US20080096661A1 - Virtual Creature Breeding Simulation System and Information Processing System - Google Patents

Virtual Creature Breeding Simulation System and Information Processing System Download PDF

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Publication number
US20080096661A1
US20080096661A1 US11664825 US66482505A US2008096661A1 US 20080096661 A1 US20080096661 A1 US 20080096661A1 US 11664825 US11664825 US 11664825 US 66482505 A US66482505 A US 66482505A US 2008096661 A1 US2008096661 A1 US 2008096661A1
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US
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Patent type
Prior art keywords
image
virtual creature
code
creature
means
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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
US11664825
Inventor
Takayuki Ikeda
Daisuke Komoto
Akihiro Yokoi
Kazue Murase
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Bandai Co Ltd
WIZ
Wiz Co Ltd
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Bandai Co Ltd
WIZ
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F13/00Video games, i.e. games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions
    • A63F13/80Special adaptations for executing a specific game genre or game mode
    • A63F13/825Fostering virtual characters
    • 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
    • A63F13/10Control of the course of the game, e.g. start, progess, end
    • 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
    • A63F13/12Video games, i.e. games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions involving interaction between a plurality of game devices, e.g. transmisison or distribution systems
    • 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
    • A63F13/30Interconnection arrangements between game servers and game devices; Interconnection arrangements between game devices; Interconnection arrangements between game servers
    • A63F13/33Interconnection arrangements between game servers and game devices; Interconnection arrangements between game devices; Interconnection arrangements between game servers using wide area network [WAN] connections
    • A63F13/332Interconnection arrangements between game servers and game devices; Interconnection arrangements between game devices; Interconnection arrangements between game servers using wide area network [WAN] connections using wireless networks, e.g. cellular phone networks
    • 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
    • A63F13/50Controlling the output signals based on the game progress
    • A63F13/52Controlling the output signals based on the game progress involving aspects of the displayed game scene
    • 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
    • A63F2300/40Features of games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions, e.g. on a television screen, showing representations related to the game characterised by details of platform network
    • A63F2300/406Transmission via wireless network, e.g. pager or GSM
    • 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
    • A63F2300/63Methods for processing data by generating or executing the game program for controlling the execution of the game in time
    • A63F2300/636Methods for processing data by generating or executing the game program for controlling the execution of the game in time involving process of starting or resuming a game
    • 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
    • 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
    • A63F2300/80Features of games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions, e.g. on a television screen, showing representations related to the game specially adapted for executing a specific type of game
    • A63F2300/8058Virtual breeding, e.g. tamagotchi

Abstract

A trip made by a virtual creature being fostered in a virtual creature breeding toy 101 is rendered. On the virtual creature breeding toy 101, an operation can be performed to simulate a trip made by a virtual creature being fostered on the toy 101. The operation causes a passport number to be displayed on the toy 101. A user inputs the passport number on a display panel presented by a mobile application 102 b being executed on a mobile terminal 102. The mobile terminal 102 sends a virtual creature code and an item code included in the number to a server 103. The server 103 combines a virtual creature image 103 b with a background image 103 a, both of which can be retrieved using codes associated with them. The composite image is associated with the user of the mobile terminal 102 that has sent the codes and is stored as a collected image 103 d. The mobile terminal 102 can access the collected image 103 d through a browser 102 c and display the composite image.

Description

    TECHNICAL FIELD
  • The present invention relates to a virtual creature breeding system and to an information processing system used for the system. The system cooperates with a toy that electronically implements a creature breeding simulation with which a user can enjoy the virtual creature's growth (hereinafter referred to as a virtual creature breeding toy), for example, to allow the user to enjoy events such as trips and souvenir photography done by the fostered virtual creature.
  • BACKGROUND ART
  • Virtual creature breeding toys that simulate creature breeding have been made commercially available, including the one with the registered trademark “Tamagotchi,” which has been loved by many people. A virtual creature breeding simulation toy starts a simulation when it is reset. Once a simulation has started, the player can take care of the creature (hereinafter referred to as a nurturance operation) from its hatching, through the growth period, until death by using an input unit of the toy, and enjoy the changes and growth of the virtual creature as if it were a real pet (see for example Patent Document 1).
  • However, the creature in the conventional virtual creature breeding toy grew only in a closed environment in that toy. Afterward, virtual creature breeding toys capable of communicating through newly added infrared communication functions were developed and made commercially available with the trademark “Tamagotchi Plus.” With the toys, players can enjoy simulations of events such as love and marriage and competitive games with another virtual creature fostered by another player through communication.
  • Patent Document 1: Japanese Patent Laid-Open No. 10-232595
  • Although the capability of communicating with other virtual creature breeding toys has increased the variety of simulations, the communication is merely one-to-one communication between virtual creature breeding toys. Virtual creature breeding toys are tiny, inexpensive apparatuses. Inclusion of too many functions will increase the price and the complexity of operations and therefore is not desirable. On the other hand, considering today's social environment, users can communicate with one another anytime and anywhere with the widespread availability of mobile phones and the Internet and therefore enjoy services through the communication. By using this massive communication environment, the variety of amusements that can be provided by virtual creature breeding toys can be expanded, and the virtual creature breeding toys can be enabled to function not only as mere stand-alone apparatuses, but also as part of entertainment systems including them.
  • The present invention has been made in light of the examples of the conventional art. An object of the present invention is to provide a virtual creature breeding simulation system and an information processing system that are capable of cooperating with a virtual creature breeding toy to enable simulations of many events such as trips or collection of souvenir photographs of a virtual creature fostered in a breeding simulation to enhance the utilization value of the virtual creature breeding toy as an amusement apparatus with minimal functional addition to the toy.
  • DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION
  • To achieve the object, the present invention includes the following configurations. There is provided an information processing system that cooperates with an electronic toy capable of simulating breeding of a virtual creature, including: input means for inputting a virtual creature code associated with the virtual creature the breeding of which is simulated on the electronic toy and a background image code associated with an background image for the virtual creature;
  • composition means for combining a virtual creature image associated with the virtual creature code input through the input means with a background image for the virtual creature associated with the background image code to compose a composite image with a size suitable for a display screen; and
  • display means for displaying the composite image composed by the composition means on the display screen.
