Microsoft's gaming engineers are always on the move with new ideas and in today's revelations you'll see how they're thinking of new ways of advancing multiplayer video games. Specifically, users at home will be able to use their base Xbox and Kinect systems to create some amazing 3D environments for video games that could then be shared friends at home, outdoors or on the road that only have a smartphone or tablet at their disposal. If you're a lover of multiplayer games, then be assured that Microsoft's teams are hard at work with future advancements to enhance your gaming experience.
Microsoft's Patent Background
Computer gameplay is now widely available for a number of different computing devices. For example, computer games have been developed for home systems and portable systems such as tablets, mobile phones, and other devices. However, each device is generally supported by a specific gaming platform such that games for one device are not compatible with another device. As such, game players are unable to share a gaming experience unless each player has a compatible device. And even in cases where some degree of interoperability is achieved, prior solutions can be limited in the quality and character of interaction between devices.
Microsoft's Multi-Platform Gaming System
Microsoft's invention relates to systems and methods for multi-platform motion interactivity.
As an initial non-limiting example, a gaming console and associated depth camera will be able to yield a displayed scene in which motions of a player are detected to yield corresponding motions in an on-screen avatar shown in the displayed scene on your HDTV.
The gaming console will be able to then send the motion data to a smartphone or other device such as a tablet operated by a second player so that the second player is able to see a representation of the avatar's movements on the screen of their smartphone.
One aspect of the system that could greatly enhance multi-player cross-platform interactivity is the ability to share motion data between devices. Motion may be detected by one or more of the interacting devices, and this motion data could be communicated between devices to control the shared interactive experience.
Microsoft goes on to describe that your buddy with a smartphone will be able to actually respond to the action on their screen with a game initiated on an Xbox system at your friend's home. Your buddy with the smartphone will be able to interact with the same avatar. This creates a shared experience in the form of dynamic visual gameplay depictions displayed on one or both of the game console's display and the smartphone's display.
Multi-Player Game Played on HDTV & Distant Devices like a Tablet
Microsoft provides a video game example in patent FIG. 3 wherein a player's avatar is shown looking down a corridor toward a virtual wall of blocks. Virtual balls fly toward the avatar from the end of the corridor. The object of the game is for the avatar to use their virtual hands to either catch the balls or strike the balls with virtual hands.
Striking the balls may cause them to fly back toward the wall at the end of the corridor (e.g., as in the sport of handball). As balls return to the wall, they knock out the individual bricks of the wall. The player completes a level by knocking out all of the bricks, and a score may be assigned based on how quickly the player knocks out the entire wall. The avatar is controlled in response to the movement of a target that is a player positioned within the capture volume (see yellow box 304 above).
Microsoft states that the avatar's motion data may be communicated to a secondary device such as a tablet. The second player is able to see exactly how the first game player's avatar is moving.
In response to the depicted moving avatar on the tablet's display (318), the second player (306) will be able to use touch gestures to interact with the game where the avatar is shown. The second player might introduce a ball at the far right, in an attempt to make it more difficult or challenging for first player to use their hands and hit the ball back toward the virtual brick wall at the end of the corridor.
Microsoft states that this level of interactivity between Multi-Players will apply to host of other games such as baseball, soccer, hockey, lacrosse and other suitable games.
Interactive Baseball Game
Microsoft illustrates another example relating to baseball in patent FIG. 4 shown below in a more elaborate way. The first and second players (402 & 404) noted in the game of patent figure 4 may interact with the multi-platform system via captured motion, while a third player (408) may interact via a tablet.
In patent figure 4 we see two players in front of their HDTV, Kinect & Xbox systems. You could see a batter and catcher at home in the capture volume cube. The pitcher in this game however is a distant buddy who's playing the same game on their tablet computer at a different location. The player with the tablet is given options via a pull down menu as to what pitch should be thrown to his buddies in front of their HDTV. Of course the tablet could also be a smartphone.
For the record, Microsoft never clarifies whether the multiple devices discussed in the patent filing will be restricted to Windows phones and tablets or whether their proposed system will inter-operate with other platforms such as iOS and/or Android. At this point we have to assume that the gaming device eco-system described in the patent filing is narrowly restricted to all things Windows.
Microsoft's newly proposed multi-platform motion-based computer interactions system will provide a nice twist to future multiplayer games. I'm sure if you're a lover of multiplayer games you'll be able to dream up a number of scenarios that this proposed system could apply to.
At the end of the day, is Micrsoft's proposed system something that would interest you? Let us know by sending in your comments below.
Microsoft's patent application was originally filed under serial number 117605 in Q2 2011 and published by the US Patent Office in Q4 2012.
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