Patent application title: METHOD OF OPERATING AN ONLINE GAME USING A GLOBE-SHAPED CONTROLLER
Chuck L. Hess (Kalamazoo, MI, US)
Daniel M. Marks (Decatur, GA, US)
Justin Brown (Chicago, IL, US)
IPC8 Class: AA63F924FI
Class name: Including means for processing electronic data (e.g., computer/video game, etc.) with communication link (e.g., television broadcast, etc.) network type (e.g., computer network, etc.)
Publication date: 2013-02-07
Patent application number: 20130035166
The present invention provides methods for controlling the viewpoint upon
a digital game space using a globe-shaped object displayed on a computer
monitor or video screen. In a preferred embodiment, a player rotates a
globe in the desired direction to simultaneously rotate the viewpoint
upon a game space in the same direction.
1. A computer-based network comprised of at least one server and client
device with each device containing at least one processor capable of
operating and displaying a game in which a player controls the
perspective upon a game play environment using a shape such that rotation
of said shape rotates the perspective upon the game play environment in a
2. A method of claim 1 in which the shape is a globe.
 This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent 61/574,356 filed on Aug. 1, 2011, and entitled "Method of Operating An Online Game Using A Globe-Shaped Controller".
 A portion of this application may contain materials subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the reproduction of this material in the same form as filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, but all other copyright rights are reserved.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention relates to methods of operating an online game and, more specifically, to an online game in which a globe-shaped object controls the viewing angle upon a game space.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 Computer games have grown from simple single-player, text-based games playable on stand-alone desktop computers to massive multi-player games using high-resolution graphics playable across global networks.
 The newest and most popular computer games allow members of online social networks to play games in which they build their own virtual worlds and share them with each other. For example, an online social network called Facebook offers such online social games to over 700 million members, such as Zynga's Cityville, LOLapp's Ravenswood Fair, and Digital Chocolate's Millionaire City.
 Many online social games view the game play environment (or "game space") from a fixed perspective that cannot rotate either around a vertical or horizontal axis. For example, a game in which players view a game space from a fixed, three-quarter, isometric view angled downward at 45 degrees. At most, a player may zoom-in or pan-out of the game space, but the viewpoint angle remains static.
 Games that lack multiple viewpoints cripple a player's ability to explore the game space or position game objects within the game space. For example, a player may not be able to view or adjust small game objects hidden behind larger game objects in the game space. Players of such games suffer from the frustration of not fully exploring their virtual worlds.
 Some online social games allow the perspective to be rotated in one or more directions. For example, a game in which players can rotate the game space by 90 degrees at-a-time. These games, however, use complicated keyboard controls and/or tedious mouse clicks to change player viewpoints. For example, the A-key rotates the viewpoint 90 degrees counter-clockwise and the S-key rotates the viewpoint 90 degrees clockwise.
 Games with complicated control mechanisms or commands to rotate game spaces are often beyond the skills or abilities of many online players. Even players with the wherewithal to operate such games may play less often or for less duration due to the effort required to learn and then use these control mechanisms and commands.
 Thus, there is a need for an online game which allows a player to alter the perspective upon a digital game space using simple and intuitive control methods.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
 The present invention provides methods for controlling the perspective upon a digital game space using a globe-shaped object displayed on a computer monitor or video screen. In a preferred embodiment, a player rotates a globe in the desired direction to simultaneously rotate the perspective upon a game space in the same direction.
 In a first example, the globe is rotated 180 degrees to the East and the perspective on the game space rotates 180 degrees to the East; a player who was looking at the front of an object will now be looking at the back of the object. In a second example, the globe is rotated 90 degrees to North and the perspective on the game space rotates 90 degrees to the North; a player who was looking at the front of an object will now be looking at the top of the object. The globe may also be rotated in any combination of possible directions, such as Northeast or Southwest to alter the perspective upon the game space in a corresponding manner.
 In another preferred embodiment, any shape controls the perspective upon a game space. For example, a cube controls the perspective upon the game space. Further, a shape may be comprised of any number of dimensions (i.e. 2D or 3D). For example, two-dimensional rectangles may be used to control the perspective upon a game space with a first bar controlling the horizontal angle and a second bar controlling the vertical angle.
 In an alternative embodiment, any number of globes or other shapes control the perspective upon a game space. For example, a first globe may rotate the perspective horizontally (or East-West) and a second globe may rotate the perspective vertically (or North-South).
 In another preferred embodiment, any device may be used to display or operate the globe or other shape used to control the perspective upon the game space. For example, a personal digital assistant (PDA) may be used to display and operate a globe or other shape that controls the perspective upon a game space displayed on a computer or television screen.
 In another preferred embodiment, any additional information may be displayed within a globe or other shape used to control the perspective upon the game space. For example, a miniature view of the game space may be displayed within a globe used to control the perspective upon the actual view of the game space. In another example, a compass showing the direction of the current view may be displayed within a globe used to control the perspective upon the game space.
 In another preferred embodiment, any additional functions may be performed through interactions with a globe or other shape used to control the perspective upon the game space. For example, a player using a mouse or other input device may double-click a globe shape to revert a default perspective; hover over a globe shape to display the exact numeric angle of the perspective; click-and-hold a globe shape above the horizontal meridian to zoom-in; and/or click-and-hold a globe shape below the meridian to zoom-out.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 illustrates a Southward perspective upon a game space.
 FIG. 2 illustrates an Eastward perspective upon the game space.
 FIG. 3 illustrates a top-down perspective upon a game space.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
 In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, a player builds a virtual world comprised of game objects placed into a digital game space. At any point, the player may use a globe-shaped object to adjust the perspective upon the game space.
