US20080004119A1 - System for the Creation and Registration of Ideas and Concepts in a Virtual Environment - Google Patents

System for the Creation and Registration of Ideas and Concepts in a Virtual Environment Download PDF

Info

Publication number
US20080004119A1
US20080004119A1 US11/680,960 US68096007A US2008004119A1 US 20080004119 A1 US20080004119 A1 US 20080004119A1 US 68096007 A US68096007 A US 68096007A US 2008004119 A1 US2008004119 A1 US 2008004119A1
Authority
US
United States
Prior art keywords
blueprint
virtual
game
database
system
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US11/680,960
Inventor
Andrew S. Van Luchene
Raymond J. Mueller
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Leviathan Entertainment LLC
Original Assignee
Leviathan Entertainment LLC
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US11/428,263 priority Critical patent/US20080004116A1/en
Priority to US11/620,563 priority patent/US20080046222A1/en
Priority to US11/679,669 priority patent/US20080004118A1/en
Application filed by Leviathan Entertainment LLC filed Critical Leviathan Entertainment LLC
Priority to US11/680,960 priority patent/US20080004119A1/en
Priority claimed from PCT/US2007/066719 external-priority patent/WO2008063694A2/en
Assigned to LEVIATHAN ENTERTAINMENT reassignment LEVIATHAN ENTERTAINMENT ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: MUELLER, RAYMOND J, VAN LUCHENE, ANDREW S
Publication of US20080004119A1 publication Critical patent/US20080004119A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

Links

Images

Classifications

    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F13/00Video games, i.e. games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions
    • A63F13/70Game security or game management aspects
    • A63F13/79Game security or game management aspects involving player-related data, e.g. identities, accounts, preferences or play histories
    • A63F13/792Game security or game management aspects involving player-related data, e.g. identities, accounts, preferences or play histories for payment purposes, e.g. monthly subscriptions
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F13/00Video games, i.e. games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions
    • A63F13/60Generating or modifying game content before or while executing the game program, e.g. authoring tools specially adapted for game development or game-integrated level editor
    • A63F13/63Generating or modifying game content before or while executing the game program, e.g. authoring tools specially adapted for game development or game-integrated level editor by the player, e.g. authoring using a level editor
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F2300/00Features of games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions, e.g. on a television screen, showing representations related to the game
    • A63F2300/50Features of games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions, e.g. on a television screen, showing representations related to the game characterized by details of game servers
    • A63F2300/55Details of game data or player data management
    • A63F2300/5513Details of game data or player data management involving billing
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F2300/00Features of games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions, e.g. on a television screen, showing representations related to the game
    • A63F2300/50Features of games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions, e.g. on a television screen, showing representations related to the game characterized by details of game servers
    • A63F2300/55Details of game data or player data management
    • A63F2300/5586Details of game data or player data management for enforcing rights or rules, e.g. to prevent foul play
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F2300/00Features of games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions, e.g. on a television screen, showing representations related to the game
    • A63F2300/60Methods for processing data by generating or executing the game program
    • A63F2300/66Methods for processing data by generating or executing the game program for rendering three dimensional images

Abstract

The present disclosure provides various novel concepts to a video game environment. The disclosure describes video game environments that include a method and system for protecting intellectual property designed by players in a virtual environment for use in the virtual environment.

