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EA Gaming Patents

In March 2016 EA filed to patent a pair of gaming concepts that have just come to light. One of them is pretty straightforward, as it outlines dynamic difficulty adjustment to promote player retention by tweaking difficulty levels under the hood. Word is: "The game retention prediction model may be applied to a user's activity data to determine an indication of the user's expected duration of game play. Based on the determined expected duration of game play, the difficulty level of the video game may be automatically adjusted." The other patent seems a little trickier, as it looks to tailor the online gaming experience by tweaking matchmaking to use factors besides game performance. Destructoid notes this is based on principles outlined in this research paper describing "An Engagement Optimized Matchmaking Framework." Here's the a bit from the Multiplayer Video Game Matchmaking Optimization application United States Patent Application:

Embodiments presented herein use machine learning algorithms to determine the impact that a match plan for a multiplayer video game is likely to have on the retention for the individual users included in the match plan. Further, certain embodiments herein relate to determining whether a grouping of two or more players as teammates and/or opponents may result in one of the players being more likely to cease playing the video game. Systems presented herein can use a parameter function or a prediction model to predict or estimate a churn or retention rate for users based at least in part on the configuration of particular match plans and user interaction data for the users relating to interaction with the video game by the users. The match plan may include the identification of the number of users and/or teams, the number of users on a team, and whether two (or more) users are teammates or opponents, and one or more roles of each user within the video game, or match. The roles may include the identity of in-game or playable characters used by the users and/or the role of the playable character, such as an offense character (such as a forward in a soccer game), a defense character (such as a cornerback in a football game), a tank character (or a character that is designed to withstand a lot of in-game damage), a healer character, a range character, a side-kick, and the like.

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26. Re: EA Gaming Patents Jan 10, 2018, 00:14 Sepharo
 
^Drag0n^ wrote on Jan 9, 2018, 22:55:
How in the actual hell can these bozos get a patent on dynamic difficulty adjustment? We were doing that back in 1999 when I was working on the Babylon 5 game.

Lucasarts did it in the X-wing/TIE Fighter games as well.

Because that's not what they're doing.
They're getting a patent on specific methods of determining how and when difficulty will be adjusted dynamically.
 
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25. Re: EA Gaming Patents Jan 9, 2018, 22:55 ^Drag0n^
 
How in the actual hell can these bozos get a patent on dynamic difficulty adjustment? We were doing that back in 1999 when I was working on the Babylon 5 game.

Lucasarts did it in the X-wing/TIE Fighter games as well.
 
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"Never start a fight, but always finish it."
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24. Re: EA Gaming Patents Jan 9, 2018, 21:18 NewMaxx
 
This is just another way of leveraging metrics to satisfy their goals. We've seen it in social media (e.g. Facebook) for quite some time and it's obvious that games have been moving this way. Where's there's money, there's metrics. Now, to be fair, utilizing information such as demographics can be useful in tailoring services. The problems inherent in it are obvious, though. In social media they can more or less filter what you see, and in gaming they can twist it towards monetization. This is of course before government starts to regulate (a.k.a., gets its cut of the influence or money) such things, but effectively these patents touch deeply on privacy issues. It may sound like simple dynamic difficulty but it's really deeper analysis of your gaming idiosyncrasies.

Legally the maintainer of such data (that is, the people running the servers, and make no mistake having more or less all games be online-only is a factor) can throw EULAs and everything else at the consumer to obfuscate their true purposes while maintaining some level of plausible deniability. If everything I've said so far seems pessimistic (beyond the mention of the possibility that tailored services may be superior) it's because these kind of things are almost always exhibit a slippery slope condition until regulation and society catches up.

It's certainly an innovation (hence the patents) in the gaming sense but it follows patterns that have come before it. Users should be very wary, but then again we have people embracing PUBG despite their supposed convictions. Quite simply people naturally embrace idolization, addiction, and faulty ways of thinking, and certainly companies like EA will take advantage of this with the additional benefit of a legal shield. The fact outcry bypassed such methods - a la Battlefront 2, which nevertheless had its apologists up until the end, and even now - is what caused them to pivot, but only after saying gamers were overreacting.

Well then I guess my negativity here is an overreaction. But I don't think so.
 
