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US patent application 2012/0052930 is titled "System and method for the heros journey mythology code of honor video game engine and heros journey code of honor spy games wherein one must fake the enemy's ideology en route to winning"

Claim 1. A system and method for creating video games and virtual realities wherein one can select from a plurality of Hero's Journey Codes of Honor to play by.

In the specification, "codes of honor" are described as "warrior ideals" and seem to be a number of preset value systems or moral attributes.

I believe that there are a number of role playing games that allow players to take on characters or avatars having particular attributes, or allow them to adopt such attributes during the game.

I have been away from the gaming world for some time and cannot recall which games, especially those that may no longer be in distribution, have features such as these.

What prior art addresses computer based games that allow a player to play according to a chosen value system such as the claimed "codes of honor"?

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As far as I can tell this patent is actually very specific. The title of this question is very misleading. The patent isn't patenting "games played according to a selected value system", but rather an extremely specific implementation of one. I don't believe prior art could possibly be applicable here because the patent itself is extremely specific. In fact it's so specific I'm not actually sure why anyone would have bothered patenting it in the first place. If you copied the technique in question you'd probably lose a copyright case. –  Benjamin Dobell Sep 22 '12 at 3:45
    
I'm not including this as an answer, as it is not computer-based, but the roleplaying game "Vampire: The Masquerade" had a morality path system (laid out in some of the expansions and in the historical variant "Vampire: The Dark Ages") that functioned something like this. It wouldn't hit the rest of the patent, as the morality system was internal, and there was no real way to use it to fake enemy ideology. –  Ben Barden Apr 4 '13 at 14:32
    
For the record, this patent application was abandoned since June 6 2013, as applicant failed to reply to first office action within time limit. Examiner rejected claims under 35 USC § 101 (claims were held to claim an abstract idea) and 35 USC § 102 (anticipated by application US 2007/0087798 A1 by same applicant, which is also abandoned) –  Paul Guyot Aug 5 '13 at 13:05

13 Answers 13

This reads to me to be more about character alignment than professions and skills. Still, there is prior art.

For example, the Mass Effect series allows the player to choose responses that follow one of the three moral paths - paragon ("good"), renegade ("evil"), and neutral. The other characters in the game then take the player character's alignment into account when reacting to their actions.

A paragon and a renegade character could accomplish the same goals (such as saving all of humanity), but they would go about it in different ways and with different consequences.

From the Mass Effect Wiki:

Paragon or Charm dialogue choices (colored blue in dialogue trees) often lead to people being more open and friendly with Shepard, and can sometimes avert entire battles that would otherwise be triggered.
[...]
Renegade or Intimidate dialogue choices (colored red in dialogue trees) generally lead to people disliking and even fearing Shepard, and occasionally "encourage" people to tell or give more than they otherwise would. Like with Paragon/Charm options, Shepard can sometimes avert entire battles that would otherwise be triggered.

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+1 One of the issues in deciding patentability is the existence of similar or related approaches that may, without undue experimentation, lead one skilled in the field to come to the same invention, even if the exact approach is not used. The prior art net casts a bit wider than dead on. Thanks much for the example. –  bib Sep 18 '12 at 21:53
    
What about selecting your origin in Dragon Age: Origins? This is also a preset value system of attributes that determines your path through the game. You also get some different reactions in Mass Effect depending on whether you're a spacer, war hero or earthborn. –  allquixotic Sep 20 '12 at 14:39
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"... wherein players fake ideologies in word and deed to gain access to groups and subvert them" -- uh, the original Deus Ex, where you remain a member of UNATCO for some time after you decide to help Paul and the NSF. –  allquixotic Sep 20 '12 at 14:42
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@allquixotic Oh yeah, Deus Ex is an excellent example. Consider posting that as an answer as well. :) –  Anna Lear Sep 20 '12 at 14:51
    
The question specifically regards the existence of prior art encompassing Claim 1: "Claim 1. A system and method for creating video games and virtual realities wherein one can select from a plurality of Hero's Journey Codes of Honor to play by." Does such prior art exist? No. Many folks above list games which perhaps incorporate codes of honors in the games, but nobody lists a game wherein one can choose from various codes of honor to play by, or, as the application states, games which offer "realities wherein one can select from a plurality of Hero's Journey Codes of Honor." –  Jeff Tucker Oct 26 '12 at 14:36

In StarWars Galaxies, a MMORPG developed by Sony Online Entertainment, originally one could have evolved their avatar during the game play and specialize for different attributes (skills), gaining a profession, further divided into sub-professions. The game also distinguishes among several species that determined abilities.

