Patent application title: SYSTEM FOR AND METHOD OF OPERATING VIDEO GAME SYSTEM WITH CONTROL ACTUATOR-EQUIPPED STYLUS
Aaron B. Sternberg (Vancouver, WA, US)
IPC8 Class: AA63F924FI
Class name: Amusement devices: games including means for processing electronic data (e.g., computer/video game, etc.) player-actuated control structure (e.g., brain-wave or body signal, bar-code wand, foot pedal, etc.)
Publication date: 2009-07-09
Patent application number: 20090176571
A system and method expand game action functionality of a portable game
system in which user manipulation of a stylus contributes to control of
game action in the operation of two-handed game play. The stylus is
equipped with one or more control actuators that are integrally
associated with (i.e., positioned on or in) the stylus to respond to
manipulation by the user to control game action. One or more game action
functions are selected and implemented for control by the number of the
stylus-equipped control actuators. The game action functions include one
or both of game action functions caused by actuation of the number of
first and second control actuator devices and other, additional game
action functions. The selected game action functions expand practicable
game action functionality of the portable game system by enabling use of
the user's hand manipulating the stylus to cause performance of one or
more game action functions.
1. A method of expanding game action functionality of a portable game
system in which user manipulation of a stylus contributes to control of
game action in the operation of two-handed game play, the portable game
system including a display surface on which appears an action scene
presented during game play and a touch screen display surface contacted
by the stylus manipulated by the user to control game action, the touch
screen display surface positioned adjacent first and second control
actuator regions in which a number of respective first and second control
actuator devices are located for manipulation by active fingers of
different ones of the user's hands to cause performance of game action
functions included in a set of game action functions performed in the
action scene, comprising:equipping the stylus with a number of control
actuators integrally associated with the stylus to respond to
manipulation by the user to control game action; andimplementing a
selected subset of game action functions for control by the number of
integrally associated control actuators in response to manipulation by
the user's stylus-manipulating hand to control game action, thereby to
expand practicable game action functionality of the portable game system
by enabling use of the user's hand manipulating the stylus to cause
performance of one or more game action functions in the set.
2. The method of claim 1, in which the selected subset of game action functions includes one or more game action functions actuatable by the first and second control actuator devices, the subset including game action functions that would entail actuation by fingers of the user's stylus-manipulating hand to control game action.
3. The method of claim 1, in which one of the number of control actuators integrally associated with the stylus is a motion sensor device that is positioned in or on the stylus, the motion sensor device providing to the user during game play a sensation of motion in performance of a game action function in the set causing motion of a symbol or an image in an action scene appearing on the display surface without need to impart actual motion to the display surface.
4. The method of claim 3, in which the motion sensor device includes an accelerometer.
5. The method of claim 1, in which at least one of the number of integrally associated control actuators produces a command signal that is wirelessly communicated to the portable game system to control game action.
6. The method of claim 5, in which the portable game system includes an accessory to provide wireless communication with the number of the associated control actuators with which the stylus is equipped.
7. The method of claim 1, in which the display surface on which an action scene appears and the touch screen display surface are separate display surfaces.
This application claims benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/019,546, filed Jan. 7, 2008.
This disclosure relates to a system for and a method of manipulating images or symbols on a visual display and, in particular, to such a system operable and a method implemented with use of a stylus that is equipped with one or more control actuators.
Styluses are known for manipulating images and symbols presented on a visual display of a computer device implemented with a touch screen. Nintendo® has released a video game console system known as the Nintendo® DS, which has two screens arranged in a vertical stack during game play. The bottom screen is touch sensitive. The touch sensitive screen can be activated by any type of object, but the preferred object is a stylus, which is included with the purchase of the Nintendo® DS system.
The Nintendo® DS system, like most other portable game systems, includes a housing unit that is configured for operation by both of a user's hands. Traditionally, portable game systems have one control actuator located on the left side of the unit and multiple control actuators located on the right side of the unit. The control actuators are mutually spaced apart from one another on the unit by distances that would make impossible the use of one hand to reach all control actuators, Using both hands not only allows the user to reach all control actuators but also stabilizes the unit while the user is playing a game, so there is no unwanted movement of the unit during game play.
The Nintendo® DS system has multiple control actuators on both sides of the unit; however, when the use of a stylus is required, one or more fingers of the user's hand controlling the stylus can no longer be used to manipulate the control actuators that would normally be in reach. The result is nonuse of otherwise available game action functions because one or more fingers of the user's stylus-holding hand are rendered inoperative to manipulate the control actuators that cause performance of the game action functions.
SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE
The present disclosure describes a system for and method of expanding game action functionality of a portable game system in which user manipulation of a stylus contributes to control of game action in the operation of two-handed game play. The portable game system includes a display surface on which appears an action scene presented during game play and a touch screen display surface contacted by a stylus that is manipulated by the user to control game action. Certain platforms, such as, for example, an iPhone multimedia smart phone, combine on a single display surface the above-described functionality of the two display surfaces. The touch screen display surface is positioned adjacent first and second control actuator regions in which a number of respective first and second control actuator devices are located. Certain active fingers of the user's right and left hands manipulate spatially associated ones of the first and second control actuator devices to cause performance of a set of game action functions in the action scene.
The stylus is equipped with one or more control actuators that are integrally associated with (i.e., positioned on or in) the stylus to respond to manipulation by the user to control game action. A subset of the set of game action functions is selected and implemented for control by the number of the stylus-equipped control actuators. The selected game action functions expand practicable game action functionality of the portable game system by enabling use of the user's hand manipulating the stylus to cause performance of one or more game action functions in the set.
The game action functions in the set include one or both of game action functions caused by actuation of the number of first and second control actuator devices and other, additional game action functions. Thus, expansion of game action functionality can result from 1) making practicable use of functions controlled by the first and second control actuator devices that the user's finger or fingers cannot operate because they are part of the hand manipulating the stylus or holding the portable game system and 2) adding game action functions the first and second control actuator devices do not control.
The operational benefit of adding control actuators to the stylus is demonstrated by the following example. When a user is playing an action game on the Nintendo® DS system, traditionally one hand holding the stylus uses it to control the direction where the main character is looking while the other hand operating a control actuator pushes it to control movement. To activate an action, such as jumping or shooting performed by the main character, the same hand controlling character movement with one control actuator has also to push another control activator to activate the action at the same time. The user's hand that is manipulating the control actuators, such as movement and action, cannot be used effectively to grip and stabilize the unit and thereby results in unfulfilling game play experience. That problem is solved by use of a stylus that has built-in control actuators. The hand controlling character movement and character action by pressing multiple control actuators could focus on one control actuator push, while the hand holding the stylus could then control the character's action by pushing a control actuator that is built-in to the stylus.
An alternative embodiment entails equipping a stylus with a motion sensor device, such as an accelerometer, that determines motion of the stylus. A stylus implemented with an accelerometer enables, for example, a user to play a flight simulator game in which the stylus is used as a flight stick. The user holds one end of the stylus in a generally perpendicular rest position against the touch screen. During game play, the user urges the end of the stylus against the touch screen and moves the stylus to different off-axis and azimuthal angles as though it were a flight stick to control an aircraft appearing on an action display screen, and uses another control actuator built into the stylus to fire missiles carried by the aircraft.
Manipulating the stylus to control such game action functions does not entail manipulation (e.g., rotation or tilt) of the display surface on which the action scene appears. Display screen manipulation is the current technique for performing game action on, for example, an iPhone multimedia smart phone. A disadvantage of manipulating the display surface to control game action is that the display surface is not always visible to the user during a tilt maneuver. An example of such a game necessitating display screen rotation and tilt is the Dr. Awesome-Microsurgeon M.D., published by ngmoco, Inc., for operation on an iPhone platform.
The control actuator actions in the stylus are transmitted wirelessly either directly to the portable game system or through an accessory that would plug into the portable game system and provide it with wireless communication capability.
Additional aspects and advantages will be apparent from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments, which proceeds with reference to the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIGS. 1A and 1B are respective front and rear perspective views of a prior art Nintendo® DS portable video game system. FIG. 1A shows a stylus contacting a touch screen display surface, and FIG. 1B shows a stylus stored in a slot beneath the touch screen display surface.
FIG. 2 is a frontal view of a Nintendo® DS portable video game system held in the left hand of a user holding in her right hand while playing an action game a stylus equipped with a control actuator.
FIG. 3 shows the Nintendo® DS video game system of FIG. 2 with the user holding a stylus equipped with multiple control actuators.
FIG. 4 shows the Nintendo® DS video game system of FIG. 3 to which an accessory is connected for wireless communication with the stylus.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
FIG. 1A shows a frontal view of a prior art Nintendo® DS portable video game console system 10 in its open configuration for action game play, and FIG. 1B shows a rear view of system 10. System 10 includes a hinge 12 connecting a first screen portion 14 and a second screen portion 16. Screen portion 14 includes a display surface 18 on which appears an action scene presented during game play. Holes 20 allow from audio speakers contained within first screen portion 14 sound emissions created during game play and audible to a user or game player.