Description

    PRIORITY CLAIM
  • The following application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 11/428,263, “Video Game Environment” filed Jun. 30, 2006, Ser. No. 11/620,563 “Copyright of Digital Works in a Virtual Environment” filed Jan. 5, 2007, and Ser. No. 11/679,669. “Creation and Registration of Ideas and Concepts in a Virtual Environment,” filed Feb. 27, 2007, each of which is hereby incorporated by reference.
  • BACKGROUND
  • Video games which are accessible to multiple players via a server or peer to peer network are well known. For example, hundreds of thousands of players access games known as massive multi-player online games (MMOGs) and massive multi-player online role playing games (MMORPGs). Players of these games customarily access a game repeatedly (for durations typically ranging from a few minutes to several days) over a given period of time, which may be days, weeks, months or even years. The games are often constructed such that players pay a periodic subscription price (e.g., $15 per month) rather than, or in addition to, paying a one time purchase price for the game. Often, though not necessarily, these games have no ultimate “winner” or “winning goal,” but instead attempt to create an enjoyable playing environment and a strong player community.
  • It would be advantageous to provide improved methods and apparatus for increasing the enjoyment and/or longevity of video games including, but not necessarily limited to MMOGs and MMORPGs.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a block diagram depicting a network according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.
  • FIG. 2 is a block diagram depicting a system 100 according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 3 is an embodiment of a method of creating a blueprint.
  • FIG. 4 is a diagram depicting a system 200 according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 5 is an embodiment of a method of registering a blueprint.
  • FIG. 6 is a diagram depicting a system 300 according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 7 is an embodiment of a method of contracting construction of a virtual object.
  • FIG. 8 is a diagram depicting a system 400 according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION Definitions:
  • Unless stated to the contrary, for the purposes of the present disclosure, the following terms shall include the following definitions:
  • Alert—includes the communication, transfer or storage of information with, by, between or among any two or more real, virtual or computer generated entities involved in a virtual environment. Such a transfer may take place between the virtual and real world, may be limited to the virtual world, may be limited to virtual world devices, may be limited to the real world, or may be limited to real world devices. An alert may be triggered by an alert event.
  • Alert Event—includes any event which triggers a communication. Such events may be initiations or completions of missions, transactions, communications; changes in the status of events in the virtual world, for example, a change in availability, a change in a trend, a change in price, or the alteration of any other aspect of an object or entity in a virtual environment.
  • Avatar—includes the virtual representation of a player character.
  • Billing Information—includes any information pertaining to billing a player for playing a game, accessing a game, purchasing goods or services, or any other reasons. Billing information may include such real world information as a billing address, credit card account number, bank account number, pay pal account number or other payment facilitator, or the account number of any other financial entity providing a real world credit line or any other payment-related information.
  • Blueprint component—may include any sub sections of a virtual blueprint that can be treated as a whole. For instance, the hilt and blade of a sword blueprint or components. Blueprint components can be items that are made from their own blueprints. For example the tire blueprint component for a virtual car can be assembled from the tire blueprint.
  • Character Account—includes an account that tracks character attributes.
  • Character Attribute—includes any quality, trait, feature or characteristic a particular Character can have that is stored in the corresponding Character Account or is otherwise generally associated with a Character or Character Account. Character Attributes may include, but are not be limited to:
      • 1. A character score
      • 2. A genetic profile or makeup
      • 3. A ranking
      • 4. A relationship with another character
      • 5. A score for subsequent matching of later game parameters
      • 6. A skill or skill level
      • 7. A synthetic voice
      • 8. A virtual object
      • 9. The ability to join groups of other players at a later time
      • 10. The physical appearance of a character
      • 11. An Emblem or Mark
      • 12. Virtual Currency
      • 13. Virtual Help Points or Credits
      • 14. A character's avatar
      • 15. A character's clothing or other personal effects
  • Character Life—includes a fixed or variable, finite or infinite period of virtual or real world time that a player character can exist in a game environment.
  • Character or “player character”—includes a persona created and controlled by a player in a video game.
  • Character Skills—includes game attributes inherent in or acquired by a player character during game play such as, but not limited to: the ability to cast (certain) spells, foretell the future, read minds, use (certain) weapons, cook, hunt, find herbs, assemble herbs into potions, mine, assemble objects into other objects, fly, and/or enchant other player characters.
  • Computer Generated (CGC) or Non-Player (NPC) Character—includes any character that is controlled by the game system and/or a computer program and/or rules established by the game system and/or a player and not by a player on a continuous basis.
  • Credit Card—includes a credit instrument issued by a real or virtual world institution to a player that allows the player to make purchases by providing an account identifier (e.g. a credit card number) rather than cash or other currency. An example is a credit card like those issued by Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express. For the purposes of the present disclosure, the term “Credit card” is intended in a very broad sense and is not limited to those situations in which a player's purchases are made on credit (i.e. where payments for those purchases is not due until a later time) but also includes financial instruments such as debit cards, check cards, lines of credit and the like.
  • Game Environment—a particular level or area within a virtual world. Each game environment may have its own rules, regulation, currency, government, managers, etc. Game environments may exist within other game environments.
  • Game environment manager: entity that administers a game environment. The game environment manager may be a character, player, group of characters, group of players, NPC, group of NPCs, committee, company, religion, government, business entity, third party, or any combination thereof.
  • Game Objective or Game Goal—includes a desired state, condition, result, action, cessation of action, or a desired outcome and/or change or a delay in change to any of the preceding.
  • Game performance parameter—any aspect of a Video Game by which a player character's performance can be measured. Game Parameters shall include, but not be limited to:
      • 1. accuracy with weapons
      • 2. achieving deity or other status
      • 3. Completing all or part of a mission
      • 4. decreasing or increasing Karma Points
      • 5. earning a higher rank in an army
      • 6. earning income
      • 7. the proper weapon
      • 8. getting married
      • 9. getting through or to a certain geographic area
      • 10. getting, buying, exchanging or learning a new skill or player attribute
      • 11. having a child
      • 12. status or caste
      • 13. kill/death ratios
      • 14. killing a certain character/creature
      • 15. obtaining, buying, trading, producing or developing raw materials
      • 16. obtaining, creating or modifying an object
      • 17. producing goods or services
      • 18. Reaching a certain level or score
      • 19. Playing for a certain period of time
      • 20. solving a puzzle
      • 21. using or obtaining an ability or technology
      • 22. completing a game objective
      • 23. Winning a match against another player character or computer generated character
      • 24. winning an election among two or more player characters
      • 25. assisting other player characters with any of the above.
      • 26. the speed of accomplishing or changing the rate or trends of any or all of the above.
  • In-game Marketplace—a virtual environment where Characters can exchange items, attributes, or any other exchangeable game element.
  • Item Attributes—includes any attributes of a virtual item in a game environment. For example, effective use of item attribute for virtual armor could be “plus 2 strength for improving player character wearing the armor.”
  • Novice Player—includes a player that is identified as requiring the help of an expert to complete a Game Parameter.
  • Player—includes any individual who can register an account with a Video Game Central Server or within a peer-to-peer network and create Characters that can interact with other Characters in a Virtual Environment, and/or that can authorize a NPC to act on the player's behalf.
  • Player Account—includes any account on the Video Game Central Server or within a peer-to-peer network that contains a Player profile including personal, billing, and character account information.
  • Player Attribute—includes any attribute that can be applied to a player account. Player Attributes shall include, but not be limited to:
      • 1. Discount of monthly fees for playing game.
      • 2. Interest rates for use of or borrowing real or virtual cash amounts.
      • 3. Monthly fee for playing a game
      • 4. Real Currency.
      • 5. Rewards for encouraging another player to signup to play.
      • 6. Global character attribute settings for all characters created by player across multiple games
  • Player to Player Contract—includes any real and/or virtual but binding contract between player characters that allows the players to provide or exchange game attributes to one another. Once a player-to-player contract is established, the game server or peer-to-peer network automatically distributes acquired game attributes between the player characters based on the contract conditions.
  • Real Cash Value—includes the value in real dollars of the virtual currency. This value can be determined by multiplying the value of a virtual currency amount by the current exchange rate to real dollars.
  • Total virtual obligation amount—may include the total amount of the virtual financial obligation(s) associated with a player character's account.
  • Video Game—includes a game played on a Video Game Consul that may or may not be networked to a Video Game Central Server or within a peer-to-peer network.
  • Video Game Central Server—may include a CPU, memory and permanent or temporary storage that is connected to multiple Video Game Consuls that allows for Massive Multi Player Online Video Games to be played.
  • Video Game Consul—includes any device comprising a CPU, memory, optional permanent storage and/or other components residing at a player location that can allow for the interaction with or playing of video games. Examples include, home PCs, Microsoft Xbox, and Sony Playstation and/or any devices attached thereto, e.g., hand controllers, joysticks, etc.
  • Virtual—includes a video game environment or other intangible space.
  • Virtual Blueprints—includes virtual designs for virtual items that include information such as dimensions, materials, skills, and other virtual items or attributes that are required to assemble a virtual item specified by the blueprint. Virtual Blueprints may define virtual objects, and/or business methods, business processes, software, games, and/or definitions to create any or all of the foregoing.
  • Virtual Blueprint Registration—includes a virtual registration number assigned to a virtual blueprint.
  • In Game Patent Office—includes an entity in a game environment where blueprints and/or copyrights can be registered to indicate the inventor of the blueprint or copyright.
  • Digital Patent—includes the registration of a virtual blueprint with a virtual patent office.
  • Virtual Contract—Includes an enforceable agreement between a first player character and either another player character, a game server, or a third party. Some examples of virtual contracts are provided in U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/652,036, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety for all purposes.
  • Virtual credit card—includes a financial instrument issued in a virtual environment by a real or virtual world institution or entity that acts in the virtual environment for virtual currency the way a real world credit card acts in the real world for real currency.
  • Virtual Credit Score—includes a score given to player characters in a video game based on one or more of the following criteria, including, but not limited to: the virtual assets they possess, the age of the character account, the type of account, e.g. basic or premium, the available credit line of the credit card associated with the account, the existing virtual financial obligations of the player character account, the player character's payment history including days to pay, amounts overdue or delinquent, and/or the player character's real world credit score, and/or the factors used in the real world to determine a credit score.
  • Virtual Creditor—includes a first player character or other entity who is owed a virtual obligation by a second player character.
  • Virtual Financial Account—includes a virtual account issued to a player character by a virtual bank, game server or third party where virtual cash can be deposited and withdrawn.
  • Virtual Financial Intermediary—includes virtual institutions including depository institutions, contractual savings institutions, and investment intermediaries which offer financial products and services for use within the virtual environment. The various financial intermediaries available in the virtual environment may each serve different or overlapping purposes and provide means for using, saving, borrowing and transferring currency.
  • Virtual Financial Obligation—Includes an agreement by a player character or entity to pay one or more game attributes to another player character, entity or game server. This obligation can be a one time payment, or multiple payment over time. The obligation can specify that payments are due on virtual or real dates.
  • Virtual Financial Obligation Value—includes the in game value of the obligation. For virtual cash the value may be stated as a virtual and/or real cash amount. For other game attributes, the value can be determined by generating a virtual cash market value for the item based on the current value in an online marketplace or exchange. The value of the obligation may be fixed or variable and may also be set as a condition of the player contract and/or by the game server or other entity.
  • Virtual Resource Assignment—may include the act of assigning resources to components of a virtual blueprint and/or the database record created from the act.
  • Virtual World—includes a world created in an online game such as World of Warcraft, or a virtual community such as Second Life, Eve or There.com.
  • The term “variation” of an invention includes any embodiment of the invention, unless expressly specified otherwise.
  • A reference to “another embodiment” in describing an embodiment does not necessarily imply that the referenced embodiment is mutually exclusive with another embodiment (e.g., an embodiment described before the referenced embodiment), unless expressly specified otherwise.
  • The terms “include”, “includes”, “including”, “comprising” and variations thereof mean “including but not limited to”, unless expressly specified otherwise.
  • The term “consisting of” and variations thereof includes “including and limited to”, unless expressly specified otherwise. The terms “a”, “an” and “the” mean “one or more”, unless expressly specified otherwise.
  • The term “plurality” means “two or more”, unless expressly specified otherwise.
  • The term “herein” means “in this patent application, including anything which may be incorporated by reference”, unless expressly specified otherwise.
  • The phrase “at least one of”, when such phrase modifies a plurality of things (such as an enumerated list of things) means any combination of one or more of those things, unless expressly specified otherwise. For example, the phrase “at least one of a widget, a car and a wheel” means either (i) a widget, (ii) a car, (iii) a wheel, (iv) a widget and a car, (v) a widget and a wheel, (vi) a car and a wheel, or (vii) a widget, a car and a wheel.
  • The phrase “based on” does not mean “based only on”, unless expressly specified otherwise. In other words, the phrase “based on” describes both “based only on” and “based at least on”.
  • The term “represent” and like terms are not exclusive, unless expressly specified otherwise. For example, the term “represents” does not mean “represents only”, unless expressly specified otherwise. In other words, the phrase “the data represents a credit card number” describes both “the data represents only a credit card number” and “the data represents a credit card number and the data also represents something else”.
  • The term “whereby” is used herein only to precede a clause or other set of words that express only the intended result, objective or consequence of something that is previously and explicitly recited. Thus, when the term “whereby” is used in a claim, the clause or other words that the term “whereby” modifies do not establish specific further limitations of the claim or otherwise restricts the meaning or scope of the claim.
  • The terms “such as”, “e.g.” and like terms means “for example”, and thus does not limit the term or phrase it explains. For example, in the sentence “the computer sends data (e.g., instructions, a data structure) over the Internet”, the term “e.g.” explains that “instructions” are an example of “data” that the computer may send over the Internet, and also explains that “a data structure” is an example of “data” that the computer may send over the Internet. However, both “instructions” and “a data structure” are merely examples of “data”, and other things besides “instructions” and “a data structure” can be “data”.
  • The term “determining” and grammatical variants thereof (e.g., to determine a price, determining a value, determine an object which meets a certain criterion) is used in an extremely broad sense. The term “determining” encompasses a wide variety of actions and therefore “determining” can include calculating, computing, processing, deriving, investigating, looking up (e.g., looking up in a table, a database or another data structure), ascertaining and the like. Also, “determining” can include receiving (e.g., receiving information), accessing (e.g., accessing data in a memory) and the like. Also, “determining” can include resolving, selecting, choosing, establishing, and the like. It does not imply certainty or absolute precision, and does not imply that mathematical processing, numerical methods or an algorithm process be used. Therefore “determining” can include estimating, predicting, guessing and the like.
  • It will be readily apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art that the various processes described herein may be implemented by, e.g., appropriately programmed general purpose computers and computing devices. Typically a processor (e.g., one or more microprocessors, one or more microcontrollers, one or more digital signal processors) will receive instructions (e.g., from a memory or like device), and execute those instructions, thereby performing one or more processes defined by those instructions.
  • A “processor” may include one or more microprocessors, central processing units (CPUs), computing devices, microcontrollers, digital signal processors, or like devices or any combination thereof. Thus a description of a process is likewise a description of an apparatus for performing the process. The apparatus can include, e.g., a processor and those input devices and output devices that are appropriate to perform the method. Further, programs that implement such methods (as well as other types of data) may be stored and transmitted using a variety of media (e.g., computer readable media) in a number of manners. In some embodiments, hard-wired circuitry or custom hardware may be used in place of, or in combination with, some or all of the software instructions that can implement the processes of various embodiments. Thus, various combinations of hardware and software may be used instead of software only.
  • The term “computer-readable medium” includes any medium that participates in providing data (e.g., instructions, data structures) which may be read by a computer, a processor or a like device. Such a medium may take many forms, including but not limited to, non-volatile media, volatile media, and transmission media. Non-volatile media include, for example, optical or magnetic disks and other persistent memory. Volatile media include dynamic random access memory (DRAM), which typically constitutes the main memory. Transmission media include coaxial cables, copper wire and fiber optics, including the wires that comprise a system bus coupled to the processor. Transmission media may include or convey acoustic waves, light waves and electromagnetic emissions, such as those generated during radio frequency (RF) and infrared (IR) data communications. Common forms of computer-readable media include, for example, a floppy disk, a flexible disk, hard disk, magnetic tape, any other magnetic medium, a CD-ROM, DVD, any other optical medium, punch cards, paper tape, any other physical medium with patterns of holes, a RAM, a PROM, an EPROM, a FLASH-EEPROM, any other memory chip or cartridge, a carrier wave as described hereinafter, or any other medium from which a computer can read.
  • Various forms of computer readable media may be involved in carrying data (e.g. sequences of instructions) to a processor. For example, data may be (i) delivered from RAM to a processor; (ii) carried over a wireless transmission medium; (iii) formatted and /or transmitted according to numerous formats, standards or protocols, such as Ethernet (or IEEE 802.3), SAP, ATP, Bluetooth™, and TCP/IP, TDMA, CDMA, and 3G; and/or (iv) encrypted to ensure privacy or prevent fraud in any of a variety of ways well known in the art.
  • Thus a description of a process is likewise a description of a computer-readable medium storing a program for performing the process. The computer-readable medium can store (in any appropriate format) those program elements which are appropriate to perform the method.
  • Just as the description of various steps in a process does not indicate that all the described steps are required, embodiments of an apparatus include a computer/computing device operable to perform some (but not necessarily all) of the described process.
  • Likewise, just as the description of various steps in a process does not indicate that all the described steps are required, embodiments of a computer-readable medium storing a program or data structure include a computer-readable medium storing a program that, when executed, can cause a processor to perform some (but not necessarily all) of the described process.
  • Where databases are described, it will be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art that (i) alternative database structures to those described may be readily employed, and (ii) other memory structures besides databases may be readily employed. Any illustrations or descriptions of any sample databases presented herein are illustrative arrangements for stored representations of information. Any number of other arrangements may be employed besides those suggested by, e.g., tables illustrated in drawings or elsewhere. Similarly, any illustrated entries of the databases represent exemplary information only; one of ordinary skill in the art will understand that the number and content of the entries can be different from those described herein. Further, despite any depiction of the databases as tables, other formats (including relational databases, object-based models and/or distributed databases) are well known and could be used to store and manipulate the data types described herein. Likewise, object methods or behaviors of a database can be used to implement various processes, such as the described herein. In addition, the databases may, in a known manner, be stored locally or remotely from any device(s) which access data in the database.
  • Various embodiments can be configured to work in a network environment including a computer that is in communication (e.g., via a communications network) with one or more devices. The computer may communicate with the devices directly or indirectly, via any wired or wireless medium (e.g. the Internet, LAN, WAN or Ethernet, Token Ring, a telephone line, a cable line, a radio channel, an optical communications line, commercial on-line service providers, bulletin board systems, a satellite communications link, or a combination of any of the above). Each of the devices may themselves comprise computers or other computing devices, such as those based on the Intel® Pentium® or Centrino™ processor, that are adapted to communicate with the computer. Any number and type of devices may be in communication with the computer.
  • In an embodiment, a server computer or centralized authority may not be necessary or desirable. For example, the present invention may, in an embodiment, be practiced on one or more devices without a central authority. In such an embodiment, any functions described herein as performed by the server computer or data described as stored on the server computer may instead be performed by or stored on one or more such devices.
  • Description
  • Massive multi player online games (MMOGs) or massive multi-player role-playing games (MMORPGs) are computer game which are capable of supporting hundreds, thousands, or millions of players simultaneously. Typically, this type of game is played in a giant persistent world where the game continues playing regardless of whether or not real players are logged in. Players commonly access these games through a network such as the Internet, and may or may not be required to purchase additional software or hardware in order to play the game. Such networks allow for people all over the world to participate and interact with each other in a virtual environment. The present disclosure provides systems and methods which contribute to the evolution and longevity of such a game.
  • The herein described aspects and drawings illustrate components contained within, or connected with other components that permit play in the virtual environment. It is to be understood that such depicted designs are merely exemplary and that many other designs may be implemented to achieve the same functionality. Any arrangement of components to achieve the same functionality is effectively associated such that the desired functionality is achieved. FIG. 1 provides an exemplary network which may be used to support a virtual environment.
  • Referring to FIG. 1, a network 10 according to one embodiment includes a central server 20 in communication with a plurality of video game playing units 18. Those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that any number of video game playing units may be in communication with the central server. Typically, the number of video game playing units changes at various times as players join games and as players stop playing games. Similarly, more than one server may operate to coordinate the activities of the video game playing units, as is well known in the art.
  • Central server 20 may comprise any computing device (e.g., one or more computers) capable of communicating with other computing devices. The server 20 typically comprises a processor which is in communication with a storage device, such as an appropriate combination of RAM, ROM, hard disk, and other well known storage media. Central server 20 may comprise one or more personal computers, web servers, dedicated game servers, video game consoles, any combination of the foregoing, or the like.
  • Each video game device 18 may comprise any device capable of communicating with central server 20, providing video game information to a player, and transmitting the player's desired actions to the central server. Each video game device typically comprises a processor which is in communication with a storage device, such as an appropriate combination of RAM, ROM, hard disk, and other well known storage media. Suitable video game devices include, but are not limited to, personal computers, video game consoles, mobile phones, and personal data assistants (PDAs).