  • Alternatively, there is provided a virtual creature breeding simulation system having an electronic toy capable of simulating breeding of a virtual creature, a mobile terminal, and a host computer, the system including:
  • destination information selecting means for selecting a desired piece of destination information from among a plurality of pieces of destination information of a virtual creature being bred on the electronic toy;
  • trip instructing means for instructing the electronic toy to simulate a trip of the virtual creature to a destination indicated by the destination information selected by the destination information selecting means;
  • display instructing means for instructing the electronic toy to display an image of a destination corresponding to the destination information after the trip instructing means instructs the electronic toy to simulate the trip of the virtual creature;
  • code generating means for, in the electronic toy, generating a code string including a virtual creature code associated with a virtual creature being bred and an image code associated with the destination image;
  • input means for inputting the code string on the mobile terminal;
  • composition means for, on the mobile terminal, providing the virtual creature code and the image code included in the code string input by the input means to the host computer and combining the virtual creature image with the destination image to compose a composite image; and
  • display means for receiving the composite image composed by the host computer and displaying the composite image on a display on the mobile terminal.
  • Alternatively, there is provided an information processing system that cooperates with an electronic toy capable of simulating breeding of a virtual creature and includes a terminal, the system including:
  • input means for inputting a virtual creature code associated with the virtual creature the breeding of which is simulated by said electronic toy and a background image code associated with a background image for the virtual creature on said terminal;
  • an image database in which a composite image with a size suitable for a display screen of the terminal is stored in association with a unique image identifier, the composite image being composed by combining a virtual creature image associated with the virtual creature code input through the input means with a background image associated with the background image code;
  • a user database in which an image identifier of a composite image based on a virtual creature code and a background image code is stored in association with each terminal that has received the virtual creature code and the background image code through the input means;
  • first transmission means for transmitting the image identifier registered in association with the terminal to the terminal in response to a request sent from the terminal;
  • second transmission means for transmitting the composite image associated with the image identifier to the terminal in response to a request sent from the terminal with the image identifier; and
  • display means for displaying on the terminal the composite image sent by said second transmission means.
  • According to the present invention, a virtual creature breeding simulation system and an information processing system can be implemented that cooperate with a virtual creature breeding toy to enable simulations of many events such as trips and collection of souvenir photographs of a virtual creature fostered in a breeding simulation to improve the rendering quality of the toy as an amusement apparatus with minimum functional addition to the virtual creature breeding toy.
  • Other features and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following description with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which the same or similar components are labeled with the same reference numerals.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The accompanying drawings are incorporated into the present specification, constitute part of the specification, show embodiments of the present invention, and are used for illustrating the principles of the present inventions together with descriptions of the drawings.
  • FIG. 1 shows a configuration of a virtual creature breeding simulation system according to an embodiment;
  • FIG. 2A shows an external view of a virtual creature breeding toy;
  • FIG. 2B is a hardware block diagram of the virtual creature breeding toy;
  • FIG. 3 shows screen transition on the virtual creature breeding toy in trip submode;
  • FIG. 4 is a flowchart of a process performed by the virtual creature breeding toy in trip submode;
  • FIG. 5 is a flowchart of a process performed by the virtual creature breeding toy in trip submode;
  • FIG. 6A is a flowchart of a process performed by the virtual creature breeding toy in trip submode;
  • FIG. 6B is a flowchart of a process performed by the virtual creature breeding toy in trip submode;
  • FIG. 7A shows transition of page data provided from an HTTP server to a mobile terminal;
  • FIG. 7B shows transition of page data provided from an HTTP server to a mobile terminal;
  • FIG. 8A shows transition of page data provided from an HTTP server to a mobile terminal;
  • FIG. 8B shows transition of page data provided from the HTTP server to the mobile terminal;
  • FIG. 9A is a flowchart of an application program executed on a mobile terminal;
  • FIG. 9B is a flowchart of the application program executed on the mobile terminal;
  • FIG. 10 is a flowchart of an application executed on a server;
  • FIG. 11A shows screen transition in an application executed on a mobile terminal;
  • FIG. 11B shows screen transition in the application executed on the mobile terminal;
  • FIG. 11C shows screen transition in the application executed on the mobile terminal;
  • FIG. 11D shows screen transition in the application executed on the mobile terminal;
  • FIG. 11E shows screen transition in the application executed on the mobile terminal;
  • FIG. 12 is a schematic diagram of a table referred to by a server application for determining a background image; and
  • FIG. 13 is a schematic diagram of a table referred to by the server application for determining an image of a virtual creature.
  • BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION First Embodiment
  • <Configuration of Virtual Creature Breeding Simulation System>
  • Embodiments of the present invention will be described with reference to the accompanying drawings. A general configuration of a virtual creature breeding simulation system to which the present embodiment is applied will be described with reference to FIG. 1. A virtual creature breeding toy 101 in FIG. 1 has an infrared communication capability and is capable of bidirectionally communicating with another virtual creature breeding toy and receiving signals from mobile terminals 102 such as mobile phones, portable game machines, and PDAs by using the infrared communication capability. Breeding of one of multiple creatures is simulated on the virtual creature breeding toy 101. The configuration of the virtual creature breeding toy 101 will be described later in greater detail with respect to FIGS. 2A and 2B.
  • The mobile terminal 102 is the so-called browser-phone, which may be Digital Mova 505 from NTT DoCoMo, Inc. (hereinafter referred to as “NTT”). The mobile terminal 102 has a number of buttons which constitute input means, some of which function as up/down and enter keys, which will be described later with respect to FIGS. 9A and 9B. The mobile terminal 102 is capable of specifying the location (address) of a content provided by a server 103 to receive and display the content by using a browser program 102 c loaded in a memory 102 a. The server 103 in this embodiment includes an HTTP server program and therefore the browser program on the mobile terminal must be HTML-compatible or cHTML-compatible used in i-mode (registered trademark) provided by NTT. Of course, if the terminal is compatible with the server at the application level, the browser is not limited to a particular protocol and may be a WAP-compatible browser, for example. Preferably, the mobile terminal 102 is capable of loading and executing an application program (mobile application) 102 b defined by a user. This capability allows a terminal application 102 b, which will be described later with respect to FIGS. 9A and 9B, to be loaded and executed on the terminal 102. Mobile phones such as Digital Mova 505 mentioned above include a function called “i-Appli (registered trademark) and are capable of loading and executing programs written in Java (registered trademark). However, the mobile terminal 102 does not need to have the capability of loading and executing a user-defined application if the terminal application is preinstalled in the mobile terminal 102. Preferably, the mobile terminal is a model which includes an infrared communication capability in order to communicate with the virtual creature breeding toy 101. While mobile terminals having the capability of transmitting infrared data are available, mobile terminals having the capability of receiving infrared data are not yet made available at the time of this filing. In this case, communications between the mobile terminal 102 and the virtual creature breeding toy 101 are limited to one-way communication from the former to the latter. This functional constraint is not due to technical limitations but is imposed merely because applications of infrared communication expected of mobile terminals 102 are those that only require infrared transmissions as in remote control of electric appliances. Therefore, if mobile terminals 102 having the capability of receiving infrared data are made available, bidirectional infrared communication with the virtual creature breeding toy will be possible.