Later on, the game system was changed in such a way, one would have to pre-select one given preset of attributes that defined the character abilities, skills, moral and possible evolution of the avatar. This change was introduced as “New Game Enhancements”:

The New Game Enhancements were implemented in November 2005. Major changes included the reduction and simplification of professions, simplification of gameplay mechanics, and Jedi becoming a starting profession.

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Community, please feel free to comment on the quality of the answer and suitability of content in respect to answering to a prior-art question. –  Ondrej Tucny Sep 7 '12 at 13:45
    
Looking at the description, it seems that a “Code of Honor” has to come from classical literature or mythology rather than being (partially) made up for the game. Of course, looking at the description, it's hard to take this application seriously. (“But the higher path you will never see, But by living by a code of honor.--Dr. E "The moral, I suppose, would be that the first requirements for a heroic career (…) are the knightly virtues of loyalty, temperance, and courage (I can hear the fanboyz going zlzoozozl as they mash buttons to delete this lzoozlzlz).”) –  Gilles Sep 7 '12 at 15:20
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@Gilles I think the PTO has to take every application seriously. And someone is paying fees to file this. –  bib Sep 7 '12 at 19:32
    
The question specifically regards the existence of prior art encompassing Claim 1: "Claim 1. A system and method for creating video games and virtual realities wherein one can select from a plurality of Hero's Journey Codes of Honor to play by." Does such prior art exist? No. Many folks above list games which perhaps incorporate codes of honors in the games, but nobody lists a game wherein one can choose from various codes of honor to play by, or, as the application states, games which offer "realities wherein one can select from a plurality of Hero's Journey Codes of Honor." –  Jeff Tucker Oct 26 '12 at 14:35
    
Dear Gilles: you incorrectly write, "Looking at the description, it seems that a “Code of Honor” has to come from classical literature or mythology rather than being (partially) made up for the game." R U kidding?? Did you look at the very first figure on the cover page of the patent? It includes the Fanboy Code of Honor where you hire/kill hookers/jack cars/shoot innocents in meaningless games, zlzozolzoing as you mash buttons. Gilles, it is you that can't be taken seriously: you don't even read the patent and then say, "it's hard to take this app seriously." Read it 1st! Before u speak! –  Jeff Tucker Oct 28 '12 at 15:03

In the game Ultima Online, launched in 1997, your character has the ability to build reputation titles based on actions taken in the game. Hero titles are achieved by killing various monsters and nefarious titles were earned by killing innocent creatures, NPCs (Non-Player Characters), and in some cases other players in non-PVP realms.

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???The question specifically regards the existence of prior art encompassing Claim 1: "Claim 1. A system and method for creating video games and virtual realities wherein one can select from a plurality of Hero's Journey Codes of Honor to play by." Does such prior art exist? No. Many folks above list games which perhaps incorporate codes of honors in the games, but nobody lists a game wherein one can choose from various codes of honor to play by, or, as the application states, games which offer "realities wherein one can select from a plurality of Hero's Journey Codes of Honor." –  Jeff Tucker Oct 26 '12 at 14:41

The game Deus Ex (Wikipedia) by Eidos Interactive, released in North America on June 26, 2000, had very different results based on player moral decisions in three areas: conversations with other characters; direct actions in the physical world of the game; and choices of specialization area in the attributes of the character's advancement.

For instance, in one action-based moral decision, the player has to decide whether or not to kill an "ally" who is threatening to kill another character that the player may be sympathetic to, and whose faction the player will eventually join (thus becoming an enemy of the purported "ally" who is doing the threatening). The player can survive the conflict and proceed in the game regardless of whether or not the player prevents their purported "ally" from killing the one they are threatening, but the player's choice will have consequences of a moral nature. (For those familiar with the game, the reference here is the Anna Navarre vs. Jaime Lebedev scene).

The player can also assign various skills and attributes to their character as part of play advancement. The "points" needed for the player to select these attributes are doled out in such a way that players are forced to specialize in particular areas, and cannot become a master of all. For example, the player can choose to specialize in stealth, by developing skills and choosing augmentations that allow the player to sneak past enemies without directly confronting them. This play style causes the player to be able to avoid enemy casualties, which has direct moral consequences when the player deals with other characters in the game. By contrast, if the player specializes in abilities that further the player's ability to kill enemies, such as better accuracy and damage with rifles, the player will likely not have enough points left over to also be stealthy, and will thus reap the moral consequences of killing more enemies (which could sometimes be by necessity in some situations where special stealth abilities are required to avoid a conflict and progress in the game).