  • Some or all of video game 17 can be stored on central server 20. Alternatively, some or all of video game 17 may be stored on the individual video game devices 18. Typically, the video game devices are able to communicate with one another. Such communication may or may not be facilitated by central server 20. Accordingly, a player 19 a accessing video game 17 via game device 18 a may be able to play with a player 19 b accessing video game 17 via game device 18 b. As shown, it may be possible for multiple players (e.g. 19 c, 19 d) to access central server 20 via the same game device (e.g. 18 c).
  • Regardless of whether video game 17 is stored on central server 20 or video game devices 18, server 20 is typically configured to facilitate play of the game between multiple game players.
  • Those having skill in the art will recognize that there is little distinction between hardware and software implementations. The use of hardware or software is generally a choice of convenience or design based on the relative importance of speed, accuracy, flexibility and predictability. There are therefore various vehicles by which processes and/or systems described herein can be effected (e.g., hardware, software, and/or firmware) and that the preferred vehicle will vary with the context in which the technologies are deployed.
  • At least a portion of the devices and/or processes described herein can be integrated into a data processing system with a reasonable amount of experimentation. Those having skill in the art will recognize that a typical data processing system generally includes one or more of a system unit housing, a video display device, memory, processors, operating systems, drivers, graphical user interfaces, and application programs, interaction devices such as a touch pad or screen, and/or control systems including feedback loops and control motors. A typical data processing system may be implemented utilizing any suitable commercially available components to create the gaming environment described herein.
  • Individuals involved in playing and participating in virtual environments spend a great deal of time and energy developing and executing ideas, concepts, and designs to be used in a virtual environment. However, most environments do not protect such ideas, concepts and designs from being copied and used by other players. A failure to have such a protection system in place may stifle creativity as well as the investment individuals are willing to make in an online environment, decreasing both the development and enjoyment of the game.
  • Various embodiments of the present invention address these issues by providing methods and systems for registering virtual designs, ideas and concepts and identifying designs and objects made from the designs, ideas and concepts as real or fraudulent. A system of protection encourages individuals to develop virtual environments, increasing the depth of play and interaction available.
  • Virtual environments may be created as an empty space or with one or more virtual objects which can be used or assembled into other objects. Virtual objects and resources imported into or originating within the game environment may be improved upon, altered, or developed into other game attributes depending on aspects of game play. In some embodiments, a game environment may have or may make it possible to acquire an assortment of resources including skills, virtual natural resources, virtual raw or partially processed materials, virtual objects, attributes and NPCs or automated or manual construction programs or methods which can be used to create, design, construct or modify virtual objects. Resources for use in constructing virtual objects may be found in a game environment or may be imported from other game environments including other games via an exchange. Suitable exchanges are described, for example in U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 11/428,263, 11/560,456, 11/620,563, each of which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.
  • Design concepts for virtual objects to be created or modified within a game environment may be based whole or in part, on real objects or may be entirely fanciful in their composition, design, use or function. Representations of such objects to be imported into a game environment may be rendered digitally, written as software or parts of software applications, or a combination thereof. In one embodiment, a design concept may be based in whole or in part on a digital image. In another embodiment, a design concept may be drawn or otherwise rendered by a player, character, or other third party. In a further embodiment, a design concept may be created in computer readable code. In some embodiments, a design concept may be a combination of some or all of these things.
  • Digital images to be converted into virtual objects may be one or more images of three dimensional objects, or scanned or otherwise converted two dimensional objects such as pictures. In some embodiments, the images may be representations of one, two, three, four or more dimensional objects. In other embodiments, the images themselves may be one, two, three, four or more dimensional. Design concepts for virtual objects to be created in the virtual world may be imported by any means applicable. For example, they may be digital images such as photographs; maps; satellite images; drawings made using a computer program including, but not limited to, Adobe® Photoshop®, AutoCAD®, 3ds Max®, Maya®, Visio®, Corel® Painter™, ArtRage, Microsoft® Expression®, SketchBook® Pro, Deleter CGillust, Project Dogwaffle, Pixarra Twisted Brush, GraphicsMagick, Inkscape, Adobe® Illustrator®, or any other drawing or rendering program; scanned images; computer readable code; programs; subroutines; software or any other format which would allow a computer to display an image. The image file may be formatted in any known image format including, but not limited to, RAW, bitmap, Graphic Interchange Format (GIF), Joint Photographic Experts Group Format (JPEG), Tag Image File Format (TIFF), successor formats or the like. In another embodiment, the object being designed or created is in the form of a software application or portion of an application e.g., a subroutine or software object that performs one or more functions. In yet another embodiment, the object may be represented as a mathematical algorithm or formula.
  • In some embodiments, a player, player character, and/or any third party, including the game owner, server, applications or other processes designed to create or modify virtual objects, may be able to alter or add to the acquired image. For example, in the image of a car, aspects of the car such as the color, the type of engine, the options, the tires, the shape, the doors, the roof, the size, the hood, hood ornament, etc. may be varied from the image acquired. In one embodiment, the right side and the left side of a virtual object and/or the top and the bottom of a virtual object such as a car may originate in images of different cars, other vehicles or other objects to produce a hybrid vehicle that is completely imaginary. In some embodiments, inanimate objects may be combined. In other embodiments, inanimate objects may be combined with animate objects. For example, a car may be crossed with a motorcycle or a horse. In another embodiment, a building may be crossed with a jellyfish. In further embodiments, animate or inanimate objects may be combined. In another embodiment, certain restrictions on such combinations may apply. Such restrictions may be based upon rules established by the game, which rules may or may not be tied to actual physical laws.
  • Virtual objects may be of any size, shape, or substance desired. In some embodiments, the server may be able to determine the dimensions of a virtual object to be created based on the supply of a single dimension. For example, based on the length of the blade, the hilt of a sword may be a certain size. In other embodiments, dimensions may be based on a relationship with another object, for example the car must fit in underground tunnels or a standard size avatar of a player must be able to operate the virtual vehicle. In a another embodiment, the designing player or character may change the relationship of one or more of the dimensions of a virtual object, making a virtual object thinner, wider, longer, shorter, fatter, taller or more skewed than it appears in an image. In a further embodiment, the interior of an object may be at odds with the exterior of the object, similar to a genie bottle in which the items in the interior would appear too large to fit into an object the size or shape of the exterior of the object. Player characters may have to acquire skills, such as “shrink” or “grow”; or apply attributes to themselves, for example, by performing a given act such as imbibing a virtual mushroom, to allow their avatars to enter a virtual object.
  • Each design concept may be converted into a blueprint, diagram, instructions, computer program, or the like that includes methods of design and/or construction. The methods of design and/or construction may be of varying complexity. The design may be that of an actual or virtual blueprint, i.e., a drawing with written specifications of manufacture; a computer program or specification to create a virtual object and its attributes and method(s) of interaction with and/or insertion to a game, game space, or network of one or more games; a written disclosure of the invention including the necessary information to reduce the item to practice, according to rules established by the players, manufacturers, virtual patent office or otherwise; an algorithm that may determine or an external link to a database or design that can provide one or more of the design elements; or any combination thereof. Some blueprints may depict an outline or simplified sketch of the object. For example, satellite images of cities may be converted to blueprints for virtual city layouts. Other blueprints may be extremely detailed or technical drawings for constructing a virtual object, or any variation in between. In other embodiments, certain images may have predetermined aspects, layers, components or other parts into which they are broken or subdivided. For example, a sword may be broken into the pommel, hilt, guard, tang, shoulder, and blade even though the tang is generally not visible in images of swords. In another embodiment, images may be broken down into simplified versions of the visible aspects of an object, for example, a sword may be broken down into the pommel, hilt, guard, and blade, or just the hilt and blade. In some embodiments, there may be a database of elements of objects based on the construction of other items in a game environment or a preformed store of design and object construction blueprints in the game. Such a database may be added to by the creation of additional objects or designs in a virtual environment.
  • A blueprint may be rendered by the game server; presented by a player, player character, or third party, for example in a document file; presented as a program; or any combination thereof. In some embodiments, there may be an in game blueprint or schematics creator and editor or an in game service provider for the construction of blueprints, schematics or other drawings or programmatic representations. In some embodiments, blueprints, schematics, drawings, or programs (e.g., mathematical algorithms) may also include the resources and skill levels or other attributes required to construct a virtual object. In other embodiments, blueprints, etc., cannot be made if the technology to construct the object represented by the blueprint does not yet exist in that game environment or its importation or existence is prohibited within that game environment.
  • Once created, the use of a blueprint to make virtual objects may be limited to the creating character or player or the inventor, assignee or owner of such blueprints; may be used by anyone in the game; may be used by a limited group of people, for example other guild members, characters in the same city, characters of a particular rank, characters in possession of a particular attribute; may be accessible after completion of a mission; may be purchased; may be exported, may be modified, may be licensed, may be assigned; or any combination thereof. Any transfer of rights, such as the right to view, copy, use, alter, etc., may require the payment of a fee or transfer of similar or dissimilar rights.
  • In some embodiments, blueprints may be accessible to a greater or lesser extent at different points of the game. In a further embodiment, protection of a blueprint may have an expiry point. Expiration of protection may be a function of time, a function of the number of objects created with a blueprint, the number of objects in a game environment, registration fees paid, the changing of an era in the game, when a particular resource is not longer produced or available in a game environment, or based on any other suitable factor or any combination thereof.
  • In some embodiments, blueprints or a selection of blueprints may be accessible to characters and players, for example in a database that may be searched or browsed. In certain embodiments, players or player characters may not be able to search the entire database, and/or the results from such a search may be limited to only those blueprints they are permitted to use, buy, and/or build or otherwise acquire. The player and/or character may select virtual objects to make or have made based on objects in the database, may make or have made modified objects based on objects selected from the database, may use the database as a source of inspiration, may use the database to add design elements to be incorporated into an object based on the player or character's specifications, or any combination thereof. In some embodiments such modifications may effect the appearance of an object. In other embodiments, such modifications may effect the construction or function of an object. For example, players and characters may modify an object so that it is made of specific materials, a particular size, weight, shape, color, dimension, strength, property, or have or be affected by attributes including, but not limited to, certain spells, powers, healing, longevity, invincibility, invisibility, armor piercing ability, clean running, accelerating, or any other physical attribute they may choose. In a further embodiment, the blueprints and designs in the database may be added to by other players and characters. In yet another embodiment, the blueprints and designs in the design database may form building blocks for items that may be created by player characters. In a further embodiment, some but not all of the blueprints in the database may be accessible or useable.
  • For example, a player character can use the raw resource of metal ore, combined with the skills of metal smithing and fire making, to design and build an axe and a saw. The design for the axe and saw, along with the resources, other game items, and attributes required to build them, can be registered with a virtual patent office and sold to other player characters who need them to build various items. Particular skill levels may also be required and included with the blueprint. For example, all blacksmiths may be able to make the axe or the saw, but the quality of the axe and saw and its usefulness may depend on the skill level of the blacksmith. In another embodiment, only blacksmiths with a certain skill level can make axes and saws. In a further embodiment, the resources used to make the object may determine the skill level required. For example, if the character requesting the object has or acquires mineral ores that need to be purified and forged, that may require a different skill or skill level than if the character has steel. Information regarding the skill levels or the degree of usefulness for an object based on particular skill levels may be included in the blueprints.
  • Use of a blueprint may require the payment of a royalty or licensing fee or tax to the owner of the blueprint. If a blueprint is composed of objects that have successive inventorship, royalty or licensing fees may be owed to more than one inventor. For example the blueprint is of a swinging door, but in order to build the door you need the metal hinges. The metal hinges may be purchased or otherwise acquired, or the blueprint for the metal hinges may be located and a second royalty paid to the inventor of the hinges or the blueprint for the hinges may be licensed. The royalty payments may be a one time or periodic fee. Royalty payments may be fixed or variable or fixed and variable or fixed and variable at different points throughout the game. Royalty payments may be based on market forces, negotiation between the characters, vote by a group of player characters and/or an entity or player character elected to represent the player characters, the game manufacturer, by the game, the life span of the registration, the total resources needed to create an item from a blueprint, the number of times a blueprint has been used, the number of items the individual wants to produce using the blueprint, or any combination of the foregoing. In another embodiment, the use of the blueprint may be licensed from the owner. Such a license may be exclusive or non-exclusive, may run for a specific length of time or the creation of a particular number of objects, may run until a specific amount of payments have been received, a particular milestone has been reached, or any combination thereof. The owner of the blueprint can specify the royalty fees associated with using the blueprint to create an object when the blueprints are initially created. The royalty structure for all blueprints can be posted along with the blueprint record in the blueprint database.
  • In some embodiments, blueprints and/or the objects they describe may be registered. Such registration may be limited to a particular game environment or game or may be registered with a master server which manages registration for a multitude of sub-servers. In one embodiment, each blueprint is registered. In another embodiment, blueprints may be examined prior to registration to determine that they do not copy or otherwise violate any one else's blueprints or other intellectual property. Such an examination may include automated or manual review of all existing issued and pending registrations, patents, trademarks and copyrights in the real world or may be limited to existing issued and pending registrations, patents, trademarks and copyrights in the virtual world. In one embodiment, a blueprint may be reviewed by a panel who may vote to determine if a blueprint is sufficiently original. In another embodiment, a creator of a blueprint may be able to defend the blueprint from other blueprints or existing designs and prior art. In a further embodiment, there may be a fee for examination and/or registration. In some embodiments, there may be fees to maintain registration. Method for examining and determining of the registrability of intellectual property are described, for example, in co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 11/462/621, 11/611,024, 11/627,263, 11/668,586, and 11/671,381, each of which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.
  • An AI system can be used to determine if a blueprint being registered is overly similar to a blueprint already registered. Overly similar blueprints can be immediately rejected or sent to a review database to be reviewed by a panel of players. Similarity may be determined or based upon any one or more of the following, including, but not limited to: a) the object or device serves the same or similar purpose, e.g., a can opener, b) it serves such purpose using similar or the same methods, c) differences between a device are of cosmetic purpose only, d) the size, weight, construction materials or any combination of these are the same or similar, e) narrative descriptions are similar by a certain percentage or are identical, f) program descriptions or construction steps include the same or similar or a material number of similar steps and/or are in the same or similar order, g) any combination of the forgoing as compared with another blueprint and/or existing object(s).
  • Items made with registered blueprints may be created with an edition number, global unique identifier (GUID) or other identifying number, mark or logo. Items not made using registered blueprints, for example fraudulent or forged designs, may not include registration. The provenance of an item including the maker, resources, blueprint registration number, edition number, owners of the item, duration of ownership, missions or game parameters completed using the item, digital files of the game parameters completed using the item, other electronic tagging conventions or any manufacturing criteria may be stored with a virtual object and may be accessible to a character. In one embodiment, items made using stolen blueprints or stolen items may lose their provenance or not have a provenance at all. In one embodiment, item creators can decide whether or not they want to have a provenance for their item. In another embodiment, it may only be possible to trade registered items on an exchange. In a further embodiment, there may be a black market or black exchange or over the counter trade for unregistered items.
  • Once the blueprint is created or chosen, a player character with the necessary skills, or his/her designee, e.g., an NPC or hired player or player character, may assemble the virtual object based on the blueprint and/or request that all or part of the virtual object be created based on the blueprint. In certain embodiments, construction is not required, instead the object is automatically created and inserted into the game once all conditions have been met. In some embodiments, certain skills and other resources such as virtual natural resources, virtual raw materials, attributes, and NPCs may be required in order to make or otherwise acquire a virtual object. Players and characters may use resources including virtual natural resources, virtual raw materials, skills, attributes and NPCs available in a game or acquired from other game environments or games to create or modify virtual objects to be used within a game environment. In one embodiment, players may purchase or otherwise acquire tokens in the real world for redemption in the virtual world for particular resources. In the case that additional players, characters, and resources are required, the game server or other third party may be configured to indicate to the player character which other player characters have the skills and/or resources required to construct the object. In another embodiment, there may be a database for locating projects or characters, players and NPCs with the requisite skills or other resources necessary for assembling an object. In some embodiments, the requesting player character may enter into contracts with other players, player characters, NPCs, the game server, or other third parties for the formation of a virtual object.
  • FIG. 2 provides an exemplary system 100 that may be used to provide the embodiment described above. As shown, system 100 may include Master Game Server 102 and a Game environment server 104.
  • Master game server 102 may include a digital file import program 106, subroutine import program 108, and blueprint registration program 110. Master game server 102 may further include a number of databases such as blueprint database 112, game environment database 114, player database 116, new item database 118, and tax database 119. Game environment server 104 may include programs such as game item assembly program 120, game attribute valuation program 122, exchange multiplier determination program 124, and blueprint generation program 126. Game environment server 104 may additionally include databases such as blueprint database 128, raw material database 130, NPC database 132, skill database 134, natural resources database 136, attribute database 137, design database 138, exchange multiplier database 140, player database 142, player character database 144, and image database 146.
  • Blueprints for virtual objects may be constructed according to any means applicable. In some embodiments blueprints may be made or registered for virtual objects that may be created in a particular virtual environment. The ability to create a blueprint of a virtual object or a virtual object in a virtual environment may depend in some part on the type of game environment in which a character resides. In some embodiments, particular game environments may have limitations on the types of objects that may be created in that game environment, there may be limitations based on various criteria such as, but not limited to, the era of the game environment, the number of items under construction, the game objectives, the number of blueprints or virtual objects already in that game environment, the type of blueprints or virtual objects in that game environment, the resources in the game environment, or any combination thereof. For example, some game environments may not permit the construction of mechanized objects. Therefore, blueprints for virtual objects prohibited in a particular game environment may be blocked from being created or registered. In a further embodiment, certain technologies may be required before a blueprint can be created or deployed. Information regarding the game environment may be stored, for example in game environment database 114. In one embodiment, game environment database 114 may store information regarding the game environment such as the game environment ID, identification of the owners, percentage ownership, governance structure, restrictions on imports or exports, restrictions on object creation, configurations, natural resources, raw materials, attributes, skills, NPCs, creation date, fee structure, or any other information relating to the game environment.
  • Once an imported, created, or otherwise acquired design concept is determined to be acceptable to a particular game environment, the digital images and software applications may be converted into blueprints for creating the requested virtual object using, for example, blueprint generation program 126. Blueprints may contain all or some of the design elements of a concept or may contain a general outline of the object sought to be replicated.
  • In one embodiment, blueprints may be based on digital renderings of objects. Digital renderings of objects to be created in a game environment may be brought in by any means applicable, for example using digital file import program 106. Unmodified imported images may be stored by any means applicable. In one embodiment, they may be stored, for example, in image database 146 which may include uploaded images along with information such as creator ID, real world dimensions, virtual world dimensions, intended virtual raw materials for assembly and acceptable game environments. In another embodiment, digital renderings may be based on computer readable code created by a player or character. Such computer readable code may be brought into a game environment using subroutine import program 108. In some embodiments, part or all of a blueprint may be acquired, for example, from design database 138. Design database 138 may include images of or programs for items that may be used as part of virtual objects, as inspiration for virtual objects, blueprints for objects created by other players, and decorative elements. In other embodiments, blueprints may be based on a combination of digital images, information from the design database, other blueprints, and computer readable code. In one embodiment, system 100 may use some or all of the following steps in order to generate a blueprint:
      • 1. Receive digital image(s) of item from player character.
      • 2. Receive specifications from player character.
      • 3. Apply specifications to digital image(s).
      • 4. Generate a blueprint draft from specifications and digital images.
      • 5. Generate a list of additional specifications required to create a virtual item from the image and specifications.
      • 6. Output list of additional specification requirements.
      • 7. Receive additional specification requirements.
      • 8. Generate virtual blueprint draft of virtual item based on digital image(s), specifications, and additional specifications that includes item design, virtual materials for each portion of the item, etc.
      • 9. Output blueprint draft and identify missing specifications.
      • 10. Receive modifications of blueprint draft.
      • 11. Create final blueprint from blueprint draft and modifications.