  • The server 103 has an HTTP server 103 e which provides contents written in HTML or cHTML, a server application 103 f which performs processing such as image composition to correspond to a mobile application 102 b, and a user database 103 g which stores images 103 d collected by each user in association with an identifier (user ID) 103 c of each mobile terminal 102. The user database 103 g stores images 103 d on a per user basis and on a per location (country) of photo shooting basis. They can be provided by different servers. While the server 103 in this embodiment is an HTTP server 103 e, it may be a WAP server or a server of any other type that supports a protocol compatible with the browser 102 c of the mobile terminal 102. If the mobile terminal 102 is an i-mode terminal for example, the terminal 102 is connected to the Internet through a protocol conversion gateway 104. If the mobile terminal 102 is TCP/IP-compatible, a gateway is not required, of course. The server 103 is connected to the Internet and is assigned a unique address.
  • The HTTP server 103 e may be a currently widely used server program and is capable of accessing the user database 103 g and providing images collected by each user to that user, namely the browser 102 c of the mobile terminal 102 in this embodiment. The server application 103 f has a creature image 103 b and a background image 103 a, combines them into a composite image, and stores it as a collected image in the user database. Multiple background images 103 a are provided for one location in association with time parameters such as seasons. Multiple creature images 103 b of one creature are provided in association with the background images 103 a. Stored in the user database 103 g are user IDs 103 c of registered users and collected images 103 d associated with the respective user IDs 103 c.
  • With the configuration described above, the virtual creature breeding toy 101 can receive information from a mobile terminal 102. The mobile terminal 102 is capable of communicating with the server 103. Through the communication, the mobile terminal 102 can specify the address of a content, or follow a hypertext link written in HTML, to receive and display content data such as text and images provided by the HTTP server 103 e. Data sent to the server 103 through execution of the mobile application 102 b can be processed by the server application 103 f. Details of these processes will be described later with reference to FIGS. 7A to 11E.
  • Programs loaded in the server 103 and the mobile terminal 102 are described as being loaded in an executable manner in the present embodiment. They are provided as program file stored on a computer-readable medium such as an optical disk beforehand and are then loaded from the medium into a computer.
  • <Configuration of Virtual Creature Breeding Toy>
  • FIG. 2A shows an external view of a virtual creature breeding toy 101. FIG. 2B is a hardware block diagram of the virtual creature breeding toy 101. Provided in a casing 200 in FIG. 2A are liquid-crystal display 201 for displaying, operation buttons 202A, 202B, and 202C (they are sometimes referred to as button A, button B, and button C, respectively), and an infrared communication unit 204 for transmitting/receiving infrared data. The liquid-crystal display 201 has a dot display area in its center, where an image of a creature or a game image is displayed, and icon display areas at the top and bottom where icons 203 are displayed. Five icons 203 are provided in each of the top and bottom areas and indicate the current mode. The icon at the top right corner indicates that the virtual creature breeding toy 101 is in communication mode. An operation button 202A is assigned the function of selecting (switching) a mode and command, a button 202B is assigned the function of inputting a mode and command, and a button 202C is assigned the function of canceling a mode and command.
  • In FIG. 2B, a CPU 211 executes a program stored in a ROM 212 to control the entire toy 101. A RAM 213 includes various work areas and stores modes. For example, a mode area 213 a stores information representing an operation mode of the toy 101. A submode area 213 b stores information representing a submode in a particular mode. A creature state area 213 c stores information indicating the type of a creature to be fostered (indicated by a creature code), stages of growth (for example adolescent and rebellious stages), the current condition of a creature (for example health condition). The creature state determines a relevant image of the creature, which is then displayed on the liquid-crystal display 201. The association between the creature state and the type of the creature is invariable and does not change on other mobile applications 102 b, server applications 103 f, and virtual creature breeding toys 101. In a point area 213 d, points earned in a situation, such as a game, in which points can be earned in the process of a virtual creature breeding simulation are accumulated. The accumulated points can be used in various trades in a breeding simulation and points required and used in a trade are subtracted. Examples of items to be dealt include a ticket for a trip rendered as if the creature were going on a trip. An item area 213 e contains information indicating an item (item code) that the creature acquired. For example, if the item is a ticket, the item code indicates a ticket and the destination on the ticket. The CPU 211 is connected to an input/output system by a bridge 214. Connected to the input/output system is an LCD (Liquid-Crystal Display) 216 through an LCD controller 215. Also connected are the operation unit 217 including buttons 202A, 202B, and 202C and a reset switch provided on the backside of the toy 101, an infrared output unit (IRLED) 219 connected through an infrared interface 218, an infrared input unit (phototransistor) 220, and a beeper 221.
  • The mobile terminal 102 and the server 103 have a basic block configuration similar to the configuration shown in FIG. 2B with some differences in hardware such as the performance of the CPU, memory space, the number of keys, the type and size of display screen, and type of input/output interfaces as well as programs included.