 FIG. 1 shows a sample game interface including a game space 100 displaying a virtual world and a globe-shaped object 110 used to rotate the player's perspective upon the game space 100. In addition, the game interface may also include meters with game play information (not shown), feature toggle buttons (not shown), player's friends connected via asocial network platform (not shown), and game play controls (not shown).
 The game space 100 displays a virtual world that may contain any number or type of buildings, trees, flowers, mountains, lakes, paths, roads, decorations, and/or other objects. The virtual world may be constructed by the player and/or the computer. For example, a virtual world formed by combining an initial computer-generated landscape with subsequent player-determined features. Further, some or all of the virtual world objects may be moved, rotated, adjusted, combined, removed, stored, or otherwise modified during the play of the game. The virtual world may also be populated by any number or type of creatures, animals, or other beings controlled by players and/or operated by a computer. The size of a virtual world, number of objects, and size of population may be limited by design but are otherwise infinitely expandable.
 The globe 110 allows a player to control the perspective upon the game space 100 by rotating the globe in any direction: Up, Down, Right, Left or combination of said directions such as Up-Right. Rotating the globe 110 in the Right or Left direction will affect the surface plane of view; rotating the globe 110 in the Up or Down direction will affect the aerial plane of view.
 The globe 110 is rotated by clicking anywhere within the globe 110 and dragging the mouse (not shown) in a desired direction.
 From FIG. 1 to FIG. 2, the globe is rotated 90-degrees to the Left causing the perspective upon game space 100 to rotate in the same manner. If the viewpoint in FIG. 1 shows the virtual world from the "front" perspective, the viewpoint in FIG. 2 shows the same virtual world from a "side" perspective. From FIG. 2 to FIG. 3, the globe is rotated 90-degrees downward causing the perspective upon the game space 100 to rotate in the same fashion. If the viewpoint in FIG. 2 shows the virtual world from a "profile" perspective, the viewpoint in FIG. 3 shows the same virtual world from a "bird's eye view" perspective.
 The globe 110 includes a compass 112 that indicates the orientation of a player's viewpoint relative to the surface plane--North, East, South, or West--and, therefore, measures any rotation of the globe 110 in the Left or Right directions. In FIG. 1, the compass 112 shows that player is viewing the game space 100 from the Southward direction. In FIG. 2, by comparison, the globe 110 has been rotated to the left and the compass 112 shows that the player is now viewing the game space 100 from the Eastward direction.
 The globe 110 also includes an artificial horizon 114 that indicates the orientation of a player's viewpoint relative to the aerial plane--from profile to top-down--and, therefore, measures any rotation of the globe 110 in the Up or Down directions. In FIG. 1, the artificial horizon 114 shows that player is viewing the game space 100 from a slightly lifted perspective (approx. 20 degree angle). In FIG. 3, by comparison, the globe 110 has been rotated downwards and the artificial horizon 114 shows that the player is now viewing the game space 100 from the top-down perspective (approx. 90 degree angle).
Network & Systems
 The present invention may be implemented on computer-based networks using systems comprised of interconnected client and server devices. In a preferred embodiment, server and client devices operate across the Internet using one or more of the following networks: wired, wireless, satellite, and cellular communication. Client devices are connected to the networks via a network service provider or wireless carrier; servers are connected to the networks via modems, routers and/or networking switches.
 Clients. A client device is generally computer-based equipment such as a desktop computer, laptop computer, computer tablet, personal digital assistant, mobile phone, smart phone, mobile gaming device, and/or console game system that is managed and controlled by an operating system, such as LINUX, UNIX, Microsoft Windows, Apple Macintosh, and/or other proprietary or open source operating system.
 To facilitate communication with a network, a client device includes a network interface, such as an Ethernet (IEEE 802.3), wi-fi (802.11), or wi-max (802.16). In addition, a client device may also include, but not be limited to, a central processing unit (CPU), system memory (DRAM), video memory, video display, hard drive, I/O ports, and/or keyboard.
 Servers. Servers are computing devices that execute applications using languages such as PHP, ASP, C#, C, C++, CGI, PERL, XML, Java, JSP, SQL, PYTHON, and RUBY. Similar to client devices, servers must communicate with a network via a network interface, such as an Ethernet (IEEE 802.3), wi-fi (802.11), or wi-max (802.16). In addition, a server device may also include, but not be limited to, a central processing unit (CPU), system memory (DRAM), video memory, video display, hard drive, I/O ports, and/or keyboard.
 Servers also store digital data as data files or records and, in many cases, organize the digital data into a variety of databases, such as relational and object-oriented databases. A database is logical framework that allows files and records to be created, accessed, edited, and/or deleted with maximum accuracy and speed. Digital data may take many forms, including: text, numbers, 2D and 3D images, graphics, animations, audio, video, and/or other media.
SCOPE & SPIRIT OF THE PRESENT INVENTION
 The many features and advantages of the present invention are apparent from the foregoing descriptions of the preferred embodiments. The present invention, however, is not limited to these particular embodiments, as the invention is capable of being practiced and carried out in various ways. For example, new features may be added to an existing embodiment or features from two or more embodiments may be combined to produce a new embodiment. Further, features mentioned in any embodiment may be interchanged with similar features not mentioned that perform the same or similar functions. And, finally, the phraseology and terminology used to explain the embodiments are only descriptive and should not be regarded as limiting. The claims, therefore, seek to cover all features and advantages that fall within the true spirit and scope of the present invention.
Patent applications in class Network type (e.g., computer network, etc.)
Patent applications in all subclasses Network type (e.g., computer network, etc.)