to Internet content within the thematic product universe.
  11. 11. The progressive puzzle of claim 9, where the prize includes an item from the thematic product universe.
  12. 12. A progressive puzzle dispersed throughout a thematic product universe that includes a plurality of different product genres, the progressive puzzle comprising:
    a plurality of clues;
    for each clue, a solution, where at least one solution is derived from a different product genre than at least one other solution;
    where the clues are progressive, such that the solution to at least one clue leads to a different clue.
  13. 13. The progressive puzzle of claim 12, where the thematic product universe includes a toys product genre including a plurality of characters existing in the thematic product universe, an audio-visual entertainment product genre including audio-visual representations of the plurality of characters, and a network product genre including network accessible information pertaining to the plurality of characters.
  14. 14. The progressive puzzle of claim 12, where at least one clue is associated with a different product genre than at least one other clue.
  15. 15. The progressive puzzle of claim 12, where all but a first clue is hidden until a preceding clue is solved.
  16. 16. The progressive puzzle of claim 12, further comprising, for at least one solution, a prize.
  17. 17. The progressive puzzle of claim 12, where the prize includes access to Internet content within the thematic product universe.
  18. 18. The progressive puzzle of claim 17, where the prize includes an item from the thematic product universe.
  19. 19. A thematic product universe, comprising:
    a toys product genre including a plurality of characters;
    an audio-visual entertainment product genre including audio-visual representations of the plurality of characters;
    a network product genre including network accessible information pertaining to the plurality of characters; and
    a progressive puzzle, including:
    a plurality of clues, where at least one clue is found within the line of toys product genre, the audio-visual entertainment product genre, or the network product genre;
    for each clue, a solution, where at least one solution is derived from a product genre other than the product genre where the clue corresponding to the solution is found;
    where the clues are progressive, such that the solution to at least one clue leads to a different clue.
  20. 20. The thematic product universe of claim 19, wherein the progressive puzzle further includes, for at least one solution, a prize.
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