  • <Outline of Operation of Virtual Creature Breeding Simulation System>
  • An outline of operation of the system shown in FIG. 1 according to the present invention will be described below. A user selects a submode, “Trip”, under communication mode on the virtual creature breeding toy 101. The Trip submode simulates a trip made by the creature being bred in the virtual creature breeding toy 101 to the outside of the virtual creature breeding toy 101. The term “trip” as used herein means that an image is displayed in which the virtual creature displayed on the display screen of the virtual creature breeding toy 101 moves to the outside of the display screen (for example an image representing a flight vehicle carrying the virtual creature and taking off toward the top of the display screen) and an image is displayed representing the absence of the virtual creature from the display screen (for example an image displaying the text “On a trip”). The definition of the trip is not limited to this. If the state of the virtual creature, the number of points, or an item meets a predetermined condition, the virtual creature is assumed to be on a trip and an item code and a creature code are provided to the mobile terminal 102. If the mobile terminal 102 does not have an infrared communication capability or does have the capability of only transmitting infrared data, item and creature codes cannot be transmitted from the toy 101 to the mobile terminal 102 via infrared communication. In that case, a passport number including an item code and creature code is displayed on the toy 101 and the user manually inputs the passport number into the mobile terminal 102 instead of transmitting the codes.
  • Then, a display representing that the virtual creature is on a trip is displayed on the toy 101 for a predetermined period of time. The toy 101 receives a password from the mobile terminal 102 via infrared communication or waits for manual input of a password and then stores information representing a souvenir indicated in the password in the RAM 213.
  • The mobile terminal 102, on the other hand, transmits a request for generating an image to the server 103 along with the item code and creature code it received. The server application 103 f on the server 103 combines a background image 103 a associated with the item code with a virtual creature image 103 b associated with the creature code and stores the composite image along with the user ID 103 c assigned to the mobile terminal 102 from which a request for generating an image is originated. The user ID 103 c may be a unique identifier assigned to the mobile terminal 102. Only composite images associated with the mobile terminal 102 can be browsed on the mobile terminal 102 through use of its browser function and can be downloaded and used as an idle screen on the mobile terminal 102.
  • <Operation on the Virtual Creature Breeding Toy>
  • Operation of the entire system has been outlined in the foregoing. Operation of a virtual creature breeding toy 101 that belongs to the system will described below. The description of the operation will focus on portions relating to the present invention and will not cover all operations of the virtual creature breeding toy 101.
  • FIG. 3 shows an exemplary display sequence from the start to the end of trip submode of the virtual creature breeding toy 101. When communication mode is selected by an operation of button A in the screen state shown in FIG. 1 and confirmed by an operation of button B, a communication option panel 301 as shown in FIG. 3 is displayed. A list of recipient options is displayed on the communication option panel 301. When the option “Mobile phone” is selected and entered from the list by operating button A and is confirmed by operating button B, a mail/trip selection panel 302 is displayed. A process performed by the CPU 201 in a state of the panel 302 will be described with respect to FIGS. 4 to 6B. It should be noted that the terms “postal mode” and “trip mode” as used in the following description are actually submodes under “communication mode”. However, since the entire process described below proceeds in the communication mode, the term “mode” is used in the following description to refer to “mail submode” or “trip submode” under the communication mode. A value indicating the mail or trip mode is stored in the mode area 213 a shown in FIG. 2B.
  • In the postal mode, purchase of a ticket can be simulated as one of trades that use points, but detailed description on the processing is omitted. For example, a simulation can be performed in the postal mode in which points stored in the point area 213 d can be traded for a ticket to a desired one of destinations provided beforehand as destination information by mail order. A code of the purchased ticket is stored in the item area 213 c and the number of points equivalent to the ticket is subtracted from the number of points in the point area 213 d. Other methods for purchasing a ticket are also provided. It is assumed in this example that information indicating whether a creature has a ticket and the destination is stored (or is not stored) in the virtual creature breeding toy 110 by using any of the ticket purchasing methods. In the trip mode, on the other hand, an overseas trip using a ticket purchased in the postal mode can be simulated.
  • Through the loop of steps S401, S405, and S410, an input is scanned for. First, determination is made in step S401 as to whether button A has been pressed. If so, determination is made as to whether the current mode is “postal mode”, that is, whether information stored in the mode area 213 a is a value indicating “postal mode” (S402). If so, a cursor 302 a is moved onto the option “Trip” on the display panel 302 and the current mode is changed to the “trip” mode (S403); otherwise, the cursor 302 a is moved onto the option “Postal” on the display panel 302 and the current mode is changed to the “postal” mode (S404).
  • On the other hand, if button A has not been pressed, determination is made in step S405 as to whether button B has been pressed. If so, determination is made as to whether the current mode is the “trip” mode (S406). If not, determination is made as to whether the creature state 213 c indicates the “rebellious age or older” (S407). If so, predetermined processing in the postal mode is performed (S408) and the sequence returns to the communication option panel 301. If it is determined that button C is pressed (S405→NO→S410→YES), the sequence returns to the communication option panel 301. If it is determined in step S406 that the current mode is the “trip” mode, a trip mode process shown in FIG. 5 is performed.
  • When trip mode process in FIG. 5 is started, a Trip/Plaza selection panel 303 is first displayed (S501). A user can select one of trip and plaza submodes in the screen. The submodes are indicated by information stored in the submode area 213 b in FIG. 2B. While the Trip/Plaza selection panel 303 is displayed, the loop of steps S502, S506, and S509 scans for an input. First, determination is made in step S502 as to whether button A has been pressed. If pressed, determination is made as to whether the current submode is the “trip” submode, that is, whether the information stored in the submode area 213 b is a value indicating the “trip” submode (S503). If so, the cursor 303 a is moved onto the option “Trip” in the Trip/Plaza selection panel 303 and the current mode is changed to the “plaza” submode (S504). If the current mode is not the “trip” submode, the cursor 303 a is moved onto the option “Trip” in the Trip/Plaza selection panel 303 and the current mode is changed to the “trip” submode (S505).
  • On the other hand, if button A has not been pressed, determination is made in step S506 as to whether button B has been pressed. If pressed, determination is made as to whether the current submode is “trip” (S507). If not, plaza mode processing is performed (S508) and the sequence returns to the communication option panel 301. If it is determined that button C has been pressed (S509→YES), the sequence returns to the Postal/Trip selection panel 302. If it is determined in step S507 that the current mode is the “trip” submode, trip submode process shown in FIGS. 6A and 6B is performed.