Second screen portion 16 includes a touch screen display surface 30 that a game player contacts using a stylus 32 to control game action. Touch screen display surface 30 is positioned between a first control actuator region 34 and a second control actuator region 36. First control actuator region 34 includes a four-way control actuator 38 (FIG. 1A) and a left shoulder actuator 40 (FIG. 1B), which the game player manipulates with, respectively, the thumb and index finger of her left hand. Second control actuator region 36 includes four control actuator buttons 42X, 42Y, 42A, and 42B (FIG. 1A) and a right shoulder actuator 44 (FIG. 1B), which the game player manipulates with, respectively, the thumb and index finger of her right hand as it holds stylus 32. A start button 46 and a select button 48 initiate but are not actively used during action game play. FIG. 1B shows a slot 50 that accepts a game cartridge and a storage slot 52 that holds stylus 32 when it is not in use. The requirement of the game player's right hand to perform control operations in two different locations on screen portion 16 makes game play cumbersome and unfulfilling.
FIG. 2 shows the game player holding in her right hand 56 a stylus 60 equipped with a push button control actuator 62. During game play, the game player can use the thumb of her right hand 56 to depress control actuator 62 while manipulating stylus 60 against display surface 30 in the conventional manner. Depressing control actuator 62 produces command signals to which game console system 10 responds to perform game action function by processing them in a manner similar to that performed on signals produced by the control actuators in actuator regions 34 and 36. The communication interface between stylus 60 and game console system 10 is preferably a wire or wireless communication link.
FIG. 3 shows stylus 60 equipped with an accelerometer 66 to implement motion sensor technology. Accelerometer 66 determines the motion of stylus 60, which motion can be used as a control actuator for use in game play. Skilled persons will appreciate that there is a variety of sensor devices that detect motion. Two of the many types of motions sensors are accelerometers and tilt sensors. One example of a suitable accelerometer 66 is Part No. LIS3L06AL of STMicroelectronics 39, Chemin du Champ des Filles C. P. 21CH 1228 Plan-Les-Ouates, Geneva, Switzerland, which detects changes in X, Y, and Z accelerations, or Part No. MXA2500J of MEMSIC, Inc., One Tech Drive, Andover, Mass., which can measure dynamic acceleration (e.g., vibration) and static acceleration (e.g., gravity). Another type of suitable motion sensor is an electrolytic tilt sensor, such as a TrueTilt®, Dual Axis, Wide angle, Electrolytic Tilt Sensor Part No. 0717-4304-99 of The Fredericks Company, 2400 Philmont Avenue, Huntingdon Valley, Pa., which generates an artificial horizon and measure-angular tilt with respect to that horizon. The provision of one or more control actuators on stylus 60 expands practical game action functionality of game system 10 by enabling use of the user's right hand 56 manipulating stylus 32 to cause performance of one or more game action functions.
FIG. 4 shows game console system 10 implemented with an accessory 70 to provide wireless communication with stylus 60 and to acquire and process the control actuator action command signals transmitted by stylus 60. Wireless communication can be implemented with any one of available connection interfaces including, but not limited to, FM, RF, Bluetooth, IR, and magnetic link.
The following description of game action illustrates by way of example game player control of game action functions performed in an action scene and the advantages afforded by use of control actuator-equipped stylus 60. The exemplary game is one in which the main character is a commando. During game play, the game player manipulates four-way control actuator 38 to move the commando's location, uses touch screen 30 to aim a weapon held by the commando, double taps stylus 60 against touch screen 30 to cause the commando to jump, and actuates left shoulder button 40 to shoot the weapon. However, if the weapon has a zoom function, in the absence of a control actuator implemented in stylus 60, the zoom function could be triggered only by actuation of right shoulder button 44 and the weapon would be aimed by manipulation of stylus 60 held in the game player's right hand. Somehow the game player would have to place her little or another finger on right shoulder button 44 to trigger the zoom function. The presence of control actuator 62 on stylus 60 enables a mapping of the zoom function normally controlled by actuation of right shoulder button 44 to control actuator 62 built in stylus 60.
It will be obvious to those having skill in the art that many changes may be made to the details of the above-described embodiments without departing from the underlying principles of the invention. For example, certain platforms, such as multimedia smart phones, display game action scenes and perform touch screen functions on a single display screen so that screen portions 14 and 16 would be effectively merged to a common screen surface. The scope of the present invention should, therefore, be determined only by the following claims.
Patent applications by Aaron B. Sternberg, Vancouver, WA US
Patent applications by IPPASA, LLC
Patent applications in class Player-actuated control structure (e.g., brain-wave or body signal, bar-code wand, foot pedal, etc.)
Patent applications in all subclasses Player-actuated control structure (e.g., brain-wave or body signal, bar-code wand, foot pedal, etc.)