U.S. Patent No. 9,308,458: Automatic movement of player character in network game

To: Kabushiki Kaisha Square Enix

Summary:

The present invention relates to an autopilot mode in a network game. An RPG (Role Playing Game) progresses as multiple players participate, so their characters cooperate to battle an opponent character or the players make their characters battle one another. An MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online RPG), which permits the participation of more players, is another type of network game. A problem in online multiplayer games is when a player stops playing the game either because they have been disconnected or physically stepped away. Players disconnecting can be especially frustrating in MMORPGs where players have to work together. In most cases when a player temporarily stops playing, that player’s character does not move. However, the other players can keep moving and progressing the game. Allowing the other players to continue playing puts the “paused” player at a disadvantage when they rejoin. One way to solve the problem is to make the other players wait, which they may not like because it pauses the action. The patent seeks to solve these problems by introducing an autopilot option. The autopilot progresses the player’s character according to the movement of the other party members and transmits progress information to each player participating in the game. This keeps players from being left behind, and other players do not have to wait when on their way to an exciting quest.

Abstract:

A player participating in a network game moves a player character of the player by manipulating a video game apparatus of the player. As the player performs an autopilot operation, the video game apparatus moves the player character as an autopilot PC. A server apparatus manages the game which progresses according to the movement of each character, and transmits progress information of the game to the video game apparatus of each player participating in the network game. The movement of the autopilot PC is decided based on an action log recording the action of the player character responding to the manipulation of the player.

Illustrative Claim:

1. A game system for progressing a game, the game system comprising a processor; and a memory including a set of executable instructions that, when executed by the processor, causes the processor to perform operations including: progressing the in accordance with game progress information, the game progress information being useable for generating a game screen, the game screen configured to be displayed on a display device and including a player character that is in a virtual space; receiving a manual movement instruction for moving the player character on the game screen, the manual movement instruction being determined in accordance with an input of a player on an input device; updating the game progress information to move the player character on the game screen in accordance with the manual movement instruction; monitoring a progress of the game for an autopilot condition; determining an automatic movement instruction for automatically moving the player character on the game screen when the autopilot condition is monitored, the automatic movement instruction being determined without the input of the player on the input device; updating the game progress information to automatically move the player character on the game screen in accordance with the automatic movement instruction when the autopilot condition is monitored; and receiving an autopilot cancel operation for canceling the player character from an autopilot operation state when the player character is in the autopilot operation state, the autopilot operation state being a state in which the autopilot condition is monitored, wherein the autopilot cancel operation is received in response to a predetermined operation being input on the input device by the player, the automatic movement instruction includes at least one movement instruction that is associated with a battle that includes the player character, and the automatic movement instruction is determined based on a history of the manual movement instruction that is received in accordance with the input of the player on the input device.