  • (Trip Submode Process)
  • When the trip submode is confirmed, determination is made first as to whether the virtual creature has a ticket (S601). This determination is made based on whether a code indicating a travel ticket is stored in the item area 213 e in FIG. 2B. It is assumed in this example that only a ticket code is stored in the item area 213 a. The item area 213 e may be used for storing other information if a ticket code stored in it is not overwritten. However, the item area 213 e in this example is dedicated to tickets. If the virtual creature does not have a ticket, the value 0 is stored in the item area 213 e so that determination as to whether the creature has a ticket can be readily made based on whether the stored value is 0 or not. If it is determined in step S601 that the virtual creature has a ticket, the creature state 213 c (hereinafter the term “area” is omitted) is referred to determine whether the creature state is the “adolescent age” or older (S602). For example, upon the expiration of a predetermined period of time after hatching of the virtual creature, information indicating that the virtual creature is at its adolescent age or older may be stored in the creature state 213 c to indicate it. The elapsed time can be measured by starting a timer included in the CPU 211 upon starting a simulation of hatching of the virtual creature. If both determinations in steps S601 and S602 are NO, an audible error alarm is output and then the process branches to step S501.
  • In order to add spice to the breeding simulation in the present embodiment, it is programmed that the virtual creature is not allowed to make a trip before the virtual creator reaches the age of adolescent. Thus, only if it is determined in step S602 that the virtual creature is at the age of adolescent or older, a passport panel 304 is displayed (S603). A passport number is displayed on the passport panel 304.
  • The passport number is a value directly input in a mobile terminal 102 and is displayed in order to input in the mobile terminal 102 (1) mode code indicating that the current mode is the trip submode, (2) a creature code indicating the type of the virtual creature, and (3) an item code indicating the destination of the trip. Accordingly, the passport number includes at least the three codes. In this example, a passport number is a decimal number consisting of 10 digits and contains the following codes, including the three codes given above:
  • (1) Mode code (1 digit): The value “4” indicating the trip submode is set.
  • (2) Creature code (2 digits): A code associated with the virtual creature currently being bred on the virtual creature breeding toy 101 is set. Different codes are assigned to one virtual creature in accordance with, for example, the growth stage of the virtual creature. For example, different codes are assigned to a virtual creature called “Tamagotchi” at respective stages such as the adolescent stage, spawning stage, and old stage.
  • (3) Item code (2 digits): A value indicating a destination corresponding to a code indicating a travel ticket stored in the item area 213 e is set.
  • (4) Random code (1 digit): A value indicating the arrangement of digits of the passport number, excluding the random code, is set. The random code itself is placed in a fixed one of the 10 digits of the passport number. The other 9 digits are placed in positions according to the value of the random code. Accordingly, positions of respective codes in passport numbers differ from each other if the passport numbers have different random codes.
  • (5) Dummy code (3 digits): A randomly chosen value that has no meaning.
  • (6) Parity code (1 digit): The last digit of the sum of the values in the digits of the passport number, excluding the parity code is set.
  • The digits of the passport number have the meanings described above. However, the digits are shuffled in accordance with the random code. Simple encryption is applied to the passport number in this way to convert it to a number that cannot be apprehended as a meaningful number by users.
  • Upon display of the passport number, “trip” counting is started (S604). Determination is made as to whether 10 minutes have passed since the start of counting (S605). When 10 minutes have passed since the passport number was displayed, the toy 101 returns to a main panel. The main panel in this example is a screen in which a virtual creature appears as shown in FIG. 2A. If 10 minutes have not yet passed, determination is made as to whether button B has been depressed (S606). If button B has been pressed, it is determined that a trip is decided on and a panel 305 with a message “On a trip.” is displayed (S607).
  • Determination is made as to whether the trip counting is indicating that 10 minutes have passed (S608). If not, determination is made as to whether button B has been pressed (S609). If button B has not been pressed, determination is made as to whether button C has been pressed (S616). If button C has been pressed to cancel the trip, the process returns to step S603. On the other hand if it is determined at step S609 that button B has been pressed, an input method selection panel 306 is displayed (S610). Here, it is assumed that the ticket has been used and 0 is set in the ticket item area 213 e. In step S612, information is input from the mobile terminal 102 by using the method selected in step S610. If it is determined in step S611 or S613 that the trip counter indicates that 10 minutes have passed, the control returns to the main panel. The information input in step S612 represents a souvenir from a travel.
  • As a result of the procedure described above, a trip or outing made by the virtual creature being bred in a breeding simulation on the virtual creature breeding toy 101 is rendered. As has been stated earlier, it is assumed in this example that the virtual creature breeding toy 101 is incapable of transmitting data to the mobile terminal 102. However, if infrared communication between them is possible, the need for displaying a passport number for manually inputting mode, creature and item codes into the mobile terminal will be at least technically eliminated. The mode, creature, and item codes may be transmitted from the virtual creature breeding toy 101 to the mobile terminal 102 through infrared.
  • <Contents Provided by a Server>
  • Contents provided from an HTTP server 103 e to a mobile terminal 102 that can be browsed by a user will be described below with reference to FIGS. 7A, 7B, 8A, and 8B. Contents provided are reproduced by a browser 102 c. Contents provided in the present embodiment are photograph images. The HTTP server 103 e allows a user registered on the HTTP server 103 e to access the contents. To access the displays shown in FIGS. 7A, 7B, 8A, and 8B, a user registration procedure must be performed. A user can be identified by an identification number or a phone number unique to a mobile terminal 102. The identification number can be included in an HTTP header, for example. Any number that can uniquely identify the user may be used, of course. When the HTTP server 103 e is accessed from the mobile terminal 102, verification is made as to whether the identification number is of a registered user. If not, the HTTP server 103 e asks the user to input required information and then registers the user. As a result, the user's identification number (called the user ID) is stored in a user ID area 103 c of a user database 103 g of the server 103. A collected-image area 103 d for storing images collected by each user is allocated to the user in association with the ID. At the same time, data written in such a language as HTML that can be presented to the user is provided in the collected-image area 103 d by copying from a template, for example. The data represents the pages provided by the server 103 in FIGS. 7A and 7B or 8A and 8B. However, at the time of user registration, the page contains neither image data nor link information to image data. The need for inputting the user ID every time the user access the server 103 can be eliminated by using the identification number or phone number of the mobile terminal as the user ID and including it in a message for accessing the server 103.