  • In another embodiment, blueprints may be created, for example, using some or all of the steps in the method outlined in FIG. 3. In some embodiments, a request may be made to import a digital image. Some digital images may be more or less suitable for creating blueprints. In some embodiments, the image may contain part or all of the necessary blueprints. In some embodiments, additional images may be required, in other embodiments, additional information may be required or both additional images and additional information may be required. When an image is imported, a determination is made regarding its sufficiency. If it is sufficient, a blueprint is generated. The game server or other controlling entity may automatically assign particular materials to the construction of a virtual object or may request a list of materials to be used. In addition to the raw materials and natural resources to be used in constructing a virtual object, there may be attributes imbued into the virtual object. The specifics of particular attributes, for example certain spells, powers, healing, longevity, invincibility, armor piercing ability, clean running, accelerating, strength or any other attribute found in virtual objects, may be requested as part of the formation of the blueprint. Information regarding attributes may be stored, for example in attribute database 137. Attribute Database 137 may include information such as, attribute ID, amount, availability, descriptor, last market value, strength, maximum allowed, remaining amount, available date range, restrictions on use and levels.
  • Once the specifications for a virtual object are provided, determinations may be made regarding the amount of materials and the skills required to produce an object. For example, system 100 may use some or all of the following steps in order to determine the required amounts of resources:
      • 1. Receive a request to assign resources to components a virtual blueprint
      • 2. Output blueprint and resource assignment request for each component of blueprint
      • 3. Receive resource assignments for each component of a blueprint
      • 4. Generate resource quantities necessary to assemble item components based on blueprint specifications.
      • 5. Store Resource Quantities with Blueprint
      • 6. Determine the attributes of an item based on the blueprint design, the components, and the resources specified to assemble the components.
      • 7. Store blueprint file with resource allocations and attributes.
  • Each blueprint created may be stored, for example in blueprint database 112 which may include information such as creator, licensing structure, royalty payments, valuation, game environments in which it may be used, game environments in which it has been used, ID, assignee, class, status, content, registration date, and expiration date. Blueprints which have been used to create objects in particular game environments or are allowed in specific game environments may be stored, for example, in blueprint database 128 which may include information such as creator, licensing structure, royalty payments, valuation, ID, assignee, registration date, expiration date, number of times used, import and export restrictions, permitted game environments, allowable quantity, skills needed, skill levels, import and export restrictions, and materials needed.
  • Virtual natural resources and raw materials used to make virtual objects from blueprints may be imported, exchanged, purchased, borrowed, found, stolen, conjured, invented, programmed, harvested, gathered, mined, husbanded, grown, distilled, raised, leeched, pumped, drilled, purified or otherwise acquired from the game environment. Information regarding virtual natural resources may be stored, for example, in natural resources database 136 and may include information such as, but not limited to: resource ID, resource descriptor, last market value, maximum allowed, issued to date, remaining to be issued, permit price, available date range, resource attributes 1-n, renewability, perishability, decay rate and level in which it exists. Raw material database 130 may include, for example, raw material ID, raw material type, location, first date available, conditions for use, conditions for discovery, conditions for availability, max quantity allowed, quantity issued, quantity remaining, license or permit fee, resource attributes, renewability, level at which it exists, expiration date, natural decay rate/perishability factor, and available times during the game. In certain embodiments, all the necessary materials to create a virtual object must be assembled prior to initiation of the assembly project. In other embodiments, such materials may be provided and/or arrive at other points after project initiation, for example, such materials may arrive “just in time” so as to minimize the associated storage costs, if any.
  • A character may request a virtual item be assembled or otherwise generated from a blueprint, or may request to assemble, purchase or otherwise accquire the virtual object. In one embodiment, the requesting character's assets may be inventoried to determine if they possess the necessary funds, materials and skills or the rights to receive the necessary materials when needed to make, accquire or otherwise receive the requested virtual object. In some embodiments, players and/or characters may need to have particular types of accounts in order to assemble blueprints or make objects from blueprints. Information regarding the character and the player controlling the character may be stored, for example in player database 142 and player character database 144, respectively. Player database 142 may include information such as, but not limited to, player ID, the character(s) controlled by the player, blueprints imported, design concepts, objects created, billing information, account information and personal information. Player character database 144 may include information such as, but not limited to, character ID, player ID, assets, skills, skill levels, obligations, objects created, objects requested, raw materials, natural resources, rates for use of skills, and game environment access.
  • If a character(s) does not have the necessary materials or reasonable access to the necessary materials to make the required virtual object, the name of a supplier may be requested or proffered. If they do not have the necessary skills, the requesting character may request the game server, an NPC or another character assemble the object. Information regarding the skills and NPCs available in a particular environment may be stored for example, in skill database 134 and NPC database 132 respectively. Skill database 134 may contain information such as the skill ID, type, conditions for use, available era(s), characters with skills, NPCs with skills, skill levels, and use of skills. NPC database 132 may include information such as NPC ID, type, location, conditions for use, license or permit fee, available eras, costs for use, and skills. In some embodiments, the particular characters or NPCs with the necessary skills may not exist in that game environment. Information regarding players with characters or NPCs with the necessary skills in other game environments may be stored, for example, in player database 116. Player database 116 may include information regarding the players in a virtual environment, their ID(s), the character(s) they control, the skills and assets of the characters, account information, billing information and the game environments in which the players have characters.
  • In one embodiment, a character may only be able to request the formation of blueprints for virtual objects that they have the ability or permission to assemble. In another embodiment, a player character may only be able to request the formation of blueprints for virtual objects that they can use or sell. In a further embodiment a player character may request or provide any blueprint.
  • In one embodiment, exchanges may be used to acquire the necessary blueprints and resources for assembling a virtual object. The value of items on an exchange and the determination of the value to different games and game environments may be calculated by any means applicable. In one embodiment, exchange multiplier database 140 may track the exchange ID number and track or store the multiplier number calculated by exchange multiplier determination program 124 for purchases and acquisitions of blueprints, objects or resources between exchanges, game environments, game environment jurisdictions and/or games. In some embodiments, game attribute valuation program 122 may track and/or calculate the market for particular game attributes, whether finished objects or parts of objects.
  • Payment terms for items acquired on exchanges or through other means may be established by the game, players and/or agreed to between the requesting player and the supplier player or NPC. Terms may be created using any financial arrangement including but not limited to: cash up front, partial initial payment and lump sum upon completion, barter, trade, virtual loan, credit card or other financing instrument, series of equal or unequal payments, total amount upon completion, etc. Methods to provide for use of credit cards and other financial instruments in virtual environments are disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 11/279,991, 11/380,489, and 11/421,025, each of which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety for all purposes.
  • In some embodiments, there may be taxes due on the acquired materials. Such taxes may include taxes such as a sales tax, labor tax, land tax, employment tax, and/or capital gains tax. In some embodiments, taxes may be incurred when a resource or other objects is obtained, on a per turn basis, on an escalating or declining scale over time, as payments over time with interest, when a character dies or otherwise leaves the game or any combination thereof.
  • Once the blueprints are created and the resources and skills are acquired or hired, a virtual object may be assembled, or otherwise acquired, e.g., purchased, exchanged, etc. Such an assembly or acquisition may take place using any means applicable. In one embodiment, the actions of characters and NPCs may be executed using game item assembly program 120. Such a program may use some or all of the following steps to create an item:
      • 1. Receive a request to assemble a virtual item from a blueprint and resource list.
      • 2. Generate and output a list of resources required to assemble the item.
      • 3. Receive resources required to assemble the item.
      • 4. Generate and output a list of skills needed to assemble the item.
      • 5. Receive one or more player character inputs indicating required skills are present.
      • 6. Flag item record as “skill applied.”
      • 7. Assemble item when all necessary skills have been applied.
      • 8. Generate and output a virtual fee for assembling the item.
      • 9. Receive payment of fee.
      • 10. Output virtual item to player character(s) who requested assembly of the item.
        In the event that the blueprint is owned or licensed by or through a third party, a licensing fee may be required. In such embodiments, some or all of the following steps may be used to determine the licensing fee and transfer payment:
      • 1. Receive a request to create an item from a blueprint.
      • 2. Generate and output a licensing amount to the player character.
      • 3. Receive an acceptance of the licensing amount from the player character.
      • 4. Generate a blueprint license number.
      • 5. Create a new item record including blueprint license number.
      • 6. Generate and output a list of necessary virtual skills, resources, blueprints, and components necessary to assemble item.
      • 7. Receive necessary skills, resources, blueprints and components necessary to assemble item.
      • 8. Create item.
      • 9. Output item to item requester.
      • 10. Output licensing payment, less applicable fees to owner of blueprint(s).
  • The creation and assembly of an object (or other creation or acquisition) may accrue or require the payment of one or more types of taxes. Such taxes may be progressive, graduated or flat. In some embodiments, taxes may be due immediately. In other embodiments, taxes may be due upon sale of the item being taxed. Taxes may include, but are not limited to, sales tax, labor tax, land tax, employment tax and capital gains tax. In some embodiments, the type and/or amount of the tax may vary depending on the item or the character acquiring or selling the item. In certain embodiments, taxes may be collected in the form of indentured services. Information regarding taxes to be applied may be stored, for example, in tax database 318. Tax database 318 may include information including, but not limited to, tax schedules for creating blueprints, creating items, and buying and selling items and blueprints.
  • Once assembled, information regarding finished objects may be stored, for example, in new item database 118. New item database 118 may include information such as new item ID, originating character ID, creating character ID, required skills for replication, new item digital images, new item algorithms, new item blueprints, new item materials, new item construction cost, import and export restrictions, and availability.
  • As well as being used to create virtual objects, blueprints may also be used to protect the designs of objects, resources, avatars, items, construction methods, and/or use of any of the forgoing, and/or any characters and players or player characters. In some embodiments, once created, each blueprint may need to be registered. Such registration may take place using any means applicable, for example, using blueprint registration program 110. In other embodiments, blueprints may be examined, either partially or fully using automated or manual methods, in order to ensure that the designs do not exceed a similarity threshold of designs by other characters or players. In further embodiments, blueprints may be reviewed by a panel of experts. In some embodiments, blueprints may be compared to real world patents, trademarks, registrations and copyrights. A system for patent office structure and management has been disclosed by applicants in U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/727,191, which is incorporated herein by reference. Such system may by employed or incorporated in the presently described embodiment. Blueprints may also have fixed, variable or renewable expiry points after which the objects depicted within them may be created by anyone.
  • FIG. 4 provides an exemplary system 200 that may be used to provide the embodiment described above. As shown, system 200 may include a patent office server 202, a game environment server 204, and an exchange server 206. Patent Office Server 202 may include a blueprint registration program 208, an examination and registration program 210, blueprint expiration program 212, and blueprint licensing configuration 214. Patent Office Server 202 may further include a plurality of databases such as registered blueprint database 224 and examiner database 226. Such a system may provide communications using any applicable means, including, for example, an alerts system to notify interested parties that a blueprint has been submitted for registration and/or patent review and/or issuance. A suitable system for providing alerts to game players is described, for example, in co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/676,848, which is hereby incorporated by reference.
  • Game environment server 204 may include programs such as item creation and blueprint registration program 216, create item from blueprint program 218, create contract to create item from blueprint program 220, accept contract to create item from blueprint 222 as well as various databases such as player database 228, player character database 230, available skills database 223, available NPC database 234, and available natural resources database 236.
  • Exchange server 206 may include blueprint marketplace database 238 and available blueprint database 240.
  • Blueprints may be used to design and build any object to be used in a virtual environment. In some embodiments, the types of blueprints that may be created and the type of virtual objects that may be built may depend in part on the virtual environment in which the character resides. Each design for a virtual object may generate one or more blueprints for construction. Blueprints may contain all or some of the design elements of a concept or may contain a general outline of the object sought to be replicated. In one embodiment, blueprints may be based on digital renderings of objects. In another embodiment, blueprints may be based on computer readable code created by a player or character. In some embodiments, part or all of a blueprint may be acquired, for example, from a design database which may include images of or programs for items that may be used as part of virtual objects, as inspiration for virtual objects, blueprints for objects created by other players, and decorative elements. In other embodiments, blueprints may be based on a combination of digital images, information from the design database, other blueprints, and/or computer readable code.
  • Each blueprint created may be stored, for example, in registered blueprint database 224, which may include information such as creator, licensing structure, royalty payments, valuation, game environments in which it may be used, game environments in which it has been used, ID, assignee, class, status, content, registration date, expiration date, number of times used, allowable quantity, skills needed, import and export restrictions, and materials needed. In other embodiments, only registered blueprints may be stored.
  • In some embodiments, once created, each blueprint may need to be registered. Registration may occur in each game environment; for the game as a whole; through a central registration authority that oversees one or more games; or any combination thereof. Such registration may take place using any means applicable, for example, using blueprint registration program 208.
  • In other embodiments, the registration of a blueprint may require examination of the blueprint in order to determine that it does not infringe anyone else's blueprint, and/or to verify that it does not infringe any virtual or real world patents, registrations, copyrights or trademarks. Such an examination may occur by any means applicable, for example through a governing entity or through a patent office. In one embodiment, a blueprint may be analyzed using various rules based expert systems or genetic algorithms to determine the degree of difference between one design and another. If the degree of difference is not of an adequate percentage, the blueprint can be rejected by the patent office system of the game server. Such an analysis may take place, for example, using patent examination and registration program 210. In certain embodiments, notice may be given that one or more blueprints are in a queue to be examined. Such notice may be provided by any applicable means, for example, via instant message or e-mail. In certain embodiments, players or player characters may desire the review of their blueprint(s) to take priority over one or more other players or player characters. In such instances, players or player characters may have their review expedited or receive higher priority using any applicable means. For example, the player or player character may opt to pay a fee to receive priority status, moving up within a queue one or more positions. Methods and systems for priority queuing documents are described, for example, in co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 11/462,621 and 11/611,024, both of which are hereby incorporated by reference.
  • In another embodiment, system 200 may be configured to determine if a blueprint can be registered by performing steps such as:
      • 1. Receive a blueprint filing, including a player character inventor ID, a virtual entity assignee ID, a blueprint design, a blueprint class and subclass, required resources and skills to assemble the blueprint, and required other blueprints to assemble the blueprint.
      • 2. Compare filed blueprint to existing filed blueprints and generate a similarity rating.
      • 3. If similarity rating is greater than allowable threshold, flag blueprint as requiring further examination.
      • 4. If similarity rating is less than allowable threshold, generate a registration number.
      • 5. Assign registration number to blueprint record.
      • 6. Notify blueprint owner that blueprint has been registered.
      • 7. Post blueprint in patent office.
  • If the system is unable to make a determination as to the originality of a blueprint, a determination may be made by players, characters, or other third parties. In one embodiment, originality may be determined by a court of competent jurisdiction (in either the real or virtual world) which may or may not include a judge, arbiter, and/or a jury and/or another governing or administrative body or a group of players or player characters that has been established for the purpose of such review. In another embodiment, each creator may defend his blueprint. In yet another embodiment, blueprints may be reviewed by a panel who may vote on the originality of a blueprint. For example, there may be a group of experts in a particular field, or of a particular class of blueprints, or characters and/or player who are knowledgeable of design concepts. Such experts may be chosen by the game server, elected, or volunteer for the position.
  • In another embodiment, examination is performed by an Examiner. In one embodiment, examiners are hired and governed by laws and rules, such as the laws and rules of the United States of America, the USPTO, Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, European Patent Convention, European Patent Office, Japan Patent Office, World Intellectual Property Organization, African Regional Intellectual Property Organization, Canadian Intellectual Property Office, Eurasian Patent Organization, European Patent Office, German Patent Office, Indian Patent Office, IP Australia, Japan Patent Office, Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle, Irish Patent Office, State Intellectual Property Office of China, Intellectual Property Office of Taiwan, Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, Intellectual Property Office of Philippines, United Kingdom Patent Office or by laws, rules and regulations established by the game manufacturer, one or more players in the game designated for such purpose, any other body elected by the players and/or appointed by the game manufacturer, and/or any other entity that is duly authorized to appoint and/or hire examiners. In some embodiments, Examiners must agree that they cannot create or be involved with the creation of blueprints in the field of use for blueprints that they agree to examine.
  • In some embodiments, the role of Examiner may be performed by NPCs. In other embodiments, Examiners may be other characters. In a further embodiment, Examiners may be players. According to one embodiment, a virtual or real fee can be charged to a player character who wants to register a blueprint. Such fees may be fixed or variable or fixed and variable at different points in the game and may be determined arbitrarily, based on the resources needed to make the object in the blueprint, the complexity of the blueprint, the time or skills or resources required to review the blueprint, the number or quality of blueprints the character has previously registered, the availability of Examiners, the backlog for registration and/or examination, market prices, real world examination fees, the current, anticipated or requested position within a queue of blueprints to be examined, or any combination thereof. In some embodiments, there may be fees paid to accelerate examination. A portion of this fee can be paid to other player characters who are willing to examine the filed blueprint that is pending registration. In another embodiment, Examiners can be volunteers who may or may not be trained or may or may not be required to have or obtain certain other qualifications. Information regarding examiners may be stored, for example in Examiner database 226. Examiner database 226 may include information such as, but not limited to, examiner ID, examiner class, examiner skills, examiner qualifications, examiner subclass, and examination history. In some embodiments, examination may take place using a combination of Examiners and automated algorithms. For example, the server may select the most closely related blueprints and present them to an Examiner for the final determination regarding whether or not it can or should be granted registration. Such a method may use some or all of the following steps:
      • 1. Output a blueprint that has a similarity rating higher than allowable threshold to a player character.
      • 2. Receive opinion from player character that blueprint can be registered.
      • 3. Generate a registration number.
      • 4. Assign registration number to blueprint record.
      • 5. Notify blueprint owner that blueprint has been registered.
      • 6. Post blueprint in patent office.
  • In another embodiment, examination may occur using a method such as that outlined in FIG. 5 where an initial screening is made comparing a blueprint to registered blueprints. If the threshold of similarity is not exceeded, the blueprint is registered. If the threshold is exceeded, the blueprint to be registered and the similar blueprint(s) are given to an Examiner to review. If the Examiner disagrees with the assessment, the Examiner may register the blueprint. If the Examiner agrees with the assessment that the blueprints are too closely related, a rejection may be sent to the creator or other character seeking to register the blueprint. The creator or other character seeking to register the blueprint may then present arguments regarding the differences between the blueprints. If the Examiner is generally convinced, the blueprint may be registered. If the Examiner is not generally convinced, registration may be denied. In some embodiments, it may be possible to bribe the Examiner. However, according to some embodiment, in order to bribe and examiner, a player made need to have developed or obtained special skills or points such as the “bribe” skill, or white collar crime skills or points.
  • Registration may serve to protect blueprints. In some embodiments, once a blueprint is registered or registration is applied for, unauthorized characters may not create objects using those blueprints. In other embodiments, virtual objects made from unlicensed or stolen blueprints may not be traded on the exchange. In some embodiments, blueprints are not actually fully or partially visible until the blueprint has been licensed for one time use. In further embodiments, there may be a black market or over the counter market for objects made from unlicensed blueprints. In yet another embodiment, there may be skills that allow the forging of blueprints or registrations.
  • The protection of blueprints may also be subject to certain limitations. For example, in some embodiments, registered blueprints may have an expiration date after which anyone can use them. An expiration date may be based on a particular length of time since the blueprint was registered, a particular event occurring, a population density, a mission being completed, the number of times the blueprint has been used, a licensing stream, a royalty amount, or any combination thereof. Expiration may be determined, for example, by using blueprint expiration program 212. In another embodiment, certain blueprints may qualify for added protection, for example, the blueprints may be encrypted to prevent unauthorized access, use or reproduction. In certain cases, if the blueprint registration has expired, such encryption may be removed.
  • In some embodiments, blueprints may be marked as expired. System 200 may be configured to expire a registration by performing steps such as:
      • 1. Determine that a blueprint has reached its expiration date.
      • 2. Mark blueprint as expired.
  • Once they are created, blueprints may be sold or licensed. Such transactions may take place through any means applicable, for example using an exchange. An embodiment of an exchange is depicted in FIG. 4 in exchange server 206. Exchange server 206 may include a blueprint marketplace DB such as blueprint marketplace database 238 which may include, for example, information such as, but not limited to, game environment ID, transaction fee, monthly fee, Information on blueprints available for purchase or licensing may be stored, for example in available blueprints database 240 and may include information such as, but not limited to, blueprint number, blueprint price (by usage type), and number of uses remaining, expiration date, creator, conditions of sale, title, certificate of authenticity, examiner approval, electronic file wrapper, etc. In one embodiment, each creator of an item can set a price for his item or blueprint, in whole or in part. Other player characters can create competing blueprints for items and the marketplace can allow the blueprints to be sold competitively.
  • System 200 may be configured to post a blueprint on an exchange in order to transfer an assignee by performing some or all of the following steps:
      • 1. Receive an offer to sell a registered blueprint, including an offer price, a remaining edition number from a player character who controls a blueprint assignee.
      • 2. Store offer and post offer on exchange
        System 200 may be configured to allow the purchase of a registered blueprint on an exchange by performing steps such as:
      • 1. Receive a request to purchase a blueprint from a player character.