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23. Re: EA Gaming Patents Jan 9, 2018, 20:16 Sepharo
 
Yeah I never got past the first Oblivion gate in Oblivion because by the time I decided to do it my level was so high that they started spawning these giant fireball throwing demons in tight hallways that they were never meant to be in... So I couldn't maneuver and would get melted immediately upon opening a hallway door.  
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22. Re: EA Gaming Patents Jan 9, 2018, 19:41 jdreyer
 
@Mordecai: The flip side to that is coming upon a truly excellent dungeon for which you are completely overpowered, ruining the experience. I recall a fantastic Morrowind dungeon with an amazing vertical design and a green sword at the end. By the time I discovered it, I blew through without a scratch and the sword was useless to me. The disappointment stays with me to this day as an experience that I missed out on.

The flip side is Oblivion, where I took my time getting to the city with the first Oblivion gate that gets overrun by daemon. I was probably 10 levels higher than the devs expected, so all the daemon were jacked up too. The NPCs are supposed to assist you, but all the daemon slaughtered them instantly, leaving me to spend hours isolating each daemon individually so I could kill it and proceed with the quest. This should have been a 20 minute battle, but was ruined due to scaling.

I don't know what the solution is, but it needs to be done with much thought and testing.
 
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21. Re: Morning Tech Bits Jan 9, 2018, 18:06 Mordecai Walfish
 
HorrorScope wrote on Jan 9, 2018, 13:42:
VaranDragon wrote on Jan 9, 2018, 11:56:
Remember the quest/NPC/monster scaling difficulty in Oblivion? I sure as fuck do. It was the dumbest design decision in gaming history and made the fucking game a boring chore.

Also, highway robbers in glass/daedric armor. Yeah. Fuck that.

You do realize a lot of games still use level scaling, right? And there are pro's and con's to each method of scaling or not?

As for this, yeah they are patenting things that shouldn't be able to be, cause they are basic game design decisions.

That type of level scaling, when used in RPG's, is just a lazy way of balancing your game, instead of making a fully fledged RPG experience with the true risk and reward of david vs. goliath moments that you could (but probably shouldn't) take on earlier than the game expects you to. The feeling of scouting the countryside in a game like Morrowind and blowing all your good potions and scrolls in order to tackle a dungeon of a much higher level than you are, and coming out with awesome loot, is a very fun part of the RPG experience to me. In more recent Elder Scrolls games, there is rarely a challenge to any of the dungeons because they are all leveled to your character. It's more accessible for console folks, and thats exactly what we've gotten since Oblivion.. over-consolized systems that aim to appease the lowest common denominator: people that might not play if they are frustrated with obstacles they cannot immediately tackle. It's worked for them in getting TES games into the uber-mainstream, but the RPG fundamentals have been very limited by this move. Fallout sadly became a victim of this as well. It takes mods to turn these "RPG's" into proper RPG's now.
 
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"What do I want? I don't really know. Most of the time I ignore my quest and walk into the homes of others, riffling through people's shelves... oooh, like those over there!"
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20. Re: EA Gaming Patents Jan 9, 2018, 16:43 jdreyer
 
Dynamic difficulty has existed and been touted for nearly two decades. No way should that be any kind of patent. As for the idea of using an algorithm to match up players with the intent of retention, can you patent that? The specific algorithm, sure, but the idea?  
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19. Re: EA Gaming Patents Jan 9, 2018, 16:16 RedEye9
 
Creston wrote on Jan 9, 2018, 15:51:
The Half Elf wrote on Jan 9, 2018, 14:40:
You guys forgetting the post a month or so ago about how EA was going to hook up 2 players.. 1 spent money on big bad items, with a player that didn't so the other player would spend money after seeing their partner in god mode?

I think that was Activision.
of course, good thing they patented it.
 
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"Nullity's Law"
There's an easy and fool-proof way to tell if anything related conservative/right-wing/Republican politics is true or not. If anyone calls it "fake news", you can be sure it's the solid truth
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18. Re: EA Gaming Patents Jan 9, 2018, 15:51 Creston
 
The Half Elf wrote on Jan 9, 2018, 14:40:
You guys forgetting the post a month or so ago about how EA was going to hook up 2 players.. 1 spent money on big bad items, with a player that didn't so the other player would spend money after seeing their partner in god mode?