Finally, the player is given moral decisions from the very beginning of the game through the culmination in the end, via dialogue. The player can choose to help people or to ignore, confront, or even kill them. Sometimes these people may be perfectly innocent, and sometimes they may be devious and attempting to deceive or take advantage of the player. This aspect I feel is even more common in video games both prior and since, compared to the other two moral aspects of Deus Ex.

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The question specifically regards the existence of prior art encompassing Claim 1: "Claim 1. A system and method for creating video games and virtual realities wherein one can select from a plurality of Hero's Journey Codes of Honor to play by." Does such prior art exist? No. Many folks above list games which perhaps incorporate codes of honors in the games, but nobody lists a game wherein one can choose from various codes of honor to play by, or, as the application states, games which offer "realities wherein one can select from a plurality of Hero's Journey Codes of Honor." –  Jeff Tucker Oct 26 '12 at 14:41

The game inFamous includes a "Karma" system that rewards the player with additional power based on adherence to "Good" or "Evil" codes of behavior. From the link:

Many powers are acquired over the course of the game; once acquired the player can use ex, awarded for specific actions, stunts and missions, to increase the power's effectiveness. The growth of these powers is affected by Cole's current Karma level. Starting in a neutral position, it ranges from Guardian to Champion to Hero on the Good side, and from Thug to Outlaw to Infamous on the Evil side. Certain actions, such as stopping to help injured citizens or draining their health to restore Cole's, will affect the Karma level in either direction.

The rewards and punishments for adherence to either "good" or "evil" courses, I believe impacts several of the claims of the application, particularly claims 3, 4, and 5.

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Dear Rob, Your statement fails to answer the question. The question specifically regards the existence of prior art encompassing Claim 1: "Claim 1. A system and method for creating video games and virtual realities wherein one can select from a plurality of Hero's Journey Codes of Honor to play by." Does such prior art exist? Many folks above list games which perhaps incorporate Codes of Honor in the games, but nobody lists a game wherein one can choose from various codes of honor to play by. Did you view the flow chart or the patent even? –  Jeff Tucker Oct 28 '12 at 1:13
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I did view the patent, and you do choose which code to play by in inFamous (as described in claim 1), with consequences indistinguishable from claims 3-5. –  Rob Napier Oct 28 '12 at 14:18
    
Dear Rob Napier, thanx for the honor-free, drive-by GTA posting which can be summarized as "nyah nyha nyah I winz lzozlzozzo." In inFamous there is no menu which allows the player to select from a plurality of codes of honor which then provide the moral framework of the gameworld, as proposed in the patent. Rob, the more you play this like one of your videogames that lack an exalted Code of Honor--the more you mash buttons and litter these comments with unsupported contentions, the more inFamous you'll become! Keep it up--this case will be included in Law Books--you'll be inFamous Rob Napier! –  Jeff Tucker Oct 28 '12 at 15:29
    
Your patent application does not include the phrase "from a menu" after "select" in claim 1. You made your patent claim over-broad and therefore encountered prior art. You may continue your random flames as you like. I'm joining the followers of non pascentur in troglodytam. –  Rob Napier Oct 28 '12 at 15:58
    
Dear Rob Napier, you are providing an excellent case study of the modus operandi of the anti-code-of-honor "zlzooz" fanboy circa 2012. You keep addressing me as if you know who I am, but you do not. Then, you present red herrings and erect strawmen, to further your button-mashing fanboyistic contentions. Then you put on the hat of a lawyer and interject legalese into your statement via button mashes. Finally, you toss out accusations and insults, and then, and only then, do you state that you are above it all, as you run to go level up in your honor-free, art-free, soulless videogame worlds. –  Jeff Tucker Oct 28 '12 at 16:10

"Black and White" from 2001 required the player to take either a "good" or "evil" role as the deity controlling a creature.

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Your statement fails to answer the question. The question specifically regards the existence of prior art encompassing Claim 1: "Claim 1. A system and method for creating video games and virtual realities wherein one can select from a plurality of Hero's Journey Codes of Honor to play by." Does such prior art exist? Many folks above list games which perhaps incorporate Codes of Honor in the games, but nobody lists a game wherein one can choose from various codes of honor to play by. Did you view the flow chart or the patent even? If we are to tear patents down, should we not read them first? –  Jeff Tucker Oct 27 '12 at 0:55
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My apologies - I (mis)read the claim as presented in the question. It wasn't until checking out the rest of the application itself that I realised it was actually a complete piss-take. –  Alnitak Oct 27 '12 at 20:25
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I've just adopted a new Code of Honour. "non pascentur in troglodytam". –  Alnitak Oct 27 '12 at 20:46

Fallout also uses a Karma System that affects the game in regards to good or evil choices you make.