      • 2. Receive a new assignee name.
      • 3. Withdraw purchase price, including applicable fees, from new assignee account.
      • 4. Transfer blueprint to new assignee.
      • 5. Transmit purchase price, less applicable fees, to former assignee of blueprint patent.
  • In another embodiment, blueprints may be licensed or sublicensed. Licenses or sublicenses can be exclusive or non-exclusive. Fees for licensing or sublicensing a blueprint may be fixed or variable or fixed or variable at different points of the game. In one embodiment, the licensing fee may be determined by any applicable means, including any fee based upon any one or more of: a reflection of the resources needed to create an item from the blueprint; the cost to use the item, the expected value or benefit of owning or using the item, the time remaining in the registration; the volume or number of items made; revenues for selling the items; taxes owed, generated or collected relating to the existence or use of the item, may include milestone payments; may include guaranteed minimums; upfront fees and a percentage; a percentage of the total item value on an exchange at the time the item is created; or any combination thereof. For example, a blueprint with a higher licensing percent fee may have a shorter life than a patent with a lower percent licensing fee or vice versa. For example, a player can receive a 10% license fee for a blueprint for one year or 10,000 units, or could receive a 5% license fee for a blueprint for three years or 30,000 units. In some embodiments, the license may have an effect on the life of the patent. For example, popular blueprints may have shorter or longer registration lives. In another example, the blueprint licensing fee can be reduced over time or when a certain number of units of an item have been created. For instance, a license to assemble an item from a blueprint can be $10 for the first year or 10,000 items, and $5 for the second year or second 20,000 items. In some embodiments, such fees may be additive in that the amounts paid by successive licensees may be lower.
  • Licensing arrangements may be negotiated directly between characters or using an arbitrator or exchange service, may be calculated using market prices, may be uniform, may be determined using a genetic or other learning algorithm, or using a program such as blueprint licensing configuration program 214. In one embodiment, a licensing arrangement may be determined using some or all of the following steps.
      • 1. Set Up Blueprint Licensing Structure.
      • 2. Receive a request to set up a blueprint licensing structure.
      • 3. Output allowable licensing structure, including per usage fee, usage type, maximum usage (limited edition number).
      • 4. Receive a licensing structure configuration.
      • 5. Store licensing structure configuration with blueprint.
  • In another embodiment, the use of a blueprint may require the payment of a royalty fee. Such a royalty fee may be a one time price, a recurring price, may be fixed or variable, may depend on the intended use or expected or actual derived benefit of the object, the complexity of the object, the resources used to make the object, the number of times the blueprint has been used, the amount of tax revenues expected, generated or collected, or any combination thereof. Such royalty fees may not confer ownership or exclusivity, but may confer the right to use a blueprint or have an object made from a particular blueprint or to permit others to do likewise.
  • Blueprints may be used to create virtual objects in the virtual environment. In some embodiments only registered blueprints may be used. In other embodiments, there may be ways to circumvent the registration requirement. In some embodiments, only the creator or licensor of the blueprint or characters designated by the creator of the blueprint may request objects be made using the blueprint. These blueprints could be registered with a central authority but not viewed by anyone other than authorized player characters or player character groups. When a request is made to construct or otherwise obtain or use a virtual object, the requesting character's assets may be inventoried to determine if they possess the necessary materials and skills to make the requested virtual object. In some embodiments, players and/or characters may need to have particular types of accounts in order to assemble blueprints or make objects from blueprints. Information regarding the character and the player controlling the character may be stored, for example in player database 228 and player character database 230, respectively. Player database 228 may include information such as, but not limited to, player ID, the character(s) controlled by the player, blueprints imported, design concepts, objects created, billing information, account information and personal information. Player character database 230 may include information such as, but not limited to, character ID, player ID, assets, skills, obligations, objects created, objects requested, raw materials, natural resources, attributes, rates for use of skills, blueprints invented, blueprints owned, and game environment access.
  • If they do not have the necessary materials, the name of a supplier may be requested or proffered In some embodiments, virtual objects may only be constructed with natural resources and raw materials that are found in that game environment. In other embodiments, additional natural resources and raw materials may be brought in from other game environments via an exchange. In other embodiments, an item can only be constructed from materials collected by the creator himself. Information regarding natural resources and raw materials may be stored, for example in available natural resources database 236. Available natural resources database 236 may include information such as, but not limited to, resource ID, resource descriptor, last market value, maximum allowed, issued to date, remaining to be issued, permit price, available date range, renewability, resource attributes 1-n, game environment where created, player character that created or found attribute, etc.
  • Characters may also be inventoried to determine if they have the necessary skills to construct a virtual object. If they do not have the necessary skills, the requesting character may request the game server, an NPC or another character assemble the object. Information regarding the skills and NPCs available in a particular environment may be stored for example, in skill database 232 and NPC database 234 respectively. Skill database 232 which may contain information such as the skill ID, type, conditions for use, available era(s), characters with skills, NPCs with skills, skill levels, and use of skills. NPC database 234 may include information such as NPC ID, type, location, conditions for use, license or permit fee, available eras, costs for use, and skills. In some embodiment, the particular characters or NPCs with the necessary skills may not exist in that game environment.
  • In some embodiments, exchanges may be used to acquire the necessary resources and additional blueprints for assembling or acquiring an object. In one embodiment, a blueprint can be posted on an exchange and player characters having the appropriate skills can bid to assemble or otherwise acquire the item. Such bids may or may not include the raw materials necessary to build the item. If raw materials are not included, the player making the request may be expected to supply, purchase or otherwise acquire (e.g., gather, conjure, pillage, plunder, or steal) the raw materials and/or the component parts. The player character who posted the item can then accept one of the bids posted on the exchange to assemble or acquire the item. In another embodiment, all resources required for a project may be purchased on an exchange. Such an exchange may be within a game environment, between game environments and/or between games.
  • Blueprints and resources including created objects, skills, virtual natural resources, attributes, virtual raw materials and NPCs exchanged between game environments or game servers may be uniform or may be exchanged using multipliers to recognize differences in supply and demand between game environments. Conversion rates may be determined by any means applicable. They may be fixed, on an automated trading system, or as determined by an exchange on the open market or any combination thereof. For example, conversion rates may be based on a comparison of the economies of two game environments, a comparison of a representative basket of goods, the number of player characters in each environment, the amount of a particular virtual asset available in a particular game environment, the amount of production of a virtual asset in the game environments or on any other number of market forces or comparable factors. For example, a gallon of oil may be converted to two gallons of oil when traded from War Craft to Second Life. In another embodiment, a barrel of oil may be converted into 1000 thistle seeds within a game environment, and/or a barrel of oil may be converted to 5000 thistle seeds when exchanged between two games. 5000 thistle seeds may be worth 3 shares of stock in a particular game environment. In a further embodiment, a game attribute coming from a first environment may be converted into a game attribute in a second environment by multiplying the value of the game attribute in the first environment by a conversion multiplier that reflects the difference in the labor (and/or other factors) required to build the game attribute in the first environment vs. the second environment. For example, 1000 thistle seeds in one game environment may be worth 700 thistle seeds in another game environment. Alternatively or additionally, the multiplier may be determined by any applicable means, for example the multiplier may take into account any differences in supply, availability, ease or cost of acquisition, current or expected demand, in game objectives, goals, cost of use, expected or actual taxes levied, accrued or collected, manufacture or the like, of the resources and/or the prevailing exchange rates of real or virtual currency, or any combination of the forgoing. Some game environments may be configured to produce items more optimally. These game environments may receive a premium valuation in that their labor is more or less efficient in that game environment than on other game servers. Alternatively, environments that produce such items more optimally may be penalized or a tariff may be imposed to create a more fair exchange between or among such game environments.
  • In one embodiment, some or all of the following steps may be used to convert assets between game environments.
      • 1. Generate a conversion value for two or more game environments based on activity and conditions in the game environments.
      • 2. Create a conversion multiplier based on the relationship of the values between two or more game environments.
      • 3. Store multiplier.
  • According to one embodiment, the game server or game environment manager can set a maximum trade amount per time period on blueprints, types or classes of blueprints, currency, resources and other available items including finished products both in the game environment and between game environments.
  • In another embodiment, import or export taxes may be imposed. Such taxes may be a percentage of the value of the import or based on the amount per unit of the import. They may be imposed by any applicable means, including by the game server, game owner, server owner, game environment owner(s), a character or group of characters or any combination thereof. In some embodiments, there may be agreements between or among games and/or game environments regarding import and export taxes. Taxes may be manually or automatically adjusted based on taxes imposed by other servers and/or game environments or imposed unilaterally.
  • In some embodiments, some or all items in a game environment may have a provenance. In order to be listed on an exchange, blueprints, natural resources, raw materials, attributes, skills and NPCs may have identification numbers associated with them. According to one embodiment, the central system can query the database of all items in existence to determine if an item exists that has an identical number to another item. If more than one item exists with the same number, one or more of them may be identified as a forgery and the item(s) can be flagged as such and/or submitted for further review to the appropriate governing body and/or player characters and/or game servers, etc. Alternatively, a query can be made against an item to determine if the serial number matches the provenance on file, if the item does not match its database entry, it can be flagged as a forgery or marked as an item that should or may be reviewed. If an item is determined to be or may be a forgery or is flagged as a forgery or flagged for additional review, the system may send an alert to any one or more of: the object's owner, manufacturer, licensor, licensee, exchange system, video game, virtual environment, financial institution, provider of services, e.g., an NPC, or any other interested or affected third party. System 200 may be configured to find duplicate items or forged items by performing some or all of the following steps:
      • 1. Retrieve an ID number for a virtual asset that is posted on an exchange
      • 2. Determine if ID number is a valid number
      • 3. Determine if ID number is unique
      • 4. If appropriate, send alert
      • 5. Remove or quarantine item from exchange if ID number in not valid or unique
  • Once the necessary blueprints, materials, skills, NPCs and/or other resources are acquired, an object may need to be assembled. Assembly may take place using any means applicable, for example item creation and blueprint registration program 216. In one embodiment, a character may only be able to request the formation of virtual objects that they have the ability to assemble. In another embodiment, a player character may only be able to request the formation of virtual objects that they can use. In a further embodiment a player character may request the formation of any virtual object. Virtual objects may be created by any means applicable. For example, in one embodiment, virtual objects may be created using create item from blueprint program 218.
  • In another embodiment, system 200 may be configured to create an item from a blueprint by performing steps such as:
      • 1. Receive a request to create an item from a blueprint from a player character.
      • 2. Generate and Output a licensing amount to the player character.
      • 3. Receive an acceptance of the licensing amount from the player character.
      • 4. Generate a blueprint license number.
      • 5. Create a new item record, including blueprint license number.
      • 6. Generate and Output a list of necessary virtual skills, resources, blueprints, and components necessary to assemble item.
      • 7. Receive necessary skills, resources, blueprints, and components necessary to assemble item.
      • 8. Create item.
      • 9. Output Item to Item Creator
      • 10. Output licensing payment, less applicable fees to patent assignee.
  • In some embodiments, characters may hire other characters or NPCs to create objects for them. Hiring arrangements may be made by any means applicable, for example using a contract. Contracts may be created using any means applicable, for example, create contract to create item from blueprint program 220. System 200 may be configured to post a contract to build an item from a blueprint by performing some or all of the following steps:
      • 1. Create a contract to build an item, including the item record, the date of completion, the necessary skills, the actual virtual assets need to assemble the item, and a contract price from a player character.
      • 2. Store contract offer.
      • 3. Withdraw contract offer price, plus applicable fees, from player character account.
  • In another embodiment, contracts may be negotiated between characters. After a series of counter offers, the final contract may be accepted, for example using accept contract to create item from blueprint program 222.
  • For some objects the skill level may be greater than the skill that any one or more player character(s) or NPCs in the game environment has or can have. The game server can list all of the skills necessary to assemble the item and list other player characters or NPCs who have the required skill level to assemble components of the item. The game server may also list any general contractors (within the current or any other connected game) who are available and have demonstrated the skills, connections, etc., necessary to acquire the necessary resources and labor to build a virtual object. Such player and/or contractor listings may be listed alphabetically, or sorted according to any one or more of: experience, other player ratings or rankings, quality, quantity/capacity, price for similar or identical items, bid, availability, reputation, past legal violations, e.g., prior patent infringement or lawsuits or claims by other players, etc. The player character can immediately contact characters who have the necessary skills and/or other desired attributes to build the item and request bids to assemble all or part of the in game object and/or control or manage the process for the player requesting the item(s). In another embodiment, characters or owners of NPCs willing to sell their skills may advertise. In yet another embodiment, characters or players wishing to have objects assembled may request bids to assemble the object.
  • Contracts to hire other characters or NPCs to make items from blueprints or to design blueprints for particular concepts may be assembled by any means applicable. In one embodiment, standard contracts are generated. In another embodiment they may be negotiated between characters, such negotiations may be conducted by using an existing or boilerplate agreement, or they may begin without any starting template. In yet another embodiment, they may be negotiated by third parties, for example, between guilds. In yet another example, contracts may be a combination of the above.
  • An exemplary system 300 configured to provide a virtual environment as described above is shown in FIG. 6. As shown in FIG. 6, system 300 includes a master game server 302 for running the game and a game environment server 304 for one or more game environments within the game. Master game server 302 may host a program such as game environment creation and set up program 306, digital file import program 314 and subroutine import program 316. Master game server 302 may further host a plurality of databases including, for example, game environment database 308, player database 310 and new item database 312. Game environment server 304 may host a plurality of programs including, for example, object creation program 320, game item assembly program 322, game attribute valuation program 324, exchange multiplier determination program 326, and contract generation program 328.
  • Game Environment server 304 may include a plurality of databases including, for example, new item database 332, raw material database 330, NPC database 334, skill database 336, natural resources database 338, new item contract database 340, exchange multiplier database 342, player database 344, character database 346, and blueprint database 348.
  • The ability to have another character, NPC or the game server create a blueprint or a virtual object in a virtual environment may depend in some part on the type of game environment and/or the game in which a character resides. For example, particular game environments may have limitations on the types of objects that may be created in that game environment, there may be limitations based on the era of the game environment, the resources in the game environment, the current or expected or desired game objectives or goals, the current or expected number of existing objects, the current number of objects already under construction, the type of current or expected objects, or the type of programs that may be created and used in a game environment. In some embodiments, the limitation may be on the object in its entirety, may be on making or using the object, in whole or in part, in that environment, or may be on making that object with particular features or limitations. For example, certain environments may be environmentally conscious and therefore do not allow smelting to occur in that environment, however they may allow the importation of finished extracts or the product of finished extracts to be brought into the environment. Such regulations may be determined during game environment creation and setup or may be determined as the game evolves. In one embodiment, the rules and regulations for a game environment may be formulated by any applicable means, for example, when the game environment is formed, using game environment creation and setup program 306. In another embodiment, the rules and regulations for a game environment may evolve as the game progresses. Such information may be stored in a game environment database, for example, in game environment database 308. In some embodiments, game environment database 308 may store information regarding the game environment such as the game environment ID, identification of the owners, percentage ownership, governance structure, configurations, natural resources, raw materials, allowable technologies, prohibited technologies, allowable objects, prohibited objects, import restrictions, export restrictions, creation date, fee structure, or any other information relating to the game environment.
  • Design concepts for objects may be acquired by the game environment by any means applicable. In one embodiment, design concepts may be imported using digital file import program 314. In another embodiment, design concepts may be imported using subroutine import program 316. Once an imported design concept is determined to be acceptable to a particular game environment, the image or subroutine may be converted into blueprints for creating the requested virtual object. Blueprints may be stored, for example in blueprint database 348 which may include information regarding the blueprint, the creator, registration date, expiration date, costs, skills required, assets required and permitted game environments. Blueprints may contain all or some of the design elements of a concept or may contain a general outline of the object sought to be replicated. In one embodiment, blueprints may include information regarding the materials to be used and/or the skills or skill levels required to assemble an object. In some embodiments, some or all of a blueprint may be acquired, for example, from a design database and/or via an exchange or repository of such blueprints. A design database may include images of or programs for items that may be used as part of virtual objects, as inspiration for virtual objects, blueprints for objects created by other players, subroutines and programs for virtual object, and decorative elements. Combinations of original designs, images and stored designs, images, blueprints and decorative elements may be compiled using, for example, object creation program 320.
  • When an image is imported, a determination is made regarding its sufficiency. If it is sufficient, a blueprint is generated. The game server or other controlling entity may automatically assign particular materials to the construction of an object or may request a list of materials to be used.
  • Virtual natural resources and raw materials used to make virtual objects may be purchased, borrowed, found, harvested, gathered, stolen, conjured, invented, mined, programmed, husbanded, grown, distilled, raised, leeched, pumped, drilled, purified or otherwise acquired from the game environment. Information regarding virtual natural resources may be stored, for example, in Natural Resources Database 338 and may include information such as, but not limited to: resource ID, resource descriptor, last market value, maximum allowed, issued to date, remaining to be issued, permit price, available date range, resource attributes 1-n, renewability, perishability, decay rate and level in which it exists. Raw material database 330 may include, for example, raw material ID, raw material type, location, first date available, conditions for use, conditions for discovery, conditions for availability, max quantity allowed, quantity issued, quantity remaining, license or permit fee, resource attributes, renewability, taxes, tariffs, ecological or environmental restrictions, level at which it exists, expiration date, natural decay rate/perishability factor, and available times during the game.
  • In addition to the raw materials and natural resources to be used in constructing an object, there may be attributes imbued into the object, for example certain spells, powers, healing, longevity, invincibility, armor piercing ability, clean running, accelerating, strength, healing or any other attribute generally found in virtual objects. In some embodiments, objects with such attributes may required a payment of an additional tax or fee to include or use such attributes. Once the specifications for an object are provided, determinations may be made regarding the amount of materials and the skills required to produce an object to match the blueprint.
  • Once the blueprints are finalized or as part of the blueprint design and/or registration process, contracts may be entered into for the formation or acquisition of the object. In one embodiment, a player character may only be able to form contracts for the creation or acquisition of objects that they can use, license or sell. In a further embodiment a player character may enter into contracts to construct or acquire any virtual objects for which they have the necessary skills, licenses, permits or permission. In some embodiments, players and/or characters may need to have particular types of accounts in order to assemble blueprints, make objects for others from blueprints, or enter into contracts.
  • The requesting character's assets may be inventoried to determine if they possess the necessary assets to pay for a requested virtual object, and/or the materials that may be used by the contractor to make the virtual object. Information regarding the character and the player controlling the character may be stored, for example, in player database 344 and player character database 346, respectively. Player database 344 may include information such as, but not limited to, player ID, the character(s) controlled by the player, blueprints imported, design concepts, objects created, subroutines imported, billing information, account information and personal information. Player character database 346 may include information such as, but not limited to, character ID, player ID, assets, skills, skill levels, obligations, objects created, objects requested, raw materials, natural resources, rates for use of skills, and game environment access.
  • In one embodiment, system 300 may be configured to generate a new item contract using some or all of the following steps:
      • 1. Generate blue print of item from digital images from a first player character.
      • 2. Receive List of Materials
      • 3. Determine material amounts.
      • 4. Create and save request to assemble contract.
      • 5. Receive request to fulfill contract.
      • 6. Receive price to fulfill contract.
      • 7. Output price to fulfill contract to first player character.
      • 8. Receive acceptance price.
      • 9. Output acceptance of price to second player character.
      • 10. Create and store contract.
  • In one embodiment, contracts to create an object may be generated using some or all of the method steps in FIG. 7. For example, the game server may receive a request to import an image. If the image is sufficient to generate a blueprint, a blueprint may be generated. Information may be requested regarding the materials and attributes to be used to assemble the object and a list of skills and other resources required to make the object. In some embodiments, the contract may include additional terms such as a time limit, a price, one or more digital photos of an item to assemble, a list of materials the object needs to be made from, and a list of additional attributes or specific requirements that the requester wants included in the object and/or any required permits, skills, attributes or other terms and conditions or any combination of the forgoing. Packages may be put together regarding the requirements of the requestor in order to solicit bids to do the work. Bids may be submitted by any player character, NPC or third party including cost estimates, scheduling, and employees. The bids may be submitted to the requesting character who may or may not accept a bid.
  • In one embodiment, a bid may be met by a counteroffer. System 300 may be configured to negotiate a contract using some or all of the following steps:
      • 1. Submit bid on proposed contract.
      • 2. Receive a counter offer to a contract offer to assemble an item from a blueprint, including a counter offer price and assembly date from a player character
      • 3. Store and output offer to the player character who initially created the contract offer.
