Microsoft Patents Drop-In Co-Op In Shooters

Last week, the United States Patent and Trademark Office assigned the maker of the Xbox 30 and publisher of Gears of War the feature to offer seamless switching from solo to co-op gaming.

The patent, #7,559,834 was invented by James Youk of Austin, Texas and filed back in the original Xbox era on December 2, 2002.

Seven years later, this is what the government assigns Microsoft a patent to:

A squad-based shooter video game allows players to dynamically join and leave the game, while that game is in progress, without the players having to save and restart the game. When a new player joins an in-progress game, a new squad member is allocated to the new player and the screen is split to present a viewing panel for the new player that depicts scenes from the perspective of the new squad member. When an existing player leaves the game, the screen is unsplit to remove the viewing panel for the exiting player and that player's squad member becomes part of the squad being controlled by the remaining player(s).

The patent specifically refers to squad-based shooter games, reducing the likelihood that it would apply to, say, re-making Halo matchmaking so that online battles were persistent with players smoothly dropping in and out. Instead, it reads like a brief on the co-op in Gears of War 2.

The patent is full of sketches (including the one in this post) that depict a shooter game being played on the original Xbox.

Microsoft did not return Kotaku's request by press time to elaborate on why the company patented this concept.

UPDATE: Several readers have noted the sketches included in the patent resemble screenshots from Xbox co-op shooter Brute Force, which was developed by the now-shuttered Digital Anvil. The company, like the inventor noted here, were based in Austin, Texas.


Comments

    First thing i looked at was the ammo count in the corner, i thought Halo. I then saw the 4 players on the bottom and thought Brute Force. Saw the dinosaur and knew it was Brute Force straight away, how was this missed by the reporter.

    They should actually do a sequel to that game...

    Anyway, you actually need a patent for this to happen in a game? You can drop in & out of a game in CoD Online Multiplayer. Why would you seriously need a patent to do this!!!!

      Funny, I didn't think anyone would recognize the illustration. BRUTE FORCE! I too wished they did a sequel. I have a list of sequels I always wanted to see:

      Brute Force 2 (Xbox) - C'mon, wasn't THAT bad!
      Alien Front Online (DC) - Online Tank Battle!
      Night Trap 2 (3DO) - Dana Plato come back baby!
      Jet Grind Radio (DC) - Best game ever!
      Panzer Dragoon (Sat) - classic, easy money maker
      MechAssault (Xbox) - Better online + more sim!
      Phantom Dust (Xbox) - ROCKS!
      Tokyo Wars (Arcade) - Never played it huh? Loser!
      Sega Marine Fishing (DC) - Best fishing game EVER

      The real problem here is patents like this are getting granted in the first place. It's not like a hundred other game developers wouldn't come up with the exact same idea if sat in a room and asked to design a squad-based shooter.

      In cases like this, patents are not lodged to protect IP, they're lodged to stifle competitive innovation.
      What is particularly ironic here is that Microsoft probably wouldn't even exist if patent laws were anything like they are now when they were starting out.

    Sorry, a couple more game I think deserve sequels:

    Battle Engine Aguilla
    Legacy of Kain
    Counter Strike
    Crash n Burn - (why don't we have online crash up derbies of 16+ players!!!!!)
    Oddworld
    Jedi Academy

    I hope they don't get a patent, I'd like to see lots of developers utilize this feature without having to shell money out to micro$oft.

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