Karma is the reflection of all good and evil choices you make during the game and how they are perceived by the inhabitants of the wasteland in Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout Tactics.

Source: http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/Karma

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That doesn't seem to fit the bill: the claim requires a choice among several codes of honor. –  Gilles Sep 21 '12 at 21:51
    
People please. The question specifically regards the existence of prior art encompassing Claim 1: "Claim 1. A system and method for creating video games and virtual realities wherein one can select from a plurality of Hero's Journey Codes of Honor to play by." Does such prior art exist? No. Many folks above list games which perhaps incorporate codes of honors in the games, but nobody lists a game wherein one can choose from various codes of honor to play by, or, as the application states, games which offer "realities wherein one can select from a plurality of Hero's Journey Codes of Honor." –  Jeff Tucker Oct 26 '12 at 14:42

Strategic Simulations, Inc created several games using the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules and world, beginning in 1988 with Pool of Radience. In these games, the player could choose one of 9 "alignments" (ethical systems or orientations) for each of their characters. The game engine took these alignments into consideration when adjudicating interactions with non-player characters. Later games based off the Dungeons & Dragons ruleset, such as Neverwinter Nights from BioWare accounted for character actions to adjust alignment during gameplay, possibly changing the alignment of the character or adjusting non-player character actions.

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Dear Zoe, again this has nothing to do with the patent nor the question. In the above examples you cite, there is but one moral framework, as opposed to the plurality of moral frameworks proposed by the novel invention, which the player may select in-between. Nobody lists a game wherein one can choose from various codes of honor to play by, or, as the application states, games which offer "realities wherein one can select from a plurality of Hero's Journey Codes of Honor." –  Jeff Tucker Oct 27 '12 at 18:54
    
@JeffTucker As a matter of general Internet ettiquite, please restrict replies to the matter of the comment being replied to. Referencing other replies only serves to make the discussion more difficult to follow. As per the objection you raise, I'm not certain how those works present a single moral framework. How can one moral framework have murder as both unconditionally immoral, and unconditionaly moral? Just because the moral frameworks presented are related by permuting several axes, does not mean the frameworks are identical. –  Zoe Oct 29 '12 at 20:48
    
Dear Zoe, I am not sure what you are talking about. You ask,"How can one moral framework have murder as both unconditionally immoral, and unconditionaly moral?" What does that have to do with the patent? Then you state "Just because the moral frameworks presented are related by permuting several axes." Methinks you are mixing metaphors, and imposing a mathematical model on morality whereby it might be operated on and undergo rotations. Many times, especially when it comes to humanity, people use faux science to obfuscate and confuse, and it appears you are succeeding? Please try again? –  Jeff Tucker Oct 29 '12 at 20:55
    
@JeffTucker What I gave you is a complete description of the 9 "alignments" or moral framework present in the cited works, and in all Dungeons & Dragons material since it's inception. The system includes 9 different moral frameworks, which are created using the possible intersections of two different moral axes (good/evil, law/chaos). Thus, the cited works allow the player to choose from 9 different moral frameworks, not one. –  Zoe Oct 29 '12 at 21:04
    
Dear Zoe, I am fully aware of those moral systems and frameworks. I just don't see what they have to do with the patent, where one can select morality systems where murder of the innocent is wrong? Perhaps you have been playing too many videogames while never reading Homer nor the Bible? See, teh crux of the patent is that it exalts videogames not with your D&D "morality," but with the morality of Zeus, Moses, et al. Have you read Homer and Exodus? IF not, I would be happy to direct you to great translations Zoe! –  Jeff Tucker Oct 29 '12 at 21:09

In the series of Geneforge games by Spiderweb Software, there are multiple ideologies (not just two, and not entirely mutually exclusive) that the player can subscribe to, having in-game effects (generally in how people who follow that ideology treat you). Additionally, it is possible to pretend to follow one ideology in order to gain some advantage, and then betray them to follow some other ideology, though there is no need to fake the opponents ideology.