        If a bid is accepted, a contract may be generated, for example using contract generation program 328. An accepted contract may be stored, for example, in new item contract database 340. In one embodiment, system 300 may be configured to accept a contract to build an item by performing steps such as:
      • 1. Create a contract to build an item, including the item record, the date of completion, the necessary skills, the actual virtual assets need to assemble the item, and a contract price from a player character.
      • 2. Store contract offer.
      • 3. Withdraw contract offer price, plus applicable fees, from player character account.
  • In some embodiments, no single character or NPC may have all of the necessary skills or resources to construct an object. It may therefore be necessary to assemble a group of characters and/or NPCs. Bids may therefore be submitted on a part, sub-part or the entirety of the contract. In one embodiment, a contract may be entered into with a general contractor who is then responsible for hiring, finding, organizing, managing, and paying for all necessary resources and/or players or NPCs to build an item. For example, to build a car, a general contractor or virtual auto company, may create an assembly plant, and receive various component parts, e.g., frames, body panels, seats, air bags, engines, tires, wheels, etc., from various sub-manufacturers. The auto company assembles the car, but many other companies build the various component parts and many others still, may provide sub-components and or partially finished materials, and/or raw materials all going toward the construction of the single object: car.
  • An evaluation may be made of the materials and other resources owned by the contractor or requesting character. If they do not have the necessary materials, the name of a supplier may be requested. If they do have the necessary materials, an assessment regarding their skills may be made. If they have the necessary skills, they may be permitted to make the object. If they do not have the necessary skills, they be required to find a sub contractor. Information regarding the skills and NPCs available in a particular environment may be stored for example, in skill database 336 and NPC database 334 respectively. Skill database 336 may contain information such as the skill ID, type, conditions for use, available era(s), characters with skills, skill levels, and use of skills. NPC database 334 may include information such as NPC ID, type, location, conditions for use, license or permit fee, available eras, costs for use, and skills. In some embodiment, the particular characters or NPCs with the necessary skills may not exist in that game environment. Information regarding players with characters or NPCs with the necessary skills in other game environments may be stored, for example, in Player database 310. Player database 310 may include information regarding the players in a virtual environment, their ID(s), the character(s) they control, the skills and assets of the characters, billing information and the game environments in which the players have characters. The costs for assembling the virtual object may be determined in whole or in part based on who assembles the virtual object, the current era, game objectives or goals, the cost charged to other players or player characters to assemble similar or the same object, the number of objects and/or the time used to assemble the object(s), the age of the player or player character, taxes, various fees or tariffs, the number and type of tools and/or NPC's used during assembly, the relative or actual or perceived quality of one or more of the components, construction or other loan interest charges and/or fees, the plant or other equipment used in manufacture or assembly, union or other dues, artificial fees to encourage or discourage current or planned production, protection fees paid to the mafia or other surreptitious parties, costs to pay for military or other government protection, or any combination of the forgoing.
  • Once the necessary skills, raw materials, natural resources and NPCs (and/or sub-components) for making an object have been assembled, the contract may be fulfilled. System 300 may fulfill a new item contract using some or all of the following steps:
      • 1. Receive an acceptance of a contract offer to assemble an item from a blueprint.
      • 2. Receive an indication that a contract has been completed.
      • 3. Flag item record as complete.
      • 4. Transmit payment for fulfilling contract, less applicable fees, to player character.
    Such routines may be executed, for example, using game item assembly program 322.
  • Outsourcing construction of an object may result in fees and/or taxes such as labor or employment taxes. In some embodiments, tax rates may be variable or fixed, or variable or fixed at different points in the game. Such taxes may be progressive, graduated, or flat. They may depend on a variety of factors including, but not limited to, the total or per turn wealth of a player character, the race class and skills of a player character, the age of a player character, the level of a player character, whether a player character is in possession of certain game attributes, whether a player character is in possession of a certain technology or skill, the size of a player character's family, the citizenship of player characters, the guild of a player character, the number of NPCs employed by a player character, and/or the land parcels owned by a player character.
  • In some embodiments, permits may be required to gather resources or to assemble objects. Such permits may apply to a particular industry, a particular type of virtual object, a particular skill, a particular resource, and/or a particular project or any combination thereof. In some embodiments, permits may be needed to construct or acquire certain types of virtual resources or objects in particular game environments. In other embodiments permits may be limited to a particular game environment or may apply across game environments. The virtual permit may be a one-time fee and/or may require periodic payments that are fixed or variable, which may be based upon the total value of a particular project, the industry in general, the amount of resources that will be required to build a particular project, the amount of revenue the expected or actual revenues that the project generates or might generate, the amount of taxes and/or other fees that the object or the project generates or might generate, the number of characters or other entities applying for permits, the population density of a particular game environment, vote by a group of player characters and/or an entity or player character elected to represent the player characters, the game manufacturer, by the game, market prices, or any combination of the foregoing. In some embodiments, permits may be acquired by any applicable means, including, for example, purchasing them from other characters or stealing or forging them. In other embodiments, permits may be obtained from official sources through the use of bribery.
  • According to one embodiment, game server 300 may be configured to perform some or all of the following steps to issue a permit:
      • 1. Receive a request from a player character, group of player characters, or one or more third parties to acquire a permit.
      • 2. Determine if there is an available permit for the virtual resource the player characters wish to acquire.
      • 3. If there is an available permit determine and output a permit fee.
      • 4. Receive an acceptance and payment for the permit fee.
        In one embodiment, virtual objects may not be constructed without the necessary permits and/or without paying a bribe to avoid obtaining one or more permits. In another embodiment, virtual objects may be constructed but may not be traded on exchanges if the necessary permits have not been obtained or the necessary bribes have been paid or a combination of these steps. In a further embodiment, an item may not be registered, for example in a new item database, unless the necessary permits have been obtained. In some embodiments, a black market may exist for the trade of items that have been created without a permit.
  • Information regarding all finished objects may be stored, for example, in new item database 312. New item database 312 may include information such as new item ID, creator ID, new item digital images, new item blueprints, new item materials, new item construction cost, and new item salvage value.
  • Within a specific game environment, information regarding newly created items may be stored, for example in new item database 332. Such newly created items may be linked to the requester and creator of new items and new item database 332 may include information such as new item ID, originating character ID, creating character ID, required skills for replication, export and import restrictions, new item digital images, new item algorithms, new item blue prints, new item materials, new item construction cost and availability.
  • In one embodiment, blueprints, created virtual objects, designs for created virtual objects, contracts, virtual natural resources, raw materials, attributes, skills, and NPCs, may be sold or traded on a virtual exchange. Such an exchange is further described in detail in U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 11/428,263, filed Jun. 30, 2006, and Ser. No. 11/560,456, filed Nov. 16, 2006, each of which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety. An embodiment of an exchange system is shown in FIG. 8. As shown, system 400 includes a master game server 402 a game environment server 406 and an exchange server 404.
  • Game environment server 406 may include databases such as player database 414, player character database 416, exchange open offers database 428, exchange transaction database 420.
  • In one embodiment, Player Database 414 may include information such as, but not limited to player ID, player billing info, player personal info, player credit info, and player assets. Player Character Database 416 may include information such as, but not limited to, character ID, player ID, character assets, character inventory, character Skills, virtual account numbers, character permits, NPC employment.
  • Exchange Server 404 may include or host various programs, routines, subroutines and/or databases including, but not limited to an exchange database 408, an exchange open offers database 410, and an exchange transaction database 412.
  • In one embodiment, Exchange database 408 may include information such as, but not limited to, exchange ID, exchange type, allowable assets, and allowed traders. Exchange open offers database 410 could contain information such as:
      • 1. Offer ID
      • 2. Offer Type
      • 3. Offer Posting Date
      • 4. Offer Expiration Date
      • 5. Offer Item
      • 6. Offer Quantity
      • 7. Offer Price.
  • Exchange open offers may additionally be associated with the character or player submitting the offer. Such information could be stored in Exchange Open Offer Database 428 and include information such as the character ID, holdings, offer ID, offer type, offer posting date, offer expiration date, offer item, offer quantity, and offer price.
  • In one embodiment, each transaction could be stored in an Exchange Transaction Database, for example in Exchange Transaction Database 412. Such a database could store information such as:
      • 1. Order ID
      • 2. Order Buyer
      • 3. Order Seller
      • 4. Order Date
      • 5. Order Price
      • 6. Order Type
      • 7. Order Terms and Conditions
        In another embodiment, such transactions could be associated with the character in Exchange Transaction Database 420. Such a database could include information such as character ID, character inventory, order ID, order date, order, price, order type, and/or authentication number.
  • According to one embodiment, the game server can set a minimum and maximum trade amount per time period on currency and other virtual resources both in the game environment and between game environments. This amount could be determined by any applicable means, for example, the amount or time could be based on any one or more of: the total amount of a virtual resource available in a game parameter; the amount per player character of a virtual resource available in a game parameter; the amount of open buy orders for a virtual resource in a game environment; the amount of open sell orders for a virtual resource in a game environment; any other factors and/or rules and regulations as disclosed herein above. In another embodiment, there may be permits required or import and export taxes imposed on items exchanged between game environments or between games. Such calculations may be made, for example, using some or all of the following steps:
      • 1. Receive a request to sell a virtual item on an exchange.
      • 2. Determine if item is unique.
      • 3. Determine if a permit exists to sell the item.
      • 4. If the item is unique and a permit exists, post item on exchange.
      • 5. Receive acceptance of request.
      • 6. Determine an import tax amount and an export tax amount.
      • 7. Apply import tax amount to purchase price.
      • 8. Withdraw virtual cash equal to purchase price plus tax from buyer.
      • 9. Transmit purchase price, less applicable export tax fees to seller.
  • Items bought and sold on an exchange may generate virtual currency, and/or real currency and/or may generate an exchange of assets or use other financial instruments, e.g. a loan backed by a real or virtual credit card. The value of a currency or an asset may be based on a conversion factor as described above or based on an exchange rate or any combination of these.
  • The exchange rate for one type of virtual currency for another type of virtual currency, virtual currency for real currency, virtual assets for real assets, real assets for virtual assets, real assets for virtual currency, virtual assets for real currency or virtual assets for virtual currency (or any combination of these) may be fixed in that the rate does not change for the duration of the game or segment of the game. Alternatively, the exchange or conversion rate may be variable. Such a variable rate may be pegged to a floating real world exchange relationship, for example the U.S. dollar/Japanese yen spot exchange rate, a percentage thereof, a plus or minus adjustment thereof, some other economic indicator, or a combination thereof. The exchange rate may also vary depending on the country of origin of the player, or may be fixed to a particular real world currency, i.e., all exchange rates are quoted in dollars. In another embodiment, the exchange rate may be floating and determined by market forces such as the relative demand for virtual currency versus real world currency, or the relative demand of particular types of virtual currency, or based upon the affect of said rates on one or more game objectives or goals. Said exchange rates may further be established or determined by any suitable method including, but not limited to, by a) the game manufacturer, b) the owner(s) of the server(s) upon which the game resides, c) one or more player characters, d) market forces, e) law or regulation of the game or within the real world, f) negotiation among the affected parties, g) game objectives, or h) any combination of the above.
  • It will be appreciated that while, for the sake of discussion, various databases have been described separately, the data in these and any other suitable databases could be merged into a single large databases and/or maintained separately in additional databases, or in other structures besides a database. Moreover, any such databases could be independent or linked, and the data in these databases could be stored centrally on a server or separately on game devices.
  • The present disclosure provides numerous systems and methods related to virtual environments in online computer games. It should be appreciated that numerous embodiments are described in detail and that various combinations and subcombinations of these embodiments are contemplated by the present disclosure.
  • CONCLUSION
  • Of course it will be appreciated that the systems methods described herein are provided for the purposes of example only and that none of the above systems methods should be interpreted as necessarily requiring any of the disclosed components or steps nor should they be interpreted as necessarily excluding any additional components or steps. Furthermore, it will be understood that while various embodiments are described, such embodiments should not be interpreted as being exclusive of the inclusion of other embodiments or parts of other embodiments.
  • The invention is described with reference to several embodiments. However, the invention is not limited to the embodiments disclosed, and those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that the invention is readily applicable to many other diverse embodiments and applications as are reflected in the range of real world financial institutions, instruments and activities. Accordingly, the subject matter of the present disclosure includes all novel and nonobvious combinations and subcombinations of the various systems, methods configurations, embodiments, features, functions, and/or properties disclosed herein.
  • Where a limitation of a first claim would cover one of a feature as well as more than one of a feature (e.g., a limitation such as “at least one widget” covers one widget as well as more than one widget), and where in a second claim that depends on the first claim, the second claim uses a definite article “the” to refer to the limitation (e.g., “the widget”), this does not imply that the first claim covers only one of the feature, and this does not imply that the second claim covers only one of the feature (e.g., “the widget” can cover both one widget and more than one widget).
  • Each claim in a set of claims has a different scope. Therefore, for example, where a limitation is explicitly recited in a dependent claim, but not explicitly recited in any claim from which the dependent claim depends (directly or indirectly), that limitation is not to be read into any claim from which the dependent claim depends.
  • When an ordinal number (such as “first”, “second”, “third” and so on) is used as an adjective before a term, that ordinal number is used (unless expressly specified otherwise) merely to indicate a particular feature, such as to distinguish that particular feature from another feature that is described by the same term or by a similar term. For example, a “first widget” may be so named merely to distinguish it from, e.g., a “second widget”. Thus, the mere usage of the ordinal numbers “first” and “second” before the term “widget” does not indicate any other relationship between the two widgets, and likewise does not indicate any other characteristics of either or both widgets. For example, the mere usage of the ordinal numbers “first” and “second” before the term “widget” (1) does not indicate that either widget comes before or after any other in order or location; (2) does not indicate that either widget occurs or acts before or after any other in time; and (3) does not indicate that either widget ranks above or below any other, as in importance or quality. In addition, the mere usage of ordinal numbers does not define a numerical limit to the features identified with the ordinal numbers. For example, the mere usage of the ordinal numbers “first” and “second” before the term “widget” does not indicate that there must be no more than two widgets.
  • When a single device or article is described herein, more than one device/article (whether or not they cooperate) may alternatively be used in place of the single device/article that is described. Accordingly, the functionality that is described as being possessed by a device may alternatively be possessed by more than one device/article (whether or not they cooperate).
  • Similarly, where more than one device or article is described herein (whether or not they cooperate), a single device/article may alternatively be used in place of the more than one device or article that is described. For example, a plurality of computer-based devices may be substituted with a single computer-based device. Accordingly, the various functionality that is described as being possessed by more than one device or article may alternatively be possessed by a single device/article.
  • The functionality and/or the features of a single device that is described may be alternatively embodied by one or more other devices which are described but are not explicitly described as having such functionality/features. Thus, other embodiments need not include the described device itself, but rather can include the one or more other devices which would, in those other embodiments, have such functionality/features.
  • Numerous embodiments are described in this patent application, and are presented for illustrative purposes only. The described embodiments are not, and are not intended to be, limiting in any sense. The presently disclosed invention(s) are widely applicable to numerous embodiments, as is readily apparent from the disclosure. One of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that the disclosed invention(s) may be practiced with various modifications and alterations, such as structural, logical, software, and electrical modifications. Although particular features of the disclosed invention(s) may be described with reference to one or more particular embodiments and/or drawings, it should be understood that such features are not limited to usage in the one or more particular embodiments or drawings with reference to which they are described, unless expressly specified otherwise.
  • The present disclosure is neither a literal description of all embodiments of the invention nor a listing of features of the invention which must be present in all embodiments.
  • Neither the Title (set forth at the beginning of the first page of this patent application) nor the Abstract (set forth at the end of this patent application) is to be taken as limiting in any way as the scope of the disclosed invention(s). An Abstract has been included in this application merely because an Abstract of not more than 150 words is required under 37 C.F.R. § 1.72(b).
  • The title of this patent application and headings of sections provided in this patent application are for convenience only, and are not to be taken as limiting the disclosure in any way.
  • Devices that are described as in communication with each other need not be in continuous communication with each other, unless expressly specified otherwise. On the contrary, such devices need only transmit to each other as necessary or desirable, and may actually refrain from exchanging data most of the time. For example, a machine in communication with another machine via the Internet may not transmit data to the other machine for long period of time (e.g. weeks at a time). In addition, devices that are in communication with each other may communicate directly or indirectly through one or more intermediaries.
  • A description of an embodiment with several components or features does not imply that all or even any of such components/features are required. On the contrary, a variety of optional components are described to illustrate the wide variety of possible embodiments of the present invention(s). Unless otherwise specified explicitly, no component/feature is essential or required.
  • Although process steps, algorithms or the like may be described in a sequential order, such processes may be configured to work in different orders. In other words, any sequence or order of steps that may be explicitly described does not necessarily indicate a requirement that the steps be performed in that order. On the contrary, the steps of processes described herein may be performed in any order practical. Further, some steps may be performed simultaneously despite being described or implied as occurring non-simultaneously (e.g., because one step is described after the other step). Moreover, the illustration of a process by its depiction in a drawing does not imply that the illustrated process is exclusive of other variations and modifications thereto, does not imply that the illustrated process or any of its steps are necessary to the invention, and does not imply that the illustrated process is preferred.
  • Although a process may be described as including a plurality of steps, that does not imply that all or any of the steps are essential or required. Various other embodiments within the scope of the described invention(s) include other processes that omit some or all of the described steps. Unless otherwise specified explicitly, no step is essential or required.
  • Although a product may be described as including a plurality of components, aspects, qualities, characteristics and/or features, that does not indicate that all of the plurality are essential or required. Various other embodiments within the scope of the described invention(s) include other products that omit some or all of the described plurality.
  • Unless expressly specified otherwise, an enumerated list of items (which may or may not be numbered) does not imply that any or all of the items are mutually exclusive. Therefore it is possible, but not necessarily true, that something can be considered to be, or fit the definition of, two or more of the items in an enumerated list. Also, an item in the enumerated list can be a subset (a specific type of) of another item in the enumerated list. For example, the enumerated list “a computer, a laptop, a PDA” does not imply that any or all of the three items of that list are mutually exclusive—e.g., an item can be both a laptop and a computer, and a “laptop” can be a subset of (a specific type of) a “computer”.
  • Likewise, unless expressly specified otherwise, an enumerated list of items (which may or may not be numbered) does not imply that any or all of the items are collectively exhaustive or otherwise comprehensive of any category. For example, the enumerated list “a computer, a laptop, a PDA” does not imply that any or all of the three items of that list are comprehensive of any category.
  • Further, an enumerated listing of items does not imply that the items are ordered in any manner according to the order in which they are enumerated.
  • In a claim, a limitation of the claim which includes the phrase “means for” or the phrase “step for” means that 35 U.S.C. § 112, paragraph 6, applies to that limitation.
  • In a claim, a limitation of the claim which does not include the phrase “means for” or the phrase “step for” means that 35 U.S.C. § 112, paragraph 6 does not apply to that limitation, regardless of whether that limitation recites a function without recitation of structure, material or acts for performing that function. For example, in a claim, the mere use of the phrase “step of” or the phrase “steps of” in referring to one or more steps of the claim or of another claim does not mean that 35 U.S.C. § 112, paragraph 6, applies to that step(s).
  • With respect to a means or a step for performing a specified function in accordance with 35 U.S.C. § 112, paragraph 6, the corresponding structure, material or acts described in the specification, and equivalents thereof, may perform additional functions as well as the specified function.
  • Computers, processors, computing devices and like products are structures that can perform a wide variety of functions. Such products can be operable to perform a specified function by executing one or more programs, such as a program stored in a memory device of that product or in a memory device which that product accesses. Unless expressly specified otherwise, such a program need not be based on any particular algorithm, such as any particular algorithm that might be disclosed in this patent application. It is well known to one of ordinary skill in the art that a specified function may be implemented via different algorithms, and any of a number of different algorithms would be a mere design choice for carrying out the specified function.
  • Therefore, with respect to a means or a step for performing a specified function in accordance with 35 U.S.C. § 112, paragraph 6, structure corresponding to a specified function includes any product programmed to perform the specified function. Such structure includes programmed products which perform the function, regardless of whether such product is programmed with (i) a disclosed algorithm for performing the function, (ii) an algorithm that is similar to a disclosed algorithm, or (iii) a different algorithm for performing the function.
  • The present disclosure provides, to one of ordinary skill in the art, an enabling description of several embodiments and/or inventions. Some of these embodiments and/or inventions may not be claimed in this patent application, but may nevertheless be claimed in one or more continuing applications that claim the benefit of priority of this patent application. Applicants intend to file additional applications to pursue patents for subject matter that has been disclosed and enabled but not claimed in this patent application.