I think that was Activision.
 
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17. Re: EA Gaming Patents Jan 9, 2018, 15:51 RedEye9
 
The Half Elf wrote on Jan 9, 2018, 14:40:
You guys forgetting the post a month or so ago about how EA was going to hook up 2 players.. 1 spent money on big bad items, with a player that didn't so the other player would spend money after seeing their partner in god mode?
I hope they patent that.
It could be called "big brother"
 
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https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report
"Nullity's Law"
There's an easy and fool-proof way to tell if anything related conservative/right-wing/Republican politics is true or not. If anyone calls it "fake news", you can be sure it's the solid truth
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16. Re: EA Gaming Patents Jan 9, 2018, 15:44 BIGtrouble77
 
I don't know why people are complaining here... all EA has done is patent shit gameplay mechanics. I'm totally fine with them having a monopoly on garbage.  
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15. Re: EA Gaming Patents Jan 9, 2018, 14:40 The Half Elf
 
You guys forgetting the post a month or so ago about how EA was going to hook up 2 players.. 1 spent money on big bad items, with a player that didn't so the other player would spend money after seeing their partner in god mode?  
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Using a steering wheel on a Burnout game is like using the Space Shuttle controls to fly a kite.
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14. Re: EA Gaming Patents Jan 9, 2018, 13:42 HorrorScope
 
VaranDragon wrote on Jan 9, 2018, 11:56:
Remember the quest/NPC/monster scaling difficulty in Oblivion? I sure as fuck do. It was the dumbest design decision in gaming history and made the fucking game a boring chore.

Also, highway robbers in glass/daedric armor. Yeah. Fuck that.

You do realize a lot of games still use level scaling, right? And there are pro's and con's to each method of scaling or not?

As for this, yeah they are patenting things that shouldn't be able to be, cause they are basic game design decisions.
 
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13. Re: EA Gaming Patents Jan 9, 2018, 13:33 El Pit
 
EA making gaming great again!

EA 2020!
 
They're waiting for you, Gabe, in the test chamber!
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12. Re: EA Gaming Patents Jan 9, 2018, 13:17 Creston
 
I'm sure somehow they have something to do with players paying more money, somewhere.
 
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11. Re: EA Gaming Patents Jan 9, 2018, 12:07 MajorD
 
I 'think' Valve did this with the Source Engine/Left 4 Dead/2. /shrug

Edit: Yeah, here it is. L4D/2/Source used what they called 'AI Director'.

Sorry EA, but nice try. AssClowns!

 
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Still counting...
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10. Re: EA Gaming Patents Jan 9, 2018, 12:04 Ozmodan
 
Best I can say about the patent examiners is a bunch of numbnuts. If they could not find prior art for these they were wearing blinders or just did not look.

Sorry to say the patent system is a disgrace.
 
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9. Re: EA Gaming Patents Jan 9, 2018, 11:56 VaranDragon
 
Remember the quest/NPC/monster scaling difficulty in Oblivion? I sure as fuck do. It was the dumbest design decision in gaming history and made the fucking game a boring chore.

Also, highway robbers in glass/daedric armor. Yeah. Fuck that.
 
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8. Re: EA Gaming Patents Jan 9, 2018, 11:47 Cutter
 
So another 'on a computer' patent. Yeah because DMs haven't been adjusting campaign difficulties since D&D was created. I swear, working for the USPTO must be the easiest job in the world. 'Want a pantent for holding your dick with your left hand? No problem!'
 
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7. Re: EA Gaming Patents Jan 9, 2018, 11:22 TheEmissary
 
It still baffles me to no end that statements so vague/generic and generally lacking any specifics can be patented. I don't really think you should be able to patent concepts like that especially ones already in use. Now if they had a specific algorithmic solution that would be a different story. Now they just added to the legal minefield that is software development.

Just off the top of my head a game that already does what this patent claims like Forza Horizon 2 (Drivatars). OR what about games like Left4Dead which has a director that controls the follow of the game. Plenty of other games watch player performance alter either the AI of the enemies, health pools, spawn rates,accuracy and so on.

This comment was edited on Jan 9, 2018, 11:32.
 
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