In the Escape Velocity series by Spiderweb Software, particularly Escape Velocity Nova, there are a number of groups that roughly correspond to ideologies that a player can gain reputation with, and there are cases where winning the game along certain paths requires emulating the ideology of an opposing side long enough to acquire high reputation and then betraying them.

Given what I see of the patent, I suspect that it may still be too specific for those to be true prior art, but they seem to at least be pertinent to the discussion.

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In The Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic the player have the option to choose on the light or dark side. Each side has its own morality code and to stay on your choise you must keep its code.

This is not just a pointing system becouse there are rewards specifically tailored to the each side, in other to progress on the dark side the player must undergo a different code than the one he must by going on the light side.

I think this point is a little different from the other games becouse there is efectivelly two paths to choose, the "right" thing to do depends on which path you're going, it is not just a measure on how good or bad you are.

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In the mmorpg Eve Online there have been numerous examples of this patents description being enacted.

Here is one of the more infamous examples from 2005... The Heist

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In 'Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II', throughout the entire game, a player may make the choice to follow the light side (by avoiding killing neutral NPCs, such as droids and workers) or follow the dark side (by killing them with abandon). This choice eventually catches up to you and results in one of two endings to the story line, depending on your actions.

Edited to add: it's not just a one-time choice that you make, but an ongoing choice every time you encounter a neutral NPC.

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There exists no game nor prior art which allows one to toggle nor choose between various codes of honor as described in Claim #1.

The question specifically regards the existence of prior art encompassing Claim 1: "Claim 1. A system and method for creating video games and virtual realities wherein one can select from a plurality of Hero's Journey Codes of Honor to play by." Does such prior art exist?

Many folks posting other answers here list games which perhaps incorporate "Codes of Honor" in the games, but nobody lists a game wherein one can choose from various codes of honor to play by, or, as the application states, games which offer "virtual realities wherein one can select from a plurality of Hero's Journey Codes of Honor to play by."

For instance, in GTA/Fallout one can shoot hookers and innocent folks, and still "win." However, because murder of the innocent is against the Judeo Christian code of honor, a game with the Judeo Christian code of honor would not let a player "win" if they shot hookers and innocent folks in the game. The patent imagines a menu wherein one could toggle between the GTA/Fallout/Fanboy/lzozloz code of honor and higher codes of honor such as those presented in Buddhism, Judeo-Christianity, the Samurai code of honor, and others.

law.com reports, "Another application for a video game that includes “a system and method for creating video games and virtual realities wherein one can select from a plurality of Hero's Journey Codes of Honor to play by” prompted a slew of gamers to explain "what that really means" and cite examples of similar games. . . -http://www.law.com/corporatecounsel/PubArticleCC.jsp?id=1202572623576&PTO_Adds_Crowdsourcing_Tool_to_Patent_Application_Process&slreturn=20120927153912

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Why was this voted down? Could someone please argue with logic and reason, instead of merely employing anonymous fanboy mob rule? Thanks! –  Jeff Tucker Oct 26 '12 at 14:48
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Jeff, welcome to the site. 1) While I can't be sure, I agree that your downvote may be unwarranted, but I'm guessing if that's true, it's because your answer, as written, read like a critique of other answers, rather than a proper answer. I'm editing it slightly to remedy that. 2) When asking someone to explain their reasoning, implying that it's likely driven by "fanboy mob rule" probably reduces the likelihood of a good response. I know you actually just asked them NOT to do that, but the language is likely to make the reader unduly defensive, in my opinion. –  Jaydles Oct 26 '12 at 16:21
    
Dear Jaydles, so I guess that other people are allowed to edit one's posts here? Are you a high ranking official here, or can anyone edit my words like you just did? If you are free to change/alter my words, how are we supposed to carry on a dialogue? Perhaps you could just write my words for me in the first place and say what you think I must say? Is there a record kept of your edits, as there is on wikipedia? Or should I keep my own record on a blog somewhere? Also, is one allowed to mention other answers in one's own answer, or is this forbidden as you are saying? Thanks Jaydles. –  Jeff Tucker Oct 26 '12 at 17:27
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Jeff, Yes people have the ability to edit other people's posts. It's not a policing action. It's at the very core of how this site works (patents.stackexchange.com/faq#editing). I'm sorry about the confusion, but if you are not comfortable with the idea of your contributions being collaboratively edited by others, this may not be the site for you. –  Robert Cartaino Oct 26 '12 at 18:01
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Your post does not answer the question. All it does is refute the existing answers (incorrectly, to boot). –  Gilles Oct 26 '12 at 20:15

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