Claims (20)

1. A system comprising:
a server configured to provide a virtual environment wherein users can interact with each other and the environment through avatars;
a blueprint creation module in electronic communication with the server, the blueprint creation module being configured to enable a user to create a blueprint of a virtual object that will reside within the virtual environment;
a blueprint registration module configured to:
receive blueprints created by the blueprint creation module; and
maintain a blueprint database comprising the blueprints received by the blueprint registration module.
2. The system of claim 1 further comprising a blueprint examination module configured to:
receive blueprints created by the blueprint creation module; and
determine if the blueprint is registrable.
3. The system of claim 3 wherein the blueprint examination module is further configured to determine the uniqueness of the blueprint by comparing the blueprint to other blueprints in the database maintained by the blueprint registration module.
4. The system of claim 1 further comprising a user interface configured to allow users to view the blueprints maintained in the blueprint database.
5. The system of claim 4 further comprising a access limitation mechanism configured to determine which, if any, blueprints in the blueprint database a given user may access.
6. The system of claim 1 further comprising a fee module.
7. The system of claim 6 wherein the fee module is configured to collect fees from users in return for access to one or more blueprints in the blueprint database.
8. The system of claim 7 wherein the fee module is further configured to determine an owner of a blueprint and provide at least a portion of the fee to the owner.
9. The system of claim 6 wherein the fee module is further configured to collect fees from a user in return for the right to make the virtual object associated with a given blueprint.
10. The system of claim 9 wherein the fee module is further configured to determine an owner of a blueprint and provide at least a portion of the fee to the owner.
11. The system of claim 6 wherein the fee module is further configured to collect fees from a user in return for the right to use the virtual object associated with a given blueprint.
12. The system of claim 11 wherein the fee module is further configured to determine an owner of a blueprint and provide at least a portion of the fee to the owner.
13. A system comprising:
a server configured to provide a virtual environment wherein users can interact with each other and the environment through avatars;
a blueprint registration module in electronic communication with the server; the blueprint registration module being configured to:
receive a blueprint from a first user interacting with the virtual environment; and
provide compensation to the first user when a second user uses the blueprint.
14. The system of claim 13 wherein using the blueprint comprises accessing the blueprint.
15. The system of claim 14 wherein using the blueprint comprises creating an object based on a design described by the blueprint.
16. A system comprising:
a server configured to provide a virtual environment wherein users can interact with each other and the environment through avatars;
a design database containing items that may be used to aid in the creation of a blueprint;
a user-interface configured to allow a user to view and use items in the design database to create a blueprint; and
a blueprint registration module configured to determine the uniqueness of an object designed by the user using the design database.
17. The system of claim 16 wherein the items in the design database are represented by pictures of items that can be combined or altered in order to create an object that can reside in the virtual environment.
18. The system of claim 16 wherein the items in the design database are programs configured to render an object in the virtual environment.
19. The system of claim 16 wherein the user-interface is further configured to receive specifications from the user as to how one or more items in the design database are to be combined or altered in order to form a new object.
20. The system of claim 16 wherein the blueprint registration module is further configured to ensure that the user receives compensation if a second user wishes to use the object designed by the user.
US11/680,960 2006-06-30 2007-03-01 System for the Creation and Registration of Ideas and Concepts in a Virtual Environment Abandoned US20080004119A1 (en)