  • FIGS. 8A and 8B show an example of content data provided from the server 103 to a mobile terminal 102 when a user thus registered accesses the HTTP server 103 e. Page 701 is a display that the HTTP server 103 e first provides to the mobile terminal 102 in response to access from the mobile terminal 102. Page 701 includes the percentage 701 a of images collected by the accessing user, link information 701 b to the latest image that the user has obtained, a list 701 c of images collected by the user, and link information 701 d for downloading a mobile application 102 b. The percentage of images collected is a value indicating the percentage of images collected by the user to a group of all possible combinations of available creature images 103 b and background images 103 a.
  • The link information 701 b to the latest image describes a link to the latest image data file among the collected images 103 d associated and stored with the user ID 103 c of the user. When the link information 701 b is selected on the mobile terminal 102 and a predetermined button operation is performed, the site indicated by the link information 701 b is accessed. That is, the address of the site that the link represents is passed to the HTTP server 103 e and the HTTP server 103 e provides the latest image to the mobile terminal 102. Page 801 is one example. An image is provided as a page describing a frame including a message 802 b as well as an image data file of the image 801 a. The image can be stored in a memory of each terminal by performing a particular operation programmed in the terminal.
  • The image list 701 c is linked to a page 802 containing a group of collected images of each destination country (namely images of a country used as background images) which are stored in association with the user ID 103 c of the user. Link information 802 c to each image is contained in page 802. If a newly available image is contained, a symbol 802 b indicating it appears next to the link information linked to the new image. For example, this symbol is added to link information (a character string in which link information is embedded) to a composite image when generated and stored by a server application 103 f, which will be described later. When access to the site indicated by image link information 802 c is specified on page 802, the address of the linked site is sent to the HTTP server 103 e and a page of the linked site is provided to the terminal. In FIGS. 8A and 8B, when link information 802 c embedded in the character string “Kuchipatchi” (the name of a virtual creature) of page 802 is specified, page 801 is provided from the HTTP server 103 e.
  • FIGS. 7A and 7B shows an example of transition of pages that are provided from the HTTP server 103 e to the mobile terminal 102 when link information 701 d is selected on page 701 to specify downloading of a mobile application program 102 b. The mobile application 102 b can be downloaded during user registration as well. An example of this is shown on page 702.
  • When access to the site indicated by link information 701 d is specified, the address of the linked site is provided to the HTTP server 103 e and the linked page 703 is transmitted to the mobile terminal 102. When download 703 a is specified on the page 703, download is started. First, a request for a mobile application program file is issued from the mobile terminal 102 to the server 103 (S711). When the server 103 starts downloading the file in response to the request, the mobile terminal 102 receives the file and installs the mobile application 102 b in such a manner that it can be executed (S712). When the option “About communication” is selected, a description page 704 is accessed.
  • As can be seen from the foregoing description, the HTTP server 103 e functions as a widely used Web server where data such as HTML data that can be provided to mobile terminals 102 is described as shown in FIGS. 7A, 7B, 8A and 8B.
  • <Operations of Mobile Application and Server Application>
  • Operation of a mobile application 102 b and operation of a server application 103 f that cooperates with the mobile application 102 b will be described below with reference to FIGS. 9A to 12. The assumption here is that the mobile application 102 b has already been downloaded from the server 103 to the mobile terminal 102 in a manner described with respect to FIG. 7A.
  • (Mobile Application)
  • Referring to FIGS. 9A and 9B, when the mobile application 102 b is activated, first a title screen (screen 1101 shown in FIG. 11A) is displayed and a mode flag provided in a memory 102 a is set to 0 (S901). Then the mobile application 102 b waits for a key in. When a key in occurs, determination is made as to which key has been pressed (S902). If an up/down key (a generic name for up and down scroll keys) has been pressed, the mode flag is inverted (S903). That is, if the mode flag is 0, then it is set to 1; if 1, it is set to 0. The value 1 indicates trip mode and 0 indicates postal mode. When the mode flag is inverted, an indication of which of the modes is selected toggles between the mode options 1101 a and 1101 b in FIG. 11A.
  • If the key pressed is an enter key, determination is made as to which value is indicated by the current mode flag (simply referred to as a mode) (S904). If it is not 1, postal mode processing, description of which will be omitted, is performed. If the value is 1, it indicates the trip mode and therefore the initial screen of the trip mode (screen 1102 in FIG. 11B) is displayed and 0 is set in the submode flag (S905). Then the application 102 b waits for a key in. When a key in occurs, determination is made as to which key has been pressed (S906). If the up/down key has been pressed, the submode flag is inverted (S907). As in screen 1101 shown in FIG. 11A, an indication of which of the submodes is selected toggles between the mode option 1102 a and 1102 b in screen 1102 in accordance with the up/down key.
  • If the enter key is input, determination is made as to which value is currently set in the submode flag (simply referred to as a submode) (S908). If 1 is set, souvenir exchange plaza submode processing is performed, further description of which will be omitted. If 1 is not set, it indicates “Memories of trip” submode and therefore the initial screen of the “Memories of trip” submode (screen 1103 shown in FIG. 11C) is displayed and input of a passport number is waited for (S909). The passport number expected to be input here is the passport number 304 displayed on the virtual creature breeding toy 101 at step S603 in FIG. 6A. At the next step, S910, the passport number, in which codes are arranged in accordance with the rules described with respect to step S603 in FIG. 6A, is handled.
  • When the passport number 1103 a is input (or is not input) and an OK button 1103 b is depressed (that is selected and determined), step S910 is performed. In step S910, the parity code digit is determined based on the random code in a fixed digit position of the input passport number, the values in the other digit positions are added together, and the sum is compared with the parity code. If they match, the input passport number is considered to be valid and the process proceeds; otherwise, the process returns to step S909, where another input is awaited. If it is determined that a valid passport number is entered, the digit positions of the mode code, creature code, and item code are identified from the value of the random code and these codes are extracted from the passport number and stored in a predetermined area in a predetermined memory 102 a (S910). Then, a request for image composition is sent to the server 103 along with the mode, creature, and item codes. When transmitting the request, the server application 103 f is specified as the receiving port with its port number. Then the mobile application 102 b waits for a response from the server 103.