Priority Applications (4)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US11/428,263 US20080004116A1 (en) 2006-06-30 2006-06-30 Video Game Environment
US11/620,563 US20080046222A1 (en) 2006-06-30 2007-01-05 Copyright of Digital Works in a Virtual Environment
US11/679,669 US20080004118A1 (en) 2006-06-30 2007-02-27 Creation and Registration of Ideas and Concepts in a Virtual Environment
US11/680,960 US20080004119A1 (en) 2006-06-30 2007-03-01 System for the Creation and Registration of Ideas and Concepts in a Virtual Environment

Applications Claiming Priority (2)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US11/680,960 US20080004119A1 (en) 2006-06-30 2007-03-01 System for the Creation and Registration of Ideas and Concepts in a Virtual Environment
PCT/US2007/066719 WO2008063694A2 (en) 2006-06-30 2007-04-16 Intellectual property protection in a virtual environment

Related Parent Applications (1)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
US11/428,263 Continuation-In-Part US20080004116A1 (en) 2006-06-30 2006-06-30 Video Game Environment

Publications (1)

Publication Number Publication Date
US20080004119A1 true US20080004119A1 (en) 2008-01-03

Family

ID=46328567

Family Applications (1)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
US11/680,960 Abandoned US20080004119A1 (en) 2006-06-30 2007-03-01 System for the Creation and Registration of Ideas and Concepts in a Virtual Environment

Country Status (1)

Country Link
US (1) US20080004119A1 (en)

Cited By (25)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20080306681A1 (en) * 2007-06-05 2008-12-11 Piwowarski James J System serving a remotely accessible page and method for requesting navigation related information
US20090063168A1 (en) * 2007-08-29 2009-03-05 Finn Peter G Conducting marketing activity in relation to a virtual world based on monitored virtual world activity
US20090132435A1 (en) * 2007-11-21 2009-05-21 Microsoft Corporation Popularity based licensing of user generated content
US20090132403A1 (en) * 2007-11-21 2009-05-21 Microsoft Corporation Licensing interface for user generated content
US20090132422A1 (en) * 2007-11-21 2009-05-21 Microsoft Corporation Machine-readable and enforceable license
US20090210333A1 (en) * 2008-02-14 2009-08-20 Microsoft Corporation Micro-licensing of composite content
US20090267960A1 (en) * 2008-04-24 2009-10-29 International Business Machines Corporation Color Modification of Objects in a Virtual Universe
US20090271422A1 (en) * 2008-04-24 2009-10-29 International Business Machines Corporation Object Size Modifications Based on Avatar Distance
US20090267948A1 (en) * 2008-04-24 2009-10-29 International Business Machines Corporation Object based avatar tracking
US20090267937A1 (en) * 2008-04-24 2009-10-29 International Business Machines Corporation Floating transitions
US20090267950A1 (en) * 2008-04-24 2009-10-29 International Business Machines Corporation Fixed path transitions
US20100001993A1 (en) * 2008-07-07 2010-01-07 International Business Machines Corporation Geometric and texture modifications of objects in a virtual universe based on real world user characteristics
US20100005423A1 (en) * 2008-07-01 2010-01-07 International Business Machines Corporation Color Modifications of Objects in a Virtual Universe Based on User Display Settings
US20100115425A1 (en) * 2008-11-05 2010-05-06 Bokor Brian R Collaborative virtual business objects social sharing in a virtual world
US20100177117A1 (en) * 2009-01-14 2010-07-15 International Business Machines Corporation Contextual templates for modifying objects in a virtual universe
US20100179871A1 (en) * 2009-01-15 2010-07-15 Smith Andrew B User driven transactions through referred virtual business object
US20100257071A1 (en) * 2009-04-07 2010-10-07 International Business Machines Corporation Mapping transactions between the real world and a virtual world
US20100292003A1 (en) * 2009-05-18 2010-11-18 Bluehole Studio, Inc. Method, maker, server, system and recording medium for sharing and making game image
US20110055320A1 (en) * 2007-06-04 2011-03-03 Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Limited Apparatus and method of data transfer
US20120190446A1 (en) * 2011-01-21 2012-07-26 Rogers Henk B Systems and methods for providing a game or story development platform
US20130339311A1 (en) * 2012-06-13 2013-12-19 Oracle International Corporation Information retrieval and navigation using a semantic layer
US20140162776A1 (en) * 2012-03-06 2014-06-12 Keith V. Lucas Pass-Structured Game Platform
US8758119B1 (en) * 2011-10-20 2014-06-24 Zynga Inc. Asset transfers between interactive social games
US8990715B1 (en) * 2011-11-07 2015-03-24 Maslow Six Entertainment, Inc. Systems and methods for the design and use of virtual emblems
US10169767B2 (en) 2008-09-26 2019-01-01 International Business Machines Corporation Method and system of providing information during content breakpoints in a virtual universe

Citations (10)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US3850433A (en) * 1974-02-07 1974-11-26 J Purlia Board game involving patent transactions
US6119229A (en) * 1997-04-11 2000-09-12 The Brodia Group Virtual property system
US6229533B1 (en) * 1996-08-02 2001-05-08 Fujitsu Limited Ghost object for a virtual world
US6249714B1 (en) * 1998-12-31 2001-06-19 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Virtual design module
US20020093528A1 (en) * 2000-11-27 2002-07-18 First To File, Inc. User interface for managing intellectual property
US20020161733A1 (en) * 2000-11-27 2002-10-31 First To File, Inc. Method of creating electronic prosecution experience for patent applicant
US20030014423A1 (en) * 2001-07-13 2003-01-16 Mei Chuah Secure virtual marketplace for virtual objects and services
US20040064692A1 (en) * 1993-10-22 2004-04-01 Corporation For National Research Initiatives, A Virginia Corporation Identifying, managing, accessing, and tracking digital objects and associated rights and payments
US20060148545A1 (en) * 2004-12-20 2006-07-06 Rhyne V T Iv Method for dynamic content generation in a role-playing game
US7181690B1 (en) * 1995-11-13 2007-02-20 Worlds. Com Inc. System and method for enabling users to interact in a virtual space

Patent Citations (10)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US3850433A (en) * 1974-02-07 1974-11-26 J Purlia Board game involving patent transactions
US20040064692A1 (en) * 1993-10-22 2004-04-01 Corporation For National Research Initiatives, A Virginia Corporation Identifying, managing, accessing, and tracking digital objects and associated rights and payments
US7181690B1 (en) * 1995-11-13 2007-02-20 Worlds. Com Inc. System and method for enabling users to interact in a virtual space
US6229533B1 (en) * 1996-08-02 2001-05-08 Fujitsu Limited Ghost object for a virtual world
US6119229A (en) * 1997-04-11 2000-09-12 The Brodia Group Virtual property system
US6249714B1 (en) * 1998-12-31 2001-06-19 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Virtual design module
US20020093528A1 (en) * 2000-11-27 2002-07-18 First To File, Inc. User interface for managing intellectual property
US20020161733A1 (en) * 2000-11-27 2002-10-31 First To File, Inc. Method of creating electronic prosecution experience for patent applicant
US20030014423A1 (en) * 2001-07-13 2003-01-16 Mei Chuah Secure virtual marketplace for virtual objects and services
US20060148545A1 (en) * 2004-12-20 2006-07-06 Rhyne V T Iv Method for dynamic content generation in a role-playing game

Cited By (46)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20110055320A1 (en) * 2007-06-04 2011-03-03 Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Limited Apparatus and method of data transfer
US9215276B2 (en) * 2007-06-04 2015-12-15 Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Limited Apparatus and method of data transfer
US8412452B2 (en) * 2007-06-05 2013-04-02 General Motors Llc System serving a remotely accessible page and method for requesting navigation related information
US20080306681A1 (en) * 2007-06-05 2008-12-11 Piwowarski James J System serving a remotely accessible page and method for requesting navigation related information
US20090063168A1 (en) * 2007-08-29 2009-03-05 Finn Peter G Conducting marketing activity in relation to a virtual world based on monitored virtual world activity
US20090132403A1 (en) * 2007-11-21 2009-05-21 Microsoft Corporation Licensing interface for user generated content
US20090132422A1 (en) * 2007-11-21 2009-05-21 Microsoft Corporation Machine-readable and enforceable license
US20090132435A1 (en) * 2007-11-21 2009-05-21 Microsoft Corporation Popularity based licensing of user generated content
US20090210333A1 (en) * 2008-02-14 2009-08-20 Microsoft Corporation Micro-licensing of composite content
US20090267937A1 (en) * 2008-04-24 2009-10-29 International Business Machines Corporation Floating transitions
US20090267950A1 (en) * 2008-04-24 2009-10-29 International Business Machines Corporation Fixed path transitions
US20090267948A1 (en) * 2008-04-24 2009-10-29 International Business Machines Corporation Object based avatar tracking
US8466931B2 (en) 2008-04-24 2013-06-18 International Business Machines Corporation Color modification of objects in a virtual universe
US20090271422A1 (en) * 2008-04-24 2009-10-29 International Business Machines Corporation Object Size Modifications Based on Avatar Distance
US20090267960A1 (en) * 2008-04-24 2009-10-29 International Business Machines Corporation Color Modification of Objects in a Virtual Universe
US8233005B2 (en) 2008-04-24 2012-07-31 International Business Machines Corporation Object size modifications based on avatar distance
US8212809B2 (en) 2008-04-24 2012-07-03 International Business Machines Corporation Floating transitions
US8184116B2 (en) 2008-04-24 2012-05-22 International Business Machines Corporation Object based avatar tracking
US8259100B2 (en) 2008-04-24 2012-09-04 International Business Machines Corporation Fixed path transitions
US20100005423A1 (en) * 2008-07-01 2010-01-07 International Business Machines Corporation Color Modifications of Objects in a Virtual Universe Based on User Display Settings
US8990705B2 (en) 2008-07-01 2015-03-24 International Business Machines Corporation Color modifications of objects in a virtual universe based on user display settings
US9235319B2 (en) 2008-07-07 2016-01-12 International Business Machines Corporation Geometric and texture modifications of objects in a virtual universe based on real world user characteristics
US20100001993A1 (en) * 2008-07-07 2010-01-07 International Business Machines Corporation Geometric and texture modifications of objects in a virtual universe based on real world user characteristics
US8471843B2 (en) 2008-07-07 2013-06-25 International Business Machines Corporation Geometric and texture modifications of objects in a virtual universe based on real world user characteristics
US10169767B2 (en) 2008-09-26 2019-01-01 International Business Machines Corporation Method and system of providing information during content breakpoints in a virtual universe
US9586149B2 (en) * 2008-11-05 2017-03-07 International Business Machines Corporation Collaborative virtual business objects social sharing in a virtual world
US20100115425A1 (en) * 2008-11-05 2010-05-06 Bokor Brian R Collaborative virtual business objects social sharing in a virtual world
US20100177117A1 (en) * 2009-01-14 2010-07-15 International Business Machines Corporation Contextual templates for modifying objects in a virtual universe
US8458603B2 (en) 2009-01-14 2013-06-04 International Business Machines Corporation Contextual templates for modifying objects in a virtual universe
US20100179871A1 (en) * 2009-01-15 2010-07-15 Smith Andrew B User driven transactions through referred virtual business object
US8606628B2 (en) * 2009-01-15 2013-12-10 International Business Machines Corporation User driven transactions through referred virtual business object
US10176450B2 (en) 2009-04-07 2019-01-08 International Business Machines Corporation Mapping transactions between the real world and a virtual world
US20100257071A1 (en) * 2009-04-07 2010-10-07 International Business Machines Corporation Mapping transactions between the real world and a virtual world
US9373137B2 (en) 2009-04-07 2016-06-21 International Business Machines Corporation Mapping transactions between the real world and a virtual world
US20100292003A1 (en) * 2009-05-18 2010-11-18 Bluehole Studio, Inc. Method, maker, server, system and recording medium for sharing and making game image
US8613646B2 (en) 2011-01-21 2013-12-24 Henk B. Rogers Systems and methods for controlling player characters in an interactive multiplayer story
US20120190446A1 (en) * 2011-01-21 2012-07-26 Rogers Henk B Systems and methods for providing a game or story development platform
US9795880B2 (en) 2011-10-20 2017-10-24 Zynga Inc. Asset transfers between interactive social games
US9387403B2 (en) 2011-10-20 2016-07-12 Zynga Inc. Asset transfers between interactive social games
US8758119B1 (en) * 2011-10-20 2014-06-24 Zynga Inc. Asset transfers between interactive social games
US10201757B2 (en) 2011-10-20 2019-02-12 Zynga Inc. Asset transfers between interactive social games
US8990715B1 (en) * 2011-11-07 2015-03-24 Maslow Six Entertainment, Inc. Systems and methods for the design and use of virtual emblems
US9199170B2 (en) * 2012-03-06 2015-12-01 Roblox Corporation Pass-structured game platform
US20140162776A1 (en) * 2012-03-06 2014-06-12 Keith V. Lucas Pass-Structured Game Platform
US9280788B2 (en) * 2012-06-13 2016-03-08 Oracle International Corporation Information retrieval and navigation using a semantic layer
US20130339311A1 (en) * 2012-06-13 2013-12-19 Oracle International Corporation Information retrieval and navigation using a semantic layer

Similar Documents

Publication Publication Date Title
Roy Socializing capital: The rise of the large industrial corporation in America
Khan Amazon's antitrust paradox
Albert Parecon: Life after capitalism
Klemperer Auctions: theory and practice
McMillan Games, strategies, and managers
Fehr et al. Why social preferences matter–the impact of non‐selfish motives on competition, cooperation and incentives
US8090618B1 (en) Online game commerce system
Jeffries Socialist economies and the transition to the market: a guide
Menkel-Meadow Toward another view of legal negotiation: The structure of problem solving
US7970663B2 (en) Method of calculating an estimated market value of a character
Malaby Making virtual worlds: Linden lab and second life
Leebron Games Corporations Play: A Theory of Tender Offers
Frankel Fiduciary law
Andriessen et al. Weightless Wealth: Finding your real value in a future of intangible assets
Reich The Fruits of Fascism: Postwar Prosperity in Historical Perspective
Papagiannidis et al. Making real money in virtual worlds: MMORPGs and emerging business opportunities, challenges and ethical implications in metaverses
Bowman Capitalist Collective Action: competition, cooperation and conflict in the coal industry
US20070087835A1 (en) Video game methods and systems
Merges Intellectual property and the costs of commercial exchange: A review essay
Bottom Negotiator risk: Sources of uncertainty and the impact of reference points on negotiated agreements
Gaughan Mergers, acquisitions, and corporate restructurings
Lax et al. Manager as negotiator
Pei China’s crony capitalism
US20060100006A1 (en) Strategy gaming format with outcomes determined by external events and auction- and market-based transactions by the players
US20060229976A1 (en) Virtual credit with transferability

Legal Events

Date Code Title Description
AS Assignment

Owner name: LEVIATHAN ENTERTAINMENT, NEW MEXICO

Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:MUELLER, RAYMOND J;VAN LUCHENE, ANDREW S;REEL/FRAME:019373/0929;SIGNING DATES FROM 20070430 TO 20070504

Owner name: LEVIATHAN ENTERTAINMENT,NEW MEXICO

Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:MUELLER, RAYMOND J;VAN LUCHENE, ANDREW S;SIGNING DATES FROM 20070430 TO 20070504;REEL/FRAME:019373/0929

Owner name: LEVIATHAN ENTERTAINMENT, NEW MEXICO

Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:MUELLER, RAYMOND J;VAN LUCHENE, ANDREW S;SIGNING DATES FROM 20070430 TO 20070504;REEL/FRAME:019373/0929

STCB Information on status: application discontinuation

Free format text: ABANDONED -- FAILURE TO RESPOND TO AN OFFICE ACTION