  • Upon expiration of a predetermined time or reception of a response from the server 103, determination is made as to whether communication has been successfully performed in step S912. If successful, that is, a composite image has been received from the server 103, a thumbnail image, a message, and an image ID received along with the composite image are displayed on the screen of the mobile terminal 102 (step S913 and screen 1104 in FIG. 11D). In addition to the image ID 1104 a, thumbnail image 1104 b, and message 1104 c, a button 1104 d for returning to the title screen 1101 is displayed on the screen 1104 (S916). If the mobile terminal 102 has a function so-called Web-to (S914-YES), a photo button 1104 e for accessing the composite image through HTTP is also displayed (S915). A mobile terminal 102 having the Web-to function is capable of directly accessing an HTTP server 103 e through a browser from an application program being executed on the mobile terminal 102 without a procedure of exiting the application program and activating a browser.
  • If a key in occurs in step S916 or S917, where a key in is awaited, determination is made as to which key has been pressed (S917). If a key in for selecting the title button 1104 d is performed, the title screen 1101 is displayed. If a key in for selecting the photo button 1104 e, which is provided only on a mobile terminal having the Web-to function, is performed, the process branches to the browser program by using the address of the composite image on the server 103 as a parameter (S918). In step S920, which is executed by the browser, the browser receives and displays the page from the HTTP server 103 e by using a parameter provided from the server 103 as the address to access.
  • On the other hand, if it is determined in step S912 that connection has failed, a retry panel (panel 1105 in FIG. 11E) is displayed (S921). If a retry (“Yes” button 1105 a) is input, the process branches to step S909. If the “No” button 1105 b is pressed, the process branches to step S901 (S922).
  • (Server Application)
  • Upon reception of a request for image composition sent from the mobile application 102 b in step S911, the server application 103 f on the server 103 performs a process starting in step S1001 in FIG. 10, if the port number and mode code (which is 4 in this example) is equal to a predetermined value. Referring to FIGS. 12 and 13, images available to the server application 102 f will be described first.
  • FIG. 12 shows a table showing a variety of background images generated according to item codes. The column “Item code” represents the destination on a ticket. In this example, five possible destinations, “Paris”, “Easter Island”, “Fiji”, “Egypt”, and “New York”, are associated with item codes and are destinations on tickets that can be bought (simulated buying) on the virtual creature breeding toy 101. Images symbolizing these destinations are chosen as background images. For example, famous landmarks such as the Eiffel tower for Paris, Moai statues for Easter Island, and pyramids for Egypt may be preferable. Eight images in total, two for each season, are provided for each symbol as background images 103 a. To choose a background image 103 a, the eight images of the destinations are chosen based on an item code. The eight images of that destination are then narrowed down to two images that belong to one season identified by a real-time timer of the server. A random number may be generated and one of the two images may be randomly selected based on whether the random number is odd or even. A season can be identified by the month read from the real-time timer at the time when the server 103 has received a request for image composition. Months can be associated with a particular season. For example, March through May can be associated with spring, June through August can be associated with summer, September through November can be associated with autumn, and December through February can be associated with winter. Of course, a background image 103 a representative of each month may be provided for each month or may be associated with one item code regardless of seasons. Background images 103 a are listed in the form of a table in which item codes are arranged along the vertical axis and seasons and random numbers are arranged along the horizontal axis, and a background image (a scenery with a number in FIG. 12) is located at each intersection between them. The table is used for selecting a background image 103 a. The table is not limited to the form shown in FIG. 12, of course; any table that associates a parameter such as an item code with an image may be used.
  • A creature image 103 b, on the other hand, is determined based on a creature code as shown in FIG. 13. Eight creature images 103 b are provided for one creature in the example in FIG. 13. As with the background image 103 a, one creature image 103 b is chosen for one creature code based on the season and a random number. As shown, creature images 103 b are listed in the form of table in which creature codes are arranged along the vertical axis and seasons and random numbers are arranged along the horizontal axis, and a creature image (a creature and a number in FIG. 13) is located at each intersection between them. This table is used for selecting a creature image 103 b. The table is not limited to the form shown in FIG. 13, of course; any table that associates a parameter such as a creature code with an image may be used. The number of images provided for each creature is not limited to eight; a single creature image 103 b may be used for every screen for every piece of scenery or more candidate creature images may be provided and one of them can be selected.
  • By providing multiple background images 103 a and creature images 103 b in this way, a wide range of composite image variations can be offered to fuel user's collecting inclinations and to enhance the value of the amusement apparatus. In the example in FIG. 12, 40 composite images can be generated for one creature. If, for example, 19 types of creatures (15 types in FIG. 13) are made available and a common random number is assigned to both of a background image 103 a and a creature image 103 b for selecting one of the two images of each season, 760 variations in total can be offered. If different random numbers are generated for a background image 103 a and a creature image 103 b, the number of variations can be doubled to 1,520.
  • Returning to FIG. 10, the server 103 selects a creature image 103 b to be used for image composition based on the creature code it received (S1001). The creature image 103 b can be selected in a manner described with reference to FIG. 13. Then, a background image 103 b is selected based on the item code (S1002) as described with respect to FIG. 12. The selected creature image 103 ab is overlaid on the selected background image 103 a to generate a composite image (1003). For example, the composition may be performed based on positional information in such a manner that a landmark or other feature contained in the background image 103 a is not covered with the creature image 103 b. The positional information can be registered in the table in FIG. 12 along with images. The composite image is then reduced by a reduction factor to a thumbnail image (S1004). The image 801 a shown in FIG. 8A and described earlier is one exemplary composite image. The image 801 a has been generated by overlaying a creature image 801 c on a background image containing the Eiffel tower, a landmark of Paris.
  • The composite image generated in step S1003 is stored in the collected-image area 103 d in the user database in association with a user ID. A message associated with the composite image is also stored with the image (S1005). Link information to the image data is written and added to HTML page data (such as the page 802) that has been generated during the registration and includes image data link information. The image data and message thus registered are provided to the user from the HTTP server 103 e.
  • Finally, the thumbnail image, the image ID of the composite image, the country name associated with the item code, and the message associated with the image are returned to the mobile terminal 102 (S1006). The image ID is determined for the combination of the selected background image 103 a and the creature image 103 b. A unique ID is assigned to each of the image files registered in the tables in FIGS. 12 and 13. An image ID table, for example, may be provided beforehand in which the IDs of background images 103 a are arranged along the horizontal axis, the IDs of creature images 103 b are arranged along the vertical axis and the IDs of composite image are located at the intersections. The ID of a composite image can be determined with reference to the image ID table by using the ID of a background image 103 a and the ID of a creature image 103 b used in the composition. A country name can be readily identified by using a table provided on the server 103 that associates item codes with country names. A message can be determined by using a table associating messages with item codes, for example.
  • According to the embodiment described above, a virtual creature's outings and trips can be rendered on a virtual creature breeding toy 101. The information can be shared with a mobile terminal 102 to collect and display photographs, which is difficult to perform for the virtual creature breeding toy 101 alone, thereby making the toy 101 more amusing. Souvenir photographs that look as if taken by a virtual creature on a trip can be generated on a server and obtained on the mobile terminal 102. Thus, image composition, which is difficult to perform on a mobile terminal 102, can be quickly implemented. In this way, services that involve sophisticated processing can be provided to a user without requiring a long waiting time. The concept of trades using the number of points accumulated can be modified to expand the forms of breeding simulations: composite images relating to events such as love and marriage that occur through relationship between virtual creature breeding toys 101 or relating to events according to growth stages of the virtual creature may be generated in addition to souvenir photographs taken during trips.
  • By using time parameters such as the current time of year, namely seasons, for selecting images to combine, a photograph representing a sense of season can be generated. Therefore, the reality of virtual creature breeding simulations can be improved, thereby making the toy 101 more amusing.
  • Furthermore, by providing multiple background images and creature images to combine, the number of variations of composite images that can be generated by combining them can be increased and the value of the images to be collected is enhanced. Thus, users' interest can be raised.
  • A number called a passport number whose meaning is not understandable to users is displayed on a virtual creature breeding toy and is input in a mobile terminal offline so that the virtual creature breeding toy and the mobile terminal cooperate. With this, a virtual creature can be rendered as if the creature were transformed into the unintelligible number and transferred to the mobile terminal.
  • [Variations]
  • A passport number is used to input information from a virtual creature breeding toy capable of simulating breeding of a virtual creature into a mobile terminal offline as a method for causing an electronic toy and an information processing system to cooperate with each other in the embodiment described above. However, the mobile terminal may include the function of receiving data through infrared communication so that a mode code, creature code, and item code can be sent from the creature breeding toy 101 to the mobile terminal 102 through infrared communication.
  • If infrared communication is not used, a system equivalent to the present invention can be configured without a mobile application 102 b. In that case, only a browser is running on the mobile terminal. Image composition can be implemented by using a CGI script on the HTTP server 103 e of the server 103. Processing in the script is the same as that in the server application 103 f shown in FIG. 10.
  • The present invention is not limited to the embodiments descried above. Various modification and variations can be made without departing from the spirit of the present invention. Therefore, the scope of the present invention is disclosed in the appended claims.
  • PRIORITY CLAIM
  • The present application claims priority based on Japanese Patent Application No. 2004-296956 filed on Oct. 8, 2004, which is fully incorporated herein by reference.

Claims (7)

  1. 1. An information processing system that cooperates with an electronic toy capable of simulating breeding of a virtual creature, comprising:
    input means for inputting a virtual creature code associated with the virtual creature the breeding of which is simulated on said electronic toy and a background image code associated with a background image for the virtual creature;
    composition means for combining a virtual creature image associated with the virtual creature code input through said input means with a background image for the virtual creature associated with said background image code to compose a composite image; and
    display means for displaying the composite image composed by said composition means.
  2. 2. The information processing system according to claim 1, comprising a mobile terminal and a host computer that are capable of communicating with each other, and wherein:
    said input means and said display means are provided in said mobile terminal;
    said composition means is provided in said host computer;
    said host computer uses said composition means to combine said virtual creature image with said background image for said virtual creature on the basis of said virtual creature code and said background image code received from said mobile terminal to compose a composite image; and
    said mobile terminal causes said display means to display the composite image received from said host computer.
  3. 3. The information processing system according to claim 2, wherein said host computer further comprises image reduction means for reducing a composite image composed by said composition means and said display means displays the image reduced by said image reduction means as a thumbnail image.
  4. 4. The information processing system according to claim 1, wherein:
    said electronic toy generates a code string including said virtual creature code and said background image code in a first position and a second position, respectively; and
    said composition means uses the code in said first position in the code string input by said input means as said virtual creature code and uses the code in said second position as said background image code to compose a corresponding virtual creature image and background image for the virtual creature.
  5. 5. The information processing system according to claim 1, wherein:
    said composition means selects one of a plurality of virtual creature images associated with the virtual creature code that corresponds to a time parameter and one of a plurality of background images associated with the background image code that corresponds to said time parameter and overlays the selected virtual creature image on the selected background image to compose a composite image.
  6. 6. A program executed by a computer cooperating with an electronic toy capable of simulating breeding of a virtual creature, said program causing a computer to perform the steps of:
    inputting a virtual creature code associated with a virtual creature the breeding of which is simulated on said electronic toy and a background image code associated with a background image;
    combining, by a host computer, a virtual creature image associated with the virtual creature code input through said step of inputting with a background image of the virtual creature associated with said background image code to compose a composite image; and
    receiving and displaying the composite image composed by said host computer on a display.
  7. 7. A virtual creature breeding simulation system having an electronic toy capable of simulating breeding of a virtual creature, a mobile terminal, and a host computer, said system comprising:
    destination information selecting means for selecting a desired piece of destination information from among a plurality of pieces of destination information used for simulating a trip of a virtual creature being bred on said electronic toy;
    trip instructing means for instructing said electronic toy to simulate a trip of said virtual creature to a destination indicated by the destination information selected by said destination information selecting means;
    display instructing means for instructing said electronic toy to display a destination image corresponding to said destination information after said trip instructing means instructs said electronic toy to simulate the trip of said virtual creature;
    code generating means for generating a code string including a virtual creature code associated with a virtual creature being bred in said electronic toy and an image code associated with said destination image;
    input means for inputting said code string on said mobile terminal;
    composition means for providing said virtual creature code and said image code included in the code string input by said input means on said mobile terminal to said host computer to combine said virtual creature image with said destination image to compose a composite image; and
    display means for receiving the composite image composed by said host computer and displaying the composite image on a display on said mobile terminal.
US11664825 2004-10-08 2005-09-29 Virtual Creature Breeding Simulation System and Information Processing System Abandoned US20080096661A1 (en)

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PCT/JP2005/017938 WO2006040933A1 (en) 2004-10-08 2005-09-29 Character training simulation system and